The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Friday, 31 August 2007

Ayrshire company Begg Scotland nominated
for Scottish cashmere fashion award

A leading Ayrshire textile company has been shortlisted for one of
Scotland's most prestigious fashion awards for its innovative and
contemporary designs.

Begg Scotland has been nominated in the Cashmere / Textile Designer of
the Year at this year’s Scottish Fashion Awards, sponsored by Scottish
Enterprise’s Scottish Textiles team.

[Picture shows: Miss Scotland, Lois Weatherup, modelling a coat which was made by Scottish designer Sandra Murray. Sandra Murray was commissioned by Begg to create some catwalk garments suitable for the Dressed To Kilt Event which took place in New York in April this year. The exclusive coat was made from a Begg Scotland printed cashmere throw. Photograph by Lloyd Bishop.]

The company will battle it out with other leading textile companies
including Pringle of Scotland, Johnstons Cashmere, Queen & Belle and
Todd & Duncan for the accolade at a glittering VIP Gala dinner at
Stirling Castle on 9 September.

The shortlisted companies were selected by a judging panel consisting of
some of the leading names in the UK and international fashion scene
including Kate Phelen, fashion director of British Vogue; Brigitte
Stepputtis, head of couture at Vivienne Westwood; and Garry Van Dis, vice-president of Conde Nast publications.

Begg Scotland was recognised following the launch of its new print
design ‘Balmoral‘, launched in February 2007, which emphasises its
unique Scottish heritage while incorporating a vivid colour palette.
The company commissioned Scottish designer Sandra Murray to create a
bespoke garment using the fabric and the result was the ‘Balmoral Fire’
coat-dress, which was one of the showcase designs at this year’s Dressed
to Kilt event in New York.

Kirsty Scott, head of Scottish Textiles team at Scottish Enterprise,
says: “We are delighted to be supporting the Scottish Fashion Awards
again this year. The nominees for this year’s Textile/Cashmere designer
of the year are all leading the way in design and innovation. It is
vitally important that we help support Scottish textiles companies to
invest more in design to ensure that Scotland remains famous around the
world for producing high quality, innovative fabrics and Scottish
fashion remains on the international catwalk.

“The Scottish Fashion Awards help to showcase the wonderful talent in
Scotland’s fashion and design sector and celebrate young designers in
Scotland who have huge potential to promote Scotland’s reputation for
producing high quality innovative textiles to audiences both at home and

The winner of the Textile / Cashmere Designer of the Year award will be
announced alongside the other nine categories, which will include
designers, retailers, models, fashion communicators, fashion icons and
accessory designers. Each winner will receive a handcrafted art piece
specially designed by internationally renowned Scottish sculptor Andy
Scott, whose work has been exhibited in cities around the world.

The event will also honour an individual whose outstanding career in
fashion will be celebrated by an induction into the Scottish Fashion
Awards Hall of Fame, sponsored by Bentley Motors Limited.

Jamie Fraser, managing director of Hamilton & Inches and chairman of the judging panel said: “In only its second year, the Scottish Fashion
Awards are already proving their worth and importance to Scotland. We
have had a record number of entries and nominations and the standard is
extremely high. The judges have been set an exciting challenge to select
the winner for each category. Hamilton & Inches are delighted to be the
headline sponsor of the Scottish Fashion Awards for the second year. The
success of Scots in the fashion industry, both in the UK and
internationally, is something to be highlighted and celebrated.”

Event founder/producer Tessa Hartmann added: “The Scottish Fashion
Awards represent an incredible opportunity for Scottish fashion talent
to be seen by respected fashion authorities from around the world. The
cashmere / textile industry in Scotland alone employs around 19,000
people and fashion itself is the fourth largest employer in the UK. With
so many Scots doing wonderful things on the international catwalks for
their own labels and global brands, it was without time to celebrate and
acknowledge that fact. As an event, we are delighted that we have
brought so much awareness to so many different types of fashion creators
and innovators from Scotland - that’s what this is all about!”

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Former Ayrshire lawyer starts promising new career as an artist

A FORMER local government lawyer is beginning to turn his lifelong hobby into a very promising second career.

