The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Friday, 28 December 2012

Ring in the New Year with top racing action at Ayr Racecourse

Ayr Racecourse’s next meeting is the two-day New Year Festival on Wednesday 2 January and Thursday 3 January, which promises to be an action-packed fixture.
 
 
Traditionally a well attended meeting, there will be seven races on both days, and, with some good prize money on offer, there is sure to be large fields with all the top northern stables represented.
 
The opening day features a Class 3 Handicap Chase over two miles with £12,000 in the prize fund, and this will see some hardened battlers competing for what will be the biggest prize of the day over jumps in the UK.
 
On Thursday the highlight is a £10,000 Handicap Hurdle over two miles and four furlongs, which will feature some of the north’s top handicap hurdlers looking to start the New Year with a bang.
 
Ayr Racecourse sales and marketing manager Lindsey Smith commented: “We look forward to the New Year Festival every year, and, with some top prize money on offer, the racing should be very competitive.
 
“We find that people are desperate to get out after the festive period and enjoy themselves, and there is always an excellent atmosphere.”
 
Ayr Racecourse and the associated Western House Hotel are Founder Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.
 



Saturday, 22 December 2012

Wallace Galbraith awarded Provost’s Medal at Ayrshire Fiddle Orchestra celebration concert

South Ayrshire Provost Helen Moonie has awarded a rare Provost’s Medal to Wallace Galbraith MBE, founder of the acclaimed Ayrshire Fiddle Orchestra (AFO).
 
 
The surprise award took place towards the end of a Christmas concert the AFO were giving at Ayr Town Hall tonight, Saturday 22 December 2012, which also marked their 30th anniversary, having been formed in 1982, two years after Wallace had formed the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra with the late John Mason.
 
With three numbers left to play on the programme, Provost Moonie took to the stage and delighted the audience by calling Wallace to the front.
 
She said: “Wallace is a fantastic man and loves nothing better than getting folks up on stage, in front of an audience to play their hearts and souls out – and he does it very well.
 
“Tonight, I’m thrilled to be able to turn the tables and get Wallace in front of an audience to present a Provost’s Medal to him.
 
To warm applause, Provost Moonie continued: “The Provost’s Medal is awarded on very rare occasions to mark an exceptional individual in local life, who has made a truly outstanding to their local community.
 
“This is the first time I’ve had the honour to award a Provost’s Medal and Wallace has been unstinting in his contribution to music, arts and culture in South Ayrshire.
 
“At this festive time of year, when giving is better than receiving, Wallace embodies those qualities and values better than anyone I know – whether it’s his time, a helping hand, a friendly ear or a word of well timed advice.
 
“I’m delighted to present this to him, on all our behalves, with our thanks, gratitude and admiration to you for all your excellent work.”
 
Provost Moonie then presented the Medal to Wallace, who received a rapturous ovation from the Orchestra and audience alike.
 
Wallace Galbraith began his career as a baker with the family firm WC Galbraith & Sons, but the lure of music took him into teaching the violin in South Ayrshire Schools.
 
In 1980, the late John Mason invited him to become a founder member of the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra and Ayrshire Junior Fiddle Orchestra was born, performing its first concert in August 1982.
 
Success followed and, in addition to a huge local following, the AFO enjoyed international success with trips to France, Canada, Australia, America, China, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Italy, Switzerland and Spain.
 
Wallace was awarded the MBE for services to music through the Fiddle Orchestra in 2000 and retired from teaching in 2004. Since then, he has devoted his time to the development and growth of the AFO.
 

Friday, 21 December 2012

Two festive menus and a Hogmanay night to remember at Ayr Spice Restaurant in Minishant

Just one final reminder that Mafiz Ali is looking forward to welcoming customers old and new to Ayr Spice Indian Restaurant in Minishant, South Ayrshire over the festive period.
 
And Mafiz has prepared two special festive menus - the first Indian / Bangladeshi, and the second traditional Scottish -  for your delight and delectation.
 
You can view these menus online at:
 
 
 
Mafiz explained: “Popular and much loved as our Indian / Bangladeshi menu is, many our our regular diners might prefer to choose more traditional Scottish food during the festive season of Christmas and New Year.

“So I have recruited local chef Barry Cornes to join our team, and together we have concocted a special Scottish menu, which will be available at Ayr Spice over the festive season alongside our exciting Indian / Bangladeshi festive menu.”
 
Hogmanay
 
And Ayr Spice Indian Restaurant in Minishant, South Ayrshire is celebrating Hogmanay with a full programme of entertainment and a novel buffet consisting of its delicious Bangladeshi starters and curries as well as a Scottish carvery, the latter presented by Mafiz Ali’s new local chef, Barry Cornes.
 
The event will take place on New Year’s Eve in the beautiful function suite upstairs from 7pm until 1am, and will be fully licensed throughout. Entertainment will be provided by DJ Stephanie Zikmann and the “Wishbones”.
 
The “Wishbones” are a two-piece acoustic duo with Jennifer Leitch on guitar and vocals and Jodie Campbell on lead vocals. The girls pride themselves on tight harmonies and an eclectic range of songs to suit any audience. They will happily take requests before the Hogmanay event..

Prior booking for this Hogmanay event is strongly advised and tickets (£19.95) will be available at the restaurant.
 
Ayr Spice Indian Restaurant
 
Ayr Spice Indian Cuisine can be found in the fine old red sandstone Memorial church at the entrance to the picturesque village of Minishant, 5 miles south of Ayr on the A77. The church was erected by the thread magnate Sir Peter Coats of nearby Auchendrane, in loving memory of his wife Glorianna, who died in 1877.

Indian food can be simple or elaborate, humble or opulent, within a culinary tradition that is centuries old. The unique gift of Indian cuisine is its inspired use of exotic spices and the finest fresh ingredients. Proprietor Mafiz Ali and his team at Ayr Spice are determined to bring you the best of that tradition, and look forward to welcoming you.

