The Bob Neill Scottish Schools Head of the River

On the 19th and 20th of March Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association hosted The Bob Neill Scottish Schools Head of the River on our home waters here on the Dee. It was a successful weekend with one hundred school children from across Scotland competing for their schools and clubs. ASRA walked away with a fantastic eighteen victories out of the twenty-eight titles competed for across the weekend, securing the Scottish Junior Club Team trophies in both sweeping and sculling. George Watson’s College took eight victories home to Edinburgh and The Glasgow Academy took home two. The ASRA winners were as follows:

Saturday Division 1

• OJ18 4+ Murray Bone, Sam Doherty, Christy Probart, William Lawson, cox: Sam Cordiner
• WJ18 4+ Rosie Wilson, Zoe Beeson, Maisie Aspinall, Freya Hughson, cox: Mackenzie Reid
• WJ16 4+ Charlotte Arthur, Emily Simpson, Sophie Sinclair, Anna Donald, cox: Ella Johnston
• WJ14 4x+ Grace Watt, Gabrielle Topp, Lily Arthur, Molly H (GWC), cox: Anna Taylor

Saturday Division 2

• OJ16 4x Harris Pearce, Magnus Lawson, Magnus Heidenreich, Gregor MacLeod
• OJ18 2x Murray Bone, Sam Doherty
• OJ15 2x Callum Sherwood, Jack Winton
• WJ18 4x Gemma Collins, Freya Cummine, Sophia Brew, Ella Brooks
• WJ18 2- Maisie Aspinall, Zoe Beeson
• WJ16 2x Maggie Seward, Sophie Sinclair

Sunday Division 1

• OJ18 4x Murray Bone, Sam Doherty, William Lawson, Christy Probart
• OJ16 2x Magnus Heidenreich, Harris Pearce
• WJ18 1x Maisie Aspinall
• W J14 1x Gabrielle Topp

Sunday Division 2

• WJ16 4x Emily Simpson, Charlotte Arthur, Sophie Sinclair, Maggie Seward
• OJ18 1x Murray Bone
• OJ16 1x Magnus Heidenreich
• OJ15 1x Callum Sherwood

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National Schools Regatta, 2019


From the 24th to the 26th May, at the prestigious National Schools Regatta, held annually on the Olympic course at Dorney Lake, Eton, 20 athletes from the Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association took a break from their SQA commitments to join 5000 of Great Britain’s best young rowers to compete for national titles.

Of the seven race categories entered, our athletes succeeded in fighting their way through time-trials and semi-finals to reach the “A” Finals (last six) in five of them and the podium in one.

ASRA’s star J17 Four - Seth Turner, Chris Bardas, Xander Beeson & Jakub Zbikowski - who took gold in 2016, 2017 and 2018 at this regatta, had to be odds-on favourites in the Schools Fours Cup, but on this occasion just lost out in their characteristic charge for the line to the boys from Westminster School Boat Club by 0.6 of a second... nevertheless a brilliant silver for them and their cox Skye Ballance in a field of 17 crews, where all the home countries were represented.

Disappointment too for ASRA’s J18 girls who just a fortnight ago took gold for Great Britain at the Munich Junior International Regatta. Abigail Topp and Megan Hewison looked to have coped successfully with the double pressure of a punishing GB training schedule and school exams as they powered their way to a thrilling second position in a field of 27 crews in the time trial and all set to podium in the Girls’ Championship Coxless Pairs event, but sadly finally ran out of steam, as they ended up an untypically jaded fifth in the hotly contended final of the event.

A great deal of credit has to go also to our younger J15 and J16 athletes for reaching the “A” finals in....

