Icons of Whisky Scotland PR Agency of the Year 2020


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

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.

Rosemary Gallagher, Director

Rosemary brings more than 25 years' experience in media and communications, including journalism, editing, public relations and marketing, to Beeline PR.

She has worked in a range of PR roles, both in-house and consultancy, in Scotland and London. After graduating, with an honours degree in Economic History followed by an MSc in Marketing, Rosemary worked in marketing and PR in Glasgow. She moved to London as a senior PR executive with a City law firm before taking up another consultancy role and gaining a postgraduate diploma in PR. She then moved into business journalism on major trade titles in London.

On returning to Scotland, she was Personal Finance Editor for The Scotsman and Business News Editor for Scotland on Sunday. She then worked in media relations for the Scottish Parliament, and was Head of Communications at the Scotch Whisky Association, before becoming a director with Muckle Media PR.

As well as now being a director with Beeline PR, Rosemary is a freelance journalist for titles including The Times, Sunday Times and The Scotsman.

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.  

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.

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. 

Alison Melton, Consultant

Alison has over 20 years’ experience working in PR, marketing and the media. She started her career with STV as journalist and presenter contributing to GMTV, ITN and Scotland Today. 

As a PR consultant, Alison has a strong consumer focus and a great nose for news. She has worked with private, public and third sector clients developing and implementing PR, marketing, and communications strategies for many of the UK’s leading brands and companies.

Ailsa Lamond, Trainee PR Account Executive

Ailsa is a recent graduate of the University of Exeter with a degree in Geography with a proficiency in Spanish. 

A strong writer and communicator, Ailsa is working as a Trainee PR Account Executive and aims to bring new creative ideas to Beeline PR as well as learning from and assisting the rest of the team. 

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

11 January 2022

Dentons supports Edinburgh-based cell therapies leader RoslinCT on private equity investment

London, 11 January 2022 – Dentons has advised RoslinCT, a leader in advanced cell therapies contract development and manufacturing, on Global Healthcare Opportunities (GHO) Capital Partners' investment into the company.

Edinburgh-based RoslinCT was established in 2006 with support from Scottish Enterprise. It was formed through an initial spin-out from the Roslin Institute, which has a famous track record in genetic and cellular biology. Since 2014, the company has had a manufacturing base within the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Regenerative Medicine. RoslinCT has worked to advance the field of regenerative medicine and is currently at the forefront of high-quality cell therapy development and manufacturing.
With the backing of GHO, a specialist investor in global healthcare, the company will significantly increase its development and manufacturing capacity, scaling the business up to build on its best-in-class therapies and better service a growing international client base.
RoslinCT CEO Janet Downie said, 'The Dentons team provided excellent support to us throughout the transaction process and we are grateful for their expertise and professionalism in helping us with this transformational investment.'
The Dentons team was led by Head of UK Corporate Brian Moore, supported by Senior Associate Adam Knowles, TMT Partner Ross Nicol and Tax Partner Lorna McCaa.
Brian said, 'It's been a pleasure supporting such a highly skilled team in delivering this game-changing investment. The company is a real Scottish success story and has made huge advancements in life-changing cell therapies.  We look forward to supporting RoslinCT on the next stage of its growth.'
Slaughter and May acted as legal advisor to GHO.

10 January 2022

Global business leaders voice major concerns over the use of Artificial Intelligence

World's largest law firm calls for a system of 'algorethics' so that the right checks and balances can be put in place

January 10, 2022 Global business leaders harbor major concerns over the decisions and omissions made by Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems - despite the fact that 60% of companies now use them.

Dentons, the world's largest law firm, has conducted a survey of global business leaders on their organizations’ use of AI, as well as on the risks and opportunities presented by AI technologies. The results of the survey reveal that businesses around the world recognize the many benefits of AI, such as saving time by automating processes, generating data-driven business information for decision making and reducing human error in processing, while also surfacing the following areas of concern:
  • 81% cited personal data protection as a significant concern, yet only 55% of businesses actually have data protection policies for both personal and non-personal data in place.
  • Only 19% of businesses have a strategy or roadmap for AI, meaning that it is being implemented without proper consideration of the risks, the relevant legislation or the internal controls required to ensure it is well-governed.
  • 80% of business leaders report uncertainty over where liability sits for the decisions as well as omissions made by AI systems.
  • 57% harbor concerns about the potential for discrimination arising from the actions of AI systems. 
  • Depending on the area of law, between 55% and 75% are unaware of relevant AI legislation in their country, and 63% do not know which public body regulates the area.
  • Businesses are urgently looking to regulators to provide protection mechanisms on the use of AI in relation to privacy (61%), consumer protection (52%), criminal liability (46%) and intellectual property (45%).
“AI has become part of everyday life and businesses are riding a wave of optimism as they pursue growth strategies that incorporate the implementation of these fast-developing technologies,” said Giangiacomo Olivi, Dentons' Co-Head of Europe Data Privacy and Cybersecurity, Intellectual Property and Technology.
“However, global business leaders are beginning to ask serious questions about where the responsibility for good governance, regulation and compliance sits. We urgently need to start a dialogue on the controls needed to protect businesses, customers, shareholders and communities. With the release of the Dentons AI survey we are calling call for a system of "algorethics" so that the right checks and balances can be put in place. Moral considerations need to become an integral part of the development of AI technologies, balancing business objectives with a focus on people.”
The Dentons AI survey was conducted online amongst 209 global business leaders in September 2021. It was complemented by an additional 698 responses to LinkedIn polls. The survey underpins the Dentons Artificial Intelligence Guide which presents insights from Dentons lawyers on the legal and regulatory issues that businesses using AI will need to grapple with. It is supplemented with snapshots of government strategies and regulatory developments in Europe, Canada, China, India, Israel and the United States. Please click here to access the key findings of the report.
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About Dentons
Dentons is the world's largest law firm, connecting top-tier talent to the world's challenges and opportunities with 20,000 professionals including 12,000 lawyers, in more than 200 locations, in more than 80 countries. Dentons' polycentric and purpose-driven approach, commitment to inclusion and diversity, and award-winning client service challenge the status quo to advance client interests. www.dentons.com

8 December 2021


Forever Edinburgh competition offers once-in-a-lifetime chance to walk around Scotland’s capital city in the footsteps of literary giants accompanied by Ian Rankin OBE

A new competition has been launched offering a pair of literature lovers a once-in-a-lifetime prize – the chance to explore Edinburgh’s literary heritage accompanied by one of the city’s most famous writers, multiple award-winning author Ian Rankin OBE.
The competition prize package also includes return travel to Edinburgh, two nights’ accommodation at YOTEL Edinburgh, a Champagne lunch on board Royal Yacht Britannia and a tour and tasting at Holyrood Distillery.
Packed with character, Edinburghs towering spires, atmospheric Old Town and quaint cobbled lanes have inspired some of the worlds best loved writers – from Robert Louis Stevenson and Sir Walter Scott, to Irvine Welsh, Alexander McCall Smith and J.K. Rowling. Such is the city’s reputation for literature that Edinburgh became the worlds first UNESCO City of Literature in 2004.
Ian Rankin, the creator of the acclaimed Inspector Rebus novels will share the Scottish capitals literary story with the lucky winners of the competition. The competition, which can be entered at https://edinburgh.org/ian-rankin, has been launched by ForeverEdinburgh, the citys destination brand, which helps visitors and locals enjoy one of the worlds most beautiful and vibrant cities.
Run as part of Forever Edinburgh’s The Story Never Ends campaign, the competition will see the winners enjoy a unique authors-eye view’ of Edinburgh, a historic city which is drenched in literary and publishing heritage that spans centuries, and where inspiration and locations linked to world-class writing can be found around almost every corner.

Having toured the citys literary hotspots with the Rebus author, the winner and their plus one will then join him for a refreshment in his favourite watering hole, the Oxford Bar. The pub, which is well-known to Inspector Rebus fans, is located in the city’s New Town, an area that dates back 250 years.
The competition prize package, which includes return travel to Edinburgh and two nights’ accommodation at YOTEL Edinburgh, also includes the opportunity to experience Edinburgh further. In addition to the tour with Ian Rankin, the winners will enjoy other Edinburgh experiences and attractions such as:
  • a Champagne lunch on board Royal Yacht Britannia
  • tickets to Mary Kings Close
  • a tour & tasting at Holyrood Distillery
  • dinner at Fazenda restaurant
To enter the competition, visit https://edinburgh.org/ian-rankin
Edinburgh’s captivating story
Ian Rankin OBE is the winner of several national and international awards and recipient of four Crime WritersAssociation Dagger Awards, including the prestigious Diamond Dagger in 2005.
He said: “Like all the great novels, Edinburgh has a captivating story to tell that’s packed with intriguing characters, fascinating locations and many twists and turns along the way.
“It’s hard not to be inspired by a city that has such natural and architectural beauty, rich history and diverse character. I’m looking forward to sharing its literary story with the Forever Edinburgh competition winners.”
The City of Edinburgh Council Leader Adam McVey said: “We know residents have rediscovered their City as more people have wanted stay closer to home. We have also seen visitors drawn back to Edinburgh through all the seasons to take in Edinburgh’s beauty, history, vibrant culture, stories and wealth of festivals and warm hospitality.
“Edinburgh was UNESCO’s first City of Literature and it’s not surprising the capital has provided the inspiration to so many writers and been home to such a diverse range of authors.
“Through ForeverEdinburgh’s The Story Never Ends campaign we hope that residents and visitor alike will be inspired to visit again and again to create their own memories and tales in our amazing Capital city.”
The City of Edinburgh Depute Council Leader Cammy Day said: “Edinburgh has something for everyone at all times of the year, and it’s a major attraction for book lovers. Whether you’re a Harry Potter fan or love Inspector Rebus, Edinburgh offers a wealth of literary connections spanning eras, genres and tastes.”
A city with a rich literary history
Edinburghs Old and New Towns were declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1995, and the capital city became the worlds first UNESCO City of Literature in 2004.
Visitors dont have to look far to find literary references: the Scott Monument, which towers over Princes Street just a stones throw from the railway station, is dedicated to iconic Scottish author Sir Walter Scott who was born in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh also features as the distinctive setting to countless books, from Irvine Welshs Trainspotting to Dame Muriel Sparks The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and, more recently Jenni Fagans absorbing exploration of life in an Old Town tenement, Luckenbooth.
There are charming independent bookshops to explore all over Edinburgh and fascinating collections held by The Writers’ Museum, Scottish Poetry Library, Scottish Storytelling Centre and the National Library of Scotland.

The Forever Edinburgh competition is being launched as Scotland gears up for its next themed year -  Scotlands Year of Stories 2022. Led by VisitScotland it will be a celebration of the countrys immense contribution to fiction, poetry, prose and storytelling.
To enter the competition, visit https://edinburgh.org/ian-rankin
Issued on behalf of Forever Edinburgh by Beeline PR.  For further information please contact Jim Byers on Jim@beelinepr.com / 07798 876 707
Notes to editors
  • Forever Edinburgh is the City of Edinburgh Council’s destination brand which promotes Edinburgh to the world, highlighting details of places to visit, accommodation, days out itineraries, festivals and attractions.
  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism agency. Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022 will celebrate stories inspired by, written or created in Scotland.
  • Ian Rankin OBE is the author of 24 Inspector Rebus novels, and also writes under the pseudonym ‘Jack Harvey’. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, he has won multiple international literary awards, including the CWA Lifetime Achievement Award (the Diamond Dagger). He lives in Edinburgh with his wife and two sons.

2 December 2021


New video shows why Edinburgh is top dog as a destination for holiday-makers and day-trippers looking to travel with their four-legged friends

With more people becoming dog owners during the pandemic and planning to travel with their pets, a new video showing a dog’s-eye view of Edinburgh has been released to show what a ‘pup-ular’ destination Scotland’s capital city is.
With Edinburgh having been ranked as the UKs most dog-friendly destination by dog food company tails.com, the video showcases the magic of the city through the eyes of intrepid local pooch Hamish, a West Highland Terrier who lives in the Craiglockhart area of the capital.
The video was filmed as part of The Story Never Ends, a campaign by Forever Edinburgh the citys destination marketing guide. It captures the story of Hamish going ‘walkies’ around some of the city’s best-loved spots to show why Edinburgh, which is world-renowned for the story of one of the world’s most famous dogs, Greyfriars Bobby, is ideal for dogs and their humans.

Hamish begins his day in the Capital by climbing the steps up from Waverley Station and checking in to the five-star surroundings of The Balmoral, the grand hotel overlooking the bustle of Princes Street, which welcomes dogs with Welcome Amenities consisting of a bed, water bowl and treats. 
After checking out his dog bed at the hotel (and his human’s bed!), Hamish takes a short stroll to the ritzy new St James Quarter, the dynamic and dog-friendly retail and leisure district packed with shopping, dining and interactive experiences. Following a quick treat at the Lego Store, a quick ‘paws’ for a drink at one of the centre’s many water bowls, Hamish has a sniff around some of the other shops including jewelers, Goldsmiths.
The video captures how easy it is to get around the city with dogs: with Hamish taking a tram ride along Princes Street before hopping off and having a wander around Princes Street Gardens and admiring the Ross Fountain and Edinburgh Castle. 
To refuel, Hamish heads down to the Stockbridge, the village-y neighbourhood to the north of the city centre, and pops into the dog-loving restaurant, The Scran & Scallie. After the pitstop at Tom Kitchin’s renowned gastropub, Hamish heads back up to Edinburgh’s Old Town before ending the day with a visit to one of the city’s most famous and dog-friendly attractions, the Camera Obscura & World of Illusions.
The City of Edinburgh Council Leader Adam McVey said dog owners are very welcome in the capital. At this time of year, Edinburgh becomes even more vibrant with events and an even more expanded offer with Christmas and Hogmanay festivities. But throughout the year Edinburgh is a great dog-friendly destination and there is a growing number of attractions, places to stay, dine and relax which are very happy to welcome families that include four legged friends.”
Council Depute Leader Cammy Day added: “With many people becoming dog owners during the pandemic, we know there is growing demand for dog-friendly destinations. Through this video we see the fun and great companionship our furry friends give us but an important message here is also that a dog is for life, and so we encourage all owners to be responsible and seek help if they are struggling to look after their pooches this Christmas.”
Richard Cooke, General Manager at The Balmoral Hotel, said: “The Balmoral has welcomed dogs for many years and we are always excited to host our guests and their very important pups.  I have two dogs of my own, Lucy and Bear, so I truly understand the importance of caring for them as a part of the family. 
“As well as our dog friendly welcome amenities, our concierge is always on hand to provide a recommendation for dog-friendly local establishments, local dog walkers and also dog sitters. Edinburgh is made for dog-lovers, our beautiful city has meandering lanes and incredible green spaces to explore with your best friend by your side."
For inspiration on visiting Edinburgh with a dog, visit Forever Edinburghs guide to dog-friendly breaks and for more follow #ForeverEdinburgh on your social media channels
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Issued on behalf of City of Edinburgh Council by Beeline PR.  For further information please contact Debbie Byers on 07990 570 220 / debbie@beelinepr.com or Rosemary Gallagher on 07384 507 439.
Note to Editors
  • Edinburgh was ranked as the UKs most dog-friendly destination by dog food company tails.com in 2020
  • The Pet Food ManufacturersAssociation, says 3.2 million UK households acquired a pet during the pandemic. It estimates there are now 12.5 million dogs in the UK, with a dog in 33% of the nations households.
  • Selection of photography taken by Lloyd Smith and original films (long version 1 min 12 sec and social media version 36 seconds) are available here https://www.dropbox.com/sh/tmul65almo6edll/AABxbv62GOEfH4cDDQPJfQX5a?dl=0

30 November 2021


Forever Edinburgh’s ‘Resident Rewards’ initiative launches with festive offers. City residents invited to have December fun close to home – and there’s more to come!

Unmissable offers will be available to all citizens living in the Scottish capital with the launch on 1 December of the exciting ‘Resident Rewards’ scheme from Forever Edinburgh, the city’s main destination promotional channels.
‘Resident Rewards’ gets off to a festive start by giving people across Edinburgh the chance to dine out for less at one of the capital’s top restaurants, Superico on Hanover Street, throughout December. This is just the start of an amazing series of monthly offers, ranging from rewards for historic walking tours of the iconic Old Town to visiting the world’s largest Scotch whisky collection.
Forever Edinburgh is the official destination guide owned and run by City of Edinburgh Council. It has created ‘Resident Rewards’ as part of a wider winter campaign targeting domestic visitors funded by VisitScotland’s Destination and the sector marketing fund to help people living in EH postcodes make the most of the fantastic cultural, leisure and hospitality offerings across the city.
The new initiative has devised great monthly offers from local businesses, tailored for city residents to help them rediscover Edinburgh’s magic by exploring parts of their city, one of the world’s top destination, that they might never have seen before.
Details of Forever Edinburgh ‘Resident Rewards’ can be found on Edinburgh.org/residentrewards. Everyone can follow the social media hashtags #ForeverEdinburgh and #EHRewards to keep in touch. And residents can share their fun experiences of taking part in the scheme by posting photos and tagging where they have visited to show others what they can enjoy. 
To get the scheme off the ground, Forever Edinburgh has teamed up with New Town restaurant Superico on 83 Hanover Street to offer brilliant opportunities to save money on delicious dining out this December. And offers lined up for 2022 include rewards to explore the city’s streets with Mercat Tours, Edinburgh’s award-winning story tellers, and a visit to the world-renowned Scotch Whisky Experience on Castlehill. More exclusive offers will be unveiled in the new year.

