The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Friday, 23 January 2015

Edinburgh amputee who helps others walk wins Robert Burns Humanitarian Award 2015

An Edinburgh lawyer who lost her hands and feet following a serious illness and then set up a charity to provide people in developing countries with prosthetic limbs so they can walk has been named winner of a global humanitarian award in honour of the Scots Bard.

Olivia Giles OBE (pictured above) was presented with the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award (RBHA) 2015 at a special ceremony at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway – Robert Burns’ place of birth – by Minister for Europe and International Development, Humza Yousaf MSP.

[Pictured left to right: Bill McIntosh, Leader of South Ayrshire Council; award runner-up Sompop Jantraka[; Humza Yousaf MSP Minister for Europe and International Development; award winner Olivia Giles OBE and South Ayrshire Provost Helen Moonie.]

The Robert Burns Humanitarian Award – launched in 2002 and supported by South Ayrshire Council and EventScotland as part of Scotland’s Winter Festivals with sponsorship from William Grant & Sons and The Herald, Sunday Herald and – recognises those who have saved, improved or enriched the lives of others or society as a whole, through personal self-sacrifice, selfless service or direct humanitarian work.

Olivia was selected as the winner from an incredible 120 nominations – the highest number ever received for the RBHA.

It was 13 years ago, after contracting meningitis and needing emergency surgery, that Olivia had to be told the devastating news that her hands and feet had been amputated to save her life.

Once back to full strength and very conscious how lucky she was to be alive, Olivia began to raise both money and awareness for the likes of the Meningitis Trust and other charities. 

During this time, Olivia learned about the difficulties experienced by amputees in developing countries, who didn’t have access to the same kind of healthcare and support that she herself had experienced. 

Instead, many of these people – including large numbers of children – were ostracised from their community and Olivia set out to tackle this by founding the charity, ‘500 miles’, just five years’ after the loss of her hands and feet.

500 miles is all about supporting the development and delivery of prosthetic and orthotic services to people with impaired mobility in Malawi, Zambia and, to a lesser degree, in Zanzibar. Thanks to Olivia’s efforts, 500 miles now has two centres in Malawi, run in cooperation with the Malawian Ministry of Health. Together, these centres now provide more than 1,650 devices each year to people who badly need them.

The charity also funds and subsidises people to receive prosthetic and orthotic devices in Zanzibar and Zambia. Olivia’s work for the charity was recognised in 2010 when she was awarded an OBE by Her Majesty The Queen.

Olivia is in the throes of organising ‘The BIG Dinner’ on 7 March 2015, when she aims to raise £500,000 on one night with hundreds of dinners held in homes and restaurants across the country and donations being pledged.

Humza Yousaf MSP, Minister for Europe and International Development, said: “The Robert Burns Humanitarian Award recognises the selfless vital work that is undertaken around the world, every day of every year, to help others. Olivia’s tireless work has undoubtedly improved the lives of the many people that don’t have access to the same levels of healthcare as we do. Countless people with impaired mobility in developing countries have benefited from the leadership that Olivia has provided and live a better life thanks to prosthetics. She is a well-deserving recipient of this award and an inspiration to others.
“Now in its fourteenth year, the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award continues to be one of the highlights of Scotland’s Winter Festivals programme which draws to a close on Burns Night. Scots and Scots at heart all over the world will be celebrating Robert Burns this weekend and I would encourage everyone to take the time to honour the life of our Bard and his enduring message of humanitarianism, egalitarianism and equality.”

Olivia said: “I’m both shocked and overwhelmed to receive this award and thank the judges for this unexpected recognition. I consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to help out the people we work with and firmly believe that I got my second chance so I could help others get theirs. 

“It’s impossible to describe how it feels when you see a young girl walk for the first time thanks to a prosthetic leg we’ve provided or to hear that men who had to depend on family and friends to get around are regaining some form of independence because they are now mobile. It really means the world and I’m very privileged to be part of that.

“As a proud Scotswoman, it’s a tremendous honour to receive the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award and I will continue to do all I can to live up to his beliefs of treating everyone as equals and working towards a fair and just society throughout the world.”

The runners-up for the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award 2015 were:

Sompop Jantraka – Sompop is a Thai activist who has worked for more than 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 directly saved young women from an unimaginable life and also showed that women can be more valuable to their country as educated members of the work force than as sex slaves. Since then, Sompop has established numerous projects focused on helping young people reach their potential, find independence and contribute to their communities. And he continues to deliver anti-trafficking programmes throughout the region regardless of the threats this presents to him.

