The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Surprise winner of Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr Racecourse

By: Iain Ferguson 

CROWDS of more than 15,000 flocked to Ayr Racecourse last Saturday 12 April for the Coral Scottish Grand National, which produced a shock 40/1 winner Al Co (pictured below) for trainer Peter Bowen and jockey Jamie Moore.

The surprise win stunned the packed stands, and last year’s winner Godsmejudge was a gallant second, with Trustan Times third and Merry King fourth.

A jubilant Jamie Moore said afterwards: “My horse was always travelling well, and my only concern was when he jinked inside the final furlong and almost threw me off. What a year it’s been for me, winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup and now the Coral Scottish Grand National.”

And trainer Peter Bowen who made the marathon trip from his Pembrokeshire stable added: “I had a quiet fancy for the horse. I’d prepared him for this race, and I had him spot on. I told people to back him each way.”

The main supporting race on the day, the QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle saw the even money favourite My Tent Or Yours for the powerful Nicky Henderson-AP McCoy partnership beaten into third place behind Cockney Sparrow (12/1) and last year’s winner Court Minstrel.

It was a Scottish Grand National Day - Ayr Gold Cup Day double for the John Quinn trained Cockney Sparrow, as he won at Ayr’s big flat meeting too.

A highly impressive winner of the Arcadia Consulting Future Champions Chase for the Vulmidas Cup was Eduard (7/4) from the Nicky Richards yard and ridden by veteran jockey Brian Harding.

The 6 year-old saw off the highly rated Valdez by 20 lengths and looks to be destined for more glory next season.

Other winners on Saturday included a double for Paul Nicholls with Silsol in the opening Clyde and Solway Systems handicap hurdle ridden by Jack Sherwood and Brother Du Berlais in the Ayrshire Hospice Making Today Matter Handicap.

And there was a win for Le Bacardy in the Scotty Brand Handicap Chase, a horse that had finished second on Friday.

Friday’s card saw Scotch Warrior, trained near Galston by Mike Smith, land the feature race, the Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase in the hands of Wilson Renwick.

And Jim Goldie’s Too Cool To Fool kept up his fine form at the track when winning the Porcelanosa Scotland Novices Limited Handicap Hurdle under young Dale Irving.


THE 2014 flat season at Ayr Racecourse launches on Sunday 27 April with the Raceday featuring seven races.

This earlier than usual start of the season at Ayr is sure to prove popular with leading riders including Graham Lee, Danny Tudhope and Tom Eaves all likely to be in action.

The feature race of the afternoon is the Free Bets At Handicap over a mile at 4.30pm and the action ends at 5.00pm with the longest race of the day, the one mile five furlongs Betting Offers At Handicap.

Gates open at 12 noon with the first race at 2.00pm.

For more information call 01292 264179 or go online

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.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Matt Cardle to open Burns Festival Sunday!

Thirteen may be unlucky for some, but for Matt Cardle fans, it’s a winning number, as the talented singer and X-Factor winner has announced he will headline South Ayrshire’s 13th Burns an’ a’ that! Festival, in Scotland’s Year of Homecoming 2014.

An annual tribute to Scotland's poet Robert Burns, the Festival features a ‘Weekend in the Park’ –  offering two days of free music in a special music tent, plus a host of fun activities, held at Belleisle Park, Ayr. (Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 May 2014). 

Sunday 25 May will now be headlined by Matt (pictured  above), who had been scheduled to switch on the Ayr Christmas Lights in December 2013 but due to unforeseen circumstances was unable to attend.

He promised he would return at a later date and, true to his word, he’s taking time out from his 19-date ‘Porcelain Tour’ to perform at Burns an’ a’ that! – kicking off the second day of the festival’s Weekend in the Park in style, by playing a special acoustic set.

He said: “I’m so excited to finally come to Ayr and to be able to support the Burns an’ a’ that! Festival.  I love Scotland and have always received such warm welcomes on my visits there.”

