Icons of Whisky Scotland PR Agency of the Year 2020


Edinburgh-based Beeline PR specialises in:

Public Relations | Crisis and Reputation Management | Brand Building

We can:

create maximum impact through strategic communications

raise the awareness of your brand or organisation

support your business objectives

identify and communicate with target audiences

provide white-label services for other creative agencies


About Beeline PR

Debbie Byers



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

Debbie Byers, Director

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jim Byers, Director

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

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

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

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

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

Rosemary Gallagher, Director

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

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

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

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

Katie Spence, Senior Account Manager

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

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

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

Julie Dunn, Social Media Manager

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

Carol Graham, Financial Controller

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

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

John Hatfield, Associate and Media Training Consultant 

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

Alison Melton, Consultant

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

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

Ailsa Lamond, Trainee PR Account Executive

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

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

Tino Nombro

Tino Nombro, Non-Executive Director 

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


How we can help

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

Recent News from Beeline PR

10 May 2022

Beeline PR buzzing with success as it makes new appointment

Strategic communications agency expands with addition of experienced public relations professional and former journalist Katie Spence as Senior Account Manager

Edinburgh-headquartered Beeline PR has today announced the appointment of Katie Spence as Senior Account Manager as the successful agency continues to expand.

Katie brings a breadth of experience with her having worked in a variety of communications roles with the City of Edinburgh Council since 2006.  Most recently she was Media and Social Media Manager leading a team of six in a fast-paced and busy press office.  Previous roles with the organisation include Transport Communications Manager, which included promoting the launch of Edinburgh Trams, and Marketing and Communications Manager in the Culture and Sport department.  Prior to joining the City of Council, Katie was a News Reporter with Edinburgh Evening News.

Katie’s appointment comes at a time of significant growth for the agency which works with a wide range of corporate and consumer clients across the private and public sectors.  These include Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, The South of Scotland Destination Alliance, LoveRose Lingerie and Forever Edinburgh.

Beeline PR was set up in 2011 by Debbie Byers who had already enjoyed 15 years working in PR for several large agencies in London, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Debbie setup Beeline PR with a desire to combine her passion and skills with interesting clients to create innovative, exciting communications campaigns.

Debbie said: “It’s great to welcome Katie to Beeline PR to share her communications and stakeholder management expertise with our varied client base and business prospects.  She brings a wealth of knowledge in strategically creating and implementing campaigns and being responsive to handling crises and issues, which is an area our business is receiving more demand for.

“In more than 10 years of business, we have worked with more than 100 clients and are proud to say that much of our growth has been organic.  Many of our clients come on board through historical relationships, word-of-mouth business referrals and positive agency collaborations.”

Located at 1 Lochrin Square in Edinburgh, Beeline PR is led by Debbie and her husband Jim along with a highly experienced team and network of consultants working across a range of national and international campaigns.

Katie Spence added: “I’m very excited to be joining Beeline PR, which is really going from strength to strength with an ever-growing roster of fantastic clients.  Debbie, Jim and their colleagues are true professionals - and lovely people! - and I’m very much looking forward to joining such a great team.”

Last year, Beeline PR appointed well-known business advisor and entrepreneur Tino Nombro to the position of non-executive director to help drive growth for the agency and its sister business, Speaker Buzz, a purpose-led motivational speaker agency established in 2018. 

Keen to remain involved in Scottish business, Debbie is a former Chair of CIPR Scotland and is a member of the Executive Team at WeDO Scotland, an organisation dedicated to supporting Scottish entrepreneurs and businesses to maximise growth potential.


28 April 2022


Record-breaking the intrepid stands at almost 6ft tall and contains 311 litres of 32-year-old The Macallan single malt whisky | Range of charities will benefit from the sale of bottling inspired by passion for exploration

The world’s largest bottle of Scotch whisky, The Intrepid, standing at 5ft 11 inches tall and filled with a record-breaking 311 litres of 32-year-old The Macallan, will be auctioned by leading international auction house Lyon & Turnbull, which is headquartered in Edinburgh, on 25 May. 

The auction, which will be live online at 12 noon (GMT) on 25 May at Lyon & Turnbull, is set to attract interest from bidders across the globe. It is hoped the bottle may break the world record for the most expensive bottle of whisky ever sold which is $1.9m. For any amount the sale achieves above £1.3m, 25 per cent will be donated to the Marie Curie charity. 

The Intrepid was officially certified by Guinness World Records when it was bottled last year. The bottle, which contains 32-year-old whisky from world-renowned The Macallan Distillery, contains the equivalent of 444 standard bottles. 

Daniel Monk and the team behind The Intrepid, a partnership between Fah Mai and Rosewin Holdings, were inspired by a passion for adventure, exploration and a desire to help raise money for several charities. 

They named The Intrepid to celebrate the drive and record-breaking achievements of 11 of the world’s most pioneering explorers who are featured on the bottle. These include such luminaries as Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Dr. Geoff Wilson, Karen Darke MBE, Olly Hicks, Sarah Outen MBE, Dwayne Fields FRGS, Levison Wood FRGS, Felicity Aston MBE and past Scottish Adventurers of the Year Jamie Ramsay and Will Copestake. 

The project is supporting the explorers chosen environmental, physical and mental well-being charities. These include Marie Curie, selected by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, and Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), chosen by Jamie Ramsay. 

Colin Fraser of Lyon & Turnbull, who will lead the auction, said: “I’m sure there will be significant global interest in the auction of The Intrepid, a unique collection spearheaded by the record-breaking bottling standing at an incredible 5ft 11 inches tall. 

Bidders will have the chance to buy a piece of Scotch whisky history. They will become the owners of an exclusive 32-year old single-malt Scotch from what is widely regarded as one of the world’s best distilleries, The Macallan.” 

Founder of The Intrepid Project, Daniel Monk, said: “The Intrepid could only have been made possible by the explorers and their commitment. They showed unquestionable personal drive and through the auction we will support a wide ranging group of charities with significance to the explorers. This will become part of The Intrepid’ s legacy and leave a lasting impact.” 

After maturing in two sister casks in The Macallan’s Speyside warehouse for 32 years, the exclusive liquid was bottled last year by Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky, one of the leading independent whisky bottling companies. 

To commemorate this momentous event, a small number of exclusive bottle sets were also produced. These comprise a collection of 12 bottles, each filled with the remaining 32-year old The Macallan whisky from the same casks used to fill the record-breaking bottle. Each set includes a replica of the main bottle design along with individual versions dedicated to each of the explorers associated with the project. 

The entire Intrepid Collection, led by the 311-litre bottle, will be auctioned at Lyon & Turnbull and is set to generate international interest. 

Charles MacLean MBE, renowned whisky expert and Master of the Quaich, said: “The Intrepid is an elegant whisky, with subtle complexity. Its pale hue implies second or third fill casks, which has prevented the flavour being dominated by wood extractives. Intriguing and easy to enjoy straight – with (many!) friends – on any occasion.” 

For more information please visit: www.lyonandturnbull.com/the-intrepid-whisky 

For more info contact:
Imogen Russon | 07843441427 | imogen.russon@gmail.com
Jim Byers | jim@beelinepr.com | 07798 876 707

Click here to view/ download images 

Full tasting notes of this incredible whisky available on request.

