The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

New public library business hub proving a hit with local entrepreneur

A Troon-based start-up is going from strength to strength thanks to support from a new business hub at Troon Library.

Scotia Arts, which organises international musical arts events, started using the new Scottish Co-working Network space just over a month ago and is already feeling the benefits.


[Pictured: Scotia Arts managing director Blair Parham   
 with employee Jenn Tapner at the Troon hub.]

The Scottish Co-working Network (SCN) was launched in February this year, and aims to create a network of business hubs in underused spaces in Scotland’s public libraries.  Created by the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) with funding from the Scottish Government, it is the first national network of its kind.  It is aimed at providing local entrepreneurs, freelance workers, start-ups and micro businesses with dedicated space to work, meet and collaborate.

As well as saving money on expensive rates, Scotia Arts is taking advantage of the hub’s modern office facilities and business events.  The hub’s location in the centre of town is also proving to be an excellent base for the fledgling business.

Scotia Arts managing director, Blair Parham, explained: “The Troon hub is in a great location and ideal for meeting up with people.  I was in an accelerator programme based in a nearby village, but it was too far out of town.  ‘Graduating’ from it and moving to the centre of Troon is so much better for transport links, like the train, and for shops and cafes.  It can be lonely being a start-up company and this gives us the ability to meet with other people and share ideas.”

The Troon SCN hub has four fixed desks and four hot desks and a well-equipped breakout area with refreshment facilities.  A fixed desk gives members their own dedicated space and set of lockable drawers, while a hot desk offers members the flexibility to work when it suits them.  Membership is highly affordable at £35 per month (plus VAT) for a hot desk and £50 per month (plus VAT) for a fixed desk, with unlimited access during library opening hours.

Pamela Tulloch, chief executive, SLIC said: “Scotland’s public libraries offer the perfect environment to support aspiring entrepreneurs.  Libraries are located at the heart of communities, they are connected, and offer an abundance of information and resources, making them the perfect environment to support entrepreneurs.  They are ideal for small sole traders and those who may be currently running a small business from their kitchen table or spare room. 

“The response from local small business owners has been very encouraging.  New hub members are telling us that the community environment is fuelling their creativity and access to hub resources is invaluable for them when building their businesses.”

For Scotia Arts, who found out about the hub through a Business Gateway Ayrshire event, the Troon huas delivered a professional working environment at a fraction of the usual price. 

Blair said: “I did work from home for a few months, and it was OK, but you’re by yourself with nobody to talk to.  After taking on my first member of staff earlier in the year I needed more space; at the hub we have two fixed desks and we’re there most days.  Cost was a big pull - we have everything here at a really good price, which makes it an excellent choice for a start-up.”

Councillor Brian McGinley, Economy and Culture Portfolio Holder for South Ayrshire Council said: "The hub is already proving to be an invaluable resource for business start-ups.  Our libraries are the perfect environment to connect with information and link with other businesses and entrepreneurs, which is ideal when it comes to networking.

"We know that it’s not easy to start and then grow a business so we are doing all we can to help. Whether it’s funding, or expert advice through our AMBITION programme we are determined to give these ventures all the help they need, so I am delighted the hub is proving to be a success."

Pamela Tulloch added:“This project is further demonstration of how public libraries are transforming to ensure they meet the needs of modern communities.  Nowadays, libraries are vibrant hives of activity and you’re as likely to find a film screening, computer coding class or wellbeing support group taking place as you are to find a reading and book club.”

To find out more about the SCN and to book a tour of one of the hubs visit www.scottishcoworking.org

More information on the Scottish Coworking Network, including details of membership and prices, is available at www.scottishcoworking.org

The Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) is the independent advisory body to the Scottish Government on library matters. For more information on SLIC visit www.scottishlibraries.org

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



Thursday, 25 July 2019

Nicholas T makes it five wins at Ayr Racecourse

By: Iain Ferguson

COURSE specialist Nicholas T won at Ayr Racecourse for the fifth time this week (Monday 22 July) when capturing the feature race, the Flower Show at Ayr Racecourse in August Handicap (pictured).


