How this works

November 5th, 2009

I’m hoping this is a better way of displaying your incoming comments. Anything long and permanent will be in a “Page” – see list in the sidebar to the right. Shorter comments will be in the “Articles” below but they will at least be in a more sensible order with the recent ones at the top. Sorry, but since I haven’t the time to clear up constantly after spammers and polluters who have nothing to do with us, I am not making it possible for you to post articles and comments directly. Send to me at

Mystery solved

March 3rd, 2013

If you have read the main Fyvie + Fifty pages, you may remember that I was puzzled by my own memory of seeing fire at the castle across the fields and woods from our house in the village, and going across to the castle to watch the fire brigade. This was a winter’s evening in 1956. Puzzled, because nobody else had any memory, and I could find nothing on line.

Finally, I got the true information from Mr Robert Storey – and who would know better than he. Here is a part of his letter :

There was indeed a serious fire in Fyvie Castle on 20th November 1956. It started with an electrical fault in the ceiling light fitting in Lady Forbes-Leith’s bathroom in the west drum tower and spread upwards to the room above which had fitted cupboards for blankets, quilts and pillow cases. These produced clouds of smoke which spread along the corridors. Eventually an emergency tender arrived from Aberdeen with breathing apparatus and the fire was rapidly extinguished. In the Leith bedroom all the pictures were water-colours and, with the roof liable to collapse (it did) they were removed to a place of safety. It was alarming at the time but all was soon returned to normal.

Nice to know I did not imagine it !


Obituary – Alastair Milne

February 1st, 2011

I was a little concerned not to have heard from Alastair Milne for some months. I have just had the sad confirmation that he died on 23rd December 2010.

The following appeared in the Scotsman and is copyright to them.

Alastair Milne OBE, schools inspector.

 Born: 27 October, 1929.

Died: 23 December 2010, aged 81.

Alastair Milne had a distinguished career as one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Schools in Special Education, later renamed Special Educational Needs, from 1969 until his retirement in 1989. For most of that time, he was the national specialist for that aspect of education, with a specific interest in the education of children and young people with visual impairments and those with severe, complex and profound learning difficulties and physical disabilities.

 From 1974 to 1978, he served on the Warnock Committee for Special Educational Needs, whose many recommendations led to the greater integration of children with special educational needs in mainstream schools.

 He forged long-standing and excellent relations with colleagues abroad and the UK, in education authorities, universities, colleges and with parents. These links gave him a deep understanding of the international and national scenes that served the inspectorate and the Scottish Office by identifying areas requiring further attention or research and by helping to circumvent the more politicised debates of the period.

 His work and influence were significant. He ensured a better education for young people with learning difficulties and for those in long-stay hospitals; the training of staff; the professional development of educational psychologists; the development of the CALL Centre at Edinburgh University and the Scottish Sensory Centre at Moray House; the long association with the Royal Blind School and the initiatives taken on Records of Needs.

Alastair was the younger son of a family steeped in the farming tradition of Aberdeenshire. Following his secondary education at Banff Academy, where he was Dux, he forsook that lifestyle for a more academic career, graduating with an MA and Ed.B from Aberdeen University. Perhaps the experience of falling into a sheep dip when a youngster persuaded him that farming was not for him.

 On graduation, and following national service in the RAF, he taught at Fyvie School and then joined the Child Guidance Service in Aberdeen as an educational psychologist. In 1962, he became a lecturer in educational psychology and later head of department of Dundee College of Education. In 1969, he became one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Schools, based in Glasgow, where he remained for the next 20 years while commuting frequently to Edinburgh.

 Alastair married Margaret McHardy in 1958 and his son, Alan, of whom he was very proud, was born in 1959.


November 12th, 2009

This is another from Gordon Simpson’s archive. Who can do all the names?



November 10th, 2009

Bill Maitland makes an interesting point on the effect location had on young lives :

“Memories of my young days in Fyvie–sledging down Petty Brae,it was great!

playing conkers–coming from a fishing village,I had never heard of conkers and playing football which I enjoyed a lot.”


Talking about Alastair Milne

November 10th, 2009

Many appreciative comments on the impact of Alastair Milne on our young lives. Sandy Yeats in his notes (see Page right) remembers getting a head start in Latin, thanks to Mr Milne’s creative approach. Here is another quote from Gordon Simpson :

” ……. he probably will not remember me from a bar of soap but I retain lasting fond memories of inter alia his ability to hold the interest of a bunch of unruly 11 year olds by introducing sessions on current affairs and talking and showing pictures of faraway places which I think – looking back – was an early inspiration for me to try for the Foreign Office.”

People & Number plates, from Gordon Simpson

November 8th, 2009

I have picked up many interesting snippets from e-mails received – well worth preserving even if they don’t join up to other entries! From Gordon Simpson :

“I mentioned “blackin” to people at the “Homecoming” hear it referred to also as “feet washin” – apparently the tradition still goes on today.”

“……. near where Kenny Ogston (the Builder) and his family (Millie his wife and daughters Anne and Noreen) lived. (Incidentally, Kenny was the first person I remember with personalised number plates on his cars. I say personalised – only in as much as they all were 214 (his phone number) AV 214 or SA 214 (AV and SA being the Aberdeen registration numbers at the time.)”

“The Beadle was Hughie Taylor who lived along the road from us in Peterwell. The other Church person I remember was George Burnett (or Dod Booee in the vernacular) who looked after the graveyard in those days.”

Alastair Milne

November 5th, 2009

Thanks to information exchanged at the Fyvie Homecoming weekend, I am delighted that we have been able to renew contact with our former much-respected teacher Alastair Milne. He has supplied me with some notes on his life after Fyvie, and I have added them to a new additional page. See link on the right.

Sandy Yeats’ Memories

November 5th, 2009

I am now convinced that the sea air has some beneficial effect on memory. Sandy Yeats, who plies his trade as a master mariner out of Australia, has come up with so many detailed memories that it is impossible to edit them into the original pages. I have therefore put them, in Sandy’s original form, into their own page. Click the link on the right to read …… then let me know what you can add!


November 3rd, 2009

From the archives of Gordon Simpson, who also supplied some of the names which I had forgotten.

Fyvie Scout Camp c. 1960

Back row : David Dingwall, Bob Storey

Middle row : Joe Finnie, Peter Cowie, Vic Smith,  John Dingwall

Kneeling : John Simpson, Neil Raffan, John Kindness

Sitting : Sandy Yeats, Gordon Simpson, George Philip