Review of the year part two

Youngsters Brogan Harrison, Kai Cox, Lena Christianson and Charlotte Malcolm switch on the lights.
Youngsters Brogan Harrison, Kai Cox, Lena Christianson and Charlotte Malcolm switch on the lights.
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Last week we brought you our review of the year for January to June, this week we bring you some highlights from July to December.

July - Our July coverage started with a flurry of community events and one special Sunday morning in which the Commonwealth Games Baton came through Stonehaven.

The Mearns Leader front page on the day of the referendum

The Mearns Leader front page on the day of the referendum

Spectators gathered from 7.30am to catch a glimpse of runners with phones at the ready when the baton bearers passed.

It started at Dunnottar Castle before heading through the town to the Open Air Pool and on towards Banchory.

It was an incredibly busy day at ‘the friend games’ as Drumochty Castle didn’t let a wet start dampen any spirits.

The 29th Stonehaven Marathon also took place in July with 300 runners taking part while reporter Rachel Campbell turned her hand to gardening helping Stonehaven’s Horizon group in our ‘Thank You to the Volunteer’ series.

Kirsty Imlay with Skye will be in action in Stonehaven to take on the seagull problem in August ''Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES

Kirsty Imlay with Skye will be in action in Stonehaven to take on the seagull problem in August ''Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES

The Laurencekirk Gala kicked off with Alannah Moar proving she had the ‘Gala Factor,’ beating seven other acts in the talent show held at St Laurence Hall. Alannah and runner up Eilidh Watt also performed at Gala Day.

After a two year hiatus the Stonehaven Highland Games came back riding high with an estimated 3000 people turning out to Mackie Academy’s playing fields. Organisers said they enjoyed ‘their biggest games yet’.

The new committe was praised by committee chairman Roger Barnett who said: “A special mention to the new committee, who have been nothing short of inspirational with their hard work and commitment.”

August - Stonehaven’s seagull population became a major talking point throughout the town with a huge discussions on social media about the problems caused by the birds throughout August.

Brian Doyle sent us this picture of the massive waves in Stonehaven in October

Brian Doyle sent us this picture of the massive waves in Stonehaven in October

MSP Alex Johnstone said the seagulls’ mess had reached ‘crisis point’ in the town with pavements, cars and locals becoming painted in seagull mess. Aberdeenshire Council extened a scheme run by NBC bird and Pest Solutions introduced in Peterhead so Stonehaven could come under the watchful eye of Harris Hawk ‘Skye’.

In more romantic news a padlock on a Stonehaven Bridge caused reporter Rachel to start scouring social media. Appearing on the footbridge across the Cowie river in Stonehaven, the padlock etched with ‘Vikki will you marry me’ led our reporter to track down the couple to find out if she said yes.

We caught up with the Aberdeen couple who recreated their first date which so happened to be in Stoney with Andrew popping the question. Vikki said she was been completely taken by surprise by the level of interest in the proposal and thanked everyone for their kind messages.

Johnshavens Fish Festival proved another popular event in August with crowds flocking to the coastal village to get some smokies and paella.

Queen's Baton Relay Stonehaven. Bob Gibson is handed the baton from Ken Melville. ''Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES

Queen's Baton Relay Stonehaven. Bob Gibson is handed the baton from Ken Melville. ''Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES

August also saw the long awaited first journey of the Stonehaven Land Train. After delays and set backs the attraction has grown into one of the success stories of 2014 with the land train still running throughout December.

At the end of August we reported how an art deco house for sale in the Mearns boasted a letter box with a difference - with a life-sized Tardis sitting outside the property in Fourdon.

September - The Market Bar’s annual funday started off September, raising over £20,000. Owner Lorna Anderson said: “It was the biggest funday we have had yet and the Newtonhill Pipe Band finished it up brilliantly.”

Stonehaven’s Flood Protection scheme took a giant leap forward in September as councillors agreed to the scheme in principle. The Policy and Resouces Committee agreed to provide funding at a provisional estimate of £14m-£16m. The council heard that if their were no objections to the legal order construction could begin by late 2015 on the scheme.

A pub landlord took an express delivery with a difference in September when his grandson was born in his van. Davy Forbes, who runs the Queens Hotel, found himself racing to Aberdeen Maternity Unit when Caroline Jones, the partner of his son, Paul, went into labour while visiting them.

The impatient Ollie couldn’t wait until reaching the hospital and was born in Davys van when they arrived at the entrance o the maternity hospital. Davy called the drive the most horrendous he had every had.

This picture is just one of the homes taking part in the fundraising.

This picture is just one of the homes taking part in the fundraising.

Stonehaven was awarded Fairtrade Town status by the Fairtrade foundation who highly praised the application. In the official report the application was praised for having the support of every school in the town. Children at Mill O’Forest Primary School had designed posters explaing what Fairtrade is and how to support it.

