Horticultural Society


In welcoming everyone who attended the recent Annual General Meeting of the Benholm and Johnshaven Horticultural Society in the Village Hall, President Kevin Dunbar said that he had again enjoyed his term in the Chair and thanked the committee, especially Vice- President Allen Smith, Secretary Morag Smith , and Treasurer Hilary Firth for all their hard work and Society members and the public for their continuing support.

He had a special word of praise, too, for long-serving committee member, Carol Eaton, for her invaluable advice in keeping them all on the right track.

Moving on to describe the year’s activities, Mr Dunbar was pleased to report that both the seed and plant sales had been successful and expressed his appreciation to all who helped, donated and had gone along to buy at the latter. The coach trip to Gardening Scotland 2013 at Ingliston had been thoroughly enjoyable and those who went had taken great pleasure, not only from the many wonderful exhibits on display but also in the high tea which was provided at Coupar Angus on the way home. Of course, the highlight of the Society’s year is the Flower Show which yet again, the President said, was a good day with entries of 470 up by 50 on the previous year. He congratulated all who had entered the Show and hoped that the weather would be kind again this year.

The only disappointing feature of 2013 had been the cancellation of the Spring Garden Competition due to poor weather at the crucial time but Mr Dunbar sincerely hoped that it would be possible to hold it this year..

Concluding his very positive report, Mr Dunbar again thanked all who had given their support to the Society throughout a very successful and rewarding year.

The balance sheet, as presented by the Treasurer, Hilary Firth, showed that income for the year was £1,975 and expenditure £2,022: there was a surplus of £163 on Show Day and the Society ended 2013 with a healthy balance of £3,179.

Office-bearers and committee elected for 2014-16 are as follows:

President, Kevin Dunbar. Vice-President, Allen Smith. Secretary, Morag Smith. Treasurer, Richard Firth. Committee: Mary Berget, Rebecca Chambers, Holly Chandler, Donald Dundas, Fiona Dundas, Carol Eaton, Hilary Firth, Ishbel Gray and James Stewart.

Next on the Society’s schedule of events is the annual Plant Sale in the Village Hall on Saturday, May 17 between 1 and 3 pm and , no doubt, the committee will be happy to receive donations of plants for this major fund-raiser in due course.

This year’s Flower Show will be held, also in the Village Hall, on Saturday, August 30 from 1.30 until 4.15 pm. Schedules are now available and, although each committee member has a distribution district, anyone who feels they have been missed out can acquire one by contacting either the President, Kevin on 361286 or the Secretary, Morag on 360020.

Featuring prominently in this year’s schedule is the Commonwealth Games. In the home baking section exhibitors are invited to enter a decorated Commonwealth Games cake: in the industrial section there is an opportunity to create a Commonwealth Games decoration while children, up to the age of ten, may design a poster for the Commonwealth Games.

The committee was pleased with the numbers who turned up to the seed sale in the Village Hall on Saturday morning to take advantage of the discounted items and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee. Those who did not place an order, nevertheless, enjoyed the refreshment and the company.

Mearns Coastal Parish Church

The minister, the Rev Colin Dempster, conducted a united family service of worship in St Cyrus Church on Sunday morning and continued his study of Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Afterwards, the congregation enjoyed a time of refreshment and fellowship.

Mearns Coastal is now a Fairtrade church and, intimating that Monday, February 24 to Sunday, March 9 is Fairtrade Fortnight, the Rev Dempster encouraged the congregation to support the initiative by buying and using Fairtrade products..

Organist was Mrs Helen Doig.

This Sunday’s services will be held at 10 am in St Cyrus Church and in Johnshaven Church the annual Thinking Day Service will be held at 11.30 am.

Community Council left-overs

The main business at the recent meeting of the Community Council in the Village Hall was the open discussion of the Draft Appraisal of the proposed Benholm Conservation Area. This left members with only a little time to deal with other matters.

The preparation of the ground below the Masonic Hall for Johnshaven’s first allotment scheme having been completed very recently, members decided that there would be space for four “large” and one “small” individual plots, the annual charges being £50 and £25 respectively. A decision still had to made, however, on how to make a selection from the six applicants in time for the official opening of the allotments which will take place tomorrow, Saturday, March 1 at 11 am.

