That was 2015 That was – January to April

By the time our final news story is published on Thursday this community news site will have brought over 2000 stories to our readers in 2015 – today we begin a three-part review of “our year in Moray”.


Sea King started its final year with a New Year’s Day rescue

We began the year on January 2 with news that an RAF Sea King from Lossiemouth had been involved in assisting a stricken trawler back to port on New Year’s Day.

But this was to be a sad year for the Sea King, so long a welcome sight for those in peril on land and sea – but to be replaced by a civilian service in the spring.

The following day we announced a rescue bid was to be made by Morayvia to retain one of the helicopters in Moray as a static exhibit. We were at the forefront of the fight to do just that – and celebrated with Morayvia later in the year when their bid proved to be successful, witnessed by the Sea King currently standing at their Science and Aviation Centre in Kinloss.

This month we also exclusively revealed that a third Typhoon squadron had deployed to RAF Lossiemouth ahead of schedule – providing the photographic evidence to prove it. We also exclusively revealed that Moray had been named as the UK’s No.1 holiday destination in 2014 by ‘Trip Advisor’ – a position we retained in 2015.

Elgin City FC were being baffled over their soggy pitch as three teams of experts had failed to diagnose why the club had to postpone match after match. This in a month when record low temperatures were recorded in parts of the region.

Sadly, we had to report that Buckie councillor Joe Mackay had passed away, as did the legendary Ena Baxter.


Snow and freezing conditions greeted the month (pic: Lesley Ann Parker)

February started in chilly fashion with freezing conditions along with snow, ice and sleet welcoming the opening weekend. There was a chill to our education system as well as Moray Council revealed that teacher recruitment in Moray had reached a crisis point.

In Lossiemouth the community was stunned when bollards were surprisingly put in place, blocking a harbour road that had been regarded a right of way for many years. We also reported this month how councillors had refused funding for the Forres Hydrotherapy Pool – and for the first time how schools in Elgin would face major boundary changes.

Meanwhile 400 patients of an Elgin medical practice received their marching orders – informed that they had to leave the overcrowded Linkwood practice and register with the Moray Coast practice in Lossiemouth.

Elgin City finally got to play a home game – and launched a climb back up the league table as a result, although it proved not quite enough to force a promotion play-off place.

RAF Lossiemouth jets were prepared to head to the Baltics for a NATO mission protecting the Baltic States, while Moray Council cleared the way for a new Elgin High School – it proved to be a rocky way, however.

Claims were made that Moray residents were perhaps ‘economical with the truth’ when reporting their waste recycling activities, while council tenants were told that they faced rent increases at nine times the rate of inflation.

As the month approached its end, Macduff Shipyards are given the go-ahead to build a new dredger for Moray’s Harbours at a cost of £2.4million – but there was bad news as Forres firm Accunostics went into administration with the loss of 30 jobs and millions in public funding.


There would be no space port for Moray

The month began with the news that Moray would not be considered as the home for any future spaceport, with the MoD laying first claim to both military bases at Kinloss and Lossiemouth. Temperatures meanwhile were on the rise again with the first weekend in Moray tipped to be “warmer than Istanbul’.

A search for a missing man on the River Findhorn ended in tragedy when his body was discovered on the shore at Findhorn Bay – on the same day that we reported another tragedy, a Dufftown farmer having been killed in the three-car collision on the A920.

A campaign for the establishment of a Chronic Pain clinic in Moray that had its roots in an insideMoray article was promised a solution ‘by the end of the year’ – later put back to the start of 2016. The third Typhoon squadron we reported earlier in the year went fully operational this month at RAF Lossiemouth.

Moray College’s principal, in the job for just three months, was sensationally sacked from his post with ‘incompatibilities’ cited as the reason. Work got under way at Portgordon on the £1.2billion power cable linking Moray with Caithness.

Moray roads were reported to be amongst the most dangerous in the UK in a Parliamentary report, while police denied claims that there was a major disparity in crime detection rates between Moray and Aberdeenshire.

A by-election in Buckie returned a new SNP Councillor in the form of Sonya Warren, sparking talks over the future balance of power in the council chamber. High winds in the council were matched outside it towards the end of the month when the annual dust clouds made driving difficult, while the month ended with the Independent administration holding on to power as an SNP challenge failed to materialise.


St Giles Car Park – Free after Three

The final flight of the Sea King SAR from Lossiemouth was made on the first of the month as a major building project got under way by Robertson Homes who started work on the first of 500 new homes in Speyside.

Moves to allow parking free of charge in selected Elgin car parks were launched at Moray Council, while the first moves were made at the local council on a joint £120million waste recycling partnership with Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils.

It was no laughing matter when thieves struck Dr Gray’s hospital and made off with canisters of laughing gas, nor would motorists be laughing as we reported the new road tax rules could have a severe bite if ignored.

Concerns were raised in Lossiemouth over the behaviour of parents dropping off their children at local primary schools, while the Council revealed a £136,000 plan to tackle bullying amongst their staff.

An appeal was launched to raise £100,000 to send Forres three-year-old Eilidh Paterson to the United States for potentially life-saving cancer treatment on the day that a Buckie man became the latest lottery millionaire when 29-year-old Michael Innes hit the jackpot.

Springfield Properties come up with a unique way of helping Moray’s teacher crisis by offering free flats for six months to anyone moving to the region to take up a new job. Spring had a wintry look to it as the month drew to a close with snow hitting large parts of the region.

Moray Leisure finally had the reassurance of receiving the £251,000 funding they required to upgrade their ice rink – and insideMoray took on an entirely new look!

May to August
September to December

To be continued.