Icons of Whisky Scotland PR Agency of the Year 2020
Small PR Consultancy of the Year 2022

Small PR Consultancy of the Year 2022

Icons of Whisky Scotland PR Agency Highly Commended

Edinburgh-based Beeline PR specialises in:

Public Relations | Crisis and Reputation Management | Brand Building

We can:

create maximum impact through strategic communications

raise the awareness of your brand or organisation

support your business objectives

identify and communicate with target audiences

provide white-label services for other creative agencies


About Beeline PR

Beeline PR Team

Debbie Byers



Debbie was Chair of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) in Scotland 2009/10 and also scooped the CIPR Award for Best PR Consultant under the age of 30 in Scotland in 1998.

Debbie Byers, Director

Debbie Byers established Beeline PR in September 2011.  The independent agency works with corporate clients and consumer brands as well as other creative agencies looking for strategic PR and business development support.  Services include brand building, media relations, business-to-business marketing support, crisis communications and reputation management, stakeholder and political engagement and social media strategy.

Each client is provided with a strategic tailored approach to both its campaign planning and the dedicated team selected to implement the activity.  Beeline PR is affiliated to a number of organisations and consultants to create positive working relationships for the benefit of the client.   

With more than two decades of experience, Debbie worked for leading PR consultancies in Edinburgh, London and Glasgow before establishing Beeline PR.

She is a business degree graduate and the past Chair of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations in Scotland representing its 750-strong membership from the private, public and charitable sectors.

Debbie has fostered a broad experience across consumer, business-to-business and corporate campaigns as well as issue-led media relations working across all sectors from financial and professional services to food and drink. 

In June 2018, Debbie also launched a purpose-lead motivational speaker agency, Speaker Buzz.  It is on a mission to inspire change by representing speakers with an authentic story to tell that can address today’s challenges from mental health and wellbeing, diversity and inclusion to social impact.

Debbie sits on the Executive Team of WeDO Scotland, which provides powerful and proven entrepreneurial support enabling its members to scale their businesses and maximise their growth potential.

Jim Byers, Director

Jim brings more than 20 years’ experience in journalism, communications and marketing to Beeline PR.

His career began in journalism, first as a feature writer in Edinburgh and later as an editor in London. During the first dot-com boom, he was content editor of a pioneering music website in London.

In Glasgow, Jim broadened his skills at a content and communications agency in Glasgow, where he managed print and digital projects for various clients, including The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s award-winning Unfiltered magazine.

On his return to Edinburgh, Jim moved into PR with specialist drinks marketing agency, Steely Fox. As associate director, he worked on variety of projects over several years ranging from brand creation and strategy, to experiential events, content creation and traditional PR.

A lifelong music fan, Jim also runs Edinburgh Music Lovers (EML). His mission with EML is to help make Edinburgh a music city.

Katie Spence, Senior Account Manager

A former journalist, Katie has forged a successful career in strategic media relations, campaigns, crisis and issues management, with more than 15 years’ experience across a range of senior roles in public sector communications. 

Katie led a team of six while at the helm of the City of Edinburgh Council’s fast-paced and busy press office, promoting the organisation’s strategic priorities and achievements and leading its media response to crises. She led the media launch of Edinburgh Trams in May 2014, managed media at Harry and Meghan’s first joint visit to Edinburgh and juggled multiple reactive issues every day in service of the Council’s external reputation.

After reading Classics at Cambridge under the tutelage of Dame Mary Beard, Katie worked variously as an English teacher in Paris, an event coordinator for wedding music in London and as a nanny in Venice while pursuing her first love of classical singing. Switching to journalism aged 25, she worked in York and Edinburgh as a news reporter before discovering she preferred being on the ‘other side’ as a public relations practitioner. 

Jane Lynchehaun, Senior Account Manager 

Following the completion of her post-graduate diploma in PR at Queen Margaret University, Jane has developed her love of communicating and storytelling professionally since 2015. 

During her seven-year career in PR she has worked with a range of B2B clients in the technology, renewables, investment, fintech, startup, life science and manufacturing sectors, to name a few. She also has experience working with Third Sector organisations.

Jane strives to build a strong foundation of knowledge and understanding about each client that she works with, allowing her to deliver robust, insightful and impactful campaigns.

With strong media relationships and communication skills, her experience includes the launch of manufacturing innovators Vert Rotors’ ground-breaking air compressor design, driving media relations for The Scottish Government’s CivTech Accelerator programme, and promoting SSE’s renewable energy services for businesses. 

Before her PR career took off, Jane learned about Australian agriculture and the rules of rodeo during her time working for the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW, studied the full spectrum of human nature whilst working in several hospitality roles and helped to roll out a new smart card initiative when working at The Law Society of Scotland. 

John Hatfield, Associate and Media Training Consultant 

John supports Beeline PR with copy writing for white papers, reports and in-depth comment pieces on behalf of our clients.  He is a former equities analyst, journalist, columnist and editor on national newspapers including the FT and Scotsman.  Also, the former head of media relations at ScottishPower. 
John also offers media training for our clients.  He is highly experienced in this area having trained a wide range of blue-chip clients including one in ten FTSE100, global professional services firms and public bodies, some of which are listed. 

Julie Dunn, Social Media Manager

Julie combines 15 years of brand marketing experience and experience in strategic social media management to create engaging content for the social platforms of Beeline PR’s clients.  

Lorna Husband, Trainee Account Executive

Lorna is a graduate of Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh where she studied International Tourism and Hospitality Management, during which she developed a passion for marketing and communications.
She has some marketing and events experience under her belt having enjoyed roles with Bon Accord Soft Drinks, LovEvents and Brose Oats.  She has also founded her own luxury soy wax candle company @sticklebackco  

Lotte studied English at The University of St Andrews, where she was awarded the Catherine Wyatt Fenty Memorial Prize for outstanding dissertation, and graduated with first class honours. While studying she developed a passion for both academic and creative writing, which she has carried on beyond her university career through her internship at Beeline PR, and in her free time. 

Previously Lotte has held in roles as a receptionist at The Royal Yacht Britannia, and as a host at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre during its time as a Mass Vaccination Centre throughout the pandemic, and during its time as a Festival Fringe venue. 

Lauren Stewart, Client Services Executive

She is our hot shot administrator who helps the Beeline PR team with scheduling meetings, compiling client reports, marketing, and new business development. 

Lauren held similar administrative roles at the NHS for several years and more recently during the countdown to launch phase of the new Gleneagles Townhouse in the heart of Edinburgh.

Carol Graham, Financial Controller

Carol enjoyed an almost 20-year career with the global technology company, IBM, where the focus was on finding the right solutions for customers to build smarter businesses.
She was awarded the prestigious 'Best of IBM' award in 2017 for her achievements and contributions, a global recognition award for the top contributors to IBM’s business.

Carol is experienced in all business operations, from financial modelling and forecasting to negotiating and delivering.

Tino Nombro

Tino Nombro, Non-Executive Director 

Tino is an experienced business advisor and entrepreneur who helps develop Beeline PR’s growth. Tino founded and sold digital marketing company Ambergreen and advises a number of other companies. He is also a board member of the Homeless World Cup Foundation and advises Beeline PR’s sister business, Speaker Buzz sharing the ethos of inspiring positive change.

Bagel Byers

Bagel Byers, Wellness Manager

Contributes to walking meetings and end of day wind downs.  Sadly, not allowed in the office until our dog friendly policy changes so works from home.


How we can help

As a small PR business with a carefully managed portfolio of clients, Beeline PR can offer senior level support and commitment at all times.  In addition to working with our own clients, we provide a white-label service to other PR consultancies and creative agencies that need support driving busy projects or assistance with securing new business.

Recent News from Beeline PR

4 December 2023

Best in Show! South of Scotland triumphs with record-smashing six national Thistle Awards

Region makes history by scooping its highest ever number of Scottish Thistle Awards celebrating excellence in tourism and hospitality

CORKS are popping across the South of Scotland as the region celebrates a sensational performance at the national Scottish Thistle Awards for the tourism and hospitality sector – businesses from Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders scooped six national awards at Friday’s glitzy ceremony in Glasgow, smashing the previous regional record of three and making the South of Scotland the most successful region on the night.
The six winning businesses’ achievements are now set to be recognised by the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) with guest of honour status at their next annual conference, being held in Dumfries on 20 March 2024.
The South of Scotland triumphed in the following categories at the Scottish Thistle Awards 2023:
  • Cream o’ Galloway ice cream founders Wilma and David Finlay, who are partners in family farm Rainton Farm in Dumfries and Galloway, home of The Ethical Dairy, won the prestigious Silver Thistle Award, which recognises an individual or individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to tourism over many years.
VisitScotland Chair Lord Thurso, who presented their award, said: Congratulations to Wilma and David Finlay on receiving this year’s Silver Thistle Award. This is a well-deserved award that recognises the outstanding contribution they have made to tourism in Scotland.
“Described as pioneers in their industry, they have demonstrated the principles of responsible tourism throughout their career and continue to inspire and encourage others to follow in their footsteps. They have not only made a huge impact on their local community in Dumfries & Galloway, but their pioneering work has had a lasting effect on farming, agritourism and responsible tourism in Scotland as a whole.”
  • Tourism Individual of the Year award was won by Melanie Allen, recognising her as an influential leader and ambassador and in light of the positive impact she has made on the visitor experience at regional and national level.
Melanie Allen said: “I am absolutely honoured and delighted to be recognised as Tourism Individual of the Year at the Scottish National Thistle Awards particularly being alongside so many talented finalists. Winning this prestigious award is such a wonderful accolade that I dedicate to all the inspiring people I have had the pleasure to work with. Success in tourism is always at its best when it’s achieved in collaboration with other like-minded people who work with a shared vision to be 'world leaders in 21st Century Tourism’. Through these cherished relationships, I hope the passion and ambition I have for destination Scotland continues to be contagious with both businesses, community and visitors. Wishing massive congratulations to all the award winners and finalists celebrating this evening and making a difference to tourism in Scotland.”
  • Melanie Allen, with husband John, also scooped the Scottish Thistle Award for Best B&B or Guest House Experience for their Nithbank Country Estate luxury B&B in Thornhill, Dumfries & Galloway. The couple operate an exclusive B&B in this historic country house set in an 11-acre estate and were commended for their focus on local first and responsible tourism.
Owners Melanie and John Allen said: “We are honoured and delighted to win this prestigious award. The Thistle Awards are the pinnacle of success for tourism in Scotland and showcase a commitment to providing consistency through authentic and quality guest experiences.
“The great tourism product we are able offer is only made possible through working with some amazing local businesses and our wider community - it is definitely a collaborative effort that goes towards creating unique memorable moments for guests here at Nithbank.”
  • Best Self-Catering Accommodation Experience went to Arden Holiday Cottage in Dumfries and Galloway, a rural self-catering cottage with an ‘outside the box’ approach, helping provide a different kind of experience for guests looking to switch off from their everyday lives and social media.
Owner Hester Binge said: “Arden Holiday Cottage are absolutely delighted to receive this prestigious award. "We are just one of many self-catering cottages who go that extra mile to ensure the experiences we offer are memorable and unique. Our Escape Room is based on local folklore which celebrates the rich tapestry of Dumfries & Galloway encouraging guests to explore all our beautiful region has to offer. This award means we can highlight Dumfries & Galloway and bring more guests to our often-overlooked region benefitting all tourism providers.”
  • Scottish Borders luxury self-catering specialist Airhouses landed the Best Luxury Experience award, with judges praising their community engagement and fair employment, which will  ‘help to inspire other businesses in the Scottish tourism industry.”
Elisabeth and Damian Kelly, partners in Airhouses, said: “We are delighted that our team's hard-work and dedication to customer service, excellent cleanliness and providing each guest with a unique and bespoke experience, has been recognised by this award. We would like to thank our wonderful team and our fantastic guests for making Airhouses such a special place.”
  • Finally, Best Bar or Pub was won by The Cross Keys Inn, Ettrickbridge, which reopened in early 2023 after a painstaking refurbishment by new owners Rory and Vicki Steel. Judges hailed the Inn for its comprehensive programme of engagement with local groups and the Ettrickbridge community.
Rory and Vicki Steel, owners of The Cross Keys Inn, said: “We were absolutely thrilled to win this award in our region and we’re honoured to fly the flag for the South of Scotland in the Thistle Awards National Final. To win again this evening really is the best end to our first year of operating. We can’t thank our whole team and our local community in Ettrickbridge enough for all their support and we’re looking forward to building on this success throughout 2024!”
David Hope-Jones, Chief Executive of the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to see so many South of Scotland businesses receive national recognition at the Thistles. It demonstrates just how brilliantly our tourism and hospitality sector does what it does, with a real devotion to excellence, quality and responsible tourism.
“The scale of the South’s success (beating all other regions and doubling our best ever result in the 30-year history of the Thistles) is hugely inspiring.  It’s not just these six brilliant businesses that are celebrating, it’s all of the South of Scotland.  As a destination, we are finding our voice, building confidence and establishing our global reputation.
“This sensational result couldn’t be better timed, with a new Responsible Tourism Strategy soon to be launched, setting a bold, ambitious vision for the future of tourism in the South. Under our shared banner of ‘Scotland Starts Here’, we are keen to tell a new story about the South of Scotland, as an exciting destination offering a quality rural experience for the discerning visitor.”
The first ever dedicated South of Scotland Thistle Awards were held at Dumfries’s Cairndale Hotel in October, organised by the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) and South of Scotland Enterprise, supported by VisitScotland and with headline sponsor Caledonia Park Designer Outlet.
Planning is already under way for the next South of Scotland Thistle Awards in 2024, with entries due to go live in the spring.
A special free session aimed at helping businesses craft a successful application - How to be a Scottish Thistle Award Winner - is scheduled on 7 March 2024 as part of the SSDA’s ongoing Winter Webinar series, available to all tourism businesses in the region.
The South of Scotland Thistle Awards 2023 ceremony was sponsored by Caledonia Park Designer Outlet,  The Borders Distillery, Fishers, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, Johnstons of Elgin and SW Audio. Any businesses or organisations keen to find out more about sponsoring the awards in 2024 are invited to contact the SSDA via info@ssdalliance.com at their earliest convenience.
About the South of Scotland Destination Alliance
Established in May 2020, the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) is the industry-led Destination Management and Marketing Organisation for the South of Scotland, encompassing Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders. With a focus on place-making, people, digital capability and sustainability, the ambition of SSDA is to make the South of Scotland a top tourism destination, offer a world-class visitor experience, increase tourism spend in the region to £1bn by 2030 and create 6,500 new jobs.
SSDA is supported by South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), VisitScotland, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Scottish Borders Council, and received £2.7million over five years in 2020 from South of Scotland Enterprise.

4 December 2023


Edinburgh Panto sponsorship and a fleet of eye-catching branded taxis will promote the flourishing Scottish snack brand’s festive and seasonal flavours

Perthshire-based Taylors Snacks has invested £75,000 into a ‘Crispmas’ marketing campaign, which will promote its festive seasonal products through sponsorship of one of Scotland's most high-profile pantomimes, and the launch of a fleet of branded taxis.

The new campaign comes as Taylors Snacks, which officially launched in March, has secured listings across all major supermarkets in Scotland, enjoyed impressive sales figures and experienced a 50% increase in awareness of the brand.

Thousands of panto fans flock to the Capital Theatres Edinburgh Panto over the festive season, which this year will be The Pantomime Adventures of Peter Pan featuring the much-loved actors Allan Stewart, Grant Stott and Jordan Young. Audiences will have the opportunity to sample Taylors Snacks festive range, which includes Gingerbread popcorn, and Boxing Day Curry crisps, as well as the Taylors core range of unique thick-cut crisps.

Over the coming months, a fleet of 15 branded Taylors taxis will also be hitting the streets of Edinburgh and Glasgow. The taxis, which were unveiled at Edinburgh Castle, are wrapped in flavour-themed livery, with different colours each representing a Taylors flavour, such as Turkey & Stuffing, Pickled Onion, Jalapeno & Cheddar, Sea Salt & Vinegar, and Sea Salt.

Each taxi will have a QR code on its tip seats, allowing customers to enter a fortnightly competition to win a box of festive snacks, while each driver will even have their own supply of Taylors crisps matching the ‘flavour’ of their taxi to hand out to lucky customers.

Taylors has also launched a separate competition on social media where three people will win a year’s supply of crisps. Participants can enter by simply snapping a picture of a branded taxi and tagging Taylors Snacks on social media.

James Taylor, managing director of Taylors Snacks said: “Taylors Snacks is fast becoming a household name across Scotland, and we are seeing more and more people enjoying our snacks each month.

“While we are pleased with the excellent sales and brand-awareness we have already experienced this year, we are keen to further engage with snack fans across the country so they can enjoy our unique range of crisps, popcorn and lentil waves, which is why we have invested in these seasonal campaigns that reflect our fun family values.

“The future is looking bright for the brand, and we are grateful for every person who has picked up a bag of Taylors Snacks this year. We look forward to listing more retail opportunities across Scotland and beyond in the coming months.”

Formerly Mackie’s Crisps, Taylors Snacks launched in Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Asda stores across Scotland under its new name in April 2023. Despite the company’s rebranding and new packaging, the uniquely thick-cut crunch of their crisps and moreish flavours remain the same.

Produced near the fourth-generation Taylor farm in Perthshire, Taylors Snacks boasts award-winning crisps and a growing product range including popcorn and lentil waves. It has a continued dedication towards making high-quality and delicious thick-cut crisps with a signature texture, which are cooked gently to create a unique flavour.

6 October 2023

First ever South of Scotland Thistle Awards celebrates the region’s leading lights in tourism and hospitality

Triumphant South of Scotland businesses now preparing to battle it out at the national Scottish Thistle Awards finals in December

Tourism and hospitality businesses from right across the South of Scotland are celebrating today after emerging victorious at the region’s first ever dedicated regional Thistle Awards, held in Dumfries last night. 

Finalists, key suppliers and local leaders turned out in their finery for the glittering ceremony at the Cairndale Hotel and Leisure Club, sponsored by Caledonia Park Designer Outlet.  

The Scottish Thistle Awards celebrate the very best of the tourism and events industry, helping to shine the spotlight on this vital part of the local economy.  

This year saw the South of Scotland host its first ever dedicated regional awards event, encouraging even more businesses than in previous years to achieve richly deserved recognition and acclaim from their peers and from the region as a whole.  

At last night’s sell-out celebration event, South of Scotland Thistle Award-winners were unveiled in thirteen separate categories. The winners*, who will now go on to represent the South of Scotland at the national Scottish Thistle Awards finals in December, were:  

Innovation in Tourism – Dalscone Farm 

Best B&B or Guesthouse Experience – Nithbank Country Estate 

Best Self-Catering Accommodation Experience – Arden Holiday Cottage 

Best Bar or Pub – The Cross Keys Inn Ettrickbridge 

Best Hotel Experience – Cringletie 

Best Eating Experience – Allanton Inn 

Outstanding Cultural Event or Festival – Borders Book Festival 

Climate Action Award – Nithbank Country Estate 

Celebrating Thriving Communities Award – The Devil’s Porridge Museum 

Best Visitor Attraction – Trimontium Museum 

Best Outdoor or Adventure Experience – Kitchen Coos and Ewes 

Tourism and Hospitality Employer of the Year – The Beagle Country Pub and Barend Holiday Lodges 

Tourism Individual of the Year – Melanie Allen (Nithbank Country Estate

*please see Notes to Editors for quotes from all the winners 

David Hope-Jones, Chief Executive of the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) said: “Hosting our first ever South of Scotland Thistle Awards has been a wonderful way of bringing together and honouring the leading lights in tourism and hospitality from our region – it’s been a celebration of the South of Scotland, by the South of Scotland. The independent judging panel were blown away by the calibre of all those who applied for the Awards, and while of course last night was all about recognising our brilliant local winners, we want to celebrate and pay tribute to everyone who took part in the process.  

