Tributes paid to Aberdeenshire cliff plunge teen

TRIBUTES were paid today to a teenage schoolboy who has died after plunging almost 100ft down a steep cliff face on the Aberdeenshire coast.

Cameron Smithies, 15, of Cruden Bay, died in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary on Sunday after being rescued on Saturday from the foot of the cliffs below the spectacular ruins of Slains Castle near the village.

He was airlifted to hospital by a Sea King helicopter from RAF Lossiemouth in an operation involving Coastguard teams from Peterhead and Fraserburgh and the Peterhead lifeboat.

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It is understood that the schoolboy, a keen canoeist and a member of Peterhead Canoe Club, had been climbing on the cliffs when fell into a deep gully.

Members of Cameron’s family and friends were amongst those who posted tributes to him on social networking sites.

His aunt, Caroline, posted on Facebook: “RIP Cameron Scott Smithies you were the best nephew and taken from us far to soon rest easy now xxxx.”

Daryn Hubbucks, the chairman of Petered Canoe Club, posted: “Cameron was a cheeky wee monkey with a big heart and zest for life. He was just starting out in life and getting his kayak feet. Cameron was just well up for anything. .. Cameron would be 16 on Thursday. “

Malcolm Brown, another club member, said: “This is really devastating sad news. He was a likeable friendly guy and fun to have along on the river trips. Sorry for the loss of such a young star.”

Cameron was a pupil at Ellon Academy, Tim McKay, the secondary’s head teacher said today: “Cameron was a happy boy with a wide circle of friends. He was very popular, enjoying lots of banter with his classmates.”

He added: “Cameron worked hard in all his studies but particularly enjoyed the more practical subjects at school. He had decided to stay on next year before taking up an apprenticeship after that.

“Staff and pupils are devastated by his death, he will be missed by us all. Pupils will be offered support from the school counsellors and others as appropriate.”

His aunt Caroline added: “He was the best nephew whose smile and laugh could light up a room.”

And his sister Morgan posted: “R.I.P to my amazing brother he will be better in heaven xx.”

Stephen Smith, the Peterhead South and Cruden councillor said: “This is an absolute tragedy for the family and my thoughts are with them at this sad time. The cliffs at Slains Castle have had an unfortunate history over many years. The castle is a huge draw for tourists and walkers but it is an unmanaged ruin and I would appeal to visitors to be careful, particularly so at this time of year when the grass can be slippery.”

The Aberdeenshire Division of Police Scotland are continuing their investigations into the schoolboy’s tragic death.

But Constable Matthew Roger of the Buchan Local Policing Team also warned of the potential dangers of the rugged coastline. He said: “Whilst a popular attraction to many I would like to highlight the particularly hazardous nature of the ruins at Slains Castle. Members of the public are encouraged to take great care at this site and parents are asked to ensure they are aware and take efforts to prevent their children playing here unsupervised.”

The spectacular ruin of Slains Castle, perched on the high cliffs near the Bullers of Buchan, was home to the earls of Erroll for almost four centuries. Bram Stoker is reputed to have written at least part of his Gothic horror classic, Dracula, while staying at nearby Crookit Lum Cottage in 1895, the home he used as a summer retreat for almost 20 years.