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. 

Alan Twigg
Alan Twigg, Consultant Creative Director

Alan is an award-winning consumer communications consultant with more than 25 years’ experience developing creative comms strategies and building standout 360 brand communications campaigns for clients across consumer and lifestyle sectors from FMCG, retail and food and drink to sport, automotive, gaming, hospitality and travel and tourism.

A Scot based in London, he has led a number of agencies over the years and now works between direct clients and select agencies, including Beeline PR, supporting and directing on both business and creative development.  

Alan has worked on many leading brands and household names including Red Bull, Nintendo, expedia, McVities, Dominos, The National Lottery, UEFA Champion’s League, Continental Tyres, Hamleys, M&S, Waterstones, The Balvenie, Glenfiddich, Highland Park, Whyte & Mackay, Peroni, Yo! Sushi and InterContinental Hotels...to name but a few. 

Alan and Debbie worked together in London more than 20 years ago and have maintained their professional working relationship and friendship ever since.

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  

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

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.

5 December 2022


The South of Scotland Destination Alliance announces new Chief Executive to lead work developing the South of Scotland into a year-round tourist destination

The South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) today announced that Borders-based David Hope-Jones OBE will be the new Chief Executive of the strategic Destination Management and Marketing Organisation for the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway in early 2023.  
The news comes just weeks after the South of Scotland was selected as one of the Top 30 destinations in the world by Lonely Planet in its Best in Travel 2023 guide.  
Hope-Jones, who is based in Midlem near Selkirk, takes up the role following almost 15 years as Chief Executive of the Scotland Malawi Partnership, where he was responsible for the strategic development of the organisation, engagement with stakeholders and policy advisors, supporting member interests, and external partnership working. 
A senior business leader and strategic development expert who was awarded the OBE in the Queen’s 90th birthday honours in 2016 for services to international development, Hope-Jones impressed the SSDA Board with his knowledge of the South of Scotland and its businesses and communities, as well as his passion for making a positive difference to the region in which he lives. 
Hope-Jones will join the SSDA team in February 2023. Melanie Allen will remain in an interim position until late Spring 2023 to ensure stability and a smooth transition for the organisation, team, members and activity. 
On taking up his new position, Hope-Jones will work alongside the team and Board to drive forward the SSDA’s ambitious destination development strategy, which includes increasing tourism spend in the region to £1bn by 2030 and creating 6,500 new jobs. He will also help develop the SSDA’s consumer-facing Scotland Starts Here platform which showcases the region to visitors, and oversee ongoing business engagement and product development programme to support local tourism and hospitality businesses in an increasingly challenging economic climate. 
Hope-Jones said: “I’m extremely proud to call the South of Scotland my home and I never fail to be blown away by the region’s incredible appeal as a place to visit, whether that’s from within the UK or further afield. It is a huge honour to be given this opportunity to help the area achieve its limitless potential as a year-round visitor destination.   
“The South of Scotland Destination Alliance has been doing a great job supporting tourism and hospitality businesses in the region and I’m champing at the bit to get started and join such a great team.  
“The coming year offers unique opportunities for us to showcase our region, building on Lonely Planet singling The South of Scotland out as one the top destinations in the world to visit, not to mention the launch of the new Coast to Coast cycle route in the summer which is set to be a huge draw for cycling enthusiasts. 
“The South of Scotland has the perfect ingredients for a magical holiday: breath-taking scenery, fascinating history and heritage, exhilarating trails to run, cycle, walk or paddle, fabulous locally-produced food and drink and a packed calendar of events and festivals to suit every interest. Most importantly, it’s a place with strong and connected communities at its heart, and it’s these people I am most looking forward to working with in my new role as the SSDA continues to develop sustainable tourism in the South of Scotland.” 
David Ibbotson, Chair of the SSDA, said: “On behalf of the SSDA Board, we are delighted to welcome David Hope-Jones to the role of Chief Executive. His reputation as an inspirational leader and strategic development expert, excelling in working with stakeholders and supporting member interests will be invaluable in the months and years ahead as he works with the team and Board to support our members and develop a thriving destination.” 
Professor Russel Griggs, Chair of South of Scotland Enterprise which has provided support of £2.7million over five years to SSDA, said: “SSDA has a vital role to play in supporting our tourism industry, as businesses continue to face a series of significant challenges but also exciting opportunities which lie ahead such as the arrival of the 2023 UCI World Cycling Championships.
“Working alongside partners and the industry itself, we are committed to supporting SSDA in its crucial work to help attract even more visitors to stay, spend and enjoy the South of Scotland.
“We welcome the appointment of David Hope-Jones and look forward to working closely with him and his SSDA colleagues for the benefit of our wonderful region.”
VisitScotland Regional Director Annique Armstrong said: “We welcome the appointment of David Hope-Jones as the new CEO of the South of Scotland Destination Alliance and we look forward to continuing to work together to support the sustainable and long-term recovery of one of Scotland’s most valuable industries. 
“It is an exciting time for tourism in the South of Scotland. The region was recently included in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2023 guide and as we countdown to the UCI Cycling World Championships next year, we want to build on these fantastic opportunities to put the South of Scotland in the forefront of visitors minds.
“We will continue to work together to maximise these opportunities to greater strengthen the economy of the south.”
Notes to Editors  
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 also received initial funding from the former South of Scotland Economic Partnership. 

30 November 2022


The Patron Saint has been reimagined for St. Andrew’s Day as part of a campaign urging Scotland to mark its National Day with a proper celebration.

The depiction of a modern-day St. Andrew in a bustling bar enjoying a pie and a pint is titled Andy’s Night Out and was created by 34-year-old Scottish illustrator and portrait artist, Ciaran Murphy. The reimagined St Andrew illustration was commissioned by the Kestrel Brewing Co, who have estimated that Scotland’s supermarkets and local retailers alongside beleaguered pubs, bars and restaurants could be missing out on turnover of up to £40 million by not focusing promotional attention on St. Andrew’s Day.
The hi res image is available to download from DropBox here.

29 November 2022


Acclaimed author will share his story and love of his hometown Edinburgh over afternoon tea as part of a once-in-a-lifetime literary prize trip to Scotland’s capital with Forever Edinburgh

In celebration of Alexander McCall Smith’s new Edinburgh-based novel and the Scottish capital’s celebrated links with literature, a competition has been launched offering a money-can’t-buy literary-themed trip to the capital including afternoon tea with the world-renowned author.

The author recently released The Enigma of Garlic, the 16th and latest instalment of his globally bestselling 44 Scotland Street series, which follows the fictional story of life in a real street in his beloved hometown Edinburgh.

As Scotland’s Year of Stories draws to a close, the literary-themed competition (www.edinburgh.org/literaryprize) has been launched by the city’s official destination brand Forever Edinburgh as part of its The Story Never Ends campaign, which shines a light on Edinburgh’s culture, events and history, including its remarkable literary heritage.

The winner of the competition will enjoy a trip to Edinburgh, which became the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature in 2004, with the icing on the cake being afternoon tea with Alexander McCall Smith in The Signet Library, one of Edinburgh’s finest Georgian buildings.

The prize package for the winner and a plus one includes return travel to Edinburgh, a city with links to an array of acclaimed authors past and present including Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott, Dame Muriel Spark, Arthur Conan Doyle, JK Rowling, Sir Ian Rankin OBE and Irvine Welsh.

Also included in the prize package is two nights’ accommodation at the 5-star Balmoral Hotel, where JK Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
The winner will also enjoy meals at The Printing Press, which occupies the former George Street home of Scotland’s answer to Jane Austen, 19th century novelist Susan Ferrier, where frequent guests included Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns; Badger & Co, located within the childhood home of Kenneth Grahame, author of children’s classic, The Wind in the Willows; and Superico Restaurant, with cocktails at Superico Bar and Lounge, which are just a short stroll from 17 Heriot Row, the childhood home of Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson from 1857.

Additional prize elements are visits to the Writers’ Museum and the iconic Scott Monument – the largest monument to a writer in the world - and tickets for the award-winning Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour.

To enter the competition, visit www.edinburgh.org/literaryprize - the deadline to enter is 23:59 on Friday 16 December 2022.

Alexander McCall Smith CBE said: “Edinburgh is an altogether enchanting city and it’s no wonder that it has captivated and inspired many writers and poets. This is a marvellous competition to celebrate the city’s literary heritage and I very much look forward to meeting the winner over afternoon tea in the Signet Library.”

City of Edinburgh Council Leader Cammy Day added: “This is a brilliant opportunity to win a fabulous trip to Scotland’s capital – the world’s very first UNESCO City of Literature. From the iconic Scott Monument greeting rail passengers at Waverley Station to the countless monuments to writers and thinkers, Edinburgh has such a rich literary heritage, with so much to discover and enjoy.

“Forever Edinburgh continues to deliver excellent value to Edinburgh’s visitor economy through its popular Story Never Ends campaign. I’m sure this latest element of their promotional activity will be greatly welcomed by businesses of all shapes and sizes.”

Edinburgh has long been a haven for literature lovers. From August’s annual Edinburgh International Book Festival, which welcomes approximately 800 authors from nearly 40 countries and brings in over 225,000 visitors annually, to smaller neighbourhood events such as the Portobello Book Festival, and its network of more than 50 bookshops, it is a must-visit for literary tourists. 

A multitude of fascinating literary experiences abound across the city including literary-themed places to stay, such as Stevenson House, the former home of Robert Louis Stevenson; and the National Museum of Scotland which houses a treasure trove of world-class exhibits including the Scotsman Printing Press, a working scale model of the printing press used for two centuries to produce The Scotsman newspaper, as well as the Ewan McGregor’s signed script for the 1996 movie of Irvine Welsh novel Trainspotting.

Edinburgh is also home to the National Library of Scotland, the leading centre for the study of Scotland and the Scots, the Scottish Poetry Library and the Scottish Storytelling Centre, plus institutions fostering literacy, including the Scottish Book Trust, a national agency for readership development and the Writers’ Museum and Makars’ Court, which commemorates Scottish writers and poets.

To find out more about Edinburgh’s literary tourism experiences, visit: https://edinburgh.org/discover/edinburgh-city-guides/literature/.

19 November 2022


Gary Maclean creates signature St. Andrew’s Pie to give National Day its own dish

Scotland’s National Chef Gary Maclean has created a special ‘St Andrew’s Pie’ as part of a campaign to put St. Andrew’s Day back on the menu across the country and transform the overlooked occasion into a major event.

The former MasterChef - The Professionals Winner created the signature pie, which combines Scotch beef and haggis, as part of the ongoing campaign led by Glasgow’s Kestrel Brewing Co. to revitalise Scotland’s National Day.

Like haggis, neeps and tatties on Burns Night, Maclean hopes the St. Andrew’s Pie will become the signature dish at the heart of revitalised celebrations for Scotland’s National Day across the country’s homes, bars and restaurants.

The St. Andrew’s Pie (full recipe below) takes around 1 hour to prepare and is the star of a three-course St Andrew’s Day menu designed by Maclean. The starter is a one-pan winter veggie dish with roasted Scottish roots, kale, pearl barley with pickled shallots, while the dessert is a simple-to-make custard tart with bramble sorbet.  

Kestrel estimates that Scotland’s supermarkets and local retailers alongside beleaguered pubs, bars and restaurants could be missing out on turnover of up to £40 million by not creating more of a celebratory occasion on St. Andrew’s Day.

Currently the day is dwarfed in comparison to both Burns Night and traditional Hogmanay celebrations in Scotland and to St Patrick’s Day, believed to generate around annual 58.3m euros for the Irish economy and attract a spend of $5.14 billion annually in the US.

“Burns Night has haggis, tatties and neeps. It’s time for our National Day to have its own dish,” said Maclean. “I love a good steak pie, but I wanted to make it even more Scottish, so decided to add haggis which brings a real depth of flavour, without it overtaking the dish. It’s easy, comforting, and a great winter dish that people can gather around at the table at home or in a pub or restaurant. In these tough times, it’s more important than ever that we all get together. St. Andrew’s Day is a great time to celebrate both our friends and family but also our Scottish heritage. It’s time we had a celebration worthy of our patron saint and I hope this St. Andrew’s Pie can help.”

Nigel McNally, CEO of the Kestrel Brewing Co., said: “St. Andrew’s Day generally slips by as a bit of a non-event which is a great shame for a very proud nation, but also a missed opportunity for everyone to come together and express how wonderful modern-day Scotland is and what it means to be Scottish.”

“We asked Gary to come up with something authentically Scottish that would be easy to prepare, but special enough to live up to the occasion and he’s done it with typical spirt and passion. We think it’s an absolute winner,” he said.  

The Kestrel Brewing Co has launched a programme of special St. Andrew’s Day promotions and deals backed by a nationwide marketing campaign to elevate the focus on the country’s National Day. Partnerships are in place with ASDA, a range of Scottish independent and convenience stores and in the on-trade with select outlets across the Scottish pub estate.