The offers in December at Superico are perfect for a festive night out with friends and family or colleagues, or a delicious South American-inspired lunch while exploring Edinburgh’s Christmas. They include £30 off the food bill when at least six people choose from Superico’s ‘Festive Fiesta’ lunch and dinner sharing menu, discounts on its a la carte menu, or a free glass of prosecco wine.
The City of Edinburgh Council Leader Adam McVey said: “We are delighted to launch Forever Edinburgh’s ‘Resident Rewards’ scheme to let all our citizens experience more of the city for less. As Scotland’s capital, we’re renowned the world over for our visitor attractions, historic areas, vibrant neighbourhoods, galleries, museums, restaurants and bars. We want to make sure that our residents don’t miss out on the fun to be had on their doorsteps by working with local businesses to devise unique offers over the next few months, starting in December.”
Depute Council Leader Cammy Day added: “Through ‘Resident Rewards’ we’re partnering with a different Edinburgh business each month, and we’re delighted to start the scheme with the wonderful Superico restaurant to help city citizens have some festive fun. In the months to come we’re working with some great venues and visitor attractions, and we’re keen to let even more local businesses get involved.”
Mike Lynch from Superico said: “We’re delighted to be supporting Forever Edinburgh’s ‘Resident Rewards’ this festive season to help showcase some of the very best food, drink and hospitality on offer in the city as we countdown to Christmas. 
“At Superico, we’re really excited to be bringing our unique Latin flair and South American sunshine to the festive dining experience in Edinburgh’s New Town this Christmas.
“This new reward initiative is a great way for Edinburgh residents to enjoy the festivities with friends and family for less this Christmas.” 
Watch the Residents Rewards video here
With media queries please contact Rosemary Gallagher on 07384 507439 rosemary@beelinepr.com or Jim Byers on 07798 876707 jim@beelinepr.com or Debbie Byes on 07990 570220 debbie@beelinepr.com

17 November 2021

Businesses urged to sign up to Edinburgh Climate Compact to help reach net zero by 2030

COP26 has put focus on what companies in the capital need to do to cut emissions

With COP26 having reached its climax after intense negotiations, businesses and employers of all sizes across the Scottish capital are being urged to sign up to the Edinburgh Climate Compact, an agreement to cut emissions, as part of the city’s drive to reach net zero by 2030.

Organisations are being encouraged to follow the lead of such groups as NatWest Banking Group, Scottish Power Energy Networks, Edinburgh International Festival (EIF), Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh Trams, NHS Lothian, Edinburgh Airport and the City of Edinburgh Council by joining the Climate Compact.

The Edinburgh Climate Compact is an agreement by businesses and employers to take action within their organisations to radically cut the city’s carbon emissions and aid green recovery. Every business that signs up commits to calculate its carbon footprint, set reduction targets for emissions, develop an action plan to meet those targets and promote what they are doing to cut their climate impact.

Such a commitment is more important and timelier than ever given the focus COP26 has placed on businesses to play their part in reaching net zero. This includes the UK Government’s announcement at the summit in Glasgow that larger companies must set out detailed public plans on how they intend to reach net zero.

The Edinburgh Climate Commission, an independent group launched in February 2020 to accelerate climate action, is behind the Compact. The group is co-sponsored by the City of Edinburgh Council and the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute at the University of Edinburgh.
Councillor McVey, leader of The City of Edinburgh Council, said: “We set Edinburgh’s ambitious 2030 net zero target to play our part in fighting the climate emergency we’re all facing and we need all employers in the city to take urgent action to secure a more sustainable future for our residents.
“As Scotland’s capital and economic centre, we want to lead the way in demonstrating what cities and local authorities across Scotland can do when it comes to addressing key issues like climate change and poverty.

“Being part of the Edinburgh Climate Compact will help us to work closely with and learn from other organisations in the city about the best ways that we can change in order to reduce our emissions and ensure that sustainable and climate friendly working practices are at the core of the Council’s work.”

Commissioner Clare Foster from the Edinburgh Climate Commission said: “Being part of the Climate Compact, a supportive community of major organisations sharing challenges and achievements and working collaboratively to reach net zero, has never had more value.
“COP26 has put the spotlight on the role of business and employers in cutting emissions and supporting green recovery from the pandemic. We are pleased so many Edinburgh employers, from arts organisations to transport groups and education providers, have signed up to the Climate Compact and we’re encouraging others to follow suit.”

The Edinburgh International Festival joined the Climate Compact in June 2021 to support the city’s drive to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. Since becoming part of the agreement, the International Festival has published its Sustainability Policy and Carbon Reduction Plan setting out ambitious targets for the next decade.

These targets include to reach net-zero carbon emissions across its organisational operations by 2030 and across its artistic programme by 2045; work with partners to instil sustainability best practice from inception to delivery of the festival; and embrace new models of working with companies and orchestras to reduce carbon impact.

Roy Luxford, programme director at Edinburgh International Festival, said: “The International Festival is an unparalleled celebration of the performing arts and an annual meeting point for people of all nations. We recognise the impact that our activities can have on the environment and are committed to reducing these impacts by setting and achieving clearly defined objectives and targets. We wholeheartedly support the Edinburgh Climate Compact and its goal to inspire collaborative action across the city to tackle carbon emissions.”

Dr Anita Ogilvie, executive manager (strategy) at Edinburgh Napier University, said: “We signed the Edinburgh Climate Compact to help us play our part within Edinburgh to meet the net zero by 2030 target and wider aspirations set within the city, as well as enabling us to meet our own sustainability commitments.  We also signed so that we engage with other place-based partners, contributing our expertise and learning from best practice developed by other organisations. In the time since becoming signatories we have already made new connections and are starting to take collective action in areas where collaboration will make a real difference, which is of course the whole purpose of the Compact.”

Alongside its membership of the Climate Compact the City of Edinburgh Council is working with other public sector organisations and businesses to reach net zero. Other initiatives include:
  • Forth Ports – creating Scotland’s largest renewable energy hub at the Port of Leith with £40m of private investment. The move will support up to 1,000 high quality lon term direct jobs and about 2,000 indirect jobs.
  • The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is using its rain garden to manage flooding across the garden and to study what trees, shrubs, and wildflowers are best suited to absorb excess water after heavy rain.
  • NHS Lothian has commenced a major programme of energy efficiency works at the Western General Hospital to deliver high energy efficiency systems and low carbon technologies.
  • City of Edinburgh Council has signed a strategic Partnership with SP Energy Network to align grid development investment to the needs of the city.
For more on the Edinburgh Climate Compact: https://www.edinburghclimate.org.uk/edinburgh-climate-compact
Please see link to a selection of images: 
These include:
  • Councillor McVey
  • Commissioner Clare Foster from the Edinburgh Climate Commission
  • Roy Luxford, programme director at Edinburgh International Festival
  • Dr Anita Ogilvie, executive manager (strategy) at Edinburgh Napier University
  • The Lions’ Gate, an urban permaculture habitat at Edinburgh Napier University’s Merchiston Campus
  • Solar panels at Merchiston
  • Edinburgh International Festival shows

8 November 2021


The company behind The Scotch Malt Whisky Society revives J.G. Thomson Co heritage with launch collection of first batches of blended malt whiskies, rum and gin

A Scotland-headquartered creator of small batch blended malt whiskies, grain whiskies, rum and gin, J.G. Thomson & Co, has been launched by The Artisanal Spirits Company, the company which owns The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS).
The new brand is focused on creating high-quality, small batch spirits designed to appeal to discerning drinkers across the world who are looking for bold and innovative tastes. Drawing on Scotland’s rich heritage, the J.G. Thomson brand was inspired by its namesake, a wine and spirits merchant in Leith, the area in the north of Edinburgh, in the 1700s.
In the 18th-century, J.G. Thomson was based in the building in Leith that is now known as The Vaults - home to an SMWS members’ room and the head office of The Artisanal Spirits Company. The SMWS is regarded as the leading curator and provider of premium single cask Scotch malt whisky and has a global membership of about 30,000 paying subscribers across more than 30 countries.
The launch of the small batch spirits business is part of the ongoing growth of The Artisanal Spirits Company which floated on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in June this year with a valuation of £78 million. The flotation is allowing the business to bring new brands to market, develop the SMWS’s membership base and enhance its digital channels.
The modern-day J.G. Thomson is targeting ‘adventurous’ drinkers with the launch of its first collection of spirits which features the first batches of its core range of three no-age statement blended malt whiskies, two limited edition aged whiskies, a rum and a gin. With a focus on combining characterful spirit with high-quality casks, the blending team works closely with selected partner cooperages to either procure specific casks, or create their own customised casks, toasted and charred to defined standards.
J.G. Thomson’s spirits have already won several industry awards. At the Spirits Business Luxury Masters 2021, J.G. Thomson won a prized Master medal for Batch 1 of its rich 23-year-old blended malt Scotch whisky, plus Gold medals for all three of the first batches of its blended malts and its gin.
David Ridley, managing director at The Artisanal Spirits Company, said: “We’ve been inspired by Edinburgh’s Thomson family who became renowned for their spirits’ business back in the 1700s. The new brand will focus on creating high-quality small batch blended malt whiskies, grain whiskies, rum and gin.
“The new J.G. Thomson will be constantly on the lookout for new spirits, influences, flavours and tastes to explore from around the world to meet the growing appetite for high-quality spirits, especially the rising interest in blended malts, from discerning and adventurous drinkers looking to taste something new and extraordinary.
“This exciting launch builds on the ongoing success of our business, including The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, and is a key part of our growth plans following our landmark flotation on the stock exchange in June. We plan to grow our company through the launch of more new brands, each of which will be an independent concept with a differentiated product line.
“We’re pleased to be playing a key role in ensuring that Scotland builds on its leading position in the global spirts industry.”
Notes to editors:
Dropbox link to photography is available here
J.G. Thomson & Co
J.G. Thomson & Co is a new, adventurous blender, creating small batch blended malt whiskies, blended grain whiskies, rum and gin. Inspired its namesake, which was originally a wine and spirits merchant in Leith in the 1700s, J.G. Thomson & Co showcases exceptional quality blended malt whisky and spirits that are a little out of the ordinary, appealing to drinkers keen to continue their journey in bold taste.
All of its small batch spirits are available to order from its online shop at https://jgthomson.com/shop as well as selected trade partners.
The Artisanal Spirits Company
The Artisanal Spirits Company plc is the owner of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, the leading curator and provider of premium single cask Scotch malt whisky for sale primarily online to a discerning global membership. In June 2021, the company floated on the stock market with a valuation of £78 million.

2 November 2021


Net Zero Challenge aims to encourage citizen action across the city

Edinburgh’s residents and businesses are being urged to follow the lead of the city’s young people in taking action on climate change by joining the Council’s new Net Zero Challenge - as COP26 climate talks get underway in Scotland.
Pupils at St Peter’s RC Primary school in Morningside are doing their bit by growing produce in the school vegetable garden for use in meals and snacks, as part of the school-wide approach to support the city’s 2030 net zero target.
Pumpkins grown in the school’s vegetable garden have been used to make pumpkin muffins, apples have been turned into chutney, and other seasonal produce includes leeks and potatoes for soup. Food recycling is commonplace at the school with waste turned into compost for the vegetable garden to nurture new crops.
Pupils also turn non-recyclable plastic items such as crisp packets and snack wrappers into ‘ecobricks’. After washing the wrappers, the pupils cut them into small pieces and stuff them tightly into used bottles. The ecobricks are collected and can be joined together to make furniture and in structures for gardens and play parks.
Inspired by the pupils’ actions the City of Edinburgh Council is calling on people of all ages, and businesses, to follow their example and take part in the Net Zero Challenge and highlight through social media what they are doing to cut their carbon emissions using the #MyClimateAction hashtag.
Edinburgh residents and businesses are being encouraged to measure their carbon footprint to discover where they can take climate action in their personal life, with advice and support on hand at NetZeroEdinburgh.org
Participants taking up the Net Zero Challenge can visit NetZeroEdinburgh.org  which features ideas on how residents and business can make a difference - such as:
  • calculating your carbon footprint
  • looking at the way you heat and power your home to make it more energy efficient
  • choosing public transport or trips by foot or bike
  • thinking about what you buy and where you buy it from to make things last.
Council leader Adam McVey said: “Edinburgh’s young people are strongly advocating for change and explaining why we need to tackle climate change to secure their future. We know our residents and businesses understand the need to change to get to net-zero.
“Awareness of climate change and the impacts on our city has never been higher, but we know from recent climate consultations that some people are still unsure of where they can start taking action. 

“Measuring your carbon footprint is free and easy to do. And it lets you know the areas of life where you can make the biggest impact on your personal emissions.  

“With COP26 taking place in Scotland, this is the perfect opportunity for all of us across our Capital to work together and take steps to cut our emissions. By all working together we can make a difference and hit net-zero by 2030 and secure the future of our children and grandchildren.”
Depute Leader Cammy Day added: “Hitting Edinburgh’s net zero target by 2030 is something that everyone who lives and works in the city will need to play their part in. That’s why it’s really great to see the pupils at St Peter’s leading the way on climate action within their school as small changes do add up as we all do something different.
“That’s why we’ve launched the Net Zero Challenge as a quick and easy way to find out how you can help make a difference and create a cleaner, greener city. Because we all have a responsibility to act now and play our part in protecting our city for generations to come.”
Teacher Catherine McCabe, who helps lead St Peter’s sustainable activities, said: “Taking steps to be more sustainable and cutting our carbon footprint has become part of daily life at school. Whether it’s growing food in our vegetable garden, making compost from food waste or turning crisp wrappers into building blocks that can be used in making furniture, the kids are so involved in playing their part, from nursery and as they move through the school.
“It’s really inspiring to see the children getting so hands-on at this age and developing such good habits they can carry through their lives and, along the way, inspire others in the city to do their bit to take action on climate change.”
For more information Visit Net Zero Challenge
Link to high res images: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/locb0lmdterbnxy/AAD1_xtYVN-hTGcC4IdcFEIia?dl=0
Film on the Net Zero Challenge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5aA9biGf9A
Please contact Rosemary Gallagher rosemary@beelinepr.com 07834 507439 or Jim Byers jim@beelinepr.com 07798 876707 with queries.
  • With a pumpkin grown in their eco-garden are Max Malaszuk (with pumpkin), and fellow P5 pupils (from left):  Cormac Cheape, Max Kelly and Scarlet Durkan
Photography: Colin Hattersley

4 October 2021

Beeline PR celebrates growth as agency hits 10 years in business

The Edinburgh-based strategic communications agency has marked the significant milestone with the appointment of journalist and PR specialist, Rosemary Gallagher as Director

Beeline PR has today announced the appointment of Rosemary Gallagher as Director as the agency celebrates a decade in business.
An established PR consultant and freelance business journalist, Rosemary brings with her more than 25 years of industry experience. At Beeline PR, she will focus on managing and developing relationships with key clients, generating new business in sectors such as financial services, environmental companies and the whisky industry.
Previous positions held by Rosemary include Head of Communications at the Scotch Whisky Association, as well as Business News Editor for Scotland on Sunday and Personal Finance Editor at The Scotsman. Most recently she was a director with PR consultancy Muckle Media. Alongside her role at Beeline PR, Rosemary will continue to write on a freelance basis for a range of titles including The Times in Scotland, The Scotsman and The Sunday Times and edit various business supplements.
Rosemary’s appointment comes at a time of significant growth for the agency following a series of new business wins, including work with Dentons, Mark Littler Whisky Broker, The South of Scotland Destination Alliance and green energy business, A-DEUS.
Beeline PR was set up in 2011 by Debbie Byers who had already enjoyed 15 years working in PR for several large agencies in London, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Debbie setup Beeline PR with a desire to combine her passion and skills with interesting clients to create innovative, exciting communications campaigns.
She said: “It’s thrilling to have reached such an important milestone in the business, and to do so with the appointment of Rosemary is extremely exciting. I first met Rosemary while working in London more than 20 years ago. She brings with her a fantastic mix of experience in PR and journalism and I know that she is going to be a great fit with our agency.
“In 10 years of business, we have worked with almost 100 clients and are proud to say that much of our growth has been organic. We have only ever had to pitch for business a handful of times as most of our clients come on board through historical relationships, word-of-mouth business referrals and positive agency collaborations.”
Located at 1 Lochrin Square in Edinburgh, Beeline PR is led by Debbie, her husband Jim and a team of experienced freelance consultants working across a range of national and international campaigns for a variety of corporate and consumer clients, including professional services firms and food and drink companies.
Earlier in 2021, Beeline PR appointed well-known business advisor and entrepreneur Tino Nombro to the position of non-executive director to help drive growth for the agency and its sister business, Speaker Buzz, a purpose-led motivational speaker agency established in 2018. 
With guidance from Nombro, Beeline PR has ambitious plans to double its revenue in 2022 and grow its core team of PR consultants. As well as Rosemary’s appointment, Beeline PR has brought on board Victoria Henry, PR freelancer and former Account Director at Hot Tin Roof PR, who will deliver work from her base in Hong Kong.
Keen to remain involved in Scottish business, Debbie is a former Chair of CIPR Scotland and recently joined the Executive Team at WeDO Scotland, an organisation dedicated to supporting Scottish entrepreneurs and businesses to maximise growth potential.

