Aberdeen based orchestras of fiddles and accordions that practice, perform and preserve traditional Scottish music.

Annual Report and Financial Statements for the Year ended 28 February 2012

Review of developments, activities and achievements

national award
fewer trustees
concert season
for our
as a
keys on
our new
stage piano
donated to charity
people entertained  


Fiddlers Spectacular poster - picture of violin in background with Caledon on stage in foregroundFiddlers' Spectacular at His Majesty's Theatre May 2011
Reel & Rowie Coffee Morning Poster - picture of violin in background with coffee cup and rowie in foregroundAudience feedback: "very enjoyable", "lovely atmosphere", "the music made you want to get up and dance"

The Society's orchestras have had a full programme of 17 performances throughout the year varying in both their size and venue. These would not have been possible without the continued support and contributions of the members. The highlights include:

  • The Fiddlers' Spectacular at Aberdeen His Majesty's Theatre which ran from 5-7 May 2011. A joint production with Banchory Strathspey & Reel Society the guests included Scotland's Three Tenors “Caledon”, comedian and broadcaster Fred MacAulay, Bucksburn & District Pipe Band and award winning accordionist Craig Paton. The show was well received in press reviews, though the audience numbers were disappointing; 
  • In August 2011 we performed in Union Terrace Gardens as part of Aberdeen's Tartan Day Festival;
  • The Society, along with guests from other societies, hosted the annual Fiddlers Rally at Aberdeen Music Hall in November 2011. Guests were Scottish soprano Richard Morrison and Scottish Dance Band the Tom Orr Trio. The Rally included a tribute to John Mason, who was the Society's Honorary President until he passed away in January 2011. Audience numbers were lower than in previous years;
  • January 2012 saw the Society celebrate its 60th anniversary as a Scottish Charity. As part of those celebrations we piloted a new format of concert the "Reel & Rowie Coffee Morning" designed to provide a relaxed, informal, family friendly introduction to the Society for new audiences as well as existing supporters. Based on audience feedback - first time attendees represented 45% of the audience survey data we collected - and a close to capacity hall, the event was a great success.

Throughout the year a number of small evening concerts were undertaken at sheltered housing complexes and churches. The Afternoon Group continued to entertain at hospitals, nursing homes and churches, lead this session by Dave Beaton and Sandy Lumsden.

Our achievements for the year, including a slight reduction in the number of non-commercial concerts, have to be considered in terms of the economic climate in which we continue to operate.

Two large care home operators entered into administration during the year, affecting homes at which the Society regularly performs. Anecdotal evidence suggests other operators and groups are also reducing their spending on entertaining in general and not just Society performances. The reduction in bookings from established relationships has been partly offset by other bookings, though some of these were for one-off events. The committee are actively monitoring the level of bookings.

Aberdeen City Council removed the St Andrew's Day celebrations from its Aberdeen Winter Festival activities and there were reductions in other elements of the Festival. Members of the Society have performed in the Festival previously.

Funding cuts and cost pressures on concert venue owners is resulting in higher venue charges for the Society and ticket price increases for audiences. Budget pressures at Aberdeen City Council have resulted in the extension of car park charges in Aberdeen city centre to after 6pm, further increasing the costs for audiences attending an evening event.

Given the current economic conditions we believe it is inevitable that audiences are re-evaluating their discretionary expenditure. This is considered a significant contributing factor to the smaller concert audiences observed during the year.

Higher parking costs and increasing transport costs also fall on the orchestra members and visiting performers to the Society's annual rally. The orchestra and visiting performers act on a voluntary basis and cover their own travel costs. We would like to thank all the fiddle and accordion players that continue to travel from across Scotland to support the Society's rally.

In spite of the economy, we believe that there is continued support and demand for traditional Scottish music from audiences in Aberdeen and our orchestras are delivering a high quality music experience.

The committee will continue to explore options for developing new audiences, as well as supporting our existing audiences through delivering both traditional and alternative performance formats. 

Other events and developments

President Graeme Henderson presents a £1,000 cheque to CLAN's fundraising managerPresident Graeme Henderson presents a £1,000 cheque to CLAN's fundraising manager

Supporting others

In March 2011 we presented a donation of £1,000 to CLAN (Cancer Link Aberdeen & North).

Governance and communications

As part of a governance review the committee considered it appropriate to reduce the committee size required by the Society's Constitution & Rules. In recent years it has been difficult to find willing volunteers from the orchestra to fill all the roles, and to co-ordinate meeting dates so everyone can attend and fulfil their trustee duties.