Picture shows: Graham Korn.

Kilmaurs-based Graham Korn (59) accepted early retirement earlier this year from his job as a solicitor with South Ayrshire Council and took up his crayons to work full-time in his studio at home as a professional artist.

Graham has always been interested in drawing, but in 1986 he started working in soft pastels, a medium in which he has specialised ever since.

He explains: “By using soft pastels I can achieve extraordinarily bright colours as well as a subtlety of colouring that I think would be difficult with any other medium. And it is easier to mix and merge colours to reproduce skin tones very realistically in portraits. Pastels are great to work with, and I also use pastel pencils for finer, more detailed work.”

Graham has already achieved considerable success, particularly in the Rozelle Open Competition at the McLaurin Gallery in aid of Children in Need, where he won first prize with his painting of the Auld Kirk in Alloway, and was also runner-up on another occasion with one of the Waverley paddle steamer.

Graham specialises in portraits of children and pets and paintings of buildings - particularly people’s houses.

He attracts commissions largely through his reputation spreading by word of mouth recommendations, but he also exhibits regularly at local galleries.

Graham recently achieved a commission from the National Trust for Scotland to paint a favourite view of Brodick Castle on the Isle of Arran (see photograph), which has opened up an additional revenue stream through the sale of prints and hand-made cards.

Picture shows: Brodick Castle, Isle of Arran by Graham Korn. Copyright.

He is also in negotiations with Kelburn Castle to reproduce in card form the cartoons by Brazilian graffiti artists which currently cover the external walls of the castle.

To find out more telephone 01563 529075 (from outside the UK +44 (0)1563 529075). You can see further examples of Graham’s work online by logging on to and going to the Fine Art section.

Monday, 27 August 2007

Ayr Racecourse's Gold Cup Festival hits £500,000 in prize money

SCOTLAND'S richest flat race meeting - the totesport Ayr Gold Cup Festival has just become richer, and will hit the £500,000 mark in prize money for the first time ever this year.

Picture shows: Fonthill Road, the winner of the Gold Cup 2006 at Ayr Racecourse.

The festival, which runs from Thursday September 20 through until Saturday September 22, features three Class 1 races in addition to the Gold Cup and the Silver Cup, both Class 2 events, and many more great races.

Both the Laundry Cottage Stud Firth Of Clyde Stakes, a Group 3 event, and the Doonside Cup, a Listed Race, have £10,000 increases to their prize funds, making the cash on offer £60,000 and £50,000 respectively.

The 28 runners which will contest the totesport Ayr Gold Cup, Europe’s richest sprint handicap, will be vying for a share of £121,000 - while the similar sized field in the totesport Ayr Silver Cup will be chasing £35,000.

Other notable races include the Knight Frank Handicap for the Kilkerran Cup (£20,000), the James Barr Chartered Surveyors Harry Roseberry Stakes, a Listed Race (£30,000) and the Totescoop6 Ayrshire Handicap Stakes (£25,000).

Ayr Racecourse managing director Richard Johnstone said: “It is a bit of a landmark to hit £500,000 in prize money for the Gold Cup Festival. In addition to the Gold Cup and Silver Cup we are keen to build the likes of the Doonside Cup and Firth Of Clyde Stakes.

“The latter this year is sponsored for the first time by Laundry Cottage Stud, which is actually owned by a Scot in Colin Bryce, and I am delighted by that.

“I believe the three days racing will be amongst the best ever on the flat in Scotland.”

Advance bookings are being taken for the totesport Ayr Gold Cup Festival, and there is 10% discount for single bookings or 20% for parties of 20 or more. Both offers are subject to bookings being made seven or more days in advance, and you can book online at or by telephoning 0870-8505666.
Western House Hotel in Ayr shortlisted for Scottish Thistle Awards

THE Western House Hotel at Ayr Racecourse is among 35 top tourism businesses which have made it through to the finals of this year’s prestigious VisitScotland Scottish Thistle Awards.

