Round the Rurals and Clubs

Mearns Probus Club

At the first meeting of the Club for September, club member – and Honorary Member of Inverbervie Probus Club, Geoffrey Goodyear was introduced as the Speaker.

His subject was Harrogate in Yorkshire, his early life there and his subsequent career in the R.A.F and latterly in Local Government. Harrogate was his place of birth and he spoke of its high standing in the 1920s and 1930s as a Spa Town with its many wells and their claimed health-giving properties. This brought wealth through tourism to the Town which continues to the present day.

After school and a short time in local employment, Geoffrey was called up to the R.A.F in the early 1940s and became a Wireless Mechanic after training.

From enlistment to Edinburgh, then a variety of camps in England, he then sailed on a troopship from Gourock on the Clyde, through the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal, Indian Ocean to arrive at Durban in South Africa.

Geoffrey then moved between the many training camps there where pilots, navigators and wireless operators were undergoing training, instructing on the use and operation of the radio sets.

After many years there, he returned in the Mauretania to the UK to complete his R.A.F. service and finally became de-mobbed in 1947.

His career continued in the Civil Service with various authorities before eventual retirement some 50 years later.

Having moved to this area with his wife to be nearer his family, Geoffrey and wife then started afternoon tea dances in Stonehaven to raise money for various Charities.

Now in his 91st year, Geoffrey was thanked by Past President Ian Davidson and congratulated on his amazing memory of the events that shaped his life.

Muchalls WRI

Mrs Barclay welcomed all to our first meeting. We started with the Rural Song, then Mrs Barclay introduced Rev Dennis Rose.

He gave a very interesting talk on his five years as a prison chaplain. Quite a few questions followed. Mrs Rattray gave a vote of thanks, and tea followed.

Competition: Two plain scones - 1. Mrs Chalmers, 2. Mrs Petrie, 3. Mrs Rattray. Raffle was then drawn. The meeting finished with the National Anthem.

Laurencekirk WRI

President Mary Allan welcomed the members of Laurencekirk WRI to the first meeting of the new season and, after business, introduced the Speaker for the evening, Susan Skene, a member of Tarfside Institute and Retired Nurse, who gave a most interesting talk on the history of Stracathro hospital.

Susan went back the years to when Stracathro was an estate before the hospital was built in the late nineteen thirties and told us that during the war wounded soldiers would be brought by train from as far away as London to be treated there, some of them staying there for a few years before being discharged. Stracathro was at one time a School Nursing where Susan did her training, and is vital to our area.

Comp. Winners, Small Flower Arrangement, 1st. Mary Allan, 2nd. Maureen Wadeson, Flower of the Month, Mary Young.

Tea was served by Mary Young and Helpers and Sheila Wilson Proposed Thanks, bringing and very pleasant and interesting evening to a close.

Stonehaven Rotary Club

The speaker at last week’s meeting was Alistair Johnson whose topic was “Shooting v Conservation”. He focused mainly on deer and described how the natural predators of deer-bears and wolves- were no longer around in Scotland and without management the deer population would increase beyond what was an acceptable number. Deer damage crops and trees and they cause traffic accidents when the stray on to roads..whenever you see a deer crossing the road, there is a good chance that there will be another close behind! Poisoning and trapping as a way of managing deer numbers are both illegal but carefully managed shooting at certain times of year can be used as a way of culling the deer. From April to mid October, the bucks are protected and from mid October to the end of March, the does are protected, as they are most likely to be pregnant at that time. Alistair informed members that 350,000 paid jobs are related to the deer industry and that 97% of the deer that are killed go into the food chain. He ended by inviting questions and judging by the number of questions there were, this was a presentation, which had been appreciated by the Rotarians at this meeting. Vote of thanks was by Helen Smith who had invited him to speak to the club.