The 80s icon lager - a finalist in this year’s Scottish Beer Awards - now comes in 5%, 7% and 9% ABV variants and is shortly to be relaunched in both new look cans and on draught.

16 November 2022

Dentons’ Scotland fundraising ball nets nearly £8,000 for two chosen charities

Tiny Changes and Beatson Cancer Charity to receive close to £4,000 each following masked ball event

Pictured left to right: Dentons’ Scotland employee associate Christie Jamieson with Katie Bruce of Tiny Changes and Davina Lockhart of the Beatson Cancer Charity [more pics via link below]

Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, netted close to £8,000 for two employee-nominated charities at its annual fundraising ball in Glasgow this autumn – the first time the event has been held since 2019 due to Covid19 pandemic restrictions.

Attended by more than 100 Dentons employees from across Scotland, the masquerade ball held at Citation Glasgow (housed, fittingly, in a former Sheriff Court building) saw a grand total of £7,910 raised through raffle tickets and event ticket sales.

The funds will be equally shared between youth mental health charity Tiny Changes, nominated by staff in Dentons’ Edinburgh office, and Beatson Cancer Charity, chosen by employees based at Dentons’ Glasgow office.

Claire Armstrong, Dentons' Scotland Managing Partner, who gave a speech at the gala evening, said: “This was the first time in a long while that Dentons has been able to hold this fabulous annual fundraiser event given all the pandemic restrictions over the past couple of years. It was wonderful to see so many people there enjoying themselves, for some meeting new colleagues and for others, catching up with old friends. I’m thrilled we managed to raise such a magnificent amount for our two chosen charities, and it was a pleasure meeting Katie and Joyce and their teams and hearing a bit more about the charities. My huge thanks to everyone for their generosity and to our social and charities teams for organising it. We are already looking forward to next year’s event!”
Tiny Changes Community Lead Katie Bruce said: “Tiny Changes are working with young people across Scotland to transform mental health care and support. The support of Dentons colleagues at their Masquerade Ball this year means the world - and we truly could not support so many children and young people's mental health without the support of people like colleagues at Dentons, we could not be here to help young minds feel better. Thank you to all at Dentons!”
Joyce Ross, corporate partnerships manager at Beatson Cancer Charity, said: “We are so grateful to Dentons for their continued support. The team have raised an amazing amount of money for us at their ball, which will allow us to help more families across the west of Scotland who are facing cancer. We are looking forward to working with the team at Dentons Glasgow as their nominated charity partner over the next year.”

Please find a folder of Dropbox images from the charity ball

About Dentons 
Dentons is the world's largest law firm, connecting talent to the world's challenges and opportunities in more than 75 countries. Dentons' legal and business solutions benefit from deep roots in our communities and award-winning advancements in client service, including Nextlaw, Dentons’ innovation and strategic advisory services. Dentons' polycentric and purpose-driven approach, commitment to inclusion and diversity, and world-class talent challenge the status quo to advance client and community interests in the New Dynamic. www.dentons.com

About Tiny Changes
Tiny Changes was set up following the death of Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison in May 2018. The charity, set up by Scott’s family, supports efforts to improve mental health in children and young people in Scotland and takes its name from a lyric from the Frightened Rabbit song “Head Rolls Off” (“While I’m alive, I’ll make tiny changes to Earth”).
Tiny Changes is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SC049112) and is Scotland’s national dedicated charity for children and young peoples’ mental health.
About Beatson Cancer Charity
Beatson Cancer Charity believes that no-one should face cancer on their own. This has always been the Beatson Cancer Charity’s aim and they work hard to continue to support even more people and families in the years to come.

14,172 patients have received therapies at the Wellbeing Centre Beatson Cancer Charity which works in close partnership with clinicians and researchers at The Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre and The Beatson Institute for Cancer Research to help to deliver life-saving research.

The Beatson is an internationally renowned cancer centre and the busiest in the UK in terms of clinical activity and patient numbers as well as being the second largest cancer centre in the UK delivering all the radiotherapy and much of the chemotherapy to the population of the West of Scotland, with a catchment area of 2.5 million people, which is around 60% of Scotland’s population. Each year The Beatson sees more than 8,000 new patients and delivers more than 25,000 courses of chemotherapy and 6,500 courses of radiotherapy.

The Beatson is staffed by some 950 highly skilled and dedicated healthcare professionals across a range of disciplines.

Find out more about Beatson Cancer Charity at: https://www.beatsoncancercharity.org

2 November 2022


Results of first South of Scotland Destination Alliance ‘barometer survey’ reveal “exceptionally challenging” picture for tourism and hospitality businesses in the region

The results of an in-depth ‘barometer survey’ of tourism and hospitality businesses in the South of Scotland paint a concerning picture of the difficulties many operators face in a worsening national and global economic climate, with one describing the cost of living crisis as ‘much, much bigger than Covid as a risk to business survival and growth’.

Published today, the findings of research carried out by the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) are a mixed bag, showing that while a majority (over 70%) are neutral or optimistic about their trading and turnover prospects in the coming year to two years, there is currently widespread and growing concern among many tourism and hospitality businesses in the region, who face increasing challenges to ‘keep the lights on’ as costs and inflation soar and consumer confidence dips. 

The vast majority of self-caterers and B&Bs expressed serious concerns about the impact of forthcoming short-term let licence requirements on their business, with two thirds of self-caterers in favour of the legislation being paused.

Stand-out statistics emerging from the barometer survey, which captured responses to over two dozen questions about their current and forthcoming operating challenges as well as ongoing plans and priorities, include:

  • More than a quarter (27%) of businesses say they may have to close permanently due to the current climate, including 50% of B&Bs
  • Rising energy, fuel and insurance costs are having the biggest impact on businesses, along with falling consumer confidence and below pre-Covid visitor numbers, both domestic and international
  • Over 50% of the respondents feel neutral or pessimistic about their businesses performance for the next 3 – 6 months, however more than two thirds (70%+) report feeling neutral or optimistic regarding the next 12 – 24 months
  • 85% of B&Bs say STL licensing will have a high impact on their business
  • 65% of self-caterers say putting a hold on STL Licensing legislation would be highly significant to their business
  • Businesses cite concerns about rates and VAT returning to normal levels despite them still being in ‘recovery mode’; those surveyed stated a freeze or reduction on those would have the biggest impact on their business
  • Feedback from those operating at lower capacity indicated staffing shortages and the cost of living crisis as reasons for lower trade
  • overwhelming priorities for the next 3-6 months are monitoring cashflow (78%), reducing overheads (68%) alongside a priority to focus on marketing (69%), actively working to become more sustainable (64%) and collaborations (63%)

Comments submitted in response to the barometer survey included:

“The current cost of living crisis feels much, much bigger than Covid as a risk to business survival and growth. This is compounded by the fear of how much it may spiral and just so many unknowns about what's to come. Staff are exhausted. We haven't had a normal year in a very long time so it's very difficult to have any kind of plan!”

Meanwhile, others expressed concern that the tourism and hospitality offer in the south of Scotland is shrinking due to twin challenges of mounting costs and short term let licensing legislation, with businesses already closing permanently.

Responding to the survey results, the SSDA’s Interim Chief Executive Melanie Allen emphasised that the tourism body will continue to do everything in its power to support its members and the wider south of Scotland visitor economy, using the “invaluable” insight provided by the survey responses to shape its immediate and medium-term priorities and activities.  

Melanie Allen said:
“This survey has given us invaluable insight into the current state of play with local tourism and hospitality businesses in the south of Scotland and we’re hugely grateful to everyone who took the time to send us their feedback. While the overall results are a bit of a mixed bag, it’s quite stark to note that a really significant proportion of regional businesses fear they may have to shut their doors for good given the exceptionally challenging economic climate we’re in just now.

“As an organisation, the SSDA is committed to supporting all our members across the south of Scotland, and we will be continually looking at ways our support will make the most impact for businesses.  Over the past year it has been rewarding to see audiences of our regional brand Scotland Starts Here grow exponentially, with this greater profile we hope to see tourism and hospitality businesses benefit from increased exposure to both domestic and international visitors.

“Over the next few months we will be engaging with businesses on marketing campaigns, tourism industry insights, webinars and workshops as additional support. We see our primary role as a facilitator of cross-industry collaboration and sharing best practice, as well as championing our members’ needs and priorities at national and UK level.

“The results show that there are significant positive opportunities to work on in terms of marketing and sustainable, collaborative working – it’s inspiring to see so many businesses genuinely intent on finding ways to make their business current, and we stand ready to do whatever we can to help.

“I will shortly be writing to MSPs on behalf of the SSDA, setting out the immediate and medium-term priorities and needs of the tourism and hospitality sectors in the south of Scotland, to inform their budget-setting and decision-making into 2023.

“And over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be rolling out campaigns focusing on the appeal of the south of Scotland for wonderful, cosy winter breaks with exceptional food and drink, as well as promoting it as an unrivalled Dark Skies destination. Meanwhile plans are moving along at pace for our second annual conference, which will take place early in 2023.”

Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA), said: 
“Scotland’s tourism industry is currently facing a multitude of challenges, from the decline in consumer spending due to the cost-of-living crisis and rise in inflation to the significant costs of merely keeping businesses open in significantly challenging times. 

“The ‘golden quarter’ of trading which is between now and the end of the year should be delivering buoyant results and high levels of business confidence, however businesses across the sector are feeling the acute impact of the current economic challenges and are simply unable to deliver the service they would wish to.  Many are closing or part closing, as the survey indicates. 

“The Scottish Tourism Alliance will continue to steer the industry through this exceptionally difficult chapter and I know the economic landscape will be the focus of many conversations with the 20+ MSPs who are attending the Tourism Industry Conference evening reception at the EICC on 9th November.”

The SSDA plans to roll out another barometer survey in the New Year to take the temperature of the industry during the difficult winter period. Two full barometer surveys of South of Scotland tourism and hospitality businesses will be carried out each year, providing invaluable insights and data to inform policymakers, organisations and business leaders right across the region.

Notes to Editors  
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 also received initial funding from the former South of Scotland Enterprise Partnership.


2 November 2022

Stack & Still serves up UK expansion into London’s Leicester Square

Pancake house announces first location outside Scotland

Stack & Still, the UK’s largest chain of pancake houses, is expanding beyond Scotland by opening a restaurant at a flagship location in London’s Leicester Square.

The Glasgow-headquartered company, who serve in excess of a million pancakes per annum is taking over a site on Irving Street that was occupied previously by American brand MOD Pizza, edging out rival bids from global brands.

The firm, which was founded by Graham Swankie and Paul Reynolds, will invest £250,000 in opening its first branch in London. It will seat 225 people spread across 5,000sq ft over three floors and an outdoor terrace.

Following a soft opening in December, Stack & Still will emulate its cinema neighbours in Leicester Square by rolling out the red carpet in January for a movie premiere-style official opening.

Ryan Hawes, the group’s executive head chef in Scotland, will move to London from Scotland to open the branch as head chef.  Ryan’s role in Scotland has been replaced by Mark Ferrari.

Earlier in his career, Mr Hawes worked as a chef de partie and a sous chef at the five-star Dorchester Hotel near London’s Hyde Park, and held two AA rosettes while he was head chef at Livingstone's Restaurant in Linlithgow, near Edinburgh.

Ryan is joined by general manager Barry McPhee who is rejoining the Stack & Still family from Franco Manco.  Barry will be supported by Lyle Maclean Beaton as assistant manager who joined Stack & Still as a bartender when the brand launched in 2018.

Stack & Still, which employs 200 people at its seven locations in Scotland, 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 long been my ambition to expand Stack & Still beyond Scotland and the move into, probably the most famous leisure destination in the UK, is testament to the strength of the brand.

“Opening our flagship pancake house in such a location will allow us to expand beyond our traditionally busy breakfast time by serving dishes throughout the day to families and international tourists.

“Guests can choose from 12 million combinations thanks to our selection of pancake bases, toppings, sauces, and other accompaniments.”

The UK’s biggest pancake house will initially open its Leicester Square site between 9am and 5pm, before moving to a 12-hour service beginning at 8am.

Stack & Still will be introducing order at table technology to order pancakes in multiple languages.

Stack & Still’s existing Scottish sites are at: West George Street in Glasgow; the Braehead, Glasgow Fort, and Silverburn shopping centres; The Centre in Livingston; the Bonnie & Wild food court in Edinburgh’s £1 billion St James Quarter shopping centre; and the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh, where it took over a flagship site from Jamie’s Italian last summer.

Stack & Still was advised on property by Oliver Wright of Wright Property.  On legals advisors were CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang for property and TLT LLP on licensing.



21 October 2022


Event during Breast Cancer Awareness Month staged by UK’s first luxury lingerie brand for women who have had a mastectomy or reconstruction

As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a ‘living statue’ of Marie Curie in Edinburgh was today fitted with a special bra designed specially for women who have had surgery following breast cancer.

