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

CIPR

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. 

She is a Trustee and Chair of The Polar Academy children's charity and sits of the Edinburgh Board of Cancer Research UK's Business Beats Cancer.


Jim Byers, Director

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.

Carol Graham, Financial Controller

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.


Peter Ranscombe, Consultant and Corporate Writer

Peter Ranscombe, Consultant 

Peter spent nine years as a journalist with The Scotsman newspaper, including three years writing for and helping to edit the professional pages - such as Science & Environment, Education & Learning, and Law & Legal Affairs - and six years on the business desk, writing about life science companies, technology firms and university spin-outs. His articles have also appeared in the Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Herald, the Sunday Post and the Sunday Times.

As the editor of BQ Scotland and a commissioned corporate copywriter, Peter writes across a broad range of subjects from entrepreneurs, investment finance, renewable energy, technology and law.  

Peter holds a Bachelor of Science degree with honours in physics from the University of St Andrews and a master's degree in journalism studies, awarded jointly by Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of Strathclyde.


Colin Hutchison, Consultant on Tiso Group

Colin Hutchison, Consultant

Before he could barely walk, Colin was on family trips that explored the beaches and remoter parts of Scotland’s highlands and islands. A few decades later, the Edinburgh-based PR and writer has more than 15 years’ experience, including within the sport and adventure tourism sectors.

A keen alpine skier, kayaker, mountain-biker, climber and hiker, he has written extensively about Scotland and the great outdoors for the national and specialist media.  A former outdoor adventure columnist for the Sunday Herald, he has also co-authored / contributed to several international travel guidebooks about Scotland, including Footprint, Rough Guide Highlands & Islands and Frommer’s Best Walking Trips in Scotland. 

Making Colin the perfect candidate to support Beeline PR on the PR account for Scotland’s leading outdoor adventure clothing and equipment retailer, Tiso - as well as the charitable initiatives it supports including, The Polar Academy.

Heidi Cordner
Heidi Cordner, Social Media Manager

Heidi Cordner creates engaging content for the social media platforms of Beeline PR’s clients.  She spent many years promoting adventure tourism in-house at VisitScotland and also worked for Scotland’s leading outdoor adventure retail specialist and Beeline PR client, Tiso.
 
A recent graduate of Digital Mums, Heidi is the creator of Helensburgh Living, which promotes the best places to eat and drink, events and festivals to showcase the towns incredible houses, gardens and people.  Heidi also manages the social media for her popular family business, Cruise Loch Lomond .
Sarah Howden

Sarah Howden, Consultant

Sarah is a PR consultant and journalist with more than 15 years’ experience in media, PR, marketing and events for retail and luxury brands.

Having worked in some of Scotland’s top PR consultancies, she specialises in creative results-driven multi-media campaigns spanning media relations, marketing, digital and social communications.

Sarah also spent several years working for the Scotsman Publications as a columnist, lifestyle journalist and magazine editor.  She is currently a beauty columnist for the Edinburgh Evening News, a regular contributor to Scottish national glossy, i-on, and continues to write for publications including the Press & Journal, the Scottish Sun, Tie the Knot Scotland and Glamour.com. 

Jude Henderson

Jude Henderson, Consultant

Jude has enjoyed an almost 20-year career in PR, specialising in events and festivals, tourism and travel and publishing.

She honed many of her skills as the PR Manager at VisitScotland, where she led the Cities and Culture portfolio in the UK and Ireland team, and has developed those skills and contacts ever since.

Jude brings innovative and creative planning to every task and an enthusiastic approach to everything she works on.

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.

Current clients

Click on the client logo to find out more

Our partners

Beeline PR works with a number of partners to pollinate creative ideas while project managing campaigns for its clients:

Photography/Video
Photography/Video
Digital/Social Media
Digital/social media
Advertising
Advertising
Direct Marketing
Direct Marketing
Public Affairs
Public Affairs
Contract Publishing
Contract Publishing

Recent News from Beeline PR

9 April 2019

Korean Asset Management Business Buys Edinburgh Office Space for £55 million

9 West, an Edinburgh-based investment firm has introduced the funding for an off market £55.2 million deal for a South Korean asset management business to acquire commercial property in Scotland.

Robbie Moir from 9 West secured funding from Hyundai Asset Management Co. Ltd to purchase prime office space at Gyle Square, South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh.
 
London-based Greenridge Investment Management sold the 148,796 square feet property to Hyundai Asset Management less than three years after acquiring it from Highland Properties, which had developed the offices on the site of the former BAE Systems factory.  The deal was concluded on behalf of Hyundai Asset Management by property agents Ereira Mendoza.
 
Gyle Square is leased to NHS National Services Scotland, which provides shared services to the NHS and other public bodies across Scotland. It has fully occupied the property since it was constructed in 2003, under a lease until June 2029. 
 
South Gyle is one of Scotland's top five business districts and also home to JP Morgan, Royal Bank of Scotland and Tesco Bank
 
Mr Moir, whose new business 9 West was instrumental in striking the deal, said: "This is a major overseas investment in Edinburgh, which reflects very positively on the level of global interest in the commercial property sector in Scotland. This sends out a strong signal that Scotland is on the radar of Asian investors if the right kind of property is available." 
 
Mr Moir, who has also raised significant capital for infrastructure investments in the UK, added: "South Korean investment firms in particular are stepping up global real asset investments targeting real estate and infrastructure opportunities."
 
9 West, Mr Moir's new venture, launched earlier this year, aims to "introduce capital to investment opportunities utilising key relationships with investors around the world". Mr Moir has 20 years of experience in financial services, including 12 years of global infrastructure investing. He has worked in London, New York and the Middle East.
 
Hyundai Asset Management rolled out its first public real estate fund and raised money from individual investors in South Korea to support the acquisition of Gyle Square. The fund has a term of three and a half years and will be listed on the Korea Stock Exchange.
 
Hyundai Asset Management borrowed £35.9 million, 65 per cent of the Gyle Square acquisition price, in a three-year secured loan from UK-based lenders, according to details published on the deal - which closed on Friday 5 April.
 
With South Korean investment firms stepping up global real estate investments, they are increasingly tapping retail investors to fund the deals. The combined net asset value of Korean public property funds for both domestic and overseas investment is 2.5 trillion won (£1.66 trillion), according to recent figures from the Korea Financial Investment Association, up 19 per cent from a year earlier.

1 April 2019

Scottish SMEs generate £2.2bn turnover growth since 2015

A group of companies based in Scotland have increased their combined turnover by £2.2bn in the last three years, according to new research from BGF, the UK and Ireland’s most active equity investor.

For the first time, the research calculates growth through changes in turnover and employee size among the UK’s private companies with revenues between £3m and £150m, a category of 13,286 businesses nationwide, 892 of which are based in Scotland.
 
Overall, Scottish businesses in this group experienced 11 percent combined turnover growth over the last three years. The research found the regions for highest levels of turnover growth include Fife (20 percent), Argyll and Bute (26 percent) and the Scottish borders (25 percent). 
 
These Scottish businesses have also experienced combined employee growth of 8.7 percent over the past three years, second only to London. 13,600 jobs were created by these companies since 2015, an average of 87 a week. 
 
Paddy Graham, Head of Central Scotland and Northern Ireland at BGF, said: “While political and economic uncertainty has undoubtedly impacted business confidence in Scotland, it is encouraging to see so many businesses here showing continued growth. It’s more important than ever that ambitious companies like these are given the backing to accelerate their development.
 
“These figures show that, even in challenging market conditions, there are ambitious management teams in Scotland who are creating jobs and looking for new growth opportunities. A number of BGF’s portfolio companies are included in the data set, companies we’ve supported in their drive to scale up. We want to actively engage with more of these growing companies and to support their plans.” 
 
The research has been released as part of BGF’s ‘Ready for Business’ campaign, which will see the investor confidently advocate for continued growth, committing to entrepreneurs and investing in the age of uncertainty.
 
BGF’s ‘Ready for Business’ report is available to download here. The research looks at publicly-reported data. Given current reporting thresholds, this group of companies is likely to be much larger - BGF’s proprietary database indicates that there could be an additional 4,000 companies, increasing the size of this group by 30 percent.
 
BGF, the UK and Ireland’s most active investor, was founded in 2011 specifically to address a long-standing gap in equity funding directed into companies that have outgrown friends, family or angel funding but are not typically large enough to be courted by traditional private equity. BGF has invested £1.9bn in more than 270 companies since 2011. 
 
About BGF: 
  • BGF was set up in 2011 and has invested more than £1.9bn in over 270 companies, making it the most active investor in the UK and globally by number of transactions.
  • On average, BGF invested in one company per week in 2018. In the past few weeks, BGF has backed: 
  • BGF has £2.5bn to invest in UK SMEs and in Ireland, and an additional €250m to support Irish businesses. Earlier this year, Canada launched its equivalent – the Canadian Business Growth Fund – based on BGF’s funding model, and Australia is now actively exploring the approach as well.
  • BGF is a minority, non-controlling equity partner with a patient outlook on investments, based on shared long-term goals with the management teams it backs.
www.bgf.co.uk 
Social media: @BGFinvestments

20 March 2019

New Wellbeing Speaker Agency Buzzing with Success

Speaker Buzz to stage its first events in Edinburgh and Glasgow as its roster of inspiring speakers continues to grow rapidly

A new speaker agency with a focus on wellbeing and making a difference to the world is celebrating a successful start with the launch of its first events and a rapidly growing roster.

Speaker Buzz, which is based in Edinburgh, represents a new breed of inspiring speakers who are passionate about wellbeing and making a positive social, cultural and behavioural change in society.

In April, Speaker Buzz will stage two special events in Edinburgh and Glasgow to showcase two of its inspirational speakers and raise awareness of a key topic in society.

The 'A conversation with fathers about autism' events, which take place during Autism Awareness Week (1-7 April), are hosted by broadcaster Stuart Cosgrove and communications specialist John Hatfield. The first event takes place at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Monday 1 April, with the second at Whitespace's Eventspace in Edinburgh on Wednesday 3 April.

Both men are fathers of autistic sons and the intimate conversational events will see Stuart and John share their experiences of autism in their families in front of a ticketed audience. The pair will discuss the physical, mental and emotional impact of autism in a family, educational and social environment. The aim is to encourage more fathers to be open about their own situations and experiences.

Launched last June by communications specialist Debbie Byers and her sister Carol Graham, Speaker Buzz started out representing five speakers, but its roster is now almost 20 strong, with a waiting list of a similar number.

Its speakers include explorer Mollie Hughes, who is currently preparing for a world record solo and unsupported expedition to the South Pole; Dr Cor Hutton, the quadruple amputee who recently underwent Scotland's first double hand transplant; and acclaimed photographer David Eustace, an advocate of the life-changing power of creativity.

With its growing roster of in-demand speakers, Speaker Buzz is now handling booking enquiries across Scotland, the UK and internationally.

Other speakers on the books include Cal Major, who undertook the world's first stand-up paddleboard trip from Land's End to John O'Groats to raise awareness of plastic pollution, Gavin Oattes whose book SHINE has been shortlisted for the 2019 Best Book Awards in the 'Self Development' category, and Harley Street-based transformational breath coach, Stuart Sandeman.

Director Debbie Byers, who also runs the successful Beeline PR agency, said: "People's wellbeing and the welfare of the planet have never been higher on the agenda, so we have been growing our roster of speakers who share a passion for making a difference to the world.

"We've got off to a flying start and now we are taking the next step with the launch of our first Speaker Buzz events in Edinburgh and Glasgow, which will focus on autism.

"There are approximately 700,000 autistic people in the UK, with more than 50,000 in Scotland. Having an autistic child can put pressure on relationships, and it is believed that around 80% of marriages affected by autism end in divorce. Our speakers Stuart Cosgrove and John Hatfield are both parents of autistic sons and the aim of the event is to share their experiences in order to help others."

'A conversation with fathers about autism' featuring Stuart Cosgrove and John Hatfield takes places at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Monday 1 April, and Whitespace's Eventspace in Edinburgh on Wednesday 3 April. For tickets and information, visit

https://www.speakerbuzz.co.uk/events.html

www.speakerbuzz.co.uk
@SpeakerBuzzUK

19 March 2019

Lafferty steps up to Operations Director as Story Scotland also expands Commercial team in Scotland following significant business growth

19 March, Glasgow - Civil engineering company Story Scotland has promoted Craig Lafferty to Operations Director, while also announcing a recruitment drive for new quantity surveyors and estimators, following a period of multi-million-pound business growth.

Craig's appointment to Operations Director acknowledges the success that he and the business has made growing its Scottish division, allowing the team to enjoy a greater presence in the market place.  He joined the business in 2016 from Balfour Beatty and has worked in the industry for 21 years.

Story Scotland, which is a division of family-owned infrastructure company Story Contracting, enjoyed record growth last year, and the division has expanded from just six employees in 2014 to 125 employees currently.

New business includes a five-year framework contract worth £135m with Network Rail, which will see the Glasgow and Edinburgh-based company deliver a wide range of renewal and enhancement projects in Scotland during the next five years, refurbishing structures across the route and delivering improvements within stations.

The contract has been awarded as Network Rail prepares to invest over £4bn in the Scottish network between 2019 and 2024. This will see Story recruiting up to 60 graduates, trainees and apprentices in Scotland across the five years.

Discussing his new role, Craig said: "As Operations Director for Story Scotland I am thrilled to be leading on the delivery of the five-year CP6 structures framework that we recently secured from Network Rail. 

"My new role allows me to invest time into identifying our key talent and succession plans for the future years, which is something that I feel very passionate about. I believe that our growth and success in Scotland over the past four years is down to the exceptional people in our team. As such, we need to invest in their future to ensure that we continue to retain and attract the most talented individuals in the market which will help future proof the business."

Craig added: "It is really important that we continue to work with our clients as partners, driving the projects forward together and ensuring that we develop long lasting relations that make us the partner of choice for the future."

Due to the firm's business growth it is recruiting new quantity surveyors and estimators at varying levels of experience into its Commercial team based in Uddingston, Glasgow, to help support on a large number of upcoming projects.

Dave Gardiner, Head of Commercial at Story Scotland, explained: "Thanks to our recent business growth we are fortunate to be involved in more tenders than ever before, so we are looking to recruit hard-working, passionate individuals to join our strong Commercial team.  We place a great deal of importance on ensuring that we recruit the right people into our business to help us to achieve our goals.

"In recent years we have seen significant growth at Story Scotland and continue to build on this with the recent award of the Network Rail CP6 IP-SNE framework.  This, in conjunction with our involvement in the more traditional civils sector, provides us with a platform to further expand our Commercial team and provide a great opportunity to those looking to further their career with Story."

For more information about employment opportunities within Story Scotland's Commercial team, please visit www.storycontracting.com/jobs.

Notes to Editor

Story Contracting was established in 1987 by Fred Story.  It remains family-owned and has won many awards for its high standards of work and excellent safety record. The company, with its ‘do it right' motto, has over 700 members of staff across five divisions - Rail, Construction, Plant, Story Scotland and Reiver Homes. It also has its own specialist training facility at its head office in Carlisle.

Its regional offices are located at:

  • Bonnyrigg, Edinburgh
  • Uddingston, Glasgow
  • Chorley, Lancashire
  • Normanton, West Yorkshire
  • Birmingham

The business is highly respected nationally for providing construction, plant and rail solutions and has previously been named Network Rail Supplier of the Year. Our plant division are one of only two suppliers in the UK to be awarded GOLD in Network Rail's Route To Gold.

For more information about Story go to www.storycontracting.com or Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

4 March 2019

'A conversation with fathers about autism'

Stuart Cosgrove and John Hatfield to host discussion events in Glasgow and Edinburgh

To coincide with Autism Awareness Week (1-7 April), broadcaster Stuart Cosgrove and communications specialist John Hatfield will host two special events sharing their experiences of being fathers of autistic children.

The 'A conversation with fathers about autism' events will take place on Monday 1st April at Glasgow Film Theatre and Wednesday 3rd April at Eventspace, Edinburgh. The events are the first in a series presented by Speaker Buzz, a new specialist speaker agency based in Edinburgh, which focuses on mental health, wellbeing and making a positive social, cultural and behavioural change in society.

Broadcaster, author and media personality Stuart Cosgrove will be speaking publicly for the first time about his six-year-old son's autism diagnosis. Stuart is a widely recognised media figure having been a senior executive with Channel 4 for many years, a successful author and one half of BBC Scotland's 'Off the Ball' team.

He will be joined by John Hatfield who has a teenage son with Asperger syndrome.
John is a media and communications specialist and board advisor to the National Autistic Society.

Intimate and informed events

The 'A conversation with fathers about autism' events will focus on the personal experiences of these two fathers who are at two very different stages in their autism journey.  The aim is to encourage more fathers to be open about their own situations and experiences.

There are more than 700,000 autistic people in the UK, with more than 50,000 in Scotland.  Having an autistic child can put pressure on relationships, with a high percentage of marriages affected by autism ending in divorce.

The intimate conversational events will see Stuart and John share their experiences of autism in their families. The pair will discuss the physical, mental and emotional impact of autism in a family, educational and social environment.

The events will be suitable for parents or carers of a child with an autism diagnosis, those concerned about childhood development, professionals working in education, social care or the third sector and employers wanting to understand autism's effect on their workforce.

Stuart said: "I've never spoken publicly about my son's diagnosis, but it is obviously a huge part of my life. I've been researching all aspects of autism and the neuroscience since it entered my world. When I was introduced to and met John, I got more out of the two-hour conversation with him than I had done from any medical journal, book or meeting I'd had.

"His honest and frank insight into his experience as a father of a son with autism allowed me to learn so much more and I hope that by sharing our experiences in this way, we can help others to learn about this condition."

John added: "My teenage son has Asperger's syndrome, which is a form of autism. This is a topic I'm very passionate about and through my own experiences and my work with the National Autistic Society, I want to help debunk the myths around autism and highlight the incredible achievements of autistic people."
Debbie Byers, co-founder of Speaker Buzz, said: "We launched Speaker Buzz with a purpose to represent inspiring speakers who are passionate about making a positive, social, cultural and behavioural change. Our speakers are already providing inspiration with impact at conferences and events, but this is the first in a series of events we have created.

