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 Press & Journal, the Sunday Post, the Sunday Times and The Times.

As a freelance journalist 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

14 January 2020

SCOTTISH SPEAKER AGENCY SIGNS UP WORLD-RENOWNED WOMEN’S RIGHTS ACTIVIST & NIKE AMBASSADOR, MANAL ROSTOM

Edinburgh-based Speaker Buzz will now represent the Egyptian athlete and women’s rights campaigner who famously became the face of Nike’s sports hijab

Scottish speaker agency Speaker Buzz is off to a flying start in 2020 with the news it has taken on its biggest client to date – the world-renowned athlete, Nike Running Ambassador and women’s rights activist Manal Rostom.
 
The Dubai-based Egyptian athlete rose to prominence after founding the Surviving Hijab Facebook group and went on to collaborate with Nike to create the Pro Hijab, a performance hijab. In 2019, Rostom featured as the face of Nike’s global ‘Dream Crazier’ campaign – as featured here
 
Rostom, who also undertakes major challenges such as mountaineering and marathon running, now uses her voice as a speaker to raise awareness of the hijab and of women’s rights on the global stage.
 
Edinburgh-based Speaker Buzz exclusively represents a growing roster of handpicked motivational speakers who focus on inspiring individuals and organisations to make positive changes and a difference to the world. 
 
Rostom’s work with Nike and as a campaigner followed her success founding Surviving Hijab, the renowned women-only Facebook Group which helps defy stereotypes and empower women who wish to wear the hijab as a sign of faith.
 
Launched in 2014, the group now has more than 720,000 members.  Rostom was invited to give a speech at Facebook’s headquarters in California to share the story of her success. After the talk, Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook, said: “Manal, you are such an inspirational force! Thank you for sharing your story. It's voices like yours that help bring our mission of building community to life in a meaningful and memorable way.”
 
In her talks, Rostom shares her story and inspires individuals and organisations to make changes that break down barriers, encourage inclusivity, change perceptions and spread tolerance. 
 
Among her many goals, she is currently bidding to become the first Egyptian to finish the world’s six major marathons and the world’s seven highest summits by 2021.
 
Rostom, who lives in Dubai and previously spent several years working in the pharmaceutical industry, said: “I met Debbie [Byers, Speaker Buzz founder] at the WACL Gather event in Edinburgh’s Signet Library last year and instantly felt a connection. I’m impressed by her aims and ambitions with Speaker Buzz and very excited about working together. We both want to make a difference to the world through our work and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together.”
 
Debbie Byers, Speaker Buzz’s founder, added: “Meeting Manal and hearing her speak was a great moment for me personally. She’s a remarkable woman with a story and voice that is listened to around the world. Speaker Buzz is built on the idea of speakers who want to make a difference to the world and inspire others to do the same and Manal embodies that. I’m very proud to be representing her as Speaker Buzz grows to working not only in Scotland and the UK but around the world.” 
 
Speaker Buzz’s other speakers include Mollie Hughes, who on Friday 10 January became the youngest woman in the world to ski solo to the South Pole.  Mollie is already the youngest woman in the world to climb Mount Everest from both sides.
 
Further information 
 
https://www.speakerbuzz.co.uk/manal-rostom.html 

10 January 2020

HUGHES SKIES INTO THE HISTORY BOOKS AFTER COMPLETING WORLD RECORD SOLO SOUTH POLE EXPEDITION

Mollie Hughes becomes the youngest woman in the world to ski solo from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole

After 58 days and 650 hours of skiing alone in whiteouts, storm-force winds and temperatures hitting minus 45C, Mollie Hughes has reached the Geographic South Pole – achieving her second world record by becoming the youngest woman in the world to ski solo from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole.

The 29-year-old adventurer and motivational speaker, who was born in Devon and lives in Edinburgh, started her world record attempt at 1.40pm (Chilean time / 4.40pm UK time) on Wednesday 13 November. Departing from Hercules Inlet in Western Antarctica, she skied eastwards for 702 miles and arrived at the South Pole at 8.50am (Chilean time / 11.50am UK time) on Friday 10 January. 

Having initially hoped to reach the South Pole by New Year’s Day, her quest was almost derailed by severe weather in the first two weeks, with Hughes facing headwinds of more than 55knots, temperatures of minus 45C and a whiteout for eight days in a row. 

But despite this initial setback, and the physical and mental challenge of skiing alone over steep hills and deep snow, Hughes battled on. During the expedition, she pulled a sled weighing 105kg, the equivalent of the average international rugby player*, and skied alone for between 10 and 12 hours a day.

To sustain her energy levels, Hughes consumed around 4,500kcal per day, more than twice the average daily amount for a woman, with favourites including Snickers bars and freeze-dried spaghetti bolognese, which she consumed on Christmas Day. Despite this, she lost around 15kg during her expedition.

She takes the world record from previous holder, Vilborg Gissuradottir from Iceland, who completed the challenge in 2013 when she was 32. The feat means Hughes now holds two world records; in 2017, aged 26, she became the world’s youngest person to climb both the north and south sides of Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak.

Hughes is now recuperating at a camp at the South Pole before flying on to Punta Arenas in southern Chile. After a few days’ rest there, she is expected to arrive back into her hometown of Edinburgh on 22 January.

On her return to the UK, Hughes will carry out a series of speaking engagements, using her 
story and experiences to inspire others to achieve their goals. Her first talk will be given exclusively to Cancer Research UK, the charity that Hughes raises funds for, in Glasgow on 30 January.  

Hughes said: “It’s a surreal feeling, I can’t quite believe I’ve done it. I knew it would be hard but this has been an exceptionally tough experience, especially in the first two weeks when I was struggling through the whiteout for over a week and incredibly strong winds. That really tested my resilience, especially as I was all alone, but I managed to get through it and carry on.

“I feel really fortunate not to have experienced any major disasters knowing what can happen in these challenging conditions.  I am also so thankful that my GORE-TEX kit did such an outstanding job protecting me.  All of my kit remains intact which is quite unusual after almost 60 days.

“Christmas Day away from my girlfriend and family was hard too, as was my Spotify needing rebooted after 30 days which obviously wasn’t possible! Now I’m looking forward to my first shower and proper food in almost two months, before I head home to see everyone and share my story.”

Hughes funded her expedition by raising £75,000 from sponsors and crowdfunding, including Kae Tinto, an ambassador for Cancer Research UK. She has also received support from the global brand Gore, makers of GORE-TEX technology who provided her with specialist kit, and Dunfermline-based boiler and heating business ATAG.

Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “A huge congratulations to Mollie for this phenomenal achievement. It’s difficult to imagine the challenges she’s faced, but she’s done it. We’ve been in awe of the determination and resilience she’s shown.

“I’d also like to thank Mollie for using the trek as an opportunity to raise vital funds to beat cancer, a disease that affects so many. We receive no government funding, and it’s thanks to people like Mollie that we’re able to continue to fund world leading research. We hope others will feel inspired by Mollie’s effort and support our lifesaving work.”

Chris Blackwood, spokesperson from GORE-TEX, said: “Congratulations to Mollie for undertaking such an ambitious expedition. We have been following her journey very closely and we are proud Mollie was one of the first people to test the new GORE-TEX PRO technology. We’re delighted that the technology in her gear played a part in ensuring she was protected from the unpredictable and harsh conditions, and that Gore could play a part in supporting her incredible efforts to reach the South Pole.”
 
Trevor Jones, Managing Director ATAG Heating Technology UK Ltd, said: "We’re so proud to have supported Mollie. We’ve been hugely impressed by Mollie’s focus, ambition and sheer determination to succeed. Mollie’s feat shows us that with determination, self-organisation and a great support network anything in life is possible – we never doubted for a moment that she would make it and we can’t wait to see what she sets her mind to next!”

To book tickets to Mollie’s first speaking event on behalf of Cancer Research UK visit the dedicated Eventbrite page here.  Readers can also text to donate MOLLIE10 or MOLLIE20 to 70180 to donate £10 or £20.

*source https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/oct/24/england-new-zealand-weight-rugby-world-cup-semi-final
 
Notes to Editors
  • Mollie will be in Chile between 14-20 January (weather/travel dependent).  Skype interviews will be available on Thursday 16 January.  Expedition photography and footage will also be available during this time.  Please contact debbie@beelinepr.com with specific requests.
  • Footage from Mollie’s 2017 Mount Everest expedition is available here
  • Mollie will return to her hometown of Edinburgh on Wednesday 22 January and media will be invited to attend her homecoming at Edinburgh Airport.
  • Mollie’s social channels can be followed here:

9 January 2020

WINDOW SUPPLY COMPANY TO EXPAND AFTER RECEIVING INVESTMENT FROM BGF

  • Window manufacturer and supplier receives £2m investment from BGF
  • Company will use the investment to fund accelerated growth plans, including a new manufacturing facility and trade counters across the Central Belt of Scotland

Livingston-based Window Supply Company (WSC), which manufactures and distributes high quality window products, has secured a £2m equity investment from BGF, the UK and Ireland’s most active investor in growing businesses.

WSC manufactures PVCu and aluminium windows, doors and conservatories from its manufacturing facility in Livingston, supplying builders, joiners and window installation companies across Scotland through its network of 5 trade counters based in Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Livingston.

WSC’s current team of 40 is led by chief executive Duncan Murray, alongside operations director Martin Linden and executive director Ron Hepburn, all of whom have extensive experience in the industry. Murray, Hepburn & Linden founded the business in March 2019.

The company will use the investment received from BGF to support its plans to scale the business on the back of significant customer demand. WSC is aiming to grow its manufacturing capacity three-fold over the next five years, as well as more than trebling its number of trade counters. There will also be significant investment in people, with staff numbers expected to more than treble over the next three years to 125.

Duncan Murray, CEO of Window Supply Company, said: “Our trade counter model and the high standards we demand when it comes to quality and service have combined to help us gain strong market traction in a short space of time. There has been an increasing market shift towards trade as the primary route to market for windows, doors and conservatories and the response we have received from customers has given us the confidence to embark on this ambitious expansion plan.”

Ron Hepburn, executive director of WSC added: “From a standing start less than a year ago, the business has achieved strong revenues and we are forecasting that demand will almost double within the next 18 months. We believe there is significant opportunity to replicate our business model in other geographies. To deliver on this growth potential the business needed investment and we are delighted to have secured this funding from the team at BGF.”

Patrick Graham, Head of Central Scotland & Northern Ireland at BGF, said: “WSC is a relatively young company but its founders and management team have vast amounts of experience and an established track record of growing businesses in this sector. We know from working with them previously that Duncan, Ron and Martin have a clear focus on providing high quality in both their products and their customer service and we are excited by the prospects for the future growth of the company. 

“The team has set ambitious but achievable growth plans to replicate its model across a broader geography and we are delighted to be providing the funding and support to execute them.”

As part of BGF’s investment Maurice McBride will join the company as non-executive chair. McBride is a seasoned non-executive director who has worked with numerous growth companies across the UK, including Premier Hytemp and Parklands Group, an Aberdeen business also backed by BGF. McBride will work closely with the team and will bring his expertise, guidance and knowledge to support management’s growth plan.