The event, which took place outside the Scottish National Gallery in the heart of the capital, was staged by LoveRose, the UK’s first luxury lingerie brand for post-breast cancer surgery women.

LoveRose offers luxurious post-surgery wirefree bras and pocketed bras for women who wear prosthesis. It was founded by Caroline Kennedy Alexander after her own breast cancer experience, which involved a double mastectomy with reconstruction surgery. LoveRose is named in memory of her sister, Rose, one of two of her sisters to have died from cancer.

Alexander fitted the living statue of pioneering scientist Marie Curie – which was created and presented by artist Izabela Walkowiak-Radcliffe - with one of her new non-pocketed wirefree bras, which is designed with an inner hammock to provide extra support for women who have had a reconstruction, lumpectomy or a natural breast.

Speaking at the event, Alexander said: “Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the UK with one woman diagnosed every 10 minutes. As we mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month and pay tribute to the work of Marie Curie in her treatment of cancer, I want to first of all remind women to check their breasts regularly for potential signs of breast cancer.
“I also want to show women who have been through breast cancer surgery that they don’t have to settle for bland bras. I know from my own experience with breast cancer and surgery that it’s not just the physical scars that need healed, it’s the emotional scars too. Our bras are made in beautiful mood-boosting colours and luxurious fabrics designed to make women feel good after surgery.”

Notes to Editors:

Full set of images free to use HERE. Photo Credit Lloyd Smith.

About LoveRose Lingerie

LoveRose Lingerie is the world’s first luxury post-breast cancer surgery lingerie brandInspirational entrepreneur Caroline Kennedy Alexander founded the brand after spotting a gap in the market following her own double mastectomy when she battled the disease for the second time.

Frustrated by the unattractive, utilitarian underwear options exclusively available at the time, she pivoted her career as a sculptor and set about designing a range of luxury underwear that helps women to feel empowered, sexy and desirable again, while also meeting their unique physical needs following cancer treatment, which include pockets for prosthesis and wireless options.

Breast Cancer statistics

  • Over a third (39%) of women in the UK do not check their breasts regularly for potential signs of cancer 
  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the UK with one woman diagnosed every 10 minutes. 
  • Around 55,000 and 370 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK. 
  • In Scotland, every year around 4,700 people are diagnosed with breast cancer 
  • One in seven women in the UK will develop breast cancer in their lifetime 
  • Eight out of 10 cased of breast cancer are diagnosed in woman aged 50 and over. 
  • Every year around 11,500 women and 85 men die from breast cancer in the UK. (Breast cancer now 2021). 

18 October 2022


After swimming 900 miles, 23-year-old Jasmine Harrison is the first woman in the world to swim from Land’s End to John O’Groats - having previously become the youngest woman in the world to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean

After swimming through 1000s of jellyfish, being followed by a shark, suffering from ‘salt mouth’ and encountering a massive live military exercise, 23-year-old Jasmine Harrison has become the first woman in the world to swim the full length of Britain.

The intrepid swimming teacher and motivational speaker from Thirsk in North Yorkshire completed the gruelling 900-mile swim from Land’s End up to John O’Groats at 1643 on Tuesday 18 October where she was greeted by her dog Bonnie, and parents Susan and Keith, having first entered the water at Land’s End in western Cornwall on Friday 1st July.

It’s a second remarkable record for Harrison – in 2021, aged 21, she became the youngest woman in the world to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

She swam between 4 and 12 hours a day, often in two shifts, broken up by eating and sleeping in her support boat. Much of her swimming took place at night under moonlight, with the dark concealing unnerving surprises such as the approach of a massive whale which swam only a metre below her.

In total, Harrison spent around 110 days in total swimming, with other days spent waiting for bad weather to pass, or managing logistics like refuelling, crew changes and boat maintenance.

Having completed the challenge, which is the equivalent of swimming almost 58,000 lengths of a 25m pool, Harrison, a motivational speaker with Speaker Buzz, will now carry out a series of speaking engagements with organisations to help share her insights on issues such as resilience and establishing an ‘anything-is-possible’ mindset.

During her challenge, Harrison had to contend with numerous difficulties including cold water, busy shipping lanes, painful chafing from her wetsuit and ‘salt mouth’, a condition which strips skin from the tongue and throat and makes it hard to swallow.

She also had to contend with the mental challenges of the swim. Each day she would put in a consistent effort and keep the same pace, but some swims saw so little distance gained it was hard not to become dispirited. At one point in the Bristol Channel she only progressed three miles in six hours, which was very tough for her mentally.

Jellyfish proved one of the most difficult obstacles, with Harrison suffering multiple stings to her face, hands, and feet. During the challenge, she wore a neoprene mask fashioned from a swimming hood to protect her face, which helped – except when tiny baby jellyfish drifted into her mouth!

She was also closely followed by a basking shark, swam through the legendary whirlpools of the Corryvreckan Gulf in Scotland and, at one point, even found herself swimming as live rounds flew overhead during Exercise Joint Warrior, the largest military exercise in Europe which was taking place in Cape Wrath in north-west Scotland.

More pleasant experiences included swimming alongside whales, dolphins and seals, passing under Skye Bridge and soaking up the striking scenery on the coast of Scotland and a series of stunning sunsets. To provide much-needed energy for the extreme challenge, Harrison ate a normal diet, supplemented with plenty of chocolate bars.

Harrison, who is a county ambassador for Girlguiding North Yorkshire North East, undertook the challenge to inspire others and also in support of two charities; Sea Shepherd UK, a marine conservation charity whose aim is to end the destruction of habitats and poaching of marine wildlife; and Surfers Against Sewage, an environmental charity working to keep UK coasts safe and clean.

Harrison said: “From the moment I first dived into the water to finally reaching dry land again, this has been a truly epic experience. From all the jellyfish to the constant cold and chafing from my wetsuit, it’s been really tough, but at the time it was also incredibly rewarding.

“From the beautiful wildlife I’ve seen to the litter I’ve sadly encountered, this given me a greater appreciation of how beautiful but fragile our marine ecosystem really is.

“This challenge has further inspired me to work with organisations driven by protecting the environment and I hope too that by doing this I have inspired others and shown that when you put your mind to something, anything is possible and you can overcome any obstacles that are put in your way.

“I’m looking forward to relaxing, getting a good night’s sleep, spending time with my dog and then getting out to share my story to help inspire others!”

Harrison’s trip was supported by several sponsors including All Steels Trading LTD, Langver Engineering, Dresser-Solar, Econ Engineering, TWC Group and CleanEco Group.

Notes to editors

A selection of images and footage is available from DropBox here – please credit where stated https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/9fgc8fjh2bxfyzu7bctgi/h?dl=0&rlkey=vbqpi3m8pvgvorlrioiei0fkg

  • Harrison swam between 4 and 11 hours a day, an average swim was 5 hours.  The longest swim was 12 hours and the max distance swum in any 1 swim was 14 nautical miles. 
  • The max distance covered in any one day was 27 nautical miles - that was swimming past Wales.
  • Moving average pace has been 2.4mph, and her top speed was 16.1mph (Corryvreckan).
  • In total, Harrison spent around 110 days in total swimming. Not every day since the start of the challenge was swim day due to weather and tides and logistics like refuelling, crew changes and boat maintenance.

6 October 2022

Post-breast cancer surgery luxury lingerie brand closes £300,000 investment round, including £200,000 from private investor after emotional Dragons’ Den appearance

A London-based investor who already operates in a retail environment has invested £200,000 in the luxury post-breast cancer surgery brand LoveRose Lingerie after watching founder Caroline Kennedy Alexander’s emotional appearance on BBC One series Dragons’ Den.

The investor, who wishes to keep their identity private, was moved to invest in the UK’s first luxury lingerie brand developed specifically for post breast cancer surgery, after being impressed by the Edinburgh-based brand’s business ethos and following their own personal experience of breast cancer. 

The investment will help accelerate the brand’s growth, through developing brand awareness and expanding the product line offering, which will include a new Essentials line due to be launched later this year. This new range will allow more post-breast cancer surgery women - and also the many non-cancer consumers who have been purchasing the products - to wear LoveRose. 

LoveRose is also expanding its portfolio of business mentors and advisers to work on elevating the brand.  Current advisers include Christian Maher, a former director of lingerie brand La Perla, and Yvonne Webb, a former national account manager at chocolate maker Cadbury.  Work is already under way to collaborate with relevant UK charities and organisations supporting cancer patients through their recovery. 

Ms Alexander said: “It’s fantastic news to have successfully closed a round of £300,000 investment – including this £200,000 commitment from our latest private investor. I am enormously excited about the potential for the LoveRose brand, which is about so much more than just bras – we put the emotional and psychological needs of our clients first. This is a market that’s shockingly under-served and so we’re helping to fill a massive and pressing unmet need.  

“Our post-surgery bras give our customers confidence and renewed self-esteem.  Unlike other post-operation underwear, which tends to be bland, matronly, and synthetic, our lingerie is designed with wire-free engineering and crafted luxuriously.”

LoveRose began when founder Caroline Kennedy Alexander spotted a gap in the market for luxury lingerie while she was recovering from her own cancer journey, of a double mastectomy and reconstruction. LoveRose is named in memory of her sister, Rose, one of two of her sisters to have died from cancer. Ms Alexander is one of six sisters, four of whom, including Caroline, have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

The innovative LoveRose collection includes pocketed bras for women who wear prosthesis and hidden support hammocks to negate the need for damaging underwires, while providing full support for the breasts or prosthesis. LoveRose’s range has also proven popular with consumers who haven’t experienced breast cancer but who love its design, comfort and quality.

One in seven women in the UK will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime and it is the most common cancer in the UK.  Survival rates have doubled in the last 40 years, with more than 500,000 women currently living well after treatment. 

4 October 2022


Brewing industry veteran and Scotland’s national chef call for revamp of the National Day

A leading brewing industry veteran and Scotland’s National Chef, Gary Maclean have called on the Scottish retail and hospitality trades to get behind a new campaign to make the country’s National Day – St. Andrew’s Day - a major moment in the annual calendar.

Nigel McNally who spearheaded the trade rebirth of St. George’s Day in England - and who bought and re-engineered the Glasgow brewed beer brand Kestrel in 2012 - estimates that Scotland’s supermarkets and local retailers alongside beleaguered pubs, bars and restaurants could be missing out on turnover of up to £40 million by not focusing promotional attention on St. Andrew’s Day.

It is estimated that St Patrick’s Day contributes an annual 58.3m euros to the Irish economy. It attracts a spend of $5.14 billion annually in the US alone.

Glaswegian Masterchef The Professionals winner and Scotland’s National Chef, Gary Maclean said: 

“Our industry has gone through hell from lockdowns to a recovery coming in fits and starts and now with the cost-of-living crisis, rising energy and produce costs, the sector could do with a proper shot in the arm. St. Andrew’s Day has been neglected in the shadow of Burns and Hogmanay, but it’s our National Day and it seems mad not to make more of it. I believe our hospitality and retail sectors have real opportunities here and I want to do whatever I can to reshape our relationship with St. Andrew.”

McNally, drove a ten-fold increase in sales for the English premium bitter brand Bombardier on the back of St. George’s Day in the 1990s. He believes there has never been a better time to make the most of Scotland’s National Day.

“By Scottish standards, St. Andrew’s Day is a relative non-event and at a time when figures show that UK pubs lost £5.7bn of revenue from beer sales in 2021 and the retail sector remains in recovery mode with rising prices and supply chain issues, it’s time to do something about re-imagining what the National Day should look like. We know from experience that we need to galvanise the trade, make some noise and seize the opportunity staring us in the face,” said McNally.

The Kestrel Beer Co is launching a programme of special St. Andrew’s Day promotions and deals backed by a nationwide marketing campaign to elevate the focus on the country’s National Day which is dwarfed by both Burns Night and traditional Hogmanay celebrations in Scotland.

Partnerships are already in place with ASDA, a range of Scottish independent and convenience stores and in the on-trade with select outlets across the Scottish pub estate.
The 80s icon lager - a finalist in this year’s Scottish Beer Awards - now comes in 5%, 7% and 9% ABV variants and is shortly to be relaunched in both new look cans and on draught.


Notes to Editors

Kestrel Beer
Kestrel lager was a hugely popular and successful brand in the 1980s and 1990s when it was supported with much-loved advertising campaigns featuring the comedians and actors Hugh Laurie and Russ Abbot. Maintaining a loyal following in subsequent years, in 2012 its quality and potential were recognised by Nigel McNally, who decided to purchase the award-winning Kestrel lager brand and set up the Kestrel Brewing Company in order to nurture and develop it. Under his stewardship Kestrel has now returned to its Scottish roots and is being brewed using the Holy Brewing Method at a state-of-the-art facility in Glasgow, adjacent to Glasgow Cathedral. Brewing has taken place at the site since 1556, making it the oldest continuous commercial concern in Glasgow. The beer which now comes in 5%, 7% and 9% ABV variants received a gold medal from the Monde Selection Awards in 2015, a silver medal from The International Beer Challenge in 2019 and is a finalist in this year’s Scottish Beer Awards.

