Exciting news from Alasdair Soussi

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Local Place Plan for Foveran Community Council Area

On behalf of Foveran Community Council the Trust will shortly manage a contract to develop a Local Place Plan for Foveran Community Council Area to include the four settlements of Cultercullen, Foveran, Newburgh and Udny Station.

Local Place Plans were introduced by the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 and contain a new right for communities to produce their own plans as part of the new Scottish planning system. Local Place Plans contain the community’s proposals for the development and use of land, and provide a new opportunity for communities to feed into the planning system with ideas and proposals.  This Plan will provide evidence for the preparation of the next Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan in 2028 and its production is strongly supported by Aberdeenshire Council.

Local Place Plans are more than just a plan: they can help communities understand what they want to be like in the future and help to develop a positive community identity.  They can help develop local connections and collaborations and develop community capacity and improve social capital. They can support community aspirations on the big challenges for a future Scotland, such as responding to the global climate emergency, biodiversity, energy security and tackling inequalities.  They are an opportunity for real, community-based change.   So do please get involved in shaping the future of our local communities – by doing so you have a real say in how our local communities develop in the future.

The Community Council is shortly to discuss the appointment of a professional organisation to support the production of the Local Place Plan for Foveran. It will design an engagement programme over the next six months to involve facilitated meetings, drop-in sessions, school events etc in an effort to reach and engage with all sectors of our local communities.

James McBey Project

On Saturday 27 January 2024 we had a very successful launch of the James McBey Project with just over a hundred people attending a thoroughly enjoyable talk in Newburgh Village Hall about the life and times of James McBey by Alasdair Soussi, author of the biography of James McBey entitled ‘Shadows and Light: The Extraordinary Life of James McBey’.

In addition to the Trust, Phil Astley, Jane Bradford and Alasdair Soussi comprised the Project Team which came together to mark the hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary of the birth of James McBey on 23 December 1883.  The Project has delivered a wide range of initiatives including signage, plaques and a leaflet all of which is aimed to raise awareness of an artist of international renown. Lots of folk helped us along the way – too many to list here but they were all thanked at the launch of the Project. 

On the Sunday 28 January Alasdair led a walk in and around Newburgh and Newmill that have an association with James McBey’s early life.  Some forty hardy souls began the day at the top of the boardwalk at Newburgh beach and viewed the landscapes of sea, dune and land that inspired McBey and many of which appear in his art. We then visited McBey’s birthplace at Newmill and admired the new interpretive board there. Then it was a quick visit to the McBey/Gillespie family grave at the former Foveran Parish Church where the family gravestone has been restored and stabilised. We returned to Newburgh and admired the newly installed plaque on the side of 80 Main Street which was the childhood home of James McBey.  And then it was back to the village hall for soup and sandwiches and a blether!

Finally as part of the project, Bethan Edwards arranged for a group of primary school pupils from Aberdeen City to visit Newburgh where they spent the day at Newburgh Mathers School joining several of their classes. The pupils learnt about McBey’s life, sung some relevant songs and went down to the estuary to do drawing and painting influenced by McBey’s work. They finished the day with a ceilidh. The children were particularly excited to see the McBey plaque on the house in the village. 

This leads me onto to say that we hope to build on the work already achieved and have had a meeting with the Aberdeen City Council Archives, Galleries and Museums.  Aberdeen City was James McBey’s spiritual home so we’re keen to make the connections between City and Shire.  Topics we are discussing with the City include a possible exhibition in Newburgh of McBey’s artwork to coincide with North East Open Studios in September 2024, a City guided walk of places in Aberdeen associated with James McBey and further development and roll-out of the primary school initiative described earlier.

Newburgh Seal Viewing Experience Project

Phase two of the Newburgh Seal Viewing Experience Project is scheduled to begin in late April/early May. It involves building a new all abilities path from the Beach road car park, Newburgh, through 230 metres of fixed dunes to the side of the Ythan estuary where a low level viewpoint will be built.  Phase two will also see non-slip material added to the existing boardwalk and the high level viewpoint slightly extended and the erosion around it restored with the planting of marram grass.   At the moment the work is out to tender and the preferred bid will be selected in early April.  Our grant application to the Aberdeenshire Council Sharing Prosperity Fund, to cover 90% of the costs, is still being considered by Aberdeenshire Council but we are hopeful that a decision will be made by the end of March/beginning of April. 

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