BGF provides patient capital to businesses with revenues typically between £5m and £100m in exchange for a minority, non-controlling stake. It initially invests between £1m and £10m and can provide additional funding to support further growth.

BGF has provided more than £250m of patient capital to Scottish businesses over the past 8 years.  Its current portfolio companies in Scotland include M Squared Lasers, Walker Precision and Keenan Recycling. 

About BGF:
  • BGF was set up in 2011 and has invested more than £2bn in over 300 companies, making it the most active investor in the UK. 
  • 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.
  • BGF invests in growing businesses in the UK and Ireland through its network of 14 offices.  
  • In 2018, Canada launched its equivalent – the Canadian Business Growth Fund – and in 2019, Australia did the same, both based on BGF’s funding model.
www.bgf.co.uk
@BGFinvestments

30 December 2019

2019 YIELDS A BUMPER CROP OF RESULTS FOR SCOTTY BRAND

The family-run food producer toasts a successful year thanks to booming berry sales and flourishing frozen chips

With Hogmanay on the horizon, Scotty Brand is toasting a bumper crop of results in 2019 on the back of its best-ever year for berries and the continued success of its frozen Chippy Chips.
 
The family-run company, which first put down roots in Coatbridge in 1948, is now the number 11 Scottish food and non-alcoholic drink brand in Scotland* with a brand retail value of £11m.
 
Within the context of the UK**, Scotty’s fresh soup is ranked number 9, driven by 15% growth this year, while its frozen potatoes are number 10, with 19% growth in 2019.
In both of these categories, Scotty Brand is only sold in Scotland, showing its strong position north of the border.
 
This year’s success has grown from a number of factors including a UK-wide trial of its berries in Asda, which saw sales of more than 200 tonnes – the equivalent of 16 double decker buses.
 
Scotty, which works with Scottish farmers to source and supply locally grown fresh produce, also enjoyed ongoing success with its frozen Chippy Chips – the only frozen chips made exclusively with Scottish potatoes and an irregular cut to replicate the Scottish chip shop texture and taste.  Thanks to the chips, frozen now accounts for almost 10% of Scotty’s turnover.
 
Other products in its range to harvest good results include its chilled mash, which is produced by Scotty’s potato partners, Albert Bartlett and now comes in two varieties – Original, and Cheddar Mash.
Richard Allison, general manager of Scotty Brand, commented: “Thanks to the success of our berries and frozen chips, it’s been another excellent year for Scotty Brand. We’re also very proud that our frozen potatoes and fresh soup are ranked in the top 10 in the UK. 
 
“I’d like to say thank you and Happy New Year to our family of Scottish farmers who grow all this amazing produce.”
 
For more on Scotty, visit www.scottybrand.com 
 
*The 2019 Kantar Scottish Brands Footprint
** Nielsen 2019 top products
 
Notes to Editors: 
  • Scotty Brand was first launched in 1948 by Albert Bartlett. Albert’s values of hard work and honest endeavour live on in the family company today, as it continues to bring you the best tasting produce, fresh from Scotland.
  • Scotty Brand offers the finest seasonal produce such as potatoes, Ayrshire new potatoes and seasonal berries; and other products including prepared vegetables, fresh soup, delicious sausage rolls, succulent smoked salmon, chilled coleslaws and potato salad.
  • Scotty Brand stockists include Asda, Morrison’s, Tesco, Co-op, Waitrose, Aldi, Spar and Lidl.

19 December 2019

Former Scotland Rugby Captain Barclay tackles new challenge as a motivational speaker

While he continues to play for Edinburgh Rugby, John Barclay is joining Speaker Buzz to inspire others to fulfil their potential

With 76 international caps and three World Cups under his belt, former Scotland rugby captain John Barclay is renowned for inspiring teams on the big stage – and now he is set to pass on his leadership experience in a new environment as a motivational speaker.
 
Barclay, who continues to play for Edinburgh having retired from international rugby earlier this month, has joined the roster of Speaker Buzz. 
 
The Edinburgh and London-based agency represents a new generation of motivational speakers whose talks inspire individuals and organisations to make changes that help them fulfil their potential and make a difference to the world.
 
In his new role, Barclay will speak to audiences from all walks of life and share what he has learned away from the pitch, with a focus on topics such as transforming toxic team cultures, the challenge of implementing change, the importance of strong leadership, self-belief, and overcoming adversity. 
 
A natural leader who put his body on the line for club and country during an illustrious rugby career, Barclay will use his experience of the highs and lows of professional rugby to inspire others to achieve their goals.
 
He will draw in particular on his experiences away from the pitch of helping to implement change, positive cultures, values, standards and leadership to help individuals and teams deliver stronger performances and fulfil their potential.
 
As a speaker, Barclay will also share the learnings from his experiences of playing for Scotland including how he handled challenges such as being thrown into the deep end of the Scotland squad a month after his 18th birthday; making his debut against New Zealand, the world’s toughest team; being left out of the Scotland squad for two years; and coming back from injury to captain his country on the highest stage.
 
The 33-year-old father of three said: “Playing rugby is hugely demanding physically, but as my career has progressed I’ve learned a huge amount about how success is shaped by what happens away from the pitch. 
 
“My experience in the rugby world has showed me the critical importance of establishing strong leadership, values and a positive team culture that allows people to work more effectively together.
 
“I’ve seen first-hand how changing team culture and implementing new standards can have a massive positive impact on performance and results. While I continue to play for Edinburgh, I’m looking forward to this new chapter in my career and sharing my experiences to inspire other people and organisations to fulfil their potential.”
 
Debbie Byers, founder of Speaker Buzz, said: “John is known in the rugby world as a brave, intelligent and respected leader and I’m very excited and proud to have him join the Speaker Buzz team. I know his inspiring story and his experiences will have a huge positive impact on those who hear his talks.”
 
Speaker Buzz’s growing roster includes adventurer Mollie Hughes, who is currently bidding to become the youngest woman in the world to ski solo to the South Pole; plastic pollution campaigner and world-record stand-up paddle-boarder Cal Major; and Jonty Evans, the Olympic horse rider who has battled back from a fall which left him in a coma and with a life-threating brain injury.
 
www.speakerbuzz.co.uk

9 December 2019

Exciting retail site available at thriving Port Edgar Marina as Shapes set sail into retirement 

Large warehouse space to let at vibrant Marina by the Three Bridges

A prime retail site is available at the thriving Port Edgar Marina in South Queensferry on the outskirts of Edinburgh, following the news that current tenant Shapes is to close its showroom following the retirement of its owner.
 
The unit, which is available from March 2020 through retail and leisure property specialists Culverwell, is a 6,000sq ft retail warehouse positioned next to marina shop Beacon, Scott’s restaurant and Scotland’s largest watersports centre, Port Edgar Watersports.

Home to the Shapes furniture showroom since November 2017, current owner Ali Black has decided to retire in February 2020, opening up an opportunity for a new tenant to take over. The premises is an open plan space which can be sub-divided to create two units and has the space to install a mezzanine floor.

For prospective tenants, it offers a blank canvas which has the potential to be used for a variety of purposes, which could include retail, or  perhaps even brewing or distilling to capitalise on the booming Scottish drinks sector.

The marina, which was established in 1978 by the former Lothian Regional Council, has been transformed into a thriving destination since being taken over in 2014 by Port Edgar Holdings Ltd, which is run by husband-and-wife team Russell and Cara Aitken.

Located on the Firth of Forth between the iconic Road and Rail Bridges and the new Queensferry Crossing, Port Edgar Marina is now a vibrant year-round destination for boat owners, sailing enthusiasts and watersports activities. The addition of Scott’s Restaurant last year and the makeover of chandlery and shop Beacon has increased visitor numbers further. 

In November, the Edinburgh International Film Festival announced that it will present ‘Film Fest on the Forth’ at the marina next year. Taking place on 6 and 7 June, the event will feature a weekend of free open-air outdoor screenings in celebration of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters

In May, the marina also hosts its annual Open Weekend, which attracts more than 10,000 visitors from across central Scotland.

James Godfrey, a partner at Culverwell, said: “Port Edgar Marina has been transformed into a thriving destination in recent years, not just for sailing and watersports, but for shopping, eating and drinking. We are targeting complimentary users and with such an iconic location by the Three Bridges, free parking and high visitor numbers, this is a site with huge potential.”
  
Russell Aitken, managing director of Port Edgar, said: “We’ve enjoyed having Shapes at the Marina and we wish Ali well in his retirement. While we’re sad to see them go we’re looking forward to seeing who recognises this opportunity and takes over the space.”

Please contact James Godfrey at Culverwell for further information on 0131 226 6611 or visit www.culverwell.co.uk

21 November 2019

Walker Group announces board level appointments

Walker Group, which provides high precision components to the defence, aerospace and space markets, announces two new additions to its board with the appointment of Amanda Robertson as Commercial Director and Paul Carnie as Finance Director.

With a career that began in defence and aerospace and went on to include various manufacturing sectors including papermaking and electronics, Amanda Robertson comes to Walker from US-owned Stoneridge Electronics where she spent 17 years, most recently as managing director for the Aftermarket Division. During this time Amanda was responsible for six European facilities, including leading an acquisition of its German distributor. Amanda holds an MBA from Abertay University and was recognised as Entrepreneur of the Year for the Courier Business Awards 2017 for her achievement in evolving Stoneridge Aftermarket from pure manufacturing to a more profitable product and software services organisation. 
 
Paul Carnie joined Walker Group on 30 September from V.Group, where he was Programme Director ERP, Marine Services Division; and previously, Director of Finance Operations, Marine Services Division.  Paul spent two years with Babcock as Finance and Commercial Director, Energy and Marine Technology Division, and has also held roles with Weir Group working internationally on Finance Director assignments in Canada, the US and Spain in the service and manufacturing sectors. Paul is CIMA qualified which was obtained during his 15 spell at ScottishPower. 
 
Both Amanda and Paul will be based at Walker Group’s Glasgow site, and will work across all business sectors and sites.
 
“The board is very pleased to welcome Amanda and Paul to Walker Group, where their talent and vision are already making them integral to the business,” Chris Melrose, Chairman, Walker Group, said. “This has been a year of big changes for Walker Group and these appointments come at a strategically important point for the business as we continue to strengthen our position in our traditional markets and expand into new areas internationally. 
 
“With our new Basildon manufacturing facility now nearly complete and the support of BGF providing us the stability we need to look ahead, 2020 is set to be a big year for Walker Group.”
 
 
Caption: Amanda Robertson and Paul Carnie have recently joined Walker as Commercial and Finance Director respectively.
 
About Walker Group
 
Walker Group companies provide advanced high-precision manufacturing services from centres of excellence located in Scotland, England and Poland. The advanced precision engineering business provides 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 more than 300 staff across its three sites.
 
www.walkerprecision.com

21 November 2019

New Blantyre base for Story Scotland as the civil engineering company continues to grow

Scottish division of Story Contracting opens new head office to accommodate growing team and pipeline of projects

Following a period of significant growth in operations and workforce in Scotland, civil engineering and plant supply company Story Contracting has opened a new Scottish head office in Blantyre.