29 September 2022

As interest in better sleep soars, Elgin-based luxury cashmere bedding brand is poised for global expansion

Due to increasing interest in products which help people sleep better and growing demand from the hospitality industry for high-quality sustainable bedding products, luxury textiles company Ava Innes is seeking its first round of investment to support its growth across the UK and within the booming US market.

The Elgin-headquartered business founded by luxury specialist, Joan Johnston, is seeking £150,000 to increase its production and sales function for its temperature-regulating cashmere guard hair and wool duvets and Scottish wool pillows, which help people to sleep better by adjusting to their body temperature needs providing greater comfort at night. 

Only 30% of fibre brushed from cashmere goats is used in traditional knitting and weaving. The remaining fibre, called cashmere guard hair, is considered a by-product as it is too straight to be spun and therefore unsuitable for clothing and was mainly used as a source of lanolin for shampoo.

Frustrated by the waste of this unused natural cashmere by-product and identifying that cashmere guard hair is rich in keratin which is recognised for its temperature-regulating qualities, Johnston identified an opportunity to develop a unique, sustainable fabric that was recently recognised by the Intellectual Property Office as a new invention.

Johnston, ex-Creative Director for Johnstons of Elgin, spent more than 20 years’ working in the global luxury textiles industry, supplying brands such as Burberry and Ralph Lauren. She launched Ava Innes just before the pandemic, with core values built around sustainable UK-made products, that are better for people and the planet.

Heralded as the new “5-a-day”, increasing evidence is emerging highlighting the importance of sleep. It is an essential function that allows your body and mind to recharge, improves physical health and staves off disease.

Johnston explained: “Ava Innes was launched as an online business 5 months before the pandemic selling direct to the consumer, with 93% of our customers confirming a better night’s sleep.  Word-of -mouth referral has been our main success to date, but we are now receiving demand from the hospitality industry across a range of boutique hotels and luxury hotel groups.

“It has never been more crucial to choose and develop highly sustainable products that support our growing circular economy. Customers are placing increasing importance upon ensuring the brands they choose align with their personal ethics and net zero ambitions, and business owners have a responsibility to meet these needs.

“Investors have a great opportunity to demonstrate their own eco-credentials by supporting a business that places sustainability at the heart of everything we do, from our core bedding products to our packaging and commitment to exploring further sustainable best practices for our business.”

Johnston added: “Scotland has a long history of ground-breaking innovation, and I’m proud to follow in those footsteps. We are ready to embrace the next stage of our evolution and look forward to helping customers around the world get a better night’s sleep.”

The global Luxury Bedding market was valued at US$ 2429.4 million in 2021 and is projected to reach US$ 2847.9 million by 2028.

Notes to Editors

About Ava Innes
Ava Innes is a luxury sustainable bedding brand which helps people sleep better. Based in Elgin, Scotland, it specialises in a unique temperature-regulating cashmere guard hair and wool duvet, and Scottish wool pillows, which are all made in the UK. Founder Joan Johnston, ex-Creative Director for Johnstons of Elgin, spent more than 20 years’ working in the global luxury textiles industry, supplying brands such as Burberry and Ralph Lauren.

Link to photography HERE

30 August 2022


With October holidays around the corner, Edinburgh’s children create checklist of their favourite fun family-friendly places in the capital for visiting families

Photo: Hannah, 4, enjoys the ‘spinny bridge’ at Camera Obscura

From ‘beastie-hunting’ in a secret garden and walking up the volcano’ to ‘the place with the spinny bridge’,Edinburgh’s youngsters have picked 50 of their favourite fun things to see and do to help visiting families have an action-packed break in the capital.

With thoughts turning to family-friendly destinations for the October half-term holidays, Edinburgh’s littlest locals, aged from three to 15, have helped compile a handy checklist of 50 must-do experiences in the city, which was recently crowned the World’s Best City by Time Out.  

The kids’ choices, which span a range of categories, including ‘fresh air fun’, ‘sweet treats’ and ‘active adventures’, were collated through a partnership between Forever Edinburgh, the city’s official guide, and egg, Scotland’s largest online and offline platform for women.

Holly, age 9, recommended going for “a walk up the volcano”, a reference to Arthur’s Seat, the iconic hill in Holyrood Park formed from an extinct volcano. And Hannah, 4, voted for the ‘place with the spinny bridge and wobbly mirrors’, which is better known as Camera Obscura as her favourite place to go with her granny.

The project was carried out as part of Forever Edinburgh’s The Story Never Ends campaign, which is designed to encourage visitors to come to the city all year round and to discover the city’s fascinating stories.

After egg’s community of mums asked their ‘mini eggs’ to suggest their favourite things to do in Edinburgh, more than 100 recommendations were sent in, ranging from ‘beastie-hunting’ at Dr Neil’s Garden, a hidden garden in Duddingston Village to checking out the ‘Wild West Cowboy Street’ in Morningside, created by a 90s furniture store and featuring a saloon, jail and cantina!

The suggestions from the ‘mini eggs’ were submitted in return for a chance to win a fantastic bundle of tickets to experience family-friendly Edinburgh experiences, including Mercat Tours, Edinburgh Zoo, Camera Obscura, Dynamic Earth, Stack & Still, Conifox and Gladstone’s Land.

The lucky winners, sisters Hannah (4) and Megan (2) from Broughton, sent in a variety of recommendations, including Camera Obscura and Gravity trampoline centre at Fountain Park.

Hannah said: “I love the place with the spinny bridge and the wobbly mirrors. It’s my favourite place to go with my granny! We love taking pictures together in the room (Ames Room) that makes Granny look smaller than me. Next time I’m going to take my Aunty Nony and we will have so much fun. Another of my best places is Gravity - you can just bounce and bounce and have so much fun!"

Other notable suggestions sent in for the checklist included

  • spotting giraffes at Edinburgh Zoo
  • discovering dinosaurs at the National Museum of Scotland
  • paddling in streams around Blackford Hill
  • feeding goats at LOVE Gorgie City Farm
  • tucking into ‘yummy pizza at much-loved NYC-meets-Italy pizza place, Civerinos

In addition to internationally renowned visitor attractions like Edinburgh Castle and Edinburgh Zoo, the mini eggs plumped for a huge range of free or low-cost places to visit, including parks and greenspaces like the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and Cramond Village and Beach.

More unusual suggestions from the local youngsters included the little-known Wild West Cowboy Street in Morningside, as well as some of the newer destinations in the city like The Chocolatarium off the Royal Mile and Scotland’s first dog café, The Chihuahua Café on Frederick Street.

The children’s recommendations were whittled down to create a checklist of 50 family-friendly places to check out across Edinburgh, which is available to download from the Forever Edinburgh website at www.edinburgh.org/childfriendly

Fiona Hunter of Forever Edinburgh said: “Edinburgh’s a brilliant city to spend time in for people of all ages but we wanted to showcase how fabulous it is for children and families in particular. With so much to see and do it can sometimes be tricky for visitors and even residents to decide what to do first – so who better to ask for recommendations than Edinburgh’s own kids?

“We decided to collaborate with egg and its vast network to find out from our young people themselves what they enjoy doing across Edinburgh. We’re delighted by the number and range of responses that children have given across a wide range of themes – there are clearly many imaginative and adventurous young people living in and enjoying our city.

“We hope this new checklist of places for families to visit will help residents and visitors to the city alike plan days out that will really appeal to their children, from babies and toddlers through to teenagers. With the cost of living increasing, the number of free places chosen will also help everyone working within a budget. And the suggestions show that Edinburgh has something to offer throughout the year, which is very much in line with the messages of our The Story Never Ends campaign.”

Head egg Kylie Reid said: “It has been really exciting to see the amazing places chosen by our ‘mini eggs’ as their favourite destinations for a family-day out. I found it inspirational, and I’ve placed many of the choices on my own must-visit list. The sheer diversity of places picked by the kids is a reminder of just how much Edinburgh has to offer families.”

The Edinburgh ‘mini eggs’ top 50 by category
Active Adventures

  • Conifox Adventure Park
  • Lane7 Bowling
  • Fountain Park (including Volcano Falls Adventure Golf and Gravity Trampoline Park)
  • Royal Commonwealth Pool

Book Shops

  • The Edinburgh Bookshop
  • Topping & Company Booksellers of Edinburgh

Food and Drink

  • Bonnie & Wild Scottish Marketplace
  • Civerinos
  • Los Argentinos
  • Wings
  • McLarens on The Corner
  • The Chihuahua Café

Fresh Air Fun

  • Portobello Beach
  • Saughton Park and Gardens
  • The Meadows
  • Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
  • Blackford Hill
  • Colinton Tunnel
  • Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags
  • Cramond Village and Beach
  • Cammo Estate
  • Princes Street Gardens
  • Dr Neil’s Garden
  • Wild West Cowboy Street
  • Union Canal
  • Water features outside the Scottish Parliament
  • Water of Leith Walkway

Sweet Treats

  • Kaspa’s Edinburgh
  • Mary’s Milk Bar
  • Luca’s Ice Cream Shop
  • Mimi’s Bakehouse
  • Stack & Still

Toy Shops

  • Toys Galore
  • Gulliver’s Toys and Gifts
  • The LEGO® Store
  • Build-a-Bear Workshop

Visitor Attractions

  • Edinburgh Castle
  • Dynamic Earth
  • Camera Obscura & World of Illusions
  • Mercat Tours
  • National Museum of Scotland
  • Edinburgh Zoo
  • The Chocolatarium
  • Jupiter Artland
  • Craigmillar Castle
  • Gladstone’s Land
  • LOVE Gorgie Farm
  • Open-top bus tours

18 August 2022


Award-winning Hickory appointed as exclusive caterer for destination venue The Sands Centre following multi-million-pound redevelopment

Premium leisure and entertainment venue The Sands Centre in Carlisle, which is close to completing a multi-million pound redevelopment, has appointed Hickory, Scotland’s largest and fastest-growing independent catering, events and venue operators, as the exclusive catering partner.

In its first contract win outside Scotland, Hickory has fought off strong competition following a tender process to take over the catering operations at the centre, a focal point for culture and sport in the north of England. 

The Sands Centre’s £27 million transformation, funded by Carlisle City Council and operated  by GLL, is due to be complete this autumn. The venue - which will combine two existing sites at The Sands Centre and The Pools - will provide first-class entertainment, leisure, swimming and eating and drinking facilities on a single site, with estimated yearly footfall of more than one million. 

The Sands Centre’s extensive catering facilities, operated by Hickory under the new 10-year partnership, will include a new restaurant with a range of dining areas, a coffee shop with separate indoor seating, two downstairs bars, an upstairs bar and a large outdoor terrace. Hickory will also service bespoke catering packages for meetings, conferences, and celebrations in The Sands Centre’s flexible function rooms. 

With a versatile programme ranging from music and theatre to comedy and talks, some of the eclectic events drawing crowds to The Sands Centre this autumn include Blood Brothers, Russell Kane, The Proclaimers and Sarah Millican. 

James McGarry, General Manager – The Sands Centre, said: “We’re excited to be nearing completion on our multi-million pound redevelopment. Our food and drink offering must be of the highest quality to reflect our new surroundings. That is why we’ve chosen Hickory as our exclusive catering partner. During the tender process, we were immediately attracted to their proposals for our extensive catering facilities and the expertise and enthusiasm of their people. 

“Hickory clearly understands the wide range of customers that will visit The Sands Centre, the type of food and drink they will be looking for and the prestigious events we will be hosting. They also put a real emphasis on using the best local ingredients and treating staff well. We’re building a trusted relationship with Hickory and we’re pleased that our businesses share the same ethos.  We’re really looking forward to working closely with Hickory in the months and years to come.”

In 2023, The Sands Centre will host 200 professional events with capacity for over 250,000 customers. As well as its programmed events and performances, the facility will be home to a number of sporting events of regional and national significance including regional swimming galas, sports specific tournaments and competitions. 
This latest success for Edinburgh-headquartered Hickory follows a string of business wins. It recently signed a partnership with the prestigious National Museum of Scotland to offer a range of food and drink experiences for the landmark venue’s private guests. It also recently gained a new contract to operate the hospitality at the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open, alongside working with Fringe by the Sea Festival for a second year running.

Stephanie Stubbs, Hickory Managing Director, said: “We’re excited to have won the tender to take over catering operations at such an important time for The Sands Centre following its major redevelopment. This appointment marks the first step in our plan to expand outside Scotland, while continuing to grow in our home market. 

“The investment in The Sands Centre is a game-changer for Carlisle and the surrounding areas, with the venue now offering a wide range of cultural and sporting facilities that are world class. Our catering will reflect the venue’s premium position in Carlisle city centre where we’ll work with local suppliers and provide excellent employment opportunities. 

