The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Elite Ayrshire Business Circle marks Liberty Belle’s visit to Prestwick

By: Murdoch MacDonald

Ayrshire, Scotland, 3 July 2008--THE Liberty Belle B-17 Flying Fortress roared out of the clouds and in a spectacular manoeuvre turned on its side in salute and at low altitude swept imperiously across the tarmac of Glasgow Prestwick Airport before landing safely outside the terminal building of private jet charter and aircraft handling company Ocean Sky.

[Liberty Belle owner and pilot Don Brooks steps down onto the tarmac at Glasgow Prestwick Airport to be met by South Ayrshire Council Provost Winifred Sloan and deputy leader Margaret Toner. Behind, in the fluorescent jacket, is Ocean Sky managing director Eddie Allison. CLICK ON ANY IMAGE TO VIEW / DOWNLOAD FULL-SIZE VERSION.]

The veteran American bomber aircraft made an overnight stop in Ayrshire as part of its 7,800 mile European Tour from its home in Georgia, USA in honour of all veterans of World War II. Piloted by owner Don Brooks, the Liberty Belle will proceed to RAF Duxford in England, arriving tomorrow, 4 July and American Independence Day.

The aircraft played a key role in the fight against Nazi Germany. It has had millions of dollars worth of restoration work performed over the last 20 years, and is one of the last B-17s still flying.

[Welcoming Liberty Belle owner and pilot Don Brooks to Ayrshire. Left to right: John Scott, MSP for Ayr; South Ayrshire Council Provost Winifred Sloan; Professor Dugald Cameron; Liberty Belle owner and pilot Don Brooks; South Ayrshire Council deputy leader Margaret Toner: and Elite Ayrshire Business Circle managing director Murdoch MacDonald.]

To mark the occasion of the Liberty Belle’s visit to Ayrshire, members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle presented the crew with two prints depicting famous aircraft associated with Scottish aviation history, autographed by the artist Professor Dugald Cameron.

Elite Ayrshire Business Circle managing director Murdoch MacDonald said: “I would like to thank Don Brooks and his crew for the professional and unflappably amiable way in which they dealt with the media and the welcoming crowds. This cannot have been easy after what must have been a long, cold and arduous journey.”

John Scott, MSP for Ayr, South Ayrshire Council Provost Winifred Sloan and deputy leader Margaret Toner were at the airport to greet Don Brooks and the Liberty Belle crew.

[Pictured: John Scott, MSP for Ayr (left) and South Ayrshire Council Provost Winifred Sloan (centre) greet Liberty Belle owner and pilot Don Brooks after touch-down at Glasgow Prestwick Airport.]

John Scott MSP said: “This was a tremendous occasion, ably organised by Ocean Sky. It was an exciting evening for all of us privileged to be at Glasgow Prestwick Airport. The visit of the Liberty Belle brought back memories of a bygone era, and reminded us of the very special relationship that existed between Great Britain and the United States of America during the Second World War, and which still flourishes today. Seeing the Flying Fortress return to Prestwick was a fitting tribute to the bravery and commitment of the soldiers, sailors and airmen of both our two countries during conflicts in the last century, and still evident in foreign wars today.”

[Pictured: Don Brooks with the Liberty Belle at Glasgow Prestwick Airport.]

South Ayrshire Council Provost Winifred Sloan said: “It was an honour and a privilege to be included in the visit of the Liberty Belle, and it was thrilling to actually board the plane and see exactly the conditions the pilot and crew had to work under.

“Although from the outside the plane looks enormous, due to the four large engines and a huge wingspan, the inside told a very different story. It is long and skinny and reminds you of a cigar tube. The fuselage of the plane has no cladding to keep out the cold as in modern planes, and it must have been freezing. I understand the pilots wore ‘electric clothing’ that could be plugged in, to keep them warm!

“Congratulations go to Eddie Allison of Ocean Sky for organising the visit to honour all veterans of the second world war. People need to be reminded what our military personnel fought for, particularly in this day and age when we have troops based in war-torn countries.