"Both Stuart and John are passionate speakers with a shared personal experience. We hope that by holding this open discussion about autism from a father's perspective that it will help others in the process. It's good to talk and both Stuart and John are never short of things to say."

Tickets for each event are available via Eventbrite for £10 plus booking fee, with a donation of proceeds being made to the National Autistic Society.

Note to Editors

'A conversation with fathers about autism':

  • Monday 1 April, 6-8pm, Glasgow Film Theatre, 12 Rose Street Glasgow G3 6RB - tickets available from Eventbrite here
  • Wednesday 3 April, 6-8pm, EventSpace at Whitespace, Norloch House, 36 King's Stables Road Edinburgh, EH1 2EU - tickets available from Eventbrite here

Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT) is Scotland's most diverse and best-attended independent cinema. Its ethos is Cinema For All and, as part of that, GFT runs Access Film Club, a monthly autism-friendly screening and discussion group. GFT works alongside Scottish Autism to provide this opportunity for people with additional needs to enjoy a mainstream social activity that may ordinarily be out of reach, and was the first cinema in the UK to be given the National Autistic Society's Autism Friendly Award.

www.speakerbuzz.co.uk
www.autism.org.uk/

26 February 2019

Everest record breaker Mollie Hughes announces solo South Pole expedition

Mollie Hughes (28), the Mount Everest record-breaking adventurer has announced her bid to become the youngest woman in the world to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole.

Mollie Hughes (28), the Mount Everest record-breaking adventurer has announced her bid to become the youngest woman in the world to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole.

In 2017, aged 26, Mollie became the world's youngest person to have successfully climbed both the north and south sides of Mount Everest, the world's highest peak. Her next adventure begins in mid-November when she will leave from Hercules Inlet in Western Antarctica. Skiing eastwards, she will aim to reach the Geographic South Pole by New Year's Day.

To achieve her goal, the Edinburgh-based and Devon-born adventurer and motivational speaker must ski alone and unsupported across 702 miles of the world's largest desert and most unforgiving terrain. It is an immense physical and mental challenge.

When successful, Mollie will be the youngest woman by four years to achieve the feat. The current record for a woman is held by the Swede, Johanna Davidson, who was 33 years-old when she completed the same route solo and unsupported.

After leaving the south-west margins of the Ronne Ice Shelf, Mollie must successfully negotiate obstacles like crevasse fields and 6ft high wind formed waves of snow.

Her mental reserves and progress will be further tested by the need to haul her 75kg sled into a bone-chilling headwind in temperatures of minus 50C (three times lower than insider a domestic home freezer). Her only companion will be the wind, endless snowfields and a selection of audio books and music!

Mollie, who must now raise £,100,000 for her expedition bid, aims to use her Antarctic expedition to help raise funds and awareness of The Polar Academy, a ground-breaking youth mental health charity for which she was recently appointed a guide.

To prepare for Antarctica, the mountaineer is also being advised by Craig Mathieson, founder of The Polar Academy and Scotland's greatest living polar explorer who led Scotland's first dedicated expedition to the South Pole in 2004.

She has also recently completed two-weeks of polar expedition training with leading female polar guides Denise Martin and Hannah Mckeand on the Handangervidda plateau near Finse in Arctic Norway.

Speaking about her latest expedition and current training regime, Mollie commented:

"I am hugely excited to be announcing my bid to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole. The vast and extreme environment of Antarctica has always fascinated me. For a long time, I've longed to follow in the ski tracks of inspirational explorers like Craig (Mathieson) and Hannah McKeand who through their grit, determination and skill have succeeded in skiing to the South Pole.

"I'm fully aware that to ski solo 702 miles through the world's coldest and most unforgiving terrain will require immense mental and physical strength. To date, records show that only six women and 17 men have ever completed the Hercules Inlet route on skis, alone and without resupply. Aside from the unrelenting cold, I envisage my constant battle with facing all the challenges on my own will be the toughest challenge down there."

As part of her preparations for Antarctica, Mollie will undertake a two-week expedition in Arctic Norway in March followed by 15 days on the ice of Eastern Greenland as a guide with The Polar Academy."

Mollie added: "I've been hauling tyres on the beach with The Polar Academy, honing my expedition skills in the Scottish Highlands and Norway and working hard in the Elysium Gym in Edinburgh to maximise my physical readiness."

Commenting on her plans for Antarctica, Craig Mathieson, said: "Mollie Hughes is a remarkable individual with immense reserves of courage and determination. She will need both in her bid to become the youngest woman in the world to ski solo to the South Pole.

"I have no doubt that she has the skills and mental toughness to achieve her goal. Success will further underline Mollie's credentials as an inspirational explorer and as a role model for young people in Scotland and throughout the world."

Hughes, who secured worldwide publicity following her world-record breaking feat on Mount Everest, will leave the UK in mid-November and return in early January when she plans to conduct an inspirational speaking tour about her expedition. She hopes to post updates from Antarctica and during the expedition the public will be able to track her progress.

Photo credit: Mike Wilkinson Photography
www.molliehughes.co.uk
www.speakerbuzz.co.uk/mollie-hughes.html

SOUTH POLE RECORDS AND HISTORY
FAST FACTS

  • Johanna Davidson (Sweden) was 33 years-old when she skied solo and unsupported from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole. Mollie Hughes is aiming to break the age record by 4 years.
  • Johanna Davidson also holds the female record for the fastest solo ski to the South Pole from Hercules Inlet. She started on 15 November 2016 and reached the Pole on 24 Dec 2016 after 38 days, 23 hours and 5 minutes.
  • In total, only 12 women have ever skied to solo to the South Pole via any route. Only six have ever skied solo and without resupply from Hercules Inlet where Mollie Hughes will also start.
  • 17 men have completed unsupported solo ski expeditions from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole. The youngest men to ski solo and unsupported and without the aid of a kite were both 27 years of age: Matthieu Tordeur (France) and Scott Sears (UK). Matthieu is the current youngest record holder.
  • The current fastest woman is Johanna Davidson she started on 15 November 2016 reached the Pole on 24 Dec 2016 after 38 days, 23 hours and 5 minutes. (She then kited back to Hercules Inlet).  
  • Roald Amundsen (Norway) (1872-1928) led the first successful expedition to the South Pole in 1911. History also records that Captain Falcon Scott (UK) and his men perished on the Ross Ice Shelf on their return from the South Pole in 1912.

19 February 2019

In the name of Rae... 400 mile 'Arctic Return' expedition bids to raise awareness of one of Scotland's greatest explorers

A former Royal Marine based in West Lothian is to be part of a 4-man expedition team that in late March will undertake one of the longest and ambitious modern-day ski journeys ever attempted in the Canadian Arctic. Covering 400 miles in one of the most inhospitable environments above the Arctic Circle, the aim is to retrace the footsteps and raise awareness of the late John Rae, one of Scotland's greatest explorers.

Setting off from Naujaat (Repulse Bay), the Arctic Return expedition will see Broxburn based Richard Smith (47) join three others, including Scots born and Canada based expedition leader David Reid, on a 400-mile mission that was last undertaken in 1854 by Rae (1813-1893), the Orkney born explorer, surgeon and surveyor.

During that expedition, the 19th century explorer finally discovered an open channel to the east of King William Island in the high Arctic. Known today as Rae Strait, it was the 'missing link' in what would become the first navigable Northwest Passage*.

Over 160 years later and supported with kit from Tiso the outdoor adventure retail specialist, Smith and his fellow explorers are preparing for the physical and mental challenge of hauling 90kg sledges for 9 hours daily and for up to 40 consecutive days. The route will cover undulating, windswept tundra, river valleys and sea ice during what can be the coldest time of year. The Arctic Return expedition will finish once the four explorers have finally reached Gjoa Haven on King William Island.

Like Rae, during their self-sufficient expedition, the modern-day explorers hope to engage and utilise the invaluable local knowledge of the Inuit people who call this challenging part of Nunavut, Canada home. The area is also known for the largest land carnivore on Earth, the polar bear.

Smith, who owns Motorhome Escapes in Edinburgh, explained the rationale for the expedition: "History books have long recorded the feats of explorers like Captain Scott and Ernest Shackleton. Unfortunately, history and the (then) Establishment have not been so kind to the remarkable Orcadian, John Rae. His remarkable achievements included mapping over 1750 miles of Arctic coastline and the discovery of what he would name Rae Strait - the missing link in the Northwest Passage.

"It was also Rae who discovered and reported back to the Admiralty on the grisly fate of the previous Franklin expedition. The failure of the (then) Establishment to accept the findings in his honest report, led to Rae's incredible achievements in 18th century exploration being largely ignored.

"The Arctic Return expedition will be extremely tough but ultimately our aim is to raise awareness of the exploits of John Rae and to help restore his rightful place as one of the greatest Scottish explorers in history. It is also our hope that this awareness will inspire the public to support fundraising efforts by the John Rae Society (www.johnraesociety.com) to restore Rae's birthplace at Hall of Clestrain in Orphir, Orkney."

With two Canadians, adventure film-maker Garry Tutte and adventurer Frank Wolf also part of the modern-day team, any additional funds raised to support the Arctic Return expedition are to be used to produce a documentary film and book about the life and exploits of Rae, the expedition and the history, communities, culture and wildlife of the Arctic.

Chris Tiso, CEO of Tiso Group and who has first-hand experience of the Arctic and Antarctic, commented: "Arctic Return promises to be an incredibly challenging undertaking for Richard and his fellow explorers. Tiso is immensely proud to be supporting their bid to retrace the footsteps and raise awareness of the legendary Scottish explorer, John Rae. All at Tiso wish the team a safe and rewarding journey through the Canadian Arctic."

Smith, who has been hauling tyres as part of his pre-expedition training, leaves the UK on 20 March and expects to return to Scotland in mid May. The public will be able to track their progress at the official website www.Arcticreturn.com and through social media.

Footnote
*The discovery of the Northwest Passage was proof that a sea-route existed for trading sea-faring vessels to navigate 'over the top of the world' to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

https://arcticreturn.com/

Notes to the editors
For images and interview requests, please contact: Debbie Byers, Debbie@beelinepr.com or Colin Hutchison Colin@beelinepr.com 0755 7794981.

13 February 2019

MorphCostumes dresses for success with Fun Shack takeover

Wednesday 13 February 2019: MorphCostumes, the manufacturer and online fancy dress retailer behind the legendary Morphsuit, has hit the acquisition trail, taking the first step in a plan that will continue their strong growth from a base of over £12m in 2018 (up from £9m in 2017).

The Edinburgh-headquartered company has bought Fun Shack, which designs, makes and sells a range of costumes through Amazon and other online retailers, as well as through a network of over 200 shops.

Fun Shack was founded in Leeds by Jeffrey Fearnley and Harvey Felstone in 2008 and has grown its annual revenues to £3m and its headcount to 12 staff.

MorphCostumes plans to export Fun Shack’s costumes - which are primarily available in the UK - through its existing international distribution channels, targeting countries including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United States.

Fraser Smeaton, chief executive at MorphCostumes, said: "Fun Shack has been on our radar for the past couple of years thanks to its range of good-quality costumes.  They make outfits that are classics - they never go out of style.

"We believe its ranges of historical, storybook and many other classic costume designs will appeal to an overseas audience just as much as they have done to customers here in the UK.

"We already have the sales channels in place to take this business to the next level and we're looking forward to integrating its products into our range."

Brothers Fraser and Ali Smeaton founded AFG Media, MorphCostumes' parent company, in 2009 with Gregor Lawson after a night out that inspired the invention of the world's first Morphsuit, a head-to-toe spandex fancy dress outfit that has grown into an international phenomenon.

Some of its most-popular costumes include characters from films such as Deadpool, Spider-man and Power Rangers, alongside official WWE wrestling outfits.

BGF, the UK's most active investor in growing companies, bought a minority stake in AFG Media for £4.2m in 2012 to accelerate the company's expansion.

About BGF

BGF is the most active and influential investor in small and mid-sized businesses in the UK, with £2.5bn to support a range of growing companies - early stage, growth stage and quoted - across every region and sector of the economy. In Ireland, BGF has an additional €250m to support Irish SMEs on a similar growth path.

BGF makes long-term equity capital investments in return for a minority stake in the companies it backs. Initial investments are typically between £1m-£10m followed by significant follow-on funding as required. BGF is a minority, non-controlling equity partner with a patient outlook, based on shared long-term goals with the management teams it backs.

With a specialist internal team of over 150 people, combined with an unparalleled international network of business leaders, sector experts, and board-level non-executives, BGF has a unique platform and capability to support growing UK and Irish SMEs. This is further reinforced through dedicated in-house support with Chair and senior executive selection and appointments provide by our Talent Network, now some 5,000 strong.

BGF invests off its own balance sheet allowing it to offer truly flexible investment structures with a mix of equity and loan notes as appropriate. BGF can also provide equity release for existing shareholders, and funding to support acquisitive and organic growth strategies at home and abroad.

www.bgf.co.uk
@BGFinvestments

29 January 2019

BGF invests quarter of a billion pounds in Scottish businesses

UK's most active investor celebrates 2018 with three new investments

BGF, the UK's most active investor in growing businesses, has invested more than a quarter of a billion pounds in Scottish businesses to date. This includes 30 new investments, as well as follow-on funding for existing portfolio companies, since BGF was set up in 2011.

BGF's team in Scotland, based in local offices in Edinburgh and Aberdeen, provided £42m of patient capital to businesses with three new investments in 2018. These included Cumbernauld-based Moulded Foams, the UK's largest independent manufacturer of moulded foam products, and Parklands Group, one of Scotland's largest independent care home providers and BGF's first investment in the Highlands and Moray.

There was also a £2.75m of follow-on investment to Glasgow-based Walker Precision Engineering. BGF originally invested £4m into the company in December 2017 and this further investment will help the business invest in equipment at its Glasgow site and double the size of its manufacturing presence in Poland.

The investor also announced three new exits in the last 12 months - leading Scottish optical provider Duncan & Todd Group and Edinburgh-based Jumpstart, the UK's leading R&D tax credit specialists, as the business was acquired by Visiativ Group.

Paddy Graham, Head of Central Scotland and Northern Ireland at BGF, said: "It's hugely encouraging that, against such an unpredictable landscape for business, many entrepreneurs and owners continued through 2018 to progress with their growth plans. There is a huge amount of diversity in the portfolio, and we've seen some fantastic growth in areas such as housebuilding, manufacturing and technology.

"There will, of course, be some trepidation among the business community as a whole, but we know that there are plenty of companies with real growth potential and ambition and it is vitally important that they have the backing they need. We will continue to support these businesses and are looking ahead to 2019 with optimism as the pipeline is healthy with a number of active discussions ongoing."

About BGF

  • BGF was set up in 2011 and has invested more than £1.8bn in over 270 companies, making it the most active investor in the UK and globally by number of transactions.
  • In 2018, BGF invested £441m in British and Irish businesses, in a record year for the investor. This included £288m in 51 new investments, and £153m through follow-on funding for existing portfolio companies to support further growth
  • On average, BGF has invested in one company per week in 2018
  • BGF has £2.5bn to invest in UK SMEs and in Ireland, and an additional €250m to support Irish businesses. Earlier this year, Canada launched its equivalent - the Canadian Business Growth Fund - based on BGF's funding model, and Australia is now actively exploring the approach as well.
  • BGF is a minority, non-controlling equity partner with a patient outlook on investments, based on shared long-term goals with the management teams it backs.

www.bgf.co.uk 
@BGFinvestments

25 January 2019

Story Scotland appoints Managing Director

Scottish division of Story Contracting makes appointment following multi-million-pound Network Rail contract

Civil engineering company Story Scotland has promoted its Director John MacArthur to Managing Director following an exceptional start to 2019 after securing a five-year framework contract worth £135m with Network Rail.

MacArthur, who starts his new role on 1 February, joined Story in 2014 after spending 19 years working for Balfour Beatty. He has more than 30 years' experience within the civil engineering and rail sectors.

His role is to ensure successful delivery of the Network Rail work. He also leads the 'Fit for Future' strategy in Scotland, centred around business growth in both the rail and civils sectors.

The Network Rail framework will see Story Scotland, which has offices in Glasgow and Edinburgh, deliver a wide range of renewal and enhancement projects in Scotland over the next five years. These include replacing and refurbishing structures across the route and delivering improvements at stations.

The contract has been awarded as Network Rail prepares to invest over £4bn in the Scottish network between 2019 and 2024. This will see Story recruiting up to 60 graduates, trainees and apprentices in Scotland across the five years.

Story is already a key partner for Network Rail in Scotland and is currently working to deliver new platforms at Edinburgh Waverley station.

Of his new role, MacArthur said: "It is both an honour and a privilege to take on this new role and continue to grow the business as we deliver major projects across Scotland.

"We have a very busy five years ahead of us, and although very exciting, there will no doubt be significant challenges to overcome. However, I am confident that we have the foundations and team to continue our success, building a sustainable business model in the years ahead."

MacArthur added: "I am absolutely delighted to win the framework contract, which reflects the collaborative working relationships we have been building with Network Rail and other key clients in Scotland.

"The award also supports our growth plans in Scotland and our vision to provide a highly professional turn-key service to the construction industry, where we deliver rail and civils infrastructure with our in-house labour resource."

Jason Butterworth, Story Contracting CEO, said: "This appointment acknowledges the success John has made growing the Scottish division and giving the team a greater presence in the market place.

"We are very fortunate to have the dedication, commitment and passion of such a strong leader and I would like to congratulate him and wish him the best of success in his new role.

"I am delighted for the team in Scotland and particularly because the Network Rail contract win is down to our reputation for delivery on site, quality, safety and managing projects on time and to budget.

"This will see significant growth in the Scottish division, and we are therefore adding strength to the leadership of the company."

