Round the rurals and clubs

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Laurencekirk Business Club

Newly formed Laurencekirk Business Club is going from Strength to strength. The new committee led by Chairwoman Ann Johnson from Blaze Engineering solutions has played a pivotal role in inviting a monthly guest speaker from the Business world to offer free advice and support for local businesses.

Meetings take place the last Tuesday of every month in the Dickson Hall coffee shop with an open door policy for everyone to be welcomed, any business no matter how large or small can attend or any budding entrepreneur who is keen to discuss business ideas should come along.

Each month there has been attendance by a real mix of local companies and it makes a very interesting meeting with time before and after each guest speaker for networking and informal discussion.

We have recent had talks from Bruce Herald form the federation of Small businesses who gave an excellent talk on the many facets that FSB have to offer to businesses with free tips and advice. We have also had Carol Macrae from Aberdeenshire council who spoke of grants available to companies.

We also had Liz Pirie, an inspirational guest speaker from Business gateway who gave a very interesting account into her business history and her previous work experience that led her into her role as a business advisor for business gateway. She now utilizes her skills and wisdom with Elevator, a Social enterprise group with Business Gateway that supports entrepreneurs through providing expert business advice, teaching entrepreneurship and enterprising behavior to the business leaders and employees of today and tomorrow.

Business Gateway has an excellent record of helping businesses and she gave as much advice as she could in the 2hrs she spent with us.

The start of these meetings was kicked off back in May with guest speaker Anne Lawson from Mattoli Woods, a specialist in Employer Pensions, Benefits and employee retention who went on to give an excellent account of how important staff retention is, how certain inexpensive products can assist businesses and discussed the impending auto-enrolment, which every business will be affected by. Her talk gave a no nonsense practical account with advice on how to be tax efficient with practical solutions on the best use of available benefits for your business and information on funded voluntary benefit schemes.

The club is now having a break for the summer and will be resuming at the end of August with a summer barbeque planned for members followed by business meetings recommencing the last Tuesday of September, so please feel free to come along.

Laurencekirk Rotary

Rotary Club of Laurencekirk and District welcomed Graham Henderson to its regular meeting in the Crown Inn on Monday July 20.

President Allan Smith, introduced Graham to the Club. He indicated that Graham was getting married at the end of August, and when he was planning his Stag Night, rather than go to the likes of Magaluf with his mates for a “bad” weekend, he decided that they would rather do something beneficial, have a good experience, and do something different. Graham decided on tackling the Barcelona Run 2015.

Graham explained the purpose of the trip, the targets set, and the experiences.

He explained that the Barcelona Run 2015 involved driving from Calais, to Barcelona, by way of Tours and Biarritz in France, in a vehicle which cost less than £400.

Graham rustled up 4 of his friends, all Lournie lads, Alan Bell, Scott Forsyth, Allan Scales, and Euan Cartney. Because there were 5 of them they needed 2 cars. They managed to buy a standard Ford Focus, and a Volvo V70 for the total price of £346.00.

To add a bit of colour to the project the cars were given a theme, the Volvo dressed up as the hulk at a casino, and the Focus covered in stickers (11,000 in total), making both cars particularly eye-catching and noticeable around Laurencekirk and the surrounding area.

As the plans developed and work was carried out on the cars, they made contact with other groups who had entered the challenge, some from Dundee, Inverness and elsewhere around Scotland and England. Communicating with these groups built up camaraderie, which was to help all of them throughout the challenge.

They of course had to drive to Calais before starting the Run, and from there had to check into Tours and Biarritz en route to Barcelona.

They did not take the “straight” route and took the opportunity to visit places like Le Mans, and travel over the Pyrenees near to Andorra. This involved taking the cars up to over 7000 feet, with snow lying around, and with no complaint from the cars themselves.

Graham’s talk was very well illustrated with excellent photos showing the story of the original cars, the work done to them to personalise them, some of the other participants’ vehicles, the memorable sites seen on the trip, and the obvious thrill of their achievement of the challenge.

Graham drove the Focus to work for a few weeks prior to the trip to check the mechanics of it. On their arrival in Barcelona, they parked the Focus in the street, and a pedestrian crossed the road when he saw the car.

He approached them and said “Are you fae Aiberdeen, ave seen that car aboot the toon”. All the way to Barcelona and the first person to meet them was an Aberdonian!!

Graham finished by reporting that they had asked for sponsorship to see them through the challenge and he announced that they had raised over £4000 for Cancer Research UK Charity.

Charlie Black thanked Graham for his excellent, informative, humorous and very well illustrated talk.

He commented that the talk had been welcomed by all the members present, and considered the double achievements of driving 2 old bangers to Barcelona and back, and raising so much sponsor money was highly commendable.

He asked the members to record their appreciation and Graham was given a very well deserved round of applause.