The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

New sponsor for Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr Racecourse

By: Iain Ferguson

COMMERCIAL Property Maintenance Services (CPMS) is to sponsor the 2019 Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr Racecourse, the richest and most prestigious hurdle race in Scotland and one of the most valuable handicap hurdles in the UK.

The Grade 2 contest - which carries a prize fund of £105,000 - will be run this year on Saturday 13 April and screened live on ITV’s main channel as part of the Coral Scottish Grand National coverage.


The race has grown in stature over the past few years and in 2018 was won by the Sue Smith trained Midnight Shadow (pictured above) whose subsequent wins included the Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham on New Years Day.

CPMS was established in 1996 and provides a full and comprehensive range of property facilities management, building services construction and maintenance solutions across the property, engineering, maintenance and rail sectors.

With headquarters in Elderslie, near Glasgow, and offices in Manchester, York, Edinburgh and Inverness CPMS has built a solid reputation among its growing list of clients.

CPMS managing director Charlie Shiells said: “We are delighted and proud to be sponsoring such a historic and prestigious race as the Scottish Champion Hurdle.

“We are looking forward to our partnership with Ayr Racecourse, Scotland’s premier horse racing venue, and to being part of the biggest day of the year in Scottish jumps racing. It is a very exciting time for us all at CPMS.”

The new sponsor was welcomed by Ayr Racecourse managing director David Brown, who said: “The Scottish Champion Hurdle is firmly established as one of the foremost hurdle races in the country.

“I am thrilled to welcome CPMS as sponsors, and we at Ayr are looking forward to working alongside the CPMS team to make the CPMS Scottish Champion Hurdle even bigger and better.”

The Scottish Champion Hurdle was first run in 1966 and awarded Grade 2 status in 1991. Previous winners include Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Captain Christy in 1973, Alderbrook who won the race in 1996 - a year after winning the Champion Hurdle - and more recently Cheltenian in 2015, Ch’Tibello in 2016 and Chesterfield in 2017.

Coral Scottish Grand National fourth biggest betting race in Britain

And it has been announced that Coral Scottish Grand National is the fourth biggest race in terms of betting shop turnover for 2018 in figures published by Ladbrokes and Coral – the first time such a list has been published since the merger of the two bookmaking giants.


[Pictured: 33-1 chance Joe Farrell  on his way to holding on by a nose from Ballyoptic to land the £122,000 winner’s prize at the 2018 Coral Scottish Grand National and give trainer Rebecca Curtis and jockey Adam Wedge their biggest ever success.]

The only races to better the Ayr race are the Grand National, the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Derby. A total of 25 of the top 40 betting races are run at the Cheltenham Festival.

The Coral Scottish Grand National also came fourth in the last list published by Coral but the new stats include all Ladbrokes shops as well.

There is no other racecourse north of Aintree in the top 40.

For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 01292 294972 or 07795 565691.

Ayr Racecourse and the associated Western House Hotel are Founder Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.


Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Ayrshire given major jobs and investment boost after green light given for Growth Deal

Ayrshire is set for a major jobs boost after it was confirmed that more than £240million is set to be ploughed into the local economy. The long-anticipated Ayrshire Growth Deal will now become a reality after the UK and Scottish Governments confirmed they would each invest £100m into a package of projects.


[Pictured at the Ayrshire Growth Deal announcement, left to right: Eileen Howat, Chief Executive of South Ayrshire Council; Councillor Joe Cullinane, Leader of North Ayrshire Council; Councillor Elena Whitham, Depute Leader of East Ayrshire Council; Councillor Douglas Campbell, Leader of South Ayrshire Council;  David Mundell MP; Sharon Hodgson, Head of Ayrshire Growth Deal;   Fiona Lees,  Chief Executive of East Ayrshire Council; and Craig Hatton, Chief Executive of North Ayrshire Council.]

The Deal is likely to create thousands of jobs, bring £2billion of investment into the area, improve local infrastructure and breathe new life into the Ayrshire economy. It will also help support the wider Scottish and UK economies.

At a visit to the Halo site in Kilmarnock last week, Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell MP confirmed the financial package agreed by the UK Government.

And in parallel the Scottish Government, who had already made clear their commitment to the Growth Deal, announced that they too would match the funding confirming they would also invest £100m.