The family-owned company, founded in Carlisle in 1987, already has offices in central Glasgow and Edinburgh, and employs over 230 people across Scotland. Its new head office facility in Blantyre will accommodate the award-winning infrastructure company’s expanding team, allowing it to deliver major projects across the country. 

The newly renovated 2,150sqm office is purpose-designed to bring together the rail, civils and plant divisions of the business. It includes training rooms, open-plan working areas and a 1,000sqm workshop facility to provide machinery and equipment across work sites in the region.

Story Contracting delivers award-winning infrastructure projects for Scotland’s Railway to the benefit of the travelling public, with the aim of putting passengers first. Its civil engineering and infrastructure business is delivering the Network Rail CP6 IP-SNE Framework contract of renewal and enhancement projects in Scotland worth £135 million over the next five years.

Story Contracting’s Plant division are one of only four suppliers in the UK to earn the Gold Award on Network Rail’s Route to Gold and have maintained this for two consecutive years.

Earlier this year, Story also completed the £23 million refurbishment of Edinburgh Waverley, where Platforms 5 and 6 were extended into the heart of Scotland’s second busiest station on behalf of Network Rail. 

The infrastructure, and the new rolling stock it will enable, will help to transform travel on the East Coast main line and has been funded by the Department for Transport’s Intercity Express Programme (IEP) and the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP). 

John MacArthur, Managing Director, Story Scotland, said: “I’m delighted with how my Story Scotland team has grown from its humble beginnings of just six employees in 2014 to where we are today.

“With our growing team and pipeline of projects, the time is right to open a new head office facility in Blantyre. This is an exciting time to be a part of Story Scotland with our expanding footprint and growing bank of work in the rail and civils sectors across the country.”

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

The company grew by 57% in Scotland in 2019. The family-owned company is now targeting another 300 employees to fulfil a series of impressive contract wins across the UK, including up to 60 graduates, trainees and apprentices in Scotland across the next five years.

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 four divisions - Rail, Construction, Plant and Story Scotland. It also has its own specialist training facility at its head office in Carlisle. 

Our regional offices are located at: 

•    Bonnyrigg, Edinburgh 
•    Blantyre, Glasgow
•    George Square, Glasgow 
•    Chorley, Lancashire
•    Normanton, West Yorkshire
•    Birmingham
•    York

For more information about Story Contracting and to read some of our success stories, go to www.storycontracting.com. You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

12 November 2019

Family-run Scottish silversmiths look to the future with new collection and retail presence

Hayward & Stott mark anniversary with new Thistle Collection and a first-ever retail presence in partnership with Stewart Christie & Co 

Family-run Scottish silversmiths Hayward & Stott is celebrating its 20th anniversary by extending further into the design of bespoke contemporary silverware as they launch The Thistle Collection and a new collaboration with Stewart Christie & Co.

The Thistle Collection, which will be unveiled at Stewart Christie & Co’s shop in Edinburgh’s New Town on Thursday 14 November, features around 15 Sterling Silver pieces, ranging from stylish whisky and drinks accessories to modern interpretations of Highland dress items.

In a first for the company, some of Hayward & Stott’s collection will be displayed and sold in a retail environment, with the collection of Highland dress items available at bespoke tailors, Stewart Christie & Co. The full Thistle Collection is available through Hayward & Stott’s online shop. In another change, the company is dropping its previous ‘Scottish Silver’ suffix, with the company now officially trading as Hayward & Stott Ltd Silversmiths.

Designed by award-winning silversmith Hamish Dobbie, a Glasgow School of Art graduate, the collection reflects Hayward & Scott’s expertise and passion for creating bespoke Sterling Silver pieces that bring together traditional Scottish elements, such as the iconic thistle, with stylish modern design.

The jewel in the crown of the collection is the stunning Sterling Silver Thistle Glasses Set (£2,390). The set includes silver goblets for red and white wine, a silver water tumbler and a silver stem tot for whisky or liqueurs – all are made from hand chased sterling silver and feature 24ct gold-plated interiors.

The collection also features a range of bespoke sporrans, with Sterling Silver Cantles, starting from £1,266, which will be available through Stewart Christie & Co, along with smaller beautifully crafted traditional pieces such as cufflinks, brooches and belt buckles, along with bottle stoppers, decanter labels and a cocktail stirrer. 

New chapter for Hayward & Stott

The launch of The Thistle Collection and the partnership with Stewart Christie & Co marks an exciting new chapter for the father-and-son team behind the business, Charlie and Edwin Stott. 

Charlie began Hayward & Stott in 1999 with his close friend Jeremy Hayward.  The company initially sold Scottish provincial antiques but, after Jeremy’s death in 2002, Charlie steered Hayward & Stott towards producing Sterling Silver gifts, tableware and sporting accessories. 

Moving into corporate services, Hayward & Stott has established a reputation in the last 15 years as the go-to specialists in the design and manufacture of premium branded silver and metalware embellishments for the drinks industry.

Since Edwin joined the family business in 2017, the company based in Penicuik near Edinburgh has moved further into the design of bespoke luxury silverware and developing its own bespoke collections – culminating in the launch of the Thistle Collection.

Charlie Stott said: “With 20 years under our belt, Edwin is taking the Hayward & Stott company forward with his creative vision. This new Thistle Collection captures everything we are about today by combining our heritage and Scottish roots with elegant modern design. In line with our forward-thinking approach, we will also now be trading as Hayward & Stott Silversmiths, and retiring our previous ‘Scottish Silver’ suffix.

“We’re delighted to be joining forces with our friends at Stewart Christie & Co to launch and display the collection. This is the first time some of silverware has been displayed in a retail environment and what better place for it to sit than alongside their exceptional bespoke tailoring.” 

Vixy Rae, the co-owner and creative director of Stewart Christie & Co, said: “We’re thrilled to be teaming up Hayward & Stott to launch and display their beautiful new Thistle Collection. We both share a passion for the finer things in life but also connecting the past with the future by combining traditional elements with contemporary design. Not only that, we’re both determined to make sure that luxury items like silverware and bespoke tailoring can and should be part of everyday life.”

Further information:
https://www.haywardandstott.com/
Twitter: @hayward_stott
Instagram: @HaywardandStott
Facebook: HaywardandStott

https://www.stewartchristie.com 
Twitter: @SCBespoke
Instagram: @stewartchristie_co
Facebook: stewartchristie.co
 

4 November 2019

Everest record breaker Mollie Hughes sets off for most ambitious challenge yet – skiing solo and unsupported to the South Pole

Edinburgh-based and Devon-born adventurer and motivational speaker Mollie Hughes has left the UK to embark on her bid to become the youngest woman in the world to ski solo and unsupported from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole.    

Flying first into Punta Arenas airport in the Patagonia region of southern Chile, Hughes will then cross the Drake Passage and on to her departure site at Hercules Inlet in Western Antarctica. Skiing eastwards, she will aim to hit the ice on Thursday 14 November and reach the Geographic South Pole by New Year’s Day.

To achieve her goal, Hughes (29), who is the world’s youngest person to climb both the north and south sides of Mount Everest, must haul her 90kg sled for 702 miles into a bone-chilling headwind in temperatures of minus 50C. Along the way, she will have to negotiate obstacles like crevasse fields and 6ft high wind formed waves of snow. 

And she must tackle this immense physical and mental challenge in some of the world’s most unforgiving terrain alone and unsupported. Her only companion will be the wind, endless snowfields and a selection of audio books and music.

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. To date, only six women and 17 men have ever completed this route on skis, alone and without resupply.

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.

Mollie, who raised £75,000 for her expedition through generous sponsors including Kae Tinto, an ambassador for Cancer Research UK.  She has also received support from the global brand Gore, makers of GORE-TEX technology who have provided her with specialist kit and Dunfermline-based boiler and heating business ATAG who responded to Mollie’s crowdfunder campaign.

On departing the UK, Mollie said: “I’ve been planning and training for this expedition for more than a year and while I know it’s going to the hardest challenge I’ve ever faced, I’m excited to get to Antarctica and get started. 

“I’m doing this for many reasons; not just to challenge myself, but to inspire others, especially women, to explore what can be achieved when you push yourself out of your comfort zone. 
“I’m also using this expedition to help raise funds and awareness for causes that are close to my heart. Cancer affects almost every family including my own so I’m keen to do everything I can to support vital research to develop better treatments for cancer.”
Trudy Stammer, head of Volunteer Fundraising at Cancer Research UK, said: “I’d like to wish Mollie good luck from all at Cancer Research UK as she sets off on this phenomenal adventure.

“I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Mollie personally and hearing her speak about her adventures, and we’re in awe of her determination. We are so grateful Mollie is using the trek to the South Pole as a valuable opportunity to raise awareness and funds to beat cancer, a disease that affects so many.

“We hope people will be inspired by Mollie’s endeavours and donate. The money raised will help Cancer Research UK funded scientists find better and kinder treatments. Ultimately, it’ll help bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.”

Chris Blackwood from the marketing team at Gore said: “Mollie will be one of the first people to test our new GORE-TEX Pro technology and is wearing bespoke GORE-TEX Pro jacket and trousers from Mountain Equipment during her solo ski expedition to the South Pole. 

“The new GORE-TEX Pro fabric used in Mollie’s jacket and trousers is the most breathable version that we’ve produced to date and won’t be available to the general public until later next year. It is designed for extreme and extended use and so is ideal for the unpredictable and harsh conditions that she will be facing, as well as the extreme endurance activity required to propel her to the Pole.”

Hughes, who secured worldwide publicity following her world-record breaking feat on Mount Everest and works as a motivational speaker, will return to the UK in early January when she plans to conduct inspirational speaking engagements about her expedition. 
 
 
To donate, visit https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/unite/molliesouthpoletrek/#MollieCRUKSouthPoleTrek

To book Mollie for a speaking event on her return, visit https://www.speakerbuzz.co.uk/mollie-hughes.html

4 November 2019

Bigger team and bigger office for Blackford as flying start continues

New insurance broker announces further expansion as it takes on two more team members and larger office space

Just six months after launching, and four months after establishing a presence in Edinburgh to accommodate an expanding portfolio, insurance brokers Blackford has announced further growth, with new team members and a bigger office in the capital.

In the latest phase of its expansion, the new firm, which was set up in April by Tom Aldridge, has taken on two new recruits at its Glasgow headquarters to help resource its growing client portfolio. 

Fiona Walker, formerly with TL Dallas, has been appointed as Head of Broking & Operations, while Doug Prentice, formerly at Marsh Commercial, joins as a Client Director. Together, they bring more than 65 years’ experience to the Blackford team. 

As part of growth plans, Blackford aims to recruit an additional 14 people over the next three years.

In addition, only a few months after opening its Edinburgh office, Blackford is taking on a bigger space within One Lochrin Square at Fountainbridge to accommodate its expanding team. 

The company opened an office in the capital in June, having acquired a commercial customer book from TL Dallas with a collective premium value of more than £3 million.
At the same time, Blackford took on a commercial broker team comprising Stephen Randall, Monika Hübsch, Alan Grant and Laura Scougall to manage the new portfolio of around 100 clients.