The biggest news in September was the Scottish Independence Referendum which saw Scotland decide to stay within the United Kingdom and not become Independent.

September saw the culmination of two years of campaigning by both Yes Scotland and Better Together. In the run up to polling day Mearns FM held an impartial debate that saw four panelists taking questions from a well attended and lively audience.

We contacted each panelist and gave them their chance to explain to our readers why they should vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No.

In Aberdeenshire, turnout was 87.2% with 180,045 votes cast, 60% voted No and 40% voted yes.

October - October kicked off with sad news for beer fans as the popular Stonehaven Beer Festival announced that they were moving from November to June.

After five years at Stonehaven Town Hall, the event is moving to Baird Park under a new banner the ‘Midsummer Beer Happening.’ News was met with disappointment at first but excitement all around as the move many thought would led to a better festival.

Residents of Turner Court were evacuated after coastal flooding hit Stonehaven on October 7 with the beachfront under water.

Huge waves battered business and residents as a rest centre was set up at Mackie Academy. The Mearns Leader was inundated with your pictures of the huge waves across Stonehaven.

Our long term Johnshaven correspondent, Clark Simpson, had his final Johnshaven Jottings published in October with the benchmark set.

Clark received a small token of our appreciation for his work over the years with the whole community of Johnshaven singing his praises in the weeks before and after his final Jottings.

A Mearns primary school got a colourful makeover with the whole school getting involved. Redmyre School pupils worked together with local artist Sheila Moir helping paint a new mural inside the school.

A last ditch attempt to make improvements to the planned trunk road fastlink AWPR junction was made at the end of October. A petition was launched to ask Transport Scotland to re-think the Stonehaven junction. David Fleming of Stonehaven Town Partnership launched the petition.

Ten year-old Auchenblae Primary pupil Molly Gowans-Ouvray raised more than £2,000 for charity after shaving her head during an assembly at school.

The pupil doubled her initial target of £1000 with classmates even getting the opportunity to cut a few of her braids.

November - Skies across Kincardine and Mearns were lit up at the start of November with a host of bonfire events held throughout the area. Local community radio station Mearns FM were on hand to feature music at the events.

Ninety-one-year-old Stonehaven man and Arctic Convoy veteran, George Leiper, was honoured in November with the Russian Ushakov Medal. The medal, awarded to the veterans of the convoys ‘for personal courage and valour’ shown during World War Two, was presented to him on Saturday, November 8. The ceremony took place at Aberdeen Town House and the award was presented by the Consul General of the Russian Federation on behalf of their president, Vladimir Putin.

Stonehaven’s Open Air in the Square made the announcement that X Factor contestant and rising singing star Emily Middlemas had joined the line up for the Hogmanay event. Also joining Emily and The Human League was Scots singer Carrie Mac.

The community group Brighter Bervie announced they had appointed an artist partner to work with the community. Debbie Ryan was to be involved in designing, creating and installing at Inverbervie’s seafront.

The end of November saw the start of the festive period in Kincardine and Mearns as Christmas extravaganzas took place. Stonehaven held a festive fun day that culminated with the Christmas light switch on.

Many shops stayed open late offering exclusive deals. A parade was also held from the Leisure centre to the Market Square which included the Stonehaven Land Train, Porridge the Donkey and other community groups taking part. In Laurencekirk new Christmas Tree lights brightened up the town. Six new lights were purchased with held from a fundraising coffee morning and other community events.

December - Dip veteran Michael Hopkins was announced to be the lead dipper at the Stonehaven New year charity dip for a sixth year running.

Michael has made the splash on New Year’s Day wearing various costumes from Batman, Baywatch and Saltireman, accompanied by fellow lead dipper and sidekick, Adam Bennett.

With less than a fortnight to go until Open Air in the Square, one of this year’s acts had a go on the popular Stonehaven Land Train. X-Factor contestant, Emily Middlemas, was in Stonehaven on Wednesday the 17th to help promote the Hogmanay event. Emily was announced in November along with rising Scots star Carrie Mac, with the pair due to share the stage with The Human League and The Peatbog Faeries.

The Leader and Observer took the chance of a quick word with Emily on her first visit to the town before she returns on Hogmanay.

She said: “I’m really excited about the gig on Hogmanay, this is my first time in Stonehaven and it’s such a lovely wee place. We’ve just had a walk along the beachfront and everyone is so friendly.

‘‘I’m looking forward to sharing the bill with the Human League, of course, and I’m also really looking forward to seeing Carrie. We’re good friends and it will be nice to catch up with her again.”

Residents of a Stonehaven street which lights up every Christmas to raise money for good causes smashed their target within weeks of putting up their display raising over £3000.

Residents of Malcolm’s Way put on an impressive display of Christmas lights, and invited people to come and enjoy them asking for a small donation to a local charity in return.