Story Scotland, which is a division of family-owned, award-winning infrastructure company Story Contracting, enjoyed record growth last year. Between 2014 and 2018, the company also grew from six employees to 113.

As part of its ongoing commitment to the continued development of future talent, Story Scotland recently welcomed its first cohort of apprentices, with six new starters joining the team as Apprentice General Operatives.

The young apprentices joined the Story Scotland team last week and have been working their way through a packed schedule of health and safety exercises, courses and introductory meetings with their mentors, as well as a visit to the SPT Ibrox site in Glasgow. In the coming weeks the apprentices will begin their SVQ course at the National Construction College (NCC).

Story’s growing stature in rail infrastructure and its collaborative approach to problem-solving has seen it land major UK contracts worth up to £200m in recent months.

The Carlisle-headquartered infrastructure company grew by 36% in 2018. Contract wins across the five divisions led to 195 new starters joining the Story team last year and the business also recently welcomed its 700th employee. The family-owned company is now targeting another 200-300 employees over the next five years to fulfil a series of impressive contract wins.

Notes to Editor

Story Contracting is a family-owned, award-winning Infrastructure Company based in England and Scotland with offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Carlisle, Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham. The business is highly respected nationally for providing construction, plant and rail solutions and has previously been named Network Rail Supplier of the Year. Our plant division are one of only two suppliers in the UK to be awarded GOLD in Network Rail's Route To Gold.

Story currently employ a 700+ strong team across our three divisions; Rail, Plant and Construction supported by a Central Services team.

17 January 2019

Moulded Foams eyes further expansion thanks to BGF funding

The UK's largest independent manufacturer of moulded foam products is focusing on further expansion after securing investment from BGF, the UK and Ireland's most active investor in growing businesses.

Moulded Foams produces a range of 98 per cent air products which protect food, goods and insulate buildings. With properties including temperature resistance, shock absorption, acoustics and light weight load bearing, the foams supplied by the business help preserve energy and protect the longevity of goods for both export and domestic markets.

The company operates from bases at Cumbernauld near Glasgow, Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, Blackwood in South Wales, and Scunthorpe in Lincolnshire.

Managing director John Thornberry led a management buyout of the original Cumbernauld business in 2006 when turnover was £2m. Since then it has seen rapid growth, delivering close to £20m in 2018. The business was also listed among the London Stock Exchange’s '1,000 Companies to Inspire Britain' in 2013.

Mr Thornberry of Moulded Foams said: "We have grown the business through innovation - we work closely with our customers to develop products that meet their needs.

"Having factories close to our customers' sites allows us to maintain a high level of customer service whilst ensuring costs are managed.

"So far, we've expanded our operations through a mixture of organic growth and targeted acquisitions.

"With BGF’s investment and broad network, we hope to continue Moulded Foams growth trajectory."

Paddy Graham, Head of Central Scotland and NI for BGF, added: "Moulded Foams has grown extremely well over the last ten years, with a clear focus on innovation and sustainability.

"Not only is it a success story in its own right, it’s also a business that reflects and underpins the success of British exporting - more than 40 per cent of the foams it produces are used by other businesses to sell their wares overseas.

"The company has been a key part of the Scottish salmon industry's growth, which saw exports to leap to a record £600m last year.

"It is also committed to improving the industry’s environmental credentials by offering collection services to customers and using recycled packaging in its construction products.

"BGF originally met John back in early 2017 and it has been great getting to know him and the wider management since then. The team’s understanding of the market and commitment to driving the business is second to none, and we look forward to supporting the business in its next phase of growth."

Euan Baxter, an investor at BGF in Edinburgh, will join the board of Moulded Foams as part of the funding deal.

BGF provides long-term patient capital to businesses with revenues typically between £5m and £100m in exchange for a minority, non-controlling stake. BGF invests exclusively in small and mid-sized firms headquartered in the UK and Ireland and is now the most active growth investor in the world.

BGF investments in Scotland during 2018 included £6.75m in Walker Precision Engineering, which makes high-precision components for the defence and space sectors, to support its business expansion in the UK and Europe.  It also completed its first investment in the Scottish Highlands with Parklands Group, the Moray-based independent care home business, to support its £10.5m development plans in the Highlands.

About BGF

BGF is the most active and influential investor in small and mid-sized businesses in the UK, with £2.5bn to support a range of growing companies - early stage, growth stage and quoted - across every region and sector of the economy. In Ireland, BGF has an additional €250m to support Irish SMEs on a similar growth path.

BGF makes long-term equity capital investments in return for a minority stake in the companies it backs. Initial investments are typically between £1m-£10m followed by significant follow-on funding as required. BGF is a minority, non-controlling equity partner with a patient outlook, based on shared long-term goals with the management teams it backs.

With a specialist internal team of over 150 people, combined with an unparalleled international network of business leaders, sector experts, and board-level non-executives, BGF has a unique platform and capability to support growing UK and Irish SMEs. This is further reinforced through dedicated in-house support with Chair and senior executive selection and appointments provide by our Talent Network, now some 5,000 strong.

BGF invests off its own balance sheet allowing it to offer truly flexible investment structures with a mix of equity and loan notes as appropriate. BGF can also provide equity release for existing shareholders, and funding to support acquisitive and organic growth strategies at home and abroad.

www.bgf.co.uk
@BGFinvestments

15 January 2019

BGF exits Jumpstart

BGF has announced the exit of its minority investment in Jumpstart, the UK's leading R&D tax credit specialists, as the business is acquired by Visiativ Group. Visiativ's Consulting division, ABGI, will acquire Jumpstart following a period of acquisitive expansion and growth.

Jumpstart is a market leading innovation funding specialist providing a complete service in claiming R&D tax credits and Patent Box tax relief. BGF's £3.4m investment in February 2014 has been used to build a sales and marketing function to support Jumpstart's growth across the UK.

Since BGF's investment, Jumpstart has opened offices in Birmingham and Manchester and, over the last ten years, has achieved more than 4,300 successful R&D tax credit claims for its 1,400 clients.

Jumpstart's current shareholders will exit as part of the transaction. Chairman Jim Faulds, who was introduced by BGF's Talent Network and has provided strategic guidance to the company, will step down from the Board.

Following the acquisition, Managing Director Scott Henderson and the management team will join Visiativ's Consulting division, ABGI, and continue in their roles. The company will continue its growth strategy and maintain its current brand at the same time as benefitting from Visiativ's business connections.

Scott Henderson, Jumpstart's MD, said: “I am delighted that Jumpstart is joining the Visiativ Group. The acquisition is a huge vote of confidence in our approach to helping companies fulfil their innovation funding strategy. As the preferred supplier to the manufacturing sector through our partnerships with EEF and Scottish Engineering, many of our clients have multi-country R&D operations. Joining an international innovation management and finance consultancy firm will help broaden our R&D tax relief provision into France, Canada, USA and Brazil.

“BGF's investment has allowed us to build our team and expand the business across the UK, and we're excited to enter our next stage of growth with Visiativ.”

Paddy Graham, Head of Central Scotland and NI for BGF, added: “Scott and the team have achieved an impressive amount in the past couple of years in what is now a highly competitive market. It has been a pleasure to work with the team, who will become valued BGF alumni.

“The work that Jumpstart does is incredibly important in facilitating R&D investment and making the UK more competitive on an international level and we've enjoyed playing our part in that and working with the team to realise their ambitions. We look forward to seeing their continuing success in the next phase of their journey with Visiativ.”

About BGF: 
BGF is the most active and influential investor in small and mid-sized businesses in the UK, with £2.5bn to support a range of growing companies - early stage, growth stage and quoted - across every region and sector of the economy. In Ireland, BGF has an additional €250m to support Irish SMEs on a similar growth path.

BGF makes long-term equity capital investments in return for a minority stake in the companies it backs. Initial investments are typically between £1m-£10m followed by significant follow-on funding as required. BGF is a minority, non-controlling equity partner with a patient outlook, based on shared long-term goals with the management teams it backs.

With a specialist internal team of over 150 people, combined with an unparalleled international network of business leaders, sector experts, and board-level non-executives, BGF has a unique platform and capability to support growing UK and Irish SMEs. This is further reinforced through dedicated in-house support with Chair and senior executive selection and appointments provide by our Talent Network, now some 5,000 strong.

BGF invests off its own balance sheet allowing it to offer truly flexible investment structures with a mix of equity and loan notes as appropriate. BGF can also provide equity release for existing shareholders, and funding to support acquisitive and organic growth strategies at home and abroad.

www.bgf.co.uk
Social media: @BGFinvestments

4 December 2018

A bright start for Dark Art Gin as innovative proposal lands inaugural award

Banker turned gin entrepreneur Andrew Clark Hutchison wins Guy & Co-creation® Award for Dark Art Gin brand and distillery in Kirkcudbright

A proposal for a new craft gin company and distillery in Kirkcudbright has won the inaugural Guy & Co-creation Award.

The idea for the Dark Art Gin company was submitted to the competition by Andrew Clark Hutchison, a former banker who spent twelve years of his career specialising in the food and drink sector, with a particular focus on drinks.

Andrew’s plan for Dark Art Gin has been developed over the last two years after he took voluntary redundancy from Lloyds Bank. It includes creating a distillery with a visitor experience and shop in the derelict but beautiful old Johnston School, which is located in the centre of Kirkcudbright. Andrew’s family roots are in the town he will be the fifth generation of his family to live and work in Kirkcudbright.

The Dark Art Gin distillery and visitor experience and shop will be housed in two former classrooms of the school, which was originally built in 1847. Renovation work will start in Spring 2019, with an opening later in the year.

Dark Art Gin will launch with two as yet unnamed gins; a core dry gin and a Navy strength gin. The distillery also aims to produce other spirits such as vodka.

Andrew said: “I’m delighted that Dark Art Gin has won the inaugural Guy Co-creation Award. This fantastic award will enable us to establish a long-term relationship with innovative creative & research agency, Guy & Co.  


“We look forward to working with their brilliant team in creating an imaginative and inspiring brand strategy for Dark Art Gin as well as bringing the whole project to life and fulfilling its exciting and ambitious plans.”

The award helping Scotland’s food and drink sector

The competition and award was launched by Edinburgh creative and research agency, Guy & Co to help innovative Scottish food and drink businesses turn a great idea into winning brands.

Between June and October, businesses were able to submit entries for the award, with the winning company Dark Art Gin receiving a comprehensive go-to-market prize package worth more than £65,000, including a consumer-validated brand identity, packaging and sell-in materials from Guy & Co.

The judging panel, which included the former chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink, Paul McLaughlin, felt Andrew demonstrated an innovate winning product idea with a compelling social impact agenda, as well as a clear business plan with route to market and production capability.

Paul McLaughlin said: “The food and drink industry in Scotland is booming. There are new brands springing up all the time. However many of them are lifestyle brands; good products founded by passionate people with boundless energy and drive, but without the financial clout to really make an impact.

“In judging the inaugural Guy Co-creation Award, I saw a real vision from Andrew Clark Hutchison with Dark Art Gin. His compelling story of the brand, its home in Kirkcudbright with the distillery and visitor centre destination he is creating, coupled with his funding, drive and exporting ambitions make this a real product to watch.

“Many of the competition entries would have been worthy winners, but Dark Art Gin really stood out from the crowd and will truly benefit from the work that David and the team at Guy & Co will offer as the prize.”

Dark Art Gin will now benefit from a package of services supplied by Guy & Co, including brand planning; brand proposition and architecture development; consumer testing of brand identity concepts; packaging design & artwork; and development of sell-in materials, including a brand website. Assistance with PR strategy is also included from Guy & Co’s public relations partner, Beeline PR, with specialist accounting and tax input from French Duncan.

For further details, visit www.guyco.co.uk/award

About Guy & Co

Guy & Co are a specialist creative and research agency with primary offices in Edinburgh, working with premium and ambitious UK-based brands including Berry Bros. & Rudd, Ian Macleod Distillers, Border Biscuits and Actiph Water. Their agile development of brand ideas through rapid cycles of consumer learning helps clients to de-risk braver ideas for greater commercial impact. www.guyco.co.uk

About French Duncan

French Duncan is a leading chartered accountancy and business advisory firm offering a range of professional services, including audit, tax, corporate advisory, business restructuring and specialist advisory. It is one of Scotland’s oldest and largest independent accountancy firms established in 1902. Currently the business employs over 200 people across Scotland’s Central Belt and caters for clients ranging in size from smaller owner-managed businesses to large international concerns with hundreds of millions of pounds in global revenues.

The business operates as a Limited Liability Partnership with 15 partners and is recognized as one of the top 50 accountancy practices in the UK. French Duncan is also part of the HLB International Accountancy Network. ‘Our focus on embracing modern technology, and our constant investment in our in-house platforms and in the training of our people, ensures that we are at the forefront of delivering truly innovative, future driven solutions to our clients’.

29 November 2018

BGF invests a further £2.75m in Walker Precision Engineering to support expansion

Walker Precision Engineering, which makes high-precision components for the defence and space sectors, has secured a further £2.75m investment from BGF to support its business expansion in the UK and Europe.

BGF originally invested £4m in the Glasgow-based manufacturing business in January this year, and turnover and order intake have grown significantly since then.  Revenues increased from £14.9m in 2017 to £19.1m in this financial year, with the business forecasting continued growth in 2019 supported by a sustained increase in order intake.  Walker’s orderbook has grown from £19m in September 2017 and now stands at over £25m.

Founded in 1979 and run by brothers Gary and Mark Walker, the company employs more than 260 staff across premises in Glasgow, Basildon and Poland.  The business recruited 12 new employees during the last financial year and is planning further recruitment in the year ahead.

BGF’s funding has already allowed Walker to invest in specialist equipment at its Glasgow HQ, increasing its high accuracy machining capacity, as well as doubling the size of its Polish manufacturing facility.

The funding will enable Walker to expand its presence in existing and new markets on the back of recent customer wins

Mark Walker, Managing Director at Walker Precision Engineering, said: “Walker has grown substantially since the BGF’s original investment, as its financial support allowed us to quickly upscale our existing operations and realise some new opportunities.  The team can move quickly on decisions which puts us in a very competitive position within our market place.

“This investment will give the company the working capital we need to support our strategic growth plans, we’re excited by the prospects presented to us.”

Paddy Graham, BGF investor, added: “Walker is an exceptional business built on a strong heritage and integrity, demonstrated by the long-standing relationships it enjoys with a diverse range of customers.

“BGF fully supports Mark and Gary’s strategic ambitions to grow the business - they have already demonstrated Walker’s long-term growth potential by increasing the demand for its manufacturing services from the defence and industrial sectors in particular.”

The follow-on investment in Walker Precision Engineering brings the total BGF funding in Scotland in excess of £200m across more than 20 businesses. Its portfolio of growing companies includes Campion Homes, Jumpstart, Bar Soba, Keenan Recycling and M Squared.

BGF provides long-term patient capital to businesses with revenues typically between £5m and £100m in exchange for a minority, non-controlling stake. BGF invests exclusively in small and mid-sized firms headquartered in the UK and Ireland and is now the most active growth investor in the world.

For information about Walker Precision Engineering please contact Mark Broughton on 028 97518000 or mark.broughton@marontech.co.uk

About BGF

BGF is the most active and influential investor in small and mid-sized businesses in the UK, with £2.5bn to support a range of growing companies - early stage, growth stage and quoted - across every region and sector of the economy. In Ireland, BGF has an additional 250m to support Irish SMEs on a similar growth path.

BGF makes long-term equity capital investments in return for a minority stake in the companies it backs. Initial investments are typically between £1m-£10m followed by significant follow-on funding as required. BGF is a minority, non-controlling equity partner with a patient outlook, based on shared long-term goals with the management teams it backs.

With a specialist internal team of over 150 people, combined with an unparalleled international network of business leaders, sector experts, and board-level non-executives, BGF has a unique platform and capability to support growing UK and Irish SMEs. This is further reinforced through dedicated in-house support with Chair and senior executive selection and appointments provide by our Talent Network, now some 5,000 strong.

BGF invests off its own balance sheet allowing it to offer truly flexible investment structures with a mix of equity and loan notes as appropriate. BGF can also provide equity release for existing shareholders, and funding to support acquisitive and organic growth strategies at home and abroad.

www.bgf.co.uk
@BGFinvestments

About Walker Precision Engineering

Walker Precision Engineering is an advanced metallic engineering business providing high quality, high precision components to the telecoms, defence, aerospace and space markets.  It operates from a head office in Glasgow and has facilities in Basildon and Poland. It has extensive in-house manufacturing capabilities including highly sophisticated multi-axis machining, wet processing (i.e. NADCAP accredited electroplating and painting) and comprehensive Mechanical-Electro-Optical assembly/testing facilities, within clean room environments. It also carries out bespoke design & build projects.

Established in 1979, Walker is privately owned and currently employs 250 staff across its three sites.

www.walkerprecision.com

21 November 2018

The GlenAllachie Distillery releases first batch of Single Casks

The GlenAllachie Distillery releases first batch of Single Casks

Master Distiller Billy Walker has personally chosen a selection of casks that showcase the GlenAllachie spirit in a variety of different ages, flavour profiles and cask types. Eight of the specially selected Single Casks will be available exclusively in the UK, with the remainder being released across key export markets including Europe, Asia and the USA.

The eight UK casks

Ranging in age from 10 to 29 years old, eight Single Casks have been specially selected for the UK by Walker, who bought the distillery near Aberlour in Speyside with his business partners Graham Stevenson and Trisha Savage, in October 2017.  Each of the single casks is bottled at natural strength, with no added colouring and unchilfiltered to enhance the flavour.

The oldest releases include a 29-year-old from a Sherry butt, which boasts a rich taste of dark chocolate, toffee and bananas with sweet spices and hints of orange zest and mocha, and a 28-year-old from a bourbon barrel, noted for its taste of heather honey, pears, rosehips, orange peel and hints of dark chocolate.

The collection also features an 11-year-old from a Port pipe, which is rich in colour and delivers festive flavours such as Christmas cake, orange zest and spices, and a 12-year old from a virgin oak barrel, distinguished by its rich bronze colour and notes of butterscotch, damsons and mocha.