Aldridge, the founder and managing director at Blackford Group, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Fiona and Doug to the growing Blackford family. Not only are they hugely knowledgeable, experienced and respected in the industry, they are wonderful people who share our focus on personal service and values of friendliness, care, honesty, and discretion.

“We’ve enjoyed a flying start since launching and these latest appointments are in line with our business plan to help resource our growing client portfolio in Scotland. It’s only been a few months since we opened our Edinburgh office, but we’re already moving into a new space which is 50% larger because we plan to take on more people over the coming months as our portfolio continues to grow.”

Aldridge founded Blackford having been a regional director at Central Insurance Services for more than five years as well as holding national management positions at both Aon and Marsh. The company - which specialises in business risks - is backed by one of the UK’s leading independent brokers, James Hallam, and private investors.

24 October 2019

A year after leaving hospital, Olympic rider Jonty Evans joins speaker agency to share his inspiring story

Evans joins Speaker Buzz a year to the day since being discharged from hospital following a fall which left him in a coma for several weeks

Edinburgh and London-based speaker agency Speaker Buzz has added Olympic eventer Jonty Evans to its growing roster - exactly a year to the day since he was discharged from hospital after suffering a serious brain injury in a fall and being in a coma for several weeks.

Evans, who competed for Ireland at the 2016 Rio Olympics, fell from his horse Art at the Tattersalls International Horse Trials in County Meath, Ireland in June 2018. Doctors told his family to prepare for the worst, but Evans regained consciousness and had to learn to talk and walk during a long and intensive rehabilitation programme.
 
Gloucestershire-based Evans cites a positive mindset as a major factor in his recovery from his life-changing experience. Having joined Speaker Buzz, he will now share his remarkable story of resilience and determination with audiences through his work as an inspirational speaker.

Speaker Buzz, which launched last year, is a new kind of speaker agency which focuses on mental health and wellbeing and topics such as creativity and the environment. It represents more than 20 speakers who are passionate about making a difference in society and inspiring others to achieve their goals.

Evans’s story is one of utter resilience and determination to fight back from a potentially life-ending injury. The rider, who won a top ten place for Ireland at the Rio Olympics as well as a clutch of other international and national eventing medals, refused to give up on his dream of riding competitively. Astonishingly, he took part in the British Eventing Horse Trials in Berkshire in August – riding his beloved horse Art with whom he had suffered his accident just 14 months earlier. 

On joining Speaker Buzz, Evans said: “Since my fall, my life has changed in many ways. I had to learn how to walk and talk all over again like a toddler. I’ve also had to accept that life is going to look different. 

“I believe my positive mindset and that of those around me has helped me hugely in facing these many challenges during my recovery. Speaker Buzz is dedicated to inspiring others to overcome challenges and achieve their goals and that is an ethos I understand and respect. I am looking forward to telling my story and helping to inspire others.”

Debbie Byers, founder and director of Speaker Buzz, said: “Having chatted with Jonty and watched some of his inspiring talks, I’m absolutely delighted he is joining our roster of speakers. His story is remarkable and I know he can inspire others.”

Read more about Jonty Evans here - www.speakerbuzz.co.uk/jonty-evans.html 

www.speakerbuzz.co.uk

Twitter - @SpeakerBuzzUK
Linkedin - www.linkedin.com/company/speaker-buzz/
Facebook - www.facebook.com/speakerbuzzUK
Instagram - www.instagram.com/speakerbuzz/

7 October 2019

Edinburgh to host acclaimed explorers at 'Into The Freezer' Event

First event in Scotland by the New York based Explorers Club
Proceeds to benefit youth charity, The Polar Academy

Three of the world’s toughest and most seasoned explorers will speak in Edinburgh this November, inspiring their audience with extraordinary accounts of their expeditions in the Arctic and Antarctica. 

The exclusive ‘Into The Freezer’ event at The Assembly Rooms in Scotland’s capital on Friday 22 November (6-30pm-9pm) will see Captain Louis Rudd MBE, Mark Wood and Paul Vicary share stories and remarkable film footage as they reveal the pain and euphoria of achieving the extraordinary by pushing mind and body to the limit.

Their appearance in Edinburgh marks the first time that the illustrious New York based Explorers Club has staged an event in Scotland.  Craig Mathieson, Scotland’s greatest living polar explorer and a member of the Explorers Club will host the ticketed evening that’s supported by Tiso the outdoor adventure retail specialist and aims to raise funds for The Polar Academy. 

Founded by Mathieson in 2013, the charity uses exploration in the wilds of Scotland and Eastern Greenland to positively transform young lives affected by mental health issues.  Mathieson, who is also an ambassador for Tiso, commented: “The expeditions undertaken by Louis, Mark and Paul in some of the world’s most unforgiving terrain underlines the physical and mental strength of these extraordinary individuals. 

“I am very proud that with the support of Tiso, The Polar Academy is able to host what promises to be an inspirational and motivational evening about exploration in the ice-cold regions of our world.  With such impressive speakers and as the first event to be held in Scotland by the Explorers Club it promises to be a popular event. I’d encourage members of the public to purchase their tickets without delay.” 

Mathieson revealed that Captain Rudd, Mark Wood and Paul Vicary are to be joined during the evening by teenagers from Bathgate Academy in West Lothian. They completed the latest expedition by The Polar Academy to Greenland in April and will feature as part of a documentary about the charity being screened on BBC Scotland this autumn. 

SPEAKERS

Captain Louis Rudd MBE
In December 2018, the British Army Captain was first Briton in history and only the second person in the world to successfully trek unaided and solo across Antarctica. Captain Rudd finished the epic 921-mile journey in 56 days.

Mark Wood
The former soldier and firefighter has completed more than 30 major expeditions. His feats include multiple ascents of Mount Everest and an unsupported trek to the Geographic South Pole that was followed directly by a 200-mile solo and unsupported crossing of the Arctic Ocean to the Geographic North Pole. 

Paul Vicary
A military veteran of over 30 years, Paul has undertaken many challenging expeditions to help raise funds for charity. In 2016, he embarked on arguably one of the last and most difficult arenas in the world today, venturing unsupported with two others to the Geographic North Pole. 

Tickets: Please visit the EventBrite website https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/into-the-freezer-tickets-69200250813
Ticket prices:
Adult: £22.15 
Youth (13-17 years old): £11.37
Children (12 and under): FREE

5 September 2019

It’s a pain in the bum but adventurer needs to raise final funds for record-breaking solo South Pole expedition

Edinburgh-based adventurer Mollie Hughes has launched a crowdfunding campaign, which includes a very unusual reward – the chance to put a tattoo on her left bum cheek!

She’s climbed Mount Everest twice and is now aiming to ski solo and unsupported from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole – but adventurer Mollie Hughes says fundraising for her next expedition is her toughest challenge.
 
That’s why Mollie, who uses her experiences to inspire others during her work as motivational speaker has launched a special crowdfunding campaign for her next expedition, which has a very unusual top reward - the opportunity to add a tattoo on her left bum cheek!
 
In November, Devon-born and Edinburgh-based Mollie hopes to undertake her biggest expedition to date. Hauling a 90kg sled in temperatures around minus 50C, she will attempt to ski alone across 702 miles of the world’s most unforgiving terrain. 
 
When successful, she will be the youngest woman in history to achieve this feat. Only six women and 17 men have ever completed the route she will attempt on skis, alone and without resupply.
 
Mollie (29) is already a record breaker; in 2017, aged 26, she became the world’s youngest woman to have successfully climbed both the north and south sides of Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak.
 
Mollie has already raised £60k for her South Pole ski challenge through corporate sponsorship and personal donations, but she still needs to raise a final £15k before October. 

While Mollie welcomes donations of all amounts from £10 and up and she has already raised almost £2,000, she is taking the remarkable step of offering the opportunity to get a tattoo on her left bum cheek in return for a single £15,000 donation.
 
The reason it’s specifically her left bum cheek is that in 2011, at the age of 21, Mollie auctioned her right bum cheek while trying to raise funds to climb Mount Everest. As a result of a winning bid by two Marines, she has a tattoo of two kissing chickens. 
 
Mollie Hughes said: “For my next challenge, which I’m undertaking to help inspire women of all ages to push their comfort zones and realise what they are capable of, I’m going to try and ski alone and unsupported across 702 miles of the world’s largest desert. It’s an immense physical and mental challenge, but gaining sponsorship to help fund my expeditions is always the biggest hurdle I face.
“I’ve raised a significant amount already but I still need to raise the final £15K before October in order to take on this expedition and attempt to make history. 
 
“I auctioned my bum back in 2011 for my Everest expedition and, while my dad wasn’t best pleased, it helped me raise the money I needed. I’m now eight years older and eight years wiser, therefore, my LEFT bum cheek is going to be auctioned off for no less than £15,000. The winning bidder can have any tattoo they want on it, anything at all. This is how much I want to go to Antarctica!”
 
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. 
 
Mollie is calling on the people of the UK and beyond to help her reach her funding target and make history in Antarctica this year. To donate to Mollie’s ‘Make history with Mollie Hughes – Antarctica 2019’ crowdfunder, visit https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/make-history-with-mollie-hughes-antarctica-2019-1.
 
To find out more about Mollie’s work as a motivational speaker, visit www.speakerbuzz.co.uk/mollie-hughes.html
www.molliehughes.co.uk
 
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.

30 August 2019

The Glenallachie grows its core range to include a 15 year old single malt whisky

The new 15 year old whisky is described by Master Distiller Billy Walker as the perfect representation of the Speyside distillery’s DNA

The GlenAllachie Distillery is extending its multi award-winning core range of single malt whiskies to include a 15-year-old expression. 

The new GlenAllachie 15 year old, which is now being rolled out across UK and international markets, is described by Master Distiller Billy Walker as the perfect representation of the distillery’s DNA. He believes the 15 year old is an exceptional balance of the distillery’s spirit and the influence of the Sherry casks used during maturation. 

Two types of Sherry casks – Pedro Ximenez (PX) and Oloroso puncheons and hogsheads – were used during maturation. They were chosen to deliver depth and finish to the whisky, and to add notes that enhance the distinctive butterscotch and chocolate flavours of The GlenAllachie spirit.

The GlenAllachie 15 year old (RRP £62.99, bottled at 46%) joins the 10 year old Cask Strength; 12 year old; 18 year old; and 25 year old in The GlenAllachie’s core range which was first launched in 2018. 

Walker said: “I’ve been working on our 15 year old release since we acquired GlenAllachie back in October 2017. In that time I’ve been intimately following the development of the various casks and I believe the 15 year old is the perfect balance of distillery and cask influence.”

He added: “For this 15 year old, I chose PX and Oloroso puncheons and hogsheads to deliver complete depth and finish. This whisky is rich in sweet spices, raisins and butterscotch, with waves of banana, orange peel and dark chocolate. The extra years the whisky spent maturing in the sherry wood casks extends the flavour further.

“I’m delighted to add this to our core range, it absolutely represents the DNA and personality of The GlenAllachie now and going forward. We work with a variety of casks although as we move forward you will see sherry wood influence coming to the fore.”

The introduction of the 15 year old to the core range is another major milestone for The GlenAllachie since Walker took over the Speyside distillery in 2017. 