Jockey Ben Robinson gave the 9-4 favourite, trained by Jim Goldie, an assured ride to win comfortably by two and three quarter lengths from Asian Angel.

Earlier in the afternoon another locally based trainer Mike Smith saddled Rosemay, 13-2, to win the Ayrshire Cancer Support Handicap by a neck from Betty Grable with Paul Hanagan riding.

Mike said afterwards: “That’s the second race on the bounce she has won and she certainly is a mare in form. That was a great ride from Paul.”

The opening novice stakes was won by Dick Datchery, 11-2, from the David O’Meara yard with David Nolan riding and this two year-old looks to be shaping into a decent prospect.

Irish trainer Johnny Levins saddled a double with Tai Sing Yeh, 100-30
favourite, winning the Ladies Night Handicap and Eleuthera landing the Book Direct At Western House Handicap at odds of 13-2. Both horses were ridden by Donagh O’Connor.

Former multiple champion jockey Kieren Fallon was at the track to see his son Cieren ride his first ever winner at Ayr from his first ride at the track on 9-1 chance Compton’s Finale for trainer Adrian Keatley.

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.


Thursday, 4 July 2019

Family Fun Day at Ayr Racecourse

By: Iain Ferguson

Racing is a sport that has appeal to all ages, and this Sunday 7 July some of the youngest racegoers in the country will converge on Ayr for the first of two Family Racedays in July.

In addition to the seven races on the card, there will be lots of family fun and entertainment which is all free and under 18s also go free if accompanied by an adult.

There is an exciting Mascot Race at 1.00pm before the first race proper, and around 10 mascots will line up in a race won last year by Morton’s Cappie The Cat who will be defending his crown.


[Pictured: Mascots participating at last year’s event.}

Other mascots lining up will include Ayr United’s Pandamonium , Hamish The Dog from the Scottish Building Society, Ayr Racecourse’s Neigh Chance, Danny The Domino from Domino Pizza and Ruggie from race sponsors PTS Clean.

Gates open at noon and children will be able to meet their favourite princesses and superheroes including Captain America, Spiderman, Hawykeye, Merida, Evie and Elsa.

There will be a special Face Painting Studio, glitter tattooists, arts and crafts station, creative clay workshops, a sticky wall inflatable, photo booth and dress up station, an exciting treasure hunt, a lego station, an amazing escape tent and a display of vintage fire engines.

In addition there will be a beat the goalie featuring Ayr United players, fairground rides, a petting zoo, rodeo bull and a wipeout simulator game.

And in a first for the Racecourse there will be a Mysterious Escape Tent.

Would-be jockeys will be able to test their skills on an ecquisizer while wearing some famous jockey silks and there will be members of the Regiment of Scotland and Royal Air Force present. For more information or to book tickets go online at www.ayr-racecourse.co.uk or call 01292 264179.

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.


Monday, 1 July 2019

Ayr’s high-rise flats to be replaced with new accommodation

Following consultation and engagement with tenants living in the high-rise flats at Riverside Place in Ayr, South Ayrshire Councillors have taken the unanimous decision to demolish the three multi-storey blocks and build a new development on the site.


Following consultation and engagement with tenants living in the high-rise flats at Riverside Place in Ayr, South Ayrshire Councillors have taken the unanimous decision to demolish the three multi-storey blocks and build a new development on the site.

210 households participated in a survey which revealed that 111 (51.7%) of them supported the demolition of the existing flats, with 99 (46%) of households calling for the flats to be refurbished.

Councillors went with the majority of tenants which means that an estimated 90 new one- and two=bedroom apartments will be built.  These new properties will be available in the first instance to existing tenants who have been displaced from Riverside Place and have expressed an interest in returning to this location.

