It felt like déjà vu all over again as Storm Babet battered into the north-east and devastation followed after.
It wasn’t just because what we used to call once-in-a-century storms are now coming at us full force what seems like every couple of years. It was because of the restrictions Babet brought with it, especially in my hometown of Stonehaven.
Thankfully, we escaped the worst of the storm, and the miracle of engineering that is the Stoney flood defences did the job and kept the waters at bay.
But roads in and out of Stonehaven were closed, warnings were issued not to drive, buses and trains were cancelled, and we were back to being told to stay indoors as Mother Nature ran her merciless course.
It brought back sharp memories of the dreadfully dark days of pandemic lockdown, but with power cuts added in to pile on the misery. However, just like during lockdown, the storm threw into sharp relief that which is great and good about the people who matter most in such times – the helpers.
While the winds raged, the seas crashed and the rivers left their banks, there was a small army of men and women rushing to do their best as the weather did its worst.
The emergency services – police, fire, paramedics, and the lifeboat service – rose to the occasion, as they always do, keeping people safe and saving lives.
The maintenance workers in the council and roads services worked flat out to get sandbags to people, to set up rest centres in flood areas, to carry out emergency gully cleaning. And huge kudos goes to the teams of electricity engineers who did everything they could to get the lights and heating back on as the storm cut powerlines in its path.
In the mix, too, were ordinary folk who volunteered for local resilience teams to work on anti-flood measures. There were even tales of citizens simply grabbing a spade and doing the needful to clear debris or keep drains running as freely as possible.
Back in the darkest days of the pandemic, all these people were hailed as heroes. They were recognised for the vital role they play in making our lives easier and safer in dangerous times.
No one will be going to the door to cheer for them or clash pot lids together in their honour
During the worst of Covid, we went to our doors and clapped and banged pots and pans to say thanks. All of that is a distant memory now – even though we said we would never forget.
But these everyday heroes didn’t vanish. They kept doing what they do every day, and doing it the way they always have – in the background, with little thanks or recognition.
And they will be doing it in the weeks to come, as the clean-up in the aftermath of Storm Babet continues.
No one will be going to the door to cheer for them or clash pot lids together in their honour. But we can still do one simple thing for them. It’s to say this: thank you.
Children’s Theatre rebirth is exciting and inspiring
A funny thing happened as Aberdeen Arts Centre celebrated its 60th birthday last week – the Children’s Theatre grew up.
The space has a history longer than the Arts Centre itself, with the Aberdeen Children’s Theatre established in 1942 – the first of its kind in the UK, where children were free to find their creative and artistic nature. Generations of young Aberdonians discovered a love of theatre and the arts there, which continued after it became part of the Arts Centre when it opened its doors 1963.
And, now, the Children’s Theatre is once again primed to be a crucial part of the cultural landscape of the Granite City, as a performance space to foster and support local professional artists.
Amy Liptrott, director of Aberdeen Arts Centre, has a vision for this reborn Children’s Theatre as somewhere emerging and established artists can present their work – including commissioned pieces.
Its rebirth was launched on the actual 60th birthday of the Arts Centre, with a performance of a haunting play, The Maggie Wall, set against the backdrop of Scotland’s brutal witch hunts.
I was lucky enough to be in the audience for that special night, and I can attest that the venue itself added to the power of the evocative piece. Intimate and fresh, yet with a tangible sense of history, it’s a more than welcome addition to the theatre spaces that bless Aberdeen.
It deserves all the support it can get – and all the bums on seats it can fit it – as the curtain goes up on a new and important act for the Children’s Theatre and the north-east’s cultural sector.
Scott Begbie is a journalist and editor, as well as PR and comms manager for Aberdeen Inspired