THE INTREPID World Record Whisky
25th May 2022 at 12noon
Live Online

Operating since 1826, Lyon & Turnbull are one of the UK’s premier fine art and luxury auctioneers. The company’s galleries in London and Glasgow complement the historic Georgian headquarters and main saleroom in Edinburgh. Hosting nearly 45 specialist auctions per year across the UK there is always something to see at Lyon & Turnbull: from jewellery and watches to fine furniture; traditional British and European art to Modern & Contemporary stars; European decorative arts and design to fine Asian art from China and Japan. www.lyonandturnbull.com

Charles MacLean has been described by The Times as Scotland’s leading whisky expert . He has been researching and writing about whisky for nearly forty years, and has published 15 books on the subject, including Malt Whisky, which won a Glenfiddich Award, and Whisky: A Liquid History, which won ‘Wine & Spirits Book of the Year’ in the James Beard Awards 2005 and ‘Best Drinks Book’ in the International Food Media Awards 2005. He was founding editor of Whisky Magazine (1997), contributes regularly to many publications and has written historical and promotional materials for all the leading Scotch whisky companies. 

He is a member of the Judging Panel (Spirits) of the International Wines & Spirits Competition, was runner-up as ‘Communicator of the Year’ in the 2003 IWSC Awards and won ‘Outstanding Achievement of the Year in Scotch Whisky’ in the 2012 Awards. He was elected a Keeper of the Quaich in 1992, elevated to Master of the Quaich in 2009.

21 April 2022

Scottish firm Armadilla fulfils largest school order for its education pods

The family-owned manufacturing business transports six rainbow coloured pods to Surrey. The Queen’s Award for Enterprise winner supplies sustainable pods to diverse sectors

Scottish business, Armadilla, a manufacturer of eco-friendly, outdoor living and working spaces, has supplied the largest single order for its Education Pods to a school as it grows this part of its business.

The family-owned firm - a 2020 winner of a Queen's Award for Enterprise in recognition of its innovation - started out building and supplying luxury pods to hotels and hospitality groups more than 10 years ago and has gradually diversified into working with schools.

It has just transported six of its specially-built and designed sustainable Education Pods (EdPods) -  painted in rainbow colours - from its base in Bonnyrigg on the outskirts of Edinburgh to Freemantles School in Woking in Surrey – a distance of over 400 miles. The order worth from the Surrey County Council school for children and young people with complex social communication needs is Armadilla’s largest to date from an education provider.

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

Sustainability is an increasingly important consideration for all Armadilla clients, including schools. Its pods have natural timber cladding with a 50 year warranty and materials are sourced with the circular economy in mind. Its EdPods are constructed using the principles of Passivhaus buildings. By creating a fully-enveloped, well-insulated structure, energy consumption is dramatically reduced. Smart technology including Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) is also used to maintain temperature, humidity and CO2 at optimum levels.

Archie Hunter said: “We’ve been supplying our studio pods to schools across the UK for a number of years and receive great feedback. With more than 30,000 schools in the UK, this is a significant and growing market for us. It’s remarkable how useful schools find our EdPods, for example as chill down rooms for children on the Autism spectrum, as a sensory space, as a structured play area, or as a reading room. We’re continuing to develop this market and see considerable expansion in fulfilling a rapidly increasing volume of orders.

"It has been great to be able to supply our largest order so far from the education sector to Freemantles School in Surrey, which looks after the needs of a lot of young, neuro-diverse people. The school was particularly attracted to the flexibility of our pods. They were designed to meet their specific requirements, including the request to have them painted in a range of rainbow colours."

Mr Hunter added that schools have an increasing statutory requirement to provide education to children of all abilities, particularly those who fall under the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (SENDA) 2001. Armadilla’s EdPod has been designed specifically to assist schools in fulfilling these obligations, but he said they are proving useful for schools in myriad ways.

He explained that an attractive aspect of the Armadilla EdPod is that it arrives ready for ‘plug and play’ and because it is modular it can easily be relocated within the school campus or moved to another site.

Freemantles School, rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted,  supports children from the ages of four to 19 years across the county of Surrey. Head teacher, Justin Price, said: “One of the things we love about the pods from Armadilla is their flexibility. We’ll initially be using them as a temporary measure to support us in accommodating an extra class ahead of a new building being constructed. For this period we’ll be losing our sensory circuit space for a classroom. We can use the pods to replicate the sensory experiences that we offer.

“In the longer term, we’re considering the pods for a range of options, including library, music space and one has been earmarked as an office for the executive headteacher.”

Armadillla has also supplied schools in a number of areas across the UK including Northumberland, London and the Home Counties.

For more information on how EdPods can benefits schools please visit https://armadilla.co.uk/education-series 


Notes to editors

For images of the EdPods leaving Armadilla in Bonnyrigg, with Archie Hunter, and arriving at Freemantles School in Surrey, please visit https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/42ddezu9eovc03mx2mmzh/h?dl=0&rlkey=i1kfnru5e36bpl390rnhw3ru4

With media queries please contact Rosemary Gallagher rosemary@beelinepr.com or call 07384 507439

For more information on Armadilla please visit www.armadilla.co.uk

21 March 2022

Entrepreneur behind UK’s first luxury lingerie brand designed for post breast cancer surgery heads into the Dragons’ Den

LoveRose Lingerie founder seeks investment from BBC One’s Dragons to upscale production and introduce new ranges

The Edinburgh-based entrepreneur behind the UK’s first luxury lingerie collection created for women who have undergone breast cancer surgery is set to enter the Dragons’ Den to seek investment.

LoveRose Lingerie, developed by Caroline Kennedy Alexander after she became dismayed by the poor range of underwear available following her double mastectomy, will be showcased to the five ‘Dragons’ on Thursday, March 24.

The brand is named after her sister Rose, who died from breast cancer in 2014. More recently Caroline has lost a second sister to the disease.

The move is part of the Edinburgh-based brand’s £200,000 bid for investment funding to help upscale production and introduce new swimwear, Essentials, and nightwear ranges.

LoveRose Lingerie is the only brand of its kind to combine the complex needs of women who have undergone breast cancer surgery with luxury design, high quality fabrics and matching garments.

As well as looking attractive, the ‘feel good’ indulgence of beautifully designed lingerie has been shown¹ to boost self-esteem and confidence – particularly important for women who have undergone life-changing breast surgery.

It has also been applauded by fashion expert and beauty entrepreneur Trinny Woodall, who praised its feminine designs, and described the LoveRose Lingerie concept as “inspiring” and “a phenomenal brand”.

Caroline Kennedy Alexander said: “It’s incredibly exciting to have the chance to share LoveRose Lingerie with the ‘Dragons’ and the millions of viewers who tune in to watch Dragons’ Den.

“I know how cancer can affect every part of your life and why it’s important for women to be able to feel good and retain their femininity after surgery.

“After my treatment, I realised I couldn’t find anything remotely like what I used to wear. I felt excluded. I was left with nothing to choose from. That’s why I decided that we had to create this brand.”

Caroline, who studied fashion design in Ireland and later sculpture at Edinburgh College of Art, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 and underwent several operations and radiotherapy.
When cancer returned in 2015, Caroline, one of four sisters out of six who have had breast cancer, underwent a double mastectomy with reconstructive surgery.