In July, the distillery revealed its first Wood Finish range, which comprises three expressions. In May, the distillery unveiled its visitor centre and shop, welcoming visitors to the distillery for the first time since it was built in 1967. 

In 2018, The GlenAllachie also released a series of single cask whiskies, launched the MacNair’s Lum Reek range of peated Blended Malts, and a 50th anniversary bottling to mark the 50th anniversary of the distillery’s maiden production run on February 17th 1968.

Along the way, the GlenAllachie’s whisky has been recognised with many awards including four Gold medals for its 10 year old; a Gold for the 12 year old at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition; and a Double Gold medal for the 18 year old, also at the San Francisco World Spirits competition.

The MacNair’s Lum Reek range has also earned several awards since its launch, including a Double Gold for the 21 year old at the San Francisco World Spirits competition.

Further information on the distillery and company can be found at www.theglenallachie.com 

Facebook - @TheGlenAllachie
Twitter - @TheGlenAllachie
Instagram - @theglenallachie_

TASTING NOTES
Colour: Sunset bronze
Nose: Overflowing with raisins, butterscotch and sweet spices.
Taste: The rainbow of sweet spices, raisins and butterscotch develops to banana, orange peel and dark chocolate.

29 August 2019

Professor Heather McGregor announced as opening keynote speaker at first Gather Scotland female leadership event 

Inspirational businesswoman, writer, broadcaster and academic, Professor Heather McGregor, leads a stellar speaker line-up at GATHER Scotland, an influential event for Scottish women in business next month.

McGregor, who wrote Mrs Moneypenny in the Financial Times for the last 17 years and had her own Channel 4 show, is the keynote speaker at the first GATHER Scotland event which takes place at The Signet Library on September 19th. 

A former investment banker, she is currently Executive Dean of Edinburgh Business School, Heriot-Watt University. As well as her Mrs Moneypenny column and TV show (plus a series of books), she has run her own recruitment business and started the 30% club with Dame Helena Morrissey to push for gender balance on boards and in senior management to drive better business outcomes.

Other speakers include: tennis doyenne Judy Murray who will be interviewed by sports presenter Jane Dougall, as well as Egyptian athlete and Nike influencer Manal Rostom who is joining from Dubai.  The event also features senior business leaders including; Lisa Thomas, Chief Brand Officer, Virgin Enterprises, the first female managing director and Non-Executive Chair of Boots UK Elizabeth Fagan, Ella Dolphin CEO of Stylist Group, Katie Lee CEO of Lucky Generals, Pippa Glucklich CEO of Amplify UK, Shona Stilton, Global Partner, Facebook, Jo Lord, CMO of Skyscanner and the MD of global change agency NOBL Lauren Currie OBE. 

As well as incredible speakers, GATHER promises lively panel discussions, personal stories, practical advice and tips for success, as well as speed mentoring in small groups with some of the UK’s most brilliant female leaders.  Inspiring women taking part in speed mentoring sessions during the day include: Donalda MacKinnon, Head of BBC Scotland; Louise Macdonald, Chief Executive of YoungScot; Liz Lloyd, Chief of Staff for First Minister Nicola Sturgeon; Tamar Tammes, Managing Partner, Burness Paull and Liz McAreavey, Chief Executive, Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce. 

The event is being run by a committee of volunteers in association with the London-based not for profit organisation WACL (Women in Advertising and Communications, London).  Founded in 1923, WACL provides female leaders across a broad range of business sectors with the tools, support and ideas to fast-track their careers, while promoting and accelerating gender equality through inspiration, support and campaigning.

All proceeds will go to NABS and Glasgow female empowerment social enterprise MsMissMrs. 

Juliet Simpson, Committee Chair of GATHER Scotland and CEO of Stripe Communications, said: “We are truly thrilled that Professor McGregor is able to provide the opening keynote at our first ever GATHER Scotland event.   The depth and breadth of her experience in business combined with the story of her own personal journey will be inspiring to all our delegates. 

“There’s no event of this scale in Scotland targeted at women in business.  GATHER not only provides a unique opportunity to celebrate the female leaders of now but we also hope to inspire the emerging young leaders of the future.”    
 
GATHER Scotland takes place at the Signet Library, Edinburgh, on Thursday 19th September. The event has two elements – a senior leaders’ GATHER event from 9.30am-5.30pm and a future leaders’ GATHERING event from 5.30pm-7.30pm

Tickets are available via the website www.gatherscotland.com at £295 for the senior leaders’ GATHER event and £60 for the future leaders’ GATHERING event.     
     
The not-for-profit event has been made possible through the generous sponsorship from Barclays, Facebook, ITV, Posterscope, The Guardian, Spotify, Omnicom, The Times Scotland and Google.  All profits raised from WACL Scotland ticket sales will be donated to the national industry support charity NABS and the Glasgow-based female empowerment charity MsMissMrs.
     
Notes to Editors
     
More information about the WACL Scotland GATHER and GATHERING is available on the website gatherscotland.com and across WACL Scotland’s social channels.
     

30 July 2019

Single malt whisky distilling returns to Edinburgh city centre for the first time in almost 100 years

Holyrood Distillery opens its doors and welcomes visitors to the first operational single malt distillery in the capital since 1925

Tuesday 30 July is a historic date for Edinburgh and the Scotch whisky industry as Holyrood Distillery opens its doors to bring single malt whisky distilling back to the centre of the capital for the first time in almost 100 years.

This morning, founder Rob Carpenter and his team gathered to unveil their distillery and welcome the very first visitors for one of their daily guided tour experiences.

Holyrood Distillery, which cost £6.7m and has created around 30 jobs, is the first operational single malt distillery in central Edinburgh since 1925 when The Edinburgh Distillery (aka Glen Sciennes) closed. 

The distillery, which also produces a range of gins and gin liqueurs, offers daily guided tours  throughout the year and is set to become a major visitor attraction in Edinburgh for both tourists and locals. Bookings for Holyrood’s range of daily guided distillery tours, all of which focus on exploring flavour, are now open via its website at https://www.holyrooddistillery.co.uk/tours/ with tickets for adults starting at £14. 

Located on the edge of Holyrood Park and close to popular Edinburgh Festival Fringe venues The Pleasance and George Square, the new distillery is within easy walking distance of the city’s main attractions, including The National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. It is also a short walk or bus ride from Waverley Station.

Until today, the nearest malt whisky distillery has been Glenkinchie, which sits around 15 miles away from the city centre. Now visitors can, for the first time in 94 years, explore a working whisky distillery in the heart of the city. 

The distillery, which has been built in a 3-storey Class B Listed former railway goods shed dating back to 1831, will focus on the creation of maximum flavour in all the spirits it produces. Using innovative production approaches, such as a complex combination of yeasts and a unique selection of different types and styles of malted barley, it will initially produce four core flavours of whisky - smoky; sweet; spicy; and fruity/floral.

Spirit production will be handled by distillery manager Jack Mayo, previously of The Glasgow Distillery, alongside distillers Ollie Salvesen and Elizabeth Machin. The whisky is distilled using two exceptionally tall stills - at 7m tall, they are the tallest stills in Scotland in proportion to their volume. 

Holyrood Distillery is the notion of Canadian Rob Carpenter who, in 2013, first had the idea for a distillery and visitor experience in central Edinburgh. Rob, who founded the Canadian branch of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society together with his wife Kelly, has brought his vision to life in partnership with co-founder David Robertson, who has 25 years’ experience in the industry. 

To fund the project, Carpenter and his team raised £5.8m of investment. This included a £1.5m investment from the Scottish Investment Bank, the largest single investor, and investments from about 60 private individuals from around the world.

Holyrood Distillery’s founder Rob Carpenter said: “After all the hard work of the team, it’s a really special moment to now see Holyrood Distillery open, and we’re looking forward to creating a range of delicious whiskies, gins, liqueurs and other spirits. 

“I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to this project throughout its evolution for their hard work and passion - and especially all our local neighbours for bearing with us during the construction process.

“This distillery is open to everyone, whether you’re a local resident or you’re just visiting the city for a day. We’ve worked hard to create a series of tours that are both fun and informative so they appeal to a wide range of visitors, from connoisseurs of whisky and gin to those who are simply curious to learn more about these spirits for the first time. Our guides are very excited to get started so please come by and visit us.”

Kerry Sharp, director of the Scottish Investment Bank, said: “I’m pleased that our investment has supported the development, by an outstanding team, of this new distillery and visitor experience in Scotland's capital. 

“Tourism supports more than 30,000 jobs in Edinburgh, with more than £1m per day being spent on food and drink – and Holyrood Distillery is a fantastic addition to both these sectors. We look forward to working more with the team going forward, helping them to maximise the full potential of the attraction.”

Further information:
Holyrood Distillery, 19 St Leonard’s Lane, Edinburgh EH8 9SH. 0131 285 8977 
Holyrooddistillery.co.uk
Twitter @Holyroodwhisky
Facebook @Holyrooddistillery
Instagram @Holyrooddistillery

Notes to editors:
A selection of images from the opening day (30 July) is available to download here

Holyrood Distillery
  • Holyrood Distillery is the first single malt whisky distillery in the heart of Edinburgh for almost 100 years. The last working distillery in the capital was Andrew Usher’s Edinburgh Distillery (aka Glen Sciennes) which closed in 1925
  • The distillery project cost approximately £6.7m, backed by £5.8m fundraising 
  • The build took a year and the distillery is housed in a Class B listed building built in 1831 as part of one of the first railways in the UK
  • Holyrood Distillery will focus on innovation and the creation of robust flavours through different production approaches, initially focusing on four flavour profiles:
    • Smoky 
    • Fruity / Floral 
    • Sweet
    • Spicy 
  • The team’s three distillers are Dr Jack Mayo, distillery manager; Ollie Salvesen, Distiller; Elizabeth Machin, Distiller
  • Holyrood Distillery was founded by Canadian couple, Rob and Kelly Carpenter and Scot, David Robertson. Rob co-founded the Canadian branch of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society with wife Kelly, while David has 25 years’ experience in the industry with The Macallan and The Dalmore as well as co-founding Rare Whisky 101
  • As well as distilling single malt whisky, Holyrood Distillery produces award-winning gins and liqueurs on its specially designed gin still
  • The distillery, which is located in the heart of Edinburgh, features a visitor centre and shop. Tours and tasting experiences will run daily throughout the year
Scottish Investment Bank
The Scottish Investment Bank (SIB) is the investment arm of Scotland’s national economic development agency, Scottish Enterprise, operating Scotland-wide in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). SIB’s activities support Scotland’s SME funding market to ensure businesses with growth and export potential have adequate access to growth capital and loan funding.  

18 July 2019

From Ayrshire to Asda, Scotty Brand sends celebrated new potatoes south of the border 

This season, some of Scotland’s finest produce will be available in England as Scotty Brand has secured a nationwide listing with Asda for its famed Ayrshire new potatoes, joining its strawberries and raspberries which launched earlier in the summer. 

The distinctive melt-in-the-mouth oval Ayrshire new potatoes, which have just received official EU protected geographical indication (PGI) status, are regarded as among the best in the world and are only available from June until early September. Now food fans across the country can enjoy them from this Sunday (21 July).