Ayr Spice Restaurant is open 7 days a week from 12 noon until 10pm including Bank Holidays, Christmas and New Year. Takeaway and home delivery are also available.

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

Tel: 01292 441 413
Web: http://www.ayrspice.info
 
Ayr Spice Indian Restaurant is a member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.
 


South Ayrshire Council Provost Helen Moonie presents annual Christmas window prizes

Provost Helen Moonie has presented prizes to three town centre retailers marking the annual Ayr Town Centre Shop Window Display Awards, supported by the Fort, Seafield and Wallacetown Community Council, Ayr Rotary Club and the Ayr and Prestwick Lions Club.
 
The judging panel for this year’s presentation were Councillor Bill Grant, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Tourism and Leisure, Norman McLean and Michael Hitchon of Fort, Seafield and Wallacetown Community Council, Alex Thomson of Ayr Rotary Club and Ross Robertson and Malcolm Wilson of Ayr and Prestwick Lions Club.
 
The winner of the Independent Retailer award was judged to be Cranberry Cottage, Florist, Cathcart Street, a new trader in the town centre. The Trophy was accepted by David Brodie on behalf of Catriona Hastie. The natural and environmental element of the display and its attention to detail caught the judges’ eyes.
 
 
[Pictured at Cranberry Cottage: David Brodie, centre, accepts the Independent Retailer award from Provost Helen Moonie. Also pictured are Councillor Bill Grant, Norman McLean and Michael Hitchon of Fort, Seafield and Wallacetown Community Council, Alex Thomson of Ayr Rotary Club, Ross Robertson and Malcolm Wilson of Ayr and Prestwick Lions Club.]
 
The Multiple Retailer award this year went to the management of Ayr Central Shopping Centre for bringing alive the environs of the Centre and the Mall with most attractive panel lighting and the corner display featuring illuminated and enlarged details of the Kiddies’ Competition entries, all of which helped to engender the Christmas spirit.
 
The Trophy was accepted by Gary Melnitschuk, Deputy Manager on behalf of Peter Clark, the Manager.
 
 
[Pictured at Ayr Central: Provost Helen Moonie presents the Best Multiple Retailer award to Gary Melnitschuk, Deputy Manager at Ayr Central. Also pictured are Norman McLean of Seafield and Wallacetown Community Council, Ross Robertson and Malcolm Wilson of Ayr and Prestwick Lions Club.]
 
A new category this year was Best Charity Shop display and the inaugural Trophy was won by Shelter UK for their High Street shop. The Trophy was accepted by Fiona Clelland on behalf of Sharon Russell, the manageress.
 
 
[Pictured at Shelter: Fiona Clelland of Shelter accepts the Best Charity Shop award from Provost Helen Moonie Also pictured are Councillor Bill Grant, Norman McLean and Michael Hitchon of Fort, Seafield and Wallacetown Community Council, Alex Thomson of Ayr Rotary Club, Ross Robertson and Malcolm Wilson of Ayr and Prestwick Lions Club.]
 
The winning Trophies were donated by Fort Seafield & Wallacetown Community Council, Ayr & Prestwick Lions Club and Ayr Rotary Club and were presented to winners by Provost Helen Moonie.
 
South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.
 



Thursday, 20 December 2012

Netting the benefits from new fishery funding

A new funding programme, aimed at helping the regeneration and economic development of former fishing communities, is all set to benefit coastal communities in South Ayrshire by £133,000.
 
The funding, which is part of a wider initiative with Argyll & Bute Council, comes from the European Fisheries Fund and could now benefit many of the former fishing communities along the South Ayrshire coast.
 
All grants will be administered by Argyll & Bute Council and can be used to support a wide range of activities including the development of renewable energy, the redevelopment and recreational use of harbours, diversification projects linked to employment and training, cultural heritage, food tourism and processes that add value to seafood produce.
 
Welcoming the news, Councillor Bill Grant, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Tourism and Leisure said: “South Ayrshire has a long, proud and rich heritage in the fishing industry and, not that long ago, you could stand on any shoreline locally and see fleets of boats bobbing up and down the Clyde, plying their trade.
 
“Changing tastes and diverse socio-economic factors have all affected our fishing communities, so I’m delighted the FLAG (Fisheries Local Action Group) funding will help us support them to diversify and prosper ensuring that they can be successful and sustainable in the years to come.”
 
The FLAG is now inviting applications from businesses, community groups and public sector organisations with an interest in securing funding by completing an initial ‘Expressions of Interest Form’ by Friday 11 January 2013.
 
Successful applicants will be notified in the New Year and invited to submit a full grant application for consideration by the FLAG. Further funding rounds will be announced throughout 2013 with the last date for full applications currently scheduled for November 2013 - assuming that all funding has not been allocated before then.
 
For additional information, or to request an Expressions of Interest form, contact Chris Burrows, European Policy Assistant, Argyll & Bute Council on 01436 658960, e-mail europe@argyll-bute.gov.uk
 

Monday, 10 December 2012

Christmas message from Councillor Bill McIntosh, Leader of South Ayrshire Council

 
It seems hard to believe that Christmas has come around again and it really does seem that time has flown by this year!
 
As we enter the festive season, it’s worth remembering that this is a time to be with people you care about – a time for goodwill, sharing and listening to each other as we review the successes, consider the difficult times and look ahead to the future.
 
From a Council perspective, just as children will be listening keenly for sleigh bells in the snow, we’ve been listening closely to you and we will continue to do so.
 
This can be as simple as asking for your views on dog fouling or the nuisance caused by seagulls.
 
Or it can be more complex and far reaching such as considering your opinions on the strategic priorities for South Ayrshire and how best we can plan ahead to safeguard (and create) new jobs and business opportunities and deliver long term growth and prosperity locally.
 
During 2012, we’ve taken on board your views on topics from planning to building repair, children’s services to economic development, regeneration to empty homes, as well as community safety, waste disposal, older people’s services, nursery school provision, taxi services, road maintenance and repair.
 
