The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Friday, 1 February 2013

Elite Ayrshire Business Circle executive chairman Norman Geddes reports successful visit to China

Elite Ayrshire Business Circle executive chairman and Frazer Coogans Commercial Solicitors managing partner Norman Geddes has returned from a week-long visit to China, and reports that the trip was both enjoyable and beneficial.
The visit was at the invitation of Mr and Mrs Michael Zhou and mineral water bottling and distribution company Ganten, who recently purchased Blairquhan Castle in South Ayrshire.
Also on the trip were Norman’s wife Katrina and daughter Clare, former Blairquhan Castle owners Sir Patrick and Lady Hunter Blair and members of their family, and Ayrshire business couple Jim and Meiqin McColm.
The objective of the visit was to further promote business and cultural links between China and Ayrshire.
The visiting party stayed in Shenzhen, a major city in the south of Southern China’s Guangdong Province, situated immediately north of Hong Kong. The area became China’s first - and one of the most successful - Special Economic Zones (SEZs).

Both Chinese and foreign nationals have invested enormous amounts of money in the Shenzhen SEZ. More than US$30 billion in foreign investment has gone into both foreign-owned and joint ventures, at first mainly in manufacturing but more recently in the service industries as well. Shenzhen is now considered one of the fastest growing cities in the world.

Being southern mainland China's major financial centre, Shenzhen is home to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange as well as the headquarters of numerous high-tech companies. Shenzhen is also one of the busiest container ports in China.
Whilst in Shenzhen, the visitors from Ayrshire stayed in the city’s splendid Venice Hotel.
The highlight of the week was undoubtedly the visit to the Ganten mineral water bottling factory in Shenzhen, which the party found to be most impressive. They were warmly welcomed by the management and staff and enjoyed a tour of the factory followed by a presentation and hospitality.
Ganten has eight production units around China, with two more scheduled to open this year. Michael Zhou himself conceives the design of the factories which reflect aspects of Chinese culture. The factories are surrounded by parkland and gardens to reflect their sympathy for the environment.
The newest factory recently opened produces 20 bottles per second in a 24 hour production process contained within a totally sealed area to avoid contamination.
At the time of the purchase of Blairquhan Castle, Michael Zhou stated: “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.”
Norman Geddes concluded: “All members of the visiting party to China would like to thank Mr and Mrs Zhou for their magnificent hospitality.
“Ganten is a dynamic and progressive company whose presence in Ayrshire will be of great benefit to the local economy for many years to come.
“The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle will continue to do everything that it can to further foster, nurture and develop cultural and business relationships between China and Ayrshire.”

A complete set of photographs taken on the trip to China is available on Flickr. CLICK HERE and then click on any thumbnail image to view larger versions.

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Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Ayr Racecourse to stage National Hunt card next Monday

AYR Racecourse stages the first of three February meetings next Monday 4 February with a seven race card boasting more than £40,000 in prize money.
The feature race of the afternoon is the Play Casino At Handicap chase over three miles one furlong due off at 4.15pm with £12,000 in the pot.
The Talk To Victor Novices Hurdle over two miles gets the meeting under way at 1.30pm and the afternoon’s racing ends at 4.45pm with The Casino On Your Mobile At Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race at 4.45pm.
Ayr staged an extra raceday last Wednesday and trainer Donald McCain and jockey Jason Maguire made the most of the additional fixture with a first and last race double.
[Pictured: Perth-based trainer Lucinda Russell saddled Nuts N Bolts (7/2) to land the Download The BetVictor Spincast App Now Beginners Chase under Peter Buchanan at Ayr Racecourse last week.]
Veloce (8/15 fav) won the opening Talk To Victor Novices’ Hurdle (Div 1) and then Swatow Typhoon (5/4 fav) waltzed away with the finale, the Get The BetVictor App Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.
A crowd of more than 600 took advantage of the free entry and many would have backed  Ballybogey which won the Talk To Victor Novices’ Hurdle (Div 11) with the help of Tony McCoy from the saddle. Trained in Ireland by James Lambe the 8/1 shot took full advantage of a fall two out from odds on favourite King Palace to win.
Perth-based trainer Lucinda Russell saddled Nuts N Bolts (7/2) to land the Download The BetVictor Spincast App Now Beginners Chase under Peter Buchanan and the feature race of the day went to Consigliere (9/4 jt fav)  which had made the 800 mile round trip from David Pipe’s Devon stable and was ridden by young Keiron Edgar.
Jim Goldie returned to form with 12/1 chance Too Cool To Fool winning the BetVictor Exclusive Antepost Offer Cheltenham with Henry Brooke in the saddle and another trainer kick starting his season was Ferdy Murphy who saddled Hollo Ladies (16/1) to win the Follow Us On Twitter@BetVictor Racing Handicap.
For more details on racing at Ayr call 01292 264179 or go online at
For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 01292 29497.
Ayr Racecourse and the associated Western House Hotel are Founder Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Robrt Burns Humanitarian Award for murdered aid worker