“I’d like to thank all our generous sponsors and fantastic suppliers for helping make our inaugural awards event such a roaring success. Now we wish our splendid winners every success as they get ready to fly the South of Scotland flag at the national Scottish Thistle Awards finals in December.” 

Professor Russel Griggs, Chair of South of Scotland Enterprise, said:?“A huge congratulations to all the finalists and winners in the first South of Scotland Thistle Awards, who have been recognised for their hard work attracting and accommodating visitors to our wonderful region.? 

“To have a dedicated awards evening for the tourism and hospitality sector in the South highlights the commitment of SOSE, SSDA, VisitScotland and both Councils to the local industry. 

“All the partners are also committed to the new South of Scotland Responsible Tourism Strategy which aims to deliver the best for our visitors, our businesses, our people, our communities and our environment.” 

VisitScotland Board member and Chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards industry panel, Steven Walker said: “Congratulations to all of the winners?at the very first?South of Scotland Thistle Awards. The Scottish Thistle Awards shine a spotlight on the very best of Scotland’s tourism and events industry, celebrating the businesses and individuals who work hard to create the fantastic destination and visitor experiences that Scotland is famous for.?

“The Scottish Thistle Awards mark an important celebration of the very best of our tourism and events industry and support the ambition for Scotland to be recognised globally as a leader in this field.?? 

“I wish the regional winners the best of luck as they continue through to the Scottish Thistle Awards National Final later this year.”? 

The awards ceremony was also sponsored by The Borders Distillery, Fishers, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association and Johnstons of Elgin.  

Images from the awards event are available to download https://platform.crowdriff.com/m/s-XKRAa2aGhVpJET8N 

28 September 2023


The England and Harlequins player has ‘signed’ as an ambassador for Raleigh International to encourage young people from all walks of life to try a volunteering expedition abroad

Having smashed through many glass ceilings in her remarkable life, rugby star Shaunagh Brown is perfectly positioned to tackle her latest challenge as the first-ever ambassador for youth adventure organisation Raleigh International.

In the new role, the Harlequins and ex-England rugby player will use her platform and passion for equality and diversity to inspire young people from all walks of life to embrace challenge and adventure, like on a Raleigh Expedition, to develop resilience, confidence, and self-belief. Brown continues to play for Harlequins, the club she returned to in the summer following her retirement at the end of last year.

Raleigh takes 17–24-year-olds on volunteering Expeditions to South Africa and Costa Rica to build confidence, communication and leadership skills. While on their Expeditions, the young people take part in projects supporting local communities. In 2000, Prince William volunteered in Chile with Raleigh.

To announce her 'signing’ with Raleigh, the 33-year-old visited Medway RFC in Kent, the club where she started her career in rugby. After being presented with a bespoke iconic green t-shirt by Raleigh’s managing director Lucy Constable Fernandez, Brown took time to chat with the club’s Under 18 girls team, and led parts of their training session.

Brown, who grew up in a single parent family and working-class environment, has spent her life and career breaking down barriers, and is passionate about helping young people from less advantaged backgrounds do the same. Her career path has been unconventional, having worked as a heating engineer for British Gas, a firefighter, and commercial diver before rising to the top of rugby, a sport considered elitist by many.

As an icon of the club and international game, she has used her platform to raise awareness of several issues close to her heart such as social, gender and racial equality, body image and the importance of physical activity for young people.

Brown’s appointment as an ambassador comes as Raleigh prepares to launch a new charitable foundation, which aims to make its volunteering experiences more accessible by providing financial support to young adults from less advantaged backgrounds.

In her role, Brown will speak at schools, host presentations, build partnerships with like-minded organisations in her network, promote Raleigh on social media and help Raleigh launch its charitable foundation.

Brown said: “I’ve had to push myself out of my comfort zone throughout my life to try and achieve more than might be expected from someone like me. I had to be brave and expose myself to difficult challenges at times and that’s what I want to encourage others to do.

“In my role as an ambassador, I want to show that you don’t have to be a certain type of person to go on a Raleigh Expedition. It doesn’t matter where you are from or what your background is.

“I’ll be telling young people about the new charitable foundation and also encouraging them to be brave and go and take up space that doesn’t have your name on it. Be the only type of person like you in the room. Use the experience to get to know who you are, what environments bring out the best in you and expose yourself to new challenges.”

“One of my messages will ‘You are capable of more than you realise’ and it’s amazing what you can do when you step out of your comfort zone.”

Lucy Constable Fernandez, Managing Director of Raleigh International, said: “We are thrilled to have Shaunagh on our team as she takes up her role as our first-ever Ambassador for Raleigh International.

“Shaunagh is an incredibly inspirational person who has shown throughout her life and career many of the values we hold at Raleigh such as courage and the importance of challenging yourself, leadership and never giving up.  

“She also has a powerful authentic voice and a passion for equal opportunities. As we prepare to create a new charitable foundation, Shaunagh will play a key role in helping us inspire more young people from diverse backgrounds to join an expedition and let them know that Raleigh is for everyone.”

The announcement of the partnership between Brown and the youth expedition organisation, which relaunched in January 2023 under the aegis of Impact Travel Group, comes after Raleigh introduced a series of initiatives to support the mental health of its young participants.

These include a ‘No Phones on Project’ policy, which has volunteers giving up their smartphones for each of their three 19-day projects, as well as the addition of new Wellbeing Coordinators on Expeditions to provide additional mental and emotional support, following a significant rise in applications from its 17–24-year-old volunteers citing mental health issues and a desire to improve wellbeing.

28 September 2023

Southern pride: team effort from across the region to make first South of Scotland Thistle Awards a glittering success

Local suppliers pulling out all the stops to honour and celebrate their area’s tourism and hospitality stars

The South of Scotland’s first ever dedicated regional Thistle Awards celebrating the best in tourism and hospitality are only days away and businesses from across the region are going the extra mile to ensure the awards event on 5 October 2023 is a roaring success.   

From locally-sourced flowers, food and entertainment to South of Scotland-based audio-visual and creative support, photography and trophy production, the ceremony at the family-run Cairndale Hotel & Leisure Club in Dumfries will be a true “celebration of the South of Scotland, by the South of Scotland”, according to David Hope-Jones OBE, Chief Executive of the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA), which is organising the event. 

The Scottish Thistle Awards celebrate the very best of the tourism and events industry, helping to shine the spotlight on this vital part of the local economy.  

In the South of Scotland’s inaugural event, in association with headline sponsors Caledonia Park Designer Outletshortlisted finalists are in contention across thirteen separate categories, including Innovation in Tourism, Tourism and Hospitality Employer of the Year and Climate Action Award. Other sponsors of the occasion are The Borders Distillery, Fishers, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association and Johnstons of Elgin.  

Guests attending the evening event on Thursday (5 October) will be treated to musical entertainment from local piper Gregor Grierson, as well as a specially arranged set by Dumfries & Galloway-based folk and Americana-influenced band Smith & McClennan, featuring former BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year, Emily Smith with husband and multi-instrumentalist Jamie McClennan. 

The menu for the celebration includes fillet of Scottish beef with an Annandale Whisky sauce and salmon from Lockerbie’s The Barony Smokehouse served with oatcakes from Irvings Bakery in Castle Douglas, as well as a seasonal pumpkin soup spiced with Galloway chillies.  

Beautiful glass trophies featuring the key colours of the main partners behind the Thistle Awards - navy and yellow for the South of Scotland, purple for VisitScotland and light blue for South of Scotland Enterprise – have been expertly designed and produced in Selkirk by the Holmes Glass father-and-son team Peter and Andrew Holmes. 

Sound and visual on the night will be orchestrated by Dumfries’s SW Audio, with photography by Borders-based Phil Wilkinson Photography & Video and bespoke flowers by Eden of Dumfries.  

Design work for the event was by Alix Lunn of Selkirk-based Lunncreative.  

David Hope-Jones OBE, Chief Executive of the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) said: “Excitement is building right across the South of Scotland ahead of our first ever Thistle Awards, which looks set to be the ‘hot ticket’ event of the season. It’s wonderful to see so many fantastic local specialist suppliers coming together to help us deliver an unforgettable occasion honouring the leading lights of tourism and hospitality in our region – it truly is a celebration of the South of Scotland, by the South of Scotland. 

“The South of Scotland Thistle Awards caps what’s been a tremendous year for the region – not only did the South of Scotland achieve the highly-coveted accolade of being named ‘Best in Travel’ by Lonely Planet, but we also welcomed the world to discover the Home of the Bike thanks to our new Kirkpatrick Coast to Coast and, of course, the UCI Cycling World Championships in Dumfries and at Glentress Forest.  

“All of us at the SSDA very much look forward to welcoming all the Thistle Awards finalists and guests to Thursday’s ceremony at the Cairndale, and to giving the winners a splendid send-off before they fly the South of Scotland flag at the national Scottish Thistle Awards finals in December.” 

Professor Russel Griggs, Chair of South of Scotland Enterprise, said: “The tourism sector is one of the most significant in the South of Scotland, worth over £600million and supporting thousands of jobs, and it is therefore appropriate that we come together to celebrate the best of tourism and hospitality through the first South of Scotland Thistle Awards. 

“I am delighted to see the Awards utilise a range of local suppliers to put on the event, from the food and drink offered on the night to the creation of the 13 awards for each category being contested.   

“This year has been a fantastic one for tourism and hospitality in the South, and I am confident that the 13 winners who go forward to the Scottish Thistle Awards in December will showcase on a national stage the excellent offering we have in our region.” 

VisitScotland Destination Development Director Gordon Smith said: “The Scottish Thistle Awards champion the very best of Scotland’s tourism and events industry, helping to shine a spotlight on the positive impact it brings to our country. It is fantastic to see the quality of finalists in the first ever South of Scotland Thistle Awards and the involvement from all aspects of the industry in coming together to create what is set to be a memorable celebration. I would like to extend my best wishes to the regional finalists and the winners as they go forward to the National Final in December.” 

Peter Holmes of Holmes Glass, which designed and produced the trophies for the South of Scotland Thistle Awards, said: “In our own small way we are delighted to be involved and support the SSDA by?producing the awards for the South of Scotland Thistle Awards.?It’s great to see lots of activity in the South of Scotland and people from across the region being recognised for all they do.” 




Issued on behalf of the South of Scotland Destination Alliance by Beeline PR. For more information please contact Katie Spence, Senior Account Manager at katie@beelinepr.com / 07585 211652. 

About the South of Scotland Destination Alliance 

Established in May 2020, the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) is the industry-led Destination Management and Marketing Organisation for the South of Scotland, encompassing Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders. With a focus on place-making, people, digital capability and sustainability, the ambition of SSDA is to make the South of Scotland a top tourism destination, offer a world-class visitor experience, increase tourism spend in the region to £1bn by 2030 and create 6,500 new jobs.  

SSDA is supported by South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), VisitScotland, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Scottish Borders Council, and received £2.7million over five years in 2020 from South of Scotland Enterprise.  





21 September 2023


Market leader in luxury Scottish catering, events, and venue operations, Hickory, dishes up the news of their exclusive partnership with The Merchants’ Hall.

The independent Scottish catering, events and venue operator, Hickory, has announced its new and exclusive partnership with The Merchants’ Hall, a hidden gem located in the heart of Edinburgh’s historic New Town. Hickory has been appointed sole caterer and venue manager of the iconic venue and will support The Merchants’ Hall in its mission to promote local artisans and businesses. 
The announcement highlights the recent growth of the multi award-winning company and follows several exciting new partnerships and developments, making Hickory one of the largest independent catering operators in Scotland 
The Merchants’ Hall is a distinguished nineteenth century building owned by The Royal Company of Merchants of The City of Edinburgh, designed to reflect values still associated with Scotland’s capital city, of integrity, acumen, and accomplishment. Over the years it has had an impressive array of hosts, including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh. Representing the graceful union of art and architecture, the Hall is available for hire for those who wish to enjoy its resulting opulence and prestige.  
Seating up to 150 dinner guests, Merchants’ Hall provides a beautiful backdrop to weddings or Champagne receptions with its striking domed ceiling and Minstrels’ Gallery. A complimentary red carpet can be rolled out for guests, adorning the Hall’s grand entrance and providing guests with a truly one-of-a-kind experience.  
Businesses looking to hire The Merchants’ Hall have their choice of hosting conferences, receptions, and seminars in the main Hall, or hiring the Court Room and adjoining Crush Hall upstairs for smaller events. The venue provides the perfect space to mingle, entertain, and network in, and is fully accessible with a lift and accessible toilet facilities.  
Hickory managing director, Stephanie Stubbs, said: “The Merchants’ Hall is one of Edinburgh’s true hidden gems offering a stunning and memorable venue for formal gatherings from corporate events to intimate weddings. 
“Hickory is thrilled to have been appointed as the sole caterer and venue manager. Our team brings creativity and industry expertise, consistent high quality and commercial understanding.  We look forward to hosting our first client event in September and have a busy festive period ahead.”   
The Membership, Events and Communications Manager for the Royal Company of Merchants, Gill Daniell, said, “We’re delighted to be partnering with Hickory as we evolve The Merchants’ Hall into a new era. With their exceptional quality of service and catering, their impressive investment in sustainability and their respect for traditional and history, they represent our vision and aims for the future of our historic venue.” 
With a commitment to facilitating spaces of enriching experience across Scotland and strong emphasis on sustainability, Hickory continues its mission to deliver Scotland's best events and hospitality experiences. Quality ingredients are sourced locally by a professional culinary team, who deliver innovative seasonal dishes.  
Named a finalist in the Best Scottish (Independent Business) category at the Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Awards in 2022, Hickory continues to scoop awards year after year, and secured its first contract outside of Scotland in August of last year. They achieved their ISO 9001 accreditation last year and catered for Climate Action at COP26 in 2021, demonstrating their commitment to excellence in all areas of service, and their core values of quality and sustainability.  

18 September 2023

Dentons grows in Scotland with double partner hire

Dentons, the world's largest global law firm, has announced the hires of Philip Knight and Steph Innes as partners in Scotland. Philip joined the firm's Edinburgh office on 12 September, while Steph joined in Glasgow on 18 September.

Claire Armstrong, Managing Partner of Dentons in Scotland, said: 'Steph and Philip will be real assets to our growing Scottish offices. We are committed to investing in Scotland's brightest legal talent and using Dentons' unique global reach to support clients on their most complex issues across practices, sectors and geographies.'

Steph Innes rejoins Dentons from leading industrial energy solutions provider Aggreko, where she was Head of Group Legal. Prior to this, she spent ten years as a Senior Associate in Dentons' Scotland TMT practice. Steph is also a part time commercial contracts tutor at the University of Glasgow.

Henrietta Baker, Head of Dentons' TMT practice for the UK, Ireland and Middle East said, 'I am delighted to welcome Steph back to Dentons. As a partner specialising in intellectual property, data protection and technology transactions, her arrival will allow us better to serve our clients in Scotland, the rest of the UK and internationally.'

Philip has joined the firm's Litigation and Arbitration practice, arriving from Womble Bond Dickinson where he was head of litigation in Scotland. Previously, he spent 11 years in DWF's Real Estate Litigation team. He has extensive experience advising on contractual disputes, real estate disputes, insolvency and director disqualification, licensing, regulatory, professional negligence, interdicts and financial services disputes. He joins Dentons' fast-growing Disputes team, which currently includes over 90 lawyers across the UK and Ireland. In the firm's recent announcement of its partner promotions seven originated from the Disputes team.

Louisa Caswell, head of the Disputes team for Dentons in the UK said, 'I am thrilled to welcome Philip to our Disputes team. His broad experience as a first-class litigator will help us towards our goal of creating a thriving Scottish disputes practice that is leading on cases for local, national and international clients.'

Paul Jarvis, Chief Executive for the UK, Ireland and Middle East (UKIME) region of Dentons, added, 'We are delighted that Philip and Steph have joined the high-quality group of partners who are committed to strengthening our position as the premium international law firm in Scotland.'

About Dentons
Across over 80 countries, Dentons helps you grow, protect, operate and finance your organization by providing uniquely global and deeply local legal solutions. Polycentric, purpose-driven and committed to inclusion, diversity, equity and sustainability, we focus on what matters most to you. www.dentons.com

5 September 2023


Key agencies working on the new Responsible Tourism Strategy for the region want to hear from as many people as possible through their online survey, which closes on 15 September

Members of the public in the South of Scotland are being urged to take part in an online survey about the area’s Regional Responsible Tourism Strategy, which is being developed collectively by the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA), South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), Scottish Borders Council, Dumfries & Galloway Council and VisitScotland.

As agreed in the Delivery Plan of the South of Scotland’s Regional Economic Strategy (RES), all key agencies in the region are coming together in 2023 to develop and agree a single Responsible Tourism Strategy for the South of Scotland, with a clear Action Plan for successful delivery.

The five partner organisations are all working together to support the development of the strategy, which aims to ensure the South of Scotland has a sustainable, year-round tourism offer. All involved are committed to ensuring the strategy and action plan are genuinely informed by, and owned by, local businesses and communities, as well as public agencies. To achieve this, they want the process of strategy development to be as inclusive and as possible.  

Alongside a series of 27 in-person and digital meetings, being held right across the region, an online survey to inform the new Strategy and Action Plan will be live until 15 September.  The survey aims  to capture the views of people throughout the South of Scotland, from tourism and hospitality businesses to community groups, residents and other stakeholders.

The online survey is being hosted by Scottish Borders Council and runs until 15 September 2023.

The first draft of the Strategy and Action Plan is due to be published in the autumn and a second round of (mostly digital) consultations is planned to obtain business and community feedback on this draft, before anything is finalised.

The five organisations aim to have the process complete, and the Strategy and Action Plan agreed by all parties, by the end of 2023.

David Hope-Jones OBE, South of Scotland Destination Alliance, said: “We’re really keen to hear from as many people in the South of Scotland as possible as we develop the Responsible Tourism Strategy. It’s about working collectively together, businesses and communities, to develop a sustainable, year-round tourism offering to benefit everyone who lives, works and visits here. 

“With a single Responsible Tourism Strategy, achieved through proactive outreach, open-minded consultation, and genuine collaboration, we can strengthen our visitor economy and support community prosperity. It’s about ensuring we’re all pushing in the same direction, with everyone bought into one single plan, for collective good.

Our goal is a strategy which is owned by, and delivers for, businesses, public agencies and communities. So, if you haven’t already done so, please share your views and insight into the future of tourism in the South of Scotland.”

Jane Morrison-Ross, Chief Executive of SOSE, added: “We know how important tourism is for the businesses and communities across our region and want to ensure that we grow its potential in a sustainable way.

“That is why the Responsible Tourism Strategy will be such a key tool for partners in the South.

“I would encourage anyone with an interest in the future of tourism in the South to take part in the survey to help ensure the final Strategy can help support a fair and flourishing industry.”

VisitScotland Destination Development Director Gordon Smith said: “The online and in-person meetings coordinated by the South of Scotland Destination Alliance have been a great success and allowed communities and businesses the opportunity to help influence the future direction of tourism across the region.

“There is still time for communities, businesses and for people living across the South of Scotland to have their say in the development of the South of Scotland Responsible Tourism Strategy. I would urge residents and businesses to take part in the online survey before it closes on 15 September. Partnership and collaboration are at the heart of Scottish tourism and working together to find ways to position the South of Scotland as a unique and special holiday choice is essential.”

Councillor Scott Hamilton, Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Community and Business Development, said: “It is particularly important that our local tourism businesses and those that support the sector and also benefit from visitors to the area feed into this strategy.

“Through the continued collaboration of the partners involved and the input from our businesses, communities and residents we will be able to not only deliver the strategy and action plan but most importantly act upon it for the benefit of everyone across the South of Scotland.”

Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy and Resources Committee, Councillor Ian Carruthers said: “We are very fortunate here in the South of Scotland to live in such a beautiful part of the country. We welcome tourists to our region throughout the year, but we need to know if we could do more to encourage people to visit and ensure that their stay is as happy as it can be. I would like to encourage everyone, residents and visitors to take a little time to fill in the survey and let us know your thoughts.”