Huge range of casks and flavours

In the past, GlenAllachie, which was built in 1968, was primarily producing whisky for blends. But Walker has been meticulously exploring the distillery’s stocks to hand-pick casks reflecting the spectrum of spirit being created.

He said: “When we purchased GlenAllachie, I had the great pleasure of reviewing our stock across the warehouses and I was delighted to discover an array of outstanding casks.

“I’ve been in this business for a long time and there’s no better feeling than sampling from single casks and discovering so many different flavours from so many different wood types,

“The distillery produces a rich full-bodied spirit which works well across a variety of different casks and ages, this is what I wanted to show with the batch of casks I’ve chosen for the UK and our export partners. With over 50,000 casks of GlenAllachie now in stock maturing across a vast range of casks there is so much more to come.”

A busy first year at GlenAllachie

It’s been a busy first year at GlenAllachie for Walker. In February, Walker unveiled his first release, a batch of six limited edition single cask bottlings to mark the 50th anniversary of the distillery’s maiden production run on February 17th 1968. This was followed by a special bottling for the Speyside Whisky Festival in May; and the launch in June of the flagship GlenAllachie single malt range.

In October, The GlenAllachie Distillers Company toasted its first anniversary with the launch of MacNair’s Lum Reek, a range of peated Blended Malt Scotch whiskies that revive a traditional brand with contemporary twist.

GlenAllachie is now distributed to more than 30 markets worldwide and during its first year a total of 611,509 standard litres of alcohol have been produced and 87,944 peated litres of alcohol. The distillery has also added two new warehouses and increased its staff from seven to 17 employees.

7 November 2018

Billy Walker's GlenAllachie Distillers Company toasts a prosperous first year with launch of first peated whisky range

The GlenAllachie Distillers Company is toasting its first anniversary with the launch of MacNair's Lum Reek, a range of peated Blended Malt Scotch whiskies that revive a traditional brand with contemporary twist.

The MacNair’s Lum Reek range, which comprises a non-age statement, 12-year-old and 21-year-old, is a combination of peated Islay and peated Speyside malt blended together with older GlenAllachie. It has been matured at The GlenAllachie Distillery near Aberlour in Speyside and vatted by Master Distiller Billy Walker, one of the most respected blenders in Scotland. All are bottled at natural colour, non-chill filtered and 46% ABV and above.

The release celebrates a busy and successful first 12 months at GlenAllachie for Walker and his business partners Graham Stevenson and Trisha Savage who bought the distillery in October 2017, in a deal which also included the MacNair’s and White Heather blends.

In February, Walker unveiled his first release, a batch of six single cask bottlings. This was followed by a special bottling for the Speyside Whisky Festival in May; and the launch in July of the flagship GlenAllachie single malt range.

GlenAllachie is now distributed to more than 30 markets worldwide and during its first year a total of 611,509 standard litres of alcohol have been produced and 87,944 peated litres of alcohol. The distillery has also added two new warehouses and increased its staff from 7 to 17 employees.

The new Lum Reek peated whiskies are inspired by the famous Scottish toast ‘lang may yer lum reek’, which literally means ‘long may your chimney smoke’ and is used to wish someone a long life and prosperity. The whiskies are also inspired by the creative spirit of Glaswegian expert distiller and blender, Harvey MacNair who founded the original company in 1837.

The Victorian distiller is said to have stumbled serendipitously across a love for smoky whisky after drinking a dram in an old stone bothy near GlenAllachie. Due to a blocked chimney (or lum) the room filled with smoke, with MacNair reporting it had “a transformative effect on my dram”.

All three whiskies in the range reflect Walker’s vast experience as a blender, his creative skills and his expert knowledge of wood management.
The non-age statement (46%) combines whiskies matured in first fill Bourbon, Oloroso, Virgin Oak and Red Wine casks to produce a rich golden spirit distinguished by a full-bodied peat reek, and notes of vanilla, barley sugar and sweet spices.

The 12-year-old (46%) is similarly smoky with its peat reek and heather notes, intermingling with butterscotch and toffee notes. The whiskies were drawn from first fill Bourbon, Red Wine and Pedro Ximenez casks.

The 21-year-old (48%), which has aged in Oloroso, Virgin Oak and Red Wine casks, is described as ‘aristocratic’ with a sophisticated taste of tobacco, leather and peat reek along with the sweetness of cocoa, vanilla, honey.

Walker said: “It’s been an amazing year and journey so far and we wanted to mark the anniversary with something truly special. With the MacNair’s range, we’ve re-created the peated whiskies of 100 years ago for the modern-day palette.

“I’m a passionate believer in the qualities of Blended Malt Scotch whisky; if you have high quality component whiskies, as we fortunately do, and combine them with a first-class wood management policy and a creative spirit, you can produce a dram to rival the very best single malts.”

Tasting Notes and RRSP

MacNair’s Lum Reek non-age statement:

  • Colour: Rich Gold.
  • Nose: Crisp peat notes with barley sugar and dark chocolate.
  • Taste: Full bodied peat reek, vanilla, barley sugar and tannins, followed by bog myrtle and sweet spices.
  • UK RRSP: £41.99 for 70cl bottle

MacNair’s Lum Reek 12-Year-Old:

  • Colour: Copper Bronze.
  • Nose: Sweet peat reek combining with butterscotch and mocha.
  • Taste: Lashings of rich peat reek with mature heather notes, bog myrtle, butterscotch, toffee and sweet spices.
  • UK RRSP: £49.99 for 70cl bottle

MacNair’s Lum Reek 21-Year-Old:

  • Colour: Butterscotch.
  • Nose: Aristocratic peat smoke with dark chocolate and fudge.
  • Taste: Tobacco, leather, cedar wood and waves of peat reek with oodles of cocoa, vanilla, honey and spices.
  • UK RRSP: £125.00 for 70cl bottle

Further information www.macnairs.com www.theglenallachie.com

Facebook - @TheGlenAllachie, @Macnairs
Twitter - @TheGlenAllachie
Instagram - @theglenallachie_

29 October 2018

It’s a marriage made in heaven as Hickory partners with Oxenfoord Castle

Weddings will be the focus as award-winning Edinburgh event catering company adds historic venue to its portfolio

Award-winning event catering company Hickory has expanded its portfolio of venues with the addition of Oxenfoord Castle in Midlothian.

The Edinburgh-based company, which was established in 2012, has taken a 10-year contract to be the exclusive wedding and events management company for the historic castle near Pathhead, on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

Hickory is currently the exclusive catering partner for wedding venues Eskmills Venue and Dunglass Estate in the Lothians region. It also operates as a partner for around 30 other venues including Mount Stuart on the Isle of Bute and the National Trust for Scotland’s extensive venues.

A-listed Oxenfoord Castle, currently owned by Michael and Harriet Dalrymple is steeped in history. Dating back to the 16th Century, it was originally a tower house, before the main castle was developed in 1782 by architect Robert Adam.  Michael and Harriet have brought up four children at Oxenfoord Castle and continue to farm the estate. 

The focus for Hickory will be to reinforce Oxenfoord’s status as one of the leading wedding venues in the Lothians. The Castle, which sits in park and woodland, has exclusive use for guests, Cranston church on site, noted gardens, and capacity for 120 people.

Hickory’s managing director, Stephanie Stubbs said: “With all the romance of a Scottish castle in a beautiful rural setting just 15 minutes from Edinburgh, Oxenfoord Castle is a wonderful wedding and events venue. We’re very excited to be its exclusive catering and events partner and can’t wait to introduce our contemporary catering in such historic surroundings.”

Michael Dalrymple, owner and resident of Oxenfoord Castle, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Hickory to develop our reputation for weddings and events. Our family is naturally very proud of Oxenfoord Castle and we know it is safe in the expert hands of Hickory.”

https://www.oxenfoordcastle.co.uk 
https://www.facebook.com/OxenfoordCastle 
http://hickoryfood.co.uk/

25 September 2018

Bravo Whisky Golf takes adventurous golfers sky high in search of Scotland’s hidden gem courses

New golf adventure specialist, Bravo Whisky Golf, uses chartered flights to explore remote courses for unrivalled and spectacular Scottish golf experience

An innovative golf tour adventure company created by two dedicated enthusiasts of the sport will take to the skies to give discerning visitors unique access to Scotland’s most spectacular and remote courses. 

Bravo Whisky Golf was created by friends Paul Geddes and Neil Scott Johnson in a bid to bring some of Scotland’s hidden gem courses to the thriving golf tourism market. 

Their exclusive bespoke golf journeys will take select groups on private chartered flights across breath-taking Scottish scenery, to discover some of the most dramatic, challenging and memorable courses in the country. 

As well as taking in world-famous courses, Bravo Whisky Golf visitors can quickly ‘island-hop’ by air to tackle scenic far-flung courses which rarely feature on typical golf tours.

It means they will have a unique chance to experience ‘the royal and ancient game’ in its truest form – battling the elements on remote ‘Old’ Tom Morris-designed courses in the Western Isles, challenging their swing surrounded by stunning Highland scenery and conquering demanding links courses which test the world’s greatest golfers.

In addition to distinguished accommodation and refined dining from Scotland’s bountiful natural larder, specially tailored events provide Bravo Whisky Golf guests with an authentic and inspired flavour of real Scottish hospitality – making the journeys ideal for non-golfers too.

They include castle banquet dining with a laird, exclusive ‘behind-the-scenes’ whisky distillery tours and expert-led tastings, and even private dinner and accommodation on board the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Bravo Whisky Golf is targeting Scotland’s booming golf tour sector which currently attracts around 16,000 visitors every year and is worth £286m to the Scottish economy.

The Scottish Golf Tourism Development Strategy 2013–2020 has ambitions to grow the market considerably, so that “by 2020, Scotland will be the world’s leading golfing destination” and valued at £300m. 

According to recent VisitScotland research around half of Scotland’s golfing visitors – 47% - travel from overseas, with North Americans dominating the market. 

Bravo Whisky Golf’s founders say they were inspired to create the bespoke adventures to appeal to fellow passionate golfers and sport enthusiasts seeking fresh challenges away from the beaten track, but with limited time to spare. 

“Scotland is internationally recognised as the home of golf with almost 600 courses, yet many golfers spend their visit being ferried in buses often to a handful of well-known courses,” says Paul Geddes, who met co-founder Neil Scott Johnson while they were students at Aberdeen University.

“Life is short and it’s not worth wasting it on a long coach journey when you could be enjoying spectacular golf in an amazing location. 

“Some of the best bits of Scotland are miles from the well-trodden paths and can be hard to reach. We wanted to offer golfers – and non-golfers too – the chance to hop on a flight to the outer edges of our country and see it in all its spectacular glory.”

The idea was hatched during a ski holiday in France, when the friends realised international sports enthusiasts often missed experiencing some of the country’s most spectacular scenery and golf.

They decided that by using a private chartered plane, Bravo Whisky Golf guests could nip between Highland and Islands golf courses in minutes, avoiding long road and ferry journeys which often make some of the country’s most stunning and exciting courses inaccessible during short vacations. 

Co-founder Neil Scott Johnson, a member of both North Berwick and Royal Portrush Golf Courses, added: “Bravo Whisky Golf’s aim is to be a breath of fresh air from the expected conventions of tourist golf in Scotland. 

“It will allow the independently minded golfer to take to the skies and experience the game on the outer edges of Scotland. 

“There they can reconnect with the essential, unspoilt challenges of golf against a backdrop of the raw remoteness of Scotland, the warmth of its people and the depth of its culture.”

Bravo Whisky Golf vacations are all individually tailored to take in as much or little golf as guests want, or follow one of three ‘flight plans carefully curated by Neil and Paul to combine Scottish hospitality, impressive scenery and sporting challenges.
  • Skye’s the Limit: A seven-day vacation that takes in nine golf courses and 10 short flights across spectacular Highland and Islands scenery. Highlights include private dinner on board the Royal Yacht Britannia, private Islay distillery tour and golf at legendary links golf courses including Royal Dornoch and 2019 Open venue, Royal Portrush.
  • The Islander: A three-day break based in the heart of iconic malt whisky island, Islay, with the chance to tackle four unspoilt and challenging links courses, including two designed by the legendary ‘Old’ Tom Morris. Featuring distillery tours, expert whisky tastings and the thrill of a beach landing – tide permitting – plus a memorable opportunity to dine with a Laird in his ancestral home.
  • Odyssey: A ten-day golf excursion taking in the Atlantic coast extremities of the Mull of Kintyre, Islay, South Uist, Northern Ireland and the Scottish Highlands. Highlights include dining on board the former royal yacht, a private dinner with one of Scotland’s leading whisky experts and golf on the mighty Dunluce at Royal Portrush Golf Course.

Bravo Whisky Golf packages are priced from £4,500 per person. 

Further details are available at Bravo Whisky Golf website www.bravowhiskygolf.com.

ABOUT

Paul Geddes graduated from Aberdeen University with a BA (Hons) in Genetics.
He went on to work in London and Dubai, broking and trading commodities. He recently obtained an MBA from Edinburgh University’s Business School.  He lives in Edinburgh. 

Neil Scott Johnston has worked as a General Practice Chartered Surveyor and development manager with EDI Group Edinburgh and Welbeck Land London. 

He has been involved in high-profile and award-winning city centre regeneration projects, and has launched and managed an events, food business, and Cook School. He lives in East Lothian.

He was selected for coveted Entrepreneurial Spark Scheme 2015-16, and is a member of Entrepreneurial Scotland.

BACKGROUND 

Scotland has around 600 golf courses, including five courses in the Western Isles. 

According to Golf Digest, nine of the world’s best 100 courses are in Scotland.  Scotland regularly features in The International Association of Golf Tourism Operators as one of the world’s top five golf destinations.

The Scottish Golf Visitor Survey 2016, compiled by VisitScotland and Scottish Enterprise, showed half of Scotland’s golfing visitors – 47 per cent – travel from overseas. 

North Americans dominate the overseas market, accounting for 30% of all overnight visitors. Europeans accounted for around half as many overseas visitors (14%) and were most commonly from Germany or Sweden.

The report also showed that 86% of golf tourists questioned rated their experience as between eight and 10 out of 10. 

12 September 2018

Artisan coffee and food shop Bob & Berts is full of beans with entry into Scotland

Bob & Berts, the Northern Irish artisan coffee and food shop, has selected Falkirk, Dunfermline and Stirling as its first Scottish locations, creating 30 jobs as it steams ahead with its expansion, fuelled by BGF.

The company is fitting out premises on the High Street in Falkirk for its maiden Scottish store, which is due to open at the end of this month (September).

Attention will then shift to the High Street in Dunfermline, where the firm is on course to open a shop at the end of October, followed by Stirling.  A number of other local community focused locations across Scotland are currently in negotiation.

Bob & Berts raised £2 million of patient capital from BGF in August 2017 to fund the business’ entry into Scotland and further growth in Northern Ireland.

As part of the BGF deal, industry stalwart Mohan Mansigani – a former chief finance officer at Costa Coffee and Casual Dining Group – joined the board as non-executive chairman.

The brand is serving up ambitious expansion plans to open a further 30 stores and create 600 full- and part-time jobs over the next four years, with around 20 of the shops and 400 of the jobs in Scotland.

The brand is already well-established in its home market in Northern Ireland, with its 18th store opening soon, in Magherafelt, following the success of its first branch in Belfast, which began welcoming customers in May.

Gemma Hamilton, an investor at BGF who is on the board of Bob & Berts, said: “We have all seen the significant growth in the coffee shop market in recent years, but what sets Bob & Berts apart is the relaxing and fun atmosphere in its stores and the wide selection of quality fresh food that it offers to its customers – Bob & Berts caters for everyone.

“Each store has a more individual and friendly feel to it than the big chains and I believe that’s why Bob & Berts has been so successful in Northern Ireland.

“It is an absolute pleasure working with Colin and David and BGF is looking forward to supporting its expansion across Scotland.”

Bob & Berts was founded in 2013 by Colin McClean before being joined by his brother-in-law David Ferguson in 2015.

The team has opened ten shops in the past two years and is also eyeing expansion into the Republic of Ireland.

Colin McClean, co-owner of Bob & Berts, said: “BGF has been a great partner for us and the skills held by the members of its team have complemented our own.  We are excited to be bringing our business to Scotland having spent time immersing ourselves in so many different locations and active communities.

“We’re recruiting an area manager, along with managers, chefs, supervisors, baristas and deli counter staff, and anyone interested in applying can get in touch through www.bobandberts.com or www.caterer.com.”

An established and independent company, BGF has £2.5 billion to support a range of growing companies – early stage, growth stage and quoted – across every region and sector of the economy.

In return for an initial investment of typically between £1m and £10m, BGF takes a minority equity stake in the business.

The company can also provide follow-on investment and access to its Talent Network of business leaders who can give advice to its portfolio of companies.

About BGF

BGF is the most active and influential investor in small and mid-sized businesses in the UK and Ireland. An established and independent company, it has £2.5bn to support a range of growing companies – early stage, growth stage and quoted – across every region and sector of the economy.

BGF makes long-term equity capital investments in return for a minority stake in the companies in backs. Initial investments are typically between £1-£10m and BGF can provide significant follow-on funding. BGF is a minority, non-controlling equity partner with a patient outlook, based on shared long-term goals with the management teams it backs.

With a 150+ strong team, BGF offers an unparalleled international network of business leaders, sector experts, board-level non-executives and provides in-house support with Chair and senior executive selection and appointments.

BGF offers flexible investment structures with a mix of equity and unsecured debt. BGF can provide equity release for existing shareholders, and funding to support acquisitive and organic growth strategies.

www.bgf.co.uk

@bgf_team

6 July 2018

Scottish Polar Explorer Honoured for Services to Education

Craig Mathieson, Scotland’s greatest living polar explorer and founder of the charity, The Polar Academy that helps transform the life-chances of ‘invisible’ youths in schools, has been recognised (5 July) for his contribution to education with an Honorary Doctorate from Abertay University.  