Caroline teamed up with fellow designer, Sarah Bell Jones to design and develop the LoveRose Lingerie range.  Their designs feature a variety of pocketed and non-pocketed bras, with hidden support hammocks, paying particular attention to ensure thoughtful seaming, plush elastics and finishings.

All are sustainably made using recycled lace and super soft mesh, silk and cotton jersey.
More than a lingerie brand, LoveRose Lingerie has also created a vibrant online community providing mutual support and care among women with experience of breast cancer.

LoveRose Lingerie is available through the LoveRose Lingerie website (www.loveroselingerie.com) and independent boutiques. 

Selection of images available here - https://www.dropbox.com/sh/t9zxp8qowe00xn8/AAAQBD3CtCCRLiTrME0Vc4Ria?dl=0

View the LoveRose Lingerie range at www.loveroselingerie.com.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/loveroseloveyourself/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/loverose.lingerie/

Caroline Kennedy Alexander and Sarah Bell Jones are both available for interview.
For more details and to arrange an interview, contact Debbie Byers at Beeline PR – Debbie@beelinepr.com / 07990 570 220

Notes to Editors:

  • ¹ London based fashion psychologist Professor Carolyn Mair PhD CPsychol FBPsS, author of The Psychology of Fashion, and who has researched “the psychology of underwear” has described how wearing nice quality lingerie boosts confidence and self esteem even if no one sees it:Feeling confident can make us appear more physically attractive because we tend to stand, walk, speak and gesticulate differently.” 
  • ² Trinny Woodall: Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Conversation with the founders of LoveRose Lingerie https://youtu.be/-2bjvdh15_U

16 March 2022


Leading travel writer and broadcaster Simon Calder tells South of Scotland Destination Alliance conference that the region is perfectly placed to attract city dwellers who crave escapes in rural areas

Simon Calder pictured at the South of Scotland Destination Alliance conference: credit Duncan Ireland

With the pandemic creating a ‘perfect storm’ of staycations, a slow tourism trend and city dwellers looking for rural areas to escape to, the South of Scotland is perfectly placed to become a leading tourist destination, according to travel expert Simon Calder.

The renowned travel writer and broadcaster shared his insights as a guest speaker at the South of Scotland Destination Alliance’s inaugural conference in Dumfries. Talking to around 200 people from across the South of Scotland’s tourism sector, Calder said: “More than ever, people want to slow down. They want to escape to the sea, the hills and crave wide open spaces with natural beauty, which are all available in abundance in the South of Scotland.”

Highlighting many people’s concerns around going on holiday abroad and avoiding busy places, Calder said that the recipe for success for South of Scotland’s tourism businesses was to offer experiences that create lasting memories”.

Calder, who holidayed in the South of Scotland last year, shared suggestions for attracting more visitors included creating interesting cross-country road trip experiences such as a route between Stranraer on the west coast of Dumfries and Galloway to St Abbs on the east coast of the Borders; and establishing a ‘Burns to Scott’ literary trail that takes travellers across the South of Scotland.

The potential around coastal tourism, literary tourism, long-distance walking and cycling routes and a growing appetite for trying local food & drink and visiting places with strong sustainable credentials were other themes that emerged during the conference which took place at Easterbrook Hall, The Crichton, Dumfries.

Other speakers at the event included the South of Scotland Destination Alliance’s CEO Ross McAuley, who shared his vision to elevate the South to a ‘go-to place rather than a go-through place’.

Discussing the SSDA’s ‘Scotland Starts Here’ campaign to develop the South into a year-round destination, McAuley shared a number of initiatives highlighting the SSDA’s focus on collaborating with other partners. These included:

  • working closely with the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere to make the South Scotland’s most sustainable destination
  • a partnership with Scotland Food & Drink which will include two food and drink expos taking place in November in the Borders and Dumfries & Galloway
  • teaming up with Traveltech for Scotland to drive digital development in the South

Highlighting a lack of awareness of the South of Scotland as a key challenge, McAuley said: “The people and businesses of the South have shown incredible resilience in the last two years. Now it’s time to come together and rise to the challenge of building the South into a year-round destination and bring tourists who stay and spend in our local communities.

Citing affluent ‘metropolitan adventurers’ looking for short rural breaks in the UK as a key target market, he added that: “We know that people are desperate to reconnect with their friends and families in beautiful and safe rural spaces without crowds. The South can offer this and we must offer remarkable experiences – literally experiences that make people want to share them on social media.”

Representatives from VisitScotland, Scotland Food & Drink, the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire  Biosphere, the Southern Uplands Partnership and The South of Scotland Enterprise also spoke at the event, alongside a number of local businesses including Beirhope Alpacas from Kelso, The Plough Inn in Wigtown and Five Kingdoms Brewery in Isle of Whithorn.

Concluding the event, Rob Dickson, Director of Industry and Destination Development at VisitScotland, acknowledged the tough times that local businesses had been through but added: “Destinations like the South of Scotland that offer wide open spaces, fresh air and authentic outdoor experiences are becoming increasingly popular to a wider range of year-round visitors. There is a real opportunity for the tourism industry in the South of Scotland to build on this strong foundation for a recovery and continue to develop as a must-visit destination.”


Issued on behalf of the South of Scotland Destination Alliance by Beeline PR. For further information, contact Jim Byers, jim@beelinepr.com / 07798 876 707 

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


2 March 2022


As he prepares for March’s World Cup series, Borders-based Scottish mountain biker and 2020 world champion Reece Wilson is helping to bring more visitors to the South of Scotland

As he gears up for the Mountain Bike World Cup series in March, Borders-based Scottish star and 2020 world champion Reece Wilson is urging more cyclists and outdoors enthusiasts to visit his homeland in the Scottish Borders.

Against the backdrop of cycling and staycations being increasingly popular in the wake of the global pandemic, Wilson has taken on a new role as an ambassador for the Borders and wider South of Scotland to help bring more visitors to the area as it recovers from the impact of the pandemic.

The 25-year-old downhill mountain bike specialist from the Borders became world champion in 2020 and is ranked as one of the world’s top five riders. Ahead of his bid to become world number one again, Wilson stars in a new video celebrating the Borders as part of the Scotland Starts Here campaign to promote the South of Scotland.

The Borders is home to renowned 7stanes mountain biking hotspots of Innerleithen and Glentress, and also Dumfries & Galloway, which also boasts 7stanes trails such as Kirroughtree and Forest of Ae. The wider South of Scotland region also offers superb locations for the increasingly popular sport of gravel biking as well as road cycling.

Wilson said: “I’m fortunate that I get to travel all over the world for races, but every time I come home to the Scottish Borders I have a new appreciation of the mountain biking here and this beautiful place I get to call home.

“When it comes to mountain biking, it doesn’t get much better than the Scottish Borders, it’s a world-class environment. There’s something for riders of any age and ability here, from the more technical trails in Innerleithen to the flowing family-friendly routes of Glentress.

Wilson first honed his skills on a mountain biking course at Borders College before going on to compete all over the world. While Scotland’s reputation for wet weather is sometimes seen as a negative, Wilson says the muddy mountain bike trails in the Scottish Borders helped him become world champion and are a must-visit for mountain bikers of all levels.