Around 10 members of Stonehaven Rotary Club helped out once again at the annual NESS bike ride on Sunday, September 13. They were allocated to marshall the cyclists at points round the route and also operated a refreshment point along the route. Fortunately, once again, the weather on Sunday was good and those involved enjoyed their role wherever they were stationed.

Most people know about Rotary’s charitable fundraising for projects at home and abroad, but Rotary is also about having fun.

The Gavel is a hotly contested but friendly series of traditional pub games such as Jenga, Connect 4 and dominoes, played between participating clubs in Rotary district 1010- an area which covers every part of Scotland north of a line from the River Forth to the Isle of Skye. The Gavel contest gives an opportunity for Rotarians to meet together socially, while enjoying some friendly inter-club competition. The host club chooses the games to be played—obviously choosing ones which play to the strengths of their team! Stonehaven Rotary participates each year in the Gavel competition and the first match this year was a home one on Wednesday of this week. Fingers crossed the games which are chosen suited the team members!

Maryculter WI

Vice president Elaine Brainwood welcomed members to their first meeting of the session .After business matters were attended to a general open meeting followed which included a quiz and raffle. The evening was rounded off with a finger buffet supplied by the committee. Next meeting is 14th October when all are welcome.

Portlethen SWRI

Our first meeting of the new session was opened by the President, Jane Sanders who welcomed members and visitors. Our guest speaker was Carol Kinghorn, Lord Lieutenant of Kincardineshire who described her very diverse and interesting role as Her Majesty the Queen’s representative in Kincardineshire. The role encompasses organising royal visits, handling nominations for honours, presenting British Empire Medals, inspecting local cadet units, visiting couples celebrating diamond wedding anniversaries or centenarians celebrating 100th birthdays, celebrating citizenship ceremonies, laying wreaths on Remembrance Day and all manner of other ceremonial duties.

Mrs Kinghorn very graciously agreed to judge the competition entries, the results of which were as follows: Competition winners:-

Two pieces of tablet 1. Isobel Goddard, 2. Betty Silver, 3. Eleanor Main. Handmade Coaster 1. Beatrice Hay 2. Irene Finch 3. Betty Silver.

A lovely tea was served by the outgoing Committee. Next Meeting, Monday October 12 – 7.15pm, Bourtree Hall, Portlethen. (Please note the change of venue for this event only). Quiz to which all Kincardineshire Federation Institutes are invited to send teams and supporters.

Everyone is invited to bring a contribution for the Christmas shoeboxes to be donated to Blythswood Care. New members are always welcome. Contact

Inverbervie Probus Club

Tales of Mystery and Intrigue.

At the first meeting of the new session, members of Inverbervie Probus were treated to a fascinating talk by John Dunn. “The Boddam Loon” – the story of William Murray (5th July 1872 – 21st November 1937) - held members attention throughout.

This man of mystery, with a great distrust of bankers, lawyers and doctors, had many highly successful and lucrative careers. Murray was born in Stirling Village, near Boddam in 1872, one of 11 children. He left school aged 11 and went to sea as a Galley Boy on board the sailing ship “The Windward”, as part of the 1894- 97 Jackson Hamsworth expedition to Franz-Josef Land, an archipelago of 191 islands in the Arctic Ocean. The Captain of the ship was the famous John Gray and ship’s doctor, none other than Dr Arthur Conan Doyle.

On returning from the expedition and seeking more adventure, Murray and most of the crew went to fight in Africa. With no obvious veterinary training he became an Officer Vet in the Boer War and was awarded both the Queen’s and King’s medals for conspicuous gallantry in the face of the enemy. He returned to Aberdeen where he set up an equine vet’s business which thrived.

Murray never married but amassed a fortune with which he purchased property and land using many aliases, making it almost impossible to trace the full details of his life and estate even to this day.

The call of the sea beckoned once more and he signed up as a cook on “The Scotia” for the 1902 – 1904 Scottish Antarctic Expedition – only snag was that he couldn’t cook! The expedition, which was mainly financed by the J & P Coates family, was led by a natural scientist and Edinburgh University scholar, William Speirs Bruce. One of the expedition’s objectives was to examine penguins which were then skinned and stuffed. The flesh was not wasted; Murray cooked it, his curried penguin becoming a ship’s speciality.