“We understand the varying needs of the customers who will be visiting The Sands Centre and we have a created distinct and tempting food and beverage proposition that will appeal to them, making The Sands a destination for locals and visitors alike.”

The Sands Centre is operated by GLL in partnership with Carlisle City Council. Established in 1993, GLL is the largest UK-based charitable social enterprise delivering leisure, health and community services. 

Operating under the Better brand, GLL manage 258 public sport and leisure centres, 113 libraries and 10 children’s centres in partnership with 50 local councils, public agencies and sporting organisations. GLL has 850,000 members and welcomes 46 million customer visits per year.

Hickory has scooped several awards, winning the accolade of Food and Drink Company of the Year at Insider’s Made in Scotland awards, and is a finalist in the Best Scottish (Independent Business) category at the Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Awards.

Hickory will continue to expand its outside bar and food festival-style service supporting large-scale events, which has to-date included the provision of innovative seasonal catering and styling for the Borders Book Festival, Bars for the Genesis Scottish Open Golf Tournament in East Lothian and the Royal Highland Show.

It also delivers events at an extensive and eclectic portfolio of venues across Scotland, including the Assembly Rooms, Royal College of Physicians, Dovecot Studios, Newhall Estate and Neidpath Castle.  It exclusively operates the new Cairns Farm Estate in the Pentland Hills and Eskmills Venue on the outskirts of Edinburgh. 

With an emphasis on sustainability, Hickory’s mission is to deliver the best events and hospitality experiences.  This is achieved by providing the highest-quality ingredients that are sourced locally by their professional culinary team and delivering the best quality seasonal food.

Stephanie Stubbs added: “One of the things that makes us stand out is the focus we put on supporting our loyal workforce through our in-house training programme, working towards ISO9001, and our early commitment to paying the Real Living Wage. Our approach encourages people to have a long-term future in the hospitality industry and this will be reflected in how we run the catering and bar service at The Sands Centre.”


17 August 2022

Armadilla surfing a wave of success as it supplies luxury accommodation pods to Wavegarden Scotland

The Scottish design and manufacturing business wins major deal from Wavegarden | The Queen’s Award for Enterprise winner Armadilla officially receives its accolade

Armadilla, a manufacturer of eco-friendly, outdoor living and working spaces, is supplying luxury holiday accommodation units to Wavegarden Scotland, the country’s first inland surfing destination, in a deal worth around £1.75 million.

In a boost to its growth plans, Armadilla is manufacturing and supplying two types of self-catering units to Wavegarden Scotland  from its hospitality range - 11 ‘Pods’ and eight ‘Waves’. This comes as Armadilla targets annual turnover of around £5m annually over the next two to three years from the pre-pandemic level of £2m.

The Scottish family-owned firm Armadilla, based in Midlothian, started building and supplying luxury pods to hotels and hospitality groups more than 10 years ago. It was a 2020 winner of a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in recognition of its innovation. The expanding business officially received its Queen’s Award when Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Midlothian, Richard Callander, visited its manufacturing site last month, where he viewed its pods and met employees.

Major construction work on Wavegarden Scotland’s £55m landmark leisure and staycation facility in Ratho on the outskirts of Edinburgh got underway last month. It is due to open in summer 2024 when it is expected to create 130 jobs, generate up to £11m for the local economy and attract more than 180,00 visitors annually. It will be set within a 60-acre country park offering waterside accommodation ideal for all groups from families to surfers and international visitors.

Archie Hunter, Armadilla managing director, said: “A number of factors attracted Wavegarden Scotland to working with us to provide luxury self-catering accommodation at its unique facility in Ratho which is sure to attract visitors from far and wide.

“We’re a local business and they were keen to support local suppliers. We’re flexible and happy to personalise our pods for clients. For example, we’re adapting our pods for this unique destination to include such features as secure areas for holidaymakers to store surfboards, along with outdoor showers.  Our offering is on a par with what guests would expect at a four- or five-star hotel. And we have always put sustainability at the heart of our design and manufacturing processes, which was another important consideration for the team.”

Armadilla’s units have natural timber cladding with a 50-year warranty and materials are sourced with the circular economy in mind. They are constructed using the principles of Passivhaus buildings. By creating a fully enveloped, well-insulated structure, energy consumption is dramatically reduced. Smart technology including Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) is also used to maintain temperature, humidity and CO2 at optimum levels.

Mr Hunter added: “Another advantage of our accommodation units that helped seal the deal with Wavegarden Scotland is their low power demand. This feature means that they can focus the power on the site to its wave machine. This isn’t the first time that our low power use has proved to be a winner with customers.”

Andy Hadden, founder of Tartan Leisure Ltd which is developing Wavegarden Scotland, said:  “Armadilla is a market leading brand, offering world class, environmentally friendly luxury accommodation.  As we create Scotland’s newest leisure and staycation facility, it’s important that we work with dynamic local businesses, so we are thrilled to be Armadilla’s flagship project for Scotland.”

Archie Hunter added: “Along with the prestige that comes with being involved in the Wavegarden Scotland project, all our Armadilla employees were give a big boost by the recent visit of Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Midlothian Richard Callander. This was a reminder of the significance of our success in winning a Queen’s Award two years ago. This award gives us great credibility in the global marketplace and is definitely helping us attract new business.”

Armadilla was founded in 2010 by Archie Hunter, who has a background in farming and hospitality, and his son Ross Hunter, chief executive, a design engineer. It now supplies clients from diverse sectors across the UK and overseas and employs 35 people.

For more information: https://armadilla.co.uk

Link to images:

11 August 2022


With Edinburgh’s world-famous festivals in full swing, local breathwork expert, Radio 1 DJ & Sunday Times bestselling author Stuart Sandeman highlights 10 of the capital’s calm spaces

With thousands of visitors enjoying Edinburgh’s world-famous festivals, local breathwork expert Stuart Sandeman, whose new book ‘Breathe In, Breathe Out’ is a Sunday Times bestseller and top three on Amazon, has teamed up with Forever Edinburgh to highlight 10 tranquil spaces in the city for visitors to take a breather in during the festival fun. 

Following Edinburgh’s recent crowning as Time Out’s Best City in the World for 2022, the joint initiative between Forever Edinburgh, The Official Guide to Edinburgh, and the wellbeing star shines a spotlight on peaceful places across the capital’s distinctive neighbourhoods.  

The top ten of tranquil spaces has been compiled as part of Forever Edinburgh’s The Story Never Ends campaign, which promotes the Capital’s ever-evolving stories and experiences to visitors and residents alike. 

Fresh from appearing on ITV’s This Morning show, breathwork expert and Radio 1 presenter Stuart Sandeman, who divides his time between Edinburgh and London, said: “One of the best things about Edinburgh is you can easily escape the hustle and take a breather in so many beautiful places across and around the city. You’re spoilt for choice, really, from waterside walks to tranquil parks, where you forget you are even in a city!  

“Although my breathwork techniques can really be done anywhere, there’s something very special about finding a peaceful space in nature to help recharge your batteries, and I’m delighted to work with Forever Edinburgh’s The Story Never Ends campaign to help even more people discover the hidden hideaways in Edinburgh’s fantastic neighbourhoods.”  


  1. Take a beautiful seafront stroll along the Seaside Award-winning 2.2-mile Portobello Beach with its classic Victorian promenade and old-world waterfront. Beach wheelchairs are free to hire for those with mobility issues, including their x8 All Terrain Power Wheelchair, perfect for exploring the sand. There’s no end of top-notch eating and drinking places for when you’ve worked up an appetite! To get there, hop on a Lothian Bus 26 or 45.  
  2. Within walking distance from the city centre, the 70-acre Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in Inverleith near Stockbridge is home to a 350-year-old collection of plants, fossil trees, tranquil water features, a Rock Garden, sculptures by Andy Goldsworthy – as well as excellent food and drink options like the John Hope Gateway café and Terrace café, serving fresh, light meals and scrumptious cakes.  
  3. The sheltered and tranquil garden at Dunbar’s Close off the Royal Mile in the heart of the Old Town is one of Edinburgh’s best-kept secrets. Laid out in the style and character of a 17th century garden, it’s accessed via a narrow, cobbled path which emerges on a parterre of clipped shrubs under a green canopy of trees. You’ll feel like you’ve discovered something few others have. 
  4. Beloved by legendary Edinburgh crime writer Ian Rankin, the Hermitage of Braid is a beautiful woodland walk along the Braid Burn below Blackford Hill in Morningside in the south of the city. Ian Rankin described this local nature reserve as a ‘little piece of wilderness in Edinburgh’, with mature trees, bridges to play Poohsticks in the stream from and hillside to clamber up. Sturdy footwear recommended! Get there by Lothian Bus: the 5, 11 and 16 all stop close by on Comiston Road (get off opposite South Morningside Primary School and walk along Braidburn Terrace) 
  5. Wind your way round the stepped and serpentine grassy mounds and three circular pools which make up Charles Jencks’ iconic 2001 ‘Landform’ sculpture in the grounds of the Modern One modern and contemporary art gallery in the West End at Belford Road. Feed your appetite as well as your soul in the gallery’s popular café with its delightful garden terrace. Walk to the gallery from the city centre or hop on an Edinburgh Coach Lines Service 13 from the city centre. 
  6. Wander along the Water of Leith, Edinburgh’s main river, and spot kingfisher, heron, otters and much more among the wildlife who make this lovely place their home. The walkway passes many areas of interest, including Colinton Village (home to Scotland’s largest historic mural in an old railway tunnel), Craiglockhart Dell, the Union Canal, Saughton Park, Murrayfield Stadium (home of the Scotland Rugby team), the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, Dean Village, Stockbridge, the Royal Botanic Garden and Leith. An audio commentary to accompany your walk is available online from the Water of Leith Conservation Trust.  
  7. Painstakingly landscaped in the 18th and 19th centuries on the drained site of what was once Edinburgh’s Nor Loch, a natural Medieval defence created on marshland in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, Princes Street Gardens are two adjacent parks forming an oasis of green space where the Old Town meets the New Town. Featuring the splendid Ross Fountain and the Ross Bandstand, home of the world-famous Hogmanay Street Party, as well as numerous eye-catching statues and sculptures, you’re sure to feel rested and restored after a visit to the gardens.  
  8. Head out to South Queensferry (via train to Dalmeny or the 43 from Lothian Country Buses) and embark on the 4.5-mile Shore Walk to the beautiful old fishing village of Cramond, one of Scotland’s most important archaeological sites and its oldest continuously occupied settlement. Starting from the Hawes Pier opposite the Hawes Inn (said to have inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Kidnapped’) under the iconic Forth Rail Bridge, the walk boasts fabulous and ever-changing views over the Forth to various islands and the Fife coastline, passing Barnbougle Castle and Dalmeny House.  
  9. A woodland walk up Corstorphine Hill near Edinburgh Zoo is the perfect way to blow off the cobwebs. Get there on the 26 bus to check out Corstorphine Tower and the Corstorphine Hill Walled Garden and enjoy some truly spectacular views in all directions: across to the Pentland Hills to the south, the Kingdom of Fife to the north, Ben Lomond in the west (on a very clear day!) and the gentle terrain and coastline of East Lothian to the east.  
  10. Commune with animals as well as nature at the small and family-friendly LOVE Gorgie Farm – a little piece of countryside in the heart of west Edinburgh. Feed the goats, meet alpacas, guinea pigs, ducks and even a tortoise at this compact city farm, where there’s also a lovely café, outdoor play area and events space. Buses 1, 2, 25, 33, 4 and X22 all stop near the farm. 

Fiona Hunter, the destination marketing manager for Forever Edinburgh and The Story Never Ends campaign, said: “Edinburgh’s a brilliant, endlessly enchanting city made up of so many fantastic and unique neighbourhoods. Each one tells its own story about what it means to be a local citizen. And if you’re looking for an idyllic spot to unwind and recharge your batteries during the August festival season – or at any time of the year! - it’s well worth taking the time to explore the hidden gems and well-loved green spaces in all corners of our city. We guarantee you’ll be glad you did!”  

More info about Edinburgh’s distinctive neighbourhoods: https://edinburgh.org/neighbourhoods/   

28 July 2022

Scottish wellness entrepreneur lands Sunday Times bestseller with debut book

Stuart Sandeman returns home to Edinburgh to launch ‘Breathe In, Breathe Out’

Edinburgh-born former Scottish judo champion-turned-breathing expert Stuart Sandeman today (28 July) returned home to launch his book ‘Breathe In, Breathe Out’ and share his message about the life-changing impact of breathwork.

Stuart, who splits his time between London and Edinburgh, unveiled his book – which has just become a Sunday Times bestseller - in the suitably peaceful surroundings of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. The former financier and DJ learned about the power of transformative breathing techniques and used it to help cope with grief after he tragically lost his girlfriend to cancer.