“It maybe doesn’t have the sun all the time, but riding in muddy conditions actually helped me become world champion. When I won the World Championships in Austria, it was really wet and that played into my favour. Speaking to other top riders around the UK and the world, I know that a quite a few of them are keen to come and train here in the Borders and see if they can improve their skills.”

More than mountain biking

While the Borders is renowned for its mountain biking, neighbouring Dumfries and Galloway and the Galloway Forest Park has become a leading destination for gravel biking with the area hosting the international Raiders Gravel Galloway event in 2022. With its undulating, quiet roads and multiple routes, The South is also popular with road cyclists.

Beyond biking, Wilson is also a keen golfer and a passionate advocate of getting outside to improve wellbeing. He said: “I think everyone has to be conscious of spending more time outside for their physical and mental health. I love being outdoors, I get ants in my pants when I’m inside. When I’m not riding my bike, I spend a lot time walking and playing golf and there’s no better place to do that and get away from it all than the Borders.

“We’re losing a lot of places around the world that are like this that are so natural, untouched and green. I feel really lucky to have grown up in the Borders and have this kind of scenery on my doorstep. There are endless opportunities here to get outside and have adventures.

“I’d definitely encourage more people to come and visit the Borders and the South of Scotland. I think a lot of people come up from the south and perhaps pass through the Borders on their way somewhere north, but there’s so much to discover here – when you spend some time here it will definitely give you something back.”

“I’ve thought about moving elsewhere, but every time I come home, I realise how much I absolutely love the Borders. I’m here for life.”

Ross McAuley, chief executive of the South of Scotland Destination Alliance which promotes the region through the Scotland Starts Here campaign, said: “We’re proud to have a world champion living here in the Scottish Borders and flying the flag for the South of Scotland. Reece is born and bred in the Borders and is incredibly passionate about promoting the area to others. We’re delighted to have Reece as an ambassador and supporting our Scotland Starts Here campaign to help encourage more people to visit this beautiful part of Scotland, whether that’s for mountain biking or simply to get away from it all and have some adventures.”


Read more here - https://scotlandstartshere.com/blog/reece-wilsons-favourite-places
Watch the Reece Wilson video here https://youtu.be/nUZ4PwNG7OI
For more: https://scotlandstartshere.com/

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1 March 2022

Call for Scottish tourism industry to ‘Care to Make a Difference’

Green Tourism leads call to treat employees well to ride current storm facing the sector

A call for Scottish tourism and hospitality businesses to ‘Care to Make a Difference’ by ensuring their people come first to help them survive the current ‘perfect storm’ is launched today by high-profile industry members.

Green Tourism, the world leading sustainability accreditation and support programme, has launched the ‘Care to Make a Difference’ campaign, backed by the Scottish Tourism Alliance, (STA), Living Wage Scotland, Loch Melfort Hotel and the Achnagairn Estate.

In the new ‘Care to Make a Difference’ paper, leading industry figures explain how Scotland’s tourism and hospitality businesses can ride the current ‘perfect storm’ - including such challenges as the pandemic, spiralling energy and supply costs and staff shortages - by putting all their employees front and centre.

Andrea Nicholas, chief executive of Green Tourism, said: “Caring for people, for example by paying the real Living Wage and generally treating staff well, along with a long-term focus on sustainability, can make a massive difference to tourism and hospitality and help it ride the current storm.”

This call to action comes not long after the STA published figures stating one in three tourism and hospitality businesses are likely to fail in 2022.

Andrea Nicholas added: “We know how challenging it has been for everyone working in the hospitality and tourism sectors, no matter what position they hold. People are facing uncertainly around such things as employment and working hours and this can impact mental health. Everyone needs supported during the recovery of the industry and beyond.

“We’re calling on the industry across Scotland to come together to try to improve the situation for everyone. This is a industry that spends its life caring for its guests so we know how to make a positive impact.”

The call is for tourism and hospitality businesses to ‘Care to Make a Difference’ by:

  • Paying staff well – consider paying the real Living Wage which currently stands at £9.90 and become accredited by Living Wage Scotland
  • Offering security, flexibility and value-added benefits to employees e.g. long-term contracts; flexible working hours; time off to spend with family and friends
  • Offering mentoring and training to upskill the existing workforce
  • Focusing on the mental health and wellbeing of all colleagues
  • Taking a long-term approach to sustainability and ‘green’ matters to protect the world for future generations.

Andrea Nicholas explained: “Our tourism and hospitality sectors – which are vital parts of the wider economy - have endured two years of unprecedented challenges. They have had to contend with staff shortages and low employee retention, disrupted supply chains, spiralling energy costs, Covid-19 and Brexit.

“These issues have all come together to create a perfect storm for the tourism and hospitality sectors in Scotland, and across the UK. We need to take real action now by putting people first.”

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, believes that better caring for employees can help change perceptions of what it like to work in tourism.

He said: “Recruitment remains a major issue for the tourism and hospitality industry for a variety of reasons, including Covid-19 and Brexit, as well as perceptions of what it is like to work in the sector.

“The bottom line and harsh reality is there’s just not a big enough pool of people to fill all the roles we have in Scotland. Tourism is a sector that provides many great opportunities and has a variety of roles that require people with specific skill sets such chefs – becoming a chef isn’t something that can be taught in six weeks. We’re an international industry and we’re competing with other sectors that are looking for staff. There are many operators out there who are good at attracting and retaining their people, but we need more to be doing similar and treating their staff well – to Care to Make a Difference.”

Anna Hirvonen, Living Wage Scotland accreditation officer, said: “We continue to see the impact of Brexit and Covid on recruitment and retention of staff. Attracting new talent remains top of the industry’s priority list and the real Living Wage can play a key role in helping businesses aid their recovery.”

This call to action is led by Andrea Nicholas, chief executive of Green Tourism, and
backed by:

  • Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance
  • Anna Hirvonen, Living Wage Scotland accreditation officer
  • Calum Ross, owner of Loch Melfort Hotel, Chair of UK Hospitality Scotland, board member of  Scottish Tourism Alliance, Argyll & the Isles Tourism Co-operative, Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards and a member of University of the Highlands & Islands Court.
  • Marina Huggett, chair of Achnagairn Estate, board of Hospitality Industry Trust, runs Tourism Excellence Consultancy, director of Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards, vice chair on board of Visit Inverness Loch Ness.


Notes to editors

Issued on behalf of Green Tourism by Beeline PR.  For further information please contact Rosemary Gallagher on 07384 507439 rosemary@beelinepr.com or Jim Byers on 07798 876707  jim@beelinepr.com or Debbie Byers on 07990 570220 debbie@beelinepr.com

Link to a selection of pics and the Care to Make a Difference paper:
Andrea Nicholas, Green Tourism; Marc Crothall, Scottish Tourism Alliance; Anna Hirvonen, Living Wage Scotland; Calum Ross, Loch Melfort

Green Tourism is a world leading sustainability certification programme, with 2,500 certified tourism businesses in 22 countries. Developed and operated by Green Business UK Ltd since 1997, their team of qualified and experienced sustainability assessors have undertaken over 15,000 assessments and provided support and advice to thousands of businesses, Destinations, trade associations, National Tourism Agencies and government bodies. 