This decision follows detailed intrusive technical surveys of the flats last year which revealed issues the Council was previously unaware of. These included timber window sections and panels which appear to date from the original 1969 structure of the building, as well as cavities exposed by cladding installation works in 1992.

The surveys indicated that the existing cladding system, external pitched roof covering and the windows would need to be replaced and this would require significant levels of investment.

An implementation plan will now go before Councillors in November 2019; in the meantime housing staff will be in contact with the residents to discuss their needs and housing options.

The implementation plan will give more details on the needs and aspirations of tenants and this will help inform the timescales for the demolition and the new builds.

Councillor Philip Saxton, Housing and Community Wellbeing Portfolio Holder for South Ayrshire Council said: “This was not an easy decision to take, but the amount of work required and the level of investment needed to refurbish the blocks, led us to consult with tenants to seek their views.

“New accommodation on the site allows the Council to provide properties which are more accessible, in line with the latest building standards and can be adapted to suit the future needs of our tenants.

“In the meantime we will continue to support our tenants, and we will be writing to them to let them know that their living arrangements will not change in the short term.

“Over the coming weeks, Housing Officers will be speaking to those tenants who selected the option to refurbish.  The Officers will discuss their needs and other housing options. 

“Throughout the process, Housing Officers will ensure that tenants are kept up to date and the implementation plan takes account of their needs and circumstances.”

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


Thursday, 20 June 2019

Ayrshire’s James Frew Ltd wins training award

A Skills and Training Academy Award for Best Training Culture has been presented to Stevenston-based building services company James Frew Ltd. by hub South West, the public-private partnership focused on building community infrastructure within Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Dumfries & Galloway.


[Pictured: Back row left to right: Martin Littlejohn (Contracts Manager, James Frew Ltd), Kevin Kidd (Training & Compliance Manager). Front row, left to right: Elaine Kean (Training Coordinator), Margaret Milton, hub South West.]

The 2019 hub South West Skills and Training Awards were divided into two categories: Best Training Culture and Best Employment Initiative for Young People, an accolade which was won by North Lanarkshire-based CMS Windows.

The Academy awards seek to commend companies throughout south-west Scotland for their commitment to inspiring the next generation of professionals within the construction industry, as well as those firms committed to nurturing staff already working in the sector.

Entries for the Best Training Culture Award were examined on ideas and programmes that have proven successful, with a learning platform which encourages training and staff development and underpins also the overall development of the business.

James Frew Ltd contracts director Brian Johnstone said: “We are delighted to be nominated and to receive the award for Best Training Culture. We are committed to the training and development of all our team members, and set up the James Frew Academy to support our training needs. Our apprenticeship programme currently has 37 apprentices at various stages of training, with the recruitment for the 2019 apprenticeship programme underway. As part of our commitment we have appointed a “Head of Organisational Development” to continue to drive our training culture.”

Michael McBrearty, chief executive of hub South West, said: “The skills shortages we have within our sector are all too well-known, and these awards mark an important new phase in our partnership’s commitment to raising the bar within the industry.

“In addition to supporting our commitment to engaging local communities, the small and larger firms involved with hub South West also strive to play their part in tackling wider skills issues across the industry. It is only fitting that we should applaud their efforts.”

Entries for Best Employment Initiative for Young People were judged on the criteria of youth employment, the introduction of construction as a viable career path, structured framework apprenticeships, graduate programmes and initiatives targeted at women, as well as disadvantaged and disabled people.

All entries had to be directly connected to an initiative contracted by the hub South West partnership. Tier-1 construction industry contractors including Kier, Graham, Morrisons and Morgan Sindall, were encouraged to nominate sub-contractors from their supply chains.    

Posted by the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.


Thursday, 13 June 2019

Fleur East to play DJ set at Ladies Day at Ayr Racecourse

By Iain Ferguson

X Factor and I’m A Celebrity star Fleur East is coming to Ayr Racecourse’s William Hill Ladies Day on Friday 20 September, when she will be performing a superb hour-long DJ set.