The Scot is now blazing a trail for the health benefits of better breathing, which can have a powerful impact on tackling stress and improving wellbeing. Such is his rising popularity that he now hosts a popular Radio 1 wellbeing series called the Decompression Session, in which he combines relaxing music with powerful breathing exercises. 

In addition to regular live breathwork sessions with his devoted 45,000+ Instagram followers, Stuart has also worked with countless major global brands including Nike, Adidas, Google and YouTube, as well as with Olympic athletes, actors and musicians through his company Breathpod to show how better breathing can reduce stress, improve mood and mindset, accelerate performance and improve productivity.

His brand new book, ‘Breathe In, Breathe Out’ - already a Sunday Times and Amazon bestseller - is a practical guide containing series of simple yet effective exercises that are guaranteed to improve people’s performance in any field.

With Stuart's daily breathing practices, people can learn to develop better focus, boost their creativity and find their flow. The book contains tools to help lessen stress and anxiety, reduce pain, and overcome loss. And readers will discover how they can use their breathing to break out of the habits, patterns and beliefs holding them back.

Speaking at his Edinburgh book launch, Stuart said: “It’s wonderful to empower people with breathing tools that can improve and transform lives. After I lost my girlfriend to cancer, I was on the brink of despair until I discovered that just by tweaking something we all do all day, every day you can rewire your brain and change the way you think and feel. I want to help as many people as I can to learn these simple yet profound techniques – they’re so easy incorporate into your daily routine and will bring so many benefits in terms of your health and happiness.”

‘Breathe In, Breathe Out’ is published by Harper Collins, HQ, £16.99. Also available in eBook and audio.

TESTIMONIALS – a selection

Georgina Cassar, Team GB Olympic gymnast – “I wish I had come across Stuart when I was training for the Olympic Games. After my session with him I felt lighter physically and mentally. We could all benefit from the work he is doing.”

Rhik Samadder, actor and Guardian columnist – “5/5. I feel shockingly peaceful and alive.
My morning’s anxiety has been replaced with an energised calm. This breathing thing is an inspiration. I think I will stick with it for the rest of my life.”

Michael Jamieson, Olympic silver medallist Team GB swimmer – “Stuart opened my eyes to the power of breathing. My sleep, mood and productivity all improve when I practise regularly.

Lisa Snowdon, TV and radio presenter – “So transforming. I feel calmer, clearer and much more confident about who I am and what I want in my life and work.”

Casper Lee, YouTuber and entrepreneur – “I went into my sessions with Stuart believing it wouldn't work. The experiences I had were out of this world. They changed my life in so many positive ways.”

Google staff feedback – “It was a real eye-opener to understand both the science behind breath and how we can actually use our breath to get us through the day, whether we need an energy boost or a calming moment. We have already started putting the techniques to work in the office as a team!”

28 July 2022


JG Thomson, the Leith-based purveyor and blender of whisky, gin and rum, becomes official spirits partner of biggest-yet East Lothian festival (5-14 August)

J.G. Thomson, the Leith-based purveyors and blenders of award-winning small-batch blended malt Scotch whisky, gin and rum, has been unveiled as the official spirits drinks partner of Fringe by the Sea arts festival in North Berwick from 5 to 14 August.

At Fringe By The Sea, which recently unveiled its biggest programme ever, the JG Thomson core range will be available across the site’s several bars. This range comprises of; Smoky Blended Malt Scotch Whisky, Rich Blended Malt Scotch Whisky, Sweet Blended Malt Scotch Whisky, Citrus Dry Gin, Bold Jamaican Rum.

A special menu of artisan cocktails featuring JG Thomson spirits will also be available at the festival which is expected to attract around 50,000 people. These serves include the G&T By The Sea featuring its Citrus Dry Gin, The Main Stage Cooler featuring its Rich Blended Malt Scotch Whisky and the Bold & Fiery featuring its Bold Jamaican Rum.

In addition, JG Thomson will have its own pop-up shop and tasting bar offering festival-goers the chance to sample its spirits and buy full bottles.

The partnership with Fringe By The Sea comes as J.G. Thomson, which was launched at the end of 2021, rolls out a new marketing campaign. This includes out-of-home advertising around Leith and Edinburgh, advertorials and content in a series of media outlets including Whisky Magazine, Decanter, Cask & Still and Scottish Field Magazine, plus a series of soon-to-be-announced partnerships with influential people and shops around the capital city.

Fringe by the Sea features a mix of local, national and international talent across music, literature, comedy, science, film and nature.  The eclectic line-up this year includes: music from such names as Texas, The Happy Mondays, and the RSNO; top comedians such as Frankie Boyle and Clive Anderson; and a rich literary offering from the likes of Alexander McCall Smith and Val McDermid.

The main setting for the festival is the Belhaven Big Top in the beautiful Lodge Grounds overlooking Bass Rock, Firth of Forth and Kingdom of Fife, with pop up events at North Berwick Library, the Scottish Seabird Centre and around the town.

J.G. Thomson was originally a wine and spirits merchant with roots dating back to the 1700s. It occupied the Vaults in Leith – the now home of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Its success saw it own three bonded warehouses and their own cooperage and its whisky was exported all over the world. Times started to change, as did its fortunes, and the last bottling was completed in Leith in 1964.

But superior quality, blending and curating is in the DNA, and that heady mix continues today with the latest incarnation of J. G. Thomson for the 21st century. Building on the same founding principles, expert blenders are creating new and exciting spirit tastes in small batches for people who want an authentic experience. Its mission is to create whiskies, gins and rums that are a little out of the ordinary, blended with discriminating taste and appeal.

Festival-goers will be able to enjoy the high-quality J.G. Thomson range while soaking up art and culture in North Berwick in August.

Ria Mcadam, Marketing Manager at J.G. Thomson said: “Our customers are discerning and looking try out new spirits tastes, whether that be small-batch Scotch whisky, gin or rum. Our outlook and approach is very much in line with Fringe by the Sea that brings art and culture to festival visitors through its broad programme of acts and events. We’re therefore excited to the official spirits drinks partner of the festival, and we’re looking forward to introducing our products to an even wider audience in the lovely setting of North Berwick, just down the coast from our home in Leith.”

Rory Steel, Fringe by the Sea festival director, said: “We’re proud of the programme we’ve put together for this year’s festival and we’re sure to attract crowds from nearby and further afield. We believe J.G. Thomson will bring a brand new element to the excellent food and drink offering we have at the festival, and we’re delighted to be partnering with such an innovative brand.”


19 July 2022

Dentons predicts more casual dining deals as The Restaurant Group snaps up Barburrito

Law firm was sole adviser to TRG on its acquisition of the Mexican chain

Experts have hailed a “strong appetite” for further consolidation in the casual dining sector after law firm Dentons advised The Restaurant Group (TRG) on its £7 million purchase of Mexican-themed chain, Barburrito.

Brian Moore, Dentons’ Edinburgh-based divisional head of corporate, who led the team that advised on the deal, said buyers with the necessary cash were eyeing opportunities in the UK and Europe.

Mr Moore, who is a respected expert on food and drink deals, having advised clients including Macallan-owner Edrington, First Milk and Nc’nean Distillery, said: “Even when their spending is being squeezed by rising inflation, consumers are still loyal to their favourite brands, especially when it comes to treating themselves to a meal out.

“Our expertise in working with branded hospitality portfolio owners means that we know there are other deals out there just waiting to be done.

“There’s definitely a strong appetite among portfolio owners to buy more hospitality brands.

“Our experience in the food and drink sector and with brand protection helped us to complete this transaction swiftly, getting the best deal for TRG.”

Dentons was the sole adviser to TRG on the deal, with Mr Moore being joined by his fellow partner Lorna McCaa from the UK tax team, along with colleagues Diana Mennie, a senior associate in its Edinburgh office, and Charlotte White, an associate in its Glasgow branch.

They were supported by tax consultant John Finnick, real estate partner Brian Hutcheson, real estate associate Graham Ronald and intellectual property partner Ross Nicol.
The law firm has a long history of working with TRG on numerous mandates.  

Dentons’ broad experience in branded hospitality portfolio deals includes advising European restaurant operator AmRest on the acquisition of Sushi Shop Group and the German operations of both Kentucky Fried Chicken and Starbucks, supporting High Bluff Capital Partners’ takeover of Church’s Chicken in the US, and running franchise masterclasses at the annual Global Restaurant Investment Forum in Dubai.

Mr Moore’s comments came after TRG unveiled plans to double Barburrito’s footprint during the next four years, focusing on the south of England.

Barburrito, which was founded in Manchester by Morgan Davies and Paul Kilpatrick in 2005, already has 16 sites in the UK.

The company has grown its like-for-like sales by 20% in the year-to-date, outperforming the 14% growth posted by the wider restaurant sector.

TRG – which owns brands including Chiquito, Frankie & Benny’s, and Wagamama – operates around 400 sites throughout the UK.

The group said: “The Barburrito proposition is well aligned with key consumer trends – including healthy eating, convenience, and customisable cuisine – and offers high-quality products at attractive prices with an average spend per customer of circa £10.

“Barburrito’s strong current trading gives us confidence in its ability to align with and extend TRG’s track record of market outperformance.

“The sites have historically generated strong returns on invested capital in excess of 30% and TRG believes there is significant scope to further develop and expand the brand, particularly in the south of England, where there is limited presence.

“The initial expansion plan would be to double the existing estate over the next four years.”

TLT and FinnCap Cavendish advised Barburrito on its sale to TRG.

8 July 2022


Forever Edinburgh unveils new music map to shine a spotlight on the city's eclectic and evolving music scene

A new music map of Edinburgh has been launched to encourage visitors and residents to explore the city’s venues, live music bars, record shops and ‘musical’ places of interest.

Acclaimed local band swim school, who recently signed a record deal with LAB Records, took a break from playing festivals across the UK to help launch the map at Sneaky Pete’s, one of Edinburgh’s most vital music venues.

The Edinburgh Music Map, which features a selection of around 50 music destinations across the capital, has been created by Forever Edinburgh, the city’s destination marketing brand, in collaboration with local music site Edinburgh Music Lovers.  

The map lists around 20 of the city’s main music venues which regularly host gigs such as Sneaky Pete’s, a recent winner of the UK’s Grassroots Music Venue of the Year; former Veterinary School, Summerhall; 5-star flagship venue The Usher Hall; and the recently rebranded O2 Academy Edinburgh.

Also included are the city’s numerous independent record shops such as newcomer Thorne Records in Bruntsfield and stalwart shops such as Underground Solu'shn, Avalanche and Assai Records. A selection of music bars across Edinburgh that host traditional live music sessions, such as Whistle Binkies, Bannermans and Sandy Bell’s, are also featured.

The map features a link to a specially curated all-Edinburgh playlist featuring music by a new wave of exciting Edinburgh bands and artists including swim school, Hamish Hawk and Callum Easter, as well as established names such as Young Fathers and The Proclaimers.

The launch of The Edinburgh Music Map, which is available to download from Forever Edinburgh’s website with a printed version expected to follow, comes at a time when the story of the city’s eclectic and evolving live music scene is entering an exciting new chapter as it emerges from the pandemic.

Edinburgh has a new venue in the pipeline, with the development of the Dunard Centre in the New Town. This 1,000-capacity concert hall will be the city’s first purpose-built venue in more than 100 years when it opens in 2026. In addition, an old venue, Leith Theatre, is being gradually brought back to life – in August, it will host a series of gigs as part of the Edinburgh International Festival.

The city is also playing host to a number of largescale events this summer such as the Connect Music Festival at the Royal Highland Centre and the Summer Sessions in Princes Street Gardens.

Alice Johnson, singer and guitarist for swim school, said: “Sneaky Pete’s is one of our favourite venues in Edinburgh. We have played the venue multiple times and also been to watch so many of our favourite bands there - whether you are on stage or in the audience, the energy and atmosphere is always amazing. You can tell it's a highly loved venue the moment you step foot in the door so we hope this map helps encourage more musicians and fans to come to Edinburgh.”

Nick Stewart, owner of the Sneaky Pete’s venue and a leading campaigner for live music in Edinburgh, said: "Edinburgh is a music city with a rich history of great gigs by outstanding touring and local acts. Its nightlife is built around music culture, and it's great to see it recognised in this map of hotspots."

Karl Chapman, Head of Heritage, Cultural Venues, Museums & Galleries at City of Edinburgh Council, said: “It’s exciting to see the launch of Edinburgh’s music map. I’m sure this will become an invaluable resource for music fans both for those who want to visit the city and also residents.

“Our music scene was hard hit by the pandemic, and it needs support to bounce back even bigger and better. I’m sure the new music map will play a key role in raising awareness of and encouraging visitors and residents to explore our eclectic music scene, along with other Forever Edinburgh initiatives, such as the recently appointed music reviewer.” 