A revised and smaller committee structure of 9 trustees, a reduction from the previous 16, was proposed and approved at the AGM in May 2011. It is intended to make more use of sub-committees, which can include orchestra members not on the management committee, to increase flexibility and help spread the workload in the administration and activities of the Society. Certain positions that were on the committee continue in a non-committee role.

Graham Ward presents the Charities Online Financial Reporting AwardGraham Ward CBE presents the Charities Online Financial Reporting Award, Photo: ICAEW

The redevelopment of the Society website undertaken in previous years was partly to enable us to publish our annual report and financial statements online. This allows us to be open and transparent about how we spend our income and the results we have delivered.

In June 2011 the Society's annual report and financial statements (for the year ended 28 February 2010) were awarded 1st prize in their income category in the annual Charities Online Financial Reporting Awards (COFRA) run by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England & Wales. The prize included a donation of £3,000, a certificate and logo to display on our website, as well as valuable feedback. Society Treasurer Ross Fowler attended the ceremony in London to collect the award.

The judges were impressed with our efforts, complimenting the online version on its interactivity and innovation. They considered that if there had been an overall winner from all five income categories (which included the top 100 UK charities) it would have been Aberdeen Strathspey & Reel Society.

Our 2011 annual report, which includes further interactive improvements, has been submitted for consideration in the next annual COFRA awards to be announced in June 2012. We'll also publish this 2012 report online in the next few months.

The award gives us assurance that we're delivering on our reporting aims. However, please contact us if you have any suggestions, feedback or queries on this or our previous reports.


Donate £2 by Texting "REEL01 £2" to 70070You can now donate to the
Society by text message

During the year we joined Vodafone's JustTextGiving scheme. This allows charities and non-profit groups to receive donations via text message. There is currently no cost to the Society for being part of the scheme, we receive 100% of the donation and the only cost to the donor is the amount that they wish to donate.

In June 2011 Aberdeen music store Bruce Miller closed its doors for the final time, bringing to an end 111 years of trading. The Society has had a long association with Bruce Miller, they were the stockist of our first album when it was released in 1932 and more recently stocked the Society's three CDs. The store was also the source of violin strings, rosin for bows, music books and accessories for the orchestra members and will be much missed.

Following Bruce Miller's closure the committee sought alternative CD stockists and we're pleased to announce that the gift shop at Charles Michie, another Aberdeen retailer, began stocking the Society's CDs in November 2011.

Other items

Conductor Graham Reid cutting his 25th concert season celebration cakeConductor Graham Reid, with his wife Sheila, cuts his 25th concert season celebration cake

The 2011/12 concert season is conductor Graham Reid's 25th. The Society marked the milestone with both a celebration cake and a gift of an engraved hip flask, which was presented to Graham during the Fiddlers' Rally in November 2011 YouTube Logo. Graham is the longest serving of any the Society's conductors. The members cannot thank him enough for all his hard work, dedication and enthusiasm over the past 25 years.

The Society continues to be a member of Making Music, a charity which provides information, support and other services to voluntary music groups, including arranging the Society's block insurance cover.

On the social front in addition to the annual Christmas Party another event in the form of a Race Night was organised in May 2011. Both were enjoyed by all that attended.

Our thanks go to all members, old and new, who give their time freely to play at the many concerts held during the year and help in various ways to keep the Society running so smoothly. 

Future plans

Final rehearsals and preparations are underway for the Society's “Scottish Music Evening” concert at the Lemon Tree on 29 April 2012.

We plan on appearing in the second Celebrate Aberdeen parade on 9 June 2012. The aim of the parade is to involve and showcase the many community organisations based in the City of Aberdeen.

The Fiddlers' Rally at Aberdeen Music Hall, which the Society hosts, has been confirmed for Saturday 10 November 2012.

We have applied to participate in the Bandstand Marathon on 9 September 2012. The Bandstand Marathon forms part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad and is intended to encourage musical performances in open public spaces across the UK.

Support Us

JustTextGiving by Vodafron Logo

Donate by texting: REEL01 £1
to 70070

Your can also donate £2 / £3 / £4 / £5 / £10 by changing the amount in the text.

The text is free to send, the only cost to you is the donation and we receive 100%. Please ask the bill payers permission. UK taxpayers can add gift aid by following instructions in the thank you text.

Our Scottish Music CDs

Live at the Music Hall CD Cover Image
From Dee to Don CD Cover Artwork
Tuned to the North CD Cover Artwork

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