Vice Chair of Economy and Resources, Councillor David Inglis said: “It is not just visitor ’hotspots’ that we need to look at, but our stunning region as a whole, from coast to coast across the South of Scotland. Businesses also need to get involved to let us know what we could be doing to help them to encourage visitors which of course, boosts our economy. Please let us know your thoughts and ideas so that we can collaboratively plan the best way forward.”

1 September 2023


Val McDermid says she made a “tactical error ” by making Karen Pirie a gin fan as she keeps being given bottles of the spirit – which she doesn’t actually like

Best-selling Scottish crime author Val McDermid has confessed that she wishes she’d made her popular Karen Pirie character drink whisky instead of gin. 
The whisky-loving writer behind the globally successful Karen Pirie book series has revealed she regularly receives bottles of gin as a gift from well-meaning fans, but she much prefers a good single malt. 
McDermid made this revelation during a conversation with The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) for its Whisky Talks podcast.  
Kind-hearted readers, she says, often assume that she must have made her cold case-solving protagonist a gin drinker because of her own appreciation of the spirit. In fact, she is unable to drink Pirie’s favourite tipple due to an ill-fated drinking session when studying at university.  
While first writing the books, McDermid was impressed by the growing gin industry and the variety available in Scotland and thought it would be interesting to make Pirie’s drink of choice a gin and tonic.  
She explained: “I do feel that I made a tactical error in making Karen a gin drinker. I still think it suits her personality, but as a result, I've generously been given quite a few bottles of gin. 
“My partner and her colleagues assure me these are lovely, but I can't drink any as I over-indulged to the point of being sick for three days back when I was a student. The very smell still makes me faintly queasy.” 
McDermid is a long-time member of the world’s largest whisky club, the SMWS, which specialises in rare, one-of-a-kind whiskies which are selected by their expert tasting panel. 
This year the Society is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a series of fun events, including supporting McDermid’s recent appearance at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.. 
She continued: “I’ve always enjoyed a dram, so I missed a trick by not making Karen like our national spirit. When I was developing my new series, 1979 and 1989, I took the opportunity to correct this by making the main character Allie Burns a malt whisky drinker.” 
The latest Karen Pirie instalment, Past Lying, will be released in October. The podcast featuring McDermid’s full conversation with The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is available to listen to now at : https://whiskytalk.fireside.fm/64  

10 August 2023


Fife-based Seaweed Enterprises announces major investment plans to scale up factory and operations, helping to realise the potential of this abundant ocean resource across the country

Scottish seaweed start-up, Seaweed Enterprises Limited, has announced large-scale plans to develop a market-leading primary processing facility to supply a global market set to grow by $7.8bn outside of the Far East over the next eight years1.

The Fife-headquartered firm, having retained seven jobs in the local region following the purchase of assets from Mara Seaweed (in Administration), has set its sights on scaling up its factory and operations with market-leading tech in order to become the UK’s leading harvesting and processing hub for seaweed. 

The Scottish seaweed industry has seen much interest and change in recent years, but is still an under-invested, untapped, and highly fragmented sector. Seaweed is a potent and abundant ocean resource packed full of nutritional, cosmetic and pharmaceutical benefits, as well as being an agricultural asset as both a fertiliser and foodstuff.

Seaweed Enterprises has been established by CEO Pete Higgins who is experienced in getting businesses investor ready and scaling for growth, along with the senior team from Mara Seaweed – Arnie Sathiy and Clare Dean – who have several years’ practical and commercial experience in the seaweed industry.

The team has already successfully secured private investment to roll out its business plan, which aims to see it grow to become the leading seaweed processing hub, supporting sustainable business growth for the Scottish seaweed sector with market-leading tech, whilst always pushing responsible harvesting protocols and enduring partnership work.

Significant capital expenditure at Seaweed Enterprises’ Glenrothes site is key to its investment strategy, allowing the production and sale of a range of species in demand from a vast array of offtake channels, already looking to seaweed for sustainable solutions.

The firm’s goal is to broaden its revenue base across a range of commercial opportunities, from the food industry to skincare and agri-business (fertilisers/feedstock), positioning Seaweed Enterprises as a centrally located solution to the continued bottlenecks seen across the seaweed industry as it matures.

Seaweed Enterprises CEO Pete Higgins said: “Seaweed is an extraordinarily beneficial natural resource whose potential is not yet fully realised, so this is a tremendously exciting time for Seaweed Enterprises and the sustainable seaweed sector as a whole.”

“Working in partnership with Scottish seaweed farmers, as well as the large volume from our licence to wild harvest granted by the Crown Estate, we are proud to be developing innovative products to the highest standard. Our state-of-the-art facility will offer not only volume much needed by many customers, but importantly the versatility and refinement for higher value items.”
1. POLARIS MARKET RESEARCH FEB 2022 - https://www.polarismarketresearch.com/industry-analysis/commercial-seaweeds-market

9 August 2023


To celebrate its 40th anniversary, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is gathering members from around the world in a bid for the world’s biggest online whisky tasting

To celebrate its 40th anniversary and approaching the milestone of 40,000 members around the world, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) has announced it will attempt to set the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title for the most participants in an online whisky tasting event.

Up to 1,250 members of the worldwide whisky club across the UK, USA, Japan, China and Australia will come together online and take part in the three-dram tasting for around 45 minutes on Saturday 30th September 2023.

The record-setting attempt is taking place during ‘The Gathering’, the flagship event in the Society’s year-long series of 40th anniversary activities for its growing community of members around the world.

Founded in Edinburgh in 1983 by maverick Pip Hills, the SMWS started out as a small group of like-minded whisky lovers who shared a passion for single cask whisky. Now owned by the Artisanal Spirits Company, but with Hills, now 82, at the heart of its 40th-year celebrations, the Society is now the world’s largest whisky club, with almost 38,000 members in more than 20 countries across the globe.

The groundbreaking online whisky tasting event will take place across the world at 2pm. It will be live-streamed from The Vaults in Leith, Edinburgh, the spiritual home of the SMWS, The first dram will be hosted by SMWS Master Ambassador, John McCheyne, the second by Tom Smith, Senior Director of SMWS USA, and the third by Matt Bailey, Director of SMWS Australia.

Partnering with video production company GLO to live-stream the tasting via Zoom, the Society’s world-record bid will see their members taste three Society drams during the online event.

The drams are Cask No. 55.78 What a Spread!, a 13-year-old rich and sweet bottling from a Speyside distillery, with tasting notes of “spiced toffee, creme brulee and a touch of fresh oak”; Cask No. 39.244 Tutti Frutti in a Wooden Bowl, an 11-year-old whisky from the SMWS Juicy Oak & Vanilla flavour profile; and Batch 15 Smokus Fruticosus, a blended malt comprised of malt whiskies from the islands of Islay & Orkney.

Commenting on the record-breaking attempt, Madeleine Schmoll, event host and Social Media and Community Manager at The Scotch Malt Whisky Society UK said, “The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has come a long way since Pip Hills and his friends started exploring the amazing array of flavours in single cask whisky in Edinburgh in the early 1980s.

“Now, 40 years later, the Society has almost 40,000 members around the world, including around 18,000 here in the UK, so what better way to celebrate that by bringing so many of our members together to go for this world record.

“We’re delighted to be playing our part in this world record attempt – we’ll certainly have fun trying to do it!”

31 July 2023


The South of Scotland Destination Alliance’s new Operational Plan takes a locally-led, bottom-up approach, putting businesses in the driving seat

Harnessing local knowledge and expertise through a ‘bottom-up’ approach led by local businesses is a key focus of the newly published one-year Operational Plan released by the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA).
In addition to publishing the 12-month Operational Plan on their website, the SSDA is launching two series of meetings, accessible to all, to progress the Regional Responsible Tourism Strategy, alongside partners South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), Scottish Borders Council, Dumfries & Galloway Council and VisitScotland and to help design the South of Scotland’s locally-led Destination Development Plan.
The Operational Plan includes 16 key projects for the year ahead, directly informed by feedback from tourism businesses across the South of Scotland on what would be most beneficial for their businesses.

It sets out how, over the next 12 months, the SSDA will:
  • Attract more and better-spending visitors to the region
  • Create a coordinated, community of businesses across our region, working together for greater collective impact
  • Support businesses to benefit from key strategic opportunities upcoming
  • Help progress the South of Scotland’s journey to become a quality, year-round destination
  • Bring together all relevant organisations across the public and private sector, to unite behind one single responsible tourism strategy which will underpin all our work
  • Deliver a bottom-up, locally-led Destination Development Plan designed by and owned by businesses themselves.
David Hope-Jones OBE, South of Scotland Destination Alliance, said: “At its core, the SSDA is a community of businesses, all with unique identities and stories which each contribute something different to the fantastic patchwork quilt that is the South of Scotland.

“In drafting our new Operational Plan, we listened to the pressures and priorities, and the ideas and insights, of businesses and communities engaged in our tourism and hospitality sectors. We and our partners are now looking forward to taking to the road to develop a genuinely locally-led approach to developing the south of Scotland as a world-class destination. 

“By thinking strategically and acting collaboratively we can transform the South of Scotland’s visitor economy.”
Gordon Smith, VisitScotland Destination Development Director, said: “It is vital for communities and businesses to be consulted on tourism plans for their local area. They are on the frontline and can provide a critical input to help influence the future direction of tourism across the region.
“The public meetings being coordinated by SSDA provide a great opportunity for communities and businesses to share their ambition for tourism and help shape the development of the emerging South of Scotland Responsible Tourism Strategy. Partnership and collaboration are at the heart of Scottish tourism and working together to find ways to position the South of Scotland as a unique and special holiday choice is essential.”

From next month, the SSDA is holding a series of fourteen public meetings across the South of Scotland to discuss and shape the locally-led Destination Development Plan, kicking off at The Great Tapestry of Scotland in Galashiels on 9 August.

Simultaneously, a series of thematic/sectoral digital sessions will help the SSDA and its partners to progress the Regional Responsible Tourism Strategy.

 Full details of both series available at https://www.ssdalliance.com/events/

26 July 2023


Professor Brendan Walker helps The Scotch Malt Whisky Society explore extraordinary new chilli-infused spirit that you can mix in cocktails, sip if you’re brave enough or even cook with!

This summer, a maverick whisky club is turning up the heat with the release of Exp.01, a limited-edition new chilli-infused drink resulting from an experiment that saw 100 fresh red Scotch Bonnet chillies matured in a cask of Scotch whisky for 17 years.
For the experiment, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) added around 100 sliced chillies to a cask of 10-year-old single malt – in doing so, stripping it of its title as a Scotch whisky. The curious concoction was then left to mature for a further 17 years before being bottled as the spicy spirit it is today.
At 55.6% abv and bottled in 10cl hot-sauce sized miniatures, Exp.01 packs a peppery punch with hints of ‘sweet paprika’. The Society is encouraging adventurous flavour explorers to continue the experiment at home, by adding the spicy spirit to summer cocktails, cooking with it like a hot sauce or marinade, or sipping it neat.
The SMWS, which is based in Edinburgh but has members all over the world, created the experimental spirit as part of its 40th-anniversary year celebrations, during which it is staging various events and releasing special editions, all inspired by the maverick attitude of its founder Pip Hills. 
Professor Brendan Walker, the world’s only ‘Thrill Engineer’ - who focuses on examining and constructing emotional experiences - was called upon to investigate the Society’s unusual experiment and the tasting experience.
Walker, whose previous work has included designing theme park rides such as Th13teen at Alton Towers, said: “After around 17 years of infusion, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society asked me to investigate their experiment. What could be more exciting than being asked to explore two components of known high quality – a Scotch-in-the-making plus 100 fresh red Scotch Bonnet chillies?
“The methanol and aromatic higher alcohols found in whisky immediately trigger the release of dopamine. Chilli contains capsaicin and in small amounts, capsaicin has a pleasurable, warming, peppery effect. Capsaicin can also trigger the release of endorphins for endurance, and dopamine to reward surviving such an ordeal.
“This concoction of whisky and chilli has the most psychotropic thrilling potential. My initial tasting made me say ‘wow!’, and then smile – a genuine mini-euphoric moment for any connoisseur of thrill. There’s a whole roller coaster of experience being played out on a micro scale, over milliseconds, right there on your tongue
“It’s not just the resulting liquid of Exp.01 that I find amazing – with its smooth, sweet consistency and initial peppery chilli kick.  What’s most exciting for me is the Society’s spirit of experimentation. This captures my imagination. Try it in a cocktail, splash it into a creamy sauce for haggis, or pipette a single drop onto your tongue, then feel your mind and body explode with excitement.”
James Freeman, the Society’s Executive Chef, has also created special recipes that showcase the spirit’s culinary potential, including mussels with tomato, anchovies and Exp.01, a teriyaki salmon dish and an incredible chocolate and Exp.01 tart.  Meanwhile, SMWS ambassador Logan Shaw recommends mixing the spirit with tonic water, ice, lime and sea salt to create a fiery highball cocktail.
No stranger to the Society, Professor Brendan Walker collaborated with the SMWS in 2022 for their Memory Box campaign, in which tasting Society whisky evoked fond memories and happy moments. The campaign was unveiled to wide-eyed whisky fans at London and Glasgow whisky festivals, with Walker present to guide guests through their journey of nostalgia.
Helen Stewart, Head of Brand Marketing & Membership, said: “In our 40th and most adventurous year yet, this kind of cask experiment is a great example of the fun we have with whisky. We did this simply for the thrill of it to discover what would happen - and we’re excited to share the results of the experiment with everyone and we’d encourage people to have fun with it whether using it in cocktails, cooking recipes or simply sipping it.
“Brendan’s expert knowledge of how people react to thrills and excitement was key to this experiment. His investigations have helped explore the tasting experience and explain what’s happening in the mouth when people taste it.”
Founded in Edinburgh in 1983 by maverick whisky-lover Pip Hills, the SMWS is now the world’s largest whisky club, with close to 40,000 adventurous and discerning members across the globe, all united by a passion for flavour and exquisitely crafted liquid.
Exp.01 is available while stocks last from 26th July as part of a special new Society membership offer: https://smws.com/complimentary-exp01-offer/

24 July 2023


Whisky & fitness fans were treated to a unique tasting event at Bellcraig Farm in Fife which paired drams with pilates... and goats!

Fitness-lovers with a penchant for whisky experienced a one-off tasting which saw them sample a pilates session paired with the water of life, surrounded by – and clambered upon - by Pygmy goats. The aim of the tasting was to experiment with different sensory experiences to see how the environment affects the appreciation of whisky. 
Following the nationwide craze of Goat Pilates, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS), a global whisky club with an unconventional approach to whisky tastings, created the experimental event.
The tasting event took place as part of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s 40th anniversary year celebrations. Recently, the Society has paired drams with unusual items such as a hugely popular whisky & insect tasting, as well as unique environments like staging a whisky tasting inside a sauna.
The latest unconventional tasting event was hosted by Jo Munro of Edinburgh’s The Pilates Attic - as she guided attendees through pilates techniques, the pygmy goats were present to put people at their ease while providing a humorous and fun atmosphere.
Three drams were introduced to the guests from the ever-changing selection of SMWS single cask whisky, with guests petting the goats, tasting the whisky and all the while holding their best pilates poses.
Three Drammy Goats Gruff
At the event, the first dram presented was Summer Strawberry Scones, a Highland whisky from the Society’s Juicy Oak & Vanilla flavour profile.
The second whisky was An Emulation of Jam, a dram described as having a “scent of warm milk poured over a slice of madeira cake served in a papier-mâché bowl” and “a palate accompanied by a luxurious jam of red grapes, blackcurrants, gooseberries and wild strawberries.”
Finally, to round the tasting off was Sophisticated Emulation, a 15-year-old whisky from the Highland region described as tasting like “freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice stirred into a glass of cool ginger beer with a drop of minted blackcurrant jam”.
40th anniversary adventures
This year, the Society is celebrating its 40th anniversary and is approaching 40,000 members around the world. To mark this milestone in its journey, a series of special releases, events, collaborations and happenings, all inspired by founder Pip Hills’ unorthodox outlook, will continue throughout the year. 

Helen Stewart, SMWS Head of Brand Marketing & Membership, said: “At the Society we love to experiment with different environments in which to taste whisky. Creating unique settings is such an exciting way to host sensory experiences. It’s fascinating to see how these events affect the appreciation of whisky.
"The trend for Goat Pilates has swept the nation and it felt like the perfect, adventurous idea for a whisky tasting. At SMWS, we continue to bring adventurous whisky fans together to explore the flavours of whisky and enjoy sensory experiences. Goats & pilates is just one of our many unique tasting events taking place in our 40th year."
*Disclaimer: All goats’ wellbeing was considered, and all animals were properly looked after by experienced professionals at Bellcraig Farm.*

21 June 2023


Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, has moved its Edinburgh office from Quartermile to the new flagship development at Haymarket Edinburgh in the heart of the city’s West End.

Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, has moved its Edinburgh office from Quartermile to the new flagship development at Haymarket Edinburgh in the heart of the city’s West End.

Delivered by M&G Real Estate and Edinburgh property developer Qmile Group, sustainability is at the core of the development with more than 100 cycle spaces available, and credentials such as BREEAM Excellent and EPC A ratings.

Dentons has moved to the city’s West End after signing a 15-year lease for premium offices in 9 Haymarket Square.

The new office will allow the Firm to continue to offer a productive and supportive hybrid working environment, and to connect the Edinburgh and Glasgow offices more closely.

Claire Armstrong, Dentons Scotland Managing Partner, said: “Moving into a modern, fresher and greener office in the heart of Edinburgh is very much part of our vision for hybrid working and running our business. This is a cutting-edge development and we look forward to welcoming our clients and colleagues to this fantastic new space.

“The Haymarket building offered us exactly what we were looking for: office space that inspires collaboration and creativity, sustainable transport links to the rest of the city and Scotland; and being part of the thriving business community in this area.

“We are a people-first, purpose-led organisation, and this state-of-the-art new office reflects our values perfectly. This 15-year lease marks the continuation of our commitment to the Scottish market, and will also be a great place to showcase the best of what Scotland has to offer to our global colleagues.”

21 June 2023


Fantastic new 10,000ft² space opened by online community egg will also host female-led brands and events

Scotland’s largest online and offline community platform for women, egg, has whisked up a fantastic new co-working hub and events space for female entrepreneurs in a prime Edinburgh location.

Edinburgh Wellbeing Festival, gift specialists Curiouser & Curiouser and Amy Kelly Marketing have already joined Head Egg Kylie Reid and her six-strong team in the freshly refurbished two-storey premises on Union Street in central Edinburgh, now the head office of Santu  Coffee.

Independent coffee roasters Santu, founded by husband-and-wife team Washington & Erin, have lovingly restored the former site of Edinburgh Printmakers, making Union Street their wholesale hub, running alongside their café on the Canongate.

Established following the success of egg & co’s first pop-up at George Street, egg’s first stand-alone co-working space will offer female entrepreneurs a mix of open plan co-working space, private offices and the use of a dedicated podcast studio, where the ‘egg talks to’ podcast episodes will now be recorded and filmed. Additionally, residents can take advantage of coaching, talks and skill-sharing from fellow residents and guests.

Founded as a private Facebook group by entrepreneur Kylie Reid, egg now boasts c,100,000 members across Scotland, with a loyal and engaged network of 40,000 women in Edinburgh alone. The company has just launched their revamped platform, one that supports their ambition to scale throughout the UK. The first of its kind, the site helps women find, and book, trusted recommendations, with a discount.

Kylie said: “This incredible new space on Union Street is properly a dream come true for egg & co – the chance to bring together female entrepreneurs from across the business community in Edinburgh in a welcoming, supportive and congenial space that’s been specifically designed to inspire collaboration.