The map is part of Forever Edinburgh’s The Story Never Ends campaign which promotes the capital’s ever-evolving stories and array of experiences that are always developing, just like its music scene, to both visitors and residents. It is also part of a drive by Forever Edinburgh to encourage visitors to explore the city’s exciting music scene by promoting it to new audiences via its website and social media channels which are viewed by millions each year.

In May, Forever Edinburgh appointed an official music reviewer to write reviews of gigs in the city that help encourage more music fans around the UK to visit Edinburgh. The reviewer, Stuart Niven, 37, a learning and development consultant from Leith with a passion for music and an interest in writing, is reviewing gigs each month by local artists and touring performers across Edinburgh venues.

More info: https://edinburgh.org/things-to-do/live-music-in-edinburgh/the-edinburgh-music-map/

6 July 2022

‘Work-surfing’ app Swurf gets investment from co-founders of Skyscanner and Boda Bars

Edinburgh-headquartered start-up expands across UK and targets global growth | Swurf appoints director in Leeds

Swurf, the innovative app that connects remote workers with welcoming spaces and hosts, has secured significant funding from two investors and appointed a director in Leeds as the ambitious Scotland-based business expands south and targets global growth.

Gareth Williams, co-founder of the internationally successful, Scotland-headquartered Skyscanner travel search engine business, and Anna Lagerqvist Christopherson, co-founder of the award-winning Boda Bar Group in Edinburgh, have put funding into Swurf to support its ongoing growth. At the same time, Swurf, the app for ‘work-surfing’, has appointed its first director outside Scotland, who will focus on growing the business in England.

Swurf was founded in Edinburgh in 2021 by Nikki Gibson, who had worked in events, sales and marketing for many years, when she spotted a gap in the market with more people working remotely during the pandemic. With many people preferring to continue to be remote workers at least some of the time, the app links individuals – Swurfers - with spaces, including hotels, bars and restaurants, where they can get on with their jobs, network and collaborate.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for May this year found that about of quarter of UK workers were adopting a hybrid model. With no sign of a rush back to the workplace full-time, people are still expected to be looking for various places to base themselves and connect with others.

Ms Gibson said: “Getting investment from Gareth and Anna represents a major step forward for Swurf as we continue to expand quickly. It’s great that successful investors and entrepreneurs of their calibre have chosen to support Swurf and have bought into our ambitious plans. Until now I have funded the business myself, as well as receiving a Scottish Government Digital Boost Grant earlier this year to further develop my app with a focus on more engagement for users and hosts.

“I came up with the idea of Swurf while working from home in Edinburgh during the pandemic. I realised people wanted somewhere they could go to work and connect with others, away from their own four walls, and venues were looking for new ways to bring in clients and generate business. The Swurf model has worked well and we continue to sign up new hosts and users across the UK as we build up our community, with an eye on global expansion. Our vision is to have a virtual network of international Swurfers.”

Swurf now has more than 2,500 registered users who have downloaded the app and over 100 hosts. Users and hosts are located across the UK, including the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Manchester, with Leeds coming on board at the end of July. Big names among hosts include Moxy Hotels, Dakota, Chaopraya and Village Hotels.

Swurf is free to download for users who can search for welcome and safe spaces where they can work and connect in their local neighbourhoods, or wherever they might be that day. It is designed to offer flexibility so people can easily pop along to a local host to work at short notice.

It generates income from charging hosts an annual subscription. Swurf plans to grow the services it offers its communities through the likes of exclusive promotions with venues and specially-tailored additions and filters for the app.

Gareth Williams said: “I was attracted to invest in Swurf because it has a real purpose, fills a gap and is building a community. I can see similarities between the Swurf concept and that of the Skyscanner business I co-founded which shook up the travel booking market and has achieved global success. Swurf is growing quickly and I can see the potential for it to be rolled out globally as remote working looks set to stay.”

Anna Lagerqvist Christopherson: “With my Boda Bars and Restaurants business I was the first host to join Swurf when it launched as I could really see the value it added for me and what a great app it was for users. Based on the success in its first year, I didn’t hesitate in deciding to invest in Swurf to support its growth across the UK and then internationally.

“I’ve worked in hospitality for more than 20 years and Swurf is an excellent way for venues to attract customers during quieter times when they are open and paying staff. This challenge of low footfall obviously came to the fore during the pandemic, but it is a constant issue for the hospitality sector, especially as outgoings, such as fuel bills and supplier costs, increase. It’s a win-win for Swurfers and venues and I can see it attracting hotels across the world.”

Carla Godsman of Moxy Hotels said:  "Moxy Hotels in Scotland are delighted to be partnering with Swurf. We are a unique hotel featuring open communal spaces that are a great location for those looking to grab a coffee (or a drink!) and get some work done. Working with Swurf has allowed us to increase our awareness in the local market and become the go-to place for those living within a 20-minute walking range."


30 June 2022

Fast-growing independent UK gin and vodka producer House of Boe launches brand home

Scotland-headquartered business opens first retail destination in South Queensferry | House of Boe sets £10m sales target as it expands

One of the UK’s fastest-growing independent gin and vodka producers, Scotland-headquartered House of Boe, is launching its first brand home and is setting an ambitious sales target as it continues to expand.

House of Boe is the leading independent gin company in Scotland by total sales, across the on-trade and off-trade, and is in the top three in the UK. The producer of a range of award-winning flavoured gins and vodkas, distilled in Stirling, has set an annual sales target of £10 million for the financial year 2022/23 as it emerges from the global pandemic when it was impacted by the closure of bars and other venues. Before Covid-19 its annual turnover was £8.5m.

Its experiential retail outlet and venue is opening in July in the popular town of South Queensferry on the outskirts of Edinburgh in the shadow of the iconic Forth Rail Bridge, following the success of a pop-up shop on the site of a former bank during the pandemic. To mark the launch, House of Boe is unveiling its first limited edition products, the Queensferry Collection of bespoke gins. Only 1,000 bottles of the Oriental spice-influenced gin will be available and they will initially be sold exclusively at the new brand home.

House of Boe sells its products mainly across the on-trade, in bars and restaurants, as well as the off-trade, such as in leading supermarket chains, including Morrisons, Tesco, Asda and the Co-op, and online. Its products can be found in almost 20,000 pubs and bars in the UK, including Green King, Marston’s, Mitchell & Butlers and Stonegate Pub Company venues, as well as independent outlets and cocktail bars, such as The Dome on George Street in the west end of Edinburgh.

The majority of its sales are in the UK, but it is also growing in popularity in Spain and plans to target other European and global markets.

The business is run by three directors with many years of experience in the drinks industry, Andrew Richardson, Carlo Valente and Graham Coull, who combine their production, marketing and sales skills.

It launched its first gin in 2007 and disrupted the market in 2016 with its inaugural flavoured product, Boe Violet Gin, when other producers were focusing on the crowded craft sector. It is the only gin from a Scottish-owned company in the UK’s top 20 best-selling flavoured gins in the on-trade.

House of Boe director Andrew Richardson said: “We have been investing in our business with the launch of new flavoured gins and vodkas and growing our employee numbers. We’re now in a strong position to open our first brand home in South Queensferry, in which we have already invested more than £200,000. This a major step for us and a sign of our confidence in future growth. We’re sure locals and visitors to the area will see our venue as a destination of choice.

“We have grown quickly over the years from a primarily Scottish to a UK-wide business. We see ourselves as risk takers, willing to stand out from the crowd, hence our move away from craft, with its production focus, to focus on the enjoyment of our drinks and their fit with our consumers’ lifestyles.

“Along with others in the drinks trade we were impacted by the closure of bars, pubs and other venues during the pandemic, but we continued to put money into our business and are now reaping the benefits. We’re on track to meet our sales target for next year and have many more exciting developments in the pipeline.”

The business has a head count of 15 - with 10 in Scotland and five in England - following a recruitment drive, including the appointment of a sales person to manage relationships with large supermarket chains across the UK. It is taking on a retail manager and other staff for its South Queensferry venue.

As well as launching new flavoured gins and diversifying into flavoured vodkas, it has recently started offering its products in pre-mixed in cans, with their calorie content clearly labelled.

House of Boe director Carlo Valente said: “We were ahead of the game when we launched our first flavoured gin. This is now the fastest growing part of the market, and we continue to innovate. With our popular range of flavoured gins and vodkas, such as raspberry and sweet basil and bramble, we have won awards for both our taste and packaging. Visitors to our experiential shop in South Queensferry can sample what we have to offer and enjoy our cocktails, while they learn more about the story behind our products.”


30 June 2022

Leading Scottish caterer set to draw the crowds at Edinburgh centre for art, craft and design

Hickory is running the newly launched café at Dovecot Studios | Venue provides a choice of healthy, delicious food and drink as well as event catering

Edinburgh has a new food and drink attraction with the launch of Dovecot Studios Café in the popular tapestry studio and centre for art, craft and design on Infirmary Street.

Hickory, Scotland’s largest independent catering, events and venue operator, is running the new Dovecot Studios Café on Infirmary Street.  The café is designed to appeal to locals and international tourists alike, especially lovers of art and design.:

Dovecot Studios Café, in its exclusive partnership with Hickory, offers up a healthy, seasonal delicious menu. With changing daily specials, it is a perfect spot in the heart of the Scottish capital for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and snacks. Everything is made by the expert team using locally sourced quality ingredients.

Tailored menus will be created to align with the inspiring exhibitions hosted at Dovecot Studios, which is a ‘hidden gem’ for art enthusiasts.

Exhibitions this Summer include: Alan Davie: Beginning of a Far-off World which celebrates the centenary of one of the greatest Scottish artists of the 20th century; Raphael - Magister Rafaello, an audio-visual exploration and UK première of the most famous Italian Renaissance artist who worked in tapestry; and The Modern Institute: Space Forgets You, celebrating the international work of John Giorno, Julia Chiang, Arrange Whatever Pieces Come Your Way and Marc Hundley. Dovecot is part of Edinburgh Art Festival and Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and in August, Dazzle, the major annual jewellery exhibition, returns to Dovecot for its 40th Edinburgh Festival exhibition.

The Dovecot Studios Café is open 9.30am to 5pm Monday to Saturday, and on Sundays in August.

Hickory will also provide catering for exclusive-use events held at Dovecot Studios by a range of prestigious organisations.

Claire McHardy, Head of Commercial and Operations at Dovecot, said: “The Dovecot Studios Café is a terrific addition to Dovecot’s world-renowned tapestry studio, exhibitions, shop, and events. Serving excellent locally sourced food and drink throughout the day to our visitors, our ‘new look’ café is a destination in its own right.

“We are looking forward to being the venue of choice for Edinburgh Festival-goers this summer. We are delighted to be working with Hickory and look forward to a successful partnership.”

Stephanie Stubbs, Managing Director of Hickory, said: “We’re excited to have been chosen by such an iconic venue as Dovecot to run its new café and catering operations. This is an excellent addition to the Hickory portfolio of venues and events across Scotland. Customers at the Dovecot Studios Café can be assured that a delicious spread awaits them when they visit. Our team will work closely with Dovecot to create only the best offerings for customers of the café and any organisations hiring out the venue for events and meetings.”
Edinburgh-headquartered Hickory delivers events at venues across Scotland, including the Assembly Rooms, Newhall Estate, Neidpath Castle and Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. It exclusively operates the new Cairns Farm Estate in the Pentland Hills and Eskmills Venue on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

The award-winning business has also expanded its festival-style offering supporting large-scale events, including the provision of innovative seasonal catering and styling for this year’s Royal Highland Show, and bars for the Scottish Open Golf Tournament at The Renaissance Club and Fringe by the Sea in North Berwick.


13 June 2022

Scotty Brand delivers 400kg of Ayrshire potatoes to South Ayrshire Schools to celebrate the start of the Ayrshire season

Scottish food supplier Scotty Brand has celebrated the start of the Ayrshire potato season by partnering with South Ayrshire Council to deliver hundreds of kilos of Ayrshire potatoes to local schools in the Girvan area.

The first yield of Ayrshire potatoes always heralds the start of the new potato season and pupils from several South Ayrshire schools will be one of the first to enjoy this year’s harvest. 

Michael Jarvis, head of marketing at Scotty Brand, said: “The start of the Ayrshire season is always a special time for us and this year we are delighted that South Ayrshire pupils are one of the first to be able to enjoy them. Eating and buying local Scottish produce is one of our company’s main values and we are thrilled that South Ayrshire is supporting, championing and sharing this message too.”

Scotty Brand is the biggest brand for Ayrshire potatoes which are the first and finest new potatoes grown in Scotland. In 2019 they were granted PGI1 status and are now regarded as among the best in the world. It’s the Ayrshire location that provides the ideal growing conditions. This is mainly due to Ayrshire’s light sandy soil and sheltered beaches which benefit from the warming waters of the Gulf Stream, allowing farmers in Ayrshire to be able to plant their crop a few weeks earlier.