“The choice of Prestwick to land the Liberty Belle was truly fitting, due to strong connection with the McIntyres and the Twin Pioneer. South Ayrshire Council really appreciated the publicity created by this wonderful old lady landing in Prestwick, and congratulations are extended to all who made this possible - and particularly to the crew, who were delightful.”

[Pictured: the Liberty Belle at Glasgow Prestwick Airport.]

South Ayrshire Council deputy leader Margaret Toner added: "It was a great thrill for the Provost and I to sit in the pilot’s seat in the cockpit, especially as this historic B17 plane had just flown all the way from Iceland. It gives one a taste of what it must have been like for the air crew during the Second World War. The visit by Liberty Belle was a wonderful reminder of the part Prestwick and its airport played in the wartime struggles, and the heroism of the airmen who flew these planes."

Ocean Sky managing director Eddie Allison said: “Ocean Sky were tipped off that the Liberty Belle was planning a European trip several weeks ago. At that time they had planned to stop at another airfield, so we invited them to consider Prestwick. They agreed, and the result was this historic visit. It is extremely rare to see a B-17, and Ocean Sky were delighted to have hosted the visit.”

Aviation historian Professor Dugald Cameron added: “Boeing B-17s were a very common sight at Prestwick during and after the Second World War, both in US Army Air Force / USAF and Royal Air Force (Coastal Command) service.

“Many were serviced by Scottish Aviation Ltd at Prestwick, which later became British Aerospace, and then BAE SYSTEMS. In April 2006, the BAE SYSTEMS business unit was taken over by Spirit Aerosystems of Wichita, Kansas, USA.

“A few BA-17s could still be seen in the skies over Ayrshire in the early 1950s on search and rescue duties by the USAF.”

Together with Roderick Galbraith and Douglas Thomson, Professor Dugald Cameron is the co-author of the book From Pilcher to the Planets - an overview of Glasgow and the West of Scotland’s contribution to aviation as seen against the history of flight and a view of the art of engineering. Published by the University of Glasgow (2003).

A copy of Professor Cameron's book was presented to the crew of the Liberty Belle, along with the two aviation prints.

Photography by:

Graeme Pollock
Tel: 07792 327693



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Elite Ayrshire Business Circle at private jet company Ocean Sky

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RAF fly in for Family Day fun at Ayr Racecourse

By: Iain Ferguson

FUN for everyone… that’s totesport Family Day at Ayr Racecourse on Sunday 6 July when not only will there be some very special visitors from the RAF but also a personal appearance from children’s entertainer Magic Malky.

There’s a bouncy castle, bucking bronco, inflatable sumo wrestling, beat the goalie, pony rides, face painting and fun fair rides. And the great news is that all children under 16 accompanied by an adult gain free admission to the course.

The RAF will be out in force during the day as part of its 90th anniversary celebrations. There will be a static display of helicopters featuring a Griffin, Gazelle and Squirrel (pictured above), a display from HMS Gannet’s search and rescue team and a field hospital unit plus many more interesting displays.

Away from the military action Magic Malky will provide his own special brand of entertainment in the Ayrshire Suite from 12.30pm when he will be performing his award winning Magic Show, at 1.30pm he will be back on stage with his Punch & Judy Show and at 2.30pm Malky will host a Game Show, with another Magic Show at 3.30pm and a Talent Show at 4.00pm.

And in addition to all the off-course fun there’s the small matter of seven competitive races with the feature race, The Campbeltown Bar Stewart Scott Memorial Handicap over a mile at 4.50pm.

Racing gets under way at 2.20pm with the Bet totepool On All UK Racing Handicap over six furlongs while the final action of the day is The WaterAid Ladies Night 9 August Amateur Riders Handicap over five furlongs at 5.20pm.

Ayr Racecourse marketing manager Lindsey Smith said: “This should be our best ever Family Day, and we are indebted to the RAF for coming along and bringing so much with them. The static display of helicopters looks like being the busiest place on the racecourse.