Bo’ness based Craig, who in 2013 established his charity with the aim of using exploration to positively transform the lives of youths affected by crushed self confidence, low self esteem and anxiety, was one of three honorary graduates and among more than 750 students who received awards at the ceremony held in the Caird Hall in Dundee. 

49 year-old Craig (pictured), who left school at 16 to join the military with minimal qualifications, took the opportunity to impart some sage advice to the assembled young graduates. He told them:  “I was 12 years old when (inspired by the exploits of Captain Scott), I decided to become a polar explorer. 

“Unfortunately, being a polar explorer is not part of any career choice at high school or university. I had to work extremely hard for many years to eventually succeed.

“Along the way, I met many people who told me what I couldn’t do, or who said that what I wanted to do was just too difficult. You (graduates) will also regularly meet these people in life. I’ve always found it best to deal with these people by thanking them for their ‘terrific’ advice, look them straight in the eye, smile, shake their hand … and then disregard everything they’ve told you and stick to your original plan!”

Craig, who as part of his work with The Polar Academy has spoken on RRS Discovery and to students at the Dundee Academy of Sport, added: “I’m extremely proud to receive this Honorary Doctorate from Abertay University and hopefully it reflects the tremendous ongoing work of The Polar Academy.  

“I firmly believe that with perseverance and resilience, you can achieve anything in life.  Over 30 years ago I was being told by a guidance teacher to forget my dream of being an explorer. Yet I’ve never given up. Three decades later and with the help of many supporters and charitable donors, including Tiso Group and Cornhill Building Services, I am able to help transform the lives of young people, nurture the self-confidence to safely explore in the Arctic and ensure they return to inspire their peers.” 

Thursday’s graduation ceremony also rounded-off a year of success for Abertay, which has seen the university named number one in Europe for computer games education by the prestigious Princeton Review and ranked top modern university in Scotland by the Guardian University Guide.

www.thepolaracademy.org

28 June 2018

There’s a Buzz about town as inspirational speakers’ agency launches in Edinburgh

Agency with a difference launched to represent speakers committed to inspiring social, cultural and behavioural changes across the globe

A new business has been launched in Edinburgh with the aim of inspiring audiences and driving tangible changes in communities and society.
 
Speaker Buzz, which exists to promote speakers who have genuine human-interest stories that inspire and motivate others, is being launched by two Scottish sisters with well-established careers in the communications and technology sectors.
 
Located in Edinburgh, and operating across the UK and internationally, Speaker Buzz is the brainchild of Debbie Byers, who has worked in the communications industry for more than two decades, and Carol Graham, who enjoyed an almost 20-year career with the global technology giant, IBM.
 
Speaker Buzz will differentiate itself from other speaker agencies by only promoting people who want to make a positive social, culture or behavioural change in society, while also focusing on health and wellbeing.
 
It will represent individuals who have achieved something extraordinary and who are changing people’s attitudes and lives – giving Speaker Buzz its tag line: ‘inspiration with impact’. It is actively targeting organisations interested in developing the minds and emotions of its workforce, clients, delegates, members or students.
 
Debbie Byers, Speaker Buzz director, said: “Having been fortunate enough to have listened to hundreds of motivational speakers during my PR career, I was more and more conscious of the difference between the truly inspirational speakers, who motivated me to take action and change things around me, and those who are often just going through the motions to pick up their fee. Carol and I wanted to create a place that is exclusively for those in the former category, which is why we have launched Speaker Buzz to showcase the passion and talent of some truly extraordinary people.
 
“Speaker Buzz also recognises that employers increasingly understand that the wellbeing of individuals is of huge importance in the modern world in which we operate. The corporate world is now much more aware and thoughtful about the needs of its workforce, but more can always be done. People need to look after the mental and emotional wellbeing of their employees if they want to grow their businesses in a sustainable way.”
 
Speaker Buzz has already signed up a number of clients to be ready for its launch. Clients include: 
 
  • Mollie Hughes, who in May 2017 became the youngest woman (aged 26) in the world to summit Mount Everest from both the south and north sides;
  • Craig Mathieson, Scotland’s greatest living Polar Explorer and founder of The Polar Academy charity – the toughest youth programme in Europe;
  • Kylie Reid, the founder of EGG (formerly Edinburgh Gossip Girls), a female community supporting individuals and local businesses;
  • Alister Gray, the founder of Mindful Talent – a global leadership coaching organisation using mindfulness and meditation to cause a positive behavioural change;
  • Stuart Sandeman, a coach at Mindful Talent and a trained Transformational Breath®. facilitator promoting conscious-connected breathing.
Mountaineer and motivational speaker, Mollie Hughes said: “Being lucky enough to travel to some of the world’s most remote and exciting environments, I’m keen to share my experiences and insights with others in the hope that I can inspire people in their own lives. 
 
“I want to show people that they can achieve absolutely anything with the right mix of determination, self-belief and team work. I’m also interested in how controlling fear and resilience can play an integral part in all of our lives – whether that be on a business or a personal level.
 
“I love giving talks to diverse audiences and seeing the impact this can have on people of all ages and from all backgrounds. I recently gave a TED Talk during the TEDx Youth conference in Glasgow and a two-day workshop for a business in Barcelona and was heartened by the feedback I received.
 
“Working with Debbie and Carol at Speaker Buzz is opening up new doors to me to deliver talks across the world and is giving me the chance to touch the lives of more people than ever before.”
 
Debbie Byers will continue to run her successful Edinburgh-based PR agency, Beeline PR, alongside Speaker Buzz, while Carol Graham, who was awarded the prestigious 'Best of IBM' award in 2017 for her achievements and contributions, has chosen to leave the industry to focus exclusively on launching and growing Speaker Buzz with her sister.
 
Speaker Buzz is based in the ‘Spaces’ office development in Lochrin Square in Edinburgh’s main business district.

24 June 2018

Ventient Energy gives financial backing to the opening of the new Sheiling landmark in Argyll

- The President of Ireland sends special message -

Onshore wind generation firm Ventient Energy threw its support behind a newly created landmark, unveiled on the site of its Beinn Ghlas wind farm in Argyll, commissioned by the original landowner.
 
Sam Macdonald, who owned the land overlooking Loch Etive, commissioned Scottish sculptor and public artist David Wilson to design and build the ‘Sheiling for Deirdre and Naoise’.  The Deirdre and Naoise story was a particular favourite of Sam’s late wife Evelyn and is one of the most significant early stories of Irish history.
 
Edinburgh-headquartered Ventient Energy contributed funds to the unveiling ceremony of the Sheiling as part of its commitment to supporting local projects and communities around the locations of its wind farms.
 
The sheiling – a Gaelic word for a hut, or collection of huts, once common in wild and lonely places in the hills and mountains – was officially unveiled at a ceremony on 23 June 2018 attended by Michael Russell MSP and Mark Hanniffy, the Consul General of Ireland to Scotland, along with more than 100 guests and local dignitaries.
 
The President of Ireland Michael D Higgins sent this message of support as he was unable to attend the ceremony: “The tragic tale of the two doomed lovers is one of the great tales of an Ruraiocht, the Ulster Cycle, a mythic arc that is the shared inheritance of the peoples of Scotland and Ireland.  There is perhaps no place on our islands more representative of that shared inheritance than Argyll, once the home of the ancient Gaelic Kingdom of Dal Riada.  It was there that Cu Chulainn, the warrior-hero of the Ulaid, was said to have learned the arts of war, and it was there that Deirdrie sought sanctuary with Naoise and his brothers Arden and Ainle.
 
“I am so pleased that a magnificent memorial will now rest forever on Beinn Ghlas, not far from Gleann Èite, the place Deirdre and Naoise were said to have found a moment of peace.  May it stand as a monument, not only to the common past of the peoples of Scotland and Ireland, but to the shared destiny of our two ancient countries.” 
 
The sheiling, situated near one of the turbines on the Ventient Energy wind farm, has the appearance of being on the site for 1,000 years due to its historic features and looks across the stunning Scottish landscape to where Deirdre and Naoise lived in the 7th C AD
 
Sam’s late wife Evelyn Day, who was originally from County Waterford and attended Belfast Arts School and then London Arts School, loved the story of Deirdre and Naoise.  She was delighted to find out that Sam Macdonald’s father Neil was a fan of the story but disappointed that many other people she met in Argyll were not aware of it. 
 
The story, which links Ireland with Scotland, was first featured in the Glenmasan Manuscript which is held in the National Library in Edinburgh. It is the 780th anniversary of the manuscript in June and Michael Russell MSP is also involved in that celebration.
 
Scott Mackenzie, CEO of Ventient Energy, said: “We’re delighted to support Sam Macdonald in creating the stunning ‘Sheiling for Deirdre and Naoise’. Its creation is being celebrated by the entire community and is something that can be visited and enjoyed by locals and visitors from further afield, including Ireland.
 
“The Beinn Ghlas windfarm has been in operation since May 1999 and has been owned by Zephyr, now part of the Ventient Energy portfolio, since 2004.  The business is managing 12 windfarms across Scotland and is the third largest generator of onshore wind energy in the UK.
 
“We are committed to giving back to communities where our wind farms are located and to supporting a wide range of local projects. The Sheiling is just one example of a range of projects we fund and support.”
 
Sam Macdonald said the stories preserved largely through oral tradition are from a time when “an aristocratic warrior class dominated”. He added that they “are characterised by dramatic stories of fighting and adventure on the part of the chiefs”.
 
He said Deirdre's powerful story with its “elements of lust, treachery and ultimate death” is vividly told. He added that while one may question whether the characters in the story ever existed, recent research into place names in the North Lorn area of Argyll raised the idea that perhaps Deirdre, Naoise and his brothers Arden and Ainle were real and did reside in Glen Etive - as his father had said - given the number of place names that memorialise them in the landscape.
 
In raising the Sheiling for Deirdre and her lover Naoise, Sam Macdonald hopes to revitalise the stories and introduce visitors to the subsequent development in history which led to the establishment of the Irish Kingdom of Dalriada, including most of Argyll and its islands. He said this might also reinforce the strong social and cultural ties that link the people of the west Highlands with their Irish neighbours across the water.
 
The Sheiling also features the statue of Deirdre and Naoise that was originally created by the Glasgow School of Art graduate Fiona McLeod for Scotland’s National Gardening Show held in Strathclyde Park in 1997. This statue has been in Sam Macdonald’s gardens since the show closed, having attracted more than 30,000 visitors.

20 June 2018

New Award on the Menu for Innovative Scottish Food and Drink Ideas

Food and drink entrepreneurs and companies with exciting new product ideas invited to enter the inaugural Guy & Co-creation® Award

A new competition and award has been launched to help innovative Scottish food and drink businesses turn their great idea into a winning brand.

Set up by Edinburgh creative and research agency Guy & Co, the 2018 Guy & Co-creation® Award has been developed to support Scotland’s flourishing food and drink industry by recognising innovative ideas with potential and promoting the importance of branding.

From 21st June until 31st October 2018, businesses will be able to submit entries for the award, with the winning company receiving a comprehensive go-to-market prize package worth more than £65,000, including a consumer-validated brand identity, packaging and sell-in materials from Guy & Co. 

The award is open to Scottish entrepreneurs and food and drink businesses with a new product idea in development – this includes new ranges of existing brands but excludes extensions of current ranges (unless sufficiently innovative). 

Candidate businesses should not only be able to demonstrate a winning product idea but also have a clear business plan including route to market and production capability. The full criteria for entries is available at www.guyco.co.uk/award 

Guy & Co will evaluate the entries in November to assess the rigour of the innovation, both from a strategic and commercial standpoint. The judging panel will include the former chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink, Paul McLaughlin, who brings more than 25 years’ industry experience, from global giants like Mars and Coca-Cola to great Scottish companies like Scotty Brand. 

Shortlisted entries will then be consumer tested to assess the end user’s reaction to the product and the likelihood of success. The winner of the award will be announced in December 2018.

The full package of services supplied by Guy & Co, which will be carried out in the first half of 2019, includes brand planning; brand proposition and architecture development; consumer testing of brand identity concepts; packaging design & artwork; and development of sell-in materials, including a brand website. Assistance with PR strategy is also included from Guy & Co’s public relations partner, Beeline PR, with supporting financial advisory from a Chartered Accountant partner, covering areas such as business planning, investor-ready support and funding advice.

David Guy from Guy & Co said: “Scotland’s food and drink industry is world class and has an ambition to grow its value to £30bn by 2030*. As an agency we are keen to give something back in a way we believe will add value to an entrepreneur or SME with a great new food or drink idea.

“We know many SMEs often omit the same passion and energy that goes into their business planning in branding, where they are overly focussed on perfecting the product rather than defining its benefits and positioning. That omission can be costly, with an estimated 85% of new product launches failing.**

“As Guy & Co grows, we’d like to help invest in exciting young ideas that maybe don’t have the time or resource to be robustly tested with target consumers, ideas that deserve the support of a strong brand identity when going to market. Launching a new product is challenging and ultra-competitive so the goal is to validate the winner’s brand proposition through rapid cycles of learning with target consumers, effectively de-risking taking their idea to market.”

Guy & Co is an award-winning creative & research agency based in Edinburgh who work on new-chip to blue-chip UK and global clients.

Scottish food and drink clients include: ACTIPH water, Border Biscuits, Albert Bartlett potatoes, Scotty Brand produce, Smokehead Islay Single Malt Whisky, Innis & Gunn beer and The Whisky Illuminati.

For further details, visit www.guyco.co.uk/award 

* http://www.foodanddrink.scot/media/78129/strategy-brochure-smaller-size.pdf
** https://hbr.org/2011/04/why-most-product-launches-fail
 

18 June 2018

Ventient Energy gives financial backing to the opening of the new sheiling landmark in Argyll

Onshore wind generation firm shows support for local communities

Onshore wind generation firm Ventient Energy is throwing its support behind a newly created landmark, soon to be unveiled on the site of its Beinn Ghlas wind farm in Argyll, commissioned by the original landowner.
 
Sam Macdonald, who owned the land overlooking Loch Etive, commissioned Scottish sculptor and public artist David Wilson to design and build the ‘Sheiling for Deirdre and Naoise’.  The Deirdre and Naoise story was a particular favourite of Sam’s late wife Evelyn and is one of the most significant early stories of Irish history.
 
Edinburgh-headquartered Ventient Energy is contributing funds to the unveiling ceremony of the Sheiling as part of its commitment to supporting local projects and communities around the locations of its wind farms.
 
The sheiling – a Gaelic word for a hut, or collection of huts, once common in wild and lonely places in the hills and mountains – is being officially unveiled at a ceremony on 23 June 2018 being attended by Michael Russell MSP and Mark Hanniffy, the Consul General of Ireland to Scotland, along with more than 100 guests and local dignitaries. Irish President Michael D Higgins is sending a message of support as he is unable to attend the ceremony.
 
The sheiling, situated near one of the turbines on the Ventient Energy wind farm, will have the appearance of being on the site for 1,000 years due to its historic features and will look across the stunning Scottish landscape to where Deirdre and Naoise lived in the 7th C AD
 
Sam’s late wife Evelyn Day, who was originally from County Waterford and attended Belfast Arts School and then London Arts School, loved the story of Deirdre and Naoise.  She was delighted to find out that Sam Macdonald’s father Neil was a fan of the story but disappointed that many other people she met in Argyll were not aware of it. 
 
The story, which links Ireland with Scotland, was first featured in the Glenmasan Manuscript which is held in the National Library in Edinburgh. It is the 780th anniversary of the manuscript in June and Michael Russell MSP is also involved in that celebration.
 
Scott Mackenzie, CEO of Ventient Energy, said: “We’re delighted to support Sam Macdonald in creating the stunning ‘Sheiling for Deirdre and Naoise’. Its creation is being celebrated by the entire community and is something that can be visited and enjoyed by locals and visitors from further afield, including Ireland.
 
“The Beinn Ghlas windfarm has been in operation since May 1999 and has been owned by Zephyr, now part of the Ventient Energy portfolio, since 2004.  The business is managing 12 windfarms across Scotland and is the third largest generator of onshore wind energy in the UK.
 
“We are committed to giving back to communities where our wind farms are located and to supporting a wide range of local projects. The Sheiling is just one example of a range of projects we fund and support.”
 
Sam Macdonald said the stories preserved largely through oral tradition are from a time when “an aristocratic warrior class dominated”. He added that they “are characterised by dramatic stories of fighting and adventure on the part of the chiefs”.
 
He said Deirdre's powerful story with its “elements of lust, treachery and ultimate death” is vividly told. He added that while one may question whether the characters in the story ever existed, recent research into place names in the North Lorn area of Argyll raised the idea that perhaps Deirdre, Naoise and his brothers Arden and Ainle were real and did reside in Glen Etive - as his father had said - given the number of place names that memorialise them in the landscape.
 
In raising the Sheiling for Deirdre and her lover Naoise, Sam Macdonald hopes to revitalise the stories and introduce visitors to the subsequent development in history which led to the establishment of the Irish Kingdom of Dalriada, including most of Argyll and its islands. He said this might also reinforce the strong social and cultural ties that link the people of the west Highlands with their Irish neighbours across the water.
 
The Sheiling will also feature the statue of Deirdre and Naoise that was originally created by the Glasgow School of Art graduate Fiona McLeod for Scotland’s National Gardening Show held in Strathclyde Park in 1997. This statue has been in Sam Macdonald’s gardens since the show closed, having attracted more than 30,000 visitors.
 
The opening of the Sheiling will include an on-site bell casting ceremony. The Celtic Bell to be cast was designed by the Iona artist Mhairi Killin. Members of the Oban Gaelic choir will sing Deirdre's Lament on Leaving Scotland.

14 June 2018

Britain’s Biggest Potato Lover Travels 1,000 Miles for his Ayrshire New Potatoes

Jamie McCoo, [69], from Deal in Kent is arguably Britain’s biggest potato lover making a 1,000-mile round trip across the country each June to stock up on his favourite pick of the crop – Ayrshire new potatoes. 