Based on three pillars of caring for People, Places and our Planet the Green Tourism criteria cover 70+ indicators across 15 sustainability goals including Carbon, Waste, Water, Biodiversity, Local Produce and Products, Ethical Purchasing, Health & Wellbeing, Equality and Inclusivity, Culture and Heritage, Active Travel and Community Giving.  All the criteria are aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

In the last two years Green Business has developed a digital portal, GreenCheckTM with online advice, support and a framework to help business prepare for their assessment, develop action plans and provide evidence of actions taken.  Assessments are always conducted by qualified sustainability assessor. The GreenCheck platform also helps businesses create a bespoke improvement plan, access helpful resources, and request advice and guidance from the technical support team all year round.

The GreenCheckTM portal is a flexible and adaptable platform providing options for group and destination reporting of measures undertaken and has already been adapted to provide sustainable management systems and assessment framework for the Health and Transport industries.

In 2021, Green Tourism launched the Green Meetings Standard following strong demand for a meetings sector specific accreditation. 
Further information is available on the following webpages:

The Green Tourism Standard:

The Green Meetings Standard:

23 February 2022

Big turnover growth is on the menu for Hickory

With a raft of new senior appointments, a surge in new business and plans to expand the portfolio of venues it manages, one of Scotland’s largest independent catering, events and venue operators, Hickory, is set to almost double its turnover to £4.5m this year.

Edinburgh-headquartered Hickory has expanded its team to manage the return of events and the significant increase in demand in the wake of pandemic restrictions being eased and new contracts.

The expansion of the team, who will help to provide leading-edge food and drink experiences, includes the appointment of Brian Canale as culinary director, Gillian Fraser as head of event planning and design, Eric Drought as head of operations, Andy McKenzie as logistics planning manager, Fiona Pengelly as MICE sales manager, and Alison Sproull as executive assistant.

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

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

Part of Hickory’s growth will come from the expansion of its prestigious venues’ portfolio and developing its established outdoor festival and bar business.


Stephanie Stubbs, Hickory managing director, said: “We have dedicated recent months to recovering, rebuilding, and assembling a highly skilled and experienced leadership team across every function and department of the business.  We are now in a period of significant growth as corporate events return – for example our enquires have almost trebled since January.

“Our focus is on delivering quality, creative and innovative events for our clients and we have established a passionate, experienced and dedicated team to achieve that.”

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


E n d s

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

Note to Editors

Those featured in the photograph left to right are:  Eric Drought (Head of Operations), Mary Paget (Finance Manager), Alison Sproull (Executive Assistant), Fiona Pengelly (MICE Sales Manager), Brian Canale (Culinary Director), Libby Harrison (Director of Client Services), Stephanie Stubbs (Managing Director), Brian Galbraith (Executive Director), Gillian Fraser (Head of Event Planning & Design), Fraser Brand (Senior Team Planner), Osman Ersoy (Senior Hospitality Manager), Andy McKenzie (Logistics Planning Manager) and Julia MacGregor (Marketing Manager).

Pictured in Shandwick Place Gardens, near the company's headquarters. 
Photography from: Colin Hattersley

16 February 2022

Dentons relocates Edinburgh office to flagship new Haymarket Edinburgh development

World's largest law firm chooses prime location with sustainability at its core

Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, is moving its Edinburgh office to a new flagship development at Haymarket Edinburgh in the heart of the city’s west end - an easily accessible premium location for the firm's people and clients.
Dentons has signed a 15-year lease to occupy the first floor at 1 Haymarket Square following the expiry of its current lease at Quartermile in October 2022.  The Haymarket Edinburgh development is being delivered by M&G Real Estate and Edinburgh property developer Qmile Group.  Its sustainability credentials include expected BREEAM Excellent and EPC A ratings. The firm will have access to more than 100 cycle spaces, a roof terrace and excellent transport links, including Haymarket railway station, trams, buses and cycle paths in a thriving business community.
Claire Armstrong, Dentons' Scotland Managing Partner, said: “This is a flagship development in an easily accessible part of Edinburgh with sustainability at its core. We look forward to moving our people into such a dynamic new working environment, and welcoming our clients to our new offices, in a year where the firm also celebrates its 150th anniversary in Scotland.”
Issued on behalf of Dentons by Beeline PR.  For further information please contact Debbie Byers on debbie@beelinepr.com or 07990 570 220
About Dentons 
Dentons is the world's largest law firm, connecting talent to the world's challenges and opportunities in more than 75 countries. Dentons' legal and business solutions benefit from deep roots in our communities and award-winning advancements in client service, including Nextlaw, Dentons’ innovation and strategic advisory services. Dentons' polycentric and purpose-driven approach, commitment to inclusion and diversity, and world-class talent challenge the status quo to advance client and community interests in the New Dynamic. www.dentons.com

16 February 2022


The South of Scotland Destination Alliance’s first conference will look at how the sector can work together to recover from the pandemic and elevate the region into a leading destination

The South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) is bringing together the local tourism industry for its inaugural annual conference on Tuesday the 15th of March at Easterbrook Hall at The Crichton in Dumfries.

The conference will feature a series of workshops, networking events, panel discussions and talks exploring themes such as destination development, sustainability and place branding, as the SSDA seeks to support the region’s recovery and future growth.

Key speakers and guests will include Simon Calder, a leading travel journalist and broadcaster; SSDA Chairman David Ibbotson; SSDA CEO Ross McAuley; Jane Morrison Ross, CEO of South of Scotland Enterprise; and Rob Dickson, Director of Industry and Destination Development at VisitScotland.

The SSDA, the strategic destination management and marketing organisation for the South of Scotland, recently unveiled research including insights around the region’s potential to be the new Cornwall – but without the crowds.

The research, based on a recent survey of more than 3,400 people across the UK, outside the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway, says the South of Scotland has many of the attractions that draw crowds to such tourist hotspots as the Cornwall and the Cotswolds. However, many holidaymakers are simply unaware of just what the South of Scotland has to offer.

SSDA CEO Ross McAuley said: "After two years of disruption, this is a great chance for the tourism and hospitality sector across the South of Scotland to come together, share idea and build relationships as we look to draw new visitors and investment to our area.

"At the conference we will share our research and marketing plans and hear from experts from across the tourism sector. After such a tough period, it’s exciting to have this opportunity to get back together and build tourism in the region in a way that is sustainable, of benefit to local communities and provides a real, and long-term, boost to the region’s economy."

The SSDA, which brings together Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders, aims to transform the south of Scotland into a year-round world class destination, growing tourism spend in the region and creating job opportunities.

To find out more about the conference, visit https://www.ssdalliance.com/event/ssda-conference-2022/


Issued on behalf of the South of Scotland Destination Alliance by Beeline PR. For further information, contact Jim Byers, jim@beelinepr.com / 07798 876 707 

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

SSDA is supported by South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), VisitScotland, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Scottish Borders Council and also received initial funding from the former South of Scotland Enterprise Partnership. 


14 February 2022


For those who find Valentine’s Day a frightening experience, television personality Gail Porter has teamed up with Forever Edinburgh to tell the story of her hometown’s darker side

With Valentine’s Day a scary prospect for many, television personalityGail Porter is encouraging more people to explore the lesser-known darker and spooky side of her hometown Edinburgh.