“Our team have been based here for six weeks and we’re absolutely loving it – we’re a stone’s through from oodles of brilliant boutiques, eateries and bars and the building’s perfectly placed for transport links with Waverley Station, the Edinburgh Bus Station and, of course, the new tram line to Leith and Newhaven all on our doorstep. If you’re interested in finding out more, feel free to pop along for a tour or drop us a line at info@weareegg.co.uk.”

Scottish creative studio Studio Something has worked with egg to create a positive working environment which inspires friendly collaboration between entrepreneurs, many of whom will have been working predominantly from home for some time.

Meanwhile, Kylie has commissioned murals by local artist Chiara Celini to adorn the two-level space, which can accommodate 30 female co-workers renting desk spaces or private office space on a short or long-term basis.

Egg has recently forged new strategic partnerships with Gilson Gray LLP the full-service law firm who will offer specialist legal, property and financial services and FreeAgent Accounting Software, offering discounts for egg members.

Vanessa Kennedy, Marketing Director at Gilson Gray LLP, said:We are delighted to be in partnership with egg. At the heart of our approach is a strong sense of togetherness. We believe in building connections with communities like egg and working together with their members to understand their needs and aspirations.
“Our team bring a collaborative spirit to deliver the best experience for our clients. Whether you need legal, property or financial advice we are here to help.”

20 June 2023

Sterling Furniture Group appoints new CEO to lead the retailer in its 50th year

Former ScS Commercial Director John Pattison to join one of Scotland’s most successful family businesses

Family-owned home furnishing specialist Sterling Furniture Group has appointed a commercial retail and leadership expert to the role of CEO as it marks its 50th year in business.

In August, John Pattison will settle into the hot seat at the Tillicoultry-headquartered home furnishing group, which was first established in 1973.

Originally from Glasgow, Mr Pattison, 53, has operated as a Board Director for more than 20 years, having most recently spent almost four years as Commercial Director at Sunderland-based sofa and furniture retailer ScS, where he launched the company’s aspirational Botanicals range, led the partnership with designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and initiated their new concept stores now being rolled out across the UK

His appointment follows an intensive and competitive recruitment process in which Sterling Furniture Group were supported by independent search specialists Carlyle Associates to assess a pool of highly qualified candidates for the new CEO role.

Mr Pattison joins Sterling Furniture Group at a milestone moment in the company’s 50-year history, with transition to the Sterling Home brand ongoing across the group’s ten showrooms across Scotland and a new generation of founder George Knowles’ family stepping up to become Company Directors.

The company continues to trade well in tough conditions and has begun a large programme of investment in relaunching its flagship store at Tillicoultry under the Sterling Home brand.

Sterling is also investing significantly in its digital function to drive consumer traffic and purchase - an area in which data-driven Mr Pattison is highly skilled, having led the rebranding of the ScS website in 2020.

Lesley Graham, Sterling Deputy Managing Director, said: “After a rigorous recruitment process where we interviewed a breadth of excellent candidates, we feel we’ve found absolutely the right person for our new CEO role in John Pattison. A highly experienced retail leader, he worked his way up from the shop floor to boardroom roles at major national firms, including ScS, Londis and Booker Retail Partners. We were very impressed by the way he dedicated a significant amount of time getting to know the business during the recruitment process, visiting each of our stores in person multiple times.

“Like us, John believes in the massive potential to make Sterling a recognised national brand once again and he’s brimming with exciting ideas to help us make that happen. We can’t wait for him to get started!”

John Pattison said: “I’m hugely privileged to be joining Sterling Furniture Group, particularly in such an important year, recognising 50 years of long and successful service to Scottish households and families. Over the past few years, the business has shown great courage and ambition in transforming into Sterling Home. I know that the aspiration of the family, following in the footsteps of our founder George Knowles, is to continue to inspire Scotland’s homes as we enter the next 50 years. I can’t wait to join the team.”

In other developments at Sterling, members of the third generation of the family are now also working in the business, including Ms Graham’s two sons, Murray and Euan and her nephew, George, who have been appointed as Company Directors.

Current Managing Director Gordon Mearns will work closely with Mr Pattison during his initial months in post, to ensure a smooth management transition.

Mr Mearns is stepping down from Sterling after two decades at the helm, during which time he grew the company to include 600 staff working across ten showrooms.


15 June 2023


Taylors Snacks invite Royal Highland Show revellers to sample their twist on the traditional sack race

Revellers heading to the Royal Highland Show in the coming days can get into the event’s famous competitive spirit by taking part in special ‘snack races’ being hosted by Taylors Snacks.

The Perthshire-based company, which recently launched Taylors to replace the Mackie’s of Scotland crisps and popcorn brand, will be hosting their twist on the traditional sack race throughout the four-day event, which returns to the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh from Thursday until Sunday.

While 2,000 livestock competitors enter into the event’s 900+ competitions during the Show, attendees can line up in Taylors tattie sacks at the brand’s race space located at the Countryside Area. The ‘Snack Race’ competitors will race to the finish line to win a special medal plus a selection of Taylors crisps, popcorn or Lentil Waves.

Races, which are open to children and adults, will take place each day on the half-hour mark between 10:30am – 3:30pm, with a snacktacular grand final being staged in the Cattle Ring at 3:30pm on Saturday. The winner of the Saturday Snacktacular race will be awarded a year’s supply of Taylors Snacks.

Taylors Snacks will also be running a Tattie Shy, where families can compete to win sharing bags of crisps by knocking potatoes off stands in place of the traditional coconut.

Formerly Mackie’s Crisps, Taylors Snacks recently launched in Tesco and Sainsbury’s stores across Scotland under its new name in April 2023.

The Perthshire-based company was founded in in 2009 as Mackie’s at Taypack, which reflected the joint investment of both family businesses, with Taylors lending its production and potato growing expertise to Mackie’s of Scotland brand and retail experience. The Taylor family purchased the remaining shares in 2022, and Mackie’s of Scotland remains focused on its successful ice cream and chocolate ranges.

James Taylor, managing director of Taylors Snacks said: “The Royal Highland Show is world-famous for its livestock competitions and for showcasing the best of food, farming and rural life in Scotland.

“We take great pride in the produce we create at our farm in Errol, from carefully cultivating our potatoes in the outstanding Perthshire soil to creating our uniquely crunchy crisps and flavours that snack fans across the country love.

“With our newly branded snacks – which still have the same great taste as before –  being launched successfully in Scotland we’re in a celebratory mood and look forward to having some fun, games and giveaways with everyone at the show this year with our  special ‘Snack Races’ and Tattie Shy’. Come and see us, we’ll also have plenty of snacks to share!”

Taylors Snacks will be available to purchase at vendors across the Show. Familiar flavours such as Sea Salt, Sea Salt & Vinegar, Mature Cheddar & Onion, Pickled Onion and Flame Grilled Aberdeen Angus will be available in the traditional and uniquely crunchy straight cut range, while Chilli Kick is the new name for what was known as Scotch Bonnet Chilli Pepper.

In the Ridge Cut range, Taylors is introducing two new flavours - Hot Buffalo Wings and Jalapeño & Mature Cheddar - in addition to the established flavours of Lightly Sea Salted, Sea Salt & Vinegar and Cheddar & Onion. Thai Sweet Chilli is the new name for what was known as simply Sweet Chilli.

Taylors will also offer a range of lighter snacks such as Lentil Waves and popcorn. The Lentil Waves flavours are Sea Salt & Vinegar, Barbecue and new flavour Red Curry, while the popcorn remains the same as before with Sweet & Salted, Lightly Sea Salted and Toffee coated.

14 June 2023

Dentons helps to secure a much-loved riverside landmark in Glasgow Green for future generations

The Glasgow team of the world’s largest law firm, Dentons, provided pro bono advice which has enabled Glasgow Building Preservation Trust to restore The West Boathouse, Glasgow Green.

The restoration project, valued at £3.05 million, was spearheaded by Glasgow Building Preservation Trust (GBPT) working with conservation architects, ARPL Architects. It has revitalised the popular historic building, ensuring its longevity for years to come.

Dentons provided legal support pro-bono, with experts in Real Estate, Construction and Tax offering their advice and expertise voluntarily. This enabled organisers to drive the project to completion while working to a limited budget.

The project was started in 2017. Delays in completion were experienced due to more extensive building work being required than originally anticipated and the Covid 19 pandemic.   Dentons continued to offer its support throughout the duration of the works.

As a result of the transformation, the Category B Listed structure has enhanced accessibility, new facilities featuring versatile and adaptable spaces and a new custom pontoon which offers access to the river for all participants, contributing to a broader range of activities and experiences.

Susan Gillon at Dentons, said: “Community is at the heart of our local work, and with many of our team based in Glasgow, this was a perfect initiative for us to help with.  

“Our culture is proudly purpose-driven at Dentons, and we strive to connect the power of our people, clients and communities to ensure we are able to provide meaningful support. When we were approached by GBPT for legal advice, we jumped at the chance to use our legal skills to help save this historic building. Our local community was still reeling from the second devastating fire at The Glasgow School of Art and we wanted to do everything we could to save another at-risk building from potential disaster.

“There are many buildings at risk in Scotland and restoration of The West Boathouse was an incredible project that meant a lot to so many people -  it is very gratifying to see everyone’s hard work come to fruition.”

The project has run in tandem with community heritage activities in a bid to encourage new audiences and people to re-engage with the River Clyde.

The Glasgow Building Preservation Trust also worked with volunteers from Clydesdale Amateur Rowing Club and Clyde Amateur Rowing Club to further encourage new users and audiences into the building and onto the river with Clydesdale Amateur Rowing Club taking over as tenants of the building.

The project, which has taken five years to develop and completed in December 2022 was funded by several groups, including the National Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Environment Scotland, The Robertson Trust, Glasgow City Council and the William Grant Foundation.

3 May 2023


It’s what’s inside that counts! Identical twins help launch Taylors Snacks as it replaces Mackie’s of Scotland branded crisps and popcorn

It was spot-the-difference time as identical twins Mairi and Amy Johnson (aged 33) helped launch Taylors Snacks, the new brand that is replacing Mackie’s of Scotland crisps and popcorn. 

At the Taylors family farm in Errol, Perthshire, the twin sisters from Currie on the outskirts of Edinburgh helped share the message that while the Taylors branding and packaging is new, the award-winning crisps inside the bags remain exactly the same. 

Meanwhile, the Mackie’s of Scotland family business and brand will continue to produce its much-loved ice cream and chocolate.

Twins Mairi and Amy Johnson were thrilled to participate in the launch campaign for Taylors.  The identical working mothers who now live in Livingston were once internationally known for being part of the siblings folk group, GiveWay, along with their two older sisters, and toured as a support band for Runrig.

Mairi Johnson explained: “Having seen the love of Scotland around the world during our music career, it’s brilliant to be part of this campaign for a vibrant new brand, born here.  As a twin, some of our friends still can’t tell us apart and we soon understood that we couldn’t tell the difference between Mackie’s and Taylors crisps.  The texture and flavours are brilliant and make great crisps for dipping.

“Our brother-in-law lives in Kent and returns home with a car full of Mackie’s crisps after every visit … so he’ll now be travelling home with a car full of Taylors.”

The Taylors product range is now widely available in Sainsbury’s stores across Scotland and will hit other supermarket shelves across the country throughout this month (May).  Taylors products will also be available south of the border later in the year.

James Taylor, managing director at Taylors Snacks, is excited to see the branding hit the shelves. He said: “We are beyond delighted with our fresh and exciting new look launching just in time for summer. The modern design is inspired by our family roots and family culture is hugely important in what we do at Taylors. 

“Our new chapter is a really exciting time for the Taylors business as a whole. We want the country to see that Taylors Snacks are the same great products as before, just in a fresh, shiny new packet. I am so proud of our whole team for working so hard to get us here, we believe our journey has just begun. 

“Summer is the perfect time to launch Taylors Snacks. With our brand new colourful crisp packets hitting the shelves this month, we’re very confident we will be turning heads in the aisles of Scottish supermarkets, as well as during this year’s Royal Highland Show.”

Familiar flavours such as Sea Salt, Sea Salt & Vinegar, Mature Cheddar & Onion, Pickled Onion and Flame Grilled Aberdeen Angus will be available in the traditional and uniquely crunchy straight cut range, while Chilli Kick is the new name for what was known as Scotch Bonnet Chilli Pepper.

In the Ridge Cut range, Taylors is introducing two new flavours - Hot Buffalo Wings and Jalapeño & Mature Cheddar - in addition to the established flavours of Lightly Sea Salted, Sea Salt & Vinegar and Cheddar & Onion. Thai Sweet Chilli is the new name for what was known as simply Sweet Chilli.

Taylors will also offer a range of lighter snacks such as Lentil Waves and popcorn. The Lentil Waves flavours are Sea Salt & Vinegar, Barbecue and new flavour Red Curry, while the popcorn remains the same as before with Sweet & Salted, Lightly Sea Salted and Toffee coated.

Perthshire-based Taylors Snacks was previously Mackie’s at Taypack, a joint venture founded in 2009 between the Taylor family and Mackie’s of Scotland, the Aberdeenshire-based family business known for its leading ice cream and chocolate ranges.

The Taylor family purchased the remaining shares of the snacking business in 2022, with all crisps, popcorn and lentil waves produce to move over to the new Taylor Snacks branding this month.

Mac Mackie, Executive Chairman at Mackie’s of Scotland said: “We have enjoyed a great few years with the Taylors founding and building up a Scottish range of crisps and popcorn. We wish the Taylors team all the best and look forward to seeing more developments and new products as they continue to grow. In the meantime, we’re excited to keep making and developing Scotland’s favourite ice cream and our farm-made chocolate on the renewably powered family farm.”

The Taylors Snacks new look is bright, modern and eye-catching - inspired by the family’s roots, a Scottish thistle heads up the logo. The tagline ‘A thick-cut crunch like no other’ is visible across the packet, with trademark flavours and seasonal specials still widely available.

2 May 2023


250-mile “Kirkpatrick C2C, South of Scotland’s Coast to Coast” will take experienced riders on an unforgettable journey across the South of Scotland, Home of the Bike

Experienced cyclists in search of an exhilarating new challenge are in for a real treat this summer when the UK’s newest coast to coast cycle route is officially launched in the South of Scotland, Home of the Bike.

Today, the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) and fellow project partners behind the eagerly anticipated Kirkpatrick C2C, South of Scotland’s Coast to Coast – one of the longest coast to coast routes in the UK – unveiled details of the route itself, from Stranraer in the west to Eyemouth on Scotland’s southeast coast, with tourism businesses along the route busy making preparations to welcome new visitors to the region.

Named after Kirkpatrick Macmillan, the 19th century Dumfriesshire blacksmith who invented the first pedal-driven velocipede, the Kirkpatrick C2C will take riders on an unforgettable journey through breath-taking landscapes with dramatic coastlines and beaches, rolling hills, shimmering lochs, historic tweed mills, Victorian stone viaducts and romantic ruined abbeys all peppering the route, culminating in the picturesque harbour at Eyemouth.

Comprehensive information about and including itineraries, route maps, key landmarks and places to stay, eat, drink and visit along the Kirkpatrick C2C route will be published on a dedicated page on www.scotlandstartshere.com.
VisitScotland and Sustrans will also feature the full Kirkpatrick C2C, South of Scotland’s Coast to Coast route, itineraries and daytrips on the Sustrans interactive cycling routes map hosted on visitscotland.com, easily accessible at www.visitscotland.com/cyclingroutes.

The Kirkpatrick C2C is designed to inspire experienced riders in search of a new challenge and encourages them to tackle either the 8-Day Explorer approach or the 4-day Challenger approach.

The Explorer approach takes cyclists across the country in eight stages, with daily cycling distances varying from 21 miles (Newcastleton to Hawick) to 51 miles (Dumfries to Newcastleton).

Meanwhile, the Challenger version can be done over four days, starting with a 74-mile stretch from Stranraer to the charming artists’ town of Kirkcudbright and finishing with a 59-mile ride from Selkirk to Eyemouth.

Explorer Route
•             Stranraer – Newton Stewart – 39 miles
•             Newton Stewart – Kirkcudbright – 35 miles
•             Kirkcudbright – Dumfries – 28 miles
•             Dumfries – Newcastleton – 51 miles
•             Newcastleton – Hawick – 21 miles
•             Hawick – Melrose – 25 miles
•             Melrose – Coldstream – 28 miles
•             Coldstream – Eyemouth – 23 miles

Challenger route
•             Stranraer – Kirkcudbright – 74 miles
•             Kirkcudbright – Langholm – 69 miles
•             Langholm – Selkirk – 48 miles
•             Selkirk – Eyemouth – 59 miles

The official GPX map also features a number of route spurs which riders can follow to explore even more of the South of Scotland, including starting the journey from the small coastal town of Portpatrick, stopping in Galashiels to visit the Great Tapestry of Scotland and taking in the attractive Berwickshire town of Duns.

The Kirkpatrick C2C is expected to prove a huge draw for the South of Scotland when formally launched in early summer – initial  projections suggest the new route could attract up to 175,000 new visitors to the region, with a direct spend of £13.7M per year.

David Hope-Jones OBE, SSDA Chief Executive, said: “In a terrific year for cycling in the South of Scotland, Home of the Bike - excitement is really building now right along the route of the Kirkpatrick C2C, one of the longest and most exciting on-road routes in the UK. Whether it’s dramatic coastlines and beaches, the creative communities of Wigtown and Kirkcudbright, the romantic ruined abbeys of the towns Melrose and Kelso, Hawick’s historic mills or Eyemouth’s harbour town with its fascinating history of smuggling and skulduggery, this route has an endless wealth of things to discover and enjoy, as well as excellent places to stay, eat and drink.

“We are working closely with businesses right along the route to help them harness the benefits of cycle tourism, which is growing all the time and set to be a major part of Scotland’s visitor economy. We’re currently hosting a series of dedicated webinars on cycle tourism for SSDA members and non-members alike to help everyone get geared up for exciting times ahead.”

Professor Russel Griggs, Chair of South of Scotland Enterprise, said: “The Kirkpatrick C2C, South of Scotland’s Coast to Coast route is a fantastic opportunity for our region to maximise our growing reputation as the home of cycling.
“As we move closer to its launch, the excitement is certainly building as businesses and communities along the route recognise what economic, social and environmental benefits the new route will provide.
“The South of Scotland Cycling Partnership Strategy, launched last year, has an overall aim to make our region the leading cycling destination in Scotland - the Kirkpatrick C2C, South of Scotland’s Coast to Coast route will play a major role in reaching this target.”

Gordon Smith, VisitScotland Destination Development Director, said: “The Kirkpatrick C2C, South of Scotland’s Coast to Coast cycle route, is a fantastic addition to the region’s already strong cycling offer. 

“The opening of this route comes at an exciting time for cycling in Scotland as we count down to hosting the biggest cycling event in the world, the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, including events in the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway. 

We would encourage tourism businesses in the South of Scotland to make the most of this unique opportunity. There has never been a better time to experience cycling in Scotland. With new cycling initiatives and experiences being created right across the country, such as the Kirkpatrick C2C, promoting cycling and helping businesses cater for this growing market will benefit communities right across the region and beyond.”

Businesses along the Kirkpatrick C2C route are gearing up for an influx of new visitors in the months ahead:

Romano Petrucci, Chairman of the Stranraer Development Trust, said: "We are delighted and excited to have been chosen as the starting point for the KC2C experience. Our hope is that visitors and cyclists alike will take time to explore our hidden gem here in the south-west corner of Scotland, and we are very confident they will love what they see and look to return again and again."

Ross Anderson of The Frothy Bike Co. bike shop and cafe in Dumfries said: “We’re all set to welcome riders and non-riders alike for the Kirkpatrick C2C. With the best coffee and cake in town – what more do you want when you’re taking a break on an epic coast-to-coast adventure? There are only a few weeks to go until the route is formally launched and we can’t wait!”

