The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Ayr Racecourse’s Emma Marley appointed Head of Raceday Operations at British Horseracing Authority

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Emma Marley (pictured below) to the position of Head of Raceday Operations.

Emma, who is currently Racing Manager and Clerk of Course at Ayr Racecourse, will join the BHA in April.

Well known to many in racing, Emma participated in the BHA Graduate Development Programme in 2007 after completing a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management for the Horseracing Industry. Following this Emma has held various roles within the industry including the position of Clerk of Course at Bath Racecourse before moving into the role at Ayr in 2010.

Emma is also presently completing the Thoroughbred Horseracing Industries MBA through Liverpool University as part of the inaugural intake of this recently developed post-graduate programme. 

As Head of Raceday Operations Emma will report to the Director of Integrity and Regulatory Operations, Brant Dunshea, and have responsibility for management of various raceday regulatory teams including the Racecourse Inspectorate, Starters, Clerks of Scales and Judges. In addition to this the role will involve oversight of racecourse licensing, Point to Point racing and the BHA’s relationship with the Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO).

Emma Marley said: “I am delighted to be given the opportunity to join the BHA team, utilising my years of experience in the horseracing industry. I have enjoyed a memorable seven years at Ayr, and sincerely thank the Directors and Ayr staff for their vital support.”

Brant Dunshea, Director of Integrity and Regulatory Operations for the BHA, said: “We’re thrilled to welcome Emma to the team. This is such an important role for the BHA and for the operation of the sport, and the quality of applications we received reflected that. Emma really stood out, not only because of her proven track record at both Bath and Ayr, but also her understanding of the racing industry as a whole, which is reflected in her qualifications and participation in the Horseracing MBA.”

Ayr Racecourse Managing Director David Brown added: “Emma has been an outstanding contributor to Ayr’s success during the seven years that she has spent here. Although we will be sad to lose her, we are delighted that she will be able to further and develop her career at the very heart of British Racing. We wish her and the BHA even greater success in the years to come.”

Ayr Racecourse and the associated Western House Hotel are Founder Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Trainer Sandy Thomson’s luck returns with a double at Ayr Racecourse

By: Iain Ferguson

BORDERS trainer Sandy Thomson saw his luck turn at Ayr Racecourse’s first meeting of 2017 on Monday when he saddled a double.

His successes came with Rowdy Rocher (5/1) in the three mile handicap hurdle with Rachel McDonald riding, and Donna’s Delight, the mount of Brian Hughes, in the bumper sent off at 6/5 favourite.

[Pictured: Donna’s Delight ridden by Brian Hughes 
wins at Ayr Racecourse on Monday.]

And afterwards Sandy said: “That’s a relief, as I’ve had five seconds from my last ten runners, so to have two winners is great.”

Ian Duncan, who trains a few miles from Ayr in the village of Coylton, has a decent sort in King Of Fashion who won the two mile four and a half furlong maiden hurdle after being sent off the 11-8 favourite.

Jockey Brian Harding oozed confidence and won by six lengths from Strong Economy. His trainer said afterwards: “He’s getting stronger all the time and there’s no doubt he’s improving. The ground was ideal and he stays well.”

Sunderland football boss Davie Moyes has a share in Desert Cry who won the feature race of the afternoon, the Racing UK Winter Season Ticket Handicap Hurdle comfortably after being sent clear three out by jockey Will Kennedy.

It was a day when five of the seven favourites won, with the easiest success of the day belonging to the George Bewley trained, Brian Hughes ridden Casual Cavalier who won by 14 lengths and was returned at evens.

Jockey Hughes rode a treble with Nortonthorpelegend, 6/4 favourite, completing the hat trick.

Despite overnight temperatures of -3C, the meeting went ahead owing to frost covers being laid on Friday and Saturday to protect the track.

It was a move appreciated by all, including senior jockey Brian Harding, who commented: “All credit to the team here. This wouldn’t have gone ahead without these covers being down.”

For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 01292 294972 or 07795 565691.

