Park life discussion for rotarians
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President Kay Diack opened this week's meeting of Inverurie Rotary Club by thanking the members who 'answered the call' from the Royal British Legion to help with selling the commemorative red Poppies at Morrison's as we remember those who gave their lives to protect our freedom in two World Wars.
As rotarian Jim McColl explained: "From our District, there was a further report on the End Polio Now campaign which I reported on last week.
"Readers will remember the story of the immunisation of children and the fact that the continent of Africa is now free of the disease.
"It has been reported subsequently that the 'bad guys' having been at it – selling false immunisation medication which does not give protection!
"No doubt we will here more of this in days to come.
He continued: "Our guest speaker this week was one of our own members.
"Sandy Scott joined our club quite recently and was invited to give his 'my job' talk.
"As a member of the City of Aberdeen Parks and Open Spaces team, Sandy enthralled us with his account of the development of the Duthie Park through the ages.
"The first plans for the Gardens were submitted in 1883 following a very generous offer of finance from Miss Duthie a resident of the City from a well-off family.
"She wanted no recognition for her generosity which stemmed from a realisation that many of the citizens of the City did not have anything like the social opportunities she could enjoy which included foreign travel!
"She had in mind wide open recreational spaces to be enjoyed by all, right where they lived.
"Using a selection of photographs, Sandy took us through the lifetime of Duthie Park as it has evolved over the decades to meet the needs and the fashions of the changing ages.
"Even in our own lifetimes there have been significant changes.
"Suffice to say, the citizens of Aberdeen and the tourists who have visited, have been well-served over the years by the teams of planners and horticulturists responsible for the changes, leading to national awards like The Green Flag and has been honoured by visits from HM Queen Elizabeth and before that HM The Queen Mother ."
He said: "Sandy was able to bring us up to date by describing the Heritage Lottery Fund Grant of £5.5 million to re-design the park to serve modern needs.
"The plans and alterations demanded by the conditions of the grant took seven years to complete.
"This was not without some regrets in that the 'Heritage' element of the award demanded that some of the popular recent developments had to be undone to comply.
"The famous rose mountain was a classic example – it had to be returned to it's previous status as The Hill.
"In our lifetime, much of the credit for the reputation of Aberdeen Parks in general, the massed plantings of roses included was given to David Welch, Director of Parks, from the late 60's until he moved on to become Director of the Royal Parks in London.
"From time to time throughout his talk, Sandy commented on how, since joining Rotary, he realised that the attitudes and intentions of the local authority to serve their communities is mirrored by the aspirations of the Rotary movement.
"In modern times, the Parks have engaged with volunteers to help with maintenance and to run clubs for young people, involve schools, provide space for community gardens etc.
"No longer are they just there to be admired.
"It was a wonderful journey through time.
"I first visited Duthie Park circa 1943 or 1944 when holidaying in Aberdeen with my grannie and grandad.
"I was back several times later with my mum, dad and sister.
"Dad was a gardener too so the first visit on arrival was always to Duthie Park to see the magnificent displays of dahlias.
"My relationship with Aberdeen Parks was renewed when I came to live and work in these parts in 1973.
"Can't wait to have the chance of a blether with Sandy.
"Warm thanks to Sandy were offered by Ian Ewan."