  • J15 Coxed Fours (5th) Alex Fowler, Will Cooper, Joe Ritchie & Christy Probart, coxed by Skye Ballance
  • J16 Eights (6th) Harris Macdonald, Ashley Geddes, Scott Lewis, Oscar Forbes, Gregor Charles, Michel Dearsley, Archie Innes & Matthew Hughson, coxed by Skye Ballance
  • J16 Quadruple Sculls (6th) Oscar Forbes, Ashley Geddes, Archie Innes & Matthew Hughson
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Scottish Rowing Spring Regatta 2019 (formerly known as the Strathclyde Park Regatta)

On Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th April, having just returned from their annual training camp in Regensburg on the Danube, athletes from the Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association put in a series of strong performances at Scotland’s National Rowing Centre in Motherwell, to win a total of 8 gold medals and three silvers in this, the first multi- lane event of the 2019 rowing season.


  • Scottish Universities “B” Eights Challenge Winners (and a brilliant second in Men’s Open Eights): - ASRA’s J16 Eight - Harris Macdonald, Ashley Geddes, Scott Lewis, Oscar Forbes, Gregor Charles, Michel Dearsley, Archie Innes & Matthew Hughson, coxed by Skye Ballance

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  • Men’s Open Restricted 1 Coxed Fours & Men’s Junior 18 Coxless Fours: Seth Turner, Chris Bardas, Xander Beeson & Jakub Zbikowski, coxed by Skye Ballance

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  • Women’s Junior 18 Coxless Pairs: Abigail Topp & Megan Hewison
  • Men’s Open Junior 15 Coxed Quadruple Sculls: Alex Fowler, Joe Ritchie, Jayros James & Will Cooper, coxed by Erin Gibson

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  • Women’s Junior 15 Double Sculls: Maisie Aspinall & Zoe Beeson

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  • Women’s Junior 14 Double Sculls: Zoe Beeson & Freya Hughson

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  • Women’s Junior 13 Doubles: Erin Gibson & Phoebe McCraith

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  • Women’s Restricted 1 Single Sculls: Abigail Topp

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  • Women’s Junior 15 Coxed Quadruple Sculls: Maisie Aspinall, Zoe Beeson Freya Hughson & Phoebe McCraith, coxed by Erin Gibson

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  • Women’s Junior 14 Coxed Quadruple Sculls: Freya Hughson, Charlotte Arthur, Ella Johnston & Charlotte Reynolds, coxed by Erin Gibson

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Schools' Head of the River Race 2019

Last week, as Storm Gareth subsided and Storm Hannah approached the UK, organisers of the prestigious Schools' Head of the River Race, which takes place annually over a 6.8 kilometre stretch of the Thames from Mortlake to Putney, were faced with a dilemma. Should the race, scheduled for 15 March, go ahead? Their final decision was to reduce risk by removing events for coxed fours and quadruple sculls, leaving the majority of the coxed eights events running, despite the forecast winds.

For the Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association this decision meant the crew of Oscar Forbes, Ashley Geddes, Scott Lewis, Harris MacDonald, Gregor Charles, Michel Dearsley, Archie Innes and Matthew Hughson, coxed by Skye Ballance competed in the Men's Junior Championship J16 Eights. They rowed a strong race, overtaking two crews in the time trial format as they progressed down the river. Their final time (17mins, 33.4s) was the third fastest in their category, just 3.2s behind the category winner, Eton College, and the 21st fastest time of the day across all categories. Winning the bronze medal at this highly competitive national race is an encouraging result for the boys, showing they have continued to strengthen their performance from the great season they had last year.

Disappointingly, the crew of Seth Turner, Chris Bardas, Alexander Beeson and Jakub Zbikowski, coxed by Will Cooper, were left to support from the river bank due to the cancellation of their category – Schools’ Coxed Fours – in which they were also predicted to medal.

The focus of the club now turns to the summer regatta season and in the Easter holidays they will travel to Regensburg – Aberdeen’s twin city – for a one-week training camp to prepare.