Khalil Dale MBE, the British Red Cross aid worker who was abducted and killed in Pakistan in 2012, has received a posthumous award named after one of the greatest ever Scots – the Bard Robert Burns.

Khalil (pictured above) was named recipient of the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award 2013 at a prestigious awards ceremony at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway. The 60-year-old, who grew up in Dumfries, spent decades working to help vulnerable people in some of the most dangerous places in the world. Last year, he was abducted and killed in Pakistan while working to make a difference for people wounded in conflict.

The Robert Burns Humanitarian Award (pictured above) - launched in 2002 and supported by South Ayrshire Council, Scotland’s Winter Festivals and EventScotland - recognises a group or individual who has saved, improved or enriched the lives of others or society as a whole, through personal self-sacrifice, selfless service or ‘hands on’ charitable work.

Receiving the award from Minister for External Affairs and International Development, Humza Yousaf, Khalil’s brother Ian said his brother would have been humbled by such recognition.

He added: “Khalil had a deep affinity with Scotland and, to him, Scotland was always his home, so he would have been delighted to be named winner of the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award.

“Khalil very much saw himself as someone who just got on with his job wherever that happened to be, and he would have been very humbled by this accolade, which is testament to the lives he changed and the legacy he leaves behind.

“Khalil was loved and respected by many people, and I am extremely proud my brother – and the work he carried out over many years to make a difference for others – has been recognised in such a wonderful way.

“And I would like to thank the people of Scotland – and especially those in Dumfries – for their support over the last 12 months. It has been truly overwhelming and means a lot to the family.”

[Pictured at the awards ceremony (left to right): Paul Bush, EventScotland; Councillor Bill McIntosh, South Ayrshire Council; Janet Dale, Khalil’s sister-in-law; Ian dale, Khalil’s brother; Provost Helen Moonie and Humza Yousaf MSP, Minister for External Affairs and International Development.]

Humza Yousaf added: “The Robert Burns Humanitarian Award recognises the tireless efforts of those who follow in the footsteps of Scotland’s national Bard to promote and celebrate freedom, liberty and the brotherhood – and sisterhood – of all humankind.

“Khalil Dale fearlessly dedicated his life to helping others, demonstrating deep-rooted Scottish values of compassion and empathy.  It is an honour to present his family with this Award.

“I think we can often take our privileges for granted, and I believe we should take encouragement from all this year’s nominees to do better to help those less fortunate, both at home and abroad.”

Khalil Rhasjed Dale was born Kenneth Robin Dale in York but changed his name to Khalil when he became a Muslim.

A caring and compassionate man, he became a nurse – like his mother – working initially as a casualty nurse at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary. He went on to become a medic on a North Sea oil rig before studying at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.

In 1981, he joined the Red Cross and began a career of humanitarian work overseas – much of it for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. His first posting was to Kenya where he was involved in distributing food and improving the health of people affected by severe drought.

This was followed by many years in some of the most dangerous places in the world – war zones and famine regions – including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Sudan and Somalia where Khalil was responsible for food distribution, healthcare and development projects, which benefitted tens of thousands of people.

One of his toughest challenges was working in war-torn Somalia in the early 1990s where he helped succeed in bringing in daily flights with food and medical supplies despite the perilous security situation.