Hailed as some of Scotland’s finest produce, the seasonal Ayrshire new potatoes are famed for their melt in the mouth texture, fresh earthy sweet flavour and are regarded as best in the world – with Scotty Brand known for only selecting the cream of the crop.

Which is why the retired electrician makes the mammoth trip each year back to his native Scotland for a whopping four stones’ (25kg) worth of Scotty Ayrshires, to share with his fellow ex-pat pals south of the border.

“My mother always told me that the first dig resulted in the best batch and Ayrshire potatoes are some of the finest new potatoes grown in the UK,” explains Jamie. “Grown in sandy soil warmed by the Gulf Stream they are delicious and unbeatable. Sadly, they are only available for sale in Scotland.”

“Ayrshire potatoes come into season in June, so I’ve been making the special trip for the last couple of years to stock up for summer. Scotty’s new potatoes are in my opinion the best out there, so it’s been great to meet the farmer Drew Young who allowed me literally to dig my own batch. It’s safe to say my salad potatoes are always the best!”


Richard Allison, general manager of Scotty Brand who sell Mr McCoo’s favourite Ayrshires added: “We receive many requests from customers desperately searching for the best Scottish seasonal produce, but Jamie McCoo’s correspondence really stood out.  Having emailed our customer service team to check for stockists of his favourite Ayrshires in the south east, he was disappointed to discover they weren’t available south of the border but made it clear that he was prepared to make a special visit.

“We invited Mr McCoo to select his crop personally from Scotty’s Girvan-based farmer, Drew Young and he’s promised to share his four stone of potatoes with his Scottish friends in Kent.  What tremendous dedication and a great way for Scotty to celebrate the start of the season.”

Scotty Brand launched this season’s Ayrshire new potatoes on 9 June, returning to supermarket shelves in Scotland for 2018.  The oval, creamy fleshed new potatoes are grown in Girvan, packed locally and delivered to supermarkets in as little as 24 hours from lifting to bring Scotland’s families the ultimate freshest taste of summer. They are available to purchase in 750g bags in selected Asda, Tesco, Lidl, Aldi, Iceland, Spar, Co-op and Waitrose stores throughout Scotland.

7 June 2018

Ventient Energy to appeal planning decision on Kirkby Moor wind farm

Granting of appeal would benefit local economy, society and environment

Thousands of pounds of investment in the local community and many public benefits will be secured if the Planning Inspectorate agrees, on appeal, to extend the duration of the planning permission for the existing Kirkby Moor wind farm near Ulverston.
 
Ventient Energy, the energy firm that owns the wind farm, is appealing against the decision made by South Lakeland District Council’s planning committee last December to turn down the application for a variation of condition which would allow the wind farm to operate until 2027.  The wind farm has operated since 1993.
 
It was a close vote with the planning committee split almost down the middle, six members voted to refuse the application for the wind farm’s continued operation and five voting against refusal.
 
The Committee’s decision went against the planning officer’s recommendation for approval and there were no objections to the application from the Lake District National Park Authority and Natural England.
 
Ventient Energy is seeking planning permission to continue to operate the existing wind farm – there are no proposals for new turbines or the installation of infrastructure. The company said a ruling in favour of the appeal would deliver many benefits to the local community.  
 
Public benefits include:
 
•    An increase in the existing community fund from its current level of £3,555 a year to annual funding of up to £24,000. A volunteer panel of local people would be formed to make decisions on funding applications with support from the Cumbria Community Foundation 
•    Moorland restoration during the life extension period and an enhanced decommissioning, reinstatement and restoration scheme once operations come to an end and the turbines are removed.  
•    Helping the UK reach its ambitious renewable energy targets and its aim to build a circular economy.
 
The wind farm community fund has already supported a number of local projects and organisations including the Grizebeck Village Hall and Kirkby-in-Furness Community Centre.  
                                                                                                                          
Since Kirkby Moor wind farm started operating 25 years ago it has generated enough energy to power thousands of houses. 
 
Scott Mackenzie, Chief Executive Officer at Ventient Energy said: “We were disappointed with South Lakeland District Council’s decision to go against the planning officer’s recommendation by narrowly voting to turn down our application to support the continued running of the existing Kirkby Moor wind farm for a few more years. 
 
“We have decided to appeal the decision based on the many economic, social and environmental benefits the wind farm delivers to the local community and beyond. 
 
“Kirkby Moor wind farm generates clean, green energy and supports the local community through the annual community fund, providing in-kind and financial support to the Mountain Rescue who use our equipment on site as well as support to the local economy.
 
“We strongly believe in the public benefits of the wind farm, as others do, and we hope the Planning Inspectorate allows the appeal and grants planning permission for the continued operation of the Kirkby Moor wind farm.”
 
www.ventientenergy.com

25 May 2018

Arctic Bound … Ten Bathgate Academy Pupils Selected for The Polar Academy

West Lothian’s youth targeted for help by life-changing charity 

Ten teenagers, all between 13 and 15 years of age have been selected to benefit from the support of a ground-breaking Scottish charity, The Polar Academy. As part of their involvement, the seven female and three male participants will undertake a self-guided 100km, 10-day expedition in Eastern Greenland next April. 
 
All of the youths selected for the expedition team (names listed below) are pupils at Bathgate Academy in West Lothian.  Ellis McKay, a teacher at the school is also part of the expedition team while an additional nine pupils from Bathgate Academy have been selected for the (back-up) leadership team. 
 
Mollie Hughes, an explorer and Tiso Ambassador and who in 2017 became the youngest woman in the world to successfully climb Mount Everest from both the north and south, is one of the expert guides on The Polar Academy Expedition Team.
 
The charity was set-up in 2013 by Craig Mathieson, Scotland’s greatest living polar explorer.  His vision is to inspire youth through exploration and to help young people positively transform a life blighted by crushed self-confidence, anxiety and / or a lack of self-esteem. 
 
Over the past five years, Mathieson has worked closely with teachers to identify what he calls ‘invisible’ youths. To date, four expeditions involving pupils from a total of ten secondary schools have experienced the life-changing methods deployed by the charity that helps participants to redefine their physical and mental limits.  
 
Confirmation of his or her selection into The Polar Academy (that was decided by Mathieson and followed a weekend of physical and mental challenges at Glenmore Lodge near Aviemore) is only the beginning of a rigorous nine-month programme. As 49-year-old Mathieson, explained: “The pupils from Bathgate Academy who have come through the selection process should be proud of their achievement.  
 
“It has been extremely hard to decide those who can most benefit from being part of the 2019 Polar Academy Expedition Team. For those selected, the hard work starts now. Supported by the charity, their school and families, the youths can expect to fully commit to a programme that will include undertaking regular physical training. Like the many positively transformed youths who have gone before them, The Polar Academy will prepare the expedition team for the experience of hauling a 45kg sledge, navigating, camping, cooking and skiing across the wilds of Greenland in temperatures as low as minus 30C.  
 
“Crucially, in the months ahead, as a team and individuals, they will encounter and overcome challenges that develop self-confidence and awakens the realisation that with focus and effort the seemingly impossible can be achieved. Just as importantly, their post expedition talks to peer groups across Scotland will inspire thousands of other youths to pursue goals they too previously thought unattainable.”
 
Over 60,000 youths have already been engaged and inspired by the charity that’s regarded as Europe’s toughest youth training programme. 
 
In the Arctic, accompanied by a doctor and expert guides, pupils will also conduct scientific experiments to support the Scottish school curriculum and to further understanding of the impact of global warming.  Mathieson, who in 2013 was named the first Explorer in Residence of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in 129 years, is also a STEM ambassador for Scotland. 
 
Despite its growing success, The Polar Academy remains wholly dependent on donations to deliver its programme that costs £170,000 to operate and to which the participants and their families are not asked to contribute.  Chris Tiso, CEO of Tiso the outdoor adventure retail specialist and Cornhill Building Services (CBS) are among founding supporters of the charity whose trustees are drawn from the fields of education, business, exploration and the media. 
 
Carol Ann Penrose is the Head Teacher of Lochgelly High School in Fife and was part of the school’s ten-strong 2017/2018 Polar Academy Expedition Team that recently returned from Greenland in April.  She is full of praise for the work of The Polar Academy: “The calm, understated approach of Craig and his guides really gets results. They quietly instil a ‘can do’ mind-set in the participants.  You come to recognise that with a little more self-belief you can accept and overcome challenges. 
 
“I noticed that the pupils were increasingly unfazed and accepting of tasks they would have recoiled from (when first selected). Previously very quiet, shy and ‘under the radar’ in school … (there’s a) marked and significant change in their outlook and ‘can do’ mentality.”  
 
www.thepolaracademy.org

27 April 2018

Fife’s Young Arctic Explorers Recognised with Prestigious Polar Academy Medal

Lochgelly High School pupils rewarded for their achievements after life-changing Greenland expedition 

Last night (26 April) 10 young Arctic explorers from Lochgelly High School in Fife received a prestigious Polar Academy Medal at a special awards ceremony hosted by Lord Bruce at Broomhall House near Dunfermline, Fife. 
 
The medals were presented to the expedition team of seven girls and three boys in recognition of their courage and achievements after they completed a life-changing 14-day and 100km expedition in Eastern Greenland with the charity, The Polar Academy. 
 
The event took place in the home of Lord Bruce, with the medals presented by the parent or guardian of each youth and in front of more than 100 special guests.
 
Throughout their expedition, the youths aged between 14-17 years old and their head teacher Carol Ann Penrose, braved snow-storms and temperatures as low  as -25C.  The team camped on sea ice and visited Inuit villages and throughout the journey, each pupil was required to haul his or her own 45kg sled. 
 
The Polar Academy was founded in 2013 by Craig Mathieson, Scotland’s greatest living Polar explorer, to inspire youths struggling with lack of confidence and low self esteem to transform their lives through exploration. 
 
Bo’ness-based Mathieson, who in 2014 was named the first Explorer in Residence of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in 129 years, was the expedition leader. 
 
Paying tribute to the magnitude of the pupils’ achievements, Mathieson said: “These pupils have achieved the extraordinary by pushing themselves physically and mentally to the limit. Their rekindled sense of self-confidence is evident to all. They are more than ready to inspire others struggling with self-confidence and esteem to take that first vital step to change their lives for the better.  Each is deserving of a rare and coveted Polar Academy Medal.”
 
Lord Bruce said: “The Bruce Family is delighted to be involved with a truly worthwhile cause such as The Polar Academy. It is a great pleasure to welcome the Lochgelly team on their safe return to Scotland and to host the awards ceremony at Broomhall House.  Several members of my family have gone to the ends of the Earth in a similar spirit of adventure: James Bruce of Kinnaird discovered the source of the Blue Nile in 1770; William Speirs Bruce led the Scottish Antarctic Expedition (1902-04); and John Geoffrey Bruce set a mountaineering record in 1922, climbing Mount Everest to reach 27,300 feet without oxygen.   
 
“In the Year of Young People 2018, we are delighted to support this adventurous group of Fife students, who are learning valuable leadership and life skills. I am sure they have benefited enormously from their experiences with the Academy and we are very happy to work with such an inspiring organisation.”

Like the participants of three previous Polar Academy expeditions, each of the pupils will now share their personal account of being part of The Polar Academy with their peer groups in Fife and throughout Scotland. In just four years, more than 60,000 school-aged children have been engaged by the charity. 
 
Last night also saw two members of The Polar Academy Leadership Team receive a Polar Academy Medal to recognise their commitment to undertake rigorous physical training and personal sacrifices during the eight-month period between selection and the departure to Greenland of the expedition team. 
 
Mathieson’s fellow guides, Nigel Williams (Glenmore Lodge by Aviemore) and George MacHardy and expedition doctor Naomi Dodds also received a special Polar Academy Medal.  
 
Future Polar Academy Expeditions
 
Mathieson highlighted that annually, The Polar Academy must fundraise over £170,000 to operate. Tiso, the outdoor adventure retail specialist, Bergans of Norway and Cornhill Building Services are among the organisations, individual donors and supporters who generously contribute to the work of the charity.  During the nine months prior to the expedition, the pupils, supported by their school, family and the wider Lochgelly community also undertook considerable fundraising to support their expedition and charity.  
 
The fifth expedition team will comprise pupils from Bathgate High School in West Lothian.  Potential team members have yet to be selected for that expedition which will depart for Arctic Greenland in April 2019.  
 
Notes to the editor
 
The Polar Academy 2018 Expedition Team: 
Morgan Adam - 14
Kieran Burns - 14 
Daisy George - 14 
Megan Hargrave - 16 
Conner Harper - 16 
Carla Masterton - 14 
Carol Ann Penrose - Head Teacher
Daniel Pratt - 17
Hannah Reid - 15 
Lauren Scott - 14 
Carrie Wotherspoon - 14 
 
The Polar Academy 2018 Leadership Team:
 
Lewis Fotheringham – 14; Louise McLeary – 14; Cameron Duff – 14; Louise McArthur – 15; Isla Stewart – 16; Keigan Thomson – 16; Ryan Harley – 16; Erin Cuthbert - 14

For free to use images from medal presentation, please contact Beeline PR.
 

27 April 2018

Two historic Edinburgh hotels to be restored back to their residential grandeur

Plans have been unveiled to return two of Edinburgh’s best-known historic boutique hotels back to their residential grandeur with the creation of luxury apartments.

The luxury residential property developer Square and Crescent, which was founded by directors Simon Cook and Euan Marshall in 2010, has bought The Howard and Channings Hotel from The Edinburgh Collection. 
 
Work is due to begin on converting the Grade-A listed Howard on Great King Street in Edinburgh’s New Town into nine luxury apartments in early May.
 
The three townhouses that form The Howard were originally built as private residences during the 1820s and were converted into a guesthouse and later a hotel in the years following the Second World War.
 
The transformation of the three Georgian townhouses that form the previously five-star hotel, which sits within the Scottish capital’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, is expected to take around 12 months, with the nine apartments due to be completed in the spring of 2019.
 
The former four-star Channings Hotel on South Learmonth Gardens in Comely Bank will be converted into 15 apartments in two phases, with phase one due to also start in May.  There will be a mix of one, two and three bedroom apartments with some upper units having lift access.  The ground and lower ground apartments will have private gardens.
 
The 42-bedroom hotel consisted of five townhouses, one of which was home to Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and his wife, Emily Mary Dorman, between 1904 and 1910, during the time when he was secretary of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in Edinburgh.
 
Simon Cook, director of Square and Crescent, said: “It’s not often that you get to work on two properties with such rich histories and so we’re very excited about unveiling our plans for this pair of sites.
 
“The Howard forms an integral part of the Edinburgh Old and New Towns World Heritage Site, while Channings Hotel has its own illustrious history.
 
“These apartments are going to make truly magical homes for their new owners and will give them a chance to own a small piece of Edinburgh’s history.”
 
Square and Crescent has converted more than 20 townhouses in Edinburgh’s New Town and West End since its first refurbishment on the city’s Queen Street in 2012 and have also diversified into flatted new build projects in the city centre.
 
Recent developments have included 40-44 Drumsheugh Gardens, previously the Scottish Legal Aid Board, the Arts & Crafts building at 235 Corstorphine and the conversion of Westerles House and stables in Murrayfield.  Square and Crescent are also currently on site converting Guthrie Court in Liberton into 30 apartments and have recently acquired another two prime projects in the West End and Murrayfield.
 
Euan Marshall said: “Our business has grown significantly over the past few years and we are delighted to have secured a number of prime opportunities in such a competitive market place.”
 
Ricky Kapoor, managing director of The Edinburgh Collection, added: “The Howard and Channings Hotel are in safe hands with Simon Cook and Euan Marshall, who I know will respect their history and their heritage while converting them into what will be some of the most stunning apartments in Scotland.
 
“Selling the two hotels will allow my company to reinvest the proceeds and to continue to develop our other Edinburgh Hotels; the Old Waverley Hotel, the Holyrood Aparthotel, and the Haymarket Hub Hotel.”
 
Will Scarlett, formerly of Rettie & Co, acted on behalf of Square and Crescent with Alistair Letham from Colliers International acting on behalf of The Edinburgh Collection.  For further project information please contact Square and Crescent at info@squareandcrescent.com

 

25 April 2018

GlenAllachie to unveil a special treat for whisky fans at The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 

Whisky industry icon Billy Walker announces hand-picked single cask bottling for whisky festival in May

Boutique Scotch whisky company GlenAllachie has revealed it is releasing a special bottling exclusively at the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival in May.
 
The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2018 bottling is a 12-year-old single cask that was personally selected by Billy Walker, GlenAllachie’s Master Distiller. 
 
With 1,028 50cl bottles available, the special festival release, which is bottled at cask strength, will be on sale during the festival (3-7 May) at The Whisky Shop Dufftown and the Highlander Inn, Craigellachie. 
 
Walker, the whisky industry icon who last year led the purchase of The GlenAllachie Distillery near Aberlour in Speyside, will unveil the bottling at a series of events during the festival. 
 
On Thursday 3 and Friday 4 May, he will host informal sessions at the Whisky Shop Dufftown from 10:30–11:30am, and then at the Highlander Inn, Craigellachie from 1–2pm. 
 
At the free drop-in sessions, whisky fans can buy the festival bottling, have bottles signed, hear Walker’s plans for the distillery, and taste samples of the new GlenAllachie range, which is being released in June.
 
The festival bottling is the second release from the distillery following the six limited edition 50cl single cask bottlings, which were launched in February to mark the 50th anniversary of the distillery’s maiden production run on February 17 1968.
 
Walker and his business partners – Trisha Savage, who worked with him on his previous venture at the BenRiach Distillery Company, and former Inver House Distillers Managing Director Graham Stevenson – bought GlenAllachie last year from French spirits giant Pernod Ricard. 
 
The three directors have almost 100 years’ experience in the Scotch whisky industry and plan to launch a range of premium quality yet affordable whiskies in domestic and export markets.
 
Walker said:  “When we started the distillery, we all agreed that one of our key goals was to step away from the ‘big business’ corporate approach to whisky and have some fun releasing great whisky that we’re personally passionate about. As we’re independent and privately owned, we have the flexibility to do that and this special festival bottling is a great example of our philosophy.
 