Picture shows: The Western House Hotel

The Western House Hotel has been shortlisted in the Customer Care (Serviced Accommodation) category, along with Clach Mhuilinn, Inverness and the Radisson SAS Hotel, Edinburgh.

Ayr Racecourse general manager William Gorol expressed his delight at Western House Hotel making it through to the Finals of the Scottish Thistle Award for Customer Care. William said: “The Thistle Awards reflect the pinnacle of the Scottish hospitality industry, and I am thrilled that Western House Hotel has reached the finals.

“Customer care is probably the most important aspect of the hospitality industry, and at Western House we have left no stone unturned in making sure our customers are given the very best care and service.”

Now in their 16th year, the awards were open to all businesses operating in Scotland’s tourism industry.

Congratulating the finalists, Tourism Minister Jim Mather said: “These awards recognise people who are delivering the very best of Scottish hospitality. I congratulate all those shortlisted. They have achieved high standards, and have not only boosted their own individual businesses, but also Scotland’s economy as a whole.

“The Scottish Thistle Awards are yet another reminder of the skills, talent and drive shown by our tourism industry. The Scottish government is determined to work with the industry to build on our successes, boost tourism figures and increase sustainable economic growth.”

Over 200 entries were received for this year’s Scottish Thistle Awards. Each category had its own independent panel of judges who work to a strict scoring system.

VisitScotland Ayrshire & Arran Area Director Catriona Mackie said; “I am really impressed by the top quality entries from Ayrshire this year, and congratulate The Western House Hotel on making it onto the shortlist, and wish them the best of luck in the final stages of judging.

“We know that it is the little things we do which will make the difference and keep visitors coming back to Ayrshire & Arran for more.

“The Scottish Thistle Awards recognise small and large businesses across Scotland which go that extra mile to drive up quality and make Scotland and Ayrshire & Arran a must visit, must return destination.”

Visit the Western House Hotel website: CLICK HERE
Gem of an Ayrshire business starts to sparkle

IT was an article in a magazine that set Kerri Marshall (26) from Irvine on her current career path.

Picture shows: Kerri Marshall.

And since that fateful day three years ago, she has made not one, but two applications to the Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust (PSYBT) for financial support to help turn her dreams into reality.

Kerri had always nurtured a passion for costume jewellery, handbags and fashion accessories. And then, while still working in admin at the Procurator Fiscal’s office in Kilmarnock, she read an article about how to make jewellery for herself.

Before she knew it, she was taking a trip to Glasgow, to buy a jewellery-making kit.

She still makes jewellery, but never has enough time - now that she runs her own boutique called Glam Rocks in Kilmarnock’s Queen Street plus an at-home sales service.

Kerri explains: “When I do get the time to make my own jewellery, I find that it usually sells within a day or two of going on sale. And I then promise to myself I should make more, but there’s always so much else to do.”

Her own jewellery bears the name of her shop, Glam Rocks, and occupies a small section of her Kilmarnock premises - which is otherwise devoted to the jewellery, handbags and fashion accessories of other designers.

While her first visit to the PSYBT was to help fund the opening of her shop, the second has been to assist in realising her expansion plans - not a second shop, however, but her ‘party plan’ service.

At least once a week, Kerri and four other party plan consultants are each
conducting a Glam Rocks party being hosted in people’s houses. At these parties the girls sell jewellery and accessories from the boutique.

The consultants work on a commission basis, and the party hostesses receive free gifts, discounts and special promotions.

“It’s a lot of fun,” says Kerri, explaining why she should wish to attend a party after a full day working in the shop. “I had intended to take a step back from it, when I took on the other girls, but I enjoy it so much. I like meeting new people, I am a people person.

“My application to the PSYBT Growth Fund was to help produce promotional literature for the party plan service, and also to increase my stock levels to meet the expected additional demand.

“The party plan service has been really successful. I started the parties at the start of the year and, as far as the future of Glam Rocks is concerned, it’s the party plan route I am looking to develop rather than opening up a second shop for the time being.”

“In the next 12 months, I aim to increase the number of consultants that I employ from five to 20.”

To find out more, telephone 01563 551 221 or visit