The presenter of the forthcoming new Spooked: Scotland series was born and raised in Edinburgh and has teamed up with Forever Edinburgh, the city’s destination marketing brand, to tell the story of the city’s spooky and darkly decadent side.  The collaboration forms part of Forever Edinburgh’s The Story Never Ends campaign that is sharing Edinburgh’s unrivalled stories from its rich and historical past, to its next chapter with continually new and diverse cultural experiences across the Scottish capital.

With its hidden underground streets, stories of ghosts and bodysnatchers, and eerie graveyards, Edinburgh is believed to be as one of the most haunted places in Europe. Add in bars frequented by ghosts, restaurants with magical candle-lit atmospheres and hotels with dark and decadent decor, and Edinburgh has a spellbinding new story to tell.

Paranormal fan Porter, who previously starred in the Dead Famous: Ghostly Encounters series, has put together a shortlist of her favourite darker delights in Edinburgh.

1  Visit: New Calton Burial Ground
It doesn’t get much more atmospheric than this secret treasure. This walled cemetery has stunning views out to Arthur’s Seat and the Scottish Parliament. Take a wander round and explore the last resting places of many interesting characters such as Andrew Fyfe who was the leading body dissector at Edinburgh University in the late 18th century. Apparently during this period, bodies for anatomical study were in short supply and it’s said that researchers often relied on corpses sold by ‘bodysnatchers’ – the grisly entrepreneurs of the era who dug up and sold bodies.

Find out more at: https://edinburgh.org/blog/spooky-attractions-in-edinburgh/

2 Explore: Spooky streets beneath the city
I love getting off the beaten track and there’s no better way to do that in Edinburgh than heading underground. Not many visitors know this but lying deep below the shadowy closes and tourist shots of the city’s famous Royal Mile lies a network of narrow alleyways, spooky vaults and abandoned houses. Adventurous spirits like me will love descending into this dimly-lit netherworld with a tour guide and hearing chilling tales of Edinburgh’s ghostly past, which includes many dark and sinister stories of bodysnatchers, hangings and dark deeds.

Find out more here: https://edinburgh.org/blog/the-secrets-underneath-edinburgh%E2%80%99s-streets/

3 Enchanting eating: The Witchery
If you’re looking for a dark and decadent dining experience with a spooky twist, The Witchery is a real treat. A short stroll from Edinburgh Castle, this opulent oak-panelled candle-lit restaurant is spectacularly atmospheric. While its renowned for its legendary food, you may not know that it takes its name from the hundreds of women and men burned at the stake as witches on nearby Castlehill during the 16th and 17th centuries.


4 Darkly decadent accommodation: The House of Gods hotel
I love staying at the House of Gods, it’s really dark and debauche. Located in Edinburgh’s Cowgate, the city’s’ second oldest street, the hotel offers an unapologetically extravagant interior with boutique rooms and exquisite food. For something a bit spookier, the brave enough can stay the night in Edinburgh’s most haunted hotel - Borthwick Castle. Built in 1430, this castle has been turned into a lavish getaway with incredible interiors. The Castle is rumoured to be haunted by the ghost of Mary Queen of Scots who wonders the halls at night. If that wasn’t enough, spend the night in the Red Room – inhabited by the spirits of a murdered mother and her child!

Read more at: https://edinburgh.org/blog/top-haunted-hotels-in-edinburgh/

5 Discover: Arthur Seat coffins
This is a spooky story. A set of miniature coffins were discovered over 200 years ago in a secluded spot on Arthur’s Seat in the heart of Edinburgh. No one is quite sure of the story behind them but they are believed to be linked to ancient witchery and demonology. If you fancy finding out more, take a hike up Arthur’s seat and seek out the spot on the north-east side of the hill where the coffins were first found. At the top you will be rewarded with panoramic views of the city and beyond. Or you could visit the 8 remaining coffins which are exhibited in the National Museum of Scotland to uncover the dark conspiracy theories that aim to explain how and why the coffins appeared. 


6 Drinks - scary spirits
You might need a stiff drink during your exploration of Edinburgh’s spooky and darker side. The good news is that Edinburgh has plenty of pubs or bars – some of which are reputedly the home of spirits of the other kind as well! I’d recommend The Banshee Labyrinth which was once part of Edinburgh’s infamous underground vaults and is apparently Scotland’s most haunted pub. Or you could you try The Last Drop in the Grassmarket, which is named after the hangings which used to take place in the area. Just watch out for the ghost of a young girl who has been seen causing mischief in the bar and cellar….

Find out more here https://edinburgh.org/blog/5-of-the-spookiest-bars-in-edinburgh/

For more about Edinburgh’s haunted past and attractions, visit https://edinburgh.org/storyneverends/dark-edinburgh/

9 February 2022

South of Scotland is perfectly positioned as a new holiday destination

Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway could be new Cornwall – without the crowds

New research spells out the region’s undiscovered attractions and key to unlocking its untapped potential sustainably

Holidaymakers, from staycationers to international tourists, are missing out on a wealth of hidden gems across the South of Scotland, including its stunning beaches and coastline, high-quality local food and drink, adventurous activities and nature and wildlife, new research has revealed.

A recent survey of more than 3,400 people across the UK, outside the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway, says the South of Scotland has many of the attractions that draw crowds to such tourist hotspots as the Cornwall and the Cotswolds. However, many holidaymakers are simply unaware of just what the South of Scotland has to offer.

The research was commissioned by the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) from consultancy Yonder. The SSDA, a destination management and marketing organisation, has a range of initiatives to attract more holidaymakers from Scotland, other parts of the UK and overseas to the region. Its focus is on sustainable and manageable growth that supports the local economy and communities across the region, for example by creating employment opportunities for such positions as chefs and front-of house professionals in hospitality venues. 

Based on the study the SSDA has identified a group called ‘metropolitan adventurers’, a target market worth £2.1 billion, that it believes can enjoy the holidays of their dreams in the largely untapped region that runs across the southern base of Scotland from coast to coast. Metropolitan adventurers are described in the research as an affluent group who prefer short, quick breaks to switch off from day-to-day life. They like outdoor activities, walking, culture and heritage, generally spending time in nature – all within their reach in the South of Scotland.

Ross McAuley, chief executive of the SSDA, says: “People who know the south of Scotland are well aware of its wealth of attractions, but our new research has shown that many holidaymakers, from day-trippers to tourists from across the globe, are missing out on its hidden gems.

“The area has some of the most stunning beaches and coastline in the world, fantastic food and drink, including seafood and locally produced whisky and gin, top-class mountain bike and running trails and cultural centres – to name just a few attractions. We believe the south of Scotland has everything, and more, that draws crowds to the likes of Cornwall, the Cotswolds, the Lake District and parts of the Scottish Highlands and Islands, but with the added advantage of the peace and quiet to take it all in.

“The research shows that metropolitan adventurers would love what the south of Scotland has to offer, including being able to switch off from the day-to-day, with a focus on sustainability.

