The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Sunday, 30 September 2007

“Elvis is in the Building” - as
"The King" returns to Prestwick Airport

The King of Rock n’ Roll, Elvis Presley, returned to Prestwick Airport in Ayrshire, Scotland last week – 47 years after the first and only time he set foot in the UK.

Stewart Stevenson MSP, Minister for Transport, Infrastructure & Climate Change, also visited and spoke to assembled guests and media as the airport celebrates two years of work on new retail units and infrastructure improvements.

[Picture shows Elvis being met on arrival by Prestwick Airport chief executive Mark Rodwell - or is it David Brent from "The Office?]

The Minister unveiled a plaque in the terminal building which celebrates Elvis’s last visit on 3 March 1960, when he had finished national service with the US Army and his aircraft made a brief refuelling stop as he flew home from Germany.

[Picture shows Elvis and Prestwick Airport chief executive Mark Rodwell at the plaque commemorating Elvis's visit to Prestwick Airport in 1960.]

Today’s Elvis, played by Gordon Hendricks, arrived on board a private jet and was welcomed by fans, airport staff, members of the media and Kilmarnock man Ian Ghee, who met the real Elvis and took photographs of him when he arrived in 1960.

[Picture shows Elvis meeting Kilmarnock man Ian Ghee.]

Ian, now 73, was working with the 67th US Air Rescue Squadron in the grounds of the airport on that now famous evening. He said: “I remember my boss telling me we had a VIP arriving, and at first he wouldn’t tell me who it was.

“My brother was a massive Elvis fan and I managed to get him in by giving him the spare camera and saying he was my assistant. Some of us followed him around as he was given a tour with the base commander for about three quarters of an hour.

“We managed to get some shots of him on the steps of the plane and while there were plenty of press people there, I was the only photographer.”

Infratil Airports Europe, the owner of Glasgow Prestwick, has introduced a number of exciting new retail brands including Starbucks, Yates’s bar and restaurant, and the quintessential Scottish retailer Peckham’s.

A new, contemporary Elvis tribute bar situated in the departure lounge has been designed exclusively for the airport and is part of a major upgrade by Select Service Partners of its food and beverage outlets.

The departures lounge also boasts a new Tax and Duty Free store operated by internationally renowned retailer Nuance, which offers all the top brands at great prices.

Glasgow Prestwick Airport chief executive Mark Rodwell said: “We’re delighted that Elvis and the Minister took time out of their schedules to be here today to help us mark all the changes that have taken place over the last two years or so.

“After the terminal building was refurbished and rebranded in 2005, our next task was to improve the retails units here at Glasgow Prestwick.

“Infratil wants to offer our customers the best choice possible by bringing in recognizable, good quality local and international brands in order to cater for different tastes.

“There has also been a big focus on improving our car parking facilities, while many other new developments of a subtle nature have taken place, designed to improve the passenger experience.

“We are very proud of the fact that we have managed to implement new security requirements while improving, rather than reducing, passenger service standards.

“Aside from the terminal changes, the last two years or so have also seen a number of new passenger routes introduced. These include Marseille, Warsaw, Gdansk, Riga, Grenoble and Derry. Coming soon we have Belfast, Budapest, Kaunas, Cork and Poznan.”

The Minister, Stewart Stevenson, added: “I am delighted to be at Glasgow Prestwick Airport today to mark the opening of the redeveloped terminal. This project further strengthens the airport’s position as a gateway for Scotland.

“The added space and facilities will be of real benefit to the growing number of passengers who use this airport. I wish the airport all the very best for the coming years and the Scottish Government looks forward to working with the airport in future.”

Gordon Hendricks recently appeared on the BBC’s ‘The World’s Greatest Elvis’ and a special celebrity version of ‘The Weakest Link’. He rose to prominence as the winner of ITV’s ‘Stars in their Eyes’ in 2005.

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