Scotty Brand has picked the cream of the Ayrshire crop, which is grown in Girvan on the west coast of Scotland, and the potatoes can now be found in more than 200 Asda stores across Scotland and England.  They are sent to Asda and to other stockists in Scotland, such as Co-op, Lidl, Spar, Tesco and Waitrose, within as few as 24 hours from being lifting out of the Scottish soil. 

Scotty Brand expects to sell well over 1,000 tonnes this season, the equivalent of the weight of 79 double decker buses, 150 elephants or 111,000 Scotty dogs!

Jamie McCoo, who is arguably Britain’s biggest Ayrshire potato lover, is particularly pleased by the news.  Last year, the retired electrician (70) who lives in Deal in Kent, had to make his annual 1,000-mile round trip across the country to stock up on his favourite pick of the crop, as they weren’t available south of the border.  This year his petrol money can be spent on sourcing his beloved Ayrshires in Asda stores much closer to home in Kent.  

Jamie enthusiastically explained: “I’m thrilled that I don’t have to make my annual pilgrimage from Kent to Scotland to collect my Ayrshire potatoes this year.  People think I’m bonkers, but these potatoes were a big part of my childhood and my mother always told me that the first dig produced the best batch.”

Richard Allison, general manager of Scotty Brand, commented: “Grown in sandy soil warmed by the Gulf Stream and fertilised by seaweed, the first and finest new potatoes grown in Scotland come from Ayrshire.  It’s fantastic that customers south of the border can now enjoy them thanks to this seasonal listing with Asda.
“PGI status is a huge benefit to Ayrshire new potatoes since it gives legal standing to our claim that they are a special food.
“The growing conditions of the Ayrshire region, combined with the experience and skill of the growers, make this a unique product which cannot be replicated elsewhere.”

Available to purchase in 750g bags, the firm, waxy texture of the wispy skinned potatoes means they keep their shape once cooked and cut for a superb potato salad. They can be mashed or even roasted, but Ayrshires are best scrubbed gently and boiled or steamed for around 15-20 minutes, before being enjoyed with a melt of butter or enveloped in mayonnaise and perhaps sprinkled with parsley, mint or chopped spring onions. 

For more Scotty Brand Ayrshire potato recipe inspiration visit - www.scottybrand.com 

Notes to Editors: 
  • Scotty Brand was first launched in 1948 by Albert Bartlett. Albert’s values of hard work and honest endeavour live on in the family company today, as it continues to bring you the best tasting produce, fresh from Scotland.
  • Scotty Brand offers the finest seasonal produce such as potatoes, Ayrshire new potatoes and seasonal berries; and other products including prepared vegetables, fresh soup, delicious sausage rolls, succulent smoked salmon, chilled coleslaws and potato salad.
  • Scotty Brand stockists include Asda, Morrison’s, Tesco, Co-op, Waitrose, Aldi, Spar and Lidl.

25 June 2019

Greenlandic Inuit students prepare for first visit to Scotland

Participants of The Polar Academy charity to host special visitors

Three teenage Inuit students and accompanied by Axel an Inuit fisherman and his family from south-eastern Greenland are in Scotland this week as part of a five-day cultural exchange initiative organised by Craig Mathieson, founder of the Scottish charity, The Polar Academy. 

It is believed to be the first time that students from Greenland have visited Scotland.

The female students, who speak East Greenlandic, Danish and English and who were schooled in the small town of Tasiilaq, will be reunited with ten teenagers from Bathgate Academy in West Lothian and some pupils from Lochgelly High School in Fife.  Debo was born in Kulusuk, Lea is from Tasiilaq and though born in Denmark, Anna now also lives in Tasiilaq.

In April this year, ten Bathgate Academy pupils returned from journeying unsupported for ten days in Eastern Greenland, as part of a life-changing expedition with The Polar Academy.  In 2017/2018, pupils from Lochgelly High School in Fife undertook a similar expedition.  Founded with the vision of using exploration to positively transform young lives affected by mental health issues, since 2013 and supported by Axel and his fellow Inuit in local communities, the charity has annually taken Scottish teenagers into the wilds of what is one of the world’s largest and coldest islands. 

While there is a small adventure tourism economy, Greenland is a country where many families still source food and clothing by hunting for fish, seals and even polar bear. Fruit and vegetables must be imported into the country that is 2.1 million km² and into which Scotland would fit over 20 times.  With only 56,000 inhabitants, it has just 1% of the population of Scotland.  There are very few trees in its vast landscape of rock and ice where winter daytime temperatures can easily be minus 30C. 

Craig Mathieson who is Scotland’s greatest living polar explorer, explained the significance of this unusual cultural exchange: “Over the past six years, Axel and many of his fellow Inuit have been extremely welcoming of The Polar Academy, providing our teams with both kind hospitality and invaluable logistical support.  

“At the invitation of The Polar Academy, their visit to Scotland is an opportunity to repay their kind hospitality and to offer both Axel’s family and the young students an insight to Scotland’s rich heritage and culture.  Though Greenland has currency and more recently the internet, many inhabitants still continue to lead simple lives and with hunting part of their DNA they have a close affinity with nature and the landscape.  

“As a Greenlandic fisherman, I know that during his stay in Scotland, Axel is looking forward to experiencing some time angling on the river with Scottish actor and fishing presenter Paul Young. The students are also interested in visiting a real castle and I’m sure that they will be fascinated by the fact we have large supermarkets in which to choose our food!” 

“Of course, this visit is also an opportunity for the teenagers from both countries to share experiences of their different cultures. By sitting down and talking they quickly realise that youths from very different parts of the world share similar challenges that with hard work and focus can be overcome and dreams achieved.”

The Polar Academy has also just announced that ten pupils from Bell Baxter High School in Coupar, Fife have been selected to benefit from the charity in 2019/2020.  Supported by Tiso, the outdoor adventure retail specialist and other generous donors, the eight female and two male pupils will journey with The Polar Academy in Eastern Greenland in April 2020. 

www.thepolaracademy.org

The Inuit
Inuit were the first inhabitants of the (North American) Arctic and inhabited from the Bering Strait to East Greenland. Living across Russia, Canada and Greenland there are more than 100,000 Inuit. In Greenland, it’s believed the Inuit are descended from the Thule people who settled Greenland circa AD1200. With 88% (45,000) of its inhabitants Inuit, Greenland continues to be the least densely populated country in the world. 

Language and climate
In Greenland, the Inuit speak Greenlandic (kalaallisut). Though global warming is having an impact on the massive ice sheet that covers much of Greenland’s interior, it remains rare for the summer mean temperature to exceed +10°c in June, July and August while in winter temperatures can easily be lower than minus 30C. 

Housing
In Greenland, the Inuit usually live in permanent stone houses though in summer tents made of skin are also used.  In winter, ice blocks are still crafted to create igloos. 

Employment
Government agencies, the oil and gas industry, tourism and the arts and crafts industry all provide employment opportunities for the local populations.  

Diet
Many Inuit continue to hunt and fish. Seal, whale, polar bear, fish and bird meat form much of the traditional diet. Fruit and vegetables must be imported. 

Education
Inuit children are taught standard subjects at school such as maths, spelling, reading, and IT skills. They also learn about the traditional Inuit culture. 

Technology
Traditionally whale blubber was burned as the fuel for cooking and lamps. Dogs were trained and used for transportation. Inuit increasingly have access to electricity and use TV’s, mobile phones and social media. 

Culture
Inhabitants should be referred to as Inuit not Eskimos. The latter is considered a derogatory term by many Inuit.
Drumming and dancing are part of traditional Inuit gatherings. Evenings at home may be spent carving ivory or bone. A traditional Inuit game is played on a board, using pieces in the shape of miniature people and animals. 

Sport
In addition to skilled kayakers, ice hockey is popular due to the availability of ice. 

19 June 2019

Fife’s youth again targeted for help by life changing charity

Ten pupils selected for Arctic experience with The Polar Academy

After recently completing a rigorous selection weekend at Glenmore Lodge in the Scottish Highlands, ten teenagers from Coupar in Fife have been selected to benefit from the life-changing work of Scottish charity, The Polar Academy. As part of their involvement, the eight female and two 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 between 13-16 years of age and pupils at Bell Baxter High School in Fife where the school motto is ‘I am being prepared for life.’  An additional ten pupils from the school have been selected for the (back-up) leadership team.  Two of the participants, Emily (expedition team) and Stephanie Birrell (leadership team) are twins. Kirsty Simcock, a drama and guidance teacher at the school will also be part of the expedition team.

It is the second occasion in three years that a Fife secondary school has benefited from the transformative work of the charity.  In 2017/2018, pupils from Lochgelly High School in Fife participated in The Polar Academy, a charity that has been described as delivering Europe’s toughest youth training programme.  

The Polar Academy was set-up in 2013 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 six years, 50 year-old Mathieson has worked closely with teachers to identify what he calls ‘invisible’ youths. To date, five expeditions involving pupils from a total of eleven secondary schools have experienced the life-changing methods deployed by the charity that helps participants to redefine their physical and mental limits. Over 70,000 youths have already been engaged and inspired by the charity. 

Carol Ann Penrose, who since August last year has been Head Teacher of Bell Baxter High School was previously the rector of Lochgelly High School and was part of the Lochgelly expedition team throughout 2017/2018.   She recalled: “The calm, understated approach of Craig (Mathieson) 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.” 

Craig Mathieson reminded the pupils from Bell Baxter High School that their selection into the programme, following a weekend of physical and mental challenges at Glenmore Lodge in early June is only the beginning of their 9-month journey to positively transform their young lives. He commented: “It’s a tough selection process and the pupils from Bell Baxter High School who have come through should be proud of their achievement.  

“However, now the hard work really begins. Supported by the school and their families, the youths will now need to fully commit to the 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 individuals to work as a team, culminating in a 10-day, unsupported expedition in Eastern Greenland. Everyone will haul their own 45kg sledge, navigate, camp and cook in temperatures as low as minus 30C.  

“In the months ahead, these teenagers will encounter and overcome challenges that steadily develop self-confidence and instil the realisation that with focus and effort the seemingly impossible can be achieved. They will return to Scotland as young adults equipped with a can do attitude. Crucially, they will be more than ready to inspire thousands of other youths with the message that with sustained effort and focus, goals and dreams can be achieved.” 

In the Arctic, accompanied by a doctor and expert guides, pupils will 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. 

www.thepolaracademy.org

The Polar Academy 2019/2020 Expedition Team:  
  1. Emily Birrell
  2. Sophie Blair
  3. Lauren Calley
  4. Ember Davidson
  5. Eve Gill
  6. Leah Graham
  7. Blair McDougall
  8. Molly Poolman
  9. Kristian Smurthwaite
  10. Molly Turnbull
  11. + drama and guidance teacher Kirsty Simcock

The Polar Academy 2019/2020 Leadership Team
  1. Stephanie Birrell 
  2. Lara Burdett
  3. Jorja Darlington
  4. Louis Allison Finch
  5. Rachel Murray
  6. Boo Scott
  7. Bryce Tyndall
  8. Robbie Williams
  9. Kayleigh Yorke
  10. Charlotte Youngson

6 June 2019

Scotty Brand strawberries set for a fruitful season 

Scottish producer grows double the amount of strawberries as it secures UK wide distribution

Scotty Brand strawberries will be bursting onto shelves throughout the UK this weekend after winning a UK wide listing with ASDA.

