The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

First Minister's New Year message 2015

Nicola Sturgeon highlights priorities for the coming year

Speaking from the maternity unit at Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The staff who work here are just some of the tens of thousands across our National Health Service who give up time with their loved ones over Christmas and New Year to care for the rest of us.

“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all of them and to the many others who work so hard, not just over the festive period, but all year round to provide us with the best possible care.

“The terrible events in Glasgow last week reminded us again of how much we owe our emergency services. Day in, day out, our police, ambulance and fire services go beyond the call of duty to look after us.

“Our thoughts and prayers today remain with the bereaved and all those affected by last week’s tragedy; and our heartfelt thanks go to those who are rallying round to provide them with love and support.

“As we look forward to a new year, it is worth thinking about the babies in this maternity ward - and about the sort of country we want them to grow up in.

“These young children are lucky to have been born into an NHS that is free at the point of need. 

“Your Scottish Government - a government that I am now proud to lead - is determined to protect that principle, and we will work every day to support and improve our public national health service. 

“As the boys and girls here grow up, we also want them to benefit from high quality pre-school care. That’s why in 2015, we will significantly expand childcare for two year olds – and move forward with our even more ambitious plans for the future. 

“And as these babies become young adults, we want to ensure that they have the opportunity to fulfil their potential in whatever career they choose. 

“I am proud that this government restored the principle of free higher education - a principle I benefitted from as a young girl.

“Now I am determined that we will step up our work to close the attainment gap between schools in different parts of Scotland, so that more young people can take advantage of that free education.

“We will also continue to support a record number of modern apprenticeships, to give our young people the skills they need and help our businesses to innovate, export and expand. 

“And we will strive to create opportunities for all. The baby girls in this maternity unit deserve the same chances in life as the baby boys - the chance to succeed in fields like science and engineering, and to become senior managers, board members, even First Ministers.

“The simple fact is that if we can give every child here a fair chance to fulfil their potential, we will build a stronger, happier and more successful country. 

“Doing everything I can to make that a reality is my New Year resolution and it is one my government – in partnership with many across our country - will be focussed on throughout next year.

“Despite the great sadness of recent days, there is no doubt that 2014 has been the most extraordinary year for our country. Our economy has grown and unemployment has fallen. We hosted a hugely successful Ryder Cup, and staged the best ever Commonwealth Games. 

“And we had a referendum recognised around the world as a shining example of democratic engagement. A referendum that - regardless of which way you voted - empowered all of us in this country like never before.

“As the bells chime on Hogmanay, I hope that the spirit of empowerment that so lit up 2014, will guide us into the New Year. Let's resolve not to slip back to business as usual. 

“Instead, let us harness the wonderful enthusiasm and engagement of 2014 and use it to build a fairer and more prosperous Scotland for these babies to grow up in.

“Wherever you are, in Scotland or around the world; at home with family and friends, or at work – let me wish each and every one of you all the very best for a happy, peaceful and prosperous 2015.”

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Marie Macklin awarded CBE

By: Murdoch MacDonald

Kilmarnock-based entrepreneur and business woman Marie Macklin has been appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s New Year Honours list 2015.

The award citation reads “for services to economic regeneration and entrepreneurship in Scotland.”

Commenting on the honour, Marie Macklin (pictured above) told Ayrshire Scotland Business News: “Words can’t express how I felt when I learned I was to be recognised in this way. I’m overwhelmed. I feel both privileged and proud to receive this honour. 

“I’m the first to recognise that this is also a reflection of the endeavour and commitment of those around me, who have persevered with me in taking on difficult challenges. It has been all the more satisfying to see people living and working in buildings we’ve created in regeneration schemes that others have considered ‘too difficult’.

“I’ve been privileged to work alongside bright and talented young people, encouraging them to consider business as a career, and to help creative and energetic entrepreneurs to make the most of their talents.” 

Marie Macklin is Chief Executive of The Klin Group, an entrepreneurial company engaged in economic and social transformation in Scotland. This second-generation family business is distinguished by an inspired and creative approach to investment and economic regeneration. The company’s foundations are in revitalising land and property and investing in challenging and demanding initiatives which help to transform communities. 

Marie Macklin has a background in construction, financial services and banking. She is a member of the Board of Ayrshire College and Business Patron to Centrestage Music Theatre, an Ayrshire social enterprise arts organisation. In 2013 she received the Association of Scottish Businesswomen’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to business. 

Under her leadership, The Klin Group was one of the first private investors in the regeneration of Tollcross in Glasgow, completing several brownfield housing developments which helped to stimulate further third party investment in the area. 

The Klin Group has continued to redevelop brownfield sites throughout Scotland.

During 2003, the company introduced the first WM Morrison supermarket to Scotland, at Kilmarnock, as part of a £60million redevelopment package. This included the transformation of two historic category B listed derelict town centre properties, one the former headquarters of Andrew Barclay & Son, a world-leading steam locomotive manufacturer, the other a derelict Victorian opera house.  