We’ve welcomed your thoughts and suggestions on how we can refine the way we deliver our services to you and this level of feedback, constructive comments and excellent suggestions have driven us during 2012 – and will continue to spur us on in 2013 and beyond.
 
Your input has helped South Ayrshire Council achieve great successes and that is a credit to how you have engaged with us, especially as we face some difficult and challenging decisions and times ahead.
 
I’m proud of the work we do together and, through your involvement we’ve really been making things happen.
 
Across the Council services, we’ve been working hard to deliver the quality of service you rightly expect from us.
 
On the ground, we’ve seen the completion of an £8 million housing development at Somerset Road and Thornyflats in Ayr. That’s a significant investment in the local area, delivering much needed, high-quality homes to residents.
 
Our pupils and teachers have done us proud too, with exam results the best on record – and we’ve even had one of our Head Teachers, Lorraine Stobie, scoop a national lifetime achievement award.
But the good news did not stop there in 2012!
 
We’ve also been making good headway in the Carrick area, with ambitious plans to transform and regenerate the local area in and around Girvan, including the harbour area – and we’re still working hard to deliver a new leisure and sporting facility for the town.
 
And, speaking of community involvement, who could forget the amazing spectacle of the iconic Olympic Torch making its way through South Ayrshire – showcasing the very best of our towns and villages to a truly global audience?
 
Even as I write, the Gaiety Theatre will soon be entertaining audiences, young and old alike, with the pantomime Cinderella – a great example of how working together with the community can help deliver results that benefit everyone.
 
Behind the scenes, we’ve worked hard to streamline and improve our business model, giving the Council a firm financial footing and a robust structure of management, helping us to deliver services efficiently and effectively.
 
Financially, commercially, operationally, we’re stronger and fitter than ever before – but we also know much more has still to be done.
 
As your Council, we’ve come a long way to being the most improved local authority in Scotland - but we want to go further and really raise our ambitions on how we deliver for the whole of South Ayrshire, for every resident.
 
Just as we have come a long way together and achieved so much in 2012, I’d like to ask that this Christmas, we all spare a thought for those members of our society who may need a bit of extra support, a helping hand, or a shoulder to lean on.
 
For some, there will be loved ones who are no longer with us and, for others Christmas can be a time of loneliness.
 
By looking out for one another and by actively working together, I have no doubt we can enter 2013 more determined, prepared and ready to face the journey that lies ahead.
 
I wish you all a peaceful Christmas and a very happy New Year.

http://www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk/
 

Christmas Message from South Ayrshire Provost Helen Moonie

This is my first Christmas message to you as Provost.
 
 
Upon becoming Civic Head of the Council I was reminded by a close relative of mine of an old saying, “To him (or her) whom much is given, much is expected”.
 
Not a bad yardstick for me to keep mindful of!
 
If it’s a wonderful world, then South Ayrshire is a wonderful place, and I have had a truly eventful first six months in office, with diverse and varied activities ranging from welcoming the Olympic torch to welcoming our newest citizens.
 
From paying tribute to outstanding people, welcoming foreign guests and dignitaries, supporting and promoting history and heritage, outstanding scenery, the economy, golf, amazing countryside and wildlife, acknowledging special anniversaries, watching young people and graduates take their first steps into adult life, to chairing full Council, and from Armed Forces Day to Remembrance Day our brave veterans and service personnel have never been far from my thoughts.
 
But now it’s time for Christmas.
 
Predating Christianity, the winter solstice was, for millions of people an important time for beating the winter blues with celebrations, ceremonies and festivities, and at least one thing in common with Christmas as we know it today, the short grey days and long dark nights, and a longing for the better things to come.
  
So what better time to have a magical festival, and hopefully some snow for snowmen and sledging, Santa, feasting and presents, family and friends and for giving and getting.
 
Mr Scrooge, of course in Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ learned the lesson that giving is better than getting and, in our communities, there is much that is given, from the carers young and old who care every day for others, the folk who volunteer their time on Christmas Day to help those in need, the emergency service workers, the Armed Forces Personnel, to simply buying gifts that are fairly traded or support a Charity, to just keeping an eye out for an elderly neighbour.
 
Christmas is also a time for reflection, for some on Christmas past, or of happier times, for others it is about Christmas present, enjoying the moment, and for others thinking about the future (and perhaps some New Year resolutions!).
 
On Christmas 2012 here is my message to you – as we struggle through dark days, remember this, it is darkest before dawn. Hope lives in all of us but let us not just hope for a better year ahead, or a better future, let us resolve to work for it.
 
A very peaceful Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.

http://www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk/
 


Scottish buyers return to the housing market

Buyer interest grew across Scotland last month, says the latest RICS housing market survey.
 
Enquiries from would-be buyers saw a rise in most parts of Scotland last month (net balance +22 percent). Although demand is still at a historically low level, it would appear that those who are in a position to do so are gradually looking to test the market. Meanwhile, the amount of homes coming up for sale also increased during November (net balance +32 percent).
 
 
Sarah Speirs, Director RICS Scotland
 
Modest drops were visible in relation to house prices, albeit at a slower pace than was seen earlier in the year. A net balance of 16 percent more Scottish chartered surveyors reported falling prices during November. While slightly up in October’s reading, this still suggests that the market is now beginning to stabilise.
 
Looking ahead, Scottish chartered surveyors are optimistic that activity levels should continue their gentle rise with 20 percent more respondents expecting sales to increase rather than decrease over the coming three months. The price picture is, however, likely remain rather flatter in contrast.
 
Across the UK, London was once again the only part of the country to see prices increase, with surveyors in the capital reporting a net balance of +40 percent. Northern Ireland and Wales experienced the most significant drops with respondents in those areas reporting net balances of -49 and -36 percent respectively.
 