16 September 2021


Andrew Clark-Hutchison opens Scotland’s most southerly distillery in Kirkcudbright and releases first gin, Sky Garden

Having quit a job in finance to follow his passion for working in the drinks industry, Andrew Clark-Hutchison has opened Scotland’s most southerly distillery, The Dark Art Distillery, in Kirkcudbright and bottled his first batch of gin, Sky Garden.

Clark-Hutchison has established the craft gin distillery and visitor centre in the picturesque town in Dumfries and Galloway, South West Scotland where his family have lived for generations. The distillery’s gin still is named ‘Peggy’, after Clark-Hutchison’s grandmother who hailed from Kirkcudbright.

The Dark Art Distillery and visitor centre, which takes its name from the exceptional dark night skies of the nearby Galloway Forest Park and Kirkcudbright’s reputation as The Artists’ Town, has been built in two former classrooms of the old Johnston School in Kirkcudbright, which closed in 2010.

The distillery forms part of the redevelopment of the 19th century school building which has been led by the Kirkcudbright Development Trust. The distillery’s neighbours include the Dark Space Planetarium and the Wee Pottery Studio.

The initial idea and plans for The Dark Art Distillery were born in 2017, inspired by Clark-Hutchison’s work with many companies in the drink and hospitality sectors during his career in banking.

His dream of setting up a gin distillery took a major step towards reality after Clark-Hutchison won the inaugural Guy & Co-Creation Award in 2018. Guy & Co is a creative and research agency that gives brands the confidence to challenge for bravely effective results.
They ran a national competition to pick an entrepreneur they could support through their unique blend of insight development, brand creation and consumer testing that helps de-risk brand launches and re-launches. The prize bundle also included packaging by Guy & Co, PR support from Beeline PR and financial advice from French Duncan.

With additional funding from the Dumfries & Galloway LEADER programme, building work began during the latter part of 2019 and early 2020 before being halted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sky Garden Gin

The Dark Art Distillery’s first creation is Sky Garden Gin (£36), a premium Scottish craft gin which is inspired by the crystal clear skies of the nearby Galloway Forest Park which are particularly stunning in the evening. 

A classic dry gin, it contains 18 different botanicals, including lavender and calamint, along with some which only blossom at night time and are grown in a local nursery one mile from the distillery. Sky Garden Gin will be available to buy at the distillery or from its website, while it will also be available in selected bars.

The distillery’s gin production is steered by distiller Fiona Williamson, formerly of Raasay Distillery and a graduate of the renowned MSc in Brewing & Distilling at Heriot Watt University, using a 450L still named ‘Peggy’, which is named after Clark-Hutchison’s grandmother.

Commenting on opening the distillery, Clark-Hutchison said: “It’s incredibly exciting to open the distillery and see my dream come true. My family has a very close connection with Kirkcudbright and the surrounding area so it’s wonderful to return home as it were. I believe we can attract many new visitors to Kirkcudbright and the wider Dumfries and Galloway region, which remains something of a hidden gem that many people have yet to discover.”

“I’d like to thank everyone who has been involved in getting The Dark Art Distillery to this point. Winning the Guy & Co-Creation Award was hugely helpful in giving the project momentum. The subsequent funding from Dumfries & Galloway LEADER programme was vital and we’ve had excellent support throughout from the Kirkcudbright Development Trust. My thanks also go out to Francey Joiners & Shopfitters for their work on the Visitor Centre, Mabbett & Associates Ltd. and Fabweld Ltd for work on the production centre of the distillery, and Carl Gmbh for creating our stunning gin still.”

The distillery’s Visitor Centre, which hosts regular tours and gin tastings, features striking artworks reflecting the area’s artistic reputation, including Kirkcudbright Gin Alley, a piece by Scottish artist Carol del Angel, and a largescale wall mural by French, London-based street artist, Zabou. 

The distillery has recruited two members of staff to host tours and gin tastings. It is hoped that as interest in the distillery and visitor centre grows, up to five new jobs will be created within a year of opening.

Facebook/Instagram @darkartdistillery

16 September 2021


Midge expert warns that warm, wet weather on the way will see midges out in full force and suggests the south of Scotland as a safe bet to beat the bugs

They are the curse of the great Scottish outdoors, while recent warm, wet conditions and a boom in holidaymakers have given midges the perfect conditions to thrive and survive.
Now smart holiday goers looking to take a late-summer September break in Scotland, or planning a break in 2022, can unlock the secret to escaping midge mayhem: by swapping the spots where they are at their worst for the south of Scotland instead.
A midge expert says research has shown certain west coast Highland holiday hot spots have around 850 times the number of pesky pests than were found at one Scottish Borders location.
There are also concerns that high levels of midges in some Highland locations are unusually extreme, raising the prospect of weeks more midge madness to come.
With the warm, damp conditions expected to stretch the midge season into late September, holiday goers planning an end-of-summer break in Scotland, or a trip next year, may wish to consider heading for the south and southeast of Scotland, where the bugs are at a minimum.
Expert Dr Alison Blackwell, founder of insect repellent, Smidge, said this summer has been a “perfect season” for midges, with the mix of warm and wet weather providing ideal breeding conditions and a boom in staycationers bringing ample nourishment.
Midges breed in damp, acidic soil such as peat bogs, which is what makes them much more prevalent in the west and northwest of Scotland,” she said.
“Because the south and southeast don't have this kind of habitat, fewer midges are typically found in these areas.”
Dr Blackwell has created ‘The Midge Forecast’ which uses data from midge traps and mini-weather stations to build up a picture of where the midges are at their worst, ranking locations from Level 1, where midge levels are at their lowest, to Level 5, the highest levels.
She added: “At our site in Stow in the Borders, the maximum number of midges caught on one occasion was 2,400 in 5 days, which is significantly less than the 2 million that were caught in Argyll on the west coast over that same time period.
In recent days, ‘The Midge Forecast’ has shown areas such as Glencoe and nearby Ballachuilish at a ‘bite-tastic’ Level 5. Mallaig, Dalwhinnie, Aviemore and Spean Bridge are among the locations ranking at level 4.
Meanwhile, areas stretching from Stranraer to Dumfries and Galashiels all ranked just Level 1.
It means there’s little to worry about for those seeking to explore the picturesque and history rich areas of the south and southeast, while adventure seekers enjoying the action of mountain biking at Glentress or the more sedate Borders cycle trails are unlikely to encounter much midge mayhem.
However, the ‘Level 5’ ranking elsewhere is cause for concern: “We would never normally have ‘5s’ this time of the season,” Dr Blackwell added.
Staycationers looking for the ideal midge-free environment may seriously want to consider heading south for their holiday.
“Midges tend not to thrive in areas that are exposed, are on higher ground or are prone to high winds, so sticking close to the coastline and visiting villages like Eyemouth and Coldingham is a safe bet.
“If you really cant resist the west coast then consider heading southwest to Dumfries and Galloway. Locations like Mull of Galloway are not only stunning but are more exposed and therefore less likely to see midges.
Jemma Reid, Project Manager at the South of Scotland Destination Alliance, said: Let’s be honest, midges are a complete nuisance, so we welcome the news that the south of Scotland is home to less midges than our northern neighbours.
And in even better news, following the events of the past year we are delighted to say that the south of Scotland is very much open for business and is looking forward to welcoming staycationers eager to explore our beautiful part of the world.
The Borders and Dumfries and Galloway are often overlooked by tourists who favour the scenery of the Scottish Highlands or the buzz of our cities, but the south has just as much to offer.
“Whether it be thrill seeking on the biking trails of Glentress, sampling the freshest oysters Stranraer has to offer or enjoying a dram at The Borders Distillery, there really is something for everyone, so we urge people to come and visit us to see where Scotland starts.
Notes to editors
The South Of Scotland Destination Alliance is the strategic Destination Management and Marketing Organisation for the South of Scotland, encompassing Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders. Its ambition is to transform the South of Scotland into a year-round world class destination, growing tourism spend in the region to £1bn by 2030 and creating an additional 6500 jobs.

14 September 2021


With a relatively recent bottle of whisky seeing an unsustainable 5000% rise in value in just six years, whisky broker Mark Littler launches a guide to help new investors understand the market and its risks

With increased interest in rare whisky bottles as an investment and signs of an unsustainable ‘bubble’ developing around one of the most popular releases of recent times, a whisky broker has launched the first-ever comprehensive guide to help educate budding investors.
The 80-page Whisky Bottle Investment Guide has been created by prominent UK whisky broker Mark Littler to ‘cut through the hyperbole and bust some of the whisky investment myths’ that have developed around the rare whisky bottle market in recent years – a market which has seen bottles being sold for more than £1 million and a relatively recent bottle rising in value by almost 5,000% in just six years.
The first-of-its-kind Whisky Bottle Investment Guide introduces new investors to the fundamentals of the whisky market, its history, the basics of Indexes, where to find data for market analysis and how perceptions of whisky have changed. 
It also explores in detail the crucial difference between vintage and modern bottles, with Littler highlighting how some rare modern bottles have seen an unsustainable ‘stratospheric change in value’. As part of research for a forthcoming Collectors And Investment Report that looks at specific whisky bottles, which is to be released next week, Littler reveals how one relatively recent bottle of The Macallan has risen in value by almost 5,000% in just six years, suggesting a bubble is developing around that sought-after release.
Whisky expert Blair Bowman, who has written about the risks of investing in whisky recently, has welcomed the guide as an ideal reference point for anyone considering buying bottles, describing it as ‘incredibly comprehensive’.
Some key insights from Littler’s Whisky Bottle Investment Guide include:
  • Understanding the risk in investing in modern bottles and spotting ‘bubbles’ around certain sought-after bottles
  • Knowing how to differentiate between different whisky indexes and find relevant data
  • Learning how to beat the bots and bottle flippers to avoid overpaying for bottles
The risk of making misguided investments
Littler, who specialises in the valuation, sale and acquisition of rare whisky bottles and also casks, hit the headlines in 2020 when he helped 28-year-old Matthew Robson secure a deposit for a house following the sale of a collection of The Macallan for £44,000.
Commenting on the launch of the Whisky Bottle Investment Guide and his forthcoming Collectors And Investment Reports, he said: “While many people prefer of course to drink their whisky, there’s no doubt that the industry is making more products designed specifically to appeal to the collector and investor. This has led to bottles of rare whisky becoming one of the most popular and accessible luxury investments in recent years.
“During our research, we’ve seen stratospheric change in value around some modern releases that is unsustainable, with signs of a bubble developing around a bottle of The Macallan that has risen 5000% in value in just six years.
“The problem is that there has been very little in-depth and practical education around this topic despite how prevalent it is. At the same time, there has been a lot of hype around investing in rare whisky bottles and this, together with the lack of education, puts collectors and investors at risk of making misguided investments.
“It’s our belief that helping collectors and investors to understand every aspect of the industry and market is the best way that we can help them to make a decision. And so this guide was born. The Whisky Bottle Investment Guide provides investors, for the first time, with all of the essential must-know information they need to help them make a savvy investment in rare whisky bottles.
“Our forthcoming Collectors And Investment Reports will look at specific and prized rare bottles and what the historic returns have been for each whisky and the likelihood that the growth seen previously will continue.”
Whisky expert Blair Bowman, who has written recently about the risks around whisky investment, said: "Mark has created an incredibly comprehensive guide on investing in whisky bottles. It is ideal for someone looking to start building a collection or for someone who already has a large collection. Mark's guide breaks down the key factors to consider when buying bottles and is an excellent reference for anyone looking to learn more about building a whisky collection."
The Whisky Bottle Investment Guide is available to download for free here

26 August 2021

One more sleep for cocktail lovers until Insomnia espresso martini bar opens its doors in Edinburgh

The bar dedicated to the hugely popular espresso martini will open its doors in Edinburgh on Friday 27th August

Cocktail lovers in the capital have just one more sleep left until Insomnia Espresso Martini Bar opens in Edinburgh on Friday 27th August with the largest range of espresso martinis in Scotland.

The bar located within the Assembly Rooms on Edinburgh’s prestigious George Street, will launch with a menu of 20 different serves of espresso martini.  Insomnia is located beside the recently opened Stack & Still pancake house in what used to be the Jamie’s Italian restaurant on Rose Street.

First established in Glasgow in October 2020, Insomnia will celebrate its launch in the capital with some special Edinburgh-inspired serves including the One O’Clock Gun, which features Ketel One, Edinburgh Castle rock, mixed berry infused vodka, Mr Black Coffee Liqueur, Cold Brew and is topped with a smoked cloud.

Other serves include the House espresso martini, which includes Belvedere vodka, cold brew espresso, maple syrup and Kahlua coffee liqueur, to the more adventurous Pina Cortada, which features Tanqueray Gin, pineapple syrup, fresh espresso and coconut milk.

Each week delicious new coffee-fuelled additions will be added to the menu and the bar team aim to have a selection of 50 espresso martinis in place by the end of the year.

The coffee featured in Insomnia’s serves is all roasted in-house. The team sources organic Arabica coffee from El Botan Farm in Colombia and roasts a batch of beans every day to create a rich, dark and exceptionally fresh blend.

Some of the serves on the menu are available with decaf coffee, while the bar also serves a range of other drinks such as beer, cider, wine and various spirits and soft drinks. A selection of food will be added later in the year - from sweet pancakes to a range of fries and bites plus an array of affogatos.

Insomnia will be open from 5pm until late every Friday and Saturday evening until the end of October, then opening will extend to four nights a week from Thursday – Sunday.  Table booking can be made online and walk-ins are welcome.

Paul Reynolds, co-founder and chief executive, said: “We are extremely excited to be launching the capital’s first dedicated espresso martini bar. The popularity of the espresso martini is skyrocketing, and, like our pancakes, we want to be at the forefront of that revolution. Our menu is filled with many unique flavour combinations and we will be keeping customers on their toes with the introduction of new flavours every week.”

He continued: “The Coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the city’s hospitality sector so we are eager to do our bit to help get it back up and running -  that means creating a space our customers will love, opening up new jobs in the sector and of course, serving plenty of delicious espresso martinis.”

The launch of Insomnia comes hot on the heels of the opening of Stack & Still pancake house which opened its doors in July.


17 August 2021

Dram on Speyside fishing trip pays off as collector looks to land £15,000 for Aberlour A’bunadh vertical collection of 66 bottles

A whisky collector from York is selling his 66-bottle collection of the renowned single malt through leading whisky broker Mark Littler Ltd

A rarely seen vertical collection of Aberlour A’bunadh, one of the largest ongoing whisky series of all time, has gone on sale for £15,884 through leading whisky broker Mark Littler Ltd.

The collection was built up over 10 years by Jon O'Connell from York who first discovered the renowned Speyside single malt whisky after a chance encounter on a fishing trip in Scotland. 

O’Connell, a biologist, first fell in love with the Aberlour A’bunadh whisky, which was introduced in 2000 and released in limited-run batches, after enjoying a dram with a fellow fishing enthusiast on Rothiemurchus lochs near Aviemore. He then spent 10 years collecting a bottle from every batch ever made from auctions and whisky shops across Europe.

The 66-bottle vertical collection is now on sale at £15,884 on the online marketplace of leading whisky broker, Mark Littler Ltd. Littler specialises in helping people sell rare whisky bottles and collections - in 2020, he helped Matthew Robson from Taunton sell his 28-bottle collection of Macallan single malt for over £40,000.

Aberlour’s A’bunadh range owes its origins to a bottle buried in the foundation of its still room dating back to 1898. The bottle was found in 1973 by workers who were said to have drunk half the bottle before its remaining contents were sent to the Aberlour laboratory for analysis. The A’bunadh whisky is a loving recreation of this lost single malt.

The collection of A’bunadh - which means ‘the original’ in Gaelic - contains two highly sought-after special edition batch bottlings; the A’bunadh Silver Label Millennium Edition, bottled in 1999 in preparation for the millennium celebrations, and the Silver A’bunadh, an extremely limited collection consisting of only 37 bottles.

O'Connell said: “What a day it was meeting that fisherman and sharing a dram of Aberlour A’bunadh. I’d never seen anything like it before so I decided to buy myself a bottle and from there, I set myself a challenge to collect a bottle from every batch ever produced.

“It took 10 years to track all the bottles down, with batch 15 being undoubtedly the most difficult. When I finally got my hands on the last bottle to complete my collection, I felt a real sense of achievement. I’ve decided to put them up for sale because I think they would make for a wonderful present for someone - certainly for that fisherman that inspired me all those years ago!”

Mark Littler, whisky broker and founder of Mark Littler Ltd, said of the collection: “This vertical collection of A’bunadh whisky is the largest whisky collection that we have ever sold - having a bottle from every batch ever produced makes this truly unique. Jon’s decision to start collecting bottles of whisky was a great one and we are seeing more people invest in whisky the way that Jon has. If you can amass a collection like his then it can be extremely rewarding indeed.”

In 2020, Mark Littler launched its online marketplace as a place for individuals passionate about whisky to buy and sell it at a fair price. He said: “We have seen many occasions where rare whisky collections and bottles sell at auctions for far less than they are actually worth, so in a bid to offer our clients auction beating prices, we launched the Mark Littler Ltd marketplace to enable individuals with whisky collections to earn more for their bottles - and their hard work.”