Marie Macklin has a long-established commitment to the development, excellence and philanthropy of young people. She actively encourages entrepreneurs by advising, investing in, sponsoring and supporting local schools, colleges, arts and community organisations to engage young people in business. She is a mentor for Entrepreneurial Spark Enterprise and assists female entrepreneurs to build business networks through her initiative, ‘Women in Enterprise’ at Ayrshire Association of Businesswomen. This initiative is to be extended in 2015 through The Association of Scottish Businesswomen.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Trio of humanitarians reach finals of prestigious Burns Award 2015

Three outstanding nominees have reached the finals of a prestigious global humanitarian award, The Robert Burns Humanitarian Award, named after Ayrshire’s most famous son, Scots Bard Robert Burns.

Olivia Giles OBE, Sompop Jantraka and Dr Sanduk Ruit have been shortlisted for the award, which is supported by South Ayrshire Council.

Olivia Giles (pictured above) is a lawyer from Edinburgh who became a quadruple amputee after contracting meningococcal septicaemia in 2002 – an illness which almost killed her. After recovering, she made a conscious decision not to go back to her old job, deciding that she wanted to do something more than just develop a ‘nice career’. In 2007 she founded the charity 500 Miles, which supplies prosthetic limbs to developing countries and, through her work, she has helped hundreds of amputees regain some form of independence. 

Dr Sanduk Ruit (pictured above) founded the Tilganga Eye Centre in Kathmandu, Nepal, in 1994 – the first out-patient cataract surgery facility in the Himalayan region. In 1995, along with fellow ophthalmologist Dr Geoffrey Tabin, Dr Ruit founded the charity Himalayan Cataract Project. The aim of the charity is to bring eyesight back to anyone who needs it, regardless of their ability to pay – and to do this with pre- and post-operative care that rivals the highest quality health care in the world. Dr Ruit has dedicated his life to eradicating unnecessary blindness.

Sompop Jantraka (pictured above) is a Thai activist who has worked for the past 26 years to rescue children from exploitative labour, prostitution and child trafficking. In 1989 he founded the Daughters Education Programme (DEP), funding education in order to prevent vulnerable girls being forced into the sex industry. His work has directly saved young women from being sold into prostitution by poor farming families. His work proves that women can be more valuable to Thailand as educated members of the work force than as sex slaves.

All of the finalists were delighted to hear of their nomination and shortlisting.

Olivia said: "I am delighted and honoured to have been shortlisted for the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award 2015. Burns' humanitarian values and global outlook both resonate strongly with me and to be associated with his name and memory is, to a proud Scot such as me, a source of enormous inspiration."

Sanduk said: "The news has touched my soul! The RBHA award means a lot to the dozen organisations that I am involved with globally for alleviation of blindness and for the profile of Nepal."

Sompop said: “Being nominated for the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award is a true honour and I am humbled and delighted that I am being considered for this. I am sure all the nominees are very deserving and to have been selected is a big and welcome surprise.”

The Robert Burns Humanitarian Award 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. Winners receive the equivalent of 1759 guineas – a sum which signifies the year of the Bard’s birth and the coinage then in circulation – as well as a specially commissioned award handcrafted in Scotland.

This year a record number of 120 nominations were received with Olivia, Sanduk and Sompop eventually selected as finalists by the RBHA Judging Panel, chaired by Councillor Bill McIntosh, Leader of South Ayrshire Council. 

Also on the panel are Jane Brown, President of the Robert Burns World Federation; John Cairney, actor, writer and painter; John Duncan QPM, Lord Lieutenant of Ayrshire & Arran; Heather Dunk, Principal Ayrshire College; David Hopes, Director of the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum; David Leask, Herald Reporter; Habib Malik and Guy Willoughby former RBHA winners and STV Chief Executive Rob Woodward.

The Herald Newspaper Group continued their media partnership with the event, promoting it widely through their publications and online.

South Ayrshire Council Leader Councillor Bill McIntosh said: “The RBHA has really captured people’s imaginations this year and the record number of nominations is very pleasing.

“Once again, we have three very worthy finalists in the running for the Award, each of whom undertakes far reaching and important humanitarian works, consistently putting themselves before others.

“Rabbie’s ethos and values live on here at home as well as further afield and I’m he’d have approved of each of our worthy finalists, to whom I offer my sincere congratulations and best wishes, ahead of the awards ceremony on 22 January – the Bard’s birthday.”

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop said: “Robert Burns is recognised internationally as a champion of social justice and humanitarianism and this legacy endures through these awards.

“The nominees are again an inspiration. Their work and dedication are an example to us all on how to act more generously, selflessly and with greater kindness towards others. 

“They join a select group of individuals – both previous winners and nominees – who have a shown an incredible generosity of spirit and drive to improve humanity for the benefit of all.” 

Further information on the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award can be found at and the winner will be announced at a ceremony on Thursday 22 January 2014 at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.

The Robert Burns Humanitarian Award takes place during the annual Alloway 1759 Festival, a unique commemoration of the birthplace, life and works of Robert Burns. Celebrating its sixth anniversary in 2014, 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  

The Robert Burns Humanitarian Award is part of Scotland’s Winter Festivals, a programme of events funded by Scottish Government and managed by EventScotland. 

 South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.