She will take to the stage in the Ayrshire Suite following racing, and is sure to be a huge attraction at what is one of the busiest days of the year at the course.

The singer, songwriter and rapper first shot to fame on the X Factor in 2014 when she became the first contestant on the show to hit number one on the UK iTunes Store Chart with her version of ‘Uptown Funk’.

Fleur went on to finish runner-up on the X Factor and then enjoyed huge success with the platinum selling  ‘Sax’  in 2015 which hit the top 3 in the UK Singles Chart and stayed in the top 10 for seven weeks,  was certified Gold in the Netherlands and Australia, reached the top 10 in Mexico, was a number 2 in Costa Rica and topped the airplay charts in Hungary and Croatia.

This led to Fleur signing a US record deal with Sony Music’s Columbia Records and appearing on top shows such as Dancing With The Stars, The Late Late Show and the Today Show.

The success of ‘Sax’ continues to this day with the track hitting over 100 million streams on Spotify.

At the end of last year Fleur had a stint in the jungle on “I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here” when she endeared herself to the viewing public and finished fourth on the show.

Now she is heading to Ladies Day at the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival to play a DJ set which will relate to her own unique style, and she will play a mix of RnB, Hip-Hop and Pop.

Lindsey Smith, Ayr Racecourse’s Sales and Ayr Racecourse Sales and Marketing, said: “We are delighted that Fleur will be here at our Ladies Day which is always an amazing day.

“To have such a talented and recognisable talent as Fleur playing a DJ set here will add to what already is a really glamorous occasion – it should be a great afternoon and night.”

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.


New hub for entrepreneurs opens at Troon Library

A new business hub aimed at inspiring and supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses is now open for membership at Troon Library. 

The hub is part of the Scottish Coworking Network and offers dedicated desk space including fixed and hotdesking options.


[Pictured at the hub opening, left to right: South Ayrshire Cllr Peter Convery; Annette Simpson, librarian; Cllr Philip Saxton; Lorraine Armstrong, librarian; Cllr Brian McGinley (sitting at computer); Cllr Bob Pollock; Cllr Craig Mackay.]

The Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) worked with South Ayrshire Council to deliver the hub, which is part of a pilot programme in public libraries across Scotland. The South Ayrshire hub is the third to open in Scotland.

The project sits at the heart of 'Ambition and Opportunity - a national strategy for public libraries in Scotland 2015-2020', which reinforces the role which public libraries play in supporting employability, innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity.  The project has been developed by SLIC with Scottish Government funding and is aimed at providing local entrepreneurs, freelance workers, start-ups and micro businesses with dedicated space to work, meet and collaborate.

The hub has four fixed desks and four hot desks and offers access to meeting rooms within the library. Hub members also have access to online resources, a programme of professional development workshops and events, and an online forum to support professional networking and collaboration. 

Membership is available from £42 (£35 plus vat) per month for a hot desk and £60 (£50 plus vat) per month for a fixed desk. Members will be able to use any of the hubs within the Scottish Coworking Network, subject to availability. Further hubs in other parts of Scotland will follow in the coming weeks.

Pamela Tulloch, chief executive, SLIC said: "Scotland's public libraries offer the perfect environment to support aspiring entrepreneurs. Libraries are located at the heart of communities, they are connected, and offer an abundance of information and resources. The new hubs will offer equal access to a support structure that will help people turn their passions and ideas into sustainable employment. They are ideal for small sole traders and those who may be currently running a small business from their kitchen or dining room table. 

"We hope the presence of this resource in Troon Library will encourage more people to consider self-employment by removing barriers, supporting innovation and providing practical tools and information.

"This project is further demonstration of the changing role of public libraries and how services are transforming to ensure they meet the needs of modern communities."