The Scottish food producer, Scotty Brand, is doubling the amount of strawberries and raspberries grown this year, after securing the UK contract, meaning that its delicious berries will be available to buy throughout the UK with the supermarket chain. 

Michael Jarvis, head of marketing at Scotty Brand, said: “Strawberries are always an exciting addition to our portfolio during the summer months and this year we are delighted that Scotty Brand strawberries will be available throughout the UK. Scottish berries are popular both north and south of the border, and for the first-time customers across the UK will get the chance to try and enjoy our strawberries.”

Scottish strawberries are famous worldwide, with Perthshire being the biggest and best area in Scotland for growing the crop.  Scotty Brand strawberries are grown and packed by Bruce Farms, based in Perthshire, which is renowned for its berries.  The light, fertile soil, long summer days and mild nights provide the perfect conditions for growing sweet, juicy berries.  It is the ideal location and growing conditions that produces - and guarantees - such a delicious and fruitful crop that has secured the UK contract.  The temperate conditions in Scotland mean that the fruit ripens more slowly than many others and is therefore sweeter and juicier.

Scottish berries make an appearance a few weeks after their English counterparts, so perfect timing for the summer and for seasonal events such as Wimbledon.   

An on-site packing hall means the fruit is picked, packed and despatched rapidly, so the strawberries reach stores within 24 hours. Scotty Brand strawberries come in 300g punnets and will be available throughout the UK in selected Asda stores from Sunday 9 June.  Scotty Brand raspberries will follow at the end of June.

Photo features Carys Melton taken at Bruce Farms in Meigle.

Notes to Editors: 
  • Scotty Brand was first launched in 1948 by Albert Bartlett. Albert’s values of hard work and honest endeavour live on in the family company today, as it continues to bring you the best tasting produce, fresh from Scotland.
  • Scotty Brand offers the finest seasonal produce such as potatoes, Ayrshire new potatoes and seasonal berries; and other products including prepared vegetables, fresh soup, delicious sausage rolls, succulent smoked salmon, chilled coleslaws and potato salad.
  • Scotty Brand stockists include ASDA, Morrison’s, Tesco, Co-op, Waitrose, Aldi, Spar and Lidl. 
http://www.scottybrand.com 

28 May 2019

Spirits High at Holyrood Distillery in Edinburgh as Team Doubles in Size and Casks Sales Fly Ahead of Launch

New distiller Elizabeth Machin joins expanding team at the new whisky distillery in the heart of Edinburgh as its cask sales offer attracts international interest

With the opening of Holyrood Distillery and visitor experience in Edinburgh drawing closer, the distillery has revealed that its team has doubled in size, including the new addition of Elizabeth Machin who has joined the distilling team ahead of the much-anticipated launch. 
 
The news comes as the distillery reveals that only a handful of its limited edition run of 100 casks remain available for sale following huge international interest in its recently launched cask purchase programme.
 
When it opens in July, Holyrood Distillery, which is situated within walking distance of the Royal Mile, will be the first fully operational single malt whisky distillery in the heart of Edinburgh for almost 100 years. 
 
The distillery and visitor centre project was initially led by a core team including founders Rob and Kelly Carpenter and David Robertson, alongside commercial director Bill Farrar and head distiller Jack Mayo. 
 
Now the team has doubled in size as it prepares to start whisky production and open its doors to 1000s of visitors. After its first year of operation, the distillery expects to have in the region of 35 full-time employees.
 
Elizabeth Machin is the latest addition to the distilling team supporting Jack Mayo, the head distiller who has a doctorate in astrophysics but now focuses his analytical mind to explore the world of whisky.
Elizabeth recently graduated with an MSc in Brewing and Distilling from Heriot-Watt University, following in the footsteps of fellow Heriot-Watt alumni Jack. She was brought up in Spain and trained as a nurse before she changed career and entered the world of distilling.  
 
Elizabeth joins distiller Ollie Salvesen in the distilling team supporting Jack. Ollie joined the team in summer 2018 after a spell working on Islay inspired him to study Brewing and Distilling at Heriot Watt.
 
Elizabeth and Ollie will run the day-to-day production of whisky, gin and liqueurs at Holyrood while working with Jack as the team create an innovative range of spirits driven by a fundamental and unswerving focus on flavour.


With Holyrood Distillery situated within easy walking distance of several major tourist attractions in the centre of Edinburgh, the team has also strengthened its tourism team.
 
Debs Newman, the distillery’s Visitor Experience Director who was previously at the V&A in Dundee, will now be supported by Holly Aynsley as Visitor Operations and Events Manager; Jen Wallace as Retail and Admissions Manager; and Liam Robertson as Tourism Business Development Manager. In addition, Ian Gemmell is the distillery’s Finance Manager. 
 
With tours and tasting experiences set to run daily throughout the year, the distillery expects to employ around 12 guides, complemented by other visitor experience assistants.
 
Earlier this month, Holyrood announced that it was making 100 casks of whisky available for sale through its cask purchase programme – with the unique opportunity for purchasers to tailor the flavour of their cask of whisky. Within days, the distillery was inundated with enquiries from around the world and now only a handful of casks remain available.
 
Founding director David Robertson said: “It’s an incredibly exciting time for us at Holyrood as the distillery takes shape and our team is rapidly expanding. We started off with a small team and already we’ve doubled in size and we expect to grow further within the first year. With our location in the centre of Edinburgh, we know we’re going to attract huge interest and visitor numbers, so we’re making sure we’re ready and raring to go for that.”
 
“Releasing 100 casks for sale was also a huge moment for us and the reaction has been remarkable, with enquiries coming in from close to home here in Edinburgh and from all corners of the world. Within a few days, we’ve almost sold out and there are only a few left so we’d advise any interested people to get in touch as soon as possible!”
 
The distillery, which will produce single malt whisky, gin and liqueurs, will offer an immersive visitor experience with daily hour-long guided tours throughout the year. The tours will focus on exploring flavour and feature the opportunity to get hands-on with ingredients, sample various spirits, and bottle whisky straight from the cask. 
 
Holyrood Distillery and Visitor Experience, 73 St Leonard’s Hill, Edinburgh, EH8 9SB
www.Holyrooddistillery.co.uk
Cask purchase programme: https://casks.holyrooddistillery.co.uk/enquire
Facebook / Instagram @holyrooddistillery
Twitter: @holyroodwhisky

Notes to editors:
 
  • Holyrood Distillery will open to the public in July 2019.  It is the first single malt whisky distillery in central Edinburgh for almost 100 years. The last working distillery in the capital was the Edinburgh Distillery (aka Glen Sciennes) which closed in 1925
  • The distillery project cost approximately £6.7m, backed by £5.8m fundraising and will create 30 jobs
  • The build took a year and the distillery is housed in a Class B listed built in 1835 as part of one of the first railways in the UK
  • Holyrood Distillery will focus on innovation and the creation of robust flavours through different production approaches, initially focussing on: Fruity / Floral, Sweet, Spicy and Smoky 
  • Holyrood Distillery was founded by Canadian couple, Rob and Kelly Carpenter and Scot, David Robertson. Rob co-founded the Canadian branch of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society with wife Kelly, while David has 25 years’ experience in the industry with The Macallan and The Dalmore as well as co-founding Rare Whisky 101
  • As well as distilling single malt whisky, Holyrood Distillery produces award-winning gins and liqueurs on its specially designed gin still
  • The distillery, which is located in the heart of Edinburgh, features a visitor centre and shop. Tours and tasting experiences will run daily throughout the year

10 May 2019

The first single malt whisky distillery in Edinburgh for almost 100 years releases 100 casks

Holyrood Distillery makes 100 casks available for sale in ground-breaking move that allows purchasers to customise the flavour of their whisky

Have you ever dreamed about creating your own special single malt whisky from scratch to suit your own tastes? Well now you can, thanks to a remarkable opportunity to own a cask of whisky from Holyrood Distillery.
 
The distillery in Edinburgh, which will be the first single malt distillery in the Scottish capital for almost 100 years when it opens in July, is making 100 casks available through The Holyrood Cask Programme.
 
In an innovative move, Holyrood is offering single malt connoisseurs the chance to customise the flavour of their whisky.
 
This unique process will start with a flavour consultation with Holyrood’s experts – Head Distiller, Dr Jack Mayo, and co-founder David Robertson, whose long-running career in the industry has included a spell as Master Distiller at The Macallan.
 
The discussion will determine the purchaser’s particular flavour preferences and then allow the buyer to choose how long the barley is dried and roasted; which yeasts are used for fermentation; the distillation approach and distillation date; and the type of cask for maturation, including its oak species, size and previous fill. 
 
The distillery is focusing on four core flavours – smoky, spicy, sweet and fruity/floral – with cask purchasers able to tailor their choices around those flavours or explore something different.
 
Three barrel types are available – a barrel (200 litres), a hogshead (250 litres) and a butt (500 litres) at £4,500, £5,500 and £10,500 respectively. The cost includes flavour consultation, whisky creation, storage for ten years, sampling, insurance, labelling and bottling.
 
Head Distiller Dr Jack Mayo said: “Everything we do at Holyrood is driven by flavour. That’s why our Cask Programme gives people the unique chance to tailor a cask of our whisky to suit their flavour preferences.”
 
David Robertson added: “Normally, if you invest in buying a cask of whisky from a distillery, you are limited to their spirit perhaps with a choice of one or two cask types. But we’re flipping things on their head and giving buyers the chance to design the flavour. By working with me and Jack, they can have a hand in each step of the whisky’s journey and be in control of shaping how the whisky tastes.”
 
Sales are limited to a maximum of two casks per person, with a deposit of £1500 per cask required to secure ownership.
 
To register your interest in the Holyrood Cask Programme, visit https://casks.holyrooddistillery.co.uk/enquire 
 
Notes to editors:
  • Holyrood Distillery will open to the public in July 2019.  It is the first single malt whisky distillery in Edinburgh for almost 100 years. The last working distillery in the capital was the Edinburgh Distillery (aka Glen Sciennes) which closed in 1925
  • The distillery project cost approximately £6.7m, backed by £5.8m fundraising and will create 30 jobs
  • The build took a year and the distillery is housed in a Class B listed built in 1835 as part of one of the first railways in the UK
  • Holyrood Distillery will focus on innovation and the creation of robust flavours through different production approaches, initially focussing on:
    • Fruity / Floral 
    • Sweet
    • Spicy 
    • Smoky 
  • The team’s three distillers are Dr Jack Mayo, Head Distiller; Ollie Salvesen, Distiller; Elizabeth Machin, Distiller
  • Holyrood Distillery was founded by Canadian couple, Rob and Kelly Carpenter and Scot, David Robertson. Rob co-founded the Canadian branch of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society with wife Kelly, while David has 25 years’ experience in the industry with The Macallan and The Dalmore as well as co-founding Rare Whisky 101
  • As well as distilling single malt whisky, Holyrood Distillery produces award-winning gins and liqueurs on its specially designed gin still
  • The distillery, which is located in the heart of Edinburgh, features a visitor centre and shop. Tours and tasting experiences will run daily throughout the year

6 May 2019

Port Edgar Open Weekend expands with more on the water fun

More than 500 watersports taster sessions from Port Edgar Watersports, shopping, streetfood, DJs and kids’ activities will be on the menu at this year’s Port Edgar Open Weekend on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 May.