Sompop said: “"I would like to formally congratulate Olivia for winning this prestigious award. I believe it is vitally important that we who are looking to change the world and give voices to the down-trodden and the forgotten band together and support one another in our efforts. I am so incredibly honoured to have made it this far. Just bringing attention to the plight of the victims (survivors) of human trafficking and the vital work of the Development and Education Programme for Daughters and Communities Centre in the Greater Mekong Subregionis more than enough of an award for me, and I thank RBHA for giving me that platform. I look forward to keeping up with Olivia’s mission and her future achievements, and to returning to DEPDC/GMS and the children there, who are the real heroes.”

Dr Sanduk Ruit – Dr Sanduk Ruit has dedicated his life to ridding the world of unnecessary blindness – eye conditions that are preventable but are left untreated due to poverty or poor access to healthcare. Dr Ruit founded the Tilganga Eye Centre – the first out-patient cataract surgery facility in the Himalayan region – in 1994. He also co-founded the charity, Himalayan Cataract Project, with the sole aim of bringing eyesight back to anyone who needs it, regardless of their ability to pay. The Tilganga Eye Centre now treats 7,000 patients a week, with surgery fees waived for the neediest. And Dr Ruit often treks into remote parts of Nepal and throughout the Himalayas to treat those who can’t come to the clinic. He has personally restored the sight of more than 100,000 people across Asia and Africa.

Dr Ruit said: “Being shortlisted for this award truly 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 and my congratulations to Olivia."

Councillor Bill McIntosh, Chair of the RBHA Judging Panel and Leader of South Ayrshire Council, added: “My warmest congratulations to Olivia on being named our Robert Burns Humanitarian Award winner 2015. All three of our finalists recognise that not everyone has the same choices, freedoms and opportunities – and what they have done to address this has changed tens of thousands of lives. 

“Olivia’s work to get people walking – some for the first time – is truly outstanding and has given people back their dignity and their independence. These are qualities that can be sadly lacking for people with disabilities in developing countries, yet Olivia shows them how worthy and valuable they are as individuals and shows them that they matter. And her selfless efforts are all the more inspiring when you realise that she has done all of this after losing her own hands and feet and having to adjust to a very different kind of life than she had planned.

“If Burns was alive today, I’m sure he would agree that Olivia is all that a humanitarian should be and a very worthy and deserving recipient of an award named in his honour."

Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer for EventScotland said: "Scotland is the perfect stage for events and the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award is a key date on our cultural calendar each year. Each of this year's nominees are truly inspirational and embody the values of this famous award. Olivia, our winner for 2015, has demonstrated an incredible drive to improve the lives of others and has shown how such acts of selflessness can have a lasting impact.”

For further information on the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award – including details of the previous winners – visit or to join our RBHA mailing list, email

• The RBHA takes place during the annual Alloway 1759 Festival, which is a unique commemoration of the birthplace, life and works of Robert Burns. Celebrating its seventh anniversary in 2015, Alloway 1759 offers a fabulous four-day range of events, from food and drink, to song, dance, poetry and fun events such as haggis hurling – offering something for everyone –and finishes on Sunday 25 January with a big birthday bash finale in the main street of the village. You can explore this year’s programme at the Alloway 1759 website:

• The Award is supported as part of Scotland’s Winter Festivals, which begin with St Andrew’s Day on 30th November and include Christmas, Scotland’s Hogmanay celebrations on 31st December, culminating with Burns night on 25th January. Funded by the Scottish Government, Scotland’s Winter Festivals are delivered EventScotland, part of VisitScotland. Find out more about celebrating Scotland’s Winter Festivals at 

• Burns’ Night on 25 January marks the end of Scotland’s Winter Festivals. Burns, our national bard, is one of Scotland’s favourite icons encapsulating the very essence that makes Scots Scottish – creative, proud and confident. On 25 January each year, the life of Robert Burns, our national poet, is celebrated worldwide at Burns Suppers. 

• To find out more about taking part in the BIG dinner for 500 miles, visit

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

Thursday, 22 January 2015

CKD Galbraith offers for sale merchant’s house in Largs - Victorian splendour with uninterrupted sea views

Scotland’s leading independent property consultancy CKD Galbraith is offering for sale Craignish - the substantial portion of a Merchant’s house situated within a quiet corner of Buchanan Street in Largs, overlooking the Firth of Clyde to Arran. 

Largs has long since been a fashionable place to live, and in the late 1800s when the railway linked the town to Glasgow several impressive mansion houses were built, of which Craignish is one.  

Around this time the Brisbane family were important landowners in Largs and the niece of Sir Thomas Brisbane (governor of Australia after whom the city of Brisbane is named) sold some land to the Buchanan brothers, metal merchants from Glasgow. Their legacy endures not only in the street name, but also the steel and brass fireplace within the lounge of Craignish which was commission by the brothers and remains in situ to this day.