Matt takes to the stage at 1pm and the open tent provides lots of room for fans to watch Matt perform from within the tent and on the surrounding lawn. However, if the weather is bad the tent may be closed with only the first 500 people admitted –so please arrive early to avoid disappointment.  

Matt will be followed by a unique blend of 20s and 30s frivolity from The Casablanca Steps, the much anticipated return of local legends Southbound and fiddle mashing with urban dance and rock grooves from Bahookie. An evening ticketed gig will feature Jim Diamond and band and popular singer Horse

Saturday 24 May also has a FREE line up including a perfect picnic vibe from The Easy Orchestra, local bands The Hostiles and The Colin Kennedy Band plus two great names of Scottish music – Altered Images and The Blow Monkeys. 

A comedy gig will take place in the evening with the hilarious Keara Murphy’s modern parallel on the Burns poem ‘To A Mouse’ providing an outlook on life, love, loneliness and the need for Snickers bars. 

Throughout the Weekend in the Park there will also be lots more attractions including a teddy bears picnic, the Fresh Ayr Buskers Garden, special Burns trails and arts attractions, Greenhouse Gass, The Burns Mobstars, Arts Market, Food and Drink and much more!

The Festival – which is supported by South Ayrshire Council and Homecoming Scotland – is an annual tribute to Scotland's internationally acclaimed poet Robert Burns, celebrating the best of Scottish talent. This year it also forms part of Scotland’s Year of Homecoming and is sponsored by The Balgarth Pines with charity sponsorship from Children 1st and Festival Friday display sponsorship from Owen Kerr Signs. 

Full details, booking information and updates are available on the Festival’s website at: and on

Homecoming Scotland 2014

In addition to the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup, Homecoming Scotland offers a year-long programme of events and activities to showcase all that's great about Scotland - mouth-watering food & drink events, lots to get you active in our great outdoors plus spectacular arts, cultural and ancestral heritage to explore. Whenever you come and wherever you visit, you’ll be very welcome to join us and be part of Homecoming Scotland 2014! Find out more here:

Matt Cardle

Almost three years have passed since Matt was crowned the winner of the 7th series of The X Factor, the most successful series to date with over 19.1 million viewers. His debut single ‘When We Collide’ sold over 1 million copies and spent 3 weeks at number one. Matt Cardle: ‘The Porcelain Tour’ tickets are available from

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

Friday, 11 April 2014

Historical chair is set to be the driving seat for new Bruce Trail

A carved oak chair, once thought to have belonged to King Robert the Bruce (1274-1329), is being exhibited at the McKechnie Institute in Girvan to help promote local interest in Scotland’s first King and boost a series of themed heritage trails.

The ‘Bruce chair’ was unveiled at the McKechnie by Provost Helen Moonie, and was originally found near Dunfermline Abbey in 1654.

[Pictured: South Ayrshire Provost Helen Moonie (right) is pictured with the ‘Bruce Chair’, Girvan and South Carrick Councillors, and representatives from the Association of Community Councils and the local community.]

It bears two brass plaques stating ‘Carved Oak Arm Chair’ and ‘Believed to have been the property of King Robert the Bruce’. Prominently within the carvings are the initials ‘RB’ although a carving of a coat of arms would have been more likely for a knight or a king at that time.

The design and build of the chair strongly hint that it’s Elizabethan in origin, some 300 years after Bruce’s time, although it may have been re-worked to preserve it after it was found at the Abbey.

However, the linkage to Robert the Bruce is intriguing because he was interred at Dunfermline Abbey’s high altar, so the discovery of a chair with his initials carved on it at this particular site is significant.

And the story of Robert the Bruce, his links and cultural impact in Carrick and South Ayrshire are to be further brought to life through three picturesque trails in the local area as part of a project led by the Association of South Ayrshire Community Councils (ASACC).