“We’ll be looking at how we can attract more of these holidaymakers to our region which we see as potentially the next Cornwall when it comes to desirable destinations. And while we work to draw visitors to our area, we also want to ensure we manage the growth of tourism to ensure it’s sustainable, of benefit to local communities and provides a real, and long-term, boost to the region’s economy.”

To provide a snapshot of what visitors to the South of Scotland can enjoy: thrill seekers can explore its 7 Stanes mountain bike trails; history lovers can absorb themselves in Drumlanrig Castle; Moat Brae in Dumfries, which was home for a time to Peter Pan writer JM Barrie, will appeal to those of all ages who love literature and whisky aficionadas shouldn’t miss the likes of Annandale, Bladnoch or Borders distilleries. Visitors can also take in the Borders Abbeys, Abbotsford, the Great Tapestry of Scotland and Loch Trool to name just a few attractions.

Other key research findings and conclusions include:

  • For the majority of respondents, holidays were an opportunity to get away from day-to-day life (76%) and crowds (73%) – two things the south of Scotland most definitely offers.
  • Three quarters of respondents said they were likely to book a non-city UK holiday in the next two to five years. This means that popular rural destinations will get even busier, and the search will be on to find a peaceful area to holiday – such as the South of Scotland.
  • The activities most associated with a holiday to the South of Scotland included exploring nature and wildlife (54%), walking (54%), visiting historical sites (48%) and enjoying food and drink (34%).

Ross McAuley added: “A concerted effort is needed to debunk the myths that leave some people with the misconception that to enjoy Scotland you need to head straight to Edinburgh or the Highlands. In the south, visitors can enjoy Scotland in microcosm, while avoiding the growing problem of over-tourism that faces some of the UK’s best known beauty spots, such as Cornwall.

“We’ll continue our drive to tell holidaymakers about what is on offer across the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway and promote the message that ‘Scotland Starts Here’.”


Issued on behalf of the South of Scotland Destination Alliance by Beeline PR. For further information, contact Rosemary Gallagher, rosemary@beelinepr.com / 07384 507439 or Jim Byers, jim@beelinepr.com / 07798 876 707 

Images embedded into release: Ross McAuley, chief executive of the South of Scotland Destination Alliance and Loch Trool in Dumfries and Galloway.

Link to a selection of images of sites in the South of Scotland

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

SSDA is supported by South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), VisitScotland, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Scottish Borders Council and also received initial funding from the former South of Scotland Enterprise Partnership. 


6 February 2022


NHS nurses Sarah Hunter and Greg Turner have finally tied the knot at Eskmills Venue after winning a dream wedding in 2020

Almost two years after winning an all-inclusive wedding in a competition, two NHS nurses have finally celebrated their marriage at Eskmills Venue on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

Having won their dream wedding back in May 2020, Sarah Hunter and Greg Turner were due to get married on 12th February 2021, but their plans were put on hold by the global pandemic. On Friday, the couple, who both work at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, were at long last able to tie the knot at the award-winning Eskmills Venue in Musselburgh, together with 121 guests.

The wedding competition, which was launched as a thank you to NHS workers, included a prize wedding package worth around £12,000 and exclusive use of Eskmills Venue, a converted riverside mill building in Musselburgh.

The package included drinks, canapes, a 3-course wedding meal, a live band The Klones, and a huge range of other elements provided by local suppliers: flowers by Liberty Blooms, kilt hire from 8 Yards, classic wedding car from Edinburgh Classic Wedding Cars, a wedding dress from Christina Rae,  photography by Tony Marsh Photography, videography by Craig Heaslip Film & Photography, pipers from GD bagpiping, stationery by 2Flux Stationary Studio, gin from Holyrood Distillery and a wedding cake from Truly Scrumptious. Celebrant Jane Patmore of Your Service in Scotland conducted the service, helping to deliver an unforgettable and unique tailor-made ceremony.

Sarah, a nurse who cares for premature babies in the neonatal unit, and Greg, who cares for very poorly patients in the acute medical unit have been together for nine years. Having got engaged in Venice in 2019, the couple have been working on the frontline throughout the pandemic.

Sarah, who is expecting a baby in May, said: “It’s been a very long wait it has absolutely been worth it! We couldn’t have dreamt of a better way to celebrate than in such a beautiful location with our family and friends, plus the amazing food and drinks and all the wonderful things provided by so many kind local businesses. The planning of the wedding was made easy by Eskmills’ expertise, and we worked together to create the wedding that we envisioned when we got engaged all the way back in 2019. We couldn’t be happier.”

Libby Harrison, Director of Client Services at Eskmills, added: “We were so pleased to finally host Sarah and Greg’s wedding. It’s been a long time coming but it was wonderful to see them enjoy their big day together with their friends and family in one of our most popular wedding venues. The competition was originally launched to say thank you to amazing NHS frontline staff who are doing such incredible and selfless work during the Covid 19 pandemic and Sarah and Greg are a great example of that. We wish them all the very best in their married life together!”


Issued on behalf of Hickory and Eskmills Venue by Beeline PR. For further information, please contact Jim Byers – Jim@beelinepr.com / 07798 876 707

Notes for Editors
Eskmills Venue is an all-inclusive wedding and events venue located within Eskmills Park by the banks of the River Esk in Musselburgh. Once a mill, the building was extensively renovated and features a wonderful landscaped garden, beautifully restored cobbled courtyard, and unique glass atrium entrance. Eskmills Venue is part of Hickory www.eskmillsvenue.com

26 January 2022

New retail experience, venue and co-working space egg & co launches in Edinburgh

First physical space opened by women’s platform egg will host female-led brands and events

An exciting new space hosting female-led retail brands, and offering events ranging from business networking to yoga, is coming to a prime site on Edinburgh’s George Street this month with the launch of egg & co.

This is the first move by egg, Scotland’s largest online and offline platform for women, to create its own physical space to complement its existing diverse range of services. The egg community of more than 65,000 women, launched by Kylie Reid in 2017, supports and encourages female-led collaborations. egg & co is a space powered by women, at a time when community and connection have never been more needed.

It will be supporting female-led businesses, as well as the health and wellbeing of its members. And after identifying a gap in the market and carrying out 12 months of development, egg launched its new website last week. The new egg platform is Scotland's first searchable, review-led platform for women, helping them find trusted recommendations for everything from lawyers to landscapers. A platform supporting local people, jobs and events, the digital egg card gives members access to discounts for more than 200 businesses in the area.

On Saturday 29 January, egg & co will throw open the doors to its new 7,000 square feet space at 51 George Street, on the former site of Laura Ashley and more recently home to the Scottish Design Exchange. It will be an immersive and colourful hub with a female co-working space and a mixture of high-profile brands and new names, with a focus on sustainability.

Among the female-led, Scottish brands that will be present are: the Tartan Blanket company; global brand Snag Tights; florist Fruit Salad Flowers; sustainable fashion label Beira; and Rare Birds Books. Coulters estate agency, the main sponsors of the new egg & co space on George Street, will have experts on hand to help with all housing and mortgage enquiries. There will also be Drip coffee to sit and enjoy in the comfortable seating areas, regular networking and speaker events and yoga sessions to promote wellbeing. Space is being given to charity ‘It’s Good 2 Give’ that supports young cancer patients and their families.