Barbara Elborn of Newcastleton Community Trust and Newcastleton Bunkhouse said: “Our community was made for this - Newcastleton has everything a saddle-weary rider needs for the perfect stop-off or overnight stay, from secure bike storage and charger facilities to cooking and laundry facilities.  There is a feast of fabulous local eateries along the route through the village and handily the community bunkhouse is also only a hop, skip and a jump from them too!  It’s going to be a game-changer for us having this new route right on our doorstep.” 

Fiona Drane, Project Manager at Famously Hawick, said: “Hawick is home to three iconic Scottish luxury brands – Cashmere, Tweed, and Whisky.  It is home to the oldest cycling club in the world which was established in 1881. Hawick has also been the start of the Scottish section of the Tour of Britain in the last two years and cycling is more popular than ever.  We are therefore delighted that the new Kirkpatrick Coast to Coast route will come through Hawick, and we look forward to welcoming cyclists to the Cashmere, Tweed and Whisky Town.”


The South of Scotland surprises at every turn and the Kirkpatrick C2C truly capitalises on the stunning local landscapes.

Starting in Stranraer on the hammerhead peninsula known as the Rhins of Galloway, the cycle route takes riders not only through local landscapes along beaches, forests, and into our hills but on a journey through history. Dumfries & Galloway is the Home of the Bike – the first pedal-driven bicycle, the Velocipede, was invented here – and the local roads have been a destination for keen cyclists for years. Furthermore, cyclists travel along local coastlines and through picturesque villages with unique stories. From Scotland’s official Book Town, Wigtown, to the colourful Artists’ Town of Kirkcudbright and the Food Town of Castle Douglas.

Moving eastwards, riders can stop to follow in the footsteps of Robert Burns in Dumfries. Travelling even further back in time, cyclists will find themselves riding through ancient Reiver country, places haunted by bloody history of warring families. Fortified towers such as Gilnockie Tower near Langholm and the imposing ruin of Hermitage Castle looming over the landscape.

But even here cycling enjoys a long history, from the cycle-friendly town of Newcastleton to the world’s oldest cycling club in Hawick.

Heading west, the romantic ruins of the Borders Abbeys evoke past splendour, and the gentle flow of the River Tweed and the town of Hawick tell of the textile weaving heritage still alive today.

Traversing the rolling hills of the Borders, the route passes vibrant towns like Kelso, home to Scotland’s largest inhabited castle, Floors. Towards the Berwickshire coast, Scotland’s first voluntary marine reserve, beaches and coastal paths invite successful finishers to stay for a few more days.

25 April 2023


Extensive refurbishment by Rory and Vicki Steel sees Scottish Borders favourite brought back to former glory

A 17th century classic coaching inn at the heart of the beautiful Scottish Borders has once again opened its doors to locals and visitors alike.  The Cross Keys Inn Ettrickbridge has bucked the trend of rural pubs closing its doors for good after being rescued by Rory and Vicki Steel.  Rory, the son of former Liberal Democrat leader, Lord David Steel, spent his first 18 years living opposite the village pub, and knew how important it was to the community.

Set in the idyllic Ettrick Valley, The Cross Keys Inn is the only pub in the village and had been lying empty for months prior to Rory and Vicki Steel spending more than £400,000 to purchase and upgrade it.

The pub offers the perfect getaway for those looking to explore the great outdoors, while knowing they’ll return to comfortable, cosy accommodation and a warm welcome from staff and village regulars alike. The pub with rooms features:
  • Seven well-appointed and affordable bedrooms ranging in size from a double to large family room. Prices start at £100 per room per night, including full Scottish breakfast.
  • Vibrant bar with local beers and ales, extensive whisky and gin collections, range of family games from dominoes to darts and two real, open fires for warming up after a day exploring
  • An exceptional, classic pub menu from chef Ash Barker, using fresh local ingredients where possible. Ash has been part of teams that have collected 4 Michelin bib gourmands during his years at places such as Soho House, Kensington Wine Rooms, Riddles & Finn and Fishy Fishy.

The Scottish Borders is rapidly becoming a go-to destination for those who like to get off the beaten track, but don’t want to travel far to get there – Ettrickbridge is less than 2 hours from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newcastle, and just three from Manchester or Liverpool. 

With world class mountain biking, hill walking, fishing, riding centres, driving roads, historic houses and country sports estates on the doorstep of the Cross Keys Inn Ettrickbridge, there’s something for all enthusiasts of the kind of wide open environment the South of Scotland offers.

The pub also prides itself on being a hub for the community, with locals once again flocking to take part in quiz nights, domino drives, live music sessions and so much more.

Commenting on the re-opening, Rory Steel said: “The Cross Keys Inn was always the centre of village life when I grew up opposite the pub, and it was a wonderful childhood.  I remember the place being full of great characters from the area and further afield.  It’s that great atmosphere we are working hard with the local community to bring back.”

Adding to the comments, Vicki Steel, said “We’ve been running Aikwood Tower, which is less than two miles from the pub for more than a decade and the reaction from people who come to explore the South of Scotland is always the same – they can’t believe there aren’t more tourists here. The rolling hills, quiet roads, family activities and fantastic quality food and drink on offer is as good as you’ll find in any rural setting in Scotland, but often at a much lower price than, say, the Highlands.  We hope that visitors to the Cross Keys Inn will agree.”

The Cross Keys Inn was purchased by Rory and Vicki after being closed for six months, with no re-opening in sight.  A grant from South of Scotland Enterprise allowed for refurbishments and essential upgrading of key facilities.  Since re-opening, five full-time equivalent jobs have been created, giving much needed employment, especially to young people, with further employment being created for the busy summer months.  


20 April 2023

Celebrating the best in tourism in the South of Scotland

Call for businesses to enter the first dedicated South of Scotland Scottish Thistle Awards

TOURISM and EVENTS businesses in the South of Scotland are being encouraged to enter this year’s Scottish Thistle Awards, the premier tourism and events awards in Scotland, which this year includes a dedicated south of Scotland regional awards for the first time.

The Scottish Thistle Awards celebrate the very best of the tourism and events industry, helping to shine the spotlight on this vital part of the local economy.
Today, VisitScotland and the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) have teamed up to spread the word about the new South of Scotland Thistle Awards and to encourage as many people to enter as possible before entries for the 2023 Awards close on 12 May.

The awards champion innovation, collaboration and sustainable practices and shine a spotlight on individual businesses and people working in the tourism and events industry, which is worth £11.5 billion to the Scottish economy.

The Scottish Thistle Awards are delivered by VisitScotland in partnership with regional awards programmes. This year will see the introduction of a dedicated South of Scotland Thistle Awards, delivered in partnership with the South of Scotland Destination Alliance and supported by South of Scotland Enterprise, inviting entries from the tourism and events industry in the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway. 

VisitScotland will continue to deliver two regional finals for Central and East; and West.  Winners from all five regional awards, which also include the Highlands and Islands Thistle Awards (HITA) and the Aberdeen City and Shire Thistle Awards (ACSTA) progress to the National Final, taking place in December 2023.

For almost 30 years, the Scottish Thistle Awards, which are sponsored by Johnstons of Elgin and include a media partnership with News Scotland, have helped shine a spotlight on individual businesses, people and partnerships working
After a two-year break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they returned with a bang last year, culminating in the crowning of 17 winners at the National Final in February 2023. 

VisitScotland Destination Development Director Gordon Smith said: The South of Scotland Thistle Awards offer the opportunity for individuals and businesses in the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway to gain recognition for all the work they do to make the region and Scotland such a fantastic place to visit and stay.

“They mark an important celebration of the best in our industry as we continue to move towards recovery. Now more than ever, the Scottish Thistle Awards showcase the very best of Scotland’s tourism sector, helping to ensure that tourism, and the individuals who work in the industry, are recognised for the positive impact they bring to the country and our communities.

“I would encourage those working in tourism and events in the region to get their entries in and help shine a spotlight on our area.”

David Hope-Jones OBE, Chief Executive of the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) said: “These are very exciting times for the South of Scotland, which only a few months ago was hailed by Lonely Planet as one of the top 30 ‘Best in Travel’ destinations in the world for 2023. Bringing the Thistle Awards to our region is further recognition of all the south has to offer: it’s about inspiring and celebrating the fantastic quality that exists across our destination. 

“Having our very own South of Scotland Thistle Awards will allow us to raise awareness of the many incredible businesses across our visitor economy and help us make the South of Scotland a thriving, year-round sustainable destination, driving economic and community prosperity. We’re calling on the hundreds of truly excellent tourism businesses our region boasts to help us put the South of Scotland firmly on the destination map by entering the Thistle Awards for 2023 and gaining the recognition they so deserve.”

Adrian Turpin, Artistic Director at Wigtown Festival Company, which scooped a prestigious National Thistle Award for Innovation in Tourism in 2018/19, said: “We were chuffed to bits even to make it to the national finals so to actually win the award was just brilliant! We were so proud to bring a national Thistle Award home to the South of Scotland and having this accolade has definitely given our event a real boost when it comes to seeking external funding and working with new partners.”

The Southern Uplands Partnership equestrian tourism project Ride Scottish Borders won a regional Thistle Award in 2019/20 for Working Together in Tourism. Gowan Miller, Ride Scottish Borders Project Coordinator, said: “The Thistle Awards are an excellent way of recognising and celebrating the power of collaboration by tourism enterprises. It meant the world to us to win the award and to have that wider recognition and exposure, helping us to increase awareness of the potential of having quality equestrian tourism products in the region.”

Queensberry House in Moffat, Dumfries & Galloway was named Best B&B or Guest House Experience, sponsored by Abbey UK at the West Regional Final of the Scottish Thistle Awards in 2022. Judges praised the B&B for driving local community engagement across the Moffat area. 

Caroline Egan and Miles Hargreaves, co-owners of Queensberry House, said: It’s been such a whirlwind for us since we won this award for our small business, our feet have hardly touched the ground. We’ve definitely seen an uptick in enquiries and bookings on the back of it and even just going along to the awards event was so beneficial in terms of chatting to fellow business owners and sharing ideas. Anyone pondering whether or not to put themselves forward – do it!”

Caroline Raeburn, Hotels Manager at Peebles Hydro Hotel, was crowned Tourism & Hospitality Hero at the Scottish Thistle Awards regional finals for Lothian & Borders in 2022. She was praised by judges for putting “the interests of the visitors to the hotel, staff and colleagues at the heart of everything she does.” She was also described as demonstrating a commitment to the local community and recognising the importance of the hotel to the region.

On receiving the award, Caroline Raeburn, Hotels Manager, Peebles Hydro, said: “I’m shocked but over the moon to have won the Tourism & Hospitality Hero award. My guests and my team have been my passion for 30 years and I couldn’t do what I do without their support. Thank you!”

Responsible tourism is at the heart of the Scottish Thistle Awards, supporting the aim for Scotland to be recognised globally as a leader in this field. Entrants to all 17 categories must evidence how they have embraced best practice covering the four key areas of a low carbon economy, inclusivity, thriving communities and Scotland’s natural and cultural heritage. New awards for this year include the Climate Action Award, the Inclusive Tourism Award and the Celebrating Thriving Communities Award.

For more information and to enter the Scottish Thistle Awards, visit: www.scottishthistleawards.co.uk

19 April 2023


Lifelong hater of creepy-crawlies overcomes fear at an unusual tasting event in Edinburgh which saw whiskies paired with crickets, mealworms, locusts and a surprise scorpion!

A lifelong arachnophobe with a fear of creepy-crawlies discovered a taste for edible insects at an unusual whisky tasting in Edinburgh which saw the flavours of crickets, mealworms, locusts and scorpions matched with different types of Scotch.  

Scott Begbie from Aberdeen was one of three adventurous whisky fans taking part in a special event called ‘A Pairing With Legs’, which was hosted at The Vaults in Leith, the home of  The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, a global whisky club with an unconventional approach to whisky tastings. 

The unusual flavour pairing event took place as part of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s 40th anniversary year celebrations. Previously, the Society has paired whiskies with unusual items such as ice cream and also staged a tasting on top of a Munro.  

After the event, Begbie, who was given the tasting experience as a present for his 60th birthday, said: “I’ve always had a phobia of spiders and creepy crawlies generally, so I was initially pretty nervous. Seeing the insects and picking them up was quite tricky at first, but I ended up enjoying it.  

“My favourite flavour pairing was the smoked crickets with a blended malt featuring smoky whiskies from Islay and Orkney. That pairing of smoky, salty flavours worked really well. 

“The mealworms were crunchy and tasted like Bombay Mix with less spices. The locusts were challenging but they reminded me of Twiglets. The scorpion surprised me - it was really good, a bit like a salty Pretzel.” 

The flavour pairings 

At the event, the first flavour pairing saw mealworms matched with Disco Diva, a 12-year-old whisky from Speyside described as tasting like “an all-singing-and-dancing karaoke of icing sugar-coated biscuits, dried coconut and hot cross buns”. 

The second pairing featured locusts paired with Raspberry Fields Forever, a whisky described as having a palate of “creamy custard with juicy raspberry sorbet on apple crumble”.  

Finally the smoked crickets were paired with Smokus Fruticosus, a sweet, rich & intensely smoky blended malt featuring whiskies from the islands of Islay & Orkney. 

The scorpion was a surprise bonus with the participants trying it at the end of the tasting with a whisky of their choice. 

A second ‘A Pairing With Legs’ event is taking place in May with the Society working with Dr Vladimir Blagoderov, the principal curator of invertebrates at the National Museum of Scotland, to explore different types of edible insects. 

40th anniversary adventures 

This year, the Society is celebrating its 40th-anniversary and is approaching 40,000 members around the world. To mark this milestone in its journey, a series of special releases, events, collaborations and happenings, all inspired by founder Pip Hills’ unorthodox outlook, will continue throughout the year.   

Helen Stewart, Head of Brand Marketing & Membership, said: “Whisky and insects? Precisely. This type of tasting personifies what the Society is all about. Our 40th anniversary year is going to be our most adventurous yet. 

“‘A Pairing With Legs’ is just one of many unconventional tastings taking place this year as we continue bringing adventurous whisky fans together to explore the flavours of whisky and enjoy interesting sensory experiences.” 

31 March 2023

Wellness Packs for older people leaving hospital launched across the UK following successful NHS trial

Parsley Box providing quick and easy meal solutions to help people to get back on their feet following hospital stays – and alleviate bed blocking crisis

Following a successful trial with the NHS Trust in Bath, Parsley Box is launching Wellness Packs across the UK to help support older people leaving hospital and alleviate the current bed-blocking crisis in many hospitals.

The Edinburgh-based firm, which specialises in nutritious meals that can be safely stored in a cupboard for up to six months for the older generation across the UK, has created special food bundles to help older people to get back on their feet following hospital stays.

The packs provide nutritionally balanced meals that are easy to prepare including selections of traditional hearty meals, tastes of the world, and gluten free options. The packs give NHS hospital staff and carers confidence that patients will have access to quality food regularly once home.

Due to the success of last year’s pilot scheme with Bath NHS Trust, the older people’s charity Age UK and the local authority, Parsley Box will now offer these special food bundles across the UK. Various NHS boards and Trusts have already shown interest in the Parsley Box Wellness Packs, including NHS Grampian, NHS Highlands and NHS Glasgow.

It can be very difficult for people who have recently been unwell, or are experiencing mobility issues, to cook the nutritious feed they need to help their recovery, and not everyone has help available for every meal.

Kevin Dorren, CEO at Parsley Box said: “The NHS is at crisis point, and we need to take a joined-up approach when considering how to free up hospital beds and get people safely back to the comfort of their own homes. Too often people stay in hospital longer than necessary due to concerns about being able to feed themselves at home when recuperating.

“Our Wellness Packs provide much-needed reassurance for older people and their families. They empower our customers to easily make tasty, balanced meals within minutes, as they can be quickly heated in the microwave or oven.

“We know that it is vital for people to have a balanced diet full of different nutrients as they get older, especially if they are recovering from health issues. These packs have been specially prepared in UK kitchens, and contain high-quality, locally sourced ingredients. They also offer variety and are a great option for people to organise for their loved ones if they are not able to be with them for every meal. We are keen to work with more local authorities and NHS Trusts to ensure this option is available for anyone who needs it.”

Parsley Box usies an innovative slow cooking technology, inspired by the ‘sous-vide’ method when preparing its range of delicious ready meals, which ensures the flavour and nutrients are locked in without the need to chill or freeze. No unnecessary preservatives are used, and the food will then keep fresh for up to six months when stored in a cupboard.


21 March 2023


Scotland’s leading specialist in neurofeedback therapy opens first clinic to help patients recover from trauma, increase focus, and even improve sports performance.

A leading psychologist who used cutting-edge neurofeedback therapy to successfully treat a man’s long-term history of insomnia in 5 sessions, has opened the first in a planned string of innovative wellness clinics in Scotland. 

Kedras Clinics in Perth has been launched by Dr Dawn Harris who specialises in neurofeedback (NFB), a ground-breaking therapy that reduces symptoms quickly to provide optimum wellbeing.  

As Scotland’s foremost expert in the technology, Dawn offers unique, tailored treatment programs that use neurotechnology to tap into the brain’s inherent ability to heal from a wide range of psychological and physical symptoms, including trauma, anxiety, ADHD, menopause, pain, Tics and Tourette’s syndrome.  

People, including veterans suffering from trauma, CEOs wishing to increase their focus and resiliency and sports people looking to improve their game have travelled to Scotland from all over the UK for her unique treatment program. Plans are already underway to open further branches in Edinburgh and Dundee due to high demand for its specialist treatments. 

Kedras Clinics uses Infra Low Frequency Neurofeedback (NFB), the most advanced type of technology of its kind in Scotland and takes a holistic approach to the treatment, combining NFB treatment with more traditional forms of therapy depending on the needs of the patients.  

The therapy, already popular with astronauts and NFL players, uses software that measures electrical brain signals via electrodes attached to the scalp, then converts these into vibrant images and sounds that are viewed by the patient on a television. This form of neurotechnology thus provides the opportunity for people to become more aware of their own normally, unseen/unheard activity within the brain which is fed back to the person in a familiar form (sounds or videos).  Via this process people can learn to control their brain wave activity by changing the picture, sounds, and/or vibration, leading to the brain establishing a more stable pattern of functioning.  

This therapy has wide-ranging potential. It can empower people who are highly stressed by their work to increase their resiliency and help sports people to improve their performance. It can improve physical conditions such as eczema, chronic pain, and symptoms of menopause. 

Dawn said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has put a brighter spotlight on conditions such as trauma and anxiety than ever before. People are increasingly prioritising their health and wellbeing, and of course mental health has a huge part to play in this. 

“The software reads brain waves like an electrocardiogram (ECG) reads your heart. It taps into the brain’s ability to self-regulate, reducing symptoms as your brain heals. Using neurotechnology such as neurofeedback means no conscious effort is involved to create change. It’s like the brain is looking at itself in a mirror and then changes when it sees something that it doesn’t like. Simply watch the animation or play the video game and your brain will figure out what to do. 

“I never fail to be amazed by how quickly my patients respond to the treatment. One of my patients had been in various forms of speaking therapy for over 20 years, and never fully resolved their issues. After working with me using neurofeedback, she is now fully recovered. It really does have the potential to transform people’s lives for the better.” 

Scotland’s leading authority on neurofeedback treatment, Dawn is also an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society and continues to work within both the clinical field and criminal justice system. She has worked in both the public and private sectors for over 25 years. She specialises in working with people who have experienced trauma including those with complex presentations. Within her career she has worked with people from all parts of society including CEO’s, artists, sports and finance professionals, veterans. She also co-founded Epione, an organisation that developed and delivered trauma informed practice training to over 1,200 social workers across Scotland.  


20 March 2023


State-of-the-art £2.5M cask storage and bottling plant formally opened in the Central Belt today

Artisanal Spirits Company plc - owner of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS), the largest whisky club in the world which is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2023 – today formally launched its first ever multi-purpose supply chain facility, marking what it called a ‘real step change’ in its supply chain performance.

