09 March 2023

Tributes paid following the sad passing of former Aberdeenshire councillor Norman Smith

Aberdeenshire Council is deeply saddened by the passing of one of its former Buchan councillors, Norman Smith.

Over a 19-year period, Norman served as an independent councillor for the Mintlaw-Longside and then Central Buchan wards from 2003 to 2022.

Norman was recently recognised for the years of dedicated service he has given to his local community and received a Pride of Buchan award from the Council’s Buchan Area Committee which he chaired for many years.

The area committee received the nomination from Longside Community Council and was delighted to unanimously agree that Norman be presented with a Pride of Buchan Award in recognition of his years of service to Longside and the surrounding area, having worked tirelessly for local causes within the community.

At the time, the Community Council thanked Norman for the “guidance, knowledge and support that he has so willingly given”.

It said: “Norman has been an Aberdeenshire councillor for many years and during this time has provided much support to the Longside & District Community Council as well as the wider community. He thought nothing of his doorbell ringing at all times of the day or evening to find someone who needed guidance or help on his doorstep.”

Norman was presented with his Pride of Buchan Award by current Buchan Area Committee chair Cllr Dianne Beagrie who said: “It was an absolute honour to present Norman with his Pride of Buchan award last year and I am sure I speak for many people when I say there is no-one worthier of this accolade. He served both the Central Buchan area and wider region with dignity and dedication over many years and I personally felt privileged and learned so much from him when I served as vice-chair of the Buchan Area Committee. I know I speak for everyone who knew him when I say Norman will be greatly missed by us all and our thoughts go to his family at this difficult time.”

Norman was a long-standing resident and businessman in Longside and served on the Community Council for a number of years.

He ran the busy Central Garage in the village with his brother Jim for many years before retiring and selling on the business in 2008 where it continues to flourish to this day.

Norman was a founding member of the long-running Longside Gala and until very recently continued to help organise the annual event which was known for its stalls and attractions, major football festival, vintage car displays, a spectacular main attraction and popular evening entertainment. He also played a pivotal role in organising the annual Guy Fawkes firework displays and the village’s Christmas streetlight displays.

A tireless supporter of many local causes, since 2005 he had been a director of the Mintlaw and Central Buchan Initiative (MACBI) where he was a driving force behind the creation of the successful community facility. In late 2022, the centre’s impressive new extension was named in his honour along with fellow Longside man and MACBI stalwart John Pascoe.

Paying tribute, Provost Judy Whyte said: “Norman was a very highly-regarded colleague, a loyal, kind and generous man. He was also very committed to and proud of his family – speaking fondly of them all the time – particularly his beloved grandchildren whom he doted on. To me, he was a good friend, a father figure who taught me most of what I know about being a Councillor.  Quite simply, Norman was a true gentleman and was widely respected and valued by everyone who knew him. He served the people of Aberdeenshire well and is going to be greatly missed.”

Cllr Mark Findlater, Leader of Aberdeenshire Council, added: “Norman Smith was, without doubt, a councillor who passionately put his community first in everything he did. He championed local people and causes and supported a wide range of groups and organisations during his term to the benefit of so many of all ages. He worked closely with his fellow councillors – regardless of political allegiances – to ensure that Buchan and indeed the wider region was a place for everyone to be proud of. Norman was there for me when I first became a councillor and was a great help and a mine of useful information. He will be sorely missed and my thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”

Cllr Anne Stirling, Deputy Leader, said: “I was privileged to work with Norman throughout his tenure as an elected member. He was a true gentleman who went about his business quietly but extremely effectively and, consequently, delivered tangible benefits to those he served. Norman carried out his various roles with the utmost integrity and he was respected and valued by his colleagues across the council. My kindest thoughts are with Norman’s family and friends at this sad time and I know he will be missed desperately by so many.”

Cllr Gwyneth Petrie, SNP Opposition Group Leader, added: “Norman was such a steady force within the council chamber. He led with a no nonsense approach, with a side of couthy wit, and an abundance of wisdom. From my first interaction with Norman until my last, he was kind, respectful, and an absolute gentleman. He will be sorely missed, and my thoughts are with all of his family and friends at this difficult time.”

Alison Evison, Co-Leader of the Democratic Independent Group, said: “Norman gave devoted service to his community over many years. He also served Aberdeenshire Council with dedication, giving support to others and helping to guide new councillors. I remember visits he made to Kincardine and Mearns when Deputy Provost, and the time he took to talk to people here. My thoughts today are with his family, of whom he often spoke with great affection.”

Aberdeenshire Council Chief Executive Jim Savege said: “I wish to pay tribute to a gentle giant of a man, whose calm and steady leadership leaves a huge legacy for the communities he served and for the Council. He led with experience and confidence and was always generous in his time, support and effort. I learned a huge amount from him as I know many officers have done over their time working alongside Norman – his was a masterclass and exemplar on how to support, advocate and lead for his community in such an effective manner. My thoughts are with his family and friends. I will have a smile of pride having had the pleasure of knowing and working alongside him, the good times, the humour, the achievements and the legacy he leaves in so many ways.”