Mark Littler will soon be launching an in-depth Whisky Bottle Investment Guide, which will provide an introduction into the world of whisky investment, while offering practical advice to readers to help them understand the market and industry.


About Mark Littler Ltd

Mark Littler Ltd uses its extensive industry knowledge to sell rare whisky bottles, collections and casks strategically in a private sale or auction. Dedicated to helping individuals achieve the best price for their whisky, Mark Littler Ltd launched its own online marketplace in 2020 as a place for individuals to buy and sell rare whisky online.


15 July 2021

Stack & Still flips former Jamie’s Italian site into Edinburgh pancake house

Pancake restaurant opens its doors on Thursday 22 July.

Stack & Still, the UK’s biggest urban pancake business, is expanding into Edinburgh with the launch of a branch in the former Jamie’s Italian site at the Assembly Rooms.

The Glasgow-based company will open its 140-seat Edinburgh restaurant on Thursday 22 July.

The venue will also launch ‘Insomnia’ an espresso martini bar, which will serve 50 espresso martinis, the largest collection in Scotland. Insomnia will launch initially as a weekend offering from Friday 20 August.

A total of 40 jobs are being created at the new restaurant, which is being managed by Vicky Briody.

News of Stack & Still’s expansion comes hot on the heels of the pancake chain opening an outlet in a former Harvester restaurant in Livingston last month.

In excess of 4,000 customers visited the 146-seat West Lothian site for its opening week.  Bookings continue to look strong throughout the busy summer holidays.

Stack & Still already serves more than two million pancakes each year at its four outlets in Glasgow, with the two east coast sites expected to take that total to 2.5 million.

The options on its menu allow customers to create their own stack of pancakes, with more than 12 million combinations available.

During the pandemic the chain focused on its retail offering selling pancake mixes and bundles for customers to make their own stacks at home. This has identified a key growth opportunity and the company is planning to launch an exclusive line of branded sauces and syrups late summer.

Paul Reynolds, co-founder and chief executive, said: “The Assembly Rooms is an iconic Edinburgh institution and we’re very proud to be taking over this prime site.

“Edinburgh’s hospitality and retail landscape is among the most vibrant in the UK, with the opening of both the St James Quarter and the forthcoming Johnnie Walker visitors’ centre.

“This is an exciting time to be expanding into our nation’s capital as we continue to invest in our fast-growing business.

“We’re keen to play our part in helping the city to recover from the pain caused by the coronavirus pandemic restrictions, by creating jobs and by giving visitors another great reason to come to Edinburgh.”

Graham Swankie, co-founder and chief operating officer, added: “Our business has continued to expand during the pandemic, with our Braehead site opening in the run-up to Christmas 2020.”

“It’s tough for all hospitality businesses at the moment, but we’ve been really encouraged by the demand from customers at our restaurants in Glasgow and in Livingston.

“Now, we’re looking forward to introducing our dynamic food offering and innovative espresso martini bar concept to our new customers in Edinburgh.”

Stack & Still’s other branches are located at West George Street in Glasgow, and at Braehead, Glasgow Fort, and Silverburn shopping centres.

Mr Reynolds announced last month that he is marketing for sale his Gin71, Cup Tea Lounge, and The Gin Spa business in Glasgow in order to focus on Stack & Still’s expansion across the UK.



9 July 2021


Pictured: Casper and Scotty at Calton Hill, Edinburgh

With summer in full-swing, it’s the perfect time of year to embrace the great outdoors by going for a walk and enjoying a picnic with your four-legged friend.

When it comes to finding the perfect picnic location, we’re spoiled for choice in Scotland.  So, Scotty Brand has teamed up with one of Scotland’s top travel bloggers to share a trail of dog friendly picnic spots in Scotland. Scottish travel blogger Samantha Grant from ‘Scotland with the Wee White Dug’ recommends her top ten – after consulting with Casper ‘The Wee White Dug’ of course!

Commenting on her perfect picnic spots, Samantha Grant said; “I’ve travelled all over Scotland with Casper, visiting lots of beautiful places. Choosing ten favourites would be impossible. Instead, I’ve compiled a list of ten perfect dog-friendly picnic spots in Scotland. I hope you’ll love them as much as Casper and I do.”

Michael Jarvis, head of marketing for Scotty Brand, said; “Summer is the busiest time for Scotty Brand, and our larder truly spans the breadth of the country, from new potatoes in Ayrshire to seasonal berries from Perthshire. With more people holidaying in Scotland this year, we are delighted that our very own “Scotty” has teamed up with Casper to find the perfect dog friendly picnic spots and celebrate our Scottish produce.”

#ScottysPicnicSpots by ‘Scotland with the Wee White Dug’ and Scotty Brand.

  • Calton Hill, Edinburgh

As a proud Edinburgher, I had to include Scotland’s capital on this list. Edinburgh has lots of lovely green space, but for me Calton Hill has all of the ingredients required for a perfect picnic. The summit boasts historic monuments, paths to explore and stunning views of the city skyline. It’s also the best place to catch a sunset in Edinburgh – making Calton Hill a great place for a romantic picnic. Watching the sun setting over Edinburgh’s magnificent architecture as you sip chilled bubbly and eat Perthshire-grown Scotty Brand strawberries = a blissful picnic experience.

  • Alloway, Ayrshire

Heading west, my next perfect picnic spot is Alloway. The pretty Ayrshire village is the birthplace of Scotland’s national bard Robert Burns. Literary lovers can wander through the village, visiting Burns Cottage, Poet’s Path with its Burns inspired sculptures (Casper’s made his peace with Alloway’s gigantic ‘moose’ in recent years, as it was once his arch enemy). For an immersive Tam o’ Shanter experience, don’t miss Alloway Auld Kirk and Brig o’ Doon. Both locations feature in Rabbie’s spooky poem. After working up an appetite exploring the village, head to the Burns Monument and Memorial Garden for a picnic.
For an authentic Ayrshire picnic, Scotty Brand Ayrshire grown new potatoes are a must. I like to rustle up some home-made potato salad or Spanish tortilla with a Scottish twist.         

  • A Hebridean beach, Inner and Outer Hebrides

Let’s head to the beach, for another perfect picnic spot. This recommendation covers a group of West Coast islands known as the Inner and Outer Hebrides. The beaches of the Hebrides are second to none, making them the perfect place for a picnic. Think white sand, turquoise sea and wildflowers growing in the machair. Better still, you may get the beach all to yourself. Don’t worry if hopping on a ferry doesn’t appeal though, you can drive to the Isle of Skye. And while Skye may not have beaches quite as dramatic as some other Hebridean islands, at Staffin you can search for dinosaur footprints on the beach. How cool is that? Being a small dog with a big personality, Casper wasn’t daunted by the fact the dinosaur footprints were bigger than him.         
For an upmarket Hebridean picnic, add some Scotty Brand smoked salmon to your hamper. It’s farm-reared in the waters off the Hebrides, West Coast and Shetland and is smoked and packed in Scotland too. 

  • The Hermitage, Perthshire

Our next perfect picnic spot takes us to Perthshire. Perthshire is known as ‘Big Tree Country’, so the region is a great destination for a woodland picnic. The Hermitage near Dunkeld is a popular beauty spot, with locals and visitors alike. With towering Douglas firs, a tumbling waterfall (where you might see salmon leaping if you’re lucky), a magical Victorian folly and a hidden cave, it’s easy to understand the appeal. And when in Perthshire, include Scotty Brand cherries in your picnic. They’re sweet, juicy and grown just up the road in Alyth.                 

  • Craigievar Castle, Alford, Aberdeenshire

Aberdeenshire is home to more castles per acre than anywhere else in the British Isles. For a magical picnic experience, visit the grounds of Craigievar Castle near Alford. The pretty pink tower dates to the 16th century and is believed to be one of the castles that inspired Walt Disney’s Cinderella castle. If the walls could speak, they’d tell tales straight from a book of fairy tales – some of them rather Grim(m)! After picnicking on the castle lawn, explore the woodland trails behind the castle to walk off those Scotty Brand sausage roll calories.      

  • Mull of Galloway Lighthouse, Dumfries & Galloway  

The Mull of Galloway Lighthouse stands on an RSPB nature reserve on the Rhins of Galloway. It’s Scotland’s most southerly point. On a clear day, you can see Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and England from the lighthouse. If you visit 90 minutes after low tide, you may witness an impressive natural phenomenon that turns the sea off the rocky headland into a swirling maelstrom. It’s known as the Nine Tides. Local legend says witches conjured up the tides in an attempt to sink a ship carrying a witchfinder to Scotland. There are trails to explore beside the lighthouse too, which Casper loves and lots of beautiful seabirds to spot, making this location a perfect picnic spot.           

  • Bow Fiddle Rock, Moray

The cute, coastal village of Portknockie is home to another perfect picnic spot. Next to the village harbour is a unique natural rock formation called Bow Fiddle Rock. The sea arch resembles a huge fiddle bow - hence the name. After exploring the coastal path above Bow Fiddle Rock, sit down and enjoy a picnic with a unique view. During the summer months, keep a close eye on the sea, as bottlenose dolphins and minke whales are frequent visitors to these waters.   

  • Devilla Forest, Fife

Devilla Forest is in Fife, but visit and you could be forgiven for thinking you were in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. With towering pine trees, red squirrels, colourful damselflies and lochans covered in waterlilies, it feels more Highland than Lowland. The forest is full of hidden history too. Look out for Maggie Duncan’s Stane. Legend says it was scarred by a witch’s apron strings. Another stone in the forest, the Standard Stone is linked to Macbeth. You’ll find picnic tables on Devilla Forest’s ‘Red Squirrel Trail’ – perfect for a wildlife watching picnic.            

  • Dores, Loch Ness, Highlands

For a fun-filled picnic, head to Dores on the western shore of Loch Ness. Take binoculars and see if you can spot the famous Loch Ness Monster, in the vast expanse of water that is Loch Ness. A full-time Nessie hunter lives on the shingle beach at Dores. He hasn’t found Nessie yet, but you might have more luck. Even if Nessie doesn’t make an appearance, the scenery at Dores won’t disappoint. After a wander by the shore and a cooling paddle in the loch, you’ll be ready for a lochside picnic.   

  • Dun na Cuaiche, Inveraray, Argyll

Argyll boasts perfect picnic spots aplenty. For a hilltop picnic with a knockout view, it doesn’t get any better than Dun na Cuaiche in Inveraray. This picnic spot is reached after a short, steep climb up a leafy track to reach a tower on top of a hill. It requires a little more effort to get to than the other locations on this list (unless you’re a mini mountain goat like Casper), but it’s worth it. The summit offers an incredible, bird’s eye view of Loch Fyne, Inveraray and Inveraray Castle - the ancestral seat of the Campbell Duke of Argyll. For a dramatic picnic location, this spot is hard to beat.

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, succulent smoked salmon, chilled coleslaws and potato salad.
Scotty Brand stockists include ASDA, Morrison’s, Tesco, Co-op, Waitrose, Aldi, Spar and Lidl.

1 July 2021



Murdo Macdonald (1) bags his spot for Jaws at Film Fest on the Forth. Photo: Lesley Martin

The programme for Film Fest on the Forth, Edinburgh International Film Festival’s weekend of free outdoor screenings at Port Edgar Marina on Saturday 31 July and Sunday 1 August 2021, has been unveiled – and it includes everything from aquatic-themed family favourites and classic Scottish movies, to exciting blockbusters.

Film Fest on the Forth will run at the Marina, which is located at South Queensferry on the banks of the Firth of Forth overlooking the three iconic bridges, from 10.00am to 10.00pm each day.

The weekend is supported by EventScotland as part of the Year of Coasts and Waters 20/21, in which Scotland celebrates its coasts and waters with a programme of events and activities, shining a spotlight on these vital elements of the landscape.

The fantastic themed line-up is comprised of 8 well-loved feature films with a maritime link, all well suited to family audiences with U, PG or 12A ratings. The selected films are as follows:


  1. MOANA (PG, 113 mins, 2016) Disney’s beloved musical animation of an adventurous teenager and her inherited love for the seas
  2. THE WATER HORSE: LEGEND OF THE DEEP (PG, 111 mins, 2007) Family adventure set and shot in Scotland based on the Celtic legend of Kelpies (Water Horses)
  3. WHISKY GALORE! (U, 81 mins, 1949) Classic anti-authoritarian comedy set on a Hebridean Island based on Compton Mackenzie’s novel.
  4. JAWS (12A, 124 mins, 1975, 45th anniversary) Directed by Steven Spielberg and widely heralded as the original summer blockbuster


  1. BRAVE (PG, 93 mins, 2012) Pixar’s stunning animation set in the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland centred around a Scottish princess confronting tradition
  2. THE ILLUSIONIST (PG, 77 mins, 2010) Charming, Oscar nominated animated adventure set across Scotland and specifically Edinburgh, based on an unproduced script by legendary French Director Jacques Tati
  3. WHALE RIDER (PG, 105 mins, 2002) Oscar nominated drama centred on a young Maori girl and her special connection to the magnificent seas creatures who has to fight to fulfil a destiny her grandfather refuses to recognize.
  4. TITANIC (12, 186 mins, 1997) James Cameron’s box office record-breaker and winner of 11 Oscars. An epic romance set on the seas which made global stars of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet

Tickets, which are free, are now available for Film Fest on the Forth at www.edfilmfest.org.uk 

Film Fest on the Forth screenings will be staged in an outdoor area which can accommodate up to 260film fans.  You can get to Port Edgar Marina by train, bus, car, foot or boat. If you’re coming by boat contact the Marina office by phone or VHF before arrival to be allocated a berth.

Food and drink will be available from Marina tenants Scott’s restaurant and Down the Hatch as well as additional food and drink vendors coming in especially for the weekend, including EIFF’s Official Beer Partner Innis & Gunn, and Pizza Geeks and Poco Prosecco.

Between films audiences can visit other attractions on site such as activities on the water from Port Edgar Watersports and shopping at the Marina’s store, Beacon.

Russell Aitken, Managing Director of Port Edgar Marina said:

“We are thrilled to be collaborating with EIFF in hosting this special open-air screening as part of Scotland’s Year of Coasts & Waters 2021.  It’s an incredible initiative to be involved with and we look forward to welcoming families from across Scotland to showcase the stunning location of the marina.”

Ken Hay, CEO of Edinburgh International Film Festival said: “We are delighted to be celebrating the return to the communal cinema experience with a brilliant programme of aquatically themed classics, all set against the backdrop of the iconic Forth Bridges. Huge thanks to our friends at Port Edgar Marina in staging the films and to EventScotland for their support as part of the Year of Coasts and Waters.  We look forward to seeing everyone there.”

Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events at VisitScotland, said:

“We are delighted to be supporting Film Fest on the Forth as part of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 20/21. Scotland offers the perfect stage for audiences to enjoy unique experiences and this special cinematic event will showcase classic films in a memorable outdoor setting.”

Film Fest on the Forth, Port Edgar Marina, Shore Road, South Queensferry EH30 9SQ. Saturday 31 July and Sunday 1 August, 2021

The 74th edition of EIFF runs from 18 – 25 August 2021. The full programme will be announced on 28 July 2021.

#EdFilmFest #FestOnTheForth

23 June 2021

Green Tourism launches ground-breaking partnership with Visit Belfast and Belfast City Council to help local tourism sector recover and put sustainabi

New partnership will see Belfast businesses given support to gain the global Green Tourism industry accreditation

Pictured officially launching the new initiative are Lord Mayor of Belfast Kate Nicholl and Visit Belfast chief executive Gerry Lennon

Green Tourism has launched a ground-breaking partnership with Visit Belfast and Belfast City Council to rapidly advance sustainability within the city’s tourism sector and help the local sector recover from the challenges of Covid-19.

The new partnership will allow tourism and hospitality business within the council area to apply for the internationally recognised Green Tourism Standard, thanks to funding and support from Belfast City Council and Visit Belfast. The Green Tourism Standard recognises an organisation that works responsibly, ethically and sustainably, contributes to their community, is reducing their impact on the environment and aims to be accessible and inclusive to all visitors and staff.

Securing the Green Tourism Standard, the largest and most established sustainable certification programme in the world, will help the city and Belfast businesses not only tackle the climate emergency but also attract new business from consumers and clients who are increasingly seeking out destinations with strong sustainable and ethical credentials.

Speaking at the “Sustainable Belfast” launch event, Andrea Nicholas, Chief Executive of Green Tourism, said: “We very excited to be partnering with Visit Belfast and the Belfast City Council to help deliver their bold and ambitious green tourism plans for the city. Belfast’s commitment to greening their tourism businesses and destination is very forward-thinking and at a level I have not experienced before. It is truly to be commended and hopefully an example to other destinations looking to put sustainability standards at the top of the agenda and at the same time support their local businesses as they build back better from the impact of Covid-19.

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Kate Nicholl said:“Covid-19 has changed how we think and feel about the world around us and it provided us with renewed opportunity and commitment to rebuild Belfast in a different way. We know that we must all play our part – individually, collectively and across society. Regardless of industry or sector, we all bear responsibility for stopping and reversing the effects of climate change on our planet.”

Belfast City Council declared a climate change emergency in October 2019 and unveiled the city’s first Climate Plan last year.