Craig Henderson, Graham & Sibbald, Glasgow, Glasgow and West Scotland, commented: “We have seen the typical flurry of activity during the first few weeks of November, with sellers new to the market keen to get the property on the market and exposed to buyers before the traditional festive slowdown.
 
“During the last month, sales appear to have been achieved where sellers are prepared to be realistic with their price expectations. I expect the market will start the traditional slowdown which will continue into January, as we have seen over the last several years.
 
“I would however highlight to would-be sellers, that as most buyers wish to ensure there current property is sold before committing to a new purchase, that anyone currently on the market who finds a buyer will immediately become a buyer themselves, so will be looking for suitable purchase options.”
 
Sarah Speirs, Director RICS Scotland, commented: “There is certainly some optimism creeping back into the housing market in Scotland, and it is encouraging to see an increase in potential buyers across parts of the country where the market has particularly suffered in recent years.
 
“That said, there is still a long way to go and the long standing barriers to home ownership are still very much a problem for the likes of first time buyers. Additionally, the macro-economic picture continues to weigh heavy on the market and continues prevent any really significant boost in activity.”
 
RICS housing market survey is the longest running monthly survey of house prices in the UK, collecting data since January 1978. The survey is cited by the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee at its monthly interest rate setting meetings.
 
 


Sunday, 9 December 2012

Celebrate Hogmanay at Ayr Spice Restaurant in Minishant, South Ayrshire!

Ayr Spice Indian Restaurant in Minishant, South Ayrshire is celebrating Hogmanay with a full programme of entertainment and a novel buffet consisting of its delicious Bangladeshi starters and curries as well as a Scottish carvery, the latter presented by Mafiz Ali’s new local chef, Barry Cornes.
 
 
The event will take place on New Year’s Eve in the beautiful function suite upstairs from 7pm until 1am, and will be fully licensed throughout. Entertainment will be provided by DJ Stephanie Zikmann (pictured above) and the “Wishbones”.
 
 
The “Wishbones” (pictured above and below) are a two-piece acoustic duo with Jennifer Leitch on guitar and vocals and Jodie Campbell on lead vocals. The girls pride themselves on tight harmonies and an eclectic range of songs to suit any audience. They will happily take requests before the Hogmanay event..
 

Prior booking for this Hogmanay event is strongly advised and tickets (£19.95) will be available at the restaurant.
 
Ayr Spice Indian Restaurant
 
Ayr Spice Indian Cuisine can be found in the fine old red sandstone Memorial church at the entrance to the picturesque village of Minishant, 5 miles south of Ayr on the A77. The church was erected by the thread magnate Sir Peter Coats of nearby Auchendrane, in loving memory of his wife Glorianna, who died in 1877.
 

Indian food can be simple or elaborate, humble or opulent, within a culinary tradition that is centuries old. The unique gift of Indian cuisine is its inspired use of exotic spices and the finest fresh ingredients. Proprietor Mafiz Ali and his team at Ayr Spice are determined to bring you the best of that tradition, and look forward to welcoming you.
 

Ayr Spice Restaurant is open 7 days a week from 12 noon until 10pm including Bank Holidays, Christmas and New Year. Takeaway and home delivery are also available.

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

Tel: 01292 441 413
Web: http://www.ayrspice.info

Where Can We Go
 
Ayr Spice Indian Restaurant is a member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.
 
 


Friday, 7 December 2012

South Ayrshire Council delegation visits British Airways facility at Prestwick Airport

A top level delegation from South Ayrshire Council has visited British Airways’ engineering operation at Prestwick Airport to see at first hand the important work being carried out at the facility.
 
 
[Pictured: Brian Queally, Manager of the British Airways Maintenance Glasgow (BAMG) Prestwick operation, David Anderson, Chief Executive South Ayrshire Council, Councillor Bill McIntosh, Leader of South Ayrshire Council, Bill Armstrong, General Manager British Airways Maintenance Glasgow (BAMG).]
 
Councillor Bill McIntosh, the Leader of South Ayrshire Council, David Anderson, Chief Executive and Mark Hastings, Enterprise Manager toured the hangar, part of a unique engineering project to carry out specialist work on British Airways’ fleet of Airbus aircraft.
 
The Prestwick operation, which celebrated its first anniversary earlier this year, is the first project of its kind within British Airways and is the first time in its 45 year history that British Airways Maintenance Glasgow has established a satellite operation outwith its principal operating base at Glasgow Airport.
 
The facility now has a workforce of 40 and has completed work on 52 aircraft in the 15 months since it opened.
 
Councillor Bill McIntosh said: “This is a very inspiring project which has great potential. Having only been established within the last year it just shows what can be achieved through sheer hard work and determination. Securing existing jobs, expanding and giving a boost to our local economy is a great thing.”
 
Brian Queally, the Manager of the Prestwick facility said: “We’re delighted that this important delegation gave so much of their time to see for themselves what we do here.
 
“We look forward to working with the Council and other local agencies in the future.
 
“When I was appointed to run the project, one of my senior managers in London said he wanted this facility to be ‘the epitome of lean-ness and continuous improvement’.
 
“That is exactly what we’re trying to achieve.”
 
Already the facility is looking to extend its remit with work to carry out safety checks on the rudders of Airbus aircraft that come into the Prestwick hangar.
 
He continued: “The aircraft are on the ground anyway, so it makes perfect operational sense to use that down time to carry out rudder checks, which have to be done in any case.
 
“Every one of the guys, many of whom are local, who came at the start of the project volunteered to be here.
 
“So they’re determined to prove that the decision was the right one, not only by excelling in the work we do, but in contributing to how we do it by suggesting ways in which we can work more efficiently and operate seamlessly between shifts.”
 
“We may be the most recent and perhaps unique engineering project BAMG has undertaken, but we are committed to making it a success and maintaining the reputation for excellence that BAMG has built up both within the aviation sector and amongst the wider engineering community in Scotland and beyond.”
 
South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.
 