Councillors were glad to hear that Benholm and Johnshaven remains a low crime area. However, the representative from Grampian Police who was present took the opportunity to advise residents, in the light of recent break-ins in other communities, to keep doors of houses and cars locked. He emphasised, too, the risk of leaving car keys in vulnerable places such as porches and ledges.

Pot holes again rearing their ugly head, it was reported that there were some, around the harbour, Baron’s Pade, Seaview Terrace and the Backie for example, which had now become hazardous to vehicles.

However, since the Community Council meeting, Aberdeenshire Council roadmen have been seen busy re- tarring near the Dock.

The Annual General Meeting of the Benholm and Johnshaven Community Council will be held in the Village Hall on Wednesday, March 12 at 7 pm. When at full strength the Council comprises nine members and, apart from the fact that there are currently three vacancies, it is felt that there is a need for nominations from the Benholm area.. Anyone requiring further information and, or, a nomination form is asked to contact the Secretary, Michael Bennett, Tel 01561 361225 or using email: michael.bennett418@btinternet.com

The AGM will be followed immediately by the regular monthly meeting of the Community Council.

The Hardgate

Although hampered by storms, work is progressing on the construction of a cairn and information board at the Hardgate as an integral part of the north section of the Coastal Path, the intention being also to put in some planters while generally landscaping the area. The project, financed by Aberdeenshire Council and executed by The Conservation Volunteers is seen as a follow-up to the earlier installation of rock armour which seems to have prevented a recurrence of previous flooding.

Until the 1930s the Hardgate comprised a mixture of houses, sheds and business premises and after they were demolished, apart from a coastal protection scheme which saw a concrete promenade and handrail introduced, then later two benches, the ground lay largely fallow. As time went on, though, it increasingly became a convenient dumping ground for contractors’ storage, vehicles and spoil turning the surface into a quagmire. In 1993 the Community Council decided to roll up their annual special project grant with a view to regenerating the area and, with Kincardine and Deeside District Council finally agreeing to provide the bulk of the funds, the £13,000 Hardgate Environmental Improvement Project was officially opened by Grampian Regional Councillor, the late Alastair Henry, on Saturday 27 August 1996.

A management agreement was earlier reached between the District Council and Brotherton Estates, the owners of the ground, and wearing on now for almost 20 years, the paved and grassed area with seating bays has proved popular, not only with locals and visitors to the village, but with walking groups as a pleasant resting point as they make their way along the old coast road.

However, less than half of the Hardgate was improved in 1996 and ever since then both the Community Council and nearby residents have come up with various ideas to complete the transformation.. A major stumbling block has always been the exposed nature of the site which made soft landscaping difficult and hard landscaping costly, Now, though, with high waves not quite such a threat, further improvements are underway.

Last year The Conservation Volunteers, who have been helping other people to reclaim green places since 1959, constructed a cairn, topped with an information board, “The rocky variety of life”, adjacent to the turning head at the west end of the village, and this will be complemented by the one they have just embarked on.

Typically, the Volunteers are on site on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from just before 11 am until around 3.00 pm and they extend an open invitation to anyone who would like to come along and join them. However, the work is weather dependent and the local person to contact for up-to-date information is Niall Young, telephone number 01561 362203

Bowling Club

Bowling Club members are reminded that the AGM takes place in the Community Clubroom at Wairds Park this Sunday, March 2 at 2 pm.


Back in the 1980s a highly popular “Leader Sport” football quiz was held annually in the Royal Hotel, Stonehaven. Twenty five years ago the runners-up, competing under the name, “The Martin Allan Fan Club” were the Johnshaven trio of Craig Simpson, Donald Dundas and captain, Iain Duncan. A treasured memory. The occasion was, in fact, history virtually repeating itself. The previous year Craig, Donald and Iain, competing as Johnshaven Dauntless had tied for first place and would have won the coveted trophy on the tie break were it not for a catastrophic clerical error when answering one of the easiest footballing questions imaginable. A shame to be reminded of it! Yet again!