These will offer an extensive and joined-up network of paths that all link to the life and times of the King of the Scots covering three areas:

• Central – Maybole, Turnberry, Kirkoswald, Crossraguel Abbey, Maidens 

• North – Ayr, Prestwick, Dundonald, Loans, Barnweil Tower, Tarbolton 

• South – Girvan, Barr and Hadyard Hill, Ballantrae and Loch Ryan 

Supporting the trail, a number of road signs, plaques, information boards, cairns, marker stones and colour booklets are also planned, helping to set the scene and tell the tale of Bruce’s life and legacy in the area.

Provost Moonie said: “South Ayrshire and Carrick enjoy clear links to Robert the Bruce, and I am passionate about the need to preserve and develop such an important heritage.

“The Bruce Chair is an intriguing exhibit, and I hope it will help boost the profile of Robert the Bruce locally, inspiring people to come and learn more about our King and maybe follow in his footsteps.”

ASACC chairman Peter Mason said: “The Bruce Trail offers an ideal opportunity for our rich Bruce heritage to be formally recognised and marketed to those interested in history, both local and national.

"The paths make their way through many of the scenic areas, villages and towns that Bruce would have known, giving us the opportunity to develop additional hospitality, food and entertainment packages.

“We know many have strong and proud links to Bruce and his importance to the tourism potential of South Carrick cannot be underestimated. His time here is equally as important as Bannockburn and we’re keen to exploit that potential to maximum benefit.”

For further information on the Bruce Trail, contact Julia Whitaker at Ailsa Horizons on 01465 710628  or e-mail: 

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

Tidal Bay heading for Scottish Grand National at Ayr Racecourse

By: Iain Ferguson

THE curtain goes up on the 2014 Coral Scottish Grand National Festival this afternoon (Friday) with a seven race card featuring 62 runners.

All the leading jockeys are in action, including champion AP McCoy, Sam Twiston-Davies, Barry Geraghty, Tom Scudamore, Richard Johnson and Choc Thornton.

The feature race of the day is The Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase, and top weight in this is the Lucinda Russell trained, JP McManus owned and AP McCoy ridden Tap Night. Other notable runners here include Brian Ellison’s Viva Colonia and Alan King’s Bless The Wings.

Looking ahead to Saturday’s Coral Scottish Grand National, a full quota of 30 runners will line up including Tidal Bay (pictured above), trained by Paul Nicholls and the mount of Sam Twiston-Davies. Last year’s winner Godsmejudge aims to the first horse to win back to back Scottish Nationals since Androma in 1984-85.

The QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle is also set be given a huge boost with Nicky Henderson sending My Tent Or yours north to take on Court Minstrel, successful last year.

Tickets are selling fast with the Club badges likely to sell out before the first race, although there will be availability in the Grandstand.

For more information go online at 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.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

House prices continue to increase in Scotland as supply fails to meet demand

RICS UK Residential Market Survey, March 2014

Demand for properties last month remained steady, with a net balance of 15 percent more chartered surveyors reported an increase in new buyer enquiries, says the RICS March Residential Market Survey.

Activity in the housing market is now showing encouraging signs of life in many areas that had been fairly stagnant, however, in general the market continues to be hampered by the continued lack of available housing stock. Despite growth in new buyer enquiries, new instructions from vendors in Scotland continued to fall in March as the predicted ‘spring bounce’ failed to materialise, a situation that was reflected in most parts of the UK. 

Significantly, the steady interest from potential buyers continues to be accompanied by rising house prices. During March, a net balance of 32 percent more surveyors saw prices rise rather than fall across Scotland, with this anticipated to continue for the coming months.  Prices rises are not expected to deter buyers, with 46 percent of respondents predicting an increase in sales during the next three months.

Sarah Speirs, Director RICS Scotland, commented: “Now that the housing market recovery is underway and mortgage finance is more readily available, buyers seem to be looking to test the market across Scotland. That said, it is a major concern that we are not seeing enough houses coming onto the market to meet this demand. For the market to operate effectively, we desperately need more homes in areas where people want to buy and want to live. Until this happens we’re likely to see prices to continue to increase and it is going to be ever harder for many first time buyers to enter the market.” 

Looking ahead, with no indication that the imbalance between buyer demand and homes on the market is going to change any time soon, surveyors expected prices to continue to increase as we enter the summer months. 