Thursday, 6 December 2012

Strengthening Scotland’s relationship with China reaps economic benefits

Strengthening Scotland’s relationship with China has generated an additional estimated £220 million for the economy.

Since the publication of the Scottish Government’s first China Plan in 2006, Scottish exports to the world’s second largest economy have risen sharply and are now worth an estimated total of £1.295 billion in 2007-2010, compared to £1.075 billion between 2003-2006.
 

It comes as a new five year strategy for Scotland’s engagement with China is launched by External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop, on the first anniversary of the arrival of the Giant Pandas (pictured above) at Edinburgh Zoo.

Notable successes of Scotland’s engagement with China so far include:
 
* A dramatic increase in exports of Scottish food and drink, up by 44 per cent from £64 million in 2010 to £92 million in 2011.

* The award of an export health certificate allowing direct exports of Scottish salmon, worth £38m between January 2011 to August 2012.
 
* Scotch whisky received Geographical Indication of Origin Status in China in 2010, which protects against counterfeit products in that market.
 
* Whisky exports to China rose 21 per cent to £66 million in 2011 compared to 2010.
 
* The loan of two Giant Pandas to Edinburgh Zoo, which have attracted more than 500,000 visitors in their first year.
 
* An increase in the number of Chinese students coming to Scotland - growing from 5,215 in 2009-10 to 6,665 in 2010-11.
 
* Collaboration on science, renewable energy, education and culture including digital scanning of the Eastern Qing Tombs as part the Scottish Ten project, and tours by Scottish Opera, the RSNO and the Scottish Ensemble in 2012.

Ms Hyslop said: “Scotland’s relationship with China - the world’s second largest economy – is tremendously important. Since the first China Plan was published we have been working hard to deepen existing ties and establish news areas of cooperation, an approach that is clearly paying dividends.

“Our new China Strategy will build on these successes and ensure that Scotland’s engagement with China continues to deliver tangible results – such as the boost to sales of food and drink and the loan of two Giant Pandas to Edinburgh Zoo, a symbol of the great and growing friendship between our two countries.

“This Strategy – published on the first anniversary of the arrival of the pandas – sets out our ambition to broaden and deepen Scotland’s links and common interests with China. Priorities include strengthening trade, education and cultural links as well as engaging with China on the issue of human rights.

“It is vital that the Scottish Government, our agencies and Scotland's business and education organisations do all they can to continue advancing Sino-Scottish relations, particularly as we pursue opportunities to generate economic growth and build a stronger Scotland.”
 
 


Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Ayr Spice Indian Restaurant and Sainsbury’s to hold festive wine-tasting event on Wednesday 12 December

Mafiz Ali, proprietor and head chef at Ayr Spice Indian Restaurant in Minishant, South Ayrshire, Scotland, is proud to announce that he is teaming up with supermarket giant Sainsbury’s store in Prestwick, Ayrshire, to hold a festive wine-tasting event at the restaurant between 7-10pm on Wednesday 12 December.
 
 
[Pictured: Mafiz Ali, proprietor and head chef at Ayr Spice Indian Restaurant in Minishant, South Ayrshire, gets his herbs and spices from Ian Taylor, manager of Sainsbury’s in Prestwick.]
 
The event will also feature cooking demonstrations by Mafiz Ali of Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine using wines and ingredients from Sainsbury’s.
 
Mafiz Ali commented: “My staff and I are very proud to be partnering Sainsbury’s for this event, which will provide an excellent opportunity for local people and visitors to sample Sainsbury’s wines and Ayr Spice cuisine at the same time.”
 
Marc Watson is manager of Sainsbury’s in Prestwick. He commented: “Sainsbury’s in Prestwick are delighted to be partnering Ayr Spice Indian Restaurant once again, following our first successful joint event to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee earlier this year.
 
“We will be offering some fantastic wines to complement the wonderful delicacies available to taste.”
 
The cost of the event, which includes tasting a range of wines available from Sainsbury’s supermarkets and a delicious starter platter from the Ayr Spice Indian Restaurant kitchens, is just £5.
 
Tickets can be purchased in advance from Ayr Spice Indian Restaurant in Minishant, or from Sainsbury’s supermarket in Prestwick, or at the door on the night.
 
Ayr Spice Indian Restaurant
The Old Minishant Memorial Church
22 Ayr Road
Minishant
Ayrshire
KA19 8EX
 
Tel: 01292 441413
Web: http://www.ayrspice.info
 
Ayr Spice Indian Restaurant is a member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.
 

Friday, 30 November 2012

Elite Ayrshire Business Circle marks handover of Blairquhan Castle to new Chinese owners

Elite Ayrshire Business Circle executive chairman Norman Geddes (pictured below) presided at a ceremony this week to mark the official handover of historic Blairquhan Castle in Straiton to its new Chinese owners.
 
 
The castle has been sold to a Chinese company which bottles mineral water for distribution around the world.

The new owners of the 190-year-old castle in the heart of the Ayrshire countryside are Ganten Scotland, an offshoot of an international business based in the south China province of Guangdong.

The Regency House property will continue to provide upmarket accommodation, but with a renewed focus on guests from the Far East.
 

Blairquhan Castle (pictured above), the 14-bedroom ancestral home of Sir Patrick and Lady Hunter Blair, was put on the market for £4.85 million two years ago.
 
Now a deal has been done that secures the future of the house itself along with the successful weddings and conference business and the jobs of local staff.

Sir Patrick, the 9th Baronet of Dunskey, has confirmed that the family estate will be repositioned around Milton of Blairquhan, the dower house.

Sir Patrick said: “Marguerite and I look forward to supporting our new neighbours in this exciting venture.

“This is great news for the local economy.”

Sir Patrick Hunter Blair, formerly of Carsphairn, moved back to Scotland from County Down, Northern Ireland, when he inherited the property in 2004.

Blairquhan’s interiors were used to represent Balmoral in the hit film The Queen, starring Helen Mirren, one of many times that the castle has featured in movies and on television.