In the last few days egg also recently introduced a new partnership with Appointedd, the Edinburgh-based online booking platform led by Scottish entrepreneur Leah Hutcheon. The agreement means egg users can source and book appointments online any time of the day or week without leaving its newly developed website. This provides greater flexibility for both the user and the service provider – whether they be booking a hair appointment or a painter. This new appointment booking service will be demonstrated in egg & co on its launch day.

Head egg Kylie Reid said: “We’ve built a massive and loyal female following of more than 65,000 women across egg in Scotland over the past few years and established a network of 35,000 engaging and supportive women in Edinburgh alone. During that time the egg community has helped local businesses grow and become trusted services widely used by our community.

“We’ve spent a year developing a new website to reflect this by creating a new online directory of businesses and services, many of which can be booked direct using Appointedd’s booking platform.

“I’m so excited to be taking our predominantly online community to the next stage with the launch of egg & co and its first physical presence in the centre of the Scottish capital on George Street. From day one, we’re hosting a diverse range of local, female-led brands, as well as creating areas for people to chat, work and focus on their health and wellbeing.

“I also believe that the opening of egg & co represents the changing face of our high street which is shifting to offering experiences alongside retail. We’re looking forward to welcoming our first visitors on Saturday.”

Leah Hutcheon, founder and chief executive officer of Appointedd, said: “We’ve been working with egg over the past year to develop the functionality of its new website. Now the partnership has come to fruition, we believe it will super-charge the brands and services that are engaged with egg, will attract new ones and offer an online booking service tailored to the needs of the entire egg community.

“Appointedd is currently used in no less than 167 countries! That’s approximately 86% of the planet, but, as an Edinburgh business we are especially proud to be working with egg and supporting local businesses.”

Kylie Reid added that egg has already helped transform many Scottish businesses by boosting their customer bases, giving the example of The Brow Bar beauty salon in Edinburgh.

Jenny Robertson, owner of The Brow Bar, said: “By being featured and promoted on egg, we’ve managed to vastly expand our business and attract new customers from its community who then recommend us to their contacts. It’s great to see egg take its offering to the next stage through its partnership with Appointedd and its presence on George Street. I’m sure it will give a boost to many more businesses, as it has to mine.”


A selection of photography taken by Julie Howden is available for download here https://www.dropbox.com/sh/7kgecsjgj33n9gp/AACe8Hbg0ia4k-tqt1vbF8w_a?dl=0

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

24 January 2022


The two Scottish companies are donating soup and oatcakes to the Food Train charity which distributes groceries to older and vulnerable people

With January a cold and challenging month for older people in particular, Scotty Brand, Nairn’s Oatcakes and the Food Train charity have joined forces to cook up a soup-erb plan to help older people across central Scotland.

Through the new partnership, 500 pots of fresh Scotty Brand soup and portion packets of Nairn’s oatcakes have been donated to the Food Train charity to be distributed to older and vulnerable people in Glasgow, Stirling and Renfrewshire.

The community-focused initiative comes as part of Scotty Brand’s celebration of National Soup Month in January. Earlier this month, the Scottish food producer unveiled its partnership with fellow Scottish company Nairn’s to promote oatcakes as a healthy, tasty accompaniment to soup for those looking for an alternative to bread.

And now the two like-minded companies are donating some of their warming, wholesome soups and healthy oatcakes to Food Train, a charity dedicated to making daily life easier for older people.

With previous research revealing that up to 30% of older people in Scotland are at risk of malnutrition and COVID-19 making older people more isolated, Food Train makes hundreds of grocery deliveries every week, ensuring those most in need have access to fresh food.

Scotty Brand brand manager, Sarah McDonald, said: “Scotty Brand soup is wholesome, nutritional and comforting – it’s the perfect food for older people in the colder and darker days of January.

“Our pots of soup are also simple to make, which makes life a lot easier and we are thrilled to make this donation to Food Train in celebration of National Soup Month.  Many older people will have grown up eating oatcakes but may not think of them as an accompaniment to soup.  They are a delicious alternative to bread and a great way to get wholegrains into the daily diet.”

Stephen McGinty, regional manager for Food Train in Renfrewshire, added: “No-one should go without food and it’s often our older people who are overlooked and forgotten.

“It’s great to be partnering with Scotty Brand and Nairn’s to support our members, enabling them to eat well and live well. This generous donation will help to make a real and sustainable difference in our communities.”



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

Notes to Editors

  • 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 make a range of freshly ready-made wholesome soups and freshly prepared soup mixes
  • Scotty Brand fresh soups range includes Lentil, Scotch Broth, Cream of Tomato, Vegetable and Chicken & Rice
  • Scotty Brand fresh seasonal soup mixes, which contain fresh vegetables in exactly the right proportions as well as sachets of special ingredients, are for those days when you need a little helping hand. Simply prepare some stock, add in the pack contents and leave to simmer – or adapt to make it your own.
  • You can find a wide range of Scotty Brand souple in selected Asda, Morrison’s and Coop stores.

11 January 2022

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

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

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

10 January 2022

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

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

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

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

8 December 2021


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

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

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

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

2 December 2021


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

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

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

30 November 2021


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

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

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

17 November 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8 November 2021


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

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

2 November 2021


Net Zero Challenge aims to encourage citizen action across the city

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

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

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

4 October 2021

Beeline PR celebrates growth as agency hits 10 years in business

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

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

16 September 2021


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sky Garden Gin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Facebook/Instagram @darkartdistillery

16 September 2021


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

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

14 September 2021


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

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

26 August 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


17 August 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


About Mark Littler Ltd

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


15 July 2021

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

Pancake restaurant opens its doors on Thursday 22 July.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



9 July 2021


Pictured: Casper and Scotty at Calton Hill, Edinburgh

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

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

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

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

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

  • Calton Hill, Edinburgh

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

  • Alloway, Ayrshire

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

  • A Hebridean beach, Inner and Outer Hebrides

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

  • The Hermitage, Perthshire

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

  • Craigievar Castle, Alford, Aberdeenshire

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

  • Mull of Galloway Lighthouse, Dumfries & Galloway  

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

  • Bow Fiddle Rock, Moray

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

  • Devilla Forest, Fife

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

  • Dores, Loch Ness, Highlands

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

  • Dun na Cuaiche, Inveraray, Argyll

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

Notes to Editors:

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

1 July 2021



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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

Russell Aitken, Managing Director of Port Edgar Marina said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

#EdFilmFest #FestOnTheForth

23 June 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

22 June 2021

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

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

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

10 June 2021


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Location Location Location!

The first yield of Ayrshire potatoes heralds the start of the new potato season. And it’s the Ayrshire location that provides the ideal growing conditions. This is mainly due to Ayrshire’s light sandy soil and sheltered beaches which benefit from the warming waters of the Gulf Stream, allowing farmers in Ayrshire to be able to plant their crop a few weeks earlier.

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

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

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

Notes to Editors:

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

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

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

7 June 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes to editors

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

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

7 June 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Dentons

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

25 May 2021

Dentons launches recruitment drive as Home Grown marketing campaign begins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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20 May 2021


Wetwheels seafaring disability charity makes its first visit to Scotland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Notes to the editor

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

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

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

Sight Scotland Veterans (formerly known as Scottish War Blinded)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

19 May 2021


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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