Andrew Hitchen BSc MRICS, J & E Shepherd, Stirling, commented: “We have continued to see an increase in price levels in smaller properties and new instructions remain encouraging, although the market now needs a greater increase in supply to meet the continued growth in demand.”

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

400 new jobs created in Kilmarnock

First Minister announces jobs and £1.2 million 
investment as part of Scotland Week programme

By: Murdoch MacDonald

Portfolio Recovery Associates UK (PRA UK) is anticipating future growth that could create up to 400 new jobs during the next three years adding to its current 300 staff in Kilmarnock offices, the First Minister Alex Salmond has announced.

The First Minister welcomed the creation of up to 400 new jobs supported by a £1.2 million investment as he continued his successful programme of business engagement in New York. 

PRA UK is a subsidiary of Portfolio Recovery Associates, Inc. (Nasdaq: PRAA), a leader in the US consumer debt buying industry. Ahead of meeting senior PRA representatives in New York as part of his 2014 Scotland Week programme, the First Minister said: “PRA UK is a well-known employer in Kilmarnock and the announcement of hundreds of new jobs is fantastic news for the area.

“Last month, the Scottish Cabinet met in Ayrshire where we focused on community regeneration announcing funding of £1.7 million to help the area flourish.

“I'm looking forward to meeting senior representatives of the company later today in New York as they confirm plans to create these new jobs for Kilmarnock. 

Steve Fredrickson, chairman, president and chief executive officer, PRA said: “Portfolio Recovery Associates sees opportunity for business growth in the UK resulting in additional call centre jobs and other roles. The support of the RSA and East Ayrshire Council will help enable this growth.”

[Pictured left to right: Cllr Jim Buchanan, East Ayrshire Council Spokesperson on Delivering Community Regeneration and East Ayrshire Council Leader Cllr Douglas Reid and, at The Cross, Kilmarnock inside the new office space being developed at The Cross for PRA UK.]

Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council, said: “East Ayrshire Council is delighted with the news that Portfolio Recovery Associates has plans to create another 400 new jobs in Kilmarnock, increasing the workforce of this valued and well-known employer. The Council has worked hand in hand with PRA to identify and fund the redevelopment of town centre office space to continue our priority to bring high value jobs into Kilmarnock town centre.

“The welcome jobs boost, along with financial support, adds to the ongoing regeneration of Kilmarnock as a thriving town which is open for business, as well as being a good place to live, with a strong sense of community and a real heart. This employment on a large scale, is just reward for the effort we are putting in to economic development, and I would encourage any company with growth plans to come and talk to us. I know that local people will make the most of this exciting opportunity, looking ahead to a great future for Kilmarnock and East Ayrshire”.

PRA UK provides consumer debt purchase and collections services to a diverse range of clients within the financial services, retail, telecoms and utilities sectors throughout the UK. For additional information, visit

Tidal Bay remains in Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr Racecourse

By: Iain Ferguson

Tidal Bay, who unseated his rider at the eighth fence in the Grand National at Aintree, heads the weights at the five-day entry stage for the Coral sponsored Scottish equivalent at Ayr on Saturday.

And My Tent Or Yours (pictured above), second in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham last month, remains in the QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle, the main supporting race on the day.

A total of 58 horses remain in the Coral Scottish Grand National including last year’s winner Godsmejudge from the Alan King yard and four horses – Green Flag, Lie Forrit, Nuts N Bolts and Kris Kross – from Lucinda Russell’s Perthshire stables.

It looks as if there will be a maximum field of 30 runners for the £200,000 Scottish National, and others who could go to post are David Pipe’s Edmund Kean, Roalco de Farges from the Philip Hobbs stable and last year’s third Mister Marker, trained by Nicky Richards.

Among the other horses remaining in the QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle are Gordon Elliot’s Flaxen Flare, last year’s winner Court Minstrel from the Evan Williams yard, and the up and coming Clever Cookie trained at Malton by Peter Niven.

