Jim Kerr thanks Open air organisers

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SCOTS rock star Jim Kerr has thanked Stonehaven’s Hogmanay party organisers for their warm hospitality during his recent visit to the town. The Simple Minds frontman had been piped to a media launch at Dunnottar Castle for this year’s Open Air In The Square event and happily posed for photos with locals and bemused visitors at the castle and later at the harbour.

In a message to the group of volunteers who are handling the massive task of putting the Hogmanay gig together, Jim Kerr said they could teach established festivals a thing or two.

He said: “We enjoyed every minute of our time in Stonehaven.

“It is a wonderful thing to see people working from the heart and I am sure your event will be a true success.

“In my opinion you could easily teach the already established festivals a thing or two about launching events - and that’s saying something considering this is only your second year.”

Chart-toppers Simple Minds will headline the concert on December 31 at the Market Square along with support acts.

Last Year the Red Hot Chilli Pipers were the main attraction, playing through The Bells.

This year’s tickets sold out within days of them going on sale online and at Celtic Chords music shop in Stonehaven’s Barclay Street.

The singer was welcomed to Stonehaven by OAIS Committee chairman David Lawman and committee members Michelle Ward and Lindsay Verstralen. He was greeted by Lathallan School pipe band and watched a fireball swinging demonstration by Lynn Callaghan whose dad Bill Emslie created the fiery basket specially for the occasion.

Lindsay said the organisers were slightly pinching themselves to make sure they were not dreaming.

The event will cost more than £200,000 to stage and this year the organisers are looking for as much sponsorship as possible from local and national businesses, including the chance of company VIP packages.

The event is organised in tandem with the famous fireball swinging ceremony nearby in the Auld Toon’s High Street. Last year the Square Party attracted around 5,000 revellers.

Michelle Ward, a leading figure behind the event, said Simple Minds had been on their wish list as soon as the committee started planning after last year’s shindig and had been determined to sign them for the big night.

This year the family festival will be spread over two days with a celidh on New Year’s Day and other events. It is also hoped to lay on bus transport from various outlying areas from Aberdeen to Montrose.