“We’re fortunate to have a fantastic range of casks in the warehouses dating back to the 1970s and I personally selected this cask to showcase the GlenAllachie single malt and highlight the direction we’re taking the distillery.’’
 
Prior to setting up GlenAllachie, Walker established his reputation as an innovator in the whisky industry during spells with Ballantine’s, Inver House and Burn Stewart before forming the BenRiach Distillery Company in 2003.
 
The GlenAllachie Distillery was designed by William Delme-Evans – the architect behind Jura, Macduff and Tullibardine – and was built in 1967 by Mackinlay McPherson, the distilling arm of brewers Scottish & Newcastle.  It sits within a 20-acre estate and uses water sourced from Henshead Burn on the slopes of Ben Rinnes. It has four stills but unusually it also has two separate spirit safes, one for each set of stills.   
 
The GlenAllachie Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2018 bottling (12yo, 58.9%, 50cl, £56) is available exclusively at The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, 3-7 May. www.spiritofspeyside.com

5 April 2018

Nick Nairn to close his Cook School in Aberdeen and focus on expanding his pizza business

Nick Nairn has today (Thursday 5 April) announced his decision that he will close his Cook School in Aberdeen at the end of June but has confirmed that he will remain in the city with his successful pizza restaurant business, Nick’s Pizza Bar. 

The Aberdeen Cook School launched in May 2012 as an expansion of Nick Nairn Cook School in Port of Menteith, near Stirling and was catering for the growing demand for cooking experiences in the north-east fuelled by the buoyant oil and gas sector.
 
Offering full-day and shorter classes for up to 24 people, the Cook School is based on the first floor of a stunning listed building in Back Wynd, formerly St Nicholas Kirk’s old church hall in the city centre, while Nick’s Pizza Bar is located on the ground level.  
 
More than 60,000 customers have enjoyed culinary classes in Aberdeen since its opening – with in excess of 4,000 customers learning how to cook the perfect steak and 2,185 perfecting their beef wellington - but the downturn in the north-east economy in recent years means that the Cook School business is no longer commercially viable.  Staff were notified of the decision yesterday.   
 
Nick Nairn explained: “Expanding into Aberdeen had been a long-term passion of mine as we had a huge number of loyal customers regularly travelling from the north-east to our Cook School in Port of Menteith.
 
“We enjoyed a great run of custom for a number of years but like many other businesses in Aberdeen and the surrounding areas, we are not immune to the downturn in the north-east economy.  Our corporate custom suffered in particular for understandable reasons and we have worked exceptionally hard for the last 18 months to diversify our offering, but we have now reached a point where the Cook School is no longer commercially sustainable.”
 
Aberdeen Cook School will close on 30 June 2018.  The Cook School will ensure that everyone who has purchased gift cards will be able to redeem these prior to its closing.  Customers are encouraged to contact the booking line to arrange a class.  The Port of Menteith Cook School is not affected and remains busy with a number of new initiatives in the pipeline.
 
Nick add: “Despite these challenges, we have been really encouraged by the vibrant success of Nick’s Pizza Bar located on the ground floor of the premises and will now concentrate on expanding that operation.  We remain committed to maintaining a presence in Aberdeen so from 1 May the restaurant will open seven days a week from 12pm – 10pm.  We will also make a small refurbishment to the space in the first two weeks of July and are currently exploring further opportunities for Nick’s Pizza Bar in Edinburgh and Glasgow.  
 
“We’d like to thank everyone who has supported the Aberdeen Cook School during the last six years and our incredible team who have made every effort to make it work in really challenging times.”  
 
Voucher holders are being encouraged to book their class places before 30 June 2018 by calling the Nick Nairn Cook School booking line on 01877 389 900 between 9.30am and 4.30pm.  This is open seven days a week.

29 March 2018

GlenAllachie releases first ever bottling since takeover by Billy Walker-led consortium

Billy Walker, the Master Distiller who last year led the purchase of The GlenAllachie Distillery near Aberlour in Speyside, is releasing a special bottling of limited edition whiskies as his first product launch from the site after examining casks of world-class Scotch in its warehouses.

Having sampled an extensive selection of the distillery’s 40,000 casks, Mr Walker has identified six casks that have been bottled to mark the 50th anniversary of the distillery’s maiden production run on February 17th 1968.
 
Over 3,500 50cl bottles have been filled as special edition single cask whiskies; 720 for the UK, 2,391 for General Export and 425 for Taiwan – all bottled at cask strength, with prices ranging from £200 to £699.
 
The single cask bottlings are being released ahead of the launch in June of the full GlenAllachie range, which will mark the first time the distillery has had its own cohesive identity as a brand.
 
GlenAllachie was designed by William Delmé-Evans – the architect behind Jura, Macduff and Tullibardine – and was built in 1967 by Mackinlay McPherson, the distilling arm of brewer Scottish & Newcastle. 
 
Mr Walker and his business partners – Trisha Savage, who worked with him on his previous venture at the BenRiach Distillery Company, and former Inver House Distillers Managing Director Graham Stevenson – bought GlenAllachie last year from French spirits giant Pernod Ricard.
 
The distillery has four stills and, unusually, two separate spirit safes, one for each set of stills.
 
Mr Walker, who sold BenRiach Distillery Company to American producer Brown-Forman in 2016, said: “Even though GlenAllachie is one of the younger distilleries in Scotland, we are very fortunate in that we have casks of whisky stretching back to the early 1970s, in the first years after the site opened.
 
“The past few months since we bought the distillery and its stock have been so exciting for the whole team.  I’ve been able to try samples from some really remarkable casks of Scotch and to study how the spirit has evolved over time.
 
“I’ve been involved in distilling whiskies for much of my forty-year career in the industry, but I’ve seldom come across such a high-quality collection of casks.”
 
Mr Walker, who was named Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2016 Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards, added: “GlenAllachie has always been prized as an important blending ingredient, not just by Chivas Brothers but also by other whisky companies, which would buy casks to add to their own blends.
 
“What’s particularly exciting about these special-edition single cask bottles is that we’ll be able to demonstrate the really high quality of GlenAllachie as a standalone whisky.
 
“GlenAllachie produces a much more muscular spirit than many of the other distilleries on Speyside and so it works well with lots of different casks, whether they’re American oak barrels and hogsheads or European sherry butts.
 
“Discovering these hidden gems in the warehouses has given us a great opportunity, not only to give whisky connoisseurs a taste of what’s to come later this year when we launch the full GlenAllachie range, but also to celebrate the half century since this very special distillery first fired up its stills.
 
“Why wait when it’s ready to be enjoyed by the world?”
 
Notes to the editor
 
Each of the six special-edition single cask bottles has distinctive aromas and flavours:
  • 1978, Cask 10296, Sherry Butt, 55.9%: A rush of raisins, dark chocolate and spices, followed by hints of orange peel and liquorice.
    • 120 bottles for the UK, 340 for General Export and 68 for Taiwan.
  • 1989, Cask 986, Sherry Butt, 57.7%: A galaxy of sultanas, pineapple and plum pudding, with hints of spices and orange peel. 
    • 152 bottles for the UK, 640 for General Export and 92 for Taiwan.
  • 1989, Cask 2587, Hogshead, 45.4%: The melange of dark cherries, bananas and orange peel develops into dark chocolate and rich spices. 
    • 80 bottles for the UK, 211 for General Export and 32 for Taiwan.
  • 1990, Cask 2515, Sherry Butt, 44.9%: Rich sherry and raisin presence, with a supporting cast of dark chocolate, grapefruit and spices. 
    • 156 bottles for the UK, 484 for General Export and 108 for Taiwan.
  • 1990, Cask 2517, Sherry Butt, 54.6%: The amazing flavour rainbow of raisins, bananas, sweet cloves and pineapples extends to orange peel and dark chocolate. 
    • 144 bottles for the UK, 524 for General Export and 84 for Taiwan.
  • 1991, Cask 100285, Hogshead, 55%: Wonderful notes of vanilla, caramel, butterscotch and hazelnuts as the lead players with hints of dark chocolate, mocha and spices. 
    • 68 bottles for the UK, 192 for General Export and 41 for Taiwan.
Further information on the distillery and company can be found at www.theglenallachie.com
 
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12 March 2018

It's an 'Ice Day for the Beach!
Final tyre haul for Fife youths ahead of Arctic challenge

Ten youths from Lochgelly High School in Fife yesterday (10 March) and pictured, braved the chilly waters off St Andrews Beach when they dragged heavy tyres into the North Sea. It was part of their tough final training session, before leaving for Eastern Greenland on 2 April for a 10-day, 100km expedition with the Bo’ness based youth charity, The Polar Academy.  In the Arctic, the pupils and head teacher Carol Ann Penrose will haul their own 45kg sled for up to ten hours a day. 

Aged between 14 and 17, the teenagers (seven girls & three boys) have been relentlessly training for eight months since being selected for The Polar Academy expedition team. Nine additional pupils (see below) also benefit from the training as part of a back-up leadership team. 
 
With a vision to inspire youth through exploration, since 2013 The Polar Academy has annually rigorously prepared a ten-strong group of shy teenagers for what proves to be a life-changing expedition. With the support of founding partners Tiso, the outdoor adventure retail specialist and Bergans of Norway, it aims to help young people rebuild lives affected by crushed self-confidence and feeling ‘invisible’ in school. Following the expedition, each pupil talks to school assemblies across Scotland about the impact of the charity on his or her life and with the aim of inspiring other young people to overcome their own challenges and achieve personal ambitions.  In just four years, more than 50,000 school-aged children have been engaged by the charity. 
 
The infamous two-hour beach haul is designed to replicate the resistance the team will encounter when their sleds are dragged across the snow.  For Craig Mathieson, expedition leader and founder of The Polar Academy, the gruelling exercise is also a chance to check everyone is fighting fit and mentally prepared for the Arctic.  
 
The 48-year-old, who is Scotland’s greatest living polar explorer and a veteran of several expeditions to the polar regions, explained: “Supported by their school and parents, over the past eight months each member of The Polar Academy expedition team has already shown tremendous courage and determination to commit to what is Europe’s toughest youth training programme.  
 
“Through successfully overcoming tough challenges like today’s beach haul, this group of remarkable youths have already grown immeasurably in mental strength and self-confidence. Greenland is no guided school-trip and it will test their resolve, fitness, focus and team working skills to the limit.  But like the thirty youths who have gone before, it will be a hugely positive, rewarding and life-changing experience.  
 
“I am sure they will return from the wilds of Greenland bursting with pride and ready to inspire thousands of other young people throughout Scotland.” 
 
In the Arctic, each youth will haul his or her own sledge, navigate, camp on the sea-ice and undertake scientific experiments in support of the Scottish school curriculum.  They may also encounter remote Inuit villages and observe the Northern Lights. 
 
The Polar Academy is wholly self-funded and does not ask pupils to pay for their participation. With the generous support of companies and private donors, including Tiso Group, it must annually fundraise over £170,000 to operate.   Carol Ann Penrose, Head Teacher of Lochgelly High School, highlighted how the pupils and parents have reacted to The Polar Academy: “The calm, understated approach of Craig (Mathieson) and his guides (Nigel Williams / George MacHardy) really gets results. Somehow they quietly instil a ‘can do’ mind-set in the participants.  You come to recognise that with a little more self-belief you can accept and overcome challenges. 
 
“The pupils are increasingly unfazed and accepting of tasks they would have recoiled from just six months ago. Previously very quiet, shy and ‘under the radar’ in school, they seem to unquestioningly accept each new challenge! I’m really looking forward to being in Greenland and watching the pupils grow further in confidence.
 
“The commitment of the pupils’ parents has also been outstanding. All have relentlessly fundraised and they really are getting actively involved in the whole spirit of The Polar Academy.”
 
Commenting on her own training ahead of the tyre haul on the beach, Carol Ann added: “I’m trying to do a little more training than the pupils so hopefully, it will not just make me fitter but ensure I can keep up in the wilds of Greenland!”
 
The Polar Academy Expedition Team departs on 2 April and returns to Glasgow Airport on Wednesday 18 April. 
 
www.thepolaracademy.org
 
The Polar Academy 2017/2018 Expedition Team: 
Morgan Adam - 14
Kieran Burns - 14 
Daisy George - 14 
Megan Hargrave - 16 
Conner Harper - 16 
Carla Masterton - 14 
Carol Ann Penrose - Head Teacher
Daniel Pratt - 17
Hannah Reid - 15 
Lauren Scott - 14 
Carrie Wetherspoon - 14 
 
                                                                           
The Polar Academy 2017/2018 Leadership Team
Lewis Fotheringham – 14; Louise McLeary – 14; Cameron Duff – 14; Louise McArthur – 15; Isla Stewart – 16; Keigan Thomson – 16; Ryan Harley – 16; Erin Cuthbert – 14

26 February 2018

Time waits for no-one – especially when it comes to court cases 

TIMING is everything, as any actor will tell you. Get your timing right and an audience will lean forward in their seats, hanging on your every word from the stage; get your timing wrong, and you’ll be greeted with silence when the curtain comes down, no matter how good the script might be.

The same is true when it comes to the law. Whether it’s personal injury claims being time-barred by a three-year period of limitation or criminal convictions being “spent” under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, it’s crucial to understand the importance of timing.

That sense of timing is at the very heart of the Prescription (Scotland) Bill, which Justice Secretary Michael Matheson introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 8 February. The proposed legislation is designed to amend the law relating to “the extinction of rights and obligations by the passage of time”.

At present, a non-personal injury claim becomes “stale” under negative prescription if no legal action has been taken within five years of a creditor finding out that they have suffered a loss, regardless of their state of knowledge on the cause of the loss. This “discoverability test” was clarified by the Supreme Court in 2014 in an appeal successfully brought by lawyers from BLM – in a previous guise as HBM Sayers – that related to property damage from an explosion at a chemicals factory in Maryhill in Glasgow in 2004.

Following a recommendation from the Scottish Law Commission, the Scottish Government wants to change the point at which the clock starts running on the discoverability test to take into account three factors instead of one. Rather than beginning when a creditor simply discovers they have suffered a loss, the five-year prescriptive period will only start when a creditor discovers: that loss, injury or damage has occurred; that the loss, injury or damage was caused by a person’s act or omission; and the identity of that person.

Commenting on the proposals, Legal Affairs Minister Annabelle Ewing said that the new bill was needed to “remove grey areas in the existing law, such as contention regarding the date the prescription clock starts ticking” and to ensure claims are raised promptly. Ewing added: “The changes in this bill will increase clarity, certainty and fairness, and benefit persons or bodies in resolving disputes.”

At the moment, the law is very clear – the 2014 Supreme Court ruling made plain the moment at which the clock starts ticking – and the introduction of three factors rather than one for the discoverability test means that cases will not necessarily be raised more promptly. Further, questions over who knew what and when – or who should have known what and when – could create more grounds for disagreements and legal wrangles, prolonging the time it takes for cases to be resolved. 

Yet Ewing’s comment on fairness, to creditors at least, will undoubtedly be addressed by the new bill. A recent case before the Supreme Court has highlighted how the current set-up could be seen to be unfair.

Last July, the Supreme Court in London heard an appeal against a decision taken in the Court of Session in Edinburgh in the case of Gordon v Campbell Riddell Breeze Paterson LLP. The Court of Session, bound by the 2014 Supreme Court decision, had ruled that the five-year prescriptive clock had begun ticking in 2005 when the solicitors had served defective notices to quit on agricultural tenants and not in 2008 when the Scottish Land Court ruled that the notices had been defective.

That decision meant that the professional negligence action raised against the solicitors in 2012 was dismissed because it had been started too late. Last November, the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal against that decision, upholding the Court of Session’s original judgment.

Lord Hodge, delivering the Supreme Court’s judgment in Gordon, recognised that the present “discoverability formula” may indeed give rise to “hard cases”, with arguably “harsh” outcomes. But, as the Supreme Court pointed out, “it offers certainty, at least with the benefit of hindsight”.

The present proposal to reform the discoverability test is a good example of parliaments, not the courts, “making” the law. In the cases mentioned above, the courts were interpreting and applying a 1973 Act of Parliament, rather than making new law. More than 40 years on from that Act, the point has been reached when the timing of non-personal injury litigation is being reconsidered at parliamentary level. 

Shirley Wyles is a partner in the Edinburgh office of law firm BLM.

8 February 2018

GlenAllachie unveils sales team and confirms first overseas orders

The GlenAllachie Distillers Company, the Speyside venture launched by a consortium led by whisky industry veteran Billy Walker, has made a raft of senior appointments to its sales team, taking the business’s headcount to 14 and unveiled its first export orders.

The firm, which last year bought the GlenAllachie distillery near Aberlour from Pernod Ricard, has also signed deals with distributors covering twelve countries, including the key Chinese, Netherlands, Taiwanese and French markets.
 
The first distributor to stock GlenAllachie will be Belgium-based Premium Spirits, which was also the first company to sell the whiskies produced by BenRiach, Walker’s previous business which was founded in 2004. 
 
GlenAllachie’s core range of aged whiskies, ranging from a 10 year old to 25 year old, will be launched in June this year.
 
News of the maiden overseas orders came as the company named the line-up for its sales team.
 
David Keir has been appointed as GlenAllachie’s Sales and Marketing Director, bringing with him more than 20 years’ experience working across a variety of retail and marketing roles.
 
Keir will be joined in his new role by Colette Savage who becomes GlenAllachie’s Marketing Manager; Ally Stevenson, joins as Sales Manager along with Administration Manager Lorraine Walker.
 
They are joined by production and warehouse operatives Michael Duncan, Phillip Murray, Lindsay Cormie, Stuart Geddes and William Kewley. 
 
The appointments come hot-on-the-heels of GlenAllachie selecting Richard Beattie as its Operations Director.  Beattie was previously Director of Distilling at Mossburn Distillers, the parent company of Torabhaig Distillery on Skye.
 