Ayr Racecourse and the associated Western House Hotel are Founder Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Friday, 16 December 2016

A Christmas message from South Ayrshire Provost Helen Moonie

As Provost, it’s a great privilege for me to see first-hand the good work being carried out in our communities. I travel across South Ayrshire all year round visiting groups, companies and organisations that work tirelessly to make lives better for all of us.

Looking back over the year, one of my personal highlights was the Homecoming Parade in June, when 300 soldiers from The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland were greeted by thousands of people as they marched down Ayr High Street. Our support for the armed forces remains strong, and it was fantastic to see such a warm welcome.

2016 was also a significant year for our work with communities blighted by conflict and persecution, and this year we welcomed the first families through the Syrian Relocation Scheme. So far sixteen people from four families have settled here, and I hope they continue to prosper as they rebuild their lives in new communities.

Support for older people took a step forward, with the launch of Dementia Friendly Prestwick. This new organisation aims to raise awareness of dementia locally, in order to reduce stigma and provide practical tips and advice to local residents and businesses on how to support people living with the condition. It’s something I wholeheartedly support, and I hope to see the campaign thrive and expand in the months ahead.

As many of you will know, environmental issues are close to my heart, and this year saw the very first Provost’s School Footprint Challenge take place. Pupils from all of our secondary schools took part, with Kyle Academy crowned the inaugural winners of an award designed to make schools more environmentally friendly. This complements our ongoing participation in WWF’s Earth Hour event which we’ve been recognised as among the best in Scotland for four years in a row, which is really something to be proud of.

And of course, all through the year I have been helping couples celebrate their milestone weddings with an incredible 22 visits in 2016, something which shows that long, happy marriages remain an important part of our society, and that’s definitely something to applaud.

And our longstanding traditions are also something to celebrate during the festive period. Think back over the years – even to a Victorian Christmas.  Back then some folk had a comfortable Christmas, lots of good food, gifts, a warm cosy house, family, friends – and some people didn’t.  It’s almost as if that one day intensifies how we feel about our lives.  

And as so much changes around us, it’s good to know that some things remain the same. That’s the thing about Christmas; it’s part of our lives, our culture and tradition. So why would we want to change Christmas? Perhaps because we don’t like to think that at a time when many have so much there are folk who are lonely, without family, friends or loved ones, children and families who can only hope for better times, folk who feel shut out.  If everyone who has a care for others does even just a little good turn, the cumulative impact will be a giant change.

This year was the second year of the Council’s Giving Tree appeal, with generous staff donating presents to more than 560 young people who might not otherwise have received a Christmas present this year, which is something I’m really proud of. For me, Christmas will always be Christmas, but we can all work to make a difference.

I would like to wish you all the best for the festive season. I hope that the New Year brings you everything that you hope for.

South Ayrshire Provost Helen Moonie.

South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Plans move ahead for anchor development for Ayr’s new Riverside Block

Ambitious proposals to kick-start the regeneration of an historic part of Ayr town centre are now moving forward. South Ayrshire Council has approved plans to develop new office accommodation at the Riverside Block, which will act as the first part of the wider development.

Ayr Renaissance recently submitted a masterplan for a mixed development between High Street and the River Ayr which includes provision for quality office accommodation and housing, as well as for niche retail units, cafes, restaurants and public spaces. The masterplan sets out a commitment to top quality design to an overall scale that respects the surrounding conservation area. 

The Council is now moving ahead with the design stage for a new modern office development that will eventually house around 350 workers. SWHub will oversee the development work in partnership with the Council and Keppie Architects, appointed to plan and design the offices.

The final design will respond to the requirements of the masterplan and incorporate active space which can be used outside of normal office hours. The new building will replace a number of offices in Ayr which are showing their age and are uneconomic to run. These offices will be sold or demolished on completion of the new office project.

Councillor Robin Reid, South Ayrshire Council’s Portfolio Holder for Resources and Performance said it was an exciting time for the development, “This transformational project has now reached a significant milestone, something which has only been made possible thanks to the hard work of Council officers and Ayr Renaissance.