Andrew Dane, Artisanal Spirits Company plc (‘the Group’) CEO, was joined by Chairman Mark Hunter to declare the £2.5M, state-of-the-art Masterton Bond bottling plant at Uddingston in the Central Belt officially open, the Group having signed a 10-year lease on the facility in October 2021.

Masterton Bond was completed on time and on budget and has been fully operational since November 2022, with c.20,000 bottles produced prior to the year end. The facility employs 14 full-time employees on site and is operational from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

As well as ensuring that all the Group’s bottling requirements are carried out in-house, the facility comprises significant capacity opportunity to support bottling in line with the business’s growth rates, virtually removing the need for third party bottling.

Production has increased exponentially since the facility became operational and the plant will also provide cask storage, fulfilment and distribution of the Group’s whisky and other spirit products – as well as the SMWS, the Group also owns J.G.Thomson & Co, producer of a range of outstanding small batch blended malt whiskies, grain whiskies, rum and gin.
 Masterton Bond’s Central Belt location, adjacent to the main M8 motorway linking Scotland’s two largest cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh, has proved to be a recruitment asset for the Group, attracting highly experienced and knowledgeable bottling and production staff with a track record working with many major spirits production companies.
The supply chain optimisation facility is great news for the business’s carbon footprint, too, contributing to a significant reduction in the number of road miles involved in the manufacture and supply of the Group’s products.

Andrew Dane, CEO of Artisanal Spirts Company plc, which owns both the SMWS and J.G. Thomson, said:
I’m delighted to officially open Masterton Bond today.  It seems poignant that, as we celebrate 40 years of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, we look ahead to an exciting new era of providing more whisky than ever before to our membership worldwide.

“Masterton Bond is in line with our long-term business plan, utilising funds raised from our IPO in 2021, to evolve our cask storage and bottling requirements. This excellent new facility reduces our dependence on third party bottlers for production, storage, fulfilment and distribution – our sincere thanks to all our third party suppliers who have worked with us and helped us to get to this point. This improvement to our capacity for bottling marks a real milestone for our supply chain efficiency and performance.  We are forecasting an improvement to margin as well as a higher volume of bottle production.”

“Furthermore, Masterton Bond is already substantially reducing road miles involved in the manufacture and supply of the Group’s products, helping us lower our carbon footprint and tread more lightly on the planet.”

Gary McGrath, Operations Manager at Masterton Bond, said: 
“This is an important day to us all and the team involved in getting the facility ready.  Our testing and optimisation of our production in the run up to opening today has been successful. To date, we have already bottled over 70,000 bottles on the line and we will soon be making shipments to all our key markets internationally including China, the United States, Australia, Germany, France and Japan, from here in Uddingston.”

For four decades, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society has specialised in limited edition, single cask whisky for its members around the world.  This year the Society, which is now in more than 30 countries worldwide, will release several special bottlings to celebrate its 40th anniversary, alongside various commemorative events and collaborations.

Among the SMWS’s 40th anniversary activities over the coming months are innovative creations such as a chilli-tinged spirit, collaborations with a ‘thrill engineer’ and a top-secret world-record attempt. The Society will also launch a new podcast series featuring maverick and game-changing characters from around the world.


14 March 2023


Kirkpatrick C2C news tops the bill at major tourism conference convened by the South of Scotland Destination Alliance

A brand new 250-mile coast to coast cycle route set to launch in the south of Scotland this summer will be named after Kirkpatrick Macmillan, the 19th century Dumfriesshire blacksmith who invented the first pedal-driven velocipede. 
The official name for the exciting new route connecting Stranraer in the west with Eyemouth on the east coast – Kirkpatrick C2C, South of Scotland’s Coast to Coast - was unveiled at a major tourism conference today, organised by the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA). 
Guests from across the region’s tourism, events and hospitality business community gathered at Peebles Hydro for the SSDA’s second annual gathering exploring opportunities and challenges facing one of the south of Scotland’s key sectors in 2023 and beyond. 
As well as the official name for what will be one of the UK’s longest coast to coast cycle routes, due to launch in early summer, the conference also saw the announcement by SSDA Chief Executive David Hope-Jones OBE to move the South of Scotland as a distinct region within the prestigious Scottish Thistle Awards, recognising excellence in tourism and events. 
In previous years, tourism businesses in Dumfries and Galloway were recognised as part of the wider ‘West’ region, also covering Glasgow and Ayrshire, while Scottish Borders businesses have been included as part of the Lothian and Borders category, which includes Edinburgh.
This year will see the introduction of dedicated South of Scotland Thistle Awards, delivered in partnership with the SSDA and South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), which will invite nominations and entries from the tourism and events industry in the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway. 
Regional South of Scotland winners will then compete as finalists against businesses from across the country in the national VisitScotland Thistle Awards, due to be held by the end of 2023.
Finally, conference-goers learnt about the development of a major new responsible tourism destination development and marketing strategy for the region, which is due to be published along with an accompanying action plan by the end of December 2023. Spearheaded by VisitScotland, SOSE, the SSDA, Scottish Borders Council and Dumfries and Galloway Council – the strategy will be informed by a wider Advisory Group composed of other key agencies, organisations, businesses and representative groups, who will be able to help steer the process and offer constructive challenge and input throughout, to ensure the strategy drives economic and community prosperity. There will also be far-reaching consultations right across the sector, with businesses and communities invited to feed in their vision for tourism in the south of Scotland.
David Hope-Jones OBE, SSDA Chief Executive, said: “Cycle tourism is a major growth area for the whole of Scotland’s visitor economy and we’re thrilled that the forthcoming new Kirkpatrick C2C, South of Scotland’s Coast is in the spotlight as one of the longest and most exciting on-road routes of its kind in the UK. 
“It’s a fantastically exciting time for our region’s tourism and hospitality sectors.  As well as the projected increase in visitor numbers and spend that the Kirkpatrick C2C will generate, we’re also now gearing up for our first ever VisitScotland Thistle Awards for the South of Scotland. These awards will attract welcome attention and recognition for the countless local tourism businesses excelling in their field, helping put the south of Scotland even more firmly on the map. When nominations open for 2023 tomorrow, I’d encourage everyone to make sure nominate businesses in Borders and D&G which go above and beyond.  And let’s help the South of Scotland bring home a well-deserved national accolade!
“For me, 2023 is all about partnership and collaboration, as all the key agencies come together to agree an exciting and ambitious new responsible tourism strategy and action place for the south of Scotland. A key priority for me is ensuring every single business, organisation, community group and individual that wants to, is able to feed into this new strategy.  It needs to be owned by all and it needs to deliver real, sustainable economic impact.”
VisitScotland Director of Industry and Destination Development, Rob Dickson, said: “It is an exciting time for tourism in the South of Scotland, as today’s South of Scotland tourism industry conference clearly demonstrates. 
“As we countdown to the opening of the Kirkpatrick South of Scotland coast to coast cycling route and the UCI Cycling World Championships, we continue to build on the important partnerships we have in place in the South of Scotland to drive forward tourism recovery and continue to strengthen the economy of the south.
“We look forward to working with our regional partners on the new South of Scotland Thistle Awards, helping to ensure that tourism is recognised for the positive impact it brings to the country. The development of a responsible tourism strategy and action plan for the region represents a significant step in supporting our ambitions for Scotland to be a world leader in 21stcentury tourism. We would encourage individuals, businesses and organisations to get involved in helping to protect, shape and enhance the region’s renowned tourism offering.”
The Kirkpatrick C2C is expected to prove a huge draw for the south of Scotland when formally launched in early summer – early projections forecast that the new route could attract up to 175,000 new visitors to the region, with a direct spend of £13.7M per year. 
Adventurers in search of a new challenge on two wheels this summer will experience one of the UK’s longest coast to coast routes, taking them on an unforgettable journey through the region’s spectacular, history-steeped landscape and discovering a huge wealth of brilliant places to stay, visit, eat and drink along the way.
The route’s official name was announced earlier today at the SSDA conference by Paula Ward of South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), as part of a cycling-themed keynote session on the future of the region’s visitor economy.  The keynote speech was delivered by ‘bikepacking’ expert Markus Stitz, with a further presentation from local business owner Esther Tacke of Galloway Cycling Holidays. 
Paula Ward, Economic Infrastructure Development Specialist and Delivery Manager for the South of Scotland Cycling Partnership Strategy & UCI Optimisation Plan, said: “Kirkpatrick Macmillan is an iconic cycling figure which we in the South are immensely proud of, and it is fitting that his achievements are being acknowledged and our heritage celebrated with this new exciting tourism offering.
“Kirkpatrick C2C, South of Scotland’s Coast to Coast is one of a number of new cycling opportunities taking place in our region at present, alongside the arrival of the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships in the South this summer. 
“These are opportunities we must grasp if we are to achieve our goal of the South becoming Scotland's leading cycling destination and recognised as the global home of the bike.”
For those seeking to challenge themselves, the Kirkpatrick C2C can be tackled over four days, however riders are encouraged to immerse themselves in the beauty, heritage and charm of the south of Scotland, spending eight days completing the route from Stranraer to Eyemouth. 
Nominations for the 2023 Scottish Thistle Awards will be open from Wednesday 15 March via www.scottishthistleawards.co.uk.

7 March 2023

Family-owned Sterling Furniture Group has designs on new leadership in its 50th year

Recruitment drive under way for new CEO while investment in stores and website continues apace, with business continuity the primary focus

Family-owned home furnishing specialist Sterling Furniture Group is launching a recruitment drive for a dynamic new CEO in its 50th year in business.

Gordon Mearns is retiring after 20 years in the hot seat, during which time he has grown the company to include 600 staff working across 10 branches.

Mr Mearns steps down as managing director after overseeing the first steps of a major rebranding that will see the majority of its shops trading under the new “Sterling Home” brand, which is already being used on the company’s online store.  He will remain in position until the new CEO is appointed.

Sterling Furniture Group was founded in September 1973 after its entrepreneurial founder George Knowles Senior saw the growing popularity of out-of-town retail parks in the United States.

George Knowles Sr converted an old mill in Tillicoultry in Clackmannanshire, near Stirling into his first furniture store, which was made famous in a series of legendary television adverts starring sports broadcaster Dougie Donnelly.

The founder’s son, George Knowles Junior, took over the company in 1985 and began expanding his family’s business beyond Scotland’s Central Belt.

Mr Mearns, who joined the business in 1984 and rose through its ranks to become its finance director, became managing director in 2003 following the tragic death of George Knowles Jr at the age of 41.

Lesley Graham, Sterling’s buying director and the daughter of its founder, said: “On behalf of the family I want to extend our thanks to Gordon for his years of service and stewardship at Sterling Furniture Group, and wish him all the best for the future.

“He became managing director under difficult circumstances and has led the growth of our business for more than two decades, including our acquisition of Forrest Furnishings in 2016.

“Gordon has set us on an exciting course by spearheading our rebrand to Sterling Home – as well as streamlining many of our systems and processes behind the scenes.

“As we prepare to mark our 50th anniversary, we’ve already begun a significant investment in our Sterling Home stores and our online shop, and now we’re actively recruiting a dynamic new CEO with strong retail, data and digital expertise to take our family’s business to the next level.

“More immediately, as part of our focus on business continuity, we are working on a company-wide employee engagement process to gauge staff views and recommendations. Our staff are the beating heart of our business, so it’s vital they can share their thoughts and ideas as we take the company forward into its next chapter.”

Members of the third generation of the family are now also working in the business, including Ms Graham’s two sons, Murray and Euan and her nephew, George, who will shortly be appointed as Company Directors.

Sterling Furniture Group grew its pre-tax profits to £4.2 million in the year to 28 February 2022 from £2.5m a year earlier, on the back of turnover rising to £55.5m from £40.1m.

Against a backdrop of uncertain trading conditions which have made things challenging for all retailers (including the collapse of one of Sterling’s competitors*), the company predicts a stable financial position in the year ahead.

Sterling’s management changes come amid a reshaping of the home furnishing market, with the coronavirus lockdowns making retailers’ websites an even more important part of the sales process.

Market analysts at GlobalData value the UK living room furniture market at £3.9 billion and expect it to grow by 25% by 2025, while highlighting the continuing trend for customers to browse for items online.

*Online furniture retailer Made.com collapsed in November 2022 after failing to attract a buyer.


2 March 2023

Generous Stack & Still Pancake Day diners in Scotland cook up thousands of pounds for Cash for Kids

UK’s largest pancake house chain donated £10,000 towards supporting disadvantaged children and young people in communities across the UK after matching customer donations

Stack & Still, the UK’s largest chain of pancake houses, has dished up a £10,000 donation to children’s charity Cash For Kids after generous diners at its six participating Scottish branches added an extra £2 topping when paying their bills on Pancake Day.

The Glasgow-based Pancake Pioneers, who serve over a million pancakes every year in their ever-expanding chain of restaurants, matched their customers’ generosity, taking the total donation for disadvantaged children across the UK to £10,000.

The fundraising drive has become an annual tradition for the pancake house chain on Pancake Day in recent years. Since forming the partnership in 2019, Stack & Still has donated £60,800 to Cash for Kids, a grant-giving charity helping children and young people across the UK who need it the most.

All six of Stack & Still’s stand-alone branches in Scotland took part in the charity event last month: West George Street Glasgow; Glasgow Fort, Silverburn and Braehead Shopping Centres; The Centre, Livingston; and the Assembly Rooms/Rose Street, Edinburgh.

Paul Reynolds, co-founder and chief executive at Stack & Still, said: “We never fail to be blown away by our lovely customers’ generosity when we do our annual Pancake Day charity drive and they’ve done us proud yet again this year. Sending this donation to Cash for Kids was a sweet moment for Stack & Still and we hope it helps bring a smile to lots of disadvantaged kids and young people across the country. Huge thanks to everyone who kindly contributed a wee bit extra on their bill, we appreciate it so much and I’m sure Cash for Kids do even more so.”

Grace Reilly, Regional Charity Manager at Cash for Kids, said: “We would like to thank Paul and the team at Stack & Still for allowing us to have this fundraising platform on their busiest day of the year, and to their customers for their generous contributions on top of their bill. With this continued support since 2019, it’s allowed Cash for Kids to support 1,849 disadvantaged children and young people, and we look forward to helping many more with this most recent £10k donation.”

After expanding south of the border for the first time last December, when it opened a substantial new 225-cover restaurant just off London’s famous Leicester Square, Stack & Still announced earlier this month that it’s planning to launch its ninth venue within weeks

The new branch will open airside at Glasgow Airport in May, with the creation of ten new jobs.  

In other exciting news for the company, Human Resources Manager Sophie Aire was recently named a ‘hospitality hero’ among ScotHot’s 50 Rising Stars, celebrating some of the most talented newcomers to Scotland’s food, drink, hospitality, retail and tourism industries.

Stack & Still pancakes are available in more than 12 million possible combinations, with a huge range of savoury and sweet stacks, toppings and sauces to try, alongside tasty sides like loaded fries and tater tots, chicken tenders and sundaes.

The business was launched in 2018 by founders Paul Reynolds and Graham Swankie. More than 150 people work across its eight locations and the chain aims to double in size during the next two years, including more locations in London.


About Cash for Kids:
Cash for Kids is the cause related marketing arm for the Bauer Media’s network of Radio and magazines. Cash for Kids are forecast to have raised over £20 million in 2022, supporting more than 489,408 children affected by poverty, illness, neglect or have additional needs in local communities across the UK. 
Bauer Radio’s Cash for Kids Charity (England) 1122062 Registered Charity (Scotland ): sco41421

23 February 2023


Release of 'Maverick' kickstarts year of celebrations for The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) – the largest whisky club in the world – today launched Maverick, the first of several special limited edition commemorative bottles being released this year to celebrate its 40th anniversary. 

Maverick (RRP £65) is a 12-year-old small batch single malt Scotch whisky named in homage to the Society’s unconventional founder Pip Hills, who started the whisky club dedicated to single cask whisky in Edinburgh ‘for a lark’ back in 1983. Forty years on and the Society is approaching 40,000 single cask whisky-loving members. 

Maverick is billed as a ‘celebration of the iconic sherry cask’ and is inspired by the first time Pip Hills ever tasted whisky drawn straight from a single cask while visiting a friend in Aberdeenshire. That whisky was from a quarter sherry cask from a Speyside distillery. Hills later purchased his own quarter sherry cask from the distillery and transported it back to Edinburgh in the boot of his vintage car – a distinctive 1937 Lagonda.  

To make Maverick, the Society’s Head of Whisky Creation, Euan Campbell, selected some bourbon hogsheads of Speyside single malt then moved the whisky to a selection of oloroso and Pedro Ximénez-seasoned hogsheads, all made from Spanish oak, for varying lengths of additional maturation; between two and three and a half years. They then married the casks together to create this dark and rewarding single malt. 

The Maverick whisky is described by the Society’s Tasting Panel as having a fruity scent of apricots, peaches and plums along with Assam tea and fig, apple and raisin bread pudding.  On the palate, the Tasting Panel describe American-style blueberry and banana pancakes with lemon juice and maple syrup, as well as cardamom and orange-spiced rhubarb on top of fluffy French toast. 

Andrew Dane, CEO of Artisanal Spirts Company plc which owns the Society, said: “In this year of our 40th anniversary, we wanted to put together a few special surprises for our wonderful global membership.  

“Pip’s original vision had a maverick edge to it – he wanted to bring people together and do something ground-breaking in whisky. That vision remains as true today as it did then, in 1983.  

“This bottle celebrates that spirit and is the first of a number of exciting bottles we will release this year, which we have had a lot of fun developing, along with some special guests. We can’t wait to share them with the world as we celebrate our 40th birthday together.” 

The Society’s founder Hills added: “I think it’s lovely. It makes me smile. Very, very nice whisky indeed.”  

For four decades, the Society has specialised in releasing ‘whisky in its purest form’ – 

mainly single malt whiskies bottled from single casks that are not diluted with water, artificially coloured or chill-filtered to prevent it going cloudy when water or ice is added. Today, the Society is known for its flavour creation and cask expertise, range of distilleries and maturation knowledge. 

Throughout 2023, the SMWS, which has grown to include branches in more than 30 countries across the world including China, Australia, the USA and Japan, will release several special bottlings globally to celebrate its 40th anniversary, alongside various events and collaborations, all inspired by its idiosyncratic founder’s unorthodox outlook.   

Among the Society’s anniversary activities over the coming months are innovative creations such as a chilli-tinged whisky, collaborations with a ‘thrill engineer’ and a top-secret world-record attempt. The Society will also launch a new podcast series featuring maverick and game-changing characters from around the world. 

The special, limited-edition whisky will be released in February with only 2,100 bottles available in 14 countries. Whisky fans wishing to buy a bottle can become members of the Society which costs from £85. 



23 February 2023

Full programme details announced for ‘must-attend’ South of Scotland Destination Alliance Conference next month

Event at Peebles Hydro on 14 March will be first opportunity for many SSDA members to meet new Chief Executive David Hope-Jones

A packed programme of topical talks, breakout sessions and networking opportunities has been unveiled for the South of Scotland Destination Alliance’s (SSDA) second annual conference being held at Peebles Hydro next month, for which tickets are already being snapped up.

Appropriately for 2023, when the region will come under the spotlight as home to one of the UK’s newest and longest cycling routes when the 250-mile Coast to Coast is launched this summer, the keynote speech at the 14 March event will be delivered by international cycling expert and influencer Markus Stitz.

The day’s agenda will get under way with an address by the SSDA’s new Chief Executive Officer, David Hope-Jones, showcasing success stories from 2022 and highlighting insights and opportunities for South of Scotland tourism and hospitality businesses in 2023 and beyond. 

A focus on marketing will then examine the latest trends in tourism promotion, including working with influencers, social media and podcasts in a session led by Kathi Kamleitner of WatchMeSee.

