US twinning link for Stonehaven

Phil Mills-Bishop, left, with Richard Holman-Baird
Phil Mills-Bishop, left, with Richard Holman-Baird

Stonehaven is preparing to seal another twinning agreement - this time across the Atlantic.

The town is poised to formalise a partnership with the city of Athens in Alabama, in America’s Deep South.

Mayor of Athens, Ronnie Marks

Mayor of Athens, Ronnie Marks

The move has been confirmed by Phil Mills-Bishop, co-ordinator of Stonehaven and NE Scotland Twinning (NET).

It comes after Stonehaven’s success in twinning with the French town of Acheres during the summer.

Mayor of Athens, Ronnie Marks, will formally announce on November 18 that the links with the Mearns will form part of Athens’ bicentenary celebrations and the 200th anniversary of Alabama’s formation as a state.

Mr Marks said: “Twinning with Stonehaven and working with others on an international level will showcase our communities and allow many long-lasting partnerships to form.

“I look forward to meeting the Stonehaven delegation next year.”

A group from Stonehaven, spearheaded by Mr Mills-Bishop, is expected to visit Athens in May.

Representatives from the city are likely to travel to the North-east in July.

Mr Mills-Bishop said: “This is another exciting development for Stonehaven and the North-east.

“Our respective histories, landscapes and visitor attractions are very different so twinning is ideal to facilitate forward understanding and planning for visitors.”

Meanwhile, the Clan Baird Society Worldwide has been involved in stimulating interest in the new partnership.

Professor Debra Baird, of Athens University, is president of the society.

The clan chief is Richard Holman-Baird, of Rickarton Estate, who is deputy co-ordinator of the twinning group.

He said: “My ancestor Alexander Baird, a Victorian Glaswegian industrialist, made a fortune in pig iron production and in 1854 purchased the Ury Estate Stonehaven for £20,000 on the death of the last Barclay.

“As Baird clan chieftain, the heritage resides with me.”

Professor Baird explained: “Several of Richard’s ancestors migrated to the US and helped establish coal, iron, and US steel production. Naturally today there are many Bairds throughout the US and following the ancient “Tanistry Law”, owe clan loyalty to the nearest male bloodline, which is Richard.

“I have been delighted to work with both Phil and Richard in helping to establish this concordat with Athens.

“The Baird US Society will play a full part in the relationship both when the delgation arrives in May/June, and as part of the US delegation to Stonehaven in July, 2019.”

The twinning group has actively been pursuing new partnerships after the link-up with Acheres - a suburb of Paris.

Towns in Germany, Portugal and Japan are under consideration for future twinning.