Chairman’s Report 2014

 ‘The Friends of Bellie Churchyard’
Annual General Meeting
Thursday, 28 August 2014 at Baxter’s Highland Village
Chairman’s Report

The Friends have enjoyed another very successful year, with key activities to record.

Dougie Low is proving a great asset to the team.  He has become the mainstay for gardening and maintenance duties.  This has been possible as a result of the legacy from the late Mr Gordon Baxter and the FOBCY 5 year Business Plan.  DL’s involvement has already made a positive impact on the churchyard and cemetery areas and is recorded in DL’s Gardening Report circulated at the meeting.

Some of the jobs completed include:

  •  Tree Signage in cemetery now completed
  •  Planting at Willow Fence, cutting of Yew Trees and ongoing removal of self-seeded trees
  •  Rubbing down and painting of ironwork
  • Regular strimming of entrance area

AM also thanked the gardening volunteers for their participation during the year, including Jane Connor who is working as a landscape gardener locally, and offers her expertise when possible.  This is greatly appreciated.


The Friends are very grateful for the generous funding from Abbeyfield Society and previously from Fochabers Village Association for ongoing improvement works and creation of planted areas at the entrance.


The Entrance – DL has already cleared a good deal of undergrowth and planted snowdrops and wild flowers etc.  The grass strimming alone has made a positive impact visually.  Colin Murray is scheduled to assist in the clearance work/wooden planters in due course.  Colin intends to undertake this work when an opportunity arises in his schedule.  The Friends appreciate his support in this project.

Leaning Stones project: thanks to the efforts of Jeff and Lynne Lowndes, a comprehensive record of gravestones has been recorded with photographs, highlighting those in unsteady and/or dangerous condition.  It is intended to prioritise this matter and discuss these findings with Moray Council.  AM thanked JL/LL for the considerable work involved in this exercise.

War Memorials Trust: AM confirmed that an application is being progressed to assist in repairing the war memorial at Bellie Churchyard.  Up to 75% of the cost of repair may be available through the grants system.

Bin Store project:  Bob Milton has provided drawings which have been approved by Moray Council.  Once costings are received and agreed, two bin stores are to be erected for recyclable material.


Sponsored Walk/Treasure Hunt:  AM reported that this proved to be a great community event with over 70 enthusiastic participants.   The glorious weather was a great bonus and the Friends greatly appreciated the support from various members of the community – the Scouts, Fochabers Village Association, Fochabers Fiddlers and Angus Gordon Lennox of Gordon Castle.  A total of £700 was raised.  AM paid tribute to all those who put so much effort into the organizing of the day, particularly George and Judith McIntyre and Father Tad.

Christmas Concert: AM thanked Father Tad for donating the £375 raised at St Mary’s musical evening, featuring the popular local choir, ‘Rockset’, to the FOBCY.

Milnescroft Buddies’:  AM reported on the happy afternoon spent with residents at Milnescroft, giving background to the work of the Friends and also an insight into the history of Bellie Churchyard itself.  AM/KJ enjoyed doing this joint presentation and feedback was very positive.

Fochabers Gala:  FOBCY held a ‘Guess the Whisky’ competition which raised £60 for the Fochabers Village Association.  AM reported on the success of the FOBCY table as it had a ‘reason’ for approaching the stand and as a result people become interested in chatting about FOBCY activities.

In summing up, AM confirmed that the FOBCY had certainly made their presence known in the community during the year and took the opportunity to thank everyone who had helped make this happen.


  • A historic chart relating to Bellie Churchyard dating back to 1880 was handed in by one of the Friends after being discovered in a skip.  A study by the Libraries and Musuems Department was undertaken and it was determined that the chart is a unique record of this era.  The original will be kept for safekeeping by the Registrar’s Office but it will be digitally copied and made available to the FOBCY for use on website.
  • Christmas newsletter: once again, the annual newsletter circulated to members and interested parties in the UK and overseas resulted in about £500 being donated.  This has become a very useful tool in keeping people informed about the works of the Friends.
  • Tributes: AM reported on a number of sad losses during year.

Beth Dawson had been an active member of the Friends since its inception.  Beth and her husband Peter have been keen gardening volunteers over the years and a great support to all our activities.

Barbara Nicolson was also a member of the Friends who supported the activities of FOBCY.

Betty Clark was a member and supporter of the works of the Friends since 2002.  Her familykindly decided that  Betty’s funeral collection should be donated to the FOBCY.  This amountedto £386.  FOBCY agreed that Betty would have approved of this course of action.

Garry Morrison, formerly of Moray Council, was a key player in the establishment of the Friends in 2002.

In conclusion, the Chairman took the opportunity once again to thank the team at Baxters, particularly Andrew Tough, for the kind hospitality extended for our meetings during the year.  The Friends appreciate this service immensely.  AM also thanked Helen Morrison for looking after the finances during the year and to Kay Jackson for continuing to assist everyone with the ongoing administration and organisation behind the scenes.

Rev Alison Mehigan, Chairman, August 2014