Next on the agenda, Emma Guy of SCOTO (Scottish Community Tourism), will talk about inspiring visitors to be temporary locals, after which Jade-Louise Black from Netherurd Garden House accessible apartments in Blyth Bridge will give a presentation about Experiences for Everyone - Inclusive and Accessible Tourism. The final pre-lunch session will be led by Lyn Donnelly of VisitScotland, focusing on Responsible Tourism.

Three breakout sessions after lunch will allow attendees to discuss and explore various aspects of sustainable tourism development, such as: food and drink / agritourism (with Caroline Millar, Sector Lead at Scottish Agritourism); accommodation (with Fiona Campbell, Chief Executive at the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers); and attractions and experiences (with Gordon Morrison, Chief Executive of the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions).

Paula Ward of South of Scotland Enterprise (SoSE) will outline the South of Scotland Cycling Strategy, along with an exciting update about the new coast to coast route, prior to Markus Stitz’ keynote speech and a Q&A session on cycling and cycle tourism. The daytime programme will conclude with an impactful session by Dr Martin Valenti, SoSE’s NetZero Director, entitled Building Better Business – to Net Zero.

The SSDA held its first, very well-received annual conference in March 2022 at Dumfries’s Crichton Campus, with a keynote speech by travel expert, writer and broadcaster Simon Calder.

New for 2023, the conference programme continues into the evening, starting with an unmissable networking drinks reception hosted by Peebles Hydro’s 1881 Gin Distillery & Gin School. Following a delicious three-course dinner, guests will be entertained by speeches from double world record-holding adventurer and author of Blue Scotland, Mollie Hughes, as well as Marc Crothall MBE, Chief Executive Officer of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, who will be providing an update on the latest industry news, highlighting the challenges and opportunities ahead for tourism and hospitality businesses.

Another new addition for conference-goers this year is a specially-arranged ‘fam’ (familiarisation) trip to visit local businesses in the area and share ideas and experiences. This will be held on Wednesday 15 March.

SSDA Chief Executive David Hope-Jones said: “I’m very much looking forward to my first SSDA conference next month, which promises to be a must-attend event for our members and anyone eager to get the latest insights into the challenges and opportunities facing our industries in the south of Scotland. It will be a fantastic networking opportunity for everyone taking part and I’m keen to chat to as many attendees as possible: getting to know members and finding out how the SSDA can work with and support their businesses.

“As one of the Lonely Planet’s top 30 Best in Travel destinations for 2023, this is a momentous year for the south of Scotland region. Plans are well under way to launch the new Coast to Coast 250-mile on-road cycle route this summer, one of the longest routes of its kind in the UK, and not long after that goes live we’ll be in the global spotlight again as host to many of the exciting UCI World Championship cycling events.

“Of course, our superb cycling landscape is just one of countless reasons to visit and spend time in this incredible part of the world and we’re working on really showcasing all the amazing things the region has to offer, from history and heritage to food and drink and unforgettable experiences, so that visitors are inspired to return time and time again.”

Keynote speaker Markus Stitz said: “I’m really excited to be speaking at the SSDA conference in March. The south of Scotland, home of the pedal-driven bicycle invented by Kirkpatrick Macmillan, is one of the beautiful parts of the country, with endless opportunities for bike-based adventures.  

“The south of Scotland inspired me to move from Germany to Scotland. I was attracted here by the huge variety of off-road tracks, quiet roads, unique scenery, amazing forests, clean air and dark skies; and as the south of Scotland is a natural destination for cyclists, it was here that I mapped my first bikepacking route, the Capital Trail.

“Cycling and active travel is a key part of the region’s tourism offer and I look forward to working with the SSDA and its members to bring new, two-wheeled visitors to the south.”

Nic Oldham, Head of Customer and Commercial at Crieff Hydro Family of Hotels, said: “It’s a real honour for us to host the SSDA’s annual conference and evening dinner reception at Peebles Hydro and we are really looking forward to welcoming so many key representatives of our region’s tourism and hospitality sector for the event. The SSDA is leading the way in championing this vital industry for the south of Scotland and we’re proud to be playing our part in helping to shape the future of the local visitor economy by hosting the conference.”

Tickets are on sale on the SSDA’s website (www.ssdalliance.com), along with more information about the conference speakers.

Images, including photos from the inaugural SSDA conference in 2022 are available for use.

21 February 2023

Flip and fly as pancake pioneers Stack & Still prepare for take-off at Glasgow Airport

UK’s largest pancake house chain continues its expansion with 9th new branch

Stack & Still, the UK’s largest chain of pancake houses, is gearing up for take-off at Glasgow Airport this spring as it prepares to launch its first partnership with a travel operator.

The Glasgow-headquartered company, which serves in excess of a million pancakes per annum, will open its latest venture airside at Glasgow Airport in May, creating ten new jobs.

Stack & Still will create a new and exciting boutique concept in the heart of the airport’s departure area. The concept takes the best of Stack & Still’s pancake offering and will introduce bespoke packaging for people to eat at the dedicated seating area or grab and go for an onward flight. This offering will mirror their highly successful operation at Edinburgh’s Bonnie & Wild Scottish Marketplace in the St James Quarter.

The firm’s ninth and newest branch follows the chain’s successful expansion south of the border after its 225-seater restaurant just off London’s Leicester Square opened just in time for Christmas 2022.

Stack & Still was launched in 2018 by founders Paul Reynolds and Graham Swankie. The firm already employs over 150 people at its eight locations – including four in Glasgow - and aims to double in size during the next two years, including more locations in London.

Paul Reynolds, co-founder and chief executive at Stack & Still, said: “It’s very exciting to be adding something so unique to Glasgow Airport’s airside food and drink offer. This will be our first travel operator partnership and we’re actively exploring more opportunities across the UK as part of our expansion plans.

“Given such a wide range of flight times, our Glasgow Airport branch will introduce travellers to the delights of pancakes from 4am right through to the evening, setting them up perfectly for their onward journey.

“Hungry pre-flyers can choose from more than 12 million combinations thanks to our exhaustive selection of pancake bases, toppings, sauces, and other accompaniments.”

Craig Norton, retail account manager at Glasgow Airport, said: “We are really pleased to be the first UK airport to welcome Stack & Still, particularly given as the popularity of these pancake pioneers continues to soar.
“It is also fitting that Glasgow is Stack & Still’s first airport-based pancake house to open given the brand’s links with the city.
“I’m sure the addition of this latest food and drink offering at the airport will be a huge hit with our passengers.”

Stack & Still’s existing Scottish sites are at: West George Street in Glasgow; Braehead Shopping Centre, Glasgow Fort, and Silverburn Shopping Centre; The Centre in Livingston; the Bonnie & Wild Scottish Marketplace in Edinburgh’s £1 billion St James Quarter; and the historic Georgian Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh’s George Street.

6 February 2023

Experienced Finance Team and Texan investor bring Sallyport Commercial Finance to Scotland

The new invoice finance lender is targeting businesses with revenues of up to £10m

Award-winning entrepreneur, Andy Tait is teaming up with Texas-based Sallyport Commercial Finance LLC to launch a commercial lender in Scotland that will back small businesses and provide vital cashflow support during these challenging economic conditions.

Sallyport Commercial Finance will be based on St Vincent Place in Glasgow and will target companies turning over up to £10 million.

Mr Tait launched the Scottish arm of Bibby Financial Services in 1999 and built the company to become the largest independent invoice finance provider in Scotland.

Most recently, he served as Chief Executive at GreenAcres Cemeteries & Ceremonial Parks, having led a private equity-backed management buyout.

Now, Mr Tait is launching Sallyport Commercial Finance with fellow directors Joanna Cashmore and Kirsty Neely – who join from Bibby and Sonovate respectively – along with senior executives Allan Dempsie and Michelle Carroll.

This team is one of the most experienced, not only in Scotland, but in the UK as a whole, with over 70 years of sector experience between them. Joanna and Allan are two of the most recognised and trusted business development professionals in the sector and Kirsty and Michelle pride themselves on ensuring their customers receive the highest levels of service in the industry.

Sallyport Commercial Finance will provide working capital solutions to SMEs to assist with their cash flow.

Sectors being targeted by the lender include haulage, manufacturing, and recruitment but any business-to-business operators can benefit from this service.

Mr Tait said: “The cost of trading crisis is really taking its toll on Scottish businesses, with sky-high energy prices and coronavirus support repayments causing headaches for entrepreneurs.

“Sallyport Commercial Finance will offer an alternative to traditional lending provided by the high-street banks, with an experienced, more personalised and local service.

“Having built businesses in Scotland and other parts of the UK, I understand the pressure that the owners of small companies are feeling.

“Invoice Finance can be a great option for many businesses to free-up working capital and boost their cash flow.”

Sallyport Investments is a family office founded by Doug Foshee in 2012 to provide capital and leadership to early-stage companies, with a primary focus in the energy industry.

Sallyport Commercial Finance’s North American arm, which provides working capital funding solutions to businesses in the United States and Canada, is led by Mr Tait’s contemporaries, Nick Hart and Emma Hart. Mr Hart served as Managing Director of Bibby Financial Services California, having worked previously as Managing Director of Bibby Factors Yorkshire and Bibby Factors North East.  Mr and Mrs Hart partnered with Sallyport Investments to launch Sallyport Commercial Finance in the United States expanding into Canada in 2019.

Mr Tait added: “Having worked with Nick and Emma in the past, we are all very excited to launch Sallyport Commercial Finance in the UK with an investor who really understands the sector and the challenges facing small businesses today.

“Sallyport Commercial Finance already has a strong reputation in North America for helping small and medium sized businesses and their owners become successful and I’m proud to bring the brand into Scotland.

“We can help companies make their assets work harder for them, providing the cash they need to trade effectively and fuel further growth.

“Challenging times also create opportunities for Entrepreneurial Owners and businesses. We see increasing numbers of businesses looking to North America to sell products and services rather than Europe presently and a trusted experienced finance partner like Sallyport Commercial Finance can help make them become a success at home and abroad.” 



31 January 2023


Year-long series of special activities announced by The Scotch Malt Whisky Society as it closes in on 40,000-member milestone

Having been dismissed by industry experts in 1983 as an idea that would never work, a whisky club started ‘for a lark’ by a maverick whisky enthusiast in Edinburgh is this year celebrating its 40th anniversary and approaching 40,000 members around the world.
For four decades, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) has specialised in releasing ‘whisky in its purest form’ - mainly single malt whiskies bottled from single casks that are not diluted with water, artificially coloured or chill-filtered to prevent it going cloudy when water or ice is added. 
Now The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, which has grown to include around 30 branches across the world including China, Australia and the USA, is marking this new milestone in its journey with a year-long series of special releases, events, collaborations and happenings, all inspired by its founder’s unorthodox outlook.  
Alongside commemorative bottles and special releases for the 40th year, the Society’s anniversary activities over the next 12 months include innovative creations such as a chilli-tinged whisky, collaborations with a ‘thrill engineer’ and a top-secret world-record attempt. 
The Society will also launch a new podcast series featuring maverick and game changing characters from around the world and assemble a first-ever female-only tasting panel to select future releases.
The worldwide whisky club was started in 1983 by then Edinburgh-based accountant Pip Hills. The idea came after he’d experienced an epiphany discovering that whisky drawn straight from a cask had much more flavour compared with that era’s choice of off-the-shelf whisky. 
His ingenious idea of forming a club in Edinburgh to share these ‘pure’ single cask whiskies with others and making whisky more fun by using wine-tasters’ terminology to describe flavours was a game-changer at a time when the Scotch industry was perceived as dull and in decline.
Four decades on, the whisky industry is booming - thanks in part to pioneers like Hills - while the Society is also thriving. Despite being told by industry experts that his idea of a whisky club would never work, the Society now has around 30 branches around the world, over 100 partner bars worldwide, has bottled whisky from over 180 different distilleries and has more than 37,000 members.  The club is part of the Artisanal Spirits Company plc group, known for creation and curation of outstanding limited edition whisky and artisanal sprits for premium drinks lovers around the world.  
The Society’s year of celebrations also include the release of a special short film about its origins which documents the whisky epiphany Hills experienced when he first sampled single cask whisky at an Aberdeenshire farm. Other plans involve the release of more sherry-cask matured whiskies, and new releases from distilleries the Society has never bottled from before.
Andrew Dane, CEO of Artisanal Spirts Company plc which owns the Society, said: “They say ‘mighty oaks from little acorns grow’ and that is true of the Society’s story. It’s incredible to think that a small gathering of pals sharing single cask whisky in Edinburgh has grown into this worldwide club.  It seems apt that in our 40th year, we are closing in on reaching 40,000 members, worldwide.”
As we enter our fifth decade, we’re incredibly excited. Our Spirits Team is hard at work seeking out incredible casks and we continue to bring people together to explore the flavours of whisky and create new friendships. Our members and adventurous whisky fans looking to join the Society can expect to see a few surprises during our 40th anniversary year. Watch this space…”

Society founder Hills, said: “I started the whole thing for a lark. At the time, most of the Scotch whisky industry was very dull and most of the whisky wasn’t up to much. I had had no great liking for whisky, but when I first tried whisky drawn straight from a cask, it was an epiphany – this whisky tasted astonishing and quite unlike any whisky I’d drunk before. I shared some with my friends and they loved it too, so it seemed like a good idea to share it with more people. 
“When we started the Society and began to share the ‘secret’ of single cask whisky with others, there’s no doubt that we began to alter people’s attitudes, so that they came to see that behind the branded sameness of Scotch whisky there lay a world of variety and interest, as well as a drink that tasted a lot better than what they were used to. The great thing was that we had a lot of fun doing and people joined the Society in their thousands to share in the fun, as well as to get their hands on the whisky.”

26 January 2023


South of Scotland Visitor Economy Week in March will highlight rewarding careers in tourism and hospitality across the region

A range of organisations and further and higher education centres in the South of Scotland have teamed up to launch a new South of Scotland Visitor Economy Week in March.

The dedicated information and awareness week, which organisers hope will be an annual fixture, aims to encourage young people and people wishing to re-train or change career to learn more about jobs in tourism and the wider visitor economy to help boost the local economy in today’s challenging financial climate.

Whether it’s working at an adventure centre, taking visitors on guided walking and dark sky tours, running distillery tours and tastings for independently-crafted spirits and whiskies, preparing gourmet meals at country inns or helping to conserve natural heritage for generations to enjoy, there are endless career possibilities within the tourism sector.

Tourism is a major component of the Scottish economy, supporting business activity and employment opportunities across the whole of Scotland; in the south of Scotland, now is the time for us to tell amazing stories of our region and be part of an exciting and diverse visitor economy.

With an exciting year ahead for the region after it was named one of Lonely Planet’s 30 Best in Travel destinations for 2023 and with the opening of the new Coast to Coast cycle route this summer, there are more and more new opportunities to get involved in the visitor economy.
The South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA), Borders College, Dumfries and Galloway College, South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), Developing Young Workforce (DYW) Borders and D&G, Open University and Third Sector D&G are taking part in the new week-long tourism jobs promotion week from 8 – 14 March 2023. This week will showcase the employment & education opportunities within the South of Scotland tourism sector, highlighting the benefits of the tourism industry as a career of choice. 

Aimed at young people, those looking for a rewarding career or anyone keen to enhance existing skills or change career completely, Visitor Economy Week will give you the information you need, with a programme of events, including two business breakfast networking sessions hosted by the Open University – one in the Borders, one in Dumfries & Galloway. At these events, business representatives and other attendees can find out more about relevant Open University courses and the upskilling opportunities available to them and their employees. 
South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) is also excited to announce that the 2023 Visitor Economy Week will culminate with the South of Scotland annual Tourism Conference at Peebles Hydro on Tuesday 14 March. With a line-up of informative and inspiring speakers, it’s a must-attend event. More details will be announced in the coming weeks.

Melanie Allen, Interim Chief Executive of the SSDA, said: “At the SSDA our key mission is to make the South of Scotland a must-visit year-round destination, and giving whatever support we can to the tourism and hospitality sector is critical to this. Businesses are providing some fantastic opportunities to work in industry at the moment; Visitor Economy Week is about sharing our passion for tourism and hospitality, building a resilient future workforce for the region and stimulating innovation and entrepreneurship.

“Tourism is already a vital part of the local economy, with growing numbers of opportunities for rewarding careers helping visitors to discover all the fantastic things the south of Scotland has to offer. With stunning landscapes to walk, cycle, swim and fish in, fascinating history, fabulous places to stay, eat and drink and the friendliest welcome, the best of Scotland really does start here. Come and find out all you need to know about starting your career in tourism and help us give this incredible region the recognition it deserves.”

Anne-Marie Sturrock, Vice Principal from the Borders College said: Borders College are delighted to be part of South of Scotland Visitor Economy Week in March 2023. This is an exciting time for the South of Scotland and, of course, the Borders region. We look forward to working with our partners to showcase not only the beauty of South of Scotland as a travel destination but also highlight the diverse range of qualifications and employment opportunities within the travel and tourism sector. We will be hosting a number of activities to coincide with the week.”

Eva Milroy, Dumfries and Galloway College Account Manager, saidThe Visitor Economy in the South of Scotland offers such a huge variety of career opportunities. Dumfries and Galloway College are excited to be part of the series of events and initiatives that will showcase what the sector has to offer, how we support businesses and individuals that are involved in it or want to become involved in it. Come and join us in March to be part of the journey to put the South of Scotland on the global stage!”

Kevin Greenfield, Programme Manager from Developing Young Workforce Borders (DYW Borders), said: “Developing the Young Workforce connects businesses to students offering practical activities, work-based learning, inspiration workshops and site visits, across the region. We help young people get ready for the world of work, developing skills needed by employers, promoting the range of careers in each industry, and highlighting the pathways to get there, such as apprenticeships, further education or entrepreneurship.

“During Visitor Economy Week our team of school coordinators will work with partners to showcase the breadth of careers in hospitality and tourism, demonstrating the rewarding opportunities the sector offers.”

Justin Thomas, Developing Young Workforce Dumfries & Galloway (DWG DG) Programme Manager, said: “The hospitality sector is always looked at with certain perceptions – part time work, long hours, weekend job only, poor pay, no prospects to list but a few.  Over six years, DWG DG has been working on trying to alter these perceptions by working with our region’s fantastic businesses to bring realistic, work-focused, work-ready projects to our region’s young people.”
“DYW DG is delighted to be supporting Visitor Economy Week 2023 by continuing our ‘Be Our Guest’ programmes which include numerous businesses meeting with young people in both schools and to those over the age of 18 who may currently be job-seeking.”

Jane Morrison-Ross, CEO of South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), said: SOSE is delighted to be supporting the upcoming South of Scotland Visitor Economy Week 2023. Tourism and hospitality are key to the success our local economy, and this initiative is a great opportunity to work collaboratively in showcasing the breadth of careers available in the sector.
“With the inclusion of our region in the Lonely Planet’s Best Travel Destinations 2023, now is the perfect time to highlight not only the many attractions there are for visitors, but the opportunities available to begin your career in the sector.
“I encourage anyone who is interested in starting their career in tourism or hospitality to attend the events taking place in March.“

David Allen, Senior Partnerships Manager at The Open University Scotland, said: “The Open University in Scotland is delighted to be supporting the South of Scotland Visitor Economy Week in March and helping to shine a light on the fantastic career opportunities this vibrant and economically important sector brings to the South of Scotland. 

“As a world leader in providing innovative, flexible and online distance learning opportunities to individuals and businesses, the Open University in Scotland offers a vast range of high-quality, business orientated, short-course and microcredential provision, the majority of which can now be provided at low or no cost to you or your businesses. This means it’s never been easier, or as cost effective, for businesses in the South of Scotland to upskill, reskill or grow their workforce talent and we look forward to showcasing our offer to businesses during Visitor Economy Week.”

