The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Saturday, 25 June 2011

South Ayrshire Provost Winifred Sloan launches military veterans support network

Veterans First Point Ayrshire, a new support network for veterans across Ayrshire, has been launched with military precision by South Ayrshire’s Veterans Champion, Provost Winifred Sloan at Ayr Town Hall.

Veterans First Point Ayrshire has been established to support veterans, their families and friends, to support servicemen and women whether they have just left the armed forces recently or years ago. A booklet that was launched at the event was created to help veterans and their families. Containing information and contacts on housing, health and welfare, mental health, finance, careers and much more it quickly directs people to where they can get advice, guidance and support.

[Pictured: Lance Corporal Michael Monaghan, (25), a war veteran who served in Afghanistan with the Queen’s Welsh Dragoon Guards in 2008 is pictured with South Ayrshire Provost Winifred Sloan reading the the new Veterans First Point Ayrshire information booklet.]

Speaking at the event Provost Sloan said: “Today’s event reflects the hard work and dedication of a range of organisations who were determined to bring about the creation of Veterans First Point Ayrshire.

“Veterans, their families and friends will now be able to access free advice, guidance and support that will help them when they leave the armed forces. No matter how long they have served in the armed forces. Our servicemen and women need and deserve support when they make the transition to civilian life and that support needs to be sustained for years to come. These people are willing to literally lay down their lives for their country and we have a responsibility to be there for them when they need it.

“The new Veterans First Point Ayrshire information booklet is just the start. Specially created and packed with information on who to contact for advice or guidance about a range of topics including finance, housing, health and employment the booklet is great, it will be invaluable to veterans, their families and friends with at a glance contact details.

“However there’s much more to come and we are already looking for permanent premises to create a drop-in centre for veterans and their families. This is just the start of more support for our deserving veterans.

“Veterans First Point Ayrshire is run by veterans for veterans, so there are people ready to help who really understand what veterans go through. I’m sure this new support network will be a great success and I look forward to continuing to work with all the partners involved to ensure that’s achieved.”

Veterans First Point Ayrshire is a joint project involving a wide range of partners: A (Ayrshire (Earl of Carrick’s Own) Yeomanry) Squadron, The Queen’s Own Yeomanry, Armed Forces Veterans Association, Ayr Housing Aid, Career Transition Partnership (CTP), Combat Stress, Forces Families Support Centre, Gardening Leave, Hands for Heroes, Help for Heroes, NHS Ayrshire & Arran; Public Partnership Forum, RAFA, Royal British Legion Scotland Monkton & Prestwick, RFEA, Royal British Legion Scotland Womens’ Section, South Ayrshire Council, SSAFA Forces Help Ayrshire Branch, Voluntary Action South Ayrshire.

Lance Corporal Michael Monaghan, (25), a war veteran who served in Afghanistan with the Queen’s Welsh Dragoon Guards in 2008, played a crucial part in launching Veterans First Point Ayrshire.

He said: “I am delighted to be part of the team who is going to be running it. As an injured soldier I know what it is like to come back from Afghanistan with mental health problems, money problems etc. I have had help but nowhere near as much as Veterans First Point Ayrshire is offering which I find amazing because I know there are people out there who are interested in helping armed services men and women. It is great because it’s going to be run by veterans for veterans who may have been through the same problems. I strongly believe in the services they are offering – fantastic!”

Falklands veteran and artist John Damari also took part in the launch. He is actively supporting Veterans First Point Ayrshire by exhibiting his artwork in the Council Chamber at Ayr Town Hall until Tuesday 28 June. Entry is free and his work will be for sale. John is donating 50% of all exhibition sales to the veterans.

[Pictured: Falklands veteran and artist John Damari (left) and Lance Corporal Michael Monaghan watch as South Ayrshire Provost Winifred Sloan officially opens the art exhibition.]

John Damari said: “I am delighted as an artist to have the skills to create wonderful landscapes in support of Veterans First Point Ayrshire. I am sure that the proceeds from the paintings will be put to a very good use, so the veterans can benefit from funds raised by those wishing to support them. Servicemen and women who travel all over the world in support of our nation deserve our support. It is a great privilege for me to be part of such a wonderful support network for our veterans and to have the support of South Ayrshire Council, Provost Sloan and everyone else involved in Veterans First Point Ayrshire.”

For more information about Veterans First Point Ayrshire, visit or call 07527 845122.

South Ayrshire Council is a founder member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Friday, 24 June 2011

South Ayrshire Council welcomes Scottish Provosts’ Association

South Ayrshire Provost Winifred Sloan has hosted the annual meeting of the Scottish Provosts’ Association, the umbrella group for all 32 Provosts across Scotland.

