The President, Mrs Anne Black, welcomed 21 members to the first meeting of 2015 by wishing everyone a very Happy New Year.
She then introduced the speaker for the morning, Bill Howatson, councillor and journalist. Mr Howatson was born in rural Dumfriesshire, educated in Lockerbie and then went on to University in Edinburgh. His flair for journalism started while at university where he wrote for a student magazine.
Afterwards. he secured a job with the Scottish Farmers’ newspaper and in 1984 joined the Press & Journal as a sub editor. After six months he became farming editor which gave him the opportunity to travel around Scotland covering farming issues and policies. He now writes regularly for the Dundee Courier.
As someone who wanted to go into public service, in 1999 Mr Howatson was delighted to be elected councillor for Mearns South ward. For him, dealing with constituents and their problems to help improve a wide range of services from roads and public transport to refuse collection has been very rewarding.
He then became Provost for Aberdeenshire in 2007 which he admitted was one of the happiest five years of his life. The role is wide-ranging involving all sectors of the local community and representing Aberdeenshire at local, national and international events.
In particular, he enjoyed meeting and talking to the many volunteers whose valuable work cannot be over-stated.
Mr Howatson was asked to be the council nominee on the Board of NHS Grampian and was appointed chair of NHS Grampian from 2011 until just recently. This was a huge honour and allowed him to be part of the decision-making process to create services to improve people’s health.
Mrs Black thanked Mr Howatson for speaking to the meeting and asked Mrs Williamson to propose the vote of thanks.