Marc Crothall, CEO of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said: “This is a first-class initiative to promote the tourism and hospitality industry as an excellent career choice. This is a diverse, interesting, rewarding and engaging industry to work in and at the very heart of the 21st century economy in Scotland.”
The South of Scotland Visitor Economy Event is a partnership event with The South of Scotland Destination Alliance, Borders College, Dumfries & Galloway College, SOSE, Developing Young Workforce (DYW) Borders and D&G, Open University, Third Sector D&G.

More information on the events planned will be available online in the coming weeks.
Archive images are available to download.

23 January 2023


The South of Scotland Destination Alliance has created bespoke themed routes following in the footsteps of Robert Burns and inspired by the Great Tapestry of Scotland

Two new driving trails have been formally launched by the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) and partners today, designed to immerse visitors in the story-filled landscape of the south of Scotland as they follow in the footsteps of Robert Burns and experience the parts of the region immortalised in the magnificent Great Tapestry of Scotland.  

Created using new digital functionality funded through VisitScotland’s Destination and Sector Marketing Fund, the Great Tapestry Trail and the Burns Trail on the SSDA’s Scotland Starts Here website have been painstakingly curated to guide visitors around key landmarks in the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway, highlighting great places to stay, eat and discover along both themed journeys.

Sarah Macdonald,  SSDA Project Lead – Stories Experience Collection, who co-designed both trails for Scotland Starts Here, said: “The south of Scotland is absolutely jam-packed with fascinating stories and heritage just waiting to be discovered. In developing these two new driving trails, we’ve worked hard with our partners to showcase the stand-out highlights of our region’s connections with both Burns and the Great Tapestry, while weaving in lots of useful recommendations for fantastic places to stay, eat, drink and visit along the way.

“It’s especially exciting to be unveiling these new trails in 2023, which promises to be such a momentous year for the whole of the south of Scotland – not only were we named among the 30 best places in the world to visit this year by Lonely Planet but we’re champing at the bit to launch our epic new 250-mile Coast to Coast cycle route from Stranraer to Eyemouth this summer.”

Joan McAlpine, Business Development Manager at Burns’ former home Ellisland Museum & Farm, which features in both trails, said: "Ellisland is the only home built by Burns and definitely the best preserved and most authentic and romantic. Some of Burns’ most creative years were spent in Dumfriesshire and of course he was greatly inspired by the Borders, so bringing the two together in both these fantastic new trails makes perfect sense. "

Sandy Mawell-Forbes, Centre Director The Great Tapestry of Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be have been part of this fantastic project with SSDA. Many of the 160 panels in the Great Tapestry of Scotland feature the compelling and rich history of the people and landscape of the south of Scotland. The Tapestry trail vividly brings stories to life of history, heritage, battles and culture across the entire region. It is such a compelling journey travelling to locations which feature in the tapestry, everyone will find something to explore and intrigue them. 

Annique Armstrong, VisitScotland Destination Development Director for the South of Scotland, said: “The South of Scotland is steeped in history and these itineraries will help bring to life the region’s fascinating past, encouraging visitors to uncover the  hidden gems, attractions and diverse places to eat and drink.
“By encouraging visitors to stay longer, visit all year round and explore more widely, they can in turn contribute to the sustainable quality of life of the communities they encounter. Tourism is a force for good. It creates jobs, sustains communities and contributes significantly to the economy.”

The 187 mile-long Burns Trail takes visitors on a six-day tour from Berwickshire to Dumfries, following in the footsteps of Scotland’s national bard. The journey takes inspiration from the tour of the Borders the then 28-year-old Burns took in May 1787 with his friend Robert Ainslie, beginning in the coastal town of Eyemouth, where the pair were made Royal Arch Masons of St Ebb’s Lodge – to this day, the cutlery Burns used at his repast are still treasured by the Eyemouth Lodge.

The Burns Trail then progresses westwards, passing the ruined abbeys of Kelso, Jedburgh and Melrose, the Border towns of Selkirk and Galashiels and into Dumfries and Galloway, visiting Moffat and Ellisland Farm where Burns and his family lived for three years in the late 1700s and where he wrote Auld Lang Syne before culminating in Dumfries, the place of his death in 1796 at the young age of 37.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland is the result of a Scotland-wide community art project involving 1,000 stitchers aged four to 94 to tell the colourful history of Scotland from pre-history to the modern day, featuring battles, Romans, religion, Vikings, innovation, sport, kings and queens and much more.

The 143m-long tapestry, first exhibited in 2013 at the Scottish Parliament and now housed in a new, purpose-built exhibition space in Galashiels, is made up of 160 beautifully embroidered linen panels made over 50,000 hours with 300 miles of wool thread.

Visitors spending seven days travelling along the 283-mile Great Tapestry Trail start at the Tapestry Centre itself before wending their way to the Berwickshire coast and then west again to the Border towns and Abbotsford, home of great historical novelist Sir Walter Scott.

The trail then weaves in Roman history with a stop at Trimontium Museum, Melrose where in AD80 the Romans established a major fort and which is one of the UK’s most significant archaeological sites from that period.

Taking in the fascinatingly-named Devil’s Porridge Museum just outside Gretna next, which pays tribute to the world’s largest WW1 munitions factory, trail-followers will then catch up with Robert Burns in and around Dumfries before heading to Wigtown, Scotland’s national book town and the location for cult film The Wicker Man, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2023.

Stopping to see the ruins of Glenluce Abbey where Mary, Queen of Scots once dined and slept while on a pilgrimage to Whithorn, the trail ends at the dramatic clifftop lighthouse in the Mull of Galloway – Scotland’s most southernmost point, at the end of the Rhins of Galloway.

18 January 2023


Raleigh International relaunches under new ownership and with new expedition to South Africa

Pioneering purpose-led youth expedition organisation Raleigh International is relaunching under new ownership and starting the next stage in its 45-year journey with a new adventure to South Africa.

Previously trading as Raleigh International Trust, the organisation which counts The Prince and Princess of Wales and astronaut Tim Peake among its 55,000+ alumni, was badly hit by the impact on global travel during the Covid-19 pandemic and went into voluntary liquidation in May 2022.

Now operating as Raleigh International, the organisation which specialises in challenging, educational and fun international volunteering experiences for 17-24 year olds, has been acquired by The Impact Travel Group (ITG). ITG is an alliance of nine education and experiential brands, including African Impact and Roots Internships committed to transformative travel experiences with cultural and environmental impact.  

With the backing of ITG, Raleigh International is relaunching with a new expedition to South Africa. The first expedition will take place in June 2023 and see community, climate and conservation projects undertaken in the Greater Kruger area which lies between Mozambique, Eswatini and the world-famous Kruger National Park. In addition, Raleigh International is also running expeditions to Costa Rica, also starting in June.

Volunteers who had historically registered while under the previous ownership Raleigh International Trust but were then unable to complete their expedition, will be contacted by the new owners to be offered a discounted ITG expedition in the future.

Raleigh International began life as Operation Drake in 1978 before evolving into Operation Raleigh in 1984. In 1992, it became Raleigh International Trust. In its four decades, the organisation has provided life-changing experiences for more than 55,000 young people from more than 100 countries.

Greg Bows, Impact Travel Group managing director, said:It’s tremendously exciting to be bringing back Raleigh International, an organisation that means such a lot to so many people and has had such a positive impact on the world.

“Since 1978, Raleigh has continuously evolved and constantly adapted to new ideas and challenges, while always retaining its focus on supporting young people to act and create lasting change for themselves, their communities, and the world. 

“We are committed to continuing this legacy and look forward to launching a new cohort of dedicated young people on the expedition of a lifetime in Costa Rica or our new destination, South Africa, in 2023.

During more than 600 expeditions in 50 countries, Raleigh International volunteers have planted over 900,000 trees to help combat climate change, rehabilitated more than 65km of trails and conservation infrastructure, and given more than 100,000 people long-lasting access to safe and accessible hygiene facilities and access to toilets, handwashing and drinking water.

Young people can join a Raleigh Expedition for six, seven or 10 weeks, work on environmental and community projects, and take part in a leadership adventure trek.
Older adults looking for a career break or a post-retirement adventure can also get involved in Raleigh International’s work by volunteering to manage and guide young people in specific roles.  

Read more about Raleigh’s programmes and the relaunch on their website raleighinternational.org

Full set of free to use images and a timelapse video taken in Costa Rica available on https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/9gwawhwy391snyoivn8og/h?dl=0&rlkey=q6xm38hdml2mhcuivdpcmeobf 

10 January 2023


Forever Edinburgh launches new guide and TikTok partnership to whet the appetite of foodie fans from around the UK who crave something different and love small independent places

Highlighting everything from vegan ‘junk food’, a bagel-themed hotel, square Detroit pizza, Singaporean-style breakfast and soon-to-open street food markets, a new guide and series of TikTok videos is being launched to put Edinburgh on the menu as a must-visit foodie destination for 2023.

Foodie fans visiting Edinburgh are spoilt for choice with familiar national names such as Gordon Ramsay, Dishoom, Duck & Waffle and Mowgli open already or soon to open, alongside the city’s long-established local culinary heavy hitters such as The Witchery, Restaurant Martin Wishart, The Kitchin, and Timberyard.

Forever Edinburgh, the Official Guide to Edinburgh and city’s primary destination brand, has launched the new ’23 for 23’ guide to whet the appetite of adventurous foodie fans across the UK who crave something a bit different when they visit a city.

The guide shines a light on the lesser-known, smaller independent gems for visitors to seek out covering both city centre choices and off-the-beaten track options in neighbourhoods such as Portobello, Tollcross, Leith, the Southside, and South Queensferry.

The ’23 for 23’ guide has been created as part of Forever Edinburgh’s The Story Never Ends campaign and captures the latest chapter in Edinburgh’s always-evolving food and drink story. The Scottish capital’s culinary heritage is built into many of the city’s oldest placenames, including Bakehouse Close, the Cowgate, Old Fishmarket Close and Sugarhouse Close.

The ’23 for 23’ guide is available on the Forever Edinburgh website and a selection of places will be featured in a series of Tik Tok videos created in collaboration with leading food and drink Tik Tok influencer @topscottishscran, who has almost 60,000 followers and more than half a million likes.

Highlights of the ’23 for 23’ guide (see below for the full list) include:
  • Rabbit Food at Meadows Tap - a smokin’ hot new spot for vegetarian and vegan ‘junk food’, housed within the Meadows Tap pub in Newington. Check out their ‘Dirty Diana’ vegan burger, chips stuffed with pizza sauce and macaro-nae cheese
  • Bross Bagels HOLEtel - a penthouse apartment hotel in Portobello offering guests an unforgettable stay including a private dinner party hosted by Mama Bross and the chance to try their hand at the art of bagel-making
  • Singapore Coffee House - a new neighbourhood gem in Canonmills inspired by Singapore’s kopitiams (coffee houses), serving dishes like the breakfast staple Kaya Toast
  • Homies Pizza - Edinburgh’s latest must-try pizza palace specialising in decadent deep-dish Detroit-style square pizzas loaded with toppings and oozing with cheese
  • Edinburgh Street Food Market - coming Feb 2023 and hotly anticipated, with 10 vendors and three bars, seven days a week. Offering an indoor / outdoor global street food experience at the top of Leith Walk, with views of Calton Hill.

The online guide will go live on Forever Edinburgh’s website on Thursday 12 January, followed by the series of TikTok posts by @topscottishscran during January, February and March.

The hitlist aims to inspire food fans of all ages and culinary preferences from across the UK and beyond to visit Edinburgh in 2023 - Time Out’s ‘World’s Best City’ – as well as to support new small businesses.

Fiona Hunter, Destination Marketing Manager for Forever Edinburgh and The Story Never Ends city-marketing campaign, said: “Edinburgh has an incredible selection of unique and memorable places to eat and drink and 2023 sees the dawn of another great new chapter in the capital’s fascinating food story. We are very well-served with ‘big names’ and popular national chains like Duck & Waffle, Gordon Ramsay’s Street Burger and Haute Dolci all recently opening up and creating lots of excitement among locals and visitors alike. Since we know that many visiting food fans also crave smaller-scale independent options, we’ve created this essential “23 for ’23” hitlist to help people explore all the amazing new options that are dotted around the city’s neighbourhoods.”

24 December 2022


A 21-year-old clementine with toddler bite-marks, dog chews frozen in a heatwave, icing flowers from a 2009 wedding cake and containers of ‘unidentified frozen objects’ from who knows when.

A 21-year-old clementine with toddler bite-marks, dog chews frozen in a heatwave, icing flowers from a 2009 wedding cake and containers of ‘unidentified frozen objects’ from who knows when.

These were just some of the weird and wonderful artefacts dug up in people’s freezers across Britain as part of a competition run by much-loved Scottish food supplier Scotty Brand and batch cooking expert The Batch Lady.

The ‘Frosty or Fusty’ freezer archaeology challenge, promoted to The Batch Lady’s 285,000 Facebook followers and via the Scotty Brand website, aimed to discover some of the oldest and oddest items lurking in people’s freezer drawers - and entrants from across the UK dredged up some truly ancient artefacts from their freezers.

As well as being a bit of fun, the joint-run competition aimed to highlight how batch-cooking and frozen food can help under-pressure families make their household budgets stretch further in the current cost-of-living crisis.

It comes after a recent BBC Good Food Nation survey revealed that 23% of shoppers are now turning to batch-cooking as a way to save money as the economic situation worsens.

The poll, carried out for BBC Good Food magazine by Censuswide, found that freezing batch-cooked meals was another popular way to cope with the squeeze on household income, with 22% of people eating more frozen food.

The competition prize of £100 worth of ASDA vouchers was scooped by Jacqui Baker from Wilstead in Bedfordshire, who unearthed a collection of icy daffodil heads and ivy leaves she’d gathered and frozen two years ago during lockdown in order to dye wool with plants.

In winning the prize, she just pipped the entry which described a clementine frozen long ago by a loving granny after her grandson bit into it – she kept it to give her a smile every time she went into her freezer. Her grandson is now aged 23.  

Other items excavated by hopeful winners included a bag of mixed veg best before 2016 which the family uses as an ice pack, a trout caught by the person’s husband in 2018, bags of breastmilk frozen in 2015 and ‘deconstructed’ sausage rolls from last Christmas.

Molly Borys, Brand Manager at Albert Bartlett and Scotty Brand, said: “We thought we’d get some interesting entries for this competition but we were overwhelmed by the responses and the sheer variety of artefacts people unearthed! Congratulations to Jacqui Baker, her daffodil heads and ivy leaves discovery really made us smile and we’re impressed with her creative lockdown project.

“This competition with The Batch Lady has been a great way to highlight just how indispensable freezers and frozen food are in helping you stick to a household budget, saving yourself valuable time into the bargain. Scotty Brand is committed to helping our customers provide nutritious, fresh and tasty meals for all the family and all our products can be frozen as part of batch-cooked meals for future use.”

Suzanne Mulholland, aka The Batch Lady, who also has 148,000 Instagram followers, said: “As the Batch Lady I’m pretty on top of what’s in my freezer but even I must confess there are some things in mine that are older than they probably should be – for example, I discovered some blue cheese I’d frozen last Christmas! This project has been great fun, getting people talking about what can be frozen and for how long, which are really important considerations to make the best use of this essential kitchen appliance. Batch-cooking meals is the perfect way to cut down on your food bills, as well as the time spent each week on cooking for the family.”

Following on from the competition, Scotty Brand and the Batch Lady have compiled a handy checklist of freezer tips:
  • Make sure you know what foods can be frozen and for how long
  • Clearly label what you’re freezing so you know what’s there and how old it is
  • Only freeze food that’s within its use-by date
  • Use defrosted food within 24 hours and do not re-freeze
  • Defrost food fully in the fridge, on the microwave defrost setting or wrap in waterproof food bag and place in very cold water until defrosted before cooking. Don’t defrost with warm or hot water or leave food to defrost at room temperature
  • Keep a list of your freezer contents and update it regularly. This saves time and money as you will be able to plan meals effectively and avoid buying something unnecessarily that you already have frozen
  • Get into the batch-cooking habit to make value-for-money, healthy meals for the family

Notes to Editors:
  • Scotty Brand was first launched in 1948 by Scottish founder Albert Bartlett, who set up a beetroot-boiling operation in Coatbridge. Albert’s values of hard work and honest endeavour live on in the family company today, as it continues to bring you the best tasting produce.
  • Scotty Brand offers the finest seasonal produce such as potatoes, Ayrshire new potatoes and seasonal berries; and other products including frozen peas and ‘Chippy Chips’, fresh soup, soup mixes, delicious sausage rolls and succulent smoked salmon
  • Scotty Brand product stockists include Aldi, ASDA, Co-op, Lidl, Morrison’s, Spar, Tesco, and Waitrose. 

23 December 2022

Spreading festive cheer to help tackle loneliness among older people in Scotland

Scottish meal delivery service Parsley Box teams up with Age Scotland to deliver tasty treats

With the festive period a challenging and lonely month for many older people, Parsley Box has partnered with Age Scotland in a bid to make Christmas a little brighter this year.

The Edinburgh-based firm, which specialises in delivering nutritious, cupboard-stored ready meals to the older generation across the UK, has donated thousands of pounds worth of sweet treats to Age Scotland’s Big Gift Appeal.

The tasty treats, including seasonal chocolates, Cocoa Loco Festive Hot Chocolate Spoon Sets and Ask Mummy & Daddy Penguin Jellies Sweet Jars, will be delivered to the doors of older people during December by Age Scotland’s community networks.

Loneliness can increase the risk of stress, anxiety and depression and, with 100,000 older people in Scotland are estimated to feel lonely all or most of the time, Parsley Box has partnered with Age Scotland to ensure the older generation they have not been overlooked or forgotten over the festive season.

Kevin Dorren, CEO of Parsley Box, said: “Our team has seen the impact of loneliness first hand when delivering our meals and speaking with the older community on the phone arranging their orders.  We have built strong bonds with many of our regular customers from across the UK and always enjoy chatting with them, but we are looking to do more to support our customers in this respect.

“Since day one, making life better for older people has been at the heart of everything we do. Teaming up with Age Scotland to spread some festive cheer across this community was a no-brainer for us. Their mission to make later life more enjoyable for older people aligns with our own values perfectly, and we look forward to future collaborations.”

Parsley Box uses an innovative slow cooking technology, inspired by the ‘sous-vide’ method when preparing its range of delicious ready meals, which ensures the flavour and nutrients are locked in without the need to chill or freeze. No unnecessary preservatives are used, and the food will then keep fresh for up to six months when stored in a cupboard.

Age Scotland’s Interim Chief Executive, Michelle Supple, said: “The festive period can often be a difficult time of year for many older people, especially those living alone or without friends and family close by.

“Tens of thousands of older people regularly go a week or more without a visit or a call from someone, and we know that loneliness and isolation can have a devastating impact on their health and wellbeing, so it’s vital that we do all we can to reach out to those on their own and spread some festive cheer.

“We’re so grateful to Parsley Box for supporting our Big Gift Appeal this year. We know their generous donations will make a huge difference, helping to make Christmas brighter for the older people who receive them.”


Selection of FREE to use images by Mike Wilkinson available to use here:


Notes to editors:

About Parsley Box

Parsley Box delivers ready meals that do not need to be stored in a fridge or freezer, direct to the underserved Baby Boomer+ consumer, broadly defined as those aged 60 and over. Its mission is to promote, support and celebrate independent living by making mealtimes easier and more enjoyable for everyone. The core product range comprises over 60 single portion sized meals spanning various cuisines.  Based in Edinburgh, Parsley Box delivers to customers throughout the UK.

About Age Scotland

Age Scotland is the national charity for older people - supporting, inspiring and empowering people over the age of 50. We work to help older people be as well as they can be, promote positive views of ageing and later life and tackle loneliness and isolation. We do this by providing information, advice and friendship via our free helpline, friendship line and printed and digital guides, supporting and enabling older people’s community groups, promoting age friendly workplaces and communities, delivering health and wellbeing programmes and campaigning on the policy issues older people tell us are important to them.

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