The annual Open Weekend takes place at Port Edgar in South Queensferry, which features the largest watersports and activity centre in Scotland.  The number of watersports taster sessions has increased – to around 250 per day - due to the phenomenal interest at last year’s event. 
 
Expert instructors from Port Edgar Watersports will provide the chance to try dinghy sailing, paddle boarding, windsurfing, keel boat sailing, canoeing and sea kayaking.  The one-hour sessions cost £10 per adult and £5 for children over 8 years old.  It is highly recommended to book in advance of coming along.
 
A new addition to this year’s watersports options is an introduction to powerboating session, which cost £25 per adult and £20 per children (over 8), with a maximum of three people on board with an instructor.
 
Sightseeing trips under the three bridges will also be available on Forth Tours’ Forth Princess and exhilarating 30-minute trips on The Maid of The Forth’s Seafari RIB.  While Edinburgh Boat Charters is offering discounted sailing sessions on board their luxury catamaran during the weekend.
 
Once again, the Open Weekend will feature a feast of food and drink treats at the Canteen Street Food Festival, from renowned pop-up specialists Rogue Village – in addition to Marina favourites Down the Hatch, there will be Chick & Pea’s legendary halloumi fries and Fox Hat’s authentic, American smoked BBQ food as well as Moo Pie’s handcrafted gelato and Crema Caravan, the UK's first Crème Brûlée van. 
 
Thirsty revellers can take their pick from three bars – Poco Prosecco, Herringbone cocktails and the local Ferry Brewery.
 
The dry land activities will include plenty of kids’ activities such as face painting and crazy golf.  There will also be live DJ sets from Four Corners DJs.
 
Shoppers can peruse an extensive range of country, marine and casual clothing and accessories at the Marina’s shop, Beacon. The shop will have amazing offers over the weekend and features brands including Dubarry, Joules, Schoffel and Fairfax & Favor.
 
More than 7,000 visitors attended last year’s event at the marina which sits between the iconic Road and Rail bridges and the Queensferry Crossing.  Due to the popularity of the Open Weekend event and with the 200-capacity restaurant, Scotts, now on site, car parks are expected to be very busy, so visitors are being encouraged to travel by public transport. Local residents are encouraged to cycle or walk. 
 
Less than 30-minutes from Edinburgh city centre, on the southern banks of the Firth of Forth, Port Edgar Marina boasts stunning views of the Queensferry Crossing and the Kingdom of Fife beyond.
 
As one of the east coast’s largest marinas with berths for over 300 boats, Port Edgar is also the home of Port Edgar Yacht Club and a number of major marine businesses.   
 
Port Edgar Marina’s managing director, Russell Aitken, said: “Due to the success of last year’s Open Weekend, the team from Port Edgar Watersports have added even more taster sessions to this year’s event, with around 250 options each day. 
 
“Away from the water, we’re delighted to be teaming up again with Rogue Village and their Canteen Street Food Festival, while there will be loads to do for all the family, from shopping at Beacon, as well as face painting and crazy golf for our younger visitors.  Dogs are welcome too!”
 
The Port Edgar Open Weekend, 11 & 12 May 2019, 10am-6pm. Parking charge of £5 on entry will be donated to SAMH.  For further information, visit www.portedgar.co.uk and the events page on Facebook.
 
To avoid disappointment, it’s recommended to pre-book a taster session by contacting Port Edgar Watersports on 0131 319 1820 or email bookings@portedgarwatersports.com.  It is £5 per child age 8-16 and £10 per adult.

30 April 2019

Expansion brewing as Bob & Berts opens new food and coffee shops in Scotland

A Northern Irish independent food and coffee shop chain committed to supporting high street renewal is continuing its expansion in Scotland by opening three new stores - fuelled by long-term investment from BGF.

Bob & Berts, which now has stores in Falkirk, Dunfermline and Dumfries, will open three new outlets in Kirkcaldy, Ayr and Stirling this year and is actively looking at additional Scottish sites - building on its strategy of expanding across local market towns.

The company raised £2 million of patient capital from BGF - the UK and Ireland’s most active investor in growing businesses - in August 2017, to fund its entry into Scotland and support further growth in Northern Ireland, where it was founded in 2013.

Known for its quality food and drink, local community focus and relaxed style, Bob & Berts aims to have 20 outlets across Scotland by 2022, employing around 400 people.

Colin McClean, who founded Bob & Berts, said: “We are very pleased with the performance of our stores in Scotland, which has reinforced our belief that there is demand for high-quality, independent food and coffee shops in traditional high street settings. 

“Our aim has always been to offer something different to the large coffee chains - in terms of branding, food selection and interior design. We are committed to supporting the renewal of high streets through quality businesses that help them remain vibrant social hubs. We have created a friendly environment to encourage people to relax, close to where they live - and look forward to taking this culture into Kirkcaldy, Ayr and Stirling in 2019.”

Bob & Berts is on track to deliver turnover of £8m, which it expects grow following the opening of the new stores. Each new outlet will follow the pattern of opening from 7.30am-6.30pm, offering a combination of high-quality drinks and fresh food which has proved popular in its existing Scottish locations. 

BGF investor and Bob & Berts board member, Gemma Hamilton, said: “Over the last few years, Bob & Berts has developed a strong identity and quality offering for its growing customer base, setting itself apart in a competitive market. The expansion of the business across Northern Ireland and Scotland is a real testament to the culture and philosophy that is winning over high street customers. As a long-term investor, BGF is delighted to be supporting the team on their continued growth journey.”

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: 
    • Kent-based BB7 (fire safety and security consultancy)
    • Dublin-based Winterbrook (family-owned residential house builder)
    • Reading-based Invenio Business Solutions (business-focused technology solutions provider)
    • Yorkshire-based Operam Education Group (education recruitment group)
    • South West-headquartered Equilaw and Thomas Legal (property law firms)
    • Manchester-based Planixs (high-growth FinTech company)
    • Nottingham-based BioCity (the UK’s largest life science incubator)
  • 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

29 April 2019

Life Changing … Polar Medals for Bathgate Academy Expedition Team

 On Friday night (26 April) over 120 guests attended a special dinner and medal ceremony at Dundas Castle on the outskirts of Edinburgh to recognise the achievements of ten pupils from Bathgate Academy (West Lothian). During April, the pupils and Ellis McKay (Pupil Support Manager) participated in a life-changing, ten-day expedition in Eastern Greenland with the youth charity, The Polar Academy. 

To loud cheers and more than a few tears, a parent of each expedition team member presented their son or daughter with the prestigious polar medal. Looking on were family members and many of the growing number of supporters and patrons of The Polar Academy. This included founding supporter, Tiso the outdoor adventure retail specialist and representatives of ski manufacturer, Åsnes Skis who travelled from Norway and attended wearing traditional Norwegian attire. 

Speaking on stage, Craig Mathieson the Bo’ness-based expedition leader and founder of The Polar Academy, said:  “Supported by the charity, their school and families, all at Bathgate Academy involved in this year’s expedition fully committed to the programme that included tough and regular physical training. Every week I could see their self-confidence steadily grow. In Greenland, whether tasked with navigating, cutting ice blocks or pitching tents, when the going got tough it was fantastic to watch everyone work as a team and to develop that all important ‘can do’ mentality. 

“I am so proud of these pupils who over the past 9-months of committing to the methods of The Polar Academy have transformed into confident and resilient young men and women.  They now know that with focus and effort the seemingly impossible can be achieved.” 

Expedition team member quotes 

Adam Rayner (16) said: “I feel that The Polar Academy has changed me from being a quiet, shy follower to someone with the confidence to lead.  I’m definitely much more confident.  The Polar Academy has changed my life and I’m really going to miss it.” 

Alex Cochrane (15) said: “It’s an almost indescribable feeling to explain how grateful I am to Craig (Mathieson) and The Polar Academy for the opportunity to be part of the expedition team.  It has been a truly life-changing experience. Since getting involved with the programme I’ve increasingly noticed small positive changes in myself.”

Over the past year the expedition team and their families fundraised £75,000 to support their expedition and the future work of The Polar Academy, a charity that’s wholly dependent on donations to operate. From next month, all of the pupils on the expedition team will begin talking to peer groups in schools across West Lothian about their life-changing experiences. They will aim to inspire thousands of other youths to pursue goals thought unattainable. 

It is the fifth consecutive year that The Polar Academy has successfully selected and trained individuals from within Scotland’s secondary education sector.  Identified as ‘invisible’ at school and affected by issues including anxiety, a lack of self-confidence and esteem, The Polar Academy positively transforms the individuals it selects by using expedition methods to redefine physical and mental limits. 

The Polar Academy and the expedition team from Bathgate Academy will feature in a 4-part documentary to be broadcast on BBC Scotland later this year. 

The 2018/2019 Polar Academy Expedition Team was again accompanied by expert guides. In addition to Craig Mathieson, they were: Nigel Williams, George MacHardy, Mollie Hughes and Dr Naomi Dodds.  Later this year, Tiso Ambassador and adventurer Mollie Hughes will attempt to become the youngest woman in the world to ski unassisted to the South Pole.   

www.thepolaracademy.org

The 2018/2019 Bathgate Academy Polar Academy Expedition Team 
Abbie Heaney 14 
Adam Rayer 16 
Alex Cochrane 15 
Matthew Wood 14 
Emma Severs 13 
Jake Duncan 14 
Kimberley Codona 14 
Max Kilgour 14 
Robyn Thomson 15 
Orla Morgan 13 
Ellis McKay (Pupil Support Manager)

Leadership Team
Becky Houston 13 
Craig Waddell 13

26 April 2019

Not one, not two but six “Oor Wullies” welcome the Scottish Icon to Scotty Brand

Scottish food business Scotty Brand rounds up its very own team of Oor Wullies from its HQ to greet their Scottish namesake as he arrives on site in Airdrie.

Six aptly named employees downed tools to meet the Scottish character.

Scotty Brand is proud to be sponsoring the nationwide charity campaign “Oor Wullie’s Big Bucket Trail” and will unveil a specially painted life size Scotty Brand statue in June at the top of Buchanan Street in Glasgow. The Scotty Brand Oor Wullie will be one of 200 statues that will be popping up around Scotland later this year supporting funds towards The Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity.
 
Michael Jarvis, Marketing Director for Scotty Brand said; “We are all really proud to be supporting the Oor Wullie Big Bucket Trail and look forward to seeing our full size Scotty Brand Statue come to life in Buchannan Street in June. We didn’t realise we had so many “Wullies” working at Scotty Brand and now we have another one to join the team!”
 
Pictured (left to right) William Marshall, William Hughes, William Taylor, Willie Agnew, William Rankin, William Fergie.

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

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