Councillor Stephen Ferry, South Ayrshire Council’s Portfolio Holder for Education said: “We are grateful to be working with Scotty Brand to provide pupils from eight schools in the area with Ayrshire’s most renowned crop. South Ayrshire Council is always keen to educate our pupils on the nutritional, environmental and economic benefits about buying and eating local seasonal produce – and you can’t get more local than Ayrshire potatoes.”

Scotty Brand will continue to celebrate the Ayrshire season at the Girvan Tattie Festival2 on 18th June. As part of the festival there will be a poetry competition, where Scotty Brand has tasked local school pupils to pen a poem all about Ayrshire’s most famous produce.  The winning poet from each school will then be invited along to the Girvan Tattie Festival to recite their poem on stage
Scotty Brand Ayrshire potatoes are widely available in selected Asda, Co-Op, Lidl, Spar, Tesco and Waitrose stores in Scotland.  The season runs from the start of June through to Autumn.
To find out more about Scotty Brand please visit www.scottybrand.com

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Issued on behalf of Scotty Brand by Beeline PR. For more information, samples, recipes or images please contact Alison Melton on Alison@beelinepr.com / 07713122119

Notes to Editors:

  • Scotty Brand was first launched in 1948 by Albert Bartlett. 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, fresh from Scotland.
  • Scotty Brand offers the finest seasonal produce such as potatoes, Ayrshire new potatoes and seasonal berries; and other products including prepared vegetables, fresh soup, delicious sausage rolls and succulent smoked salmon.
Scotty Brand stockists include Aldi ASDA, Co-op, Lidl Morrison’s, Spar, Tesco and Waitrose.

[1] Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) is a status awarded by the European Commission that protects and promotes named regional food products that have a reputation or noted characteristics specific to that area.

[2] Organised by Girvan Community Led Tourism project

7 June 2022

Dentons launches innovative advice platform to help and support Scotland’s in-house lawyers

World’s largest law firm marks its 150th anniversary in Scotland with launch of Home Grown Academy

In-house lawyers in Scotland are in good hands with the launch of a new hub for expert advice, the latest industry news, a global webinar programme and access to a network of their Scottish peers with the launch of the Home Grown Academy by Dentons, the world’s largest law firm.

The new Home Grown Academy, billed as bringing the “client experience to life in Scotland”, has been set up by Dentons to help and support in-house lawyers working in organisations across the country, offering them unparalleled access to, and personalised support from, internationally-recognised experts at the firm.

Its creation partly grew out of feedback gleaned by the firm through a series of client experience workshops. Participants shared what support and resources they would most benefit from – from expert insight and up-to-the-minute industry news to help with personal and professional development. Such insight has helped Dentons shape the Home Grown Academy.

This comprehensive hub is launching as Dentons celebrates its 150th anniversary in Scotland, having been established as Maclay, Murray & Spens at the start of the 1870s in Glasgow. The firm has grown greatly over the years and now has offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, London and Milton Keynes as well as being able to tap into a global network.

A varied programme of Home Grown Academy events is planned, including a webinar with Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist with the CBI, discussing Scotland’s economic outlook on 15 June and a session on resilience on 20 June. Deep dive topics will cover such relevant issues as combatting the threat of cyber crime with Craig Kennedy, a specialist in the White Collar and Government Investigations team at Dentons.

Dentons’ Scotland managing partner Claire Armstrong said: “As we mark our 150th anniversary in Scotland, we are not only celebrating our achievements over the past century and a half, but also looking to the future and to how Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, can support and advise in-house lawyers by sharing our knowledge, resources and expertise with the wider Scottish legal and business communities.”

Scotland partner Douglas Blyth, who is leading the programme, added: “The Home Grown Academy for in-house lawyers promises to become an indispensable resource, offering access to advice from our accomplished and approachable team of experts to help clients achieve their objectives and provide legal and advisory solutions.

“We are looking forward to sharing our knowledge and expertise, as well as highlighting timely and relevant news and information for the Home Grown Academy community. We’re here to help and I know I speak for everyone at Dentons in Scotland in offering a very warm welcome to everyone who signs up to this fantastic new platform.”

Find out more about the Home Grown Academy.

Founded in Glasgow in 1871 by David Maclay, David Murray and John Spens, Maclay Murray & Spens officially combined with Dentons in 2017 to establish Scotland’s largest global law firm.


For further information, please contact: Rosemary Gallagher, Beeline PR on 07384 507439 or rosemary@beelinepr.com or Katie Spence, Beeline PR on 07585 211652 or katie@beelinepr.com
IMAGES LINK OF CLAIRE ARMSTRONG AND DOUGLAS BLYTH: https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/73i70tpwb4jiol6yjewce/h?dl=0&rlkey=lkp7eqn5p5xurdpzg9tiolx38

About Dentons
Dentons is the world's largest law firm, connecting talent to the world's challenges and opportunities in more than 75 countries. Dentons' legal and business solutions benefit from deep roots in our communities and award-winning advancements in client service, including Nextlaw, Dentons’ innovation and strategic advisory services. Dentons' polycentric and purpose-driven approach, commitment to inclusion and diversity, and world-class talent challenge the status quo to advance client and community interests in the New Dynamic. www.dentons.com

31 May 2022


Scottish supplier teams up with Perthshire chef to create giant 70 made from 400 strawberry tarts for the Platinum Jubilee

Scottish food supplier Scotty Brand has celebrated the start of the strawberry season and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee by teaming up with a local chef and fruit grower to create a very special tasty tribute.

With their first-of-the-season strawberries hitting the shelves of Asda stores across the UK from next week (Monday 6 June), Scotty Brand teamed up with Perthshire chef and restaurateur Tim Dover to make 400 mouth-watering strawberry tarts which were assembled into a giant 70 in honour of the 70-year anniversary of the Queen’s reign.

The giant 70 was created in a field at Bruce Farms near Meigle in Perthshire, a family run farm which provides all the sweet and juicy strawberries and raspberries for Scotty Brand. The individual pastries were then donated to three care homes in Meigle, Coupar Angus and Blairgowrie as a contribution to the Jubilee celebrations being held for residents and staff. 

Michael Jarvis, head of marketing at Scotty Brand, said: “Strawberries are always an exciting addition to our portfolio during the summer months and they’re the perfect ingredient for a magical Jubilee celebration.  Scotty Brand is proud to mark the 70th anniversary of the Queen’s reign and to be helping local care homes celebrate the Platinum Jubilee in style through our collaboration with local chef Tim Dover, who’s created 400 of the most delicious-looking tarts with our berries, which are grown by the team at Bruce Farms.

“Scottish berries are hugely popular both north and south of the border and we know they’ll be enjoyed by families the length and breadth of the country this summer.  This year Scotty Brand is producing around 300 tonnes of strawberries for sale all over the UK – that’s more than the weight of a Boeing 747, or about 25 double-decker buses!”

Chef Tim Dover, who runs The Roost restaurant in Bridge of Earn with his wife, Anna, said: “It’s a real honour to work with Scotty Brand and Bruce Farms to create this magnificent strawberry tart creation to celebrate the start of the season and the Queen’s Jubilee. These really are some of the sweetest and most delicious strawberries I’ve ever tasted and it’s lovely to think how many elderly residents in the local community were able to enjoy them.”

Geoff Bruce, who heads up Bruce Farms, said: “Scottish strawberries are famous, with Perthshire being at the heart of Scotland for growing the crop.   The light, fertile soil, long summer days and mild nights provide the perfect conditions for growing sweet, juicy berries.  It is the ideal location and growing conditions that produces - and guarantees - such a delicious and fruitful crop.  Scotland’s temperate climate means that the fruit ripens more slowly than many others and is therefore sweeter and juicier.”

Scottish berries come into their prime for the summer and for seasonal events such as Wimbledon.  An on-site packing hall means the fruit is picked, packed and despatched rapidly, so the strawberries reach stores within 24 hours. Scotty Brand strawberries come in 300g punnets and will be available in selected Asda stores throughout the UK from Monday 6 June. Scotty Brand raspberries and cherries will follow in the coming weeks.

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Issued on behalf of Scotty Brand by Beeline PR.  For further information please contact Debbie Byers on debbie@beelinepr.com or 07990 570 220.

Notes to Editors:

  • Images available on this Dropbox link https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/zcmgoovolbv4tx410tsl9/h?dl=0&rlkey=gkugfqii5skqvm8xay866kx6n
  • Photography includes Tim Dover from The Roost in chef’s whites, Charles Beamish from Bruce Farms and Richard Allison the general manager of Scotty Brand in blue shirt.  Also pictured is Benjamin Byers (9) from Edinburgh at centre of number 70 – photographed at Bruce Farms in Perthshire.
  • Scotty Brand was first launched in 1948 by Albert Bartlett. 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, fresh from Scotland.
  • Scotty Brand offers the finest seasonal produce such as potatoes, Ayrshire new potatoes and seasonal berries; and other products including prepared vegetables, fresh soup, delicious sausage rolls, succulent smoked salmon, and potato salad.
  • Scotty Brand will produce an estimated 300 tonnes of strawberries during the 2022 season, equivalent to 25 double decker buses, around 43 African elephants, more than 33 Scotty dogs and heavier than a Boeing 747.
  • Scotty Brand product stockists include Aldi, ASDA, Co-op, Lidl, Morrison’s, Spar, Tesco, and Waitrose.


30 May 2022


Ardvreck School, known for its academic and adventurous education, has been selected as the only UK preparatory school to feature in the official commemorative album for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.

The Scottish school, nestled in the Perthshire countryside, was hand-picked by St James’s House to feature alongside a select number of outstanding individuals and organisations from across the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth thanks to its approach to outdoor education and enthusiasm for nurturing a love for the environment.

Featuring more than 250 photographs of Her Majesty from throughout her life, the book provides insight to a lifetime of leadership. Providing a unique window into Her Majesty’s decades of service and one of the most extraordinary lives of this or any other era.

Ali Kinge, Ardvreck School’s Headmistress, said: “It’s an immense honour for Ardvreck to have been selected to feature in the only official book published for the Platinum Jubilee Pageant. We are delighted to have been recognised as a forward-thinking prep school that paves the way for an academic and adventurous education.”

She continues: “We are very proud to be the only British prep school featured in such a timeless and prestigious publication.”

Ardvreck School is an independent boarding and day preparatory school for boys and girls aged 3–13. Pupils at Ardvreck are encouraged to cast their nets wide, to have big dreams and to be ambitious. The children have access to acres of outdoor space for exciting forest learning, sport and play; these factors make the curriculum so creative and thrilling that young minds can’t help but have a tenacious thirst for learning.

The Scottish wilderness is the greatest of all educators – and that’s certainly saying something given that Ardvreck’s actual team of terrific teachers is second to none. Their pupils are happy, well-rounded and fulfilled children who are full of hope and ambition for their futures. What is most remarkable, though, is that every one of them is completely at ease in his, or her, own skin. Through the challenges and situations to which they have been exposed, be it scrambling up a cliff, swimming in a loch, helping in the community, every child is equipped with the skills and the confidence to feel unperturbed by any situation.

Notes to Editors
A folder of images including the two photographs featured in the Platinum Jubilee album can be accessed via this link. Other images show pupils wearing flower crowns they created in honour of the Jubilee and raising the official Jubilee flag at the school.

About Ardvreck School: 
Ardvreck School is an independent boarding and day preparatory school for boys and girls aged 3–13. Located in Crieff in Perth and Kinross, it was established in 1883. 

Tucked away from the stresses and strains of modern life, in breath-taking Perthshire countryside, Ardvreck Preparatory School nurtures and educates your children in a caring, and loving, family environment.

Contact us: email marketing@ardvreckschool.co.uk  or call us 01764 653112

About St James’s House
St James’s House was announced as an Official Platinum Partner and exclusive publisher for the Platinum Jubilee Pageant, which will take place on 5 June 2022.

Titled Her Majesty The Queen: The Official Platinum Jubilee Pageant Commemorative Album, this fully illustrated coffee-table book will bear the official event emblem. It will celebrate the life and reign of Her Majesty and explore developments in the UK and around the world over the past seven decades. It will also showcase a range of aligned organisations, all selected for their transformational contribution across the spheres of culture, society, technology and business.

“Our company has a long history of producing publications for major royal celebrations,” says Richard Freed, Founder of St James’s House and the associated SJH Group. “The Platinum Jubilee Pageant is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and another fantastic opportunity for us to create the official keepsake for a major celebration.” Previous royal titles by St James’s House include publications for the Royal Navy in 2005, the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant in 2012, The Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebration at Windsor Castle in 2016, the RAF in 2018, VE Day in 2019 and the Royal British Legion in 2020.

Her Majesty The Queen: The Official Platinum Jubilee Pageant Commemorative Album is available to order at www.stjamess.org/shop.

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Issued on behalf of Ardvreck School by Beeline PR.  For further information please contact Katie Spence on katie@beelinepr.com or 07585 211652

Contact Beeline PR

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