[Pictured at the handover ceremony at Blairquhan Castle, left to right: Mrs Amanda Zhou, Mr Michael Zhou, Sir Patrick Hunter Blair, Ronan Hunter Blair, Niamh Hunter Blair, Lady Marguerite Hunter Blair, Deaglan Hunter Blair, Dara Hunter Blair, Caoimhe Hunter Blair, and Elite Ayrshire Business Circle executive chairman Norman Geddes.]

The new owners have pledged to be sympathetic custodians of the fine house and surrounding lands, having already spent much time at the estate.

Mr Zhou Jing Liang, owner and managing director of Ganten China, said: “Every care shall be taken in the future preservation and maintenance of these valued and traditional assets.

“Ganten wish to expand and diversify in Scotland with the aim of becoming a provider of top level accommodation and hospitality for elite Chinese and foreign tourists who desire only the best.”

Their aim is to stimulate business between China and Scotland and believe that they are the trailblazers, bringing valuable investment to Scotland.

The company are very sensitive to the cultural and historical aspects of Scotland and wish their move to be seen as promoting business here and culture in China.

Mr Zhou added: “It is the wish of Ganten to bring together the cultures of China and Scotland, by encouraging even greater tourist opportunities to the ever-growing affluent Chinese market.

“Ganten wish to become a pioneering, China-based organisation who shall bring to Scotland a sound and innovative platform for mutually beneficial tourist, cultural and commercial ventures.”

[A complete set of photographs taken at this event by Derek McCabe is available on Flickr. To view CLICK HERE. Then click on any thumbnail to access larger images.]
 
Elite Ayrshire Business Circle and China
 
Since the beginning of the current challenging economic climate, the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle has been constantly advising and encouraging its members to seek out new business opportunities in regions of the world that are still managing to achieve continuing economic growth - notably China.
 
 
In October 2011, the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle in conjunction with South Ayrshire Council held a special meeting entitled “Encouraging Trade and Business between Ayrshire and China” at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum (pictured above and below).
 

The meeting was attended by Chinese Consul-General in Edinburgh Li Ruiyou (pictured above with Elite Ayrshire Business Circle executive chairman Norman Geddes), Consul Mr Wan Degang, and Deputy Consul Miss Zhu Hongying.

 
Building upon these initial contacts, to further promote business and trade between Ayrshire and China, the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle arranged a meeting between the Chinese Consul-General in Scotland Mr Li Ruiyou and Scotland First Minister Alex Salmond and John Scott, MSP for Ayr at the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival at Ayr Racecourse in April this year (pictured above and below).
 
 
Most recently, in September South Ayrshire Council Leader Bill McIntosh and Provost Helen Moonie welcomed ten senior business executives from China to the County Buildings in Ayr, when they attended an Elite Ayrshire Business Circle meeting (pictured below).
 
 
Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle had asked Councillor McIntosh to facilitate a presentation by South Ayrshire Council to tell the visitors about South Ayrshire. It was an ideal opportunity to highlight some important potential areas of investment opportunity – tourism, renewable energies, engineering, property and infrastructure.

Councillor McIntosh said: “South Ayrshire offers some fantastic opportunities, and we were delighted to welcome the high-level trade and investment delegation.

“In the current economic climate it is more important than ever that as a Council we do all that we can to facilitate new investment and long-term jobs to the area.

“We are delighted to work with members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle to promote the businesses and people of South Ayrshire around the globe.”
 
 
Elite Ayrshire Business Circle executive chairman Norman Geddes (pictured above) concluded: “The members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle span many areas of knowledge and capability, and we are delighted to be able to use our connections around the globe for the benefit of Ayrshire as a whole.
 
“Our members Jim and Meiqin McColm have played and continue to play an integral part in our efforts to further business between Ayrshire and China, for which we offer them our thanks and appreciation.
 
“And finally we warmly welcome Mr and Mrs Zhou to Blairquhan, and hope that their association with Ayrshire will be a long and happy one.”

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Tuesday, 27 November 2012

South Ayrshire Councillors open new recording studio at Prestwick Academy

Pupils at Prestwick Academy are all set to take the music world by storm, thanks to a new state of the art recording studio built at the school, featuring a live room, control room and a digital music suite.
 
 
[Pictured: South Ayrshire Councillors Margaret Toner and Helen Moonie meet students at Prestwick Academy who are all set to take the music world by storm.]
 
Designed by award-winning architects ARPL in Ayr and built to industry standards, the soundproof studio boasts internal viewing screens, a range of microphones, amplifiers, speakers and a mixing desk – all linked to a networked range of computers each with state of the art editing software.
 
Speaking at the opening of the new studio, Councillor Margaret Toner, South Ayrshire Council’s Portfolio Holder for Lifelong Learning said: “This fantastic new facility reflects our full commitment to offering our pupils the best education possible, to help them succeed in tomorrow’s world.
 
“Curriculum for Excellence has changed the way music is taught, and we’re delighted to adapt to those changes in a constructive, exciting and creative way.
 
“Our pupils will now be able to record bands and ensembles, create radio programs with speech content, produce jingles, create sound effects for films and produce sound for computer gaming programs.”
 
Prestwick Academy head teacher Gordon Bone added: “Staff at Prestwick have fully embraced Curriculum for Excellence and the innovation and focus on learning it brings.
 
“We can now work in ways recognised by employers and those in the music industry, giving our pupils an outstanding chance to learn many of the essential skills required in today’s artistic and creative industries.
 
“The new studio provides them with a quality experience toward to a career in music and creative arts.”
 
Gordon Fleming from ARPL Architects Ltd who designed the studio said: “We’re delighted the studio has been completed for Prestwick Academy, and it marks the result of a very successful collaboration between ourselves, the school, the music department and specialist technical contractor Mediaspec.
 
“It’s a great result for all of us, and a real pleasure to see how well received it has been by the pupils.”