“The tenders are also out for the contract to demolish the existing buildings on the site, meaning the momentum around the development is quickly gathering pace.

“I’m pleased to say that the public will soon see tangible progress on the ground, as the project takes shape in the months ahead.”

The completed Stage 2 design, which will include a fully developed and costed scheme, is due to be considered by South Ayrshire Council in March 2017.

South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Treble for trainer Nick Alexander as Ayr Racecourse beats the frost

Fife trainer Nick Alexander was in treble winning form at Ayr Racecourse on Monday, saddling three winners topped off by a 1-2-3 in the feature race of the afternoon.

Wins for Gold Opera, ridden by Blair Campbell, in the Racing UK Profits Returned to Racing Handicap Chase, Titian Boy in the two and a half mile handicap chase and Marlee Massie in the two mile five furlong Novices Limited Handicap Chase - both ridden by Brian Hughes - gave Nick a 24-1 treble.

[Pictured: Marlee Massie clears a fence on the way to 
giving Nick Alexander and Brian Hughes a three timer.]

But to saddle the first three home in the Limited Handicap, with Calivigny and Buffalo Ballet chasing home Marlee Massie, also gave him great satisfaction.

He said: “I’ve never had a treble before, so that was satisfying, but to be fair I thought all my horses in the novices chase went there with a bit of a chance, so I am delighted to have the first three.”

Racing went ahead at Ayr despite temperatures falling overnight to -3C, and Nick Alexander was quick to praise Clerk of the Course Emma Marley for her foresight in covering the entire track in frost covers on Friday, therefore beating the freezing conditions.

Nick said: “Other courses should take a leaf out of Emma’s book. It shows you what can be done to beat adverse weather.”

Jockey Brian Hughes also had a treble on the day with Daytripper, trained by Iain Jardine, winning Division 1 of the two mile three furlong handicap hurdle to add to his successes for Nick Alexander.

For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 01292 294972 or 07795 565691.

Ayr Racecourse and the associated Western House Hotel are Founder Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Public given first glimpse of the new look Queen Margaret Academy

Communities across South Ayrshire are being invited to find out more about the planned replacement for Queen Margaret Academy (QMA). South Ayrshire Council is to hold a public exhibition, prior to submitting a formal planning application, to discuss the pre-application proposals on Tuesday 13 December.

[Pictured: Artist’s impression of how the 
new Queen Margaret Academy might look.]

Earlier this year it was announced that QMA would receive part-funding from the 'Schools for the Future' programme. The £25million project will see £8.5million committed from South Ayrshire Council and £16.5million from the Scottish Government. Once completed, QMA will transform facilities for the existing school and the wider community for generations.

The Council has been actively engaging with the community to gather their views on the project. In September and October the project team spoke to representatives from the school and the wider area to capture their vision, values, and ideas to ensure their involvement at a key stage in the design process. Children, young people, staff and parents from QMA and its associated primary schools attended workshops along with local community groups.

The next stage will see a public exhibition held at Queen Margaret Academy on Tuesday 13 December between 2.00pm – 8pm.

Councillor Margaret Toner, South Ayrshire Council’s Portfolio Holder for Lifelong Learning said she expected the event to be well attended, “We’ve been actively listening to the views of our communities in recent months, and this event offers a valuable opportunity to meet with people face-to-face to discuss progress.

“While the plans are still at an early stage we will continue discussions on what people would like to see from the new school, and try to incorporate their feedback wherever possible.

“I’m sure there will be strong local interest in the exhibition and for anyone who can’t attend on the day we’re making further opportunities available in the weeks ahead.”

Information on the proposed development can be viewed at the South Ayrshire Council website from Tuesday 13 December. Members of the public wishing to comment on the proposed development are invited to do so in person at the exhibition or directly to the agent no later than Fri 23 December 2016:

Address:        Building Design Partnership, 15 Exchange Place, Glasgow G1 3AN


The exhibition marks is the next stage in the pre-application consultation process. No planning application has been submitted at this time.