And if My Tent Or Yours does run, the sold out signs are likely to go up at the track for the second successive year.

There is more than £530,000 in prize money on offer over the two-day Coral Scottish Grand National Festival, and for more information or to book tickets go online at 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.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

£6 million for Scotland’s marine energy industry

Latest round of WATERS funding launched

By: Murdoch MacDonald

The marine energy sector is to benefit from £6 million in funding to further develop testing of new wave and tidal energy prototypes in the seas around Scotland.

Scottish Enterprise is launching the third round of the remaining competitive funding from the initial WATERS fund in collaboration with Highlands & Islands Enterprise.

This latest round follows the success of WATERS 1 and 2 where six marine energy developers benefitted from £14.8 million funding to further develop testing of new wave and tidal prototypes in the seas around Scotland.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing made the announcement on a visit to tidal energy developer, Oceanflow Development Limited, as it prepares to load out its second generation tidal energy device Evopod on to a vessel on the River Cart in Renfrew, ahead of it being taken for testing in Sanda Sound south of Campbeltown. The development of the Evopod was supported by £560,000 first round of WATERS funding.

To reduce the cost of developing wave and tidal technologies, the WATERS 3 call will promote research and development activities in Scotland aimed at bringing leading marine energy devices to commercial application and enable Scottish developers and supply chain companies to capture an increased share of the growing UK, European and global marine energy market.

Welcoming the launch whilst on a visit to Westway Park in Renfrew Mr Ewing said: “Scotland is leading the world in the development of marine renewable energy. We are at the forefront of developing offshore and low carbon energy generation technology with some of the world’s greatest wind, wave and tidal resources heavily concentrated in the waters around our country. I am excited today to see firsthand the investment made by Scottish Government in the development of Ocean Flow prototype and the launch of this device.

“This latest funding round follows the success of our earlier WATERS support to help developers bring their devices to full-scale testing. The WATERS complements our other funding initiatives and incentives we have in place such as the £18 million Marine Renewables Commercialisation Fund, the Renewable Energy Investment Fund and the Saltire Prize.

“Our ambition for Scotland’s emerging wave and tidal sector remains great. We know that the successful harnessing of ocean power takes hard work and persistence and the Scottish Government is determined to support those within the industry.”

Graeme Mackie, Managing Director of Oceanflow, said: “Scotland with its strong tidal stream resource was the obvious place to test our semi-submerged Evopod turbine (pictured above) and securing the WATERS grant support from Scottish Enterprise made it all possible. There is tremendous potential for this type of renewable power technology both in Scotland and overseas and we are looking forward to hooking up the word’s first grid-connected semi-submerged turbine in Scottish waters later this year.”

Maggie McGinlay, director of energy and low carbon technologies at Scottish Enterprise said: “This latest round of funding will ensure we can help advanced wave and tidal technologies reach the next stage of commercial exploitation. It will develop new technologies with global potential, R&D jobs, and secure the fabrication and deployment of wave and tidal stream technologies in Scotland.”

Calum Davidson, Director for Energy and Low Carbon at HIE, said: “The opportunities from Scotland’s outstanding natural resources are immense and we must continue to support renewable energy companies who are getting close to commercialisation now. HIE welcomes this latest round of funding opportunities which will assist developers to bring their devices to market and realise their ambitions sooner in the emerging global marine market.”

For more information on applying for WATERS 3 visit 

WATERS 3 is a collaborative venture between Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, with funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Companies based in Scotland and Scottish subsidiaries of overseas companies are invited to submit project proposals that will advance wave and tidal energy devices. Priority will be given to applications that support viable projects enabling full-scale proving of devices that have already been tested at part-scale, but smaller-scale demonstration projects will also be considered.

Margo MacDonald

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Build up continues for Coral Scottish Grand National Festival at Ayr Racecourse

By: Iain Ferguson

THE build-up continues apace for the 2014 Coral Scottish Grand National Festival at Ayr Racecourse on Friday 11 April and Saturday 12 April.