“Belfast City Council is committed to taking action on climate change, and it is something that I will be focusing on in my year as Lord Mayor. I’m pleased to launch this initiative, which recognises the role the tourism industry can play in transitioning to an inclusive, zero emissions economy within a generation,” the Lord Mayor said. “Taking urgent action on climate change will not only protect our city’s natural environment, but also our built heritage and cultural assets that make this city a wonderful place to live, work and visit.”

Visit Belfast’s three-year recovery plan, Rebuilding City Tourism 2021-24, sets out a new direction of travel for tourism promotion. The plans focus on supporting sustainable tourism recovery while moving to a greener and more inclusive tourism model. The landmark plan also forces a rethink about what a new and successful tourism destination looks like.

Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive of Visit Belfast said:  “Even before Covid-19, visitors and policymakers were taking a more critical look at tourism and its potential impacts. Tourists and visitors are more culturally and environmentally aware, more health conscious, and want to seek out unique, indigenous and sharable experiences in destinations that demonstrate support for its people, place and planet.

“Partnership has been a central pillar of Visit Belfast’s success for more than two decades, and by facing these challenges together, we will succeed in rebuilding tourism to the Belfast city region for the betterment of businesses, our employees, our residents and our visitors.”

As part of the launch the launch of this new initiative, Visit Belfast has also announced that it has received a bronze accreditation from Green Tourism.

“As the City’s Destination Marketing Organisation, we know that improving our sustainability credentials will be key to securing fresh business in the new normal. That’s why securing an independent, third party accreditation from a recognised authority is so important. “We have a bold ambition – to have 50% of our tourism and hospitality businesses committed to going for a Green Tourism Award in the next 12 months, supporting a green recovery and positioning Belfast as a sustainable destination.”

22 June 2021

Pancakes put smile on family faces as Stack & Still opens its flagship Edinburgh branch

Lennon Guilar (14) and Holly MacKenzie (8) from Bonnyrigg were among the first families to enjoy the amazing array of pancakes on offer at Stack & Still as it opened its flagship branch in Edinburgh today.

The menu at Stack & Still, which sits in what used to be Jamie’s Italian within The Assembly Rooms, offers potentially 12 million different combinations of pancakes.
On offer at Stack & Still are a choice of five types of pancake stacks - buttermilk; buckwheat; protein; gluten-free and low-fat. Customers can then build their own creations from a huge range of savoury and sweet toppings, which include everything from classics such as bacon and smoked salmon, to more creative toppings such as beetroot and cumin falafel and 10-hour shredded BBQ brisket.
It also features ‘Insomnia’, an espresso martini bar serving 50 types of espresso martinis, which will open from Friday 20 August.

10 June 2021


60% of Scottish Shoppers want locally grown fruit and vegetables available on the shelves | Over 10% increase in Scots buying locally grown vegetables since the start of the pandemic

Scotty Brand, provider of premium seasonal Scottish produce, is excited to launch and celebrate the start of both the new Ayrshire potato and Scottish Strawberry season, as research shows that 6 in 10[1] Scottish shoppers believe it is important to have local vegetables available when grocery shopping.

With more people cooking more meals at home over the past year, the survey also reveals that there has been an increase in the number of Scottish shoppers buying local vegetables (+12%) since the start of the pandemic.

Commenting on the start of the new season, Michael Jarvis, head of marketing for Scotty Brand, said: “June is an exciting time in the Scotty calendar with our Ayrshires and strawberries hitting the shelves this weekend. Scotty Brand Ayrshire potatoes are the first and finest new potatoes grown in Scotland. In fact, Ayrshires are regarded as among the best in the world which is why they were granted PGI[2] status in 2019. 

“We never really shout about the Scottish weather, but the temperate conditions in Scotland allow our fruit to ripen at a slightly slower rate which results in our strawberries tasting sweeter and juicier.”

“As more people continue to cook more meals at home here at Scotty Brand we welcome that shoppers are supporting the Scottish food industry by buying Scottish products when they can.”

Lucy Husband, Market Development and Business Engagement Director at Scotland Food & Drink, said: “It has been difficult, but an equally important, year for fruit and vegetable producers in Scotland, with more and more consumers choosing to buy locally. We've seen a significant increase in the number of shoppers who are putting high importance on buying local produce. As well as recognising the quality and seasonality of produce available, consumers are considering the environmental impacts and sustainability when they buy fruit and vegetables. 

“All of this, coupled with the desire to eat seasonally and support local producers, we hope, will continue to make the case strong for buying local in the future.”

Location Location Location!

The first yield of Ayrshire potatoes heralds the start of the new potato season. And 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.

And Scotty Brand strawberries also benefit from their location. Grown and packed by Bruce Farms, based in Perthshire, the light, fertile soil, long summer days and mild nights provide the best conditions for growing sweet, juicy berries.

Scotty Brand strawberries come in 300g punnets and will be available throughout Scotland in Asda stores.  Scotty Brand Ayrshire potatoes are widely available in selected Asda, Co-Op, Lidl, Spar, Tesco and Waitrose stores in Scotland.

To find out more about Scotty Brand please visit www.scottybrand.com

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, succulent smoked salmon, chilled coleslaws and potato salad.
Scotty Brand stockists include ASDA, Morrison’s, Tesco, Co-op, Waitrose, Aldi, Spar and Lidl.

[1] Source: The Knowledge Bank, Buying Local in Lockdown (March 2021)

[2] 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.

7 June 2021

Green Tourism helps businesses meet demand for environmentally friendly venues with launch of Green Meetings Standard

EICC becomes the first venue to gain the new Green Meetings Standard certification

Green Tourism, the world’s leading sustainable certification programme, is giving event venues the tools that they need for a sustainable recovery from the pandemic with the launch today of its Green Meetings Standard.

Hotels, conference centres, and other venues for meetings and events can apply for the accreditation to measure their performance against three pillars of caring for people, places, and our planet.

Independent assessors will examine criteria, which are aligned to the United Nations Sustainability Goals, ranging from energy, water, and waste through to catering, procurement, and travel, as well as awareness, communication, and community involvement.

The Green Meetings Standard has been designed in response to requests from the industry to help venues prove they are taking their environmental responsibilities seriously, especially in the run-up to the United Nations’ COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow in November.

The Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) has become the first venue to achieve the Green Meetings seal of approval.

The new initiative builds on Green Tourism’s existing meetings and event venues criteria, which was developed in 2001.

Those criteria have been used to help more than 700 venues achieve accreditation, including Central Hall Westminster, the EICC, Manchester International Conference Centre, Olympia London, and the QE2 Centre.

Green Tourism was founded in 1997 and has grown to include more than 2,500 members spread across 22 countries.

The Edinburgh-based organisation has carried out more than 15,000 assessments for its widely-recognised gold, silver, and bronze awards.

Andrea Nicholas, Chief Executive of Green Tourism, said: “Our new Green Meetings standard gives meetings and event venues the tools they need for sustainable growth as they recover from the pandemic.

“These new standards have been created in response to demand from the industry, with more and more event organisers wanting reassurance that the venues they pick meet the highest international environmental standards.

“This new brand is built on the back of our 25 years of experience, and incorporates examples of best practice from businesses throughout the world.

“As well as assessment, the scheme also gives support to venues so that they can improve their performance continuously and demonstrate the ways in which they are meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“It was inspiring to see and hear so many examples during World Environment Day on Saturday of how venues are caring for the planet, and we’re proud to be playing our part too with the launch of our new Green Meetings standard.”

Green Tourism worked with the EICC to develop its original criteria for conference centres back in 2001, and the venue became the first to achieve the organisation’s accreditation.

Aaron McKeen, Sustainability Champion at the EICC, said: “Caring for the environment and our people is one of our core values at the conference centre. 
“Event organisers are asking more and more questions about the environmental credentials of our facilities and our services and so it’s essential that we can demonstrate that we take sustainability very seriously, and support them in their ambitions to host more sustainable meetings. 
“The independent assessments that are carried out as part of the accreditation is one of the key attractions of Green Tourism’s work because it gives the EICC the external validation of the work we do day in, day out to be a responsible business working towards net zero in the years ahead. 

“Holding the Green Tourism Gold Award has always been a source of pride for the EICC and by becoming the first venue in the UK to meet the Green Meetings standard is testament to our commitments in this area.”

Rory Archibald, Head of Associations & Sectors at VisitScotland Business Events, added: “Hosting conferences, meetings, and other business events is an essential part of Scotland’s economy and drive for positive social transformation, and so the introduction of the Green Meetings standard will be a great boost to the business event industry.

“This tool will help venues to win more business and cement their relationships with existing clients by demonstrating their environmental credentials.

“Winning and retaining events creates not only a significant contribution to the economy, they attract world leaders to meet face to face where global challenges can be addressed and solutions found. They are an active driver for economic and social transformation in our communities. The Green Meetings Standard allows the industry to take a leading role in tackling climate change that others can look to ensure we are putting people and planet first.” 

The Green Meetings brand will be launched today during an online event chaired by Andrea Nicholas, Chief Executive of Green Tourism, and with speakers including: Scott Maclean, Managing Director of Green Tourism; Aaron McKeen, Sustainability Champion at the EICC; Rory Archibald, Head of Associations, Sectors & Marketing at VisitScotland Business Events; and Aileen Crawford, Head of Conventions at the Glasgow Convention Bureau.

Further information: https://green-tourism.com/green-meetings

Notes to editors

Green Tourism promotes greener ways for tourism businesses and organisations to operate, by offering our members advice on:

  • Reducing energy use
  • Saving water
  • Efficient & eco-friendly waste disposal
  • Ethical buying
  • Staying local & seasonal
  • Minimising food miles
  • Promoting biodiversity
  • Adopting a smart, sustainable outlook from top to bottom

7 June 2021

Dentons expects buoyant growth in vegan food market following sale of Bute Island Foods

Lawyers in Edinburgh and Glasgow advised on the sale to Canadian player Saputo

Dentons predicts a surge in activity in the vegan and plant-based food market after the law firm’s Scottish offices advised Bute Island Foods on their sale to Canadian dairy company, Saputo.

Bute Island Foods, which employs around 180 staff, makes vegan cheese alternative Sheese, as well as own-brand products, while Saputo owns labels including Cathedral City, Country Life, and Utterly Butterly.

Saputo paid a total of C$187 million (£109 million) to buy both Bute Island Foods and a factory owned by Wisconsin Specialty Protein in Reedsburg.

The new owner has pledged more than C$5 million (around £3 million) over five years to support community initiatives on the island as part of its wider commitment to invest 1% of its pre-tax profits each year in community programmes and organisations.

Bute Island Foods was advised by: Lorna McCaa, a tax partner in Dentons’ Glasgow office; Adam Knowles, a corporate senior associate in the firm’s Edinburgh office; and Brian Moore, a corporate partner who is also based in Edinburgh.

The deal marks the first major transaction in the vegan market for Dentons’ Scottish team, building on its vast experience in the wider food and drink sector.

Data from Kantar showed the plant-based dairy category has doubled in size over the past five years and is now worth just under £600 million.

A total of 15,206 products carried The Vegan Society’s trademark in 2020, up from 14,262 in 2019, with Sheese among the labels carrying the certification.

McCaa said: “We expect to see much more activity in the plant-based and vegan sector in the months ahead.

“There’s huge demand out there for high-quality, authentic products like Sheese, which is shown by the number of brands asking Bute Island Foods to make own-label products.

“It’s fantastic for a Scottish company with the heritage and provenance of Bute Island Foods to attract the attention of an international player like Saputo.

“Appearing on the radar of a global entity is down to the quality of the products being made by the company and the efficient way in which the team runs its business.

“We’re looking forward to supporting other businesses like Bute Island Foods on the next steps in their growth journey.”

Bute Island Foods commented: “This was the first time that we’d been involved in a corporate transaction on this scale and so it was great to have support from Dentons’ team in Scotland.

“They guided us through this unknown territory with comfort and ease and were always on hand to advise us.

“Becoming part of Saputo will help us to bring Sheese and our other products to a much wider audience.

“As we approach our 35th anniversary, we’re excited to be taking this next step on our journey and we thank Dentons for helping us spread our wings.”

The sale of Bute Island Foods to Saputo is the latest in a long line of food and drink deals involving Dentons’ Scottish offices.

The firm has advised on deals including Robert Wiseman Dairies’ takeover by Müller, and the sale of First Milk’s hard cheese business to Adams Foods and its sports nutrition business to Protein Partners.

In the whisky industry, Dentons has advised Edrington on the sale of its Cutty Sark whisky brand to La Martiniquaise-Bardinet and the sale of its Glenturret distillery to Art & Terroir, as well as Edrington’s purchase of the Glenrothes Speyside single malt Scotch whisky from wine and spirits merchant Berry Bros & Rudd.

Dentons was also involved in the equity raises which funded the construction of the Lindores distillery in Fife and the Ncn'ean distillery on the Morvern peninsula.

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

25 May 2021

Dentons launches recruitment drive as Home Grown marketing campaign begins

The law firm is marking the 150th anniversary of its Scottish arm

Edinburgh, (Tuesday 25 May) - DENTONS is putting home-grown talent at the heart of a marketing campaign designed by MadeBrave as the law firm celebrates its Scottish operations’ 150th anniversary.

Lawyers and support staff from across the firm are starring in a range of short films as well as print and digital advertising, which goes live today.

The “Home Grown” campaign celebrates the firm’s talented staff in Scotland and shares inspiring stories from their work and their wider lives.

Using a combination of images, words, and music, the short films demonstrate both the practice’s links to its homeland and its international outlook.

The accompanying recruitment drive will fill opportunities arising across the firm, from graduate traineeships through to senior roles.

The firm’s experience stretches across all sectors, from whisky through to wind farms.

The law firm traces its roots in Scotland back to 1871, when David Maclay, David Murray, and John Spens founded their eponymous practice in Glasgow.

The firm was the first in Scotland created specifically to practise commercial law.

It also employed the UK’s first female lawyer: Madge Easton Anderson joined the firm as an apprentice in 1917, at the same time as starting her law degree at the University of Glasgow, and was allowed to become a lawyer following a Court of Session judgement in 1920.

The business became part of Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, in 2017.

Claire Armstrong, Dentons Scotland’s Managing Partner, said: “We are so proud of our people and our strong roots in Scotland that it felt really natural to put them at the heart of our ‘Home Grown’ campaign.

“Since our merger in 2017, our talented lawyers have driven deals around the corner and around the world.

“They’ve used their expertise to serve both clients at home and partner with colleagues in our other offices to share their talents further afield.

“This exciting growth means we’re launching a recruitment drive for lawyers and support staff who want to be part of a company that’s anchored in Scotland’s business community.”

Andrew Dobbie, Founder and Chief Executive of MadeBrave, added: “It’s been inspiring to get to know the team at Dentons Scotland and hear their stories.

“This is a legal practice with firm Scottish roots and connections that wrap around the world.

“Our ‘Home Grown’ campaign captures that link between being at the heart of Scottish life while also having the reach to open doors for clients in other countries.

“Law firms can come across as dull and stuffy but Dentons Scotland is the exact opposite – bright people doing skilled work that is helping Scottish businesses to grow and thrive.”

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

20 May 2021


Wetwheels seafaring disability charity makes its first visit to Scotland

A 102 year-old former Royal Navy WW2 gunner and an Army veteran were among people with a disability who sailed aboard a specially built, fully accessible Wetwheels powerboat, when the Wetwheels seafaring disability charity made its first visit to Scotland.

Harry Hogg of Corstorphine, Edinburgh who joined the Royal Navy in 1938 and served for the duration of WW2, proudly wore his medals when he was accompanied aboard the Wetwheels Yorkshire 9-metre long powerboat by Royal Scots veteran, Frank McLeod (64) from Prestonpans.

Keen local sailor Peter Finlayson (25) from South Queensferry, who has cerebral palsy, also came onboard Wetwheels with his father Calum.

It’s part of a fundraising drive by Wetwheels, a ground-breaking seafaring charity founded in 2011 by disabled yachtsman, Geoff Holt MBE, that gives disabled people of all ages and impairments the chance to access the water. Wetwheels, of which HRH The Princess Royal is Patron, aims to establish its first permanent base north of the border at Port Edgar Marina on the Firth of Forth in the Spring of 2022.  

Both Harry and Frank have sight loss and are supported by the charity, Sight Scotland Veterans. It’s one of many disability organisations that will benefit once Wetwheels has raised the £250,000 needed to establish an operator base at Port Edgar Marina with the necessary manpower and equipment.  Wetwheels subsequently hopes to also run a west coast operation at Largs on the Firth of Clyde.

Geoff Holt, who was paralysed in a swimming accident in 1984 and who in 2007 became the first disabled person to sail single-handed around Great Britain, explained: “Disabled people like Harry and Frank face many obstacles to an active lifestyle and particularly in experiencing the sense of freedom and independence you only get on the water. Yet the physical and mental benefits of being on the sea are immense so I am really excited to be at Port Edgar Marina to raise awareness of our Wetwheels charity and to showcase the amazing work we do.

“Wetwheels is unique. There is no other boating organisation for disabled people in the UK doing what Wetwheels does. That’s a very big claim, but as a wheelchair-using yachtsman and adventurer myself, I speak from experience. Our own research tells us that more than 80% of Wetwheels’ participants have never previously been on the open water. For an island nation, that’s a shocking statistic we are determined to change. 