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National Schools Regatta, Dorney Lake, Eton 2018

Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association athletes have just returned from Dorney Lake, Eton – the 2012 Olympic rowing venue – after competing in the 2018 National Schools’ Regatta. Over 5000 competitors from all over the UK took part in the three-day event and ASRA equalled the club’s 2012 triumph at this regatta by coming home once more with 2 outstanding gold medals.

ASRA’s J18 duo - Miles Beeson and Robert Powell - ranked 3rd in the latest GB junior trials and looking increasingly likely to be selected for the Junior World’s - reigned supreme from the outset in the Championship Coxless Pairs event for the Nick Bevan Cup. First in their time trial in a field of 35 and first in their semi-final, they dominated the final from the start to win in the end by over 3 seconds from the Enniskillen Royal pair from Northern Ireland in second place and Walton Rowing Club in third.

Nat Schools Champ Pair

Our Junior 16 foursome – Seth Turner, Chris Bardas, Xander Beeson & Jakub Zbikowski, coxed by Hannah Watson – with their brilliant record of golds at this regatta in 2016 and 2017 – were not to be outshone by their older clubmates. In the Junior 16 Coxed Fours event for the Arundel Cup, they provided one of the most exciting finishes of the day as they raced neck and neck with St Georges College from the 200 metres mark to beat them into second place in the end by a breath-taking 0.87 seconds. Emanuel College took third place.

Nat Schools J16 4

Our J15 victors from the Schools ‘Head Race on the Tideway in March – Harris MacDonald, Ashley Geddes, Scott Lewis, William Bricknell, Archie Innes, Michel Dearsley, Oscar Forbes & Matthew Hughson, coxed by Skye Balance - were naturally a little disappointed in the final of Junior 15 First Eights for the Founders Cup when they were beaten in the end into bronze by more experienced squads from St. Pauls’ and Westminster, particularly since they had come first in the time trial for the event and a good second in their semi-final.

Nat Schools J15 8

Improving performances from our Non-Championship J18 Eight, our J18 Girls Four and our J16Pair saw them reach the A Finals in their highly competitive events.


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Schools' Head of the River Race

On Monday 12 March, crews from the Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association competed in the prestigious Schools' Head of the River Race., which takes place annually over a 6.8 kilometre stretch of the Thames from Mortlake to Putney. In both the Men's Junior Championship J15 Eights and the Men's Junior 16 Coxed Fours categories, ASRA put in superlative performances and struck gold on the Tideway for the first time in the club's history. In doing so, ASRA's J15 Eight, with their time of 17.54, set up a new course record for their age group and came in only eleven seconds behind the winners of the Junior 16 Eights.

  • Men's Junior 15 Championship Eights Gold Medallists: Matthew Hughson, Archie Innes, Oscar Forbes, Michel Dearsley, William Bricknell, Scott Lewis, Ashley Geddes and Harris Macdonald, coxed by Skye Ballance

  • Men's Junior 16 Coxed Fours Gold Medallists: Jakub Zbikowski, Xander Beeson, Chris Bardas & Seth Turner, coxed by Hannah Watson

ASRA's girls came in 5th in the highly competitive Women's Junior 18 Coxed Fours category and our senior boys came in respectable 14th in Men's Junior 18 Championship Eights.

On Tuesday 13th March at the Scullery Regatta on Dorney Lake, Eton, our J15 crew swapped sweep blades for sculling ones and Matthew Hughson, Archie Innes, Ashley Geddes & Oscar Forbes, coxed by Skye Ballance took bronze in a massive field of 62, with their teammates coming in 7th.

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ASRA at the SSRC Sweep Head

On Saturday 30th September at the Scottish Schools’ Rowing Council Head Races over a 4 kilometre course on the Forth & Clyde Canal between Banknock and Auchinstarry, 32 members of the Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association entered the lists against the best of Scotland’s U18 sweep rowers to win the Scottish Junior Club Champions’ Cup for the 8th year in succession.

Division winners were....