Councillor Toner concluded: “Prestwick Academy can now look forward to developing a new generation of talented musicians, producers and technicians, and I’m now looking forward to the next series of the X-Factor with much interest to see if I can spot some familiar local faces!”
 
South Ayrshire Council and ARPL Architects Ltd are Founder Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.
 
 
 



Monday, 26 November 2012

Ayr wins Racecourse Association Showcase Award

Ayr Racecourse won a prestigious Showcase Award in the Owners Experience category at the annual Racecourse Association Showcase Awards, which took place at York Racecourse last Thursday.

[Pictured left to right: Lindsey Smith, Marketing Manager, Ayr Racecourse, Iain Ferguson, Head of PR, Ayr Racecourse, and Ian Barlow RCA Chairman.]

Newly introduced for 2012, the Owners Experience Award was won by the Ayrshire course, with the independent judging panel commending the team for their implementation of high quality Owners’ hospitality and welcoming approach.

The Racecourse developed new strategies to make sure that all Owners attending a raceday felt special through improvement of their complimentary food offering and the warm welcome they receive upon arrival at the course.
 
This approach saw a number of high profile owners praise the course’s facilities and an average rate of 75% of owners with runners attending on the day.
 
RCA Chairman Ian Barlow commented: “I am absolutely delighted to see the breadth and depth of excellence and innovation on British racecourses, as highlighted by all of tonight’s winners and all those shortlisted.
 
“Owners are the biggest financial contributors to the sport.  Ensuring they have a fantastic time at the racecourse is one of the best ways of rewarding them. I am delighted to see Ayr excel in this critical area.  Congratulations to the team at Ayr on such a fantastic job.”
 
 
Ayr Racecourse Chairman Alan Macdonald (pictured above) commented: “We are naturally delighted to win such a prestigious award and are also very proud to do so. We realise how important owners are and to know our efforts are appreciated by our peers is encouraging.
 
“We look forward to 2013 and to welcoming owners old and new to our track alongside racegoers as we continue to strive to ensure the racing experience at Ayr is among the best in the country.”
 
Ayr Racecourse was also a finalist in the Food and Beverage Category.
 
The Showcase Awards Dinner followed on from a daytime programme of seminars and idea sharing where racecourses were able to share best practice and good ideas in improving the raceday experience. Guest speakers included Jamie Aitchison of Channel 4 and Michael Caulfield of Sporting Edge.
  
For more information about the RCA Showcase Awards, please contact Sam Cone or Holly Cook on 01344 626067 or for Ayr Racecourse contact Iain Ferguson on 07795 565691.
 
 
Ayr Racecourse and the associated Western House Hotel are Founder Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Friday, 23 November 2012

ARPL Architects report completion of state of the art music recording studio for South Ayrshire Council

ARPL Architects are delighted to have completed a new music recording studio for Prestwick Academy and South Ayrshire Council.
 
Working closely with the school music department and specialist technical contractor Mediaspec, ARPL have helped provide a spectacular new facility for music teaching in South Ayrshire with a live room, control room and digital music suite.
 
 
The studio comprises a heavy enclosing concrete structure with an acoustically floating timber interior to ensure complete sound separation from the rest of the building. Carefully detailed internal viewing screens and pass doors completes the silent spaces. A technical fit out provides a range of microphones, amplifiers, speakers and mixing desk all linked to a networked range of computers each with state of the art editing software.
 
Main contractor MCW were required to build the facility to an exacting standard with each junction carefully designed and detailed by ARPL to prevent noise breakout.
 
Prestwick Academy can now look forward to helping develop a new generation of talented musicians, producers and technicians.
 
ARPL Architects Ltd
 
The directors of ARPL Architects Ltd are Patrick Lorimer, Rebecca Cadie, Gordon Fleming and Robert Gilliland. John Ramsay, Stewart Glendinning and Kenneth Handley are associates.
 
The ARPL philosophy is to produce buildings to the highest design standards in close consultation with its clients. Designs are innovative and sympathetic to both the immediate and the broader environment in which they are constructed, with an emphasis on sustainability. Each project embraces the unique nature of the client’s needs and the site.
 
Over the 36 years since Patrick Lorimer established the original practice, ARPL’s status in the profession has grown steadily in line with its position as a medium-sized practice with a reputation for well executed projects. From its base in Ayr the practice carries out projects over a wide geographical area from the Orkneys and the Western Isles to Ireland.
 
The firm’s project experience covers the fields of housing, churches, schools, commercial projects, private houses, community and arts buildings. Particular expertise has been developed in contemporary sustainable design, specialist conservation works and design for historically sensitive environments.
 
ARPL’s work has received wide recognition through numerous design and environmental awards presented over the years for its new build and conservation works. Regular success in design competitions adds to the practice portfolio.
 
ARPL are currently working on new and refurbishment housing for Lochside, Ayr, several church and castle conservation and restoration projects and new community facilities in the South West of Scotland. Appointments for church commissions involve a range of denominations and projects from conservation and repair to extensions and new build. The firm is also involved in country houses and estates and the design of new houses for private owners.
 
The practice typically handles projects with construction values ranging from £100k through to £15m.
 
ARPL directors have managed to keep their business stable during the current difficult times, and have a busy current workload.
:
ARPL Architects Ltd
Architects and Quantity Surveyors
11 Wellington Square
Ayr KA7 1EN
Ayrshire, Scotland
 
Contact: Patrick Lorimer
Tel: 01292 289777
Fax: 01292 288896
E-mail: plorimer@arpl.co.uk
Web: http://www.arpl.co.uk

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ARPL Architects Ltd and South Ayrshire Council are Founder Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.
 

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

East Ayrshire jobs funding boost

An additional £248,000 is being awarded to East Ayrshire Council by the Scottish Government to tackle youth unemployment.