“After a decade of successful growth in England we now aim to successfully raise £250,000 to establish our first operation at the fantastic Port Edgar Marina in Scotland, where Wetwheels can continue its mission to positively impact on the health and wellbeing of young and old participants for many years to come.”

At Port Edgar Marina, representatives of disability groups including Sight Scotland Veterans, potential donors and members of the press will have the opportunity to experience a twin 325HP engined Wetwheels powerboat that’s designed to allow active participation on the water in a safe, stimulating and rewarding way.  With full barrier-free access, up to ten participants, including three wheelchair users, can board and steer the vessel and learn seamanship, alongside their peers, friends, and families.

Clair Bryan, Director of Services, Sight Scotland Veterans, added: “It’s fantastic that veterans supported by Sight Scotland Veterans have been given the opportunity to have this experience with the Wetwheels Foundation while they have been stationed at Port Edgar this week. Sight Scotland Veterans very much supports and identifies with the Wetwheels Foundation’s mission to create accessible and inclusive experiences for disabled people.

“Sight Scotland Veterans is dedicated to supporting veterans with sight loss across Scotland to not only adapt to life with sight loss, but to live well with sight loss and continue to enjoy new experiences in the community. We would very much welcome a Wetwheels boat being permanently based in Scotland. I am sure other veterans with sight loss we support would relish the opportunity to take a boat trip with the Wetwheels Foundation in the future.”     

By visiting Port Edgar Marina, Wetwheels hopes the public and private donors will be inspired to help raise the further 75% of funding still required to ensure Port Edgar Watersports CIC can successfully operate the first Wetwheels Scotland vessel on behalf of the Wetwheels Foundation. 

Wetwheels already has six vessels in operation throughout England, including in Portsmouth, Falmouth, Jersey and Whitby. The charity has a vision for at least 12,000 people, including over 1,000 in Scotland to annually experience one of its seafaring experiences.


Notes to the editor

Each of the Wetwheels Operators is a social enterprise, registered as a community interest company (CIC), or the local equivalent (as in Jersey). Operators have the support of the Wetwheels Foundation, a registered charity.  Wetwheels is currently applying for OSCR registration.

Wetwheels annual report records that in 2019, more than 6,500 people of all ages participated in a Wetwheels experience. One third were disabled people with profound and complex, often life-limiting, disabilities. No one was excluded from participating.

The range of disabilities of those accessing Wetwheels included, but was not limited to: wheelchair users, people living with dementia, people affected by stroke, people with sensory impairment, behavioural disabilities including autism, people with mobility impairments, people with acquired brain injuries and those living with dementia.

Sight Scotland Veterans (formerly known as Scottish War Blinded)

Harry Hogg (102, of Corstorphine, Edinburgh, is a Royal Navy World War Two veteran who joined up as a gunner in 1938 and served until the end of the war.  Harry has sight loss due to age-related macular degeneration – an eye condition which impacts central vision and over time can make things like identifying faces and everyday tasks very difficult. Harry has been supported by Sight Scotland Veterans for 10 years.

Frank McLeod (64, of Prestonpans, East Lothian) served with the Army in the Royal Scots from 1972 to 1980. In 2014 Frank had an accident which left him with permanent brain damage. He now uses a wheelchair. He has no sight in his right eye and has lost a significant amount of sight in his left eye. Frank will be attending Port Edgar Marina with his wife, Elaine.

Sight Scotland Veterans provides free support to ex-servicemen and women affected by sight loss in Scotland to help them regain confidence, restore their independence and make new connections. 

Established in 1915, today the charity gives support to all veterans with sight loss, including National Service veterans, no matter if they lost their sight during or after service. The majority of veterans we support have lost their sight through age, conditions such as macular degeneration, and reasons unrelated to their service. 

Our outreach and rehabilitation support offering covers all local authority areas in Scotland. The charity also runs two activity hubs for veterans with sight loss: the Linburn Centre in Wilkieston, West Lothian, and the Hawkhead Centre in Paisley, Renfrewshire.

Call 0800 035 6409 to refer a veteran with sight loss for support or email hello@sightscotlandveterans.org.uk

Sight Scotland Veterans is the sister charity of Sight Scotland, Scotland’s biggest sight loss charity. For more information visit sightscotlandveterans.org.uk

19 May 2021


ClearSky Logic expands and rebrands as demand for its technology support services surges in the wake of COVID

With an 80% increase in income in the last year, Edinburgh-based ClearSky Logic has grown its team, appointed a new Board member, created a new leadership structure and rebranded.

ClearSky, which was founded in 2018, has grown significantly by helping companies develop digital tools and tailored technology solutions to survive and thrive during the pandemic.

With a new brand and website highlighting its positioning as ‘digital transformation’ specialists, the company has grown its team from seven to 24 full-time employees to handle the demand for its services, which include managing one-off digital transformation projects, and providing dedicated outsourced tech teams for established businesses.

In addition, the company, which is on course to turn over £2.1 million in the year ahead, has appointed a new Board member and created a new leadership and senior management structure.

This sees tech entrepreneur and business advisor Tino Nombro joining the Board to support ClearSky Logic’s growth while co-founders Darren Auld and Phil Telfer focus on specific areas; Auld as CEO concentrating on growth strategy while Telfer as CTO taking the reins on the technical direction. A new Senior Management Team has also been created, with Adam Steen now Head of Operations and Jane Fiddes leading Marketing and Account Management.

ClearSky Logic’s growth has been driven by their ability to understand the issues businesses are having and to deliver effective digital solutions. With more and more companies pivoting their business models during the coronavirus lockdowns, the agency has created bespoke software to help its clients automate their processes, including through mobile apps and self-service features for customers.

The company – which lists Together Energy, Mitsubishi and Ittria among its clients – has expanded from its roots serving the energy sector to cover a wide range of industries.  ClearSky Logic also won a £100,000 Innovate UK grant in November 2020 to create My Booking Hub a new platform that will help SMEs generate revenue during and beyond COVID.

ClearSky Logic has recognised that businesses are hampered in their digital transformation by the time and cost of getting the right team in place. It offers an agile, flexible outsourced tech team, that allows an immediate focus on the digital transformation project to get it done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Auld, co-founder and CEO of ClearSky Logic, said: “When Covid first hit, it sent a shock across all businesses including ours and our clients. But we adopted a positive mindset and looked at Covid as being a chance to do what we do best, which is help businesses transform their digital services.

“It’s been a challenging period for everyone but we’re proud of the work we’ve done to support other businesses, as well as seeing our own business grow remarkably in a relatively short space of time.”

Co-founder and CTO Telfer added: “We believe that businesses shouldn’t be held back by technology. The pandemic has placed a huge emphasis on the importance of having effective online systems and platforms in place and we’ve been able to help businesses transform their digital offering and make that transition quickly.

“Our agency model allows us to become our clients’ trusted tech partner – it’s like having your own tech department, but without the need to go around recruiting all the different experts you need.”

One business that has already benefited from ClearSky Logic’s expertise is Fresh Car Valeting. A cumbersome manual booking system had put the brakes on the car cleaning company’s growth, but ClearSky Logic created a bespoke system that processes bookings automatically, which has resulted in a dramatic acceleration in sales. In December, the company processed 121 automated bookings, compared to almost 1500 in April.

Instead of filling in a form on the website that then had to be processed by back office staff to find a suitable time for a valet, customers can now choose a time, day, and location online and receive booking confirmation and appointment reminders. Customers can also see their bookings online and manage their details, increasing the chances of repeat bookings.

The project was such a success that there is now a long-term partnership in place, with ClearSky Logic developing a full technology roadmap for Fresh Car Valeting to help it expand its business further across the whole of the UK. 


13 May 2021


A ground-breaking seafaring charity that gives disabled people of all ages and impairments the chance to access the water is sailing to Scotland next week as it steps up its fundraising drive to establish its first permanent base north of the border in the Spring of 2022.

A ground-breaking seafaring charity that gives disabled people of all ages and impairments the chance to access the water is sailing to Scotland next week as it steps up its fundraising drive to establish its first permanent base north of the border in the Spring of 2022.  

Wetwheels, founded by disabled yachtsman Geoff Holt MBE in 2011 and of which HRH The Princess Royal is Patron, will moor one of its specially built, fully accessible powerboats at Port Edgar Marina on the Firth of Forth between 20-23 May.

The charity is using its visit as part of a wider fundraising drive help raise £250,000 to establish an operator base at Port Edgar Marina with the necessary manpower and equipment and subsequently hopes to also run a west coast operation at Largs on the Firth of Clyde. 

Invited disability groups, potential donors and members of the press will have the opportunity at Port Edgar Marina to experience Wetwheels Yorkshire, one of the 9 metre boats powered by twin 325HP engines that is designed to maximise active participation on the water in a safe, stimulating and rewarding way.  With full barrier-free access, up to ten participants, including three wheelchair users, can board and steer the vessel and learn seamanship, alongside their peers, friends, and families.

By sailing to Scotland, the charity hopes the public and private donors will be inspired to help raise the further 75% of funding still required to ensure Port Edgar Watersports can successfully operate the first Wetwheels Scotland vessel on behalf of the Wetwheels Foundation. The charity, that already has six vessels in operation throughout England, including in Portsmouth, Falmouth, Jersey and Whitby has a vision for at least 12,000 people, including over 1,000 in Scotland to annually experience one of its seafaring experiences.

Holt, who was paralysed in a swimming accident in 1984 and who in 2007 became the first disabled person to sail single-handed around Great Britain, explained: “Disabled people face many obstacles to an active lifestyle and particularly in experiencing the sense of freedom and independence you only get on the water. Yet the physical and mental benefits of being on the sea are immense so I am really excited to be coming up to Port Edgar Marina in Scotland to raise awareness of our Wetwheels and showcase the amazing work we do.

"Wetwheels is unique. There is no other boating organisation for disabled people in the UK doing what Wetwheels does. That’s a very big claim, but as a wheelchair-using yachtsman and adventurer myself, I speak from experience. Our own research tells us that more than 80% of Wetwheels’ participants have never previously been on the open water. For an island nation, that’s a shocking statistic we are determined to change. 

"After a decade of successful growth in England we now aim to successfully raise £250,000 to establish our first operation at the fantastic Port Edgar Marina in Scotland, where Wetwheels can continue its mission to positively impact on the health and wellbeing of participants for many years to come."


Notes to the editor

Each of the Wetwheels Operators is a social enterprise, registered as a community interest company (CIC), or the local equivalent (as in Jersey). Operators have the support of the Wetwheels Foundation, a registered charity.  Wetwheels is currently applying for OSCR registration.

Wetwheels annual report records that in 2019, more than 6,500 people of all ages participated in a Wetwheels experience. One third were disabled people with profound and complex, often life-limiting, disabilities. No one was excluded from participating.

The range of disabilities of those accessing Wetwheels included, but was not limited to: wheelchair users, people living with dementia, people affected by stroke, people with sensory impairment, behavioural disabilities including autism, people with mobility impairments, people with acquired brain injuries and those living with dementia.

11 May 2021


Record breaking adventurer Mollie Hughes (30), who last year became the youngest woman in the world to ski solo to the South Pole, has been appointed as a director of Ocean Vertical.

Record breaking adventurer Mollie Hughes (30), who last year became the youngest woman in the world to ski solo to the South Pole, has been appointed as a director of Ocean Vertical, a Scottish adventure company that embraces sustainable sea, coastal and mountaineering experiences.

The announcement comes during Mental Health Awareness Week (10-16 May) and at a time of growing awareness of the mental and physical health benefits participants can gain from water-based activities – commonly referred to as ‘Blue Health’.

East Lothian-based Ocean Vertical was founded in 2018 by professional instructor Stevie Boyle and former international architect, Adrian Boot. Their small team of highly qualified instructors specialise in immersing individuals and small groups in wilderness experiences like coasteering, surfing, paddle-boarding, climbing and mountaineering.

The ethical adventure business also offers summer and winter mountaineering experiences in Glen Coe and the Western Highlands of Scotland.  An experienced mountaineer, Hughes climbing successes include summitting Mount Everest from the south side aged just 21 and returning to summit from the north side aged 26 – achieving the world record by becoming the youngest women in the world to do so.

Joining as a director of Ocean Vertical is a natural fit for Hughes. The Devon-born, Edinburgh-based adventurer, marketer and motivational speaker, commented: “I’m very excited to be invited to be part of the team at Ocean Vertical, an organisation that shares my passion for enjoying adventures on rugged coastlines and mountains, with a keen sense of the need to protect our fragile natural world. 

“I was raised in Devon where swimming and surfing nurtured my passion for the sea and where my dad is a kayaking instructor. While in recent years, the mountains have been my focus, I’ve always had an affinity with the sea. Like Stevie and Adrian, I love the sense of freedom, mental and physical challenge and simple joy that comes from being immersed in the wilds.”

Mollie added: “As part of the Ocean Vertical team, I really look forward to bringing my own outlook on the outdoors and skill-set in planning and communications to the business. In particular, I’m sure there will be the opportunity to help encourage many more women to share in wilderness experiences, for I know its power in nurturing greater self-confidence and improved physical and mental wellbeing.”

Adrian Boot, co-founder of Ocean Vertical added: “Mollie is an inspirational young woman with a phenomenal track record of achievements in the world of exploration. It’s fantastic to have her on board to help run and shape the Ocean Vertical business.  Her skills and personal outlook on the benefits of sustainable adventure will be a tremendous asset to the team as we commit to sustainably grow and attract more customers to experience the joy of immersion in Scotland’s coasts and mountains.”   


Notes to the editor

Ocean Vertical
Stevie Boyle has a 20+ year career in adventure and Adrian Boot is a former international architect with strong corporate / business skills. Together with a small, highly skilled team of instructors and guides, they offer decades of experience in water and mountain based activities.

As part of its commitment to protect the natural world, Ocean Vertical contributes a percentage of its profits to environmental causes. Placing the wild and natural environment of Scotland at its core, the business aims to minimise its impact on the planet. Operating a leave no trace policy, it aims to use the most ethical and sustainable equipment possible to support its coastal and mountain adventures.

Mollie Hughes

On 10 January 2020, Mollie (aged 29) reached the South Pole becoming the youngest woman in the world to ski solo from the coast of Antarctica to the Geographic South Pole.

In 2020 Mollie Hughes was also elected President of Scouts Scotland, the first woman to hold the position.

In May 2017 (aged 26) Mollie became the youngest woman in the world – and the first English woman – to successfully summit from both the north and south sides of the world’s highest mountain, Mount Everest.

As a director of Ocean Vertical, Mollie will bring to the team almost a decade of experience in marketing and social media garnered while working with Tiso Group, the outdoor adventure retail specialist. 

10 May 2021


Experienced entrepreneur and business advisor Tino Nombro to steer the growth of thriving purpose-led speaker agency

With growing demand driven by companies looking to support employee wellbeing and a rise in international clients, Edinburgh-based purpose-led speaker agency Speaker Buzz has appointed a non-executive director and expanded its roster.

Business advisor and entrepreneur Tino Nombro, who founded and sold digital marketing company Ambergreen and advises a number of other companies, will help Speaker Buzz founder Debbie Byers manage the agency’s growth. Nombro will also help Byers develop the synergies with her other business, Beeline PR, the communications consultancy she operates with husband Jim Byers.

Through online talks, bespoke content and tailored programmes of support, Speaker Buzz and its handpicked international speakers help companies address the topics and challenges that are high on the agenda today such as such as mental health, workplace wellbeing, diversity, inclusion, social impact and the environment.

Nombro, who is a board member of the Homeless World Cup Foundation, shares Speaker Buzz’s ethos of inspiring positive change and will help Speaker Buzz develop its proposition to include long-term partnerships with clients, in addition to one-off motivational talks.

The growth stems from more companies, brands and organisations looking for new ways to enhance wellbeing at work and create healthy, positive working cultures that stimulate productivity and improve staff retention in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The news comes on the back of recent speaker engagements in the UK, plus South African, France, Dubai and the United States for clients including Coca-Cola, Edrington, Gleneagles, Allen & Overy, Ekimetrics and Standard Life.

Commenting on the advisory role at Speaker Buzz, Nombro said: “With its purpose-led mission to inspire positive change in people’s lives and society, Speaker Buzz is well placed to help employers as they seek to support their people in these challenging times. It’s never been more important for employers to manage and discuss topics such as mental health, wellbeing at work and diversity, and Speaker Buzz can provide that support.

“Debbie has done a great job in establishing the business and steering it through the transition to online events. I can see significant opportunity for growth in the UK and internationally, and I’m really looking forward to working with the team at Speaker Buzz as they continue to develop the business further.”

With online events becoming the norm and allowing companies to connect remote teams, Speaker Buzz has expanded its roster to meet demand. Recent additions to its now more than 40-strong roster include social entrepreneur Mel Young MBE, LGBTQ+ and Transgender campaigner Nour Shaker Fayad, renowned mountaineer Kenton Cool, and world record-breaking solo Atlantic rower Jasmine Harrison.

Speaker Buzz founder Byers added: “The last few months have been incredibly exciting with more events all over the world and new speakers coming on board. It feels like we’re just scratching the surface of what we could achieve and with Tino’s experience and help we’re ready to take the next steps.”

6 May 2021

Scottish Partner named as head of Dentons’ 150-strong corporate law division

Brian Moore will lead a team across the UK and Ireland

Edinburgh, (6 May) - Edinburgh-based Partner Brian Moore has been named as Divisional Leader for Corporate at Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, covering the practice’s operations across the UK and Ireland.

