Focus on the “Good News” of Christmas

Mearns Coastal Parish

National Aids Day was Wednesday 1 December and in Johnshaven Church on the second Sunday of Advent the minister, the Rev Colin Dempster, took the opportunity to remind the congregation of the devastating effects which HIV Aids have on those who contract the disease. Referring in his sermon to the genealogy of Jesus and the personal experiences of HIV sufferers he said that just as God had fulfilled his promise to Abraham so too would he continue to be a help and support to all who need it throughout the world.

Earlier, the Rev Dempster had thanked those responsible for decorating the church and welcomed organist Alexander Jones from Arbuthnott who has stepped into the breach following the departure of Robin Beattie after 10 years in the post. Although still a fifth-year pupil at Mackie Academy, Alexander is already an accomplished organist with experience of playing in many local churches including Brechin Cathedral.

In wishing all the readers of the Christmas issue of Mearns Coastal’s newsletter a very Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year, the Rev Dempster comments on those who “hate Christmas” and see it only as a “materialistic advertising campaign” and urges everyone to remember that Christmas is “Good News” and a time for celebrating the love of God through the birth of the baby Jesus.

Also in the newsletter Mrs Heather Jenkins expresses her appreciation of all who helped with this year’s Blysthwood Shoe Box appeal, 120 boxes having been sent by lorry to Eastern Europe where they will be delivered in time for Christmas.

This Sunday’s services will be at the usual times of 10 a.m. in St Cyrus Church and 11.30 a.m.. in Johnshaven Church and the Christmas Services have been arranged as follows:

On Tuesday, December 21 the Primary School will bring their term to an end with a service in Johnshaven Church at 10 a.m. On Christmas Eve in St Cyrus Church at 7 p.m. a Torchlight Service of carols and lessons for all the family will be held and there will also be a Christmas play.

The Church Band will accompany the praise and anyone willing to be part of either the play or the band is asked to contact the Rev Dempster as soon as possible on 01674 850880. Those attending are asked to bring with them their own torch.

The Christmas Day Service will be held in Johnshaven Church at 10 a.m., and children are welcome to take with them one of their presents.

On Boxing Day the only service in Mearns Coastal will be held in St Cyrus Church at the usual time of 10 a.m. and on Sunday, January 2 there will again be only one service in the parish, informal communion in Johnshaven Church at 11 a.m.

Johnshaven Primary School

As the Christmas break fast approaches, and despite the severe weather over the last fortnight or so which has caused difficulties for the educational service in general, the pupils of Johnshaven Primary School have still managed to enjoy and benefit from a range of activities as the November newsletter makes clear.

Six pupils were invited to go along to the recent Young Engineers Showcase event in Aberdeen to demonstrate some of their work, in particular the “Johnner Mail Van” which won the Shell Greenpower Challenge Goblin Trophy.

The pupils enjoyed the day’s activities and did the school proud and Mr Dunbar and Mr Pollock have been thanked for their help and support.

Environmentally, the school had a visit from an RSB Ranger who enthused the P5-7 class with her knowledge and experience of working with birds and they will go on to complete some follow–up research in the garden and, having worked hard during the term to collect eco points, the pupils have been able to use their green vouchers to plant two fruit trees and the school is appreciative of the expert gardening advice given on the planting location by Mrs Tytler, grandmother of one of the pupils.

On the sporting front the school has been visited by Ross Nicholson, Active Sports Co-ordinator for the Stonehaven Primary Schools Cluster who, in looking forward to developing various activities amongst all the schools in the area, stresses that a key aspect in the success of his role lies in the recruitment of parents and volunteers to assist in the work and anyone who can spare an hour or two each week is asked to contact either the school or Ross directly by phone on 07917 263603 or by email <>

Pupils have also been involved in fund-raising and thanks have been received for the £65 which has been donated for Pudsey Bear and for the “useful” £35.50 which the 71kg of textiles produced.

Now, as the clock ticks towards the holidays, the pupils are putting on a concert for their parents in the Village Hall tonight (Friday) at 6.30 p.m. and on Saturday night the Parent Council has provided tickets for them to attend the much acclaimed “Strangeface” production of Charles Dicken’s “Christmas Carol”, also in the Village Hall. December 17 is the day they will all be tucking in to their Christmas lunch and Monday 20 is class party time.

On the last day of term, Tuesday 21, a Christmas Service will be held in Johnshaven Church at 10 a.m. to which all parents are invited and in the afternoon all pupils will take part in games and other activities.

School resumes on Wednesday, January 5 but, as the bell rings at a quarter past three on Tuesday, December 21 will anyone be thinking of that?

Mearns Coastal Guild

The next time the ladies of the Guild meet will be for their Christmas lunch in the Community Clubroom at Wairds Park on Monday, December 13 at 1 p.m.

The past is but yesterday

As village streets throughout the county remained snow-covered, slippy and largely untreated, memories of how things used to be are never far from people’s thoughts. Memory, of course, can be very unreliable and whether or not things were better in the good, even not so old, days may be questionable, but there can be little doubt that they were different.

Until very recently it was rare for schools to close because of bad weather, drivers made every effort to get to work, struggling against ice and battling through snow drifts, as many still do, of course.

Genuine concerns for health and safety, however, have been responsible for changes in attitudes but where have all the snow fences, once familiar sights alongside vulnerable roads, gone and when did a motorist last fix chains to his tyres? However, perhaps the most asked question from those who hark nostalgically back to the past is “whatever happened to all the snow clearers?”

Before the advance of mechanisation and centralisation sanding of the roads and streets was done manually from the back of a lorry, and very hard work it must have been, but because the squads were local and covered a relatively small area it was possible for them to keep conditions largely under control.

In this respect, Johnshaven was, undoubtedly in a favoured position having a roads depot with a snow plough based there as well a compound for road salt and sand. Consequently every time the plough went up or down the New Road it was cleared and treated while the village streets also benefited.

However, in the 1970s most of the functions of the depot were transferred to Stonehaven and the re-organisation of local government in 1975 hastened the pace of change.

The Johnshaven squad was relocated in 1990 and, apart from some winter maintenance work continuing, the depot eventually closed in 1993, finally being sold in 1998.

Now, some old timers will tell you that when conditions were similar to those of the last ten days, as youngsters they sledged all the way down from the top of the New Road to the harbour.

But surely the road had been sanded in those long gone days? Ah, memories, memories!

Answers to Sports Quiz

The rugby player who scored Scotland’s only try against Samoa at Pittodrie Stadium was Nikki Walker.

Grant Munro’s goal against Celtic was significant because it ensured that Inverness Caledonian Thistle would go 52 weeks without losing a game away from home.

The referee who officiated at the match between Hibernian FC and St Johnstone FC was Maltese.

Andy Murray was eliminated at the semi-final stage of the ATP World tennis finals in London.

The highest scorer in the first Ashes Test in Brisbane was England’s Alastair Cook with 235 runs.

Portuguese GT racer, Filipe Albuquerque was celebrating with champagne in Dusseldorf because he had just won the individual race of champions.

The Grade One referee who retired after being embroiled in controversy was Dougie McDonald.

The golfer who won the Dubai World Championship was Robert Karlsson of Sweden.

Julie Forrest made bowling history as the first ever five-time winner of the Taylor Bowls national singles crown and the first to win the title on three successive occasions.

The Saltires met Afghanistan in the final of the International Cup in Dubai.