Round the rurals and clubs

Polar explorer Charlie Paton was the guest of honour at the Sea Cadets mess dinner
Polar explorer Charlie Paton was the guest of honour at the Sea Cadets mess dinner

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Inverbervie Probus club

“A life on the ocean waves” was the subject of the speaker, Captain Robbie Middleton, who was introduced by Chris Greene. Robbie was at sea for 20 years, mainly on cargo and passenger ships. He then moved to the oil industry before retiring 14 years ago.

Robbie had decided to go to sea at the age of 11; He attended Robert Gordon’s College as a day pupil and thereafter Robert Gordon’s Institute of Technology – School of Navigation, which, alas, no longer exists.

In 1964, age 20, he passed his 2nd mates exam, but unfortunately, because of the typhoid outbreak in Aberdeen, he found himself unemployed. Robbie moved south to join the Ross Hutchison line doing 6 weekly trips shipping wine from Bordeaux. He served at sea in general cargo vessels until joining Fred Olsen Line in 1974 as chief officer.

Here he found that 1 large container ship replaced 30 small cargo ships. After one voyage on a geared bulk carrier was appointed Staff Captain of their Passenger vessel MS Blenheim. He served on this vessel for several years and then as Captain on all of the Olsen UK registered ships. This position allowed to take his wife and children on board and so they sailed round the world for 7 years until their oldest daughter was 5 and ready for school education.

Robbie changed from a seagoing to shore-based career becoming Aberdeen based Marine Manager of Salvesen Offshore Services controlling a fleet of 8 oil industry support vessels as well as delivering training in marine environmental management and oil spill response. In 1988 he joined the Fife based Briggs Group to form Briggs Marine Environmental Services Ltd as the company’s first Managing Director.

Captain Middleton had become a member of the Nautical Institute in 1973 and was awarded a fellowship in 1984. He was appointed President of the Institute from 2002 until 2004 which took him round the world visiting and helping to re-establish branches.

This pinnacle of his career was not however his proudest moment – this came when his daughter, Claire, not only followed his seagoing career, but became a Captain in her own right.

After a series of questions from members, Gordon Watson expressed the gratitude of members for such an interesting talk, in proposing the vote of thanks.



1st Keddie & Isobel Law

2nd Drs Alan & Fiona Lyall


1st Edith Argo/Anita Watters

2nd Margaret McLauchlan/Shiela Cooper

Stonehaven Bridge Club


1st Mr S Watt & Mrs M Curnow +3110pts

2nd Mrs P Watt & Mrs G Junnier +2010

3rd Mrs C Medlock & Mrs C harrison +930


1st Mrs S Powada & Mrs V Davies +1910pts

2nd Mrs D Gray & Mr J Payne -800

3rd Mrs M Clowes & Mrs A Gray -950.

Fettercairn wri

It was only the 1st of December, but we celebrated in style by having our Christmas party, with a “Taste and Try”. There was more than enough for everyone as we tasted various foods. The meeting was presided over by Vice-president, Mary Farries, who dealt with the business first. She congratulated the Matter of Opinion team for coming third in the National Competition; Alison Argo got a special mention for being the best Chairman.

There was time for a couple of quiz-type games before the serious business of eating began! Afterwards we sang a couple of carols and finished off with a Christmas present game. You had to score a 6 with the dice in order to choose a present; when there are no more presents left on the main table, you take somebody else’s. I haven’t seen some members move so fast in a long time!

Winners of the monthly competitions were as follows:

Wrapped parcel

1st: Christine Tait

2nd: Morag Christie

3rd: Bea Easson

Christmas Tree decoration (any craft)

1st: Sheena Kelly

2nd: Frances Clark

3rd: Chris Milne

Flower of the Month

1st: Sheena Kelly

2nd: Nancy Brown

3rd: Mary Farries.

Finally, Joan Nicoll proposed the vote of thanks for what had been a wonderful evening.

Stonehaven rotary club

The speaker last Wednesday was Clare Plaister who spoke to members about Language Travel Tours, the company for which she works. She described the process from the point where teachers in continental schools look at the brochure to decide where in the UK they want their pupils to go through to their stay with a host family in the selected area.