Men’s Junior 18 Coxed Fours & Fastest Crew overall: Theo Stott (Harlaw Academy), Robert Powell, Miles Beeson & Conrad Forbes (all Albyn School) and cox Michael McCrory (Aberdeen Grammar School)

Men’s Junior 16 Coxed Fours & Second Place overall: Jakub Zbikowski (Harlaw Academy)), Xander Beeson (Albyn School), Chris Bardas (Harlaw Academy), Seth Turner (Cults Academy) and cox Hannah Watson (Watson’s College FP)

Men’s Junior 15 Coxed Fours: Harris MacDonald (Albyn School), William Bricknell (Aberdeen Grammar School), Scott Lewis (Mearns Academy) & Michel Dearsley (Cults Academy) and cox Skye Ballance (Cults Academy)

Men’s Junior 14 Coxed Quadruple Sculls: Will Cooper Alex Fowler , Ben Milne (all Albyn School) & Joe Ritchie ( Aberdeen Grammar School)) and coxed by Cheyanne Taylor (Bridge of Don Academy)

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National Schools Regatta, Dorney Lake

Mariner’s Cup Win for Aberdeen

Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association have just returned from Dorney Lake – the 2012 Olympic rowing venue – after competing in the 2017 National Schools Regatta. In the premier junior regatta of the UK season, with over 5000 competitors, ASRA returned with an excellent haul of a gold medal and two bronze medals.

On Friday 26. May, ASRA boys Seth Turner, Chris Bardas, Alexander Beeson and Jakub Zbikowski, coxed by Michael McCrory grabbed an impressive bronze medal in the Junior 15 Coxed Quadruple Sculls. After a time trial and semi- finals, the field of 44 crews was reduced six. In the final, a length down from the winners, Henley Rowing Club, the boys had a tremendous tussle with two other crews; eventually finishing a metre behind 2nd place and the same ahead of 4th place.

On Saturday 27.May, the same crew of Seth, Chris, Alexander, Jakub and Michael (cox) entered their preferred event, the Junior 15 Coxed Fours. After progressing smoothly through the opening rounds, the final developed into an attritional battle between ASRA and Walton Rowing Club. The ASRA boys pushed their bows in front after the first 250m of the 2000m race and steadily opened this up to a lead of one boat length. Every time Walton managed to lift their rating and claw back some of the difference, the ASRA crew managed to find a little extra and open the lead back up again, eventually crossing the line in first place to win the prestigious Mariner’s Cup for Aberdeen.

On the same day, ASRA Junior 17 boys Conrad Forbes, Miles Beeson, Robert Powell and Theo Stott, also coxed by Michael McCrory, were entered in First Coxed Fours event. After progressing into the A Final the race started well for the ASRA boys and they were in a tight battle with two other crews. However, St George’s College and Tideway Scullers pushed ahead after 1000m, with the former winning a very tight race for gold; and with ASRA unable to respond to the quickening pace, the boys were left in a comfortable bronze medal position.

In other events ASRA crews gained very respectable results. The crew of Harris MacDonald, Scott Lewis, William Bricknell, Ashley Geddes, Archie Innes, Michel Dearsley, Matthew Hughson and Oscar Forbes, coxed by Ben Milne, came 5th in the A Final of Junior 14 Coxed Octuple Sculls. The crew of Abigail Topp, Ellie Andrew, Meg Lewis and Megan Hewison, coxed by Emily Murdoch reached the semi-finals of the Junior 16 Girls Coxed Fours and the crew of Aidan Graham, Danny Skinner, Daniel Lynch and Sam Kelso reached the semi-finals of the Junior 16 Coxless Fours.

Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association will now be training for the Scottish Rowing Championships on the 9th – 11th June at Strathclyde Park, Motherwell.