All comments on the project should be directed to the agent, Building Design Partnership. Comments made to the agent are not representations to South Ayrshire Council as the relevant planning authority. When the Council submits a formal planning application there will be further opportunities to make representations on the application.

South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Transformational plans unveiled to breathe new life into Ayr Riverside

Ambitious plans to transform a neglected part of Ayr’s historic town centre into a thriving new public realm have been unveiled. The new masterplan for the Ayr Riverside Block has been submitted to South Ayrshire Council by Ayr Renaissance.

Known as the Riverside Block between the medieval “Auld Brig” and the Victorian “New Bridge", the plans include sweeping away the massive retail stores which have blocked access to the river since the 1960s and the creation of landscaped public realm alongside a festival building and an elegant new waterfront for the town.

The masterplan presents a vision for a mixed development which could include quality office accommodation and housing as well as space for niche retail units, cafes, restaurants and spaces for public engagement. The plan sets out a commitment to top quality design including the use of materials that relate to existing historic buildings and to an overall scale that respects the surrounding conservation area.  

Ayr Renaissance chairman James Knox said: “The balance of the development depends on the added value created by the quality of the architecture, the welcome to the public afforded by the originality and openness of the plan and the content of the public realm. Getting these right is the key to unlocking long-term regeneration of the town centre for generations to come.” 

The masterplan has been prepared by architect Niall McLaughlin, who has worked extensively for Oxford University and the London Olympic Authority, and Charles Jencks, world-renowned land artist and co-founder of Maggie’s Centres which builds cancer centres designed the world’s top architects.

James Knox said: “This brilliant masterplan offers a once in a generation opportunity to bring back bustle, business and public enjoyment to the heart of Ayr. Decades of blight could be swept away, views of the Auld Brig and the Town Hall revealed, with the riverside site in line to become a magnet for the local community and visitors alike.”

Traditional vennels, in keeping with the existing town centre, will open up informal pedestrian connections throughout the Riverside Block site from all directions; while in the longer term, the River Ayr Walk, which currently ends at the Auld Brig, could continue across the site, running along the river to the sea. The north shore is also part of the plan which will be re-landscaped as part of the framing of a new River Square including the stretch of river flanked by both bridges - with the potential to become the focal point for festivities and events.

The masterplan serves as the basis for the planning application submitted by Ayr Renaissance to enable demolition of most of the riverside block which is in a conservation area. The evolution of the masterplan included two public consultation days and two peer review workshops run by Architecture and Design Scotland. Tenders for the demolition have been issued to ensure a start can be made on site provided the necessary consents are granted.

The application is due to be considered by South Ayrshire Council in early 2017. If planning approval is granted, existing buildings would be demolished, with an archaeological dig to follow across the whole site to uncover the secrets of medieval Ayr.

South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Two December meetings at Ayr Racecourse

By: Iain Ferguson

AYR Racecourse stages two December meetings this year – on Monday 5 December and Monday 19 December.

Both are six race cards, with the first of the fixtures featuring the Chase, a novices’ limited handicap over two miles five furlongs, which should see some younger horses setting out on their chasing careers.

There is also a two and a half mile novices’ hurdle to open the card at 12.40pm, while the action ends at 3.20pm with a national hunt flat race over two miles.

The December 19 meeting – Christmas Party Raceday – is highlighted with the Watch Racing UK Today Just £10 Handicap Hurdle over two miles five furlongs with £10,000 in the prize fund.

The main supporting race is a three mile handicap hurdle which is a qualifier for the Challenger Staying Hurdle Series Final. For more information on racing at Ayr or to book tickets go online at or call 01292 264179.

Issued by Iain Ferguson on behalf of Ayr Racecourse. For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 01292 294972 or 07795 565691.