The Saturday is fast heading for a sell-out with the combination of some of the sport’s top horses plus superb entertainment proving popular.

The next stage for entries is Monday 7 April when the 88 horses entered for the Coral Scottish Grand National and the 55 currently in the QTS Champion Hurdle will have to decide whether they will stand their ground.

And the final declarations for both races will be on Thursday 10 April at 10.00am.

Last year's winner Godsmejudge (pictured above) looks like coming north again to defend his crown and become the first horse since Androma in 1985 to complete back to back doubles in Scotland’s richest race.

The QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle sees the 55 entries headed by the extremely talented Cheltenham Champion Hurdle second My Tent Or Yours from the all-powerful Nicky Henderson yard which is sure to be a huge crowd puller if running.

Large crowds flock to the track to enjoy the racing and also some superb entertainment. After racing on Friday there are two great bands to keep the party in full flow until 8.30pm.

In the Ayrshire Suite the fabulous Honey Moons will perform their versions of all-time classic hits, while in the Horseshoe Bar top covers band Dakota will also have the crowd dancing to some fabulous sounds.

And after the final race on Saturday at 5.45pm there will be three hours of live music in the Horseshoe Bar from the sensational Gangsters of Groove.

And in the Ayrshire Suite top radio disc jockey Colin McArdle will entertain the crowds with chart sounds old and new.

To avoid disappointment on the day book tickets in advance by calling 01292 264179 or go online at

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.

South Ayrshire Council pledges high quality services and balanced budget for 2014/15

The continued delivery of high-quality services while balancing the books is being promised by South Ayrshire Council as the local authority gears up to achieve efficiency savings of £4.6 million in this financial year.

The Council will spend more than £247 million of revenue funding for 2014/15, with investment focused on addressing the Council's priorities of the local economy, children and families, adults and older people, communities, and the environment.

However, it also has to deliver on the £4.6 million of efficiency savings agreed by Councillors in December last year. 

The planned savings will come from a reduction in rental costs, reviews of staffing structures, changes to services to ensure they are targeted where they are most needed and a review of some charges.

Councillor Bill McIntosh, Leader of the Council (pictured above) said: “As I’ve said before, we can’t just keep doing what we’ve always done. We have to constantly look at what we do and how we do it and make changes where we can to deliver both high-quality services for our people and communities AND a balanced budget.

“For me, that’s all about finding smarter, better and different ways of working to ensure we can meet the financial challenges we face over the next few years.

“So I was encouraged by the recently-published Accounts Commission report that says Councils needs to have an open mind about how best to deliver services and not just focus on cutting staff numbers.

“That’s very much been part of our strategy within the Council in recent years and we have been doing all we can to keep any reduction in staff numbers to an absolute minimum. We have achieved this to the best of our abilities; however, with far less money available to us, we’ve not been able to avoid this completely.”

It’s anticipated that up to 79 posts may be deleted over the course of 2014/15 as a result of the agreed efficiency measures.

Councillor McIntosh added: “It’s never an easy decision to delete any post and it’s not something we take lightly. But we have to be realistic and, with almost half of our gross revenue budget (some 43%) allocated to employee costs, I’m confident we have kept the number of potential redundancies to a minimum.

“As always, we would hope to achieve the necessary staff savings through voluntary severance, redeployment, changes to working hours/arrangements and turnover. And if there is a way to achieve the savings without losing posts, we will do what we can.

“2014/15 will be another challenging year for the Council and we will continue to make the very best of the resources available to deliver for the people and communities of South Ayrshire.”

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

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Children’s art exhibition comes to Ayr

For the first time, the winning artwork of talented children and young people across Scotland, including talented artists from South Ayrshire Council schools, is now on display in the Beanscene, Alloway Place, Ayr until 30 May 2014. 

[Councillor Margaret Toner, Lifelong Learning Portfolio Holder (third from left) opened the exhibition and is pictured with winners and guests.]