“And the children all love Magic Malky and he will be performing five shows throughout the afternoon.”

Special Family Grandstand tickets are on sale for £19.50 and entitle two adults and four children to entry and these can be booked in advance on or 0870-8505666.

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Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Ayrshire Coastal Path will bring more tourists and economic benefits

By: Murdoch MacDonald

SOUTH AYRSHIRE COUNCIL Provost Winifred Sloan, Depute Provost Ian Clarkson of North Ayrshire Council and guests have officially opened the Ayrshire Coastal Path at a ceremony (pictured below) next to the Low Green in Ayr.


The Ayrshire Coastal Path runs from Skelmorlie in North Ayrshire to Glenapp in South Ayrshire, a total distance of just over 100 miles. The Path includes detours to the Burns National Heritage Centre and Dundonald Castle, and connects with many other walks and paths.

Provost Winifred Sloan said: “The Ayrshire Coastal Path is yet another great facility that the people of Ayrshire and visitors to the area can enjoy. While outdoors exercising in the fresh air people will be able to experience and enjoy magnificent scenery.

“The path provides an uninterrupted walk from Largs to Girvan with bridges spanning rivers along the way. There are many historical sites situated on or adjacent to the walk that can be easily accessed. Walkers who visit them will bring economic benefits to the villages and towns that they are situated in.

“I am sure that the Ayrshire Coastal Path will soon become as famous as the West Highland Way, and further raise the profile of Ayrshire. I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in this ambitious project, it shows what can be achieved with good teamwork.”

Immediately after the unveiling of a commemorative sign to mark the Ayrshire Coastal Path a group of Hospice supporters started off from the Low Green on a sponsored walk. The walkers were raising funds for the Ayrshire Hospice at the same time as raising the profile of the Ayrshire Coastal path. Nigel Martin OBE, Chair of the Ayrshire Hospice, was at the launch to give his support to those taking part in the sponsored walk and those who generously sponsored them.

Further information about the Ayrshire Coastal Path can be obtained by logging on to

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South Ayrshire Council Provost’s Medal
presented to Dr James A Begg MBE

By: Murdoch MacDonald

SOUTH AYRSHIRE COUNCIL Provost Winifred Sloan hosted a Civic Reception to mark the opening of the Ayrshire Coastal Path, but an unsuspecting guest got the surprise of his life when the Provost presented him with something very special.

On very rare occasions the Provost of South Ayrshire Council presents a Provost’s medal to an individual, or a group of people, that they think has achieved outstanding things either personally or professionally.

[Pictured at the presentation of the Provost’s Medal: Dr James Begg, his wife Helen and Provost Winifred Sloan. CLICK ON IMAGE TO VIEW / DOWNLOAD FULL-SIZE VERSION.]

Speaking about the presentation Provost Sloan said: “All his life Dr Begg has worked tirelessly for the community, he has put others’ needs before his own, and made personal sacrifices to follow his chosen career path.

“Giving seems to be second nature in the Begg family, his wife Helen was a nurse, their son Colin is a doctor, and their daughter Fiona is a physiotherapist. His family have all supported him and helped him to achieve his goals.

“I know that he likes to just get on with things, and not to have any fuss made about his achievements. However, on this occasion he was firmly in the spotlight when I presented him with his Provost’s Medal.”

Dr James Begg, or Jimmy as most people know him, was born in New Cumnock.

He attended Glasgow University, and in 1968 became a General Practitioner in Ayr. He was a founder member of the Road Accident Emergency Service and of the Air Sea Rescue at HMS Gannet. For these achievements, and for his service to medicine, he was awarded an MBE in 1995.

Having recorded many of his varied life experiences Jimmy has had several books published including two on his experiences with HMS Gannet as a Flying Doctor and GP at the base, one about the history of Ayr hospitals and one of Ayrshire poems in Ayrshire dialect.

Jimmy was a Water Bailiff for a number of years, and it was during that time that he had a vision of creating an Ayrshire Coastal Path and now this has happened.

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