On returning to Aberdeen once again, Murray met up with a former shipmate and was persuaded to get involved in yet another venture – joining Standard Oil and taking oil to Japan and Australia on the “John Ena”, a four-masted steel barque sailing ship and oil tanker. He quickly rose through the ranks to become a Commodore Captain and highly respected within the fast growing company. His portrait can still be seen in Standard Oil’s HQ.

Once more he came home to Aberdeen where his vet practice was still doing well, however Murray realised that the use of horse was in decline. He sold his business and much of his property empire for cash which he took in five suitcases of large denomination notes and sailed to New Haven, America, where he purchased a hotel. He used the skills he developed as a manager and chef to build up another very successful venture. During the First World War, W.R.C. was desperate for staff to keep up with demand for rifle making. Murray volunteered and another career blossomed. After the war rifle making declined and Murray persuaded the company to diversify into producing torches, batteries and cooking utensils for which it was to become famous.

Murray expanded his restaurant business into a chain of value for money diners and moved back into hotels, which was to become the seed for the Best Western Hotel Group as we know it today.

His distrust of doctors led to his death at his sister’s home in New Haven, in January 1937 at the age of 65. Murray had taken ill but refused to seek medical advice which would have saved him.

But, as John Dunn tries to unravel the mystery of William Murray, he found there was yet another career, with The Hudson Bay Company. The story of The Boddam Loon with more aliases than careers continues and hopefully will lead to the publication of a book in the not to distant future – fact will no doubt prove to be stranger than fiction once again! On behalf of Probus, Dave Strachan proposed the vote of thanks.

Newtonhill WRI

Newtonhill WRI held the first meeting of the 2015-2016 session in Skateraw Hall, Newtonhill on Thursday September 10 at 7.30pm. Subscriptions were received, and we were delighted to welcome a new member. President Mrs Zena McLeod welcomed everyone to the new session and introduced the the speakers, Jackie and Anne and three week old baby Martha, from Coorie Crafts. It was good of them to come all the way from Forfar, and we were all delighted to see their beautiful crochet items which included hats, little boots for children, ponchos, and much more. They also do felting and something called rice stitch, which they used to make bags and rugs. We were all shown how to do rice stitch and much hilarity ensued as we tried to work out the pattern. Tea was served by some of the committee and business was attended to.

Before closing the meeting Mrs McLeod paid a very moving tribute to Mrs Chrissie McIntosh, a very special lady, who was muched loved by everyone and was our longest serving WRI member and who died several weeks ago.

The meeting was then closed. Next meeting Thursday October 8 at 7.30pm in Skateraw Hall. Topic Talk from Ian Bell, on the Great Tapestry of Scotland. All Very Welcome.

Stonehaven and District Roundtable

The Stonehaven Roundtable organise the Bonfire & Fireworks display, and take Santa around the streets as well as supporting other Stonehaven events: Fee’n market, Party in the Park, school fairs etc, and they operated the harbour festival themselves for over 40 years, now working with the Lions and Rotarians to preserve and improve on a superb event.

Like all community groups, they are struggling for members or general help. The town population has increased significantly yet the community groups are struggling to maintain numbers or memberships are declining.

Your local Roundtable was founded in 1967 and was geared for men aged 18-45, and the goal is to simply put on community events to raise money to help others in the town, we are not a male orientated group these days. Stonehaven is a desirable place to live cause so much goes on, yet all these events are in jeopardy due to lack of members / help at these events. We desperately seek the help of the community, we all are volunteers that plan, prepare and operate events, if you could spare one day a year to help us.

You not only saving our group, you’re helping the community with much needed funding and above all we guarantee you will enjoy yourself. If you’re interested call Andy 07500 045728.