In an interview with the USA’s flagship public affairs series Frontline, entitled Ambush in Mogadishu, Khalil is quoted as saying: “I’ve been to Afghanistan, two or three times. I’ve been to Sudan, I’ve been to a lot of war zones and famine camps and cholera camps. But I’ve never ever seen anything like Somalia was at that time. And it was certainly the most frightening place for me, it was the most insecure, unpredictable. You just didn't know what was going to happen next.”

It was for his humanitarian work in Somalia that Khalil was awarded the MBE in 1994, which he received from Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace.

He returned to Dumfries in 1998 to care for his mother. While back in Scotland, he continued to help others, working as a nurse and for Turning Point Scotland – a charity dealing with alcohol addictions and drug and mental health problems.

At the beginning of 2011, Khalil left Dumfries to take up what would be his last post with a Red Cross programme in Quetta, Pakistan, providing healthcare and physical rehabilitation to people wounded in conflict.

David Anderson, Chief Executive of South Ayrshire Council and Chair of the RBHA Judging Panel, said: “This was a record-breaking year for entries for the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award and it was tough enough to select three finalists, never mind choosing the final winner.”

Also shortlisted for the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award were:

• John and Mary Miller – an inspirational couple who have dedicated their lives to others both at home and abroad. For 36 years, John served the people of Castlemilk in Glasgow as minister while Mary founded the well-known Jeely Piece Club for local families and served as its Director for many years. In 2007, they moved to Zimbabwe to work with HIV/Aids victims in Murambinda Mission Hospital and help work towards violence reduction and peace-building in that part of the world. In 2008, the new Miller Primary in Castlemilk was named in their honour – only the second time a Glasgow school has been named after a living person.

• Margaret Mills – a project worker with Children 1st (formerly the Royal Scottish Society for the Prevention for Cruelty to Children – RSSPCC) and has spent her life working to secure brighter futures for vulnerable children, including those recovering from sexual, emotional and physical abuse and trauma. Making a difference where others have failed, she was one of the first female inspectors at the RSSPCC and has been instrumental in changing lives. Whether through setting up family centres or establishing support groups and mechanisms for children and families, she has worked to provide support where it is most needed.

[Pictured at the awards ceremony, the finalists left to right: John Miller, Mary Miller, Janet Dale, Ian Dale, Margaret Mills.]

David Andersoncontinued: “While Margaret, John and Mary would have been equally worthy recipients of the Award, Khalil’s lifetime commitment to helping some of the most vulnerable people in the world really stood out for the judges.

“It’s clear from the accolades and tributes from those who knew him that he touched the lives of everyone he ever met. Khalil was a true humanitarian and his legacy lives on thanks to the Khalil Dale Memorial Fund which will be used to do exactly what he set out to do every day of his life – make the world a better place.”

Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer for EventScotland said: “Khalil’s story is a humbling one, and he truly represented the ethos of the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award. His selfless attitude is an inspiration, and I think we can all take something from his story and his efforts to improve the lives of others.

“It is also important to recognise the work of Mary, John and Margaret, and the many others in consideration for this award, which highlights the sheer number of people in and associated with Scotland, who put others before themselves on a daily basis.

As part of Khalil’s award, his family received a specially commissioned award (pictured above), handcrafted in Scotland by Harmonies in Wood, and a cheque for the sum of 1759 guineas (equivalent to around £1,800 in today’s money) – a sum which signifies the year of the Bard’s birth and the coinage then in circulation. The family have donated the monies to the Khalil Dale Memorial Fund – further details, including information on how to donate, can be found at  

Further information on the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award, including details of all the 2013 nominees and previous winners, can be found at

The Robert Burns Humanitarian Award takes place during the annual Alloway 1759 Festival, which is a unique commemoration of the birthplace, life and works of Robert Burns. Celebrating its fifth anniversary in 2013, Alloway 1759 offers an impressive line-up of well-known names as well as some brand-new events. With lots of fun, free events and popular paid-for productions, Alloway 1759 has something for everyone. Full details available at