Ayr Racecourse and the associated Western House Hotel are Founder Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Kilmarnock entrepreneur Marie Macklin named as Female Business Leader of the Year

Business and social entrepreneur Marie Macklin CBE has been named as BQ Female Business Leader of the Year for 2016 in the Scottish Business Awards.

Marie (pictured above) is owner and executive chair of Macklin Enterprise Partnership, a recently formed holding company building a diverse portfolio of entrepreneurial businesses and investment funds.

On receiving the prestigious award, Marie said: “I’m thrilled to have received this award. I’m passionate about helping to create and grow strong, international businesses from Scotland and helping to make this the most entrepreneurial society in the world.”

Marie seeks to invest in entrepreneurs and their businesses, directly through her own resources and investment funds. She seeks opportunities with organisations such as E-spark, Entrepreneurial Scotland, LINC Scotland, private and public investors and business angel organisations.

Behind Marie’s decision to create Macklin Enterprise Partnerships is her inherent passion for a strong Scottish economy. She uses her experience and knowledge to inspire and nurture talented young and aspirational people and fledgling businesses such as online booking specialist Appointedd, and fashion shopping app Mallzee, who value practical business advice and guidance. 

Macklin Enterprise Partnership invests through special-purpose funds created and managed with like-minded third parties. Marie takes the lead in identifying potential partners and providing start-up and management advice to selected entrepreneurs.

Wherever practical, she seeks to take a position of non-executive director of invested companies in order to ensure close engagement and scrutiny of business performance.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Chevron establish Centre of Excellence and create 82 jobs at Prestwick Airport

Scottish Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Keith Brown today (Wednesday 16 November) announced Manchester-based Chevron Aircraft Maintenance Ltd is to establish a world-class centre of excellence for aircraft engineering, maintenance and training at Glasgow Prestwick Airport.

[Pictured: Councillor Bill McIntosh, Leader of South Ayrshire Council, joins the Minister and guests at the Chevron hangar at Prestwick Airport.] 

The £8.5 million investment will lead to the creation of up to 82 new jobs in Scotland, of which 67 are highly specialised and skilled positions. The company expect to increase turnover from £9.6m in 2016 to £19m by 2021. 

Today the Cabinet Secretary met the first newly recruited member of staff while given a tour of the Hangar 747 where Chevron is now located. Simon Yeardley a Project Engineer originally from Ayrshire has worked in England since 2012, but this job has allowed him to move back home and fulfil his career aspirations.

The Chevron announcement is the first major success for South Ayrshire Council's inward investment programme – Invest South Ayrshire. The Council has worked closely and innovatively with Chevron, from initial enquiry, highlighting the opportunities at Prestwick, and assisting the company to secure a solution tailored to their specific needs.

Supported by a Regional Selective Assistance grant of £2 million from Scottish Enterprise, the project, which will be operational early 2017, is being undertaken in response to increased customer and market demand. It will support Chevron to now deliver a variety of services that it is technically qualified to do but has previously had to borrow airline facilities to complete.

Glasgow Prestwick Airport provides a large, bespoke space for Chevron's increased line maintenance support operations that will include:

an EASA 145 approved Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) hangar facility
on-site engine, office and workshop facilities, as well as an EASA Part 147 approved Training School
a Freighter Conversion Programme for the BAE Systems Regional Aircraft
a state-of-the art and environmentally friendly Aircraft and Engine Recycling facility for aircraft decommissioning
finally, a commercial aircraft for Care & Maintenance programmes contributing to the training and further development of the Airport's talented workforce.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: "I am delighted to welcome the news that Chevron Aircraft Maintenance Limited will establish an aircraft engineering, maintenance and training regional centre of excellence at Glasgow Prestwick Airport.

"The company's investment, which is being supported by our economic development agency Scottish Enterprise, underlines their commitment to Scotland, and is great news for the local Ayrshire economy. This development will bring many new and highly skilled jobs to the Prestwick area.  I wish the team every success with the new venture and look forward to hearing of their achievements."