The annual ‘Tesco Bank Art Competition for Schools’ is run in partnership with the National Galleries of Scotland and uses artwork from the national collection as a stimulus for creating new original pieces. It is fantastic to see how young people, inspired by a common theme create new and original artwork which is unique and engaging. This exhibition, selected from over 11,200 entries, highlights the very best artwork from our young people and shows the different artistic techniques and ideas used in each piece.

Another first for us is that a team of talented youngsters from Girvan Academy Robyn McGeorge, Becca Patterson and Tania McTaggart were awarded first place in the Group Category.  Inspired by the theme of dogs, the team used technology to create a series of colourful patchwork pieces which are vibrant and eye catching.

[Pictured: Girvan Academy trio Robyn McGeorge, Becca Patterson and Tania McTaggart were awarded first place in the Group Category. They are pictured here with South Ayrshire Councillor Alec Oattes, from the Girvan and South Carrick ward. Inspired by the theme of dogs, the team used technology to create a series of colourful patchwork pieces which are vibrant and eye catching.]

The team were overjoyed to discover they had won this prestigious national award. They said: “We are delighted that our pieces have received first place, at first we couldn’t quite believe it. Going along to the National Galleries at The Mound in Edinburgh to receive our award and seeing our artwork displayed in the gallery there was such an honour. It is just amazing that our artwork is on display for everyone to see, and now that it is coming to Ayr we are really excited to be able to see it again as part of the exhibition and share it with the people of South Ayrshire.”

The competition also recognised children whose artwork is worthy of Special Merit and Anna Hunter from Kingcase Primary School in Prestwick was one of a handful of children across the country to be recognised in this way.  Anna used a combination of colour wash and line drawing to depict her piece of a dog out for a walk.  Anna said: “I really enjoy doing art and it is nice to share it with people so that they can enjoy it too.”

[Pictured: The competition recognised a small number of children whose artwork was worthy of Special Merit, and Anna Hunter from Kingcase Primary School in Prestwick was one of a handful of children across the country to be recognised in this way.]

Councillor Margaret Toner, Lifelong Learning Portfolio Holder for the Council who opened the exhibition said: “The artwork is outstanding and it shows what talented young people we have in our schools. 

“To be placed in a national art competition is a great achievement. However, I think that having it exhibited at the National Galleries and then coming to your home area of South Ayrshire is magical.

“I would encourage everyone to go along and have a look at the exhibition, enjoy the colours, the shapes and the way that our artistically talented young people have created outstanding works. 

“It is wonderful that Curriculum for Excellence gives us an opportunity to recognise, celebrate and showcase the specialist talents of young people.  Taking part in artistic and cultural activities is an integral part of what makes us well-rounded people.  I particularly enjoyed chatting with the youngsters and seeing first-hand the confidence this opportunity has given them, they are a real inspiration to us all”

Tesco Bank have sponsored a series of art workshops for young people and teaching staff across the country. 

Adele Mills, Community Investment Manager at Tesco Bank said: “Tesco Bank uses its scale for good in the communities we operate by helping to provide meaningful opportunities for children and young people. We are delighted to bring the Tesco Bank Art Competition Exhibition to South Ayrshire so that many more people have the opportunity to enjoy the winning artwork which has been created by some of the country’s most talented young artists, including those from Girvan Academy and Kingcase Primary School.”

Linda McClelland, Playfair Education Co-ordinator at the National Galleries said: “Every year it is super to see the diversity of artwork created by young people from across Scotland.  Last year over 750 entries were received from youngsters in South Ayrshire which we were really delighted about.  We are heading into our 11th Year of our National Art Competition and I would like to say it’s not too late to become involved.  Entries for this year’s competition close on Friday 2 May 2014 at 4pm and I am eagerly anticipating opening the mail to see what our talented young artists come up with.”

Ross Mackenzie, Operations Manager at Beanscene said: “We are really delighted to be able to collaborate with Tesco Bank and the National Galleries to host this fantastic exhibition   Our Ayr Coffee House is such a great space and we are looking forward to having the artwork on display for people to enjoy, especially the pieces created by our local youngsters.”

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