The accommodation of Craignish is laid over the first and second floor and is spacious and bright. Much of the original wood panelling has been retained along with ornate cornice work and deep skirtings.  

The lounge is a sumptuous room with elaborate cornicing and a ceiling rose.  The room looks directly onto the foreshore and over the Firth of Clyde to the Isle of Cumbrae and Arran.  

The master bedroom is located on the first floor and enjoys the same sea views. The dining kitchen is also well proportioned and has fitted units with a range of appliances. Three further bedrooms are located on the second floor.

The gardens of Craignish are easily maintained and are mainly shared. There is also a good sized garage and a former stable.

Craignish is located within a quiet enclave yet is just a few minutes walk from the thriving town centre, its shops, restaurants and businesses. Largs Yacht Haven is also within easy reach and there is a regular rail service from Largs to Glasgow.

Offers Over £310,000 are being sought.

PDF available on

CKD Galbraith 
7 Killoch Place 
Ayr KA7 2EA 
Ayrshire, Scotland 

Tel: 01292 268181   
Fax: 01292 292300 

CKD Galbraith’s Ayr Office is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Travelling Anne Frank Museum at Kyle Academy

Pupils from nine South Ayrshire Council primary and secondary schools had an opportunity to see the internationally acclaimed Travelling Anne Frank Museum when it visited Kyle Academy in Ayr on an educational visit for pupils.

[Pictured: A poignant and moving memorial to Anne Frank, helping to preserve her memory and legacy. The exhibition was attended by pupils from nine South Ayrshire Council primary and secondary schools, when it visited Kyle Academy in Ayr as part of an educational visit.]

The ‘Anne Frank a history for today’ museum tells the story of Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl who lived in hiding in fear of her life, against the background of the Holocaust and the Second World War. The exhibition is primarily aimed at young people from 11 to 18 years of age. 

A group of S2 Kyle Academy pupils were specially trained to act as guides to the museum and one of them accompanied every group that visited to ensure that they get the best possible experience. 

After touring the museum Councillor Margaret Toner, Lifelong Learning Portfolio Holder for the Council said: “I feel very privileged to have been able to see this exhibition which has travelled all over the world. Anne Frank was a courageous young woman and her life story is very inspiring. 

“With Holocaust Memorial Day taking place on 27 January 2015, marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the 20th anniversary of the Genocide in Srebrenica, Bosnia the timing of the visit could not have been better.

The exhibition aims to:

• Inform visitors about the history of the Holocaust from the perspective of Anne Frank and her family.

• Show visitors that cultural, ethnic, religious and political differences between people exist in every society and that such views can lead to discrimination, exclusion, persecution and even murder.

• Challenge visitors to think about concepts such as tolerance, mutual respect, human rights and democracy.

• Help visitors to understand that a society where differences between people are respected does not come about by itself.

• Understand that legislation is necessary, but people also have to make a person commitment. 

Councillor Toner concluded: “The theme of Holocaust memorial Day 2015 focuses on memory and passing on the legacy of memories to others. I am positive that the young people who viewed this exhibition will remember what they learned and tell others about in the future.”

[A set of 6 downloadable photographs taken at this eventis available in the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle image archive on Flickr.]

Another free exhibition, ‘Gathering the Voices’ will be on display on Monday 26 January from 8.45am to 1pm and on Tuesday 27 January 2015 from 8.45am until noon. The exhibition contains a wealth of fascinating images and visual material that helps to bring to life the experiences of the people who came to Scotland to escape the Holocaust. 

Holocaust Memorial Day has been held in the UK since 2001 and was declared an international event by the United Nations four years later. It is held each year on 27 January the date in 1945 when the largest Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated.

The theme of Holocaust Memorial Day 2015 is ‘Keep the Memories Alive’ and this year South Ayrshire Council will be hosting the national Holocaust Memorial Day event. More information about the Holocaust can be found at 

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

Monday, 19 January 2015

CKD Galbraith predict Ayrshire property market set for healthy 2015

Scotland’s leading independent property consultancy CKD Galbraith believe the outlook is optimistic for 2015, following a successful year in 2014, with encouraging levels of activity in the property market throughout Scotland and a return to competitive bidding. 

[Pictured:  Bob Cherry, partner and head of 
residential in CKD Galbraith’s Ayr office.]

The fourth quarter of 2014 (October – December) saw property viewings and prices in Ayrshire continue to grow during the final quarter of 2014 according to new research conducted by the firm’s office in Ayr. Despite the slowdown during the referendum the market bounced back in November and confidence returned along with English and international buyers.

• Viewings have risen by 13% compared to the fourth quarter of 2013.
• The average property price in Ayr rose to £272,000 in the final quarter, a £10,000 increase compared to average prices in the third quarter. 
• Property in the area has sold, on average, over two months quicker than the previous quarter.    