Mr Moore will lead a team of 150 lawyers, including 50 in Scotland, which will handle disciplines including competition, corporate, and tax and will take on a larger remit with a broader management role.

His appointment is part of a wider restructuring within the UKIME region, which has been led by Abu Dhabi-based Paul Jarvis, who became UKIME Chief Executive on 1 May.

Dentons in Scotland has advised on a raft of recent corporate deals, including: the restructuring and sale of Bonmarché, Edinburgh Woollen Mill, and Ponden Home; the restructuring of clothing retailer Quiz's bricks and mortar business; and the investment in leading online specialist sports retailer Sigma Sports by Primary Capital Partners.

The firm was also the lead legal advisor on the establishment of the £2 billion Scottish National Investment Bank.

Mr Moore said: “The corporate deals market is hot – both in Scotland and across the wider UK.

“We’re looking at a strong calendar opening up in front of us, with a busy pipeline of activity over the coming months.

“The pandemic has created lots of opportunities for companies that have the financial firepower to do deals – either through their own reserves or through access to capital – and there are plenty of owners willing to sell their businesses to the right buyer and on the right terms.

“We’re finding that companies are very acquisitive and opportunistic at the moment – they’re ready to take advantage of the corporate deals market having really opened up.”

Mr Moore’s appointment follows Claire Armstrong taking up the newly created role of Scotland Managing Partner in February.

Ms Armstrong’s promotion completed an all-female leadership team in Scotland, with Alison Bryce serving as Office Head for Glasgow and Kirsti Olson working as Office Head for Edinburgh.

Mr Moore added: “My appointment demonstrates that Dentons is focused on the skills and the talents of our people and not on their location.

“That’s also emphasised by Paul Jarvis, our new UKIME Chief Executive, being based in the Middle East.

“Many of my colleagues in the corporate division are dual-qualified and work with clients that operate in multiple jurisdictions – we allocate work according to client requirements and relationships and the team's skills and capabilities, and not any arbitrary factor, like where their desks are located.”

Other appointments made as part of Mr Jarvis’s restructuring include Deepa Deb as Divisional Leader for Real Estate, and Alastair Young as Divisional Leader for the Middle East.

Recent recruits include Darran Stevenson as Chief Finance Officer and Victoria White as General Counsel.

Dentons’ UKIME executive committee is now 36% female, as is 50% of its board.

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

4 May 2021

Dentons will focus on diversity and recruitment at its latest Black Lives Matter online seminar

High-profile guests will join the law firm’s experts at the open event

Glasgow, (Tuesday 4 May) - How to turn the anger unleashed by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement into tangible change in the workplace will be the focus of an online seminar being hosted on 6 May by Dentons, the world’s largest law firm.

The virtual gathering – which is open to everyone – will discuss topics including how to avoid unconscious bias, how to attract diverse talent, and how to implement practical support and sponsorship.

Speakers at the seminar will include Colleen Amos, Co-founder and Chief Executive of The Amos Bursary, which supports young British men of African and Caribbean descent.

She will be joined by Ama Ocansey, UK Head of Diversity & Inclusion at investment bank BNP Paribas, and Puneet Tahim, Alumni Relations & Lateral Hiring Manager at Rare Recruitment.

Glasgow-based Alison Weatherhead, Head of Dentons’ People, Reward & Mobility practice in Scotland, will host the seminar alongside fellow Partner Purvis Ghani, and Virginia Allen, Head of People, Reward & Mobility UK at Dentons.

Ms Weatherhead said: “I can’t wait to learn from our experienced and knowledgeable panellists as we explore how to get recruitment right within the BLM context.

“This online gathering is part of a series of BLM events, as we maintain momentum in this important area.

“It’s crucial that we all put what we’ve learned over the past year into action by avoiding unconscious bias and making sure we recruit colleagues from a diverse range of backgrounds.

“Importantly, we want questions and comments from our audience too, so anyone who has a burning question or a piece of insight or experience to share should sign up for the event.”

The Law Society of Scotland’s most recent Profile of the Profession study, which was published in 2018, revealed that 96% of the 2,700 lawyers and accredited paralegals who took part in the survey described themselves as white.

Within the remaining 4%, 1.7% described themselves as Asian, lagging behind the 2.7% among Scotland’s population as a whole.

Following the report, the Law Society of Scotland outlined 28 recommendations to address equality and diversity issues within the profession, including an aim to increase the number of people from black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds working as lawyers and accredited paralegals.

In February, the Law Society of Scotland launched a Racial Inclusion Group, with Tatora Mukushi – a solicitor with housing charity Shelter Scotland – appointed as convener.

As part of its 2016-2030 Race Equality Framework, the Scottish Government has implemented a range of measures to help increase minority ethnic representation in the workplace, including working with Skills Development Scotland (SDS) to establish an equality action plan for apprenticeships.

The Scottish Government also set up the Workplace Equality Fund in 2018 to address inequalities faced by minority ethnic people, women, disabled people, and older workers.

Projects that received funding during 2020-21 included CEMVO Enterprises’ Ethnic Minority Workforce Development Project, the West of Scotland Regional Equality Council’s Equality Performance Observed in the Workplace (E-POW) scheme, and the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre’s DIveIN programme.

Book your place at the seminar now at https://www.dentons.com/en/whats-different-about-dentons/connecting-you-to-talented-lawyers-around-the-globe/events/2021/may/6/black-lives-matter-getting-recruitment-right

2018 Profile of the Profession: https://www.lawscot.org.uk/media/361498/lss-pop-report-final-december-2018.pdf

Law Society of Scotland response: https://www.lawscot.org.uk/media/361502/pop-response-final.pdf (Chapter 5)

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

22 April 2021


Thousands around the world expected to gather online on 29th April to watch internationally acclaimed performer attempt daring stunt at the iconic Scottish landmark

A week today, at 1pm on Thursday 29th April, scientist and magician Kevin Quantum will celebrate the journey out of COVID-19 adversity by staging the world premiere of a spectacular demonstration of courage, optimism and harmony at Edinburgh Castle.

Broadcast worldwide on YouTube, the premiere of Flaming Cannonballs at Edinburgh Castle will show Quantum relying on science, self-belief and hope as he attempts to walk blindfolded through nine flaming cannonballs swinging from a huge pendulum on the ramparts of the capital’s iconic landmark.

If his scientific studies of the pendula’s patterns and calculation of the precise magical moment the cannonballs harmoniously align, Quantum will emerge unscathed from his daring stunt at precisely the moment Edinburgh’s famous One o’Clock Gun is fired.

In the run-up to his fearsome feat, Quantum has released a trailer which can be viewed here.

Internationally acclaimed magician Quantum, also known as Kevin McMahon, lives in Edinburgh and his last performance was as a semi-finalist on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent. He has gained exclusive access to Edinburgh Castle to stage his dramatic performance in the shadow of Mons Meg, the famous Medieval Bombard and one of the largest cannons in the world. His stunt will mark the moment the country begins to open up after life in lockdown and people celebrating the chance to reconnect with friends and experience the joy of live performance.

While anyone within a two-mile radius of Edinburgh Castle will be able to hear The One o’Clock gun go off, Quantum is inviting people across the city, Scotland, the UK and around world to connect with the performance and each other by watching the premiere on YouTube.

Edinburgh Castle, which reopens to the public on Friday 30th April, has been chosen because the One o’Clock Gun once connected the city to Leith Docks where ships’ captains would set their maritime clocks by the gun. The soundwave travels at around 760 miles per hour, the speed of sound which was studied by Austrian physicist Ernst Mach.

Mach also created the Harmonic Pendulum; a beautiful, hypnotic visualisation of harmony. For his performance, Quantum has created his own industrial-sized version of Mach’s pendulum. The 12ft-high steel structure features a gauntlet of nine swinging, flaming cannonballs each weighing 15 kilogrammes.

Quantum explained: “It’s been an incredibly tough 12 months for everyone but with lockdown restrictions easing, there’s a new sense of hope and optimism on the horizon. We’ve got science to thank for creating a vaccine for COVID-19 and helping us overcome what appeared to be almost impossible odds. As a scientist and magician, I want to celebrate this important moment in time with my own special twist and share a sense of hope with people not just in Edinburgh but around the world.”

“I’m going to attempt to walk through these flaming cannonballs by relying on science as well as my own sense of hope and belief in harmony to get me though. If I emerge safely from this dangerous gauntlet, the One o’Clock gun firing will signal my moment of triumph over adversity, but also signal everyone’s emergence from the challenges of the last year.”

Emma Bowie, Events Manager from Historic Environment Scotland’s Edinburgh Castle team said: “We are delighted to host such a wonderful spectacle at the Castle with Kevin and his team performing a spectacular stunt and world premiere set to be enjoyed by many thousands as it goes out live on YouTube. Just don’t try this at home – or The Castle for that matter. Simply tune in and enjoy the work of a world-renowned illusionist as he brings his magic to one of Scotland’s most iconic sites.”

Quantum originally studied Physics but his life took a new turn into the world of magic after he appeared in Channel 4 programme, Faking It, in 2005. In the show, which was watched by around seven million people, he convinced a panel of judges, including Paul Daniels, into believing he was a professional magician after just four weeks of training.

After later being trained in Las Vegas by the world-renowned magicians, Penn and Teller, Quantum went onto to perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2006. In 2010, he founded The Edinburgh International Magic Festival, also known as MagicFest, and has worked extensively in Edinburgh and around the world.

In addition to reaching the semi-final of Britain’s Got Talent in 2020, Quantum also reached the final of Italy’s Got Talent, and his YouTube videos have been viewed millions of times. Earlier this year, he educated children about gravity on BBC Bitesize during home schooling lockdown.

Flaming Cannonballs at Edinburgh Castle is a Kevin Quantum event conceived and produced by The Derring-Do Partnership and filmed by Edinburgh video specialists Heehaw. It will be broadcast on Kevin Quantum’s YouTube channel.

About Kevin Quantum
Among his achievements, Kevin was, in 2013, the first magician to appear on stage at the legendary Globe Theatre in London. In 2012, he achieved The Guinness World Record for the Biggest Ever Magic Lesson at MagicFest in Edinburgh with over 1500 people gathered together to learn a magic trick. He has performed all over the world alongside peers such as Derren Brown, for celebrities such as Richard Branson and brands such as O2 and Mini Cooper.

About Edinburgh Castle and the One o’Clock Gun
Edinburgh Castle, which reopens to the public on 30th April, is one of the most renowned historic sites in Western Europe. The One o’Clock Gun is fired daily (except on Sundays, Good Friday and Christmas Day) from the Mills Mount Battery by District Gunner, Dave Beveridge.

21 April 2021


Cairns Farm Estate near Edinburgh will now host weddings and events alongside its day-to-day life as a working sheep farm

Following a £1.9m investment and a 24-month build project, a former sheep shed on a working family farm just outside Edinburgh has been transformed into a contemporary luxury wedding and event venue with overnight accommodation. The new venue, Cairns Farm Estate, sits on the shores of Harperrig reservoir within the Pentland Hills Regional Park.

The new venue is the result of an idea that first hatched several years ago and was subsequently developed through a partnership between the Hamilton family and award-winning luxury venue management and event catering company Hickory.

With Covid-19 restrictions on travel and events easing, Cairns Farm Estate is set to host its first wedding on 22nd May and already has a diary full of bookings stretching into 2022. Many of these were made before the main conversion of the sheep shed had started, based on the venue’s stunning location and design plans.

The 1,200-acre country estate and hill farm is located near Kirknewton and around eight miles from Edinburgh. The estate has been in the Hamilton family since 1869.  With their three children on-board, the family teamed up with Hickory to diversify their estate and create a new chapter in its history.

Caroline and Graham Hamilton have led the project with their children taking on individual roles to match their own skills; Joanna as an interior designer, younger son Bobby assisting with finance and funding, and Alistair as project manager and joiner.

Working with Chris Duncan of Mill Architects, local contractors and craftspeople, the Hamiltons developed a modern multi-use wedding and event venue that reflects its agricultural roots and sits naturally in the stunning rural location.

The main venue is built around sheds that were once home to cattle over the winter and sheep during lambing season. Now it is a stylish and modern contemporary space which can hold up to 180 guests and includes a Ceremony Room, main function room, bar, breakout areas, and state-of-the-art kitchens.

Throughout the building, there are references to its agricultural heritage and a strong ethos of sustainability through the repurposing of materials found on the estate or sourced locally. For example, the building is clad in Scots Pine, planted by Graham’s great grandfather, the building timber comes from trees felled on site as part of an ongoing woodland management programme, while the striking entrance has been formed around an old grain silo sourced from a local farm.

Inside, wedding couples will enter the Ceremony Room through horse stalls up-cycled from the farm’s stables while a feature wall, has been hand built re-using stones from the drystone dykes in the old building. In the function room, the bar, tables and wooden furnishings have been hand crafted from Sycamore and Scots Pine, harvested on the estate, by a team of carpenters led by Alistair.

Cairns Farm Estate also features a range of luxurious on-site accommodation which can sleep up to 24 guests. This includes Cairns Farmhouse, a 19th-century country house that sits on the edge of Harperrig Reservoir, which has been fully renovated to sleep 10; a honeymoon hideaway, The Keep; and six brand new en-suite luxury cabins sleeping a total of 12.

All the events and catering at Cairns Farm Estate will be managed exclusively by Hickory. The Edinburgh-based company has a growing reputation in Scotland for exceling across a range of services including catering, wedding planning, event management and venue management.

Alongside its exclusive responsibility for Cairns Farm Estate and Eskmills Venue in Musselburgh, Hickory works with a portfolio of more than 30 unique venues around Scotland, including the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh, Mount Stuart on the Isle on Bute, Newhall House in Midlothian and Gilmerton House in East Lothian.

In addition to weddings, Cairns Farm Estate will host a range of events such as private parties, corporate away days and charity events. It will also operate as a destination for self-catering short breaks.

Commenting on the launch of the venue, Caroline Hamilton said: “This has been an incredible journey for our family; from having the initial idea, to teaming up with Hickory in 2017 then battling on through the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s almost hard to believe that we will soon to be hosting our first wedding in May.

“It’s been a real labour of love, with each member of the family adding their unique skill and personality throughout the planning and the build. We’ve also worked with friends and local crafts men and women, so there’s been a real sense of community and care that’s gone into the project.

“The idea was driven by the modernisation of our agricultural industry and the need for diversification to create a secure future for the family and the estate. It was crucial that the venue would reflect its roots as a sheep shed and sit naturally in the environment and so it maintains the beauty and integrity of the land and landscape. When I look at the finished venue now, I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved and can’t wait to share it with our guests.”

Brian Galbraith, managing director of Hickory, added: “Cairns Farm Estate is absolutely spectacular. With its stunning setting, on-site accommodation and its amazing conversion from a country barn into a stylish and flexible modern event space, it’s already attracting huge interest for weddings and events. It’s been a pleasure to team up with the Hamilton family and be part of the journey. With the first wedding just around the corner, and many more booked in, we can’t wait to get started.”



31 March 2021

Dentons wins Scotland IP Transactions Firm of the Year for the second year in a row at the Managing IP Awards 2021

Glasgow, March 2021 - Dentons has won Scotland IP Transactions Firm of the Year at the Managing IP Awards 2021.

It is the second year that Dentons has won this award, having won in the same category in 2020.

The Managing IP Awards took place virtually on 30 March 2021, run by Managing Intellectual Property magazine, and recognise firms, individuals and companies who have worked on the most innovative and challenging IP work over the past year.

Alison Bryce, Glasgow-based partner in Dentons' UK Technology, Media and Telecoms team, said, "We're incredibly proud that our IP team continues to be recognised for the high quality of work we are doing. Scotland continues to attract  entrepreneurs, investors and businesses from around the world. We are one of the few teams in Scotland who have a large global network, with an IP practice group that spans over 70 countries, coupled with Scottish expertise."

Dentons advises on the commercialisation and other exploitation of all types of IP rights, with a focus on IP licensing, and IP portfolio acquisitions and sales, as well as collaborations. The practice covers all areas of IP, including franchising, IT/outsourcing, media and telecoms, and the team advises clients across a broad range of sectors, including food and drink, high tech manufacturing, technology and software, branding, life sciences, FMCG, media, fashion and oil and gas.

45 Dentons lawyers were recently recognised in World Trademark Review's 2021 WTR 1000 ranking for the world's leading trademark professionals, including partners Alison Bryce and Ross Nicol in Scotland.