As well as investing in its staff, the company has also built a filling store and two dunnage warehouses at the distillery bringing total storage on site to sixteen warehouses and over 100,000 casks.
 
David Keir, Sales and Marketing Director at GlenAllachie Distillers Company, said: “We have assembled a top team, and continue to invest in the distillery, to help launch The GlenAllachie brand and position it as a premium quality Scotch whisky. In his role as Sales Manager, Ally Stevenson will have a specific focus on developing the key European markets such as Germany and France along with the likes of Russia and Ukraine. Colette Savage will be instrumental in developing our branding and sales tools to help us grow as a global whisky brand.
 
“The GlenAllachie has always been a bit of a hidden gem as the previous owners focused on their other distilleries.  It is a hugely exciting opportunity for us all to be involved in a truly independent, Scottish-owned and managed business and to build the brand from scratch.
 
“These first orders from twelve countries prove that there’s demand out there for the high-quality single malt that has been produced at the distillery over the years. Along with these confirmed deals we’ve had strong expressions of interest from around the world including Asia, and will be attending Vinexpo Hong Kong with a view to finalising these. In fact, we’re hopeful to have confirmed distribution in over 30 countries, including the USA, by the time we launch in June.
 
“As well as selling the existing stock of single malt that was bought along with the distillery, we’ll also be involved in developing the blended Scotch brands MacNair’s and White Heather.”
 
Walker’s consortium also consists of long-term business partner and former General Manager at BenRiach Trisha Savage and Graham Stevenson, a former Managing Director at Inver House Distillers.
 
The GlenAllachie distillery was designed by William Delmé-Evans – the architect behind Jura, Macduff and Tullibardine – and was built in 1967 by Mackinlay McPherson, the distilling arm of brewers Scottish & Newcastle. It was ultra-modern in its day was designed to be gravity fed
 
Further information on the distillery and company can be found at www.theglenallachie.com
 
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25 January 2018

ezPyro sensor from Pyreos enables Trueyes to create the world’s smallest pyro-electric flame-sensing module

Pyreos, the Edinburgh-based infra-red sensor developer and manufacturer, has revealed that its ezPyro chip is being used by South Korean firm Trueyes to make the world’s smallest pyro-electric flame-sensing module.

Trueyes’ TF100 module measures just 16mm by 16mm and provides highly-sensitive flame detection at a distance of up to 35 metres. The TF100 has a field of view of more than 90 degrees, with a quick response time and low power consumption.
 
Trueyes’ new module will be used to add flame-detection capabilities into cameras, thermal imaging equipment, motion detectors and IoT devices. Target markets include devices for homes, factories and warehouses in China, Japan and Korea.
 
Do Hyung Kim, vice president and co-founder of Trueyes, said: “The ezPyro solution from Pyreos not only allows us to build a very small flame sensing module, but also enables a flexible platform to tailor the TF100 module to meet the specific requirement of the different end user applications.”
 
Andrew Wallace, CEO at Pyreos, added: “This is an exciting implementation of our ezPyro product.”
 
“Whilst this particular application doesn’t fully utilise ezPyro’s low-power capabilities, the small size and the programmability of the device ensures that end customers can optimise their products to meet their requirements.”
 
“We are looking forward to new flame and gas detection modules being launched based on our ezPyro family of products.”
 
Pyreos launched its ezPyro chip at the Sensor+Test measurement fair at Nuremburg in Germany in May 2016.
 
The ezPyro chip is the world’s smallest pyro-electric sensor with a digital interface.
The component can be used in a wide range of applications, from flame and gas detection through to motion and gesture sensors in wearable devices.
 
News of the launch of Trueyes’ TF100 module comes just days after Pyreos revealed it has secured £1.7m of funding from a syndicate of new investors led by Jon Moulton’s family office, Perscitus, alongside existing shareholders.
 
The latest investment brings the total raised by Pyreos since 2015 to almost £7m, with existing shareholders including Seraphim Capital, London Business Angels, Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH, the Scottish Investment Bank (the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise) and Siemens Technology Accelerator.
 
Pyreos’ unique technology was originally developed by Siemens, from which Pyreos was spun out in 2007.  
 
The company, which is based at the Scottish Microelectronics Centre in Edinburgh, grew last year’s revenues by 50%, with exports accounting for 81% of sales thanks to growth in major markets including China, Korea, India and the United States.

16 January 2018

The GlenAllachie Distillers Company appoint new operations director for fresh chapter in Speyside distillery’s future

Billy Walker-led consortium lays foundation for plans to revive GlenAllachie

The new owners of The GlenAllachie Distillery near Aberlour in Speyside have appointed Richard Beattie as its new Operations Director to help realise their vision for a global independent whisky brand.
 
Operations Director Richard Beattie was previously Director of Distilling at Mossburn Distillers Ltd, parent company for Torabhaig Distillery in Skye and Akashi Distillery in Japan.
 
Mr Beattie began his career as distillery manager at Speyside Scotch Malt Whisky Distillery and has almost 30 years’ experience within the industry. His past roles include Distilling/Technical Sales Director for Crisp Malting Group and Business Development Director at Briggs of Burton, where he was involved in developing distilling projects in Scotland, Ireland and the US.
 
A Fellow of the Institute of Brewers and Distillers, he is former Chairman of the Scottish section of the Institute of Brewing & Distilling, a member of the Education and training committee of the Malt Distillers Association of Scotland and has chaired the commercial committee for the last five Worldwide Distilled Spirits Conferences.
 
Consumers are expected to enjoy their first taste of a revived GlenAllachie this year following the distillery’s sale to a consortium led by award-winning whisky veteran Billy Walker. 
 
He had earlier sold BenRiach Distillery Company to American drinks giant Brown-Forman, after transforming a £5m investment in a previously mothballed distillery into a global business with £40m turnover. 
 
Mr Walker was joined in acquiring GlenAllachie from Chivas parent company Pernod Ricard by long-term business partner and BenRiach colleague Trisha Savage, and Graham Stevenson, a former Managing Director at Inver House Distillers.  The GlenAllachie Distillery Company Ltd consortium has more than a century of experience between them.
 
Mr Walker, named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards 2016, said:  “GlenAllachie is one of Speyside’s younger distilleries, yet we’re fortunate to have a substantial stock portfolio laid down ready for release.
 
“Richard brings a wealth of experience and knowledge not only about whisky making itself but also understands the intricacies of distillery engineering and design. Incidentally, GlenAllachie was designed so that the whole process was gravity fed, this is one of the reasons we have horizontal condensers which is an unusual feature for a distillery.”
 
GlenAllachie Distillery sits within a 20-acre estate in Speyside and has warehouse stocks dating to the 1970s, which will form the foundations for the brand’s future development.
 
As well as the 1967-built distillery, the consortium has taken over the single malt brand and blended Scotch brands MacNair’s and White Heather, which it plans to develop as a premium yet affordable range to a global market. 
 
The first phase will see a selection of aged whiskies, from a 10 year old to 25 year old, that are expected to launch this year. There are also moves to develop special edition whiskies. 
 
GlenAllachie plans include exploring emerging markets as well as more established export arenas in France, Germany and the United States.
 
Majority shareholder Mr Walker, who began his career in production at Ballantine’s in Dumbarton in 1974, added: “We are looking forward to bringing classic GlenAllachie single malt to a new generation, and exploring how it can deliver new blends that can become the classics of the future.“
 
The GlenAllachie Distillery was designed by William Delmé-Evans – the architect behind Jura, Macduff and Tullibardine – and was built in 1967 by Mackinlay McPherson, the distilling arm of brewers Scottish & Newcastle. It has four stills and, unusually, two separate spirit safes, one for each set of stills. 
 
Further information on the distillery and company can be found at www.theglenallachie.com
 
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10 January 2018

BGF invests £4m in Walker Precision Engineering to fuel expansion

Walker Precision Engineering, a high-precision component manufacturer, has secured a £4m investment from BGF to expand its operations in the UK and mainland Europe. 

From premises in Glasgow, Basildon and Poland, the family-owned business manufactures and assembles complex parts for the aerospace, defence and industrial sectors.

Founded in 1979, the company is run by brothers Gary and Mark Walker and employs more than 250 staff.  
 
BGF’s funding will allow Walker to invest in specialist machinery, further increasing its high accuracy machining capacity. The business has experienced an increase in demand from existing and new customers, particularly in the burgeoning space market. Walker has been forging closer links with the International Space Agency and academic institutions, and has been involved in the Galileo Satellite System, which is the European high accuracy positioning system. 
 
In addition to further investment at its Glasgow HQ, Walker will move its Basildon operations to a new purpose-built facility and double the capacity of its manufacturing facility in Poland. 
 
As part of the group’s expansion plans, Chris Melrose has joined Walker as non-executive chairman, following an introduction by BGF. Melrose is a non-executive director of Ralph Martindale and of ADS, the aerospace, defence and security trade association.  Previous posts include that of managing director of a General Electric JV, vice president of Bombardier Aerospace and latterly non-executive chairman of Daher Aerospace.
 
Mark Walker, Managing Director at Walker Precision Engineering, said: “Walker has grown steadily over the years through our deep commitment to investing in technical expertise and innovation. 
 
“We first met BGF back in 2012 and since then have been getting to know the team and how it operates. Now is the right time to bring on board a minority investor. BGF’s funding will help us pursue new opportunities in the market faster than we would otherwise have been able to do, without losing control of the business.”
 
Paddy Graham, BGF investor, added: “Walker is one of the leaders in its field, having built a strong heritage and long-standing customer relationships. Having known the business for a number of years, we’ve seen the team successfully scale up its operations and customer base and break into the space market. 
 
“There are significant opportunities for Walker to expand its capacity further in both existing and in new markets. We’re delighted to be helping the team capitalise on this.”
 
The investment in Walker brings the total BGF funding in Scottish businesses to more than £200m. Its portfolio of growing companies includes Campion Homes, Bar Soba, Keenan Recycling and M Squared Lasers, which has been more than doubling its revenues every two years since BGF’s investment in 2012.
 
BGF provides patient capital to businesses with revenues typically between £5m and £100m in exchange for a minority, non-controlling stake. BGF invests exclusively in small and mid-sized firms headquartered in the UK and Ireland, and is in the top ten most active investors globally. 

9 January 2018

Pyreos raises £1.7m from consortium led by Jon Moulton’s family office

Pyreos, the Edinburgh-based passive infrared sensor developer and maker, has secured £1.7m of funding from a syndicate of new investors led by Jon Moulton’s family office, Perscitus, alongside existing shareholders.  The funds will be used for further commercial expansion building on Pyreos’ recent sales growth and the start of field trials and mass-production by several customers. 

Pyreos is the only supplier in the world of thin film pyroelectric sensors.  These are used for passively sensing infra red light and are typically very small, fast, sensitive, energy efficient and accurate.
 
The sensors are primarily used for gas and flame sensing, food safety, and for monitoring oil and fuel in engines.  These growth markets have a combined accessible value estimated at $1.2bn a year in 2018.
 
Pyreos’ unique technology was originally developed by Siemens, from which Pyreos was spun out in 2007.  Pyreos now owns an extensive patent portfolio reflecting its innovative approach.  
 
The latest investment brings the total raised by Pyreos since 2015 to almost £7m.  Existing shareholders include Seraphim Capital, London Business Angels, Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH, the Scottish Investment Bank (the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise) and Siemens Technology Accelerator.
 
The investment follows a busy year for Pyreos in which the company grew its revenues by 50%, with exports accounting for 81% of sales thanks to major markets including China, Korea, the USA and India. 
 
Products launched in the past year that contained Pyreos’ chips included an oil analyser developed by Parker Kittiwake, on sale to shipping operators and navies worldwide, and several fire-detection and CCTV devices made by South Korean customers.
            
Field trials have started for several other applications and several customer product developments are also in the pipeline.
 
Andy Laing, chief financial officer at Pyreos, said: “We’re delighted to welcome a new set of professional investors with the appetite to support further growth and product development. This funding sets the basis for more ambitious product development in the future.
 
“Our sensors are also already used in a wide array of industrial applications, from monitoring additives in milk through to detecting flames from burning gases.”
 
The lead investor in the syndicate is one of the investment vehicles owned by venture capitalist Jon Moulton.

6 January 2018

Wise investors are looking to the east in Edinburgh

Property expert Will Scarlett examines why the focus for developers, retailers and restaurateurs has shifted to Edinburgh’s east end, and looks ahead to who might be next to arrive in the capital.

THE 12 days of Christmas that lie between Boxing Day and Epiphany on 6 January commemorate the journey that the Wise men made as they followed a star in the east until it settled over a stable in Bethlehem. Property investors are also looking east when it comes to Edinburgh.

Whether it’s the Trongate in Glasgow or Shoreditch in London, regeneration projects are breathing fresh life into the east end of our city centres; and Scotland’s capital is no exception.

The redevelopment of Edinburgh St James by TH Real Estate is acting as an anchor for a revitalisation of Auld Reekie’s east end. The 1.7 million sq.ft development, which is due to be completed in 2020, will include a mix of high street and high-end shops (850,000 sq.ft of retail space), 30 restaurants, an Everyman cinema and hotels from W and Roomzz. The scheme is one of the UK’s largest and most significant regeneration projects and represents a major international vote of confidence in the Edinburgh market – and in Scotland itself. 

The transformative power of the development is already having an effect; Scarlett Land and Development received ten bids for the nearby Forth House and Playfair House office investment. Those came from a selection of residential, hotel and investment bidders, which demonstrates the broadening appeal of the east.

Yet the shift is about much more than simply Edinburgh St James. Artisan Real Estate Investors have made significant progress with their award winning New Waverly development, which includes the completion of three hotels and a new 190,000 sq,ft office hub (completion June 2019), in part pre-let to HMRC. The office will attract some 2,900 civil service jobs to the east end of Edinburgh’s city centre. The development has won several awards with the highlight being the national RICS award for the best city regeneration project in the UK.

The redevelopment of South St Andrew Square has attracted London restaurant brands such as The Ivy, Dishoom and Gaucho, joining existing retail labels such as Harvey Nichols, the boutiques on Multrees Walk and Apple on nearby Princes Street. 

There is more to come on St. Andrew Square with S.Harrison Developments having acquired Buchan House on the north side of the square site for development of a luxury hotel of around 70 bedrooms and restaurant, and Knight Property Group having acquired and now developing “4North” (formerly Edinburgh House) on North St. Andrew Street into a 41,000 sq.ft office, pre-let to Computershare. 

On the east side of the square development of The Registers development by Chris Stewart Group’s  is transforming the former Royal Bank of Scotland into a game changing mixed use scheme that will link St Andrews Square through the Register Lanes area to Edinburgh St. James. The Registers combines more than 15,000 sq.ft of ground floor restaurant and bar space together with 61,000 sq.ft of Grade A office accommodation and more than 50 serviced residential apartments;  it will offer a new city centre destination for locals, visitors, tourists and office occupiers alike.

The proposals allow for West Register Street, between St Andrew Square and Register Place, to be pedestrianised with the cobbled roadways and paved footpaths re-laid to create a smooth, shared surface. Lighting, street furniture and greenery will be used to enhance both the ambience and security of the external area.

St Andrew Square will also become home the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s new purpose-built concert hall.  Located in the former Royal Bank of Scotland’s Dundas House, the world-class arts centre will provide the orchestra with a new home, a 1,000-seat auditorium and a studio for rehearsals, recitals and recording; a superb asset to our cultural capital. 

The combined effect of these projects is transformational – in an area that already has the highest restaurant rents in the city, according to the leading retail property expert, James Godfrey from Culverwell.  The  projects will unlock the social, cultural and economic potential of this strategically important location, linking more of the east end to St Andrew Square and beyond. 

Over the coming months, I expect a halo effect to continue, with the interest in the city centre’s eastern fringes spreading out into the surrounding areas. The closure of Meadowbank stadium and sports centre will trigger a regenerative effect in the surrounding area, perhaps including the neighbouring St Margaret’s House, which could be attractive for flats or student accommodation. We have seen this regenerative effect reflected in demand for a residential site on Marionville Road that we have recently placed under offer (c.125 units). 

Few areas are likely to benefit from Edinburgh’s eastern promise as much as Leith. The Shore is already a vibrant setting and Leith Walk is now being transformed too. 

CSG have completed a development on Baxters Place, at the top of Leith Walk into a 240-bedroom Courtyard by Marriott hotel. 

With a tram link from the city centre to Ocean Terminal looking increasingly likely, Leith stands to benefit even more. Major proposed developments in the Ocean Drive area include: CALA - 338 homes and 19 workspace units; S.Harrison Developments -  site acquired for development of a hotel of around 200 bedrooms;  S1 Developments – site acquired with potential for around 240 apartments at “Skyliner”. The combined effect of these will be transformational, bringing more residents and visitors to eat and shop locally. 

Some were surprised at CALA’s acquisition of the former Royal Mail sorting office on Brunswick Road but any doubts have been dismissed by the achievement of exceptionally strong sales. Currently, S1 Developments have exceeded expectations with 36 off plan sales already at their 450 unit Ropeworks scheme on Salamander Street in Leith.

All these positive developments are stimulating further interest in Edinburgh from UK and International investors seeking regional diversity outside London. I predict that Student Housing investment will follow, given the vibrancy, strong transport links and excellent connectivity from Leith to the City Centre. 

We expect that the year ahead will see more UK and overseas investors attracted to the Scottish capital, driven by factors such as Edinburgh being ranked in first place in the 2016-17 foreign direct investment strategy category by Global Cities of the Future, and being ranked in ninth spot in a new index of Europe’s most dynamic cities compiled by Savills. While there is still a reluctance in Build-To-Rent in Scotland among certain funds, we are seeing an increasing number who are now actively seeking to commit funding to the Scottish capital.

With developments stretching from St Andrew Square and Edinburgh St James out to Meadowbank and Leith, it looks increasingly likely that 2018 will attract wise property investors keeping their eyes on the east. 

Will Scarlett is the founder and director of Scarlett Land and Development.
www.scarlettdev.co.uk 

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