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Tearful tributes as former Aberdeenshire councillor, Longside legend and ‘true gentleman’ Norman Smith dies

Tributes have been paid to Norman Smith
Tributes have been paid to former councillor Norman Smith, seen here officially opening the new play park at Aden Country Park.

Tearful tributes have been paid to a beloved north-east councillor who served his community “with dignity and dedication”.

Norman Smith was an independent councillor for the Mintlaw-Longside and then Central Buchan wards from 2003 to 2022.

In his twilight years, he was recognised for his devotion to the region.

Last November, he received a Pride of Buchan award from the council’s Buchan area committee – which he chaired for many years.

It was presented in honour of his “tireless work for local causes”.

Norman Smith represented his region for almost 20 years. Image: Aberdeenshire Council

Tributes paid as Norman Smith ‘will be greatly missed’

The local community council said, at the time, that Norman “thought nothing of his doorbell ringing at all times of the day or evening to find someone who needed help”.

Chairwoman of the Buchan area committee Diane Beagrie said it was an “absolute honour” to bestow the accolade upon her predecessor.

She added: “He served both the Central Buchan area and wider region with dignity and dedication over many years.

“I personally felt privileged and learned so much from him.”

‘We should all try to be more like Norman’

As today’s Aberdeenshire Council budget meeting got under way, colleagues lined up to pay their respects to the 76-year-old.

An emotional Doreen Mair wiped away tears as she said “kind and wise” Norman was “everything a councillor should be and more”.

She added: “We should all try to be a bit more like Norman Smith.”

A poignant minute of silence was held at the meeting, as members bowed their heads and remembered their cherished colleague.

Norman Smith, Jayne Findlay and Jim Gifford at the Grampian Awards for Business Excellence in Ardoe House in June 2013.

Why was Norman Smith so highly regarded in Longside?

The Longside man ran the village’s busy Central Garage with his brother Jim for many years before retiring and selling on the business in 2008.

He was also a founding member of the Longside Gala team.

LONGSIDE GALA car 🚗 🚙 🚗 show.. hosted by Duthie motors… Here’s some pictures of various cars & tractors 🚜🚗🚙 🚜🚗🚙

Posted by Longside Gala on Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Until very recently, he continued to help organise the annual bash known for its stalls and attractions, football festival, vintage car displays and evening entertainment.

Norman helped stage yearly Guy Fawkes firework displays too, and the village’s Christmas streetlights.

Family came first for community champion

But despite devoting so much time to his community, Aberdeenshire Provost Judy Whyte said Norman was a true family man.

She said: “He was also very committed to and proud of his family – speaking fondly of them all the time – particularly his beloved grandchildren whom he doted on.

“To me, he was a good friend, a father figure who taught me most of what I know about being a councillor.

“Quite simply, Norman was a true gentleman and was widely respected and valued by everyone who knew him.”

Diane Beagrie and Norman Smith at the Old Parish church in Peterhead. Image: Jim Irvine/DC Thomson

Norman remembered for ‘couthy wit’

Council leader Mark Findlater said Norman “was there for him when he first became a councillor”, and “was a great help and a mine of useful information”.

Gwyneth Petrie, SNP opposition group leader, added: “Norman was such a steady force within the council chamber.

“He led with a no nonsense approach, with a side of couthy wit, and an abundance of wisdom.”

Norman Smith and Alasdair Brodie at the New Deer Show in 2019. Image: Colin Rennie/DC Thomson

Council’s top official adds to Norman Smith tributes

And Aberdeenshire Council chief executive Jim Savege said he will remember Norman with a grin.

He said: “I wish to pay tribute to a gentle giant of a man, whose calm and steady leadership leaves a huge legacy for the communities he served.

“I will have a smile of pride having had the pleasure of knowing and working alongside him, the good times, the humour, the achievements and the legacy he leaves in so many ways.”

Norman was also a director of the Mintlaw and Central Buchan Initiative (Macbi) and an extension added last year was named in his honour and fellow Longside native John Pascoe.