US Consul-General visits Stonehaven

The US Consul-General to Scotland, Jack Hillmeyer, paid a visit to Stonehaven recently.

Mr Hillmyer, who is the most senior US diplomat in Scotland, joined with Phil Mills-Bishop, chair of the Stonehaven and NE Scotland Twinning Group, to lay a remembrance wreath at Stonehaven war monument to pay tribute to Ukrainians who have died so far in the Russian invasion.

The wreath was decorated in the Ukrainian flag ribbon colours.

In attendance at the poignant ceremony were Commander Clan Baird Richard Holman-Baird and a lone Clan piper, Adam Cadamarteri.

Enjoying some Jack Daniels ice-cream at Gulianotti's

This is believed to be the first time a wreath for Ukraine has been laid at a monyment anywhere in Scotland.

The party then walked down from the Monument, taking in the panoramic views of Stonehaven Harbour to the Tollbooth Museum where they were greeted by the Chairperson Cressida Coats and local retired fisherman Ian Balgowan.

From the wonders of “fishy” stories a tight timetable moved the party on to sampling local delicacies from black-pudding and haggis pies at McHardy’s the Butcher to a specially-made Jack Daniel’s whisky ice-cream from Margery, the owner of Giulianotti’s, the oldest business in Stonehaven and Italian makers of handmade ice-cream and chocolates.

Jack, who is a keen golfer, then drove off from the 1st tee of the Stonehaven Golf Club courtesy of Club Captain Ian Wood....a number of golf balls are still to be found!

With retired local fisherman Ian Balgawan.

None the less before you could say “fore” the visit had come to an end after a light sandwich lunch and Zoom link-up with Mayor Ronnie Marks of Athens Alabama the Twinning Group’s American Twin.

Jack commented: “The connections between the United States and Scotland are strong and I give my thanks and appreciation to those like the Stonehaven and North East Scotland Twinning Group for working so hard to continue to build on these links.

"I was honoured to lay a remembrance wreath at the Stonehaven War Monument.

"This was a poignant moment and reminds us of the sacrifice still being made by those in Ukraine fighting for their freedom.

Enjoying a haggis slice at McHardy's butcher.

"I am grateful to have learned much about the work of the Twinning Group since my arrival in Scotland and it was wonderful to finally be able to visit and meet with so many businesses and individuals that make this town such a great place to live, work and visit.”

Phil Mills-Bishop commented: “It was great that Jack agreed to come to recognise local businesses and attractions.

"It is much needed after the Covid restrictions and the American tourist market is significant.

"The Twinning Group is now nearly five years old and a current potential project is to create a Scottish Experience Summer Youth Camp for twinning partners with the possibility of local youths from the Stonehaven and surrounding areas participating in camps abroad, like the US NASA Space Camp at Huntsville, near our Twinning partner Athens, Alabama.

Consul-General Jack Hillmyer and Phil Mills-Bishop lay a wreath.

"Our friends at the Consulate will help signpost us to US companies, Educational Trusts and Agencies that the Twinning Group can approach and make applications for possible funding.

"Already the idea has found support from the embryonic Scottish Space Industry who progressively will need to draw upon an indigenous pool of skilled labour.

"The Consul-General and his wife really enjoyed the visit and promised to come back with their children for a longer stay,” he added.

Stonehaven and the American town of Athens in Alabama first announced plans to forge transatlantic links back in 2018.

The agreement was formalised with an announcement from the mayor of Athens Ronnie Marks, and coincided with celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of the town.

The connection between the towns was made when Athens State University professor Debra Baird researched her family lineage.

In doing so, she befriended Phil Mills-Bishop, who leads SNET, and co-chair Richard Holman-Baird who is also chieftain of Clan Baird.

Athens City Schools and Athens State University agreed to take an active part in the twinning project.

The partnership will allow students from Alabama to spend time in Scotland and for Scottish students to visit Alabama.

Athens City Schools superintendent Trey Holladay said at the time: “This is an excellent opportunity for greater connection with children in the world.”