Old mannequins from Aberdeen’s former Debenhams department store have been given a new lease of life as “police officers” on Deeside roads.
The seven dummies from the retail giant’s Trinity Centre outlet have been saved and dressed up in police uniforms and high-visibility jackets, in order to encourage motorists to slow down when driving through communities.
When the news came that Debenhams would be closing its bricks and mortar shops all across the country, Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside councillor Geva Blackett emailed the administrators asking if they could send her the old mannequins for the initiative.
Mrs Blackett said she got the idea after Braemar’s former police mannequin, nicknamed Allan suddenly disappeared in a suspected theft in January.
The dummies have been distributed to communities seeking to slow down traffic on their local roads throughout Deeside, including in Lumphanan, Ballater, and Logie Coldstone.
One will also be used in Braemar to replace Allan.
Yesterday one of the fake bobbies, named Bob by local schoolchildren, was put in place on Ballater Road in Aboyne.
Anna Powszek, a resident of Aboyne, said she hopes the mannequin will make crossing the road safer for youngsters.
She said: “We walk to school with our kids because it’s healthy to encourage young people to walk or cycle, but to get to school we need to cross the busy Ballater Road.
“There’s a lot of lorries coming along this road that sometimes drive very fast, so it’s been something people in Aboyne have been thinking about for a long time.
“My neighbours and I wanted to do something, more, and Geva kindly donated this mannequin to us.
“We bought a police uniform for him, and Aboyne Primary pupils came up with the name Bob for him.
“He will be there to ask people to slow down, to make sure children are safe when they’re crossing the road.
“He’s a part of the community now, he’s been in the school for a couple of days now so the children have got to know him, and I think it will help to really make a big difference.
“Even when you’re not speeding, you slow down when you see a police officer like Bob, so it’s a step forward for us while we wait for more safety improvements in Aboyne.”
Aberdeenshire Council has recently carried out a review of Ballater Road, and is in the process of arranging new signs and upgrades for the existing zebra crossing beacons.
Mrs Blackett, who also thanked her fellow ward councillor Paul Gibb of Aboyne for his efforts with the community and the council on road safety improvements, said she hopes the mannequins can make a difference, and won’t suffer the same fate as Allan.
She explained the driver who delivered the mannequins from Debenhams made the trip to Braemar despite “knee-deep snow”.
She said: “I am so pleased that what started out as the sad disappearance of the Braemar road safety mannequin has actually turned into a good news story for other communities in my ward -with six extra gentle reminders to drivers to slow down for children crossing the road popping up all over the place.
“I just hope that unlike in the case of Allan, they are actually left in place as they also remind children there might be cars coming and save accidents from occurring.”