The purpose of the visits is to enable the pupils to see the sights, experience Scottish life and learn some English.

Aberdeenshire is a fairly recent addition to the selection. The representatives of the company had previously visited Stonehaven to see the facilities and what the area had to offer pupils.

Last year was the first time groups had visited the North east and it was so successful that the company wants to send more this year. Pupils come for short stays of 4 nights and longer stays of three weeks. They travel by coach accompanied by teachers who stay in B and B during the stay. During the daytime on the short stay visits; the pupils and their teachers are out and about touring the local area from 8am to 7pm. On the longer stay visits, they have lessons in the mornings at the Community Centre and activities in the afternoon.

In both cases, the host family provides full board of breakfast, packed lunch and evening meal and the company pays a daily allowance to the host family to help cover costs. Clare has accepted to find host families for 2 short stay groups from France, one at the end of March and one at the end of April, and one three week stay from Spain in June/July.

Host families are asked to accommodate the French pupils in pairs, threes or fours and the Spanish pupils are allocated one per family. For the French groups, hosts do not need to have children in the home but they do for the Spanish group. Vote of thanks was by Caroline Sinclair.

For many years, members of Stonehaven Rotary club have visited elderly people in the various Care homes on their birthday to give them a plant as a gift from Rotary. The Club relies on receiving the information about birthdays from relatives of the people in the Care homes as the homes themselves cannot give out this information under the terms od data protection.

The recipients of the plants always seem happy to receive the gift..and probably more importantly, the visit from the Rotarian delivering the gift.

At last week’s meeting Rotarian Kenny Jones, a member of the Community Committee and the person who coordinates the arrangements, read out a thank you note from Mowat Court, thanking the club for the gifts to the residents there and enclosing a cheque for £100 to show their appreciation for what the Club does. The money will be used to provide further gifts to the residents in the care homes whose birthdays are known to the Rotary Club.

Sea Cadets

Forty Stonehaven Sea Cadets attended the annual Mess Dinner at T.S.CARRON on Thursday 3rd December with Polar Explorer Charlie Paton, seated centre, as guest of honour. Charlie Paton was a Stonehaven Sea Cadet in the 1980s before joining the Royal Navy and later transferring to the Royal Marines. He returns to Polar regions next year.

Mr Paton made a surprise presentation to Mess President Hannah Martin, seated 3rd from left, as she was advanced to Leading Cadet as of that evening. In accordance with Royal Navy tradition Cadets were served by members of the Unit StafF as a reward for their hard work during the year.

Stonehaven and District Probus Club

Our speaker last Tuesday was Lord Lieutenant of Kincardineshire, Carol Kinghorn who spoke about the work of the Soldier, Sailor and Airman Family Association, SSAFA. Carol, a committee member of the local branch, told us that SSAFA is the oldest military charity in the world.

Founded in 1885 specifically to raise money to help support the families of soldiers of the Expeditionary Force sent to rescue General Gordon besieged in Khartoum in the Sudan it expanded its remit in 1900 to include the Royal Navy and, in 1918, the Royal Air Force was also included.

Today SSAFA provides help for bereaved service families and injured service personnel and their families, not only in the UK but some of its 92 branches are to be found in Brunei, the Falklands, Cyprus and Gibraltar. Last year its 600 volunteers directly supported over 40,000 veterans and their families.

One example is the Ghurkha Welfare Trust, set up this year on the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Ghurkha regiments. Over 500 of these Nepalese troops are presently stationed in the North East and much of the money will go towards rebuilding homes after the recent earthquake disaster in their homeland.

Carol made a point of stressing the surprisingly integrated nature of our military charities. Although SSAFA does carry out fundraising the Big Three fundraising military charities are the Royal British Legion, Help for Hero’s and ABF.

However with its 600 volunteers, three quarters of whom are trained caseworkers, SSAFA is at the very core of the whole process in its unique ability to identify need and so direct help and funds from these other military charities to where they are most needed.

A very heartfelt Vote of Thanks was given by John Callander.