Councillor Brian McGinley, Economy and Culture Portfolio Holder for South Ayrshire Council said: "I am delighted the hub is open for business. Troon Library is the perfect environment and I'm sure our entrepreneurs and small business owners will appreciate the amount of resources at their fingertips.

"Through our AMBITION programme we already support many small businesses and start-ups, so the hub is a welcome addition.  I look forward to the roll-out of more hubs across South Ayrshire in the future."  

SLIC has commissioned independent researchers to assist with evaluation of the pilot. The evaluation will provide a roadmap to enable library services across Scotland to roll-out the concept, with the aim of creating a national network of dedicated spaces in libraries for entrepreneurs. 

The initiative has the backing of a range of organisations, including the Scottish Institute of Enterprise, Creative Scotland, Carnegie UK Trust, Young Enterprise Scotland, Business Gateway, Scottish Towns Partnership, the Federation of Small Businesses and Elevator UK.

More information on the Scottish Coworking Network, including details of membership and prices, is available at www.scottishcoworking.org

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


Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Shenanigans lifts listed prize at Ayr Racecourse’s Tennant’s Raceday

By: Iain Ferguson

Shenanigans was the star performer at Tennent’s Raceday, Ayr’s first Flat meeting of 2019, when she won the Listed Race on the card – the £50,000 Tennent’s Lager British Stallion Studs EBF Rothesay Stakes.


The Roger Varian trained five year-old mare (pictured above) travelled well throughout and hit the front two out and won readily by a length and a quarter from Exhort.

Andrea Atzeni rode Shenanigans and kept his 100 per cent record at the track, having won this race on his only other visit two years ago with Nezwaah, who went on to win a Group 1 at the Curragh.

The Keith Dalgleish yard continued an amazing run of form with a double on the card courtesy of Universal Gleam in the Orchard Pig Handicap over a mile with Danny Tudhope riding and with Maulesden May, the mount of Graham Lee,  in the 1m 2f Tennent’s Story Handicap.

The 6f maiden was a hot contest with the winner Lord Of The Lodge looking useful on his first outing for trainer Karl Burke and jockey Ben Curtis.

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, 3 May 2019

Action plan launched to transform Ayr Town Centre

South Ayrshire Council has developed an action plan to drive forward the transformation of Ayr Town Centre.


Initially the plan will help the Council and partners to develop and then deliver three key projects – an events space at the riverside, a new leisure centre in the high street and improvements to the town centre’s public realm.

The plan reflects the views of the 2,700 people who completed a survey as part of the ‘Ayr Your Views’ consultation late last year.

Turning the riverside site into an exciting space for events, pop-up markets, exhibitions and performances proved popular in the survey, with 62% of those taking part supporting the idea. The next steps will be to appoint a design team who will progress plans before further public consultation and then redevelopment of the site.

Plans to build a new leisure centre in the town centre will also be progressed. The Arran Mall is the preferred location for the development with opportunity to link up with a leisure development at the Kyle Centre featuring a cinema, and other recreational facilities. Bringing a leisure facility into the centre of Ayr would address issues expressed during the consultation where people said the Citadel leisure centre is too remote and not easy to access, especially for younger people.

The third project to be advanced at this stage is to improve the Public Realm in Ayr with better pedestrian and cycle links in the town. The Council has submitted a bid for part funding to sustainable transport experts Sustrans. This project aims to dramatically improve the main entrances to Ayr at Sandgate and High St, providing high quality public realm improvements. This will include upgrading street and footpath surfaces and adding street furniture, lighting, cycle facilities and signage to substantially improve the look of the area together with travel improvements more generally.

All three projects will be the subject of further public consultation as the schemes are developed.

Donald Gillies, Director – Place at South Ayrshire Council, said: “Retail in Ayr is struggling in common with most towns in Scotland. We need to look to other initiatives to reinvigorate the high street and are focusing on culture, heritage, leisure and recreation to encourage people back into the heart of Ayr Town Centre.