The local authority received £720,000 to implement Opportunities for All earlier this year. Additional investment through European Social Funding will mean that 123 young people aged 16-19 seeking training or learning opportunities can now be targeted by the authority.
 

Minister for Youth Employment Angela Constance (pictured above) was speaking in Kilmarnock where she visited Centrestage, a community arts centre, with two employees funded by the Community Jobs Scotland (CJS) programme. 

The Minister also announced that CJS would be able to create a total of 1400 posts in 2012/13, an increase of 400 posts on what was previously planned.

She said: “Earlier this year, East Ayrshire was identified as one of the areas of Scotland with particular challenges with young unemployment, which is why the local authority received additional funding to implement Opportunities for All. I am very pleased to be able to visit the area and hear how this investment is making a difference.

“Further funding will help even more young people take up opportunities to improve their job prospects. It is also quite appropriate that today we can celebrate the work of Community Jobs Scotland who have now placed 2,500 people into work.

“A further 400 placements will ensure many more young people nationwide get the benefit of paid employment through third sector involvement and improve their prospects of sustainable opportunities.”
 



Monday, 19 November 2012

Minister for Learning visits Kyle Academy

Dr Alasdair Allan MSP, Minister for Learning, Sciences and Scotland’s Languages, has paid a visit to Kyle Academy to learn more about a successful Dyslexia Friendly Schools initiative – aimed at assisting dyslexic pupils to achieve their full potential.
 
 
[Dr Alasdair Allan is pictured with members of the Kyle Academy Dyslexia Friendly Schools initiative, Councillor Margaret Toner, Portfolio Holder for Lifelong Learning, Depute Provost Mary Kilpatrick and Councillors Ian Douglas and Corri Wilson.]
 
The project has been pioneered by Margaret Crankshaw, a retired educational psychologist who developed a bronze, silver and gold award scheme for the delivery of teaching excellence and dyslexic pupil support in primary schools.
 
Margaret is now working with Prestwick Academy, Marr College and Kyle Academy, to develop an accreditation scheme for secondary schools and to pilot a similar award scheme.
 
 
[Pupils Ainslie Woods and Scott McIlvanney spoke about the work of the DFS Pupil Steering Group at Kyle Academy. As a result of their presentation during the recent Scottish Dyslexia Conference in Edinburgh, Dr Allan decided to visit the school.]

The initiative has been attracting national attention, and a team from South Ayrshire Council led a workshop at the recent Scottish Dyslexia Conference in Edinburgh, attended by David Thomson, Scottish Government representative. Ainslie Woods and Scott McIlvanney spoke about the work of the DFS Pupil Steering Group at Kyle Academy. As a result of their presentation, Dr Allan decided to visit the school.
 
Welcoming Dr Allan to Kyle Academy at a special school assembly, Eileen Brown, head teacher explained: “The Dyslexia Friendly Schools Pupil Champions group developed their vision of what a dyslexia friendly school would look like.
 
“Part of that vision is to help all pupils understand what it is like to be dyslexic – and get first-hand experience of the difficulties facing dyslexic pupils.
 
“To do this, they have developed and led a series of special school assemblies for all year groups, which include surveys of pupil views, using voting pods, before and after the assemblies to measure the impact on their knowledge and understanding of the condition, as well as their attitudes to dyslexic pupils. The results are displayed immediately and so everyone can see the shift in attitude.
 
Dr Allan then watched as Ainslie, Scott Sutherland, Abbie Hamilton, Robbie Alexander and Jayde Denholm gave a presentation to the school and explained more about the problems some dyslexic pupils experience. Everyone, including Dr Allan then completed a number of written tasks to simulate the problems dyslexic pupils experience in processing information.
 
They then showed a film clip highlighting the visual disturbances dyslexia can produce when reading written text and played a balloon game to share more facts about dyslexia. Dr Allan was an enthusiastic member of the team who played the game on stage.
 
Eileen continued: “Margaret’s expertise has been extremely helpful in our work to become a Dyslexia Friendly School, as have our colleagues in other primary and secondary schools in South Ayrshire as we share the best practice across the authority.
 
“In Kyle Academy, the initiative is being led by our young people who have been inspirational, not only in changing pupil attitudes to dyslexic pupils but also in supporting staff  by sharing their vision with them and providing advice and training on strategies which support their learning. Work is also underway to increase the number of parents involved in the Parent Champions group with plans to set up a Family Support Network.
 
“It takes great courage for dyslexic young to provide presentations at a national conference, to all of their peers and to all staff. They have also been invited to speak to other groups in Scotland. It has been a joy to watch their confidence grow and their determination to make a difference increase. They have already achieved one of the hardest tasks of all; to change attitudes to the condition.
 
Addressing his young audience, Dr Allan said: “The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that all children and young people with additional support needs, including dyslexia, are provided with the support they need to help them reach their full potential.
 
“My visit to Kyle Academy was to see how teachers and pupils there are de-stigmatising dyslexia through pupil led assemblies.
 
“This is part of a wider Dyslexia Friendly Schools model adopted by South Ayrshire Council to improve dyslexia provision across their schools.
 
“I am impressed with how successful the pupils, co-ordinators and participating schools have been and am looking forward to learning more on how this is helping pupils in the area.”
 
Councillor Margaret Toner, Portfolio Holder for Lifelong Learning concluded: “South Ayrshire Council takes pride in the fantastic educational opportunities offered to our young people and we have recently recorded some of the best exam results in our history.
 
“This reflects the wide ranging and comprehensive support we offer our pupils, with a flexible and exciting education package geared to their strengths. This tailor made programme is unique to each and every child, giving them every chance to succeed.
 
“I am immensely proud of the work being delivered by the Dyslexia Friendly School project and in particular I admire Ainslie and Scott’s determination to help their peers accept and understand the challenges associated with dyslexia.
 
“Not only is it daunting for these young people to stand up and present to an assembly of 150 people– they are all dyslexic and they are a real credit to the school and an inspiration to every pupil in South Ayrshire.”

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