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NORTH EAST ABERDEENSHIRE MEMBERS' CENTRE
( Charity Number SC 024227 )

North East Aberdeenshire Members' Centre holds a variety of events throughout the year. Here are a few of our recent sucessful events.

April 2019

AGM.

The annual AGM for the Members' Centre was held on 17th April 2019. Our Chairman, Margaret Alexander gave a brief overview of the past year's activities and announced that a total of 3200 will be donated to the three local properties - 1000 will be given to Haddo (200 having already been advanced to Haddo to enable the purchase of two sundials), 1000 to Fyvie for the "Guardians of Fyvie" Appeal and 1000 to Pitmedden. The Committee members and office bearers were re-elected for another year Margaret Alexander announced that she will step down as Chairman next April. In common with many other NTS Members' Centres, including Aberdeen and Angus, the Members' Centre Trust Deed will be revised during 2019. Any proposed changes will be subject to review by members and be the subject of an extraordinary general meeting as necessary. Membership fees will remain at 8 for the remainder of this year but will increase to 10 for the 2020/21 season. Visitor fees for talks will go up to 3. The formal proceedings of the meeting were followed by a talk by Douglas Harper (see below).

River, Railway and Ravine: Foot Suspension bridges for Empire.

Photograph of Braemar CastleOur speaker Douglas Harper qualified as a geologist, doctor and surgeon before retiring and setting out to research his family history. His great grandfather John Harper of Turriff , set up a fencing and gate manufacturing business with his brother Hugh , establishing a foundry in Aberdeen in 1856. In 1863 John patented a device for tensioning fencing wire, the use of which was later extended in the 1870's to tensioning the cables of foot suspension bridges. The stability of a Harpers' bridge is due to its distinctive double "arch" - a downward sweeping arch from the cables and a slight upward arch of the span (see picture). Soon Harper bridges were being exported around the globe. Just like flat pack furniture today, all the bridge components, made in Aberdeen, were packed up along with the instructions and sent off to far flung corners of the world to be constructed by local teams, a lot of whom were led by military engineers. Many of these bridges still exist and are in everyday use. In places like Nepal they remain a vital lifeline to people who have no other safe way of crossing the raging river torrents that criss-cross the country. Nowadays Douglas is busy tracking down and visiting as many of the remaining bridges that he can. I don't think any of us who were at the talk will look at a suspension bridge in the same way again. We'll all be looking out for that double arch and wondering if it is a Harper bridge, made in Aberdeen.

May 2019

Coffee Morning and Plant Sale.

After a week of fine weather Saturday 18th May dawned wet and cold. Not ideal conditions for our garden visit, coffee morning and bring and buy plant sale at the home of Dr. Jim Beattie, who had kindly offered to host the event. However Aberdeenshire folk are a hardy bunch and many of our members donned their water proofs and wellies to come along - even if some got no further the convivial atmosphere and delicious home bakes in the conservatory! Those who did brave the rain were rewarded with views of Jim's beautiful garden. Created from scratch from a bare field the garden has woodland areas, rhododendron walks and a magnificent pond. While it would have been wonderful in the sunshine the rain gave the garden a charming, misty, mysterious quality that everyone appreciated. Not only did everyone have a great time but we managed to raise a tidy sum for efforts to support the NTS.

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