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.