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

29 March 2021


Waitrose is the latest retailer to stock the popular frozen chips

Sales of Scotty Brand’s Chippy Chips are poised to break through the £1m mark this year for the first time after the popular label signed a deal with Waitrose.
The frozen chips went on sale this week at all six of Waitrose’s Scottish branches, adding to existing listings at Asda, Co-op, Morrisons and Tesco.
The chunky irregular-cut chips in sunflower oil, which are made with homegrown potatoes sourced from Scotty’s network of growers throughout Scotland, are sold in 1.5kg bags. With around 363,000 packs expected to be sold this year, that equates to 545 tonnes – the equivalent of 218 tractors* or more than 60,000 Scottish terriers**.
Chippy Chips were the first frozen chips to be produced from only homegrown Scottish potatoes when they made their debut at the Co-op in October 2016. 
They have continued to grow in popularity and are taking an increasingly large share of Scotland’s £54.7m frozen chip market.
Previous Scotty Brand listings at Waitrose have included potatoes and soup mixes.
Scotty Brand’s Commercial Director, Richard Allison, said: “We’ve been blown away by the popularity of our Chippy Chips.
“It looks like our customers have been raiding their freezers during lockdown for some well-deserved comfort food.
“The growing popularity of Chippy Chips has led to us securing this exciting listing with Waitrose, and we are looking forward to more customers discovering our homegrown Scottish chips.”
Scotty Brand’s latest Chippy Chips listing with Waitrose is the latest in a string of deals for the patriotic food label.
Last July, Scotty Brand added cherries to its range with a contract to supply Asda’s Scottish stores.
A month earlier, the company’s strawberries went UK-wide through a deal covering 200 of Asda’s shops.
Since September 2019, Scotty Brand has cut the amount of plastic used for its packaging by 27,000kg, demonstrating its ongoing commitment to the environment.
*based on an average weight of 2,500kg per tractor (https://tractoraddict.com/average-weight-kg-of-a-farm-tractor-30-examples/)
**based on an average weight of 9kg per dog (https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/breed-standards/terrier/scottish-terrier/)
Notes to Editors:
  • Scotty Brand was 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, chilled coleslaws and potato salad.
  • It also has a frozen range including Chippy Chips made from Scottish potatoes and frozen peas grown in Angus, Fife and Perthshire.
  • Scotty Brand stockists include ASDA, Co-op, Lidl, Morrison’s, Spar, Tesco and Waitrose.

29 March 2021


SSDA announces new Chief Executive and marketing platform to put the South of Scotland on the tourist map

A leading travel and tourism expert who directed successful destination management initiatives in the Middle East has returned home to Scotland to lead the South of Scotland’s plans to become a world-class destination and support the region’s economic recovery from the impact of Covid-19.

Ross McAuley, a Scot with more than 20 years international commercial, entrepreneurial and marketing experience, has been appointed as the first Chief Executive of The South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA), the body which now brings together Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders as one destination.

McAuley will drive forward the SSDA’s ambitious destination development plans, which include increasing tourism spend in the region to £1bn by 2030 and creating 6,500 new jobs, while enabling the region’s tourism and hospitality industry to recover and flourish in the wake of Covid-19.

The new appointment comes as the SDDA also unveils the next phase of Scotland Starts Here, its destination marketing campaign and information hub which is built around a website and app that promotes the very best of the South of Scotland’s local businesses, products and experiences to visitors.

McAuley has a strong track record in destination management and tourism having previously led ground-breaking global tourism initiatives in the Middle East including nine years at luxury hospitality brand Jumeirah Group, followed by building a successful global travel and tourism consultancy business.

Commenting on today’s announcement, McAuley said: “The South is the hidden gem of Scotland, overlooked in the past as a destination but with a proud history, stunning landscape, great people and enormous potential to engage and inspire. By bringing Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders together, we’re creating a new destination with the scale to bring tourism spend to local communities, and that really excites me.

“Clearly, the impact of Covid-19 has been felt far and wide through local businesses and communities while at the same time completely disrupting the travel market. However, I believe that tourism will bounce back strongly - I can’t wait to join the team and help develop a sustainable tourism strategy in a way that leads to opportunities for both businesses and communities as well as attracting investment. Scotland Starts Here is our first step on that journey taking the South of Scotland to new audiences.”

David Ibbotson, Chair of SSDA, said: “This is an exciting time for the South of Scotland. The South has always been the poor relation to other regions in terms of awareness and visitor numbers, but now we can’t wait to show Scotland and the world the magical region we have on our doorstep!”

VisitScotland Chief Executive Malcolm Roughead said:We’re delighted to welcome Ross Macauley as the inaugural CEO of the South of Scotland Destination Alliance. His appointment comes at an important time for tourism in the South of Scotland, as the industry faces the difficult challenge of recovering from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After a year of job losses and business closures, it will take time, significant investment, funding support and strong leadership to rebuild this vital part of Scotland’s economy. With the right support and partnership working between agencies and industry tourism and events can lead the economic recovery and boost inward investment where it is needed most.

“There has been a renewed commitment to the south of Scotland in the past three years and the South of Scotland Destination Alliance now has the opportunity to build on this activity with the launch of the new-look Scotland Starts Here campaign and promote the wealth of experiences on offer across the region.

“Tourism is a force for good and if managed responsibly, sustains communities in every corner of Scotland, creating jobs, tackling depopulation and improving the wellbeing of everyone who experiences it.

“We look forward to working together with Ross and the SSDA to support the recovery of this vital part of Scotland’s economy.”

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.


24 March 2021


The iconic whisky distiller reverts to his career origins in blending to recreate White Heather as a premium aged small batch blend

With more than 50 prestigious awards in three years, and a Master Distiller with almost 50 years’ experience at the helm, The GlenAllachie Distillers Company is renowned for its exceptional single and blended malt whiskies, and now launches its first-ever Blended Scotch Whisky: the limited release White Heather 21-year-old.

With only 2,000 bottles available worldwide, and a particularly high single malt content, White Heather 21-year-old (UK RRSP £120) is a premium small batch blend, expertly crafted by industry icon, Billy Walker.

White Heather sees Walker call upon his first forays into the industry as a blender whilst taking inspiration from a whisky brand which was discontinued in the 1980s as the industry consolidated. White Heather was acquired by The GlenAllachie Distillers Company, led by Walker, in 2017, along with The GlenAllachie Distillery and MacNair’s Lum Reek Blended Malt brand.

Walker has put his own unique spin on White Heather, elevating the favour profile with skilful wood management and a watchful eye on the maturation process.

To create this rare and luxurious small batch blend, Walker first sourced some of the finest single malt and grain whiskies from the Highlands, Islay and Speyside. The whiskies spent 18 years maturing in a combination of first fill American barrels, sherry butts and second-fill barrels and hogsheads.

In the GlenAllachie Distillery lab, Walker expertly crafted a unique recipe with an unusually high single malt content, including vintage GlenAllachie. The blend was then laid down for an additional maturation period, highlighting Walker’s acclaimed wood management skills; spending three years in a carefully selected mix of Pedro Ximénez puncheons, Oloroso puncheons and Appalachian Virgin Oak casks to let the flavours marry together and take on additional layers of depth and complexity from the wood.

The resulting whisky, which is presented at 48% ABV with no added colouring or chill-filtration, perfectly balances gentle peat from the Islay contribution, archetypal Speyside fruity notes, the heather honeyed sweetness of the Highlands, and a rich and rounded foundation from the grain components.

Commenting on the landmark release, Walker said: “This whisky is particularly close to my heart. Creating this blend took me back almost 50 years to when I started my career at Hiram Walker. It was there I started to learn the art of blending and the specialist skills required to select whiskies that when interfaced with each other ultimately amplified the overall flavour experience.

“With White Heather, I poured everything I’ve learned on my whisky journey into crafting a truly memorable small batch aged blend that sits proudly alongside even the very best single malts. I wanted to honour the original blend whilst recreating it in a much more premium form with exceptional wood.  It’s a fine balance bringing together the character of such different whiskies and cask types, but I’m incredibly proud to now unveil the end result.”

White Heather is being unveiled in the same week that The GlenAllachie’s Master Distiller Billy Walker is inducted into Whisky Magazine’s prestigious Hall of Fame. In 2022, Walker will celebrate a remarkable 50 years in the whisky industry.

White Heather 21-year-old is available from specialist retailers globally, with a UK RRSP of £120.

Further information on the brand can be found at www.WhiteHeatherWhisky.com

Instagram - @WhiteHeatherWhisky

White Heather 21-year-old – 2,000 bottles, 48% ABV

  • Colour: Natural Gold-Bronze.
  • Nose: Beautifully soft background with heather honey, butterscotch, peat reek and hints of tannins.
  • Taste: Rich notes of heather honey, butterscotch, orange peel, and soft tannins, with a wonderful presence of peat and smoke.

For more information on The GlenAllachie Distillers Company, please go to theglenallachie.com

8 March 2021


Directors John-Paul Toner, Julie Fleming and Alan Shave will now lead the Stirling-based recruitment consultancy while founder Colin Woodward takes up an advisory role

Three long-standing employees of Contract Scotland, the technical and professional recruitment consultancy, have completed a management buyout from its founder, Colin Woodward.  Directors John-Paul Toner, Julie Fleming and Alan Shave will now lead the business while Woodward takes up an advisory role.
The trio all started with the Stirling-based business as trainees and between them share almost 50 years’ experience at the company which was founded by Woodward in 1990. Together, the leadership team will focus on continuing to build sustainable growth and creating career opportunities for its workforce.
With 25 employees and a current turnover of £14m, the company recruits for positions from senior management to business support roles, placing people in permanent and temporary jobs for leading national and independent clients across Scotland.
The management buyout ensures continuity and secures a strong future for the business, leaving it well placed to take advantage of the opportunities that will arise as it emerges from the pandemic.
The deal sees Toner, who has been with the company for 18 years, become the majority shareholder, with both Fleming and Shave taking up Directorships and acquiring notable shareholdings.
Toner said: “Colin has built a successful and respected company over the last 30 years which has redefined recruitment. Succession planning has always been high on the agenda and having developed my own career here and been part of the company’s journey, I’m excited and enormously proud to be part of the leadership team shaping its future.
“Together with Julie and Alan, our ambition is to build on the legacy Colin has created, and retain the values and ethics that the business was founded on that are an integral part of our culture.”
Woodward added: “I’m delighted to be able to hand over the ownership of the business to the individuals that currently run it and have been doing so for the past couple of years, through some of the most turbulent times in our 30-year history.
“There are many exciting challenges and opportunities ahead, which John-Paul, Julie and Alan have the capability and experience to navigate. On a personal level, I’m pleased to be handing over to three members of staff who all joined the business as trainees and have progressed through the business on merit.”

24 February 2021


Featuring ground-breaking lens technology, HindSight Edge rear view glasses are now available to buy following a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign in 2020

With a global cycling boom developing during the Covid-19 pandemic and the safety of cyclists high on the agenda, a range of revolutionary rear view cycling glasses is now going on worldwide sale following a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign in 2020.

HindSight Edge rear view cycling glasses feature unique two-part angled lenses with scientifically designed semi-transparent mirrors. The patent-pending lens technology has been integrated into stylish sunglasses to allows cyclists to see forwards and backwards with a simple shift of focus rather than having to turn their heads.

Invented by physicist Alex Macdonald, developed with Rio 2016 Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist Callum Skinner and designed by award-winning optical engineer Bob Henderson, the glasses are now on public sale [https://hindsight.store/] after a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than £100,000 from more than 600 backers in 38 countries.

The HindSight Edge range features three stylish sunglasses-style models suitable for daytime use; the HindSight Edge Sport model, which is available at a special discounted pre-order price of £174.99 (full price £199.99) while stocks last; the HindSight Edge Hemp (£209.99); and the HindSight Edge Hemp Core (£219.99).

Making cyclists safer

With a British Cycling State of Cycling report in 2019 finding that almost nine in ten (87%) cyclists are ‘close passed’ by vehicles at least once a week, HindSight glasses are designed to help make commuter cyclists safer. They are also intended to help professional cyclists and other athletes, such as runners and rowers, gain a performance edge by allowing them to see competitors without losing crucial seconds by looking back over their shoulders.

HindSight co-founder & CEO, physicist and keen cyclist Macdonald, came up with the idea for the glasses after experiencing dangerous close-passing incidents on the roads. Having explored the available options for rear vision such as rear-view radars and mirrors that can be mounted on helmets or handlebars, he decided to create a more stylish and functional solution which didn’t require any set up, maintenance or batteries.

Developing the idea with close friend Skinner, who won gold and silver at the 2016 Summer Olympics, the idea of HindSight was born.

Having been told by 11 lens manufacturers that that their proposed lens design was ‘impossible’, the Edinburgh-based team worked with Henderson, a former European Inventor Of The Year, to create their unique two-part angled lens with semi-transparent mirrors. The team created a mathematical model based on cyclists, looking at head rotation rates, metrics such as average interpupillary distance and optimal range of eye movement, using the widely recognised Gullstrand model of the human eye.

Commenting on the pre-order launch of HindSight rear view glasses, Macdonald said: “As a regular cyclist, I was aware that knowing what was coming behind me would allow me to make smarter decisions, but I had no way to do it. HindSight glasses are designed to ensure the preservation of forward-facing vision, while adding the capacity to look behind. When riders currently choose to look behind them, they have no option but to choose two completely eliminate their ability to look forward; this leaves them cycling blind, at speed, with no ability to even react to changes in the road ahead. Hindsight glasses allow peripheral vision to be maintained in the forward direction while checking behind, giving effectively the best of both worlds.”

“Given the huge growth in cycling during the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe that cycling safety is paramount. HindSight glasses can help new and seasoned cyclists alike to be safer by being more aware of the road around them be safer. We also want to help encourage people to continue cycling post-pandemic rather than reverting to their previous forms of transport to create a more active population and healthier environment with decreased CO2 emissions.”

Skinner added: “As a passionate cyclist, I’m acutely aware of the importance of road safety. I’m also struck by the potential of HindSight glasses to help professional cyclists reach their peak performance. Managing aerodynamic profile is essential for any elite cyclist, and, by turning back to look over your shoulder, you can easily lose efficiencies in your speed and performance. I believe HindSight glasses provide the answer to this and will change the norm as we know it.”

HindSight’s innovative glasses have already won a series of entrepreneurial development awards in 2020 including the Scottish Edge Award, the Scottish Enterprise Unlocking Ambition program, and the Allia Business Impact Accelerator fellowship. Earlier this year, HindSight was accepted into the Royal Academy of Engineering's Enterprise Fellowship and Macdonald has become RAEng 1851 Royal Commission Enterprise Fellow.

For further information

About HindSight
HindSight, founded by physicist Alex Macdonald and Olympic Champion cyclist Callum Skinner is a revolutionary start-up company aiming to change the way the world cycles. As passionate cyclists, Alex and Callum set about finding a solution for rear vision with the aim to make the world of cycling safer for everyone. After partnering with an award-winning optical system engineer and creating a mathematical model based on cyclists’ real-world experiences, HindSight developed its patent-pending award winning rear-view lens technology, providing rear vision without sacrificing forward sight.

11 February 2021


The premium chocolate maker is set to open a new production facility and visitor centre in 2021 at the South Queensferry marina

The small batch premium chocolate maker COCO Chocolatier is expanding its operations by creating a new manufacturing facility and visitor centre at the thriving Port Edgar Marina in South Queensferry on the outskirts of Edinburgh.
COCO Chocolatier, which brings together chocolate and art, is moving from its current base in Portobello to take over a 10,000sq ft retail warehouse next to marina shop Beacon, Scott’s restaurant and Scotland’s largest watersports centre, Port Edgar Watersports.
The warehouse, which was previously occupied by antiques retailer Shapes, is currently being fitted out to house production and office facilities and is expected to be completed by Spring 2021. A visitor centre tourist attraction is also being created to offer guided tours, tastings and an event space. It is expected to open in Summer 2021. 
First established in 2004, and taken over by Calum Haggerty in 2013, COCO Chocolatier sources its chocolate ethically ‘at origin’ from Colombia – in doing so, ensuring that more wealth stays in the local economy. The team visits Colombia each year to meet the cacao farmers and visit the production factory to make sure the chocolate is being sourced and produced responsibly.
Back in Edinburgh, the chocolate is worked into a variety of products including its collection of distinctively designed bars, which come in a range of flavours such as rhubarb & ginger, cold brew coffee and gin & tonic, and drinking chocolate. COCO Chocolatier’s distinctive contemporary packaging is the result of collaborations with artists from Scotland and around the world.
Commenting on the move and the growth of COCO Chocolatier, director Calum Haggerty said: “We’ve been steadily growing for the past seven years and we have now reached a point where we have outgrown our current facilities in Portobello. We have been searching for a new home for the past year, and we were thrilled to find Port Edgar Marina.
“We chose Port Edgar because it's already a popular destination, and has useful transport links. But also, we fell in love with the beautiful views and the community spirit of our soon to be neighbouring businesses. The first times we visited the location we all got a very positive feeling and realised this was a place where we could soon feel at home.
“We are determined to create the perfect visitor experience of our chocolate factory, which is why we decided to do significant work to the buildings we are taking over. This is a huge project for us, and we all feel very passionate about it. We can't wait to move there in 2021".
The marina, which was established in 1978 by the former Lothian Regional Council, has been transformed into a thriving destination since being taken over in 2014 by Port Edgar Holdings Ltd, which is run by husband-and-wife team Russell and Cara Aitken.
Russell Aitken, managing director of Port Edgar, said: “We’re delighted to welcome COCO Chocolatier to the Port Edgar family. Their plans for the chocolate factory and the visitor centre look very exciting and we can’t wait for their doors to open later in the year.”
Located on the Firth of Forth between the iconic Road and Rail Bridges and the new Queensferry Crossing, Port Edgar Marina is now a vibrant year-round destination for boat owners, sailing enthusiasts and watersports activities. The addition of Scott’s Restaurant and the makeover of chandlery and shop Beacon has increased visitor numbers further.
The marina hosts an annual Open Weekend, which attracts more than 10,000 visitors from across central Scotland – although 2020’s event was understandably postponed during the pandemic.

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