Chevron Aircraft Maintenance managing director Mr Neil Morris said: "This is a very important project to us, and we have greatly valued the support we have received from Scottish Enterprise in helping us achieve this investment. The airport is in an excellent location at the midway point of the Great Circle Route, making it a convenient stop off point for the many aircraft that have existing flight planning over the airport. The facility will enable the Chevron Group to handle a large range of aircraft, and we hope that we can offer additional benefits to Glasgow Prestwick's existing customer base across passenger, cargo, military, executive and general aviation including training through providing them with MRO and supporting services.

"Over the last 3 months we have worked closely with the airport team to promote the facility, beginning by exhibiting the new capability at last month's MRO Europe Amsterdam Conference – raising industry interest in the availability of MRO capability, resulting in with two aircraft operators contracting maintenance from January to April 2017."

Councillor Bill McIntosh, Leader of South Ayrshire Council said: "Our ability to meet Chevron's needs and present a robust and confident case for Prestwick as a suitable home for the company has well and truly paid dividends for everyone involved and boosts our reputation as the natural home of aerospace and space even further. It's also a prime example of what we can offer through our Invest South Ayrshire programme and I'm confident that Chevron is only the first of many companies that we will support to achieve a bigger and brighter future."

Scottish Development International managing director Paul Lewis said: "Today's investment is a fantastic boost to the aviation engineering industry in Scotland, which is an ideal location for Chevron's centre of excellence. Chevron will now join the many international investors who benefit from our competitive business environment, strong skills base and effective support network, which help make Scotland the top performing location for inward investment after London. We look forward to supporting Chevron's ambitious growth plans and wish them every success."

Glasgow Prestwick Airport is an ideal location for Chevron as it is already home to a cluster of key players in the aerospace industry including: GE Caledonian, Spirit Aerosystems, UTC Aerospace Systems (formerly Goodrich), BAE Systems, Ryanair and Woodward Aircraft Engineering Systems. At the Airport the company will have access to a pool of highly skilled and qualified personnel, along with an established programme of training support provided by local Universities and Further Education Colleges. 

Glasgow Prestwick Airport chief executive officer Ron Smith said: "The newly formed leadership team at the airport is delighted to welcome Chevron to Glasgow Prestwick Airport and the wider Prestwick Aerospace campus. This is the first major new business that this team has secured, and we see this as a building block on the way to delivering a profitable and sustainable airport for the long term.

"Chevron will bring in additional revenue for us through this lease but we also hope that this will provide us with an additional selling point for passenger and cargo airlines and other aviation customers including executive, military and general aviation to operate services to and from Glasgow Prestwick Airport.

"We will be working closely with Chevron to offer our support to help them build their business – their success will bring us success. This partnership working starts now with providing assistance to get the facility up and running in time to receive aircraft at the turn of the year. This assistance includes partnering with them to host a recruitment event this coming weekend in our main terminal building to help them fill these exciting new roles."

Chevron will be offering an "Employment Roadshow" for the 18 & 19 November at the Aviator Suite within Prestwick Terminal building where local people will be able to find out about what employment opportunities are on offer with more detail of the company.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Elite Ayrshire Business Circle congratulates Donald Trump

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle has sent its congratulations to Donald Trump on his winning the election for President of the United States of America.

Elite Ayrshire Business Circle executive chairman Norman Geddes 9pictured above) said: “Trump Turnberry is one of our Founder Members, and has been a strong supporter of the Circle and its activities for many years.

“The Circle’s Annual Summer Luncheon at Trump Turnberry is now an important date in the Ayrshire business calendar, and one to which our members look forward every year.

“We have warmly welcomed the considerable investment made in Turnberry by the Trump Organisation, which has already resulted in widely welcomed improvements both to the Hotel and to the golf courses, and also the creation of many new local jobs.

“We can now look forward to the possibility of Open Golf returning to Turnberry in the not too distant future.

“It was an exciting night watching the election results unfold in America, and we in the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle would like to send our warmest congratulations to Mr Trump on his success.”