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2009 - Aberdeen Inter-Schools Regatta

On Saturday 6th June under the auspices of the Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association the first ever Aberdeen Inter-Schools Regatta took place on the Dee. Representatives from six participating schools - Albyn School, Bankhead Academy, Cults Academy, Harlaw Academy, Hazlehead Academy and Kincorth Academy - took part in the 39 knock-out races for the Aberdeen Inter-Schools Cup. Outright winners in the end were the boys from Cults Academy - Callum Taylor, George Colleron, George Turner and Tom Cook, coxed by Tom Reevel of AUBC.

2009 results 6

The regatta was the culmination of months of work by the Lottery Funded ASRA Development Coach - Colin Wallace - and his supporting team recruited from AUBC, RGU and ASRA present and former pupils who together have been introducing the sport of rowing to schools across the city.

A big thank you to all the parents and helpers who helped to make a success of this event.

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National Schools' Regatta, Nottingham

At the prestigious National Schools' Regatta, Nottingham, held from 22nd - 24th May at the English National Watersports Centre in Nottingham, all five Aberdeen Schools' Rowing Association crews successfully passed from the time trials into the semi-finals of their events. The Boys' Junior 14 Quad, Junior 15 Doubles and the Junior 16 Coxed Fours failed to progress at that stage, but the Girls' Junior 16 and Junior 18 Coxed fours both won their semi-finals in style to move on to their respective finals. The Girls' Junior 16 quartet - Christie Duff, Morven Shaw, Rachael Hadjitofi & Holly Reid coxed by Emily Geddes - after a horrendous start in their final, clawed their way back into contention and were unlucky to cross the line in fourth position in the wake of the St. George's College crew they had already beaten in the semi-final. Pride of place has to go again however to our 2008 Home Countries Champions- Rosie Morton, Iona Riley, Catriona Bain & Jamie Steel coxed by Lily Taylor - who had to interrupt their Highers' preparations to make this trip at all. After a dream start where they took a length off the English Inter-Regional champions from Stratford-on-Avon, the ASRA girls dominated the 2K race until the last 10 metres where (à la Katherine Grainger) they succumbed to a tremendous push from the English girls to lose in a photo-finish by a heart-breaking 0.25 seconds. Silver this time around, but they will lock horns with the Stratford quartet again at Women's Henley in June (if they can raise a suitable sponsor!) and in any case at the National Championships of Great Britain in Nottingham in July.

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National Schools Championships

The National Schools Championships at Holme Pierrepont, Nottingham, - scheduled to take place from 23rd - 25th May - were called off half-way through Saturday after 4 Boys' Eights were swamped and conditions were rightfully deemed thereafter to be too dangerous to continue.

This was of course a bitter disappointment for our J18 Schoolgirls' Coxed Four and our J16 Double who had trained so hard for the event and it was left to our younger boys to keep the ASRA colours flying.

On Friday our J14 Coxed Quad (Nic Riddoch, Robert Hamlet, Blair Sorbie & Lewis McCue with cox Emily Geddes) sailed through the processional in 10th place out of 21 and were unlucky in a strong semi-final to lose out on a position in the final by a mere 4.5 seconds - a boat-length in old money.

On Saturday our J15 Coxed Four (Blair Sorbie, Niall Rundle, Daniel McSherry & Atholl Wallace with cox Lewis McCue) claimed a highly respectable 8th place out of 19 in the processional and were looking forward to doing even better in the next round. This however was not to be and the worsening weather conditions compelled the organisers to cancel any further competition at this level and to award the medals according to the places gained in the processional. Our boys ended up 10 seconds short of the bronze medal time.

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National Schools Regatta

At the National Schools Regatta at the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham where this year 3500 junior rowers from all over Britain contested 50 different events from Friday 25th to Sunday 27th of May, members of our club reached two finals out of four events entered, but were unfortunately not able to emulate Iona & Jamie's cup winning performance of 2006.

Our Under 17 girls - Lucy Bonnamy and Joy Davies - in Championship Girls' Pairs produced the best ASRA result of the weekend by coming in a brilliant fourth in the hotly contested final of that event. They had held silver position for a large part of the race, faded a little in the last 500 metres and were unfortunate in the end to be pipped on the line for the bronze by the girls from Lady Eleanor Holles School. This is the best ever performance by an ASRA crew in this the most feared of all girls' sweep events.