[Provost Winifred Sloan (seated at centre) is pictured with: back row: (left to right) former Provost Drew Duncan, North Ayrshire Council, Pat Connolly, former Provost North Lanarkshire, Provosts Tom Kerr (West Lothian), Alasdair Hutton (Scottish Borders), Alex Cluness (Shetland), Eric Gotts (East Dumbarton) and William Petrie (Argyll & Bute). Front Row: Provosts Frances Melville (Fife), Stephanie Young (East Ayrshire), Sheena Richardson (East Lothian) and Pat McPhee (North Ayrshire).]

The Scottish Provosts’ Association represents the interests of all Provosts in their capacity of Civic Heads of local government, and a key part of the meeting held in Ayr was to explore ways to improve the services and support offered to Provosts, as well as establishing an agreed framework for their roles.

It was attended by Provosts from East and North Ayrshire, Argyll and Bute, East Dumbarton, Shetland, Scottish Borders, West Lothian, North Lanarkshire and Fife.

Opening the meeting, President William Petrie, Provost of Argyll and Bute said: “On behalf of the Scottish Provosts’ Association, I would like to express my thanks to Provost Sloan and her team for the very warm welcome we have received today.

“It is always a pleasure to come down to Ayr, and I’m sure the seaside location in the spectacular settings of County Buildings was an inspirational factor in our business for the day.”

Provost Sheena Richardson, Secretary of the Association said: “We were delighted by the welcome and hospitality given to us by South Ayrshire Council and Provost Sloan.

“Provosts in Scotland are dealing with changing and often challenging times, and the meeting helped us clarify some of the issues we face.

“Our time in Ayr was very constructive, and has helped set down the foundations for the development of more formal guidelines and support systems for all Scottish Provosts.”

The importance of the meeting was underlined by Provost Alex Cluness, who came all the way from Shetland, a distance of some 500 miles.

Provost Sloan concluded: “It was a privilege to host the Scottish Provosts’ Association, and I hope all our guests had an enjoyable time in Ayr.

Provosts have the same responsibilities as other elected members to hold surgeries and attend meetings.

“We also chair the full Council meeting and act as the Council’s civic head at ceremonial, formal and other important occasions, promoting the values and enhancing the reputations of the councils we serve.

“As nice as it is to network, I’m particularly pleased we were able to make real progress in defining some of the issues and difficulties Provosts face in current times, and I look forward to attending the next meeting to take these developments forward.

South Ayrshire Council is a founder member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Ayr Spice Indian Restaurant welcomes visitors from Ireland to Scotland

By: Jack McChesney

A little over half way between the ferry terminal at Cairnryan and the city of Glasgow lies the attractive village of Minishant, which plays host to a very special Indian restaurant. It is situated in the former Minishant Memorial Church, which has been very tastefully and extensively renovated for the purpose, and has a unique ambience created by its architectural excellence.

A beautiful, stained-glass window lights up the entire upper level, which is divided in two with a partial mezzanin-floor above for groups of up to about forty people. There is also a cosy downstairs room making a total of three separate indoor venues.

Blessed with very adequate parking, it also boasts a tree-house for the children on the edge of a pine forest at the back of the car-park and well away from the road to ensure safety. On the other side is a large, wooden deck on which there are barbecues in summer, combining the three indoor venues with an outdoor one which has a very pleasant view over the surrounding countryside.

The co-proprietor is Mafiz Ali (pictured above) who trained in some of the country’s best Indian restaurants and climbed the ladder to fame in London by winning several prestigeous awards: (1996 “Indian restaurant of the year” won by the Essex restaurant in which he was chef at the time – 1997 “Indian chef of the year” awarded at the house of commons, and soon followed by a special award for cleanliness and hygiene, and then “Golden child of Sylhet” awarded by his local community in Banglaesh in recognition of his international success).

In 1998 he set up the Bangladeshi/British Curry Awards with the full backing of the principal politicians at Westminster, the idea being to bring together chefs of all ages, both amateur and professional, to compete for recognition of their skills and to promote Bangladeshi cuisine in the UK. It should be noted that 92% of all “Indian” chefs in the UK are from Bangladesh and not India!

The newly-crowned “Indian chef of the year,” Mafiz Ali was invited by the then prime-minister John Major, an avid curry fan, to provide a banquet for his 50th birthday at No 10 Downing Street and one of the guests at that banquet subsequently invited him to deliver a replica to New York, initiating what must surely be an almost unique take-away business that has since delivered meals to Tokyo, Sydney, Atlanta and elsewhere!

It has also seen him cater for the “X-Factor” and famous recording stars such as Cliff Richard, Matt Morrison, Soul to Soul and many more. The famous snooker star, Steve Davis was his regular customer in the south-east at this time, when he also earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records with the world’s biggest curry (4.5 tons of chicken korma, which was subsequently eaten at a huge charity event that opened the door to extend his activities in that field to include some of the country’s leading charities.

Mafiz Ali has made 69 TV appearances and double that number on radio as well as contributing to many newspapers including the “Times”, “Sun”, “Daily Mirror” and many others. Among the stations he has appeared on have been Channel Four, GMTV, Big Breakfast TV, his own series on Bangladeshi TV and most recently in April of this year, STV.