Bob Cherry, partner and head of residential in CKD Galbraith’s Ayr office, said: “We are greatly encouraged by the level of buyer interest and activity throughout 2014. There was a period of uncertainty towards the end of August and the start of September which was expected, but buyer confidence was restored with the referendum results and November proved a good period to buy. 

“Although we are very optimistic for the sector in 2015 we don’t foresee its growth as immune to the political and legislative changes set to take place, changes to stamp duty and the general elections will most certainly effect decisions over the coming six months.

“We’ve also seen an increase in closing dates set and competitive bidding with some properties going for well over the asking price. An example sale from the final quarter is Townhead of Gree, an attractive traditional house near Fenwick, which achieved 22.5% over the guide price of £400,000 with considerable interest and six offers in very short space of time.”  

CKD Galbraith operates a network of regional offices located throughout the country and has enjoyed good growth over the last year. The firm as a whole experienced a 24% increase in the number of sales in the final quarter of 2014 compared to the third quarter. As well as the improvement in sales figures, there was also a 23% increase in the number of viewings against 2013’s figures for the final quarter. 

Throughout 2014, CKD Galbraith handled property in excess of £375million covering property throughout the whole of Scotland. Prices achieved for all properties sold by the firm during 2014 were, on average 1.54% over the asking price, highlighting the firm’s unrivalled local knowledge of the market and expertise in setting prudent valuations.

About CKD Galbraith 

CKD Galbraith is an independent property consultancy employing 225 staff in offices across Scotland including Edinburgh, Stirling, Perth, Cupar, Inverness, Castle Douglas, Ayr, Elgin, Galashiels, Kelso, and Aberdeen, offering local knowledge, national expertise and enjoying international reach.

The firm is Scotland’s largest and leading rural consultancy managing and providing advice on farm, forestry, land and estate interests on over three million acres.  CKD Galbraith provides the full range of property consulting services across the residential, commercial, rural and renewable energy sectors throughout Scotland and northern England. The partnership also enjoys a successful relationship with its associate firm in London, CKD Kennedy Macpherson.

CKD Galbraith 
7 Killoch Place 
Ayr KA7 2EA 
Ayrshire, Scotland 

Tel: 01292 268181   
Fax: 01292 292300 

CKD Galbraith’s Ayr Office is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

New look unveiled at Ayr Citadel gym

A fantastic, modern and state-of-the-art gym opened at the Citadel Leisure Centre in Ayr today, Monday 19 January 2015 – benefitting from a refreshed and vibrant new look, thanks to an investment of almost £500,000 from South Ayrshire Council.

The new gym features ‘Life Fitness’ equipment to boost cardio-vascular training and ‘Hammer Strength’ resistant machines to help build strength and stamina – with friendly staff on hand to help you reach your fitness goals in 2015. 

Much of the equipment is wi-fi enabled, allowing customers to watch TV, listen to music, or even download workout data direct to apps on smartphones – allowing exercise regimes to be easily recorded and tracked for optimum performance. 

One of the most exciting additions is a brand new inspirational fitness experience Life Fitness SYNRGY 360 workout station – a revolutionary training concept which allows you to train individually or as part of a group. 

Councillor Bill Grant, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Tourism and Leisure said: “The new facilities have transformed the gym and we can now offer customers more than just a workout – providing limitless opportunities for people to train smarter, better and more effectively – in order to  achieve even better results whatever their ambitions. 

“Why not give this brilliant new exercise hub a go – whether individually, or with a group of friends and experience first-hand how this new concept can enhance your training?”

Another fantastic addition to the Citadel Gym is the dedicated spin studio, with state of the art spin bikes in vibrant surroundings and a sensational new lighting system, which changes to the beat of the music!

To complete the modernisation programme, the ground floor reception area will also be re-configured to be more customer-friendly, making it easier than ever for customers to access all sports and leisure facilities and get information and advice on what’s on, where and when.

Councillor Grant continued: “It’s perfect for families and helps everyone make an investment in themselves, taking advantage of the benefits from a fitter, leaner lifestyle.”

Superb value gym-only membership packages start from just £13 per month and for a little over £1 per day (£37 per month), you can take advantage of all the leisure facilities including swim, sauna and all fitness classes across all Council venues - not just the Citadel – so you can break a sweat, without breaking the bank!

For further details call 01292 269793, visit or drop into the Citadel and take a look for yourself, the fitness team there will be glad to help. 

Councillor Grant concluded: “It’s an exciting time for the Citadel and, as we step into the New Year, it’s a perfect time to keep fit, lead a healthier lifestyle and join the gym!

“Our makeover is complete. Start yours with us today!”

More images are available on Flickr

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