Our Under 15 scullers too - Catriona Bain, Rachael Hadjitofi, Iona Riley, Jamie Steel & cox Robert Hamlet - did well to reach the final in Girls' Under 15 Coxed Quads, an event which started off with a massive entry from 33 clubs. At 500 metres to go, less than a second separated the four crews vying for bronze and in a blanket finish ASRA must consider themselves unlucky to have missed out on a medal.

Our Boys' Under 15 Double - Atholl Wallace & Gary Wilson - having won their first eliminator in grand style were unable to reproduce this fine form in the semi-final where their fourth position ruled them out of a place in the final.

Our Under 14 Scullers in a newly formed crew - Niall Rundle, Blair Sorbie, Robert Hamlet, Daniel McSherry & cox Rachael Hadjitofi - found the going predictably tough in Under 14 First Quads and rather shot themslves in their collective feet with a couple of major crabs early in the race, but certainly they too will have gained a great deal from competing at the highest level in British junior rowing.

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National Schools' Regatta

At the prestigious National Schools' Regatta at the English National Watersports Centre, Nottingham on 26 - 28 May, where annually around 3500 rowers contest 48 different rowing events, ASRA's Junior Under 14 Scullers - Iona Riley (Hazlehead Academy) & Jamie Steel (Harlaw Academy) won Gold and the Tristan Hewins Cup for their outstanding performance in the Girls' Double Sculls event beating the best scullers in their age group over three rounds from 20 Clubs all over England. This is the first time in 40 years that Aberdeen rowers have brought home Gold from this, the biggest and toughest Junior rowing regatta in Britain.

Both our J14 Boys Double - Gary Wilson & Atholl Wallace - and our J18 Girls - Joy Davies, Beady Rice, Seonaid Crosby, Lucy Bonnamy & cox Jamie Steel - were unfortunate to be drawn in the tougher of the two semis on offer in their respective events and to end up fourth in both with times that would have seen them qualify comfortably for the final, had they been in the other semi. Our J16 Girls - our J18s with Danielle McNaughton replacing Seonaid Crosby – were also more than a little unlucky - having survived the processional elimination process in some style - to be allocated lane 1 in their semi - the observably slowest of all the lanes in the prevailing wind conditions on Sunday. It cannot be denied however that the SQA exams which are now in full swing and the consequent lack of crew outings have definitely left their mark on both the technique and fitness levels of our senior girl rowers in particular.

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National Schools' Championships

At the National Schools' Championships, Holme Pierrepont, Nottingham on 27, 28 & 29 May ASRA entered crews in the MJ15 and WJ16 Fours events. Age-wise the crews were extremely young and the primary aim was to give them experience of an event where an entry of 3,000 competitors is rapidly becoming the norm.

As luck would have it, the weather which had been so benign on Friday for the J14 events, changed dramatically on Saturday and a 28 m.p.h. head wind gusting to 55 m.p.h. forced the organisers to abandon racing on safety grounds before our boys - Arthur Tutenuit, Jonathan Wright, Owen Jenkins, Johnathan Lockhart & cox Atholl Wallace - had a chance to compete.

On Sunday with a return to an 8 m.p.h. headwind our WJ16 entry - Beady Rice(15), Lucy Bonnamy(15), Iona Riley (13), Joy Davies (15) & cox Jamie Steel - entered the lists in the "group of death", a group where the other four crews all progressed through the semis to the final and where two of them medalled. Had we been drawn in either of the other two eliminators, we too would have progressed to the semis and then who knows...? The Bedford High School crew (Schools' Head 2005 WJ16 Champions) which forced our exit in the first round by just four seconds won the bronze medal and the gold medal went to our old rivals George Heriot's of Edinburgh.

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