“I believe that modern leisure facilities in the high street, regular live events and attractive places to socialise and relax will help sustain a thriving town centre for years to come.”

“These projects combined with work already taking place at the new Ayr Grammar which will include an archive centre and community arts facility, and the former Clydesdale Bank which is being turned into a market and events space, means it’s an exciting time to be involved in the transformation of the high street.

“It’s important that we continue to listen to the public and be responsive to their views, so as well as ongoing consultation on a project by project basis, we will be setting up a sounding board with local businesses and independent experts to help steer the projects.

“The action plan gives us a strong base on which to build and it’s important we now develop these projects and deliver them as quickly as possible.”

Read the action plan. CLICK HERE. 

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


Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Nicky Richards lands Coral Scottish Grand National for the north

By Iain Ferguson

NICKY Richards struck a blow for the north in the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr Racecourse-on Saturday when Takingrisks, given a super cool ride from Sean Quinlan, won the £122,500 first prize in front of a sell-out crowd of 18,500.

The Penrith-based trainer is one of the most loyal supporters of Ayr Racecourse during the jumps season, and he followed his father Gordon, who trained Scottish National winners Playlord (1969) and Four Trix (1990), into the history books.


He said afterwards: “It was great for racing in the north. Takingrisks (pictured above) is owned by Frank Bird, who is one of the biggest poultry farmers in the country, and is based near our yard. He is a great owner, and just lets me get on with it.”


At the start of the season, the aim of jockey Sean Quinlan (pictured above) was to ride 50 winners, and Takingrisks gave him his 54th win. He said: “Things have gone well for me since teaming up with agent Richard Hales, and today was by far my biggest win.

“It’s one of the top jumps races and is easily the pinnacle of my career.”

Takingrisks blundered at the first but recovered well from that and travelled well into the race and caught the eye from four out and drew clear on the run in to win by four lengths from Crosspark, trained by Caroline Bailey, with Cloth Cap in third and Blue Flight fourth.

Connor Brace, a 17 year-old conditional jockey was another rider claiming his biggest ever success when steering Verdan Blue to victory in the CPMS Scottish Champion Hurdle for trainer Nicky Henderson.

This was a tremendous performance as he pulled seven lengths clear of Dino Velvet and a trip to the Punchestown Festival could be on the cards next.

There was a double on the day for trainer Dan Skelton and his jockey brother Harry when they teamed up to win the first two races on the card – the Scotty Brand Handicap Chase, Listed race, with Azzuri and the J & D Pierce Novices’ Champion Handicap Chase with Molly The Dolly.

The Jordan Electrics Future Champion Chase went to Paul Nicholls and jockey Harry Cobden with Secret Investor.

More than 1.2 million watch Coral Scottish Grand National

A record number of viewers tuned into the ITV coverage of the Coral Scottish Grand National on Saturday with more than 1.2 million watching the closing stages of the race.

The ITV Racing average viewing figure for Saturday was up 10% from 609,000 in 2018 to 673,000 this year while the three minute peak was up 17% from 1.01 million to 1.18 million.

The 1.213 million recorded towards the end of the show is believed to be the biggest figure on a Saturday excluding the Grand National, Derby and Saturday of Royal Ascot.


ITV Racing’s Ed Chamberlin (pictured above), who presented the action from Ayr, said: “It was great to bring viewers both great jumps and flat racing on Saturday. I love going up to Ayr, we had a brilliant day and I couldn’t be happier that, following on from such great stories and viewing figures at Cheltenham and Aintree, so many people watched the Coral Scottish Grand National, one of the big races in our jumps calendar.”

David Brown, Managing Director of Ayr Racecourse said: “These figures just underline the huge appeal of the Coral Scottish Grand National and the supporting card.

“When you consider that the race is also the fourth biggest in the UK in terms of betting turnover it shows the wide appeal of this great race.”

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.