Councillor addresses Mearns Probus meeting

The first meeting of the club for September was held in the Crown Inn, Laurencekirk with President Ian Williamson in the Chair.

The latest speaker to address the members was introduced by the President. He was Tom Fleming now resident in Fettercairn and presently an Aberdeenshire councillor representing that area.

Tom took his audience through his lifetime, from when he was born at a house near Kirriemuir, to his early days at different schools as his father moved around the area being employed at different farms and estates around Forfar and latterly him moving north to finish at Laurencekirk Junior Secondary now the Mearns Academy.

To get to some of the schools he was given a bicycle – as were many others – from the Authorities, school transport was very restricted with minimum distances to be walked if the pupil was within the decreed limits.

Finishing in this area at Johnston Mains and then at Balbegno near Fettercairn, Tom’s future lay in an apprenticeship at Reekies, the Grey Ferguson agents.

Completing his apprenticeship some five years later – and grey Fergies were becoming grey and gold then grey and red – and larger models were appearing, Tom moved on to workshop foreman then on to sales.

Later on he moved to Arbroath remaining with Reekies but here began to specialise in grass cutting machinery and horticultural equipment, as Reekies had bought over a large firm from the South of England and he was appointed as the Sales and Service Manager in North England and up to Strathmore.

Latterly, he was in business on his own in Fettercairn but then became interested in local politics as a Community Councillor before being elected as an Aberdeenshire Councillor to serve this area, ousting the longest serving councillor in Scotland who had been involved for over 43 years. No mean achievement.

Tom also regaled members with his tales of his holidays with one well known local farmer travelling all over Ireland for a few years on holiday, then to Las Vegas and Canada to sail up to Alaska.

Further holidays in Europe and then New Zealand proved to be great experiences as they visited many farms there and met many ex Scots living in the two islands.

He had said very little about his experiences as a Councillor, but as he intends to demit office at the next election, perhaps he can return to the club after that, and further entertain his audiences with fewer inhibitions.

Club member Ian Bell thanked Tom for an excellent morning’s entertainment and interest, and joined with fellow members to give Tom a vote of thanks.

The next meeting will be in the Crown Inn, Laurencekirk on Monday September 19 at 10am with business commencing at 10.30am.