Why should a chef of such note open a restaurant in a small Scottish village that isnt even near to one of the country’s major cities? Only he can provide the answer. “It is idyllic here – I love it. I was born in the country and dislike the stress of city life.”

Into the bargain he has travelled all over the UK as guest chef, and wanted his very own restaurant. Although it is situated in a small village, its catchment area covers around 100,000 people living within a 20-minute car-trip and it is situated on the main route from Glasgow to Belfast via the ferries at Cairnryan.

Driving north, the former church is situated at the far end of the village on the right-hand side of the road on a gentle, left-hand curve just before the end of the thirty-mile limit zone. The bell-tower of the former church cannot be missed, and there is a wide, drive-in gate giving safe access.

The cuisine here is of notable excellence due to the prowess of its award-winning chef and proprietor leading a team of outstanding culinary experts. The table-staff is very friendly, obliging and efficient and their goal is not only to serve an outstanding meal, but to see to it that your visit is a memorable one enriched additionally by the warm ambience, the architectural environment and of course,the food itself.

Reasonable divergence from the menu is also no problem and special needs are willingly catered for.

There are additional, special menus for various events throughout the year, providing variety both in the cuisine and the special atmosphere of the occasion, be it the Bangladeshi New Year celebrations, Christmas, Easter, Mothering Sunday or the recent Royal Wedding. There are also plans to hold courses on how to cook select Indian food at the restaurant once the stress of the new opening has passed.

“Ayr Spice” is well worth a visit, and it is fair to say that it is a treasure-trove for enthusiasts of Indian cuisine that is rapidly becoming a Mecca for such people, some of whom are prepared to travel from a distance to have the pleasure of a curry in uniquely inspiring surroundings – something that is likely to expand later in the year when the new “Curry Club” nights which include guest chefs and specials, are introduced.

Ayr Spice Indian Restaurant
The Old Minishant Memorial Church
22 Ayr Road
KA19 8EX

Tel: 01292 441413


Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Turnberry Luxury Collection Resort appoints Jordi Tarrida as General Manager

Turnberry Resort, the world’s first golf resort, has announced the appointment of a new General Manager to lead the award-winning destination through a new phase in its enviable history.

Mr Jordi Tarrida (pictured above) joins from within Starwood Hotels and Resorts as the former General Manager of the Arabella Golf & Spa Resort in Mallorca.

Jordi will now oversee the management of Turnberry’s 800 acre estate and three world-class golf courses. Next year, the resort will host the 2012 Senior Open Golf Championship. It will be the seventh time Turnberry has hosted this event, making it the most popular venue in the history of the tournament.

The recently renovated Turnberry Hotel has 150 bedrooms in addition to eight self-catering apartments, an award-winning spa and outdoor activity centre. The resort’s golfing credentials include the legendary Championship Ailsa golf course; the Championship Kintyre Course and the Arran Course, as well as the Colin Montgomerie Links Golf Academy and Scotland’s first and only TaylorMade Performance Lab.

With a passion for golf and fine dining, Mr Tarrida is well placed to make his mark on the iconic Ayrshire resort. He commented: “I have long admired Turnberry - it is a truly fantastic hotel with incredible charm in a wonderful location and I am very much looking forward to working with the team.

“The recently created Lands of Turnberry apartments give an added dimension to our product and have also opened up Turnberry to many new family visitors to enjoy the fantastic facilities we have on offer.”

The news comes after former General Manager Stewart Selbie accepted a new role within Starwood as Complex Manager for The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina. Stewart served for eleven years at Turnberry, overseeing the property’s Centenary celebrations in 2006 and a multi-million pound refurbishment, ensuring the resort was ready in time to host the 2009 Open Golf Championship.

Michael Wale, Senior Vice President, Starwood Hotels & Resorts said of the announcement: “We are delighted to welcome Jordi to Turnberry. He brings with him a wealth of experience in the international luxury resort business and I have no doubt that Scotland’s Luxury Collection Resort will benefit immensely from his knowledge and expertise.

“We are also pleased to announce that after 11 years at Turnberry, Stewart Selbie will be continuing his Starwood career with a new posting in Dubai.”

Turnberry Resort may be best known for golf but its food and drink offer has been the subject of recent critical acclaim under the management of Australian Head Chef, Justin Galea. The resort boasts an award-winning signature restaurant, 1906, in addition to the elegant Grand Tea Lounge, James Miller Room, Ailsa Bar & Lounge, Duel in the Sun bar and panoramic Tappie Toorie restaurant.

For leisure guests, Turnberry is home to the UK’s first ever ESPA spa and has also made many improvements to its on-site outdoor activity centre which offers quad biking, horse riding, fishing, off- road driving and falconry.

For more information about Turnberry, a Luxury Collection Resort in Scotland, visit