Mr Mundell MP was joined on his visit by the three Ayrshire Council Leaders, chief executives and representatives of the Ayrshire Growth Deal team from both the public and private sector.

Infrastructure Secretary Michael Mathieson MSP visited Ayrshire this week, when the Growth Deal projects were expected to be high on his agenda.

The three Ayrshire Councils will commit financially to the Deal, with their investment likely to be around 20% of the overall package.

South Ayrshire Council leader, Councillor Douglas Campbell said: "This announcement is fantastic news and delivers the input from the UK and Scottish Governments that we've been working towards for the past three years. This is a ringing endorsement of Ayrshire's potential, and the economic impact we will have by delivering investment, jobs and business growth that will create a legacy for generations to come and make a real difference not only for our own people and places, but for those right across the UK.

"This funding will kick-start a wider investment programme across both the public and private sectors that will give us the chance to innovate, prosper and succeed and ensure Ayrshire is recognised as a world-class business region for the aerospace and space, energy, marine, manufacturing and tourism industries. This really is a milestone day for Ayrshire and a foundation for a bright, prosperous and successful future for all."

Councillor Joe Cullinane, Leader of North Ayrshire, said: "This has been a real collective effort by the three Ayrshire Councils, cross-party politicians, the public and private sector and many other partners.

"We are thrilled to have now received this confirmation of funding from the UK and Scottish Governments and are excited to say that that work will start on these projects this year.

"We have all worked incredibly hard and can now look forward to some really exciting times for Ayrshire. It's up to us now to deliver these projects and create the jobs and investment this area so desperately needs."

Councillor Elena Whitham, Depute Leader of East Ayrshire Council said: "This is tremendous news and is a real testament to three years of hard work, commitment and determination as we sought to demonstrate the economic growth potential of the Ayrshire Growth Deal for the Scottish and UK economies.

"It's all paid off and as this is the first Scottish non-city deal to secure funding from the UK Government, it brings us ever closer to finalising the right deal for Ayrshire.

"The Ayrshire Growth Deal will transform our communities for generations to come."

The Ayrshire Growth Deal partners include the three Ayrshire Councils, UK and Scottish Governments and national agencies, with support from the private sector. Investment will be in key assets and sectors that will not only positively impact Ayrshire but the Scottish and UK economies too.

Some of the projects included in the Growth Deal's strategic plan:

Spaceport Infrastructure & Visitor Centre in Prestwick
Creating a major waterfront destination at Irvine's Harbourside and the Ardeer Peninsula to boost number of tourists
Investing into the digital automation capability in i3, Irvine to attract new business growth focusing on pharmaceutical/life science industries
National Energy Research & Demonstration Centre in Cumnock
The HALO Kilmarnock Ltd (Phase 1 & 2)
Investment in road and rail infrastructure and digital connectivity across the region.

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



Thursday, 31 January 2019

Future of Ayr high street – survey results

South Ayrshire Council has revealed the results of the Ayr Your Views consultation which ran until the middle of December last year.

A fantastic 2,700 surveys were completed with 200 people attending drop in events in Ayr Town Hall to have their say on the future of Ayr high street (pictured).


The public were asked for their views on three proposals — a new leisure facility to replace the Citadel, new public space at the riverside site, and more residential properties in the high street. 

The majority of those taking part in the survey felt the Citadel Leisure Centre should be replaced with a modern facility and if it were to move closer to the town centre, 33% said they would use it more than they do now.

Some of the comments received reflected the age of the Citadel — ‘tired’, ‘old fashioned’ ‘poor condition’ others felt it was ‘too remote’, ‘out of the way’ and not on any bus routes.

The proposal for public space at the riverside site across from the town hall received strong support, with 62% of respondents keen to create space which could be used for events, pop-up markets, exhibitions and performances.

The final part of the consultation focused on the current lack of residential property on the high street.  57% supported the idea of converting empty shops and retail space into new homes. 49% of those surveyed also supported a small number of residential units at the riverside site with 26% unsure.

Councillor Brian McGinley, Economy and Culture Portfolio Holder for South Ayrshire Council, said: “I would like to thank all those that took part in the consultation, it’s important that we continue to work with the public and be responsive to their views.

“I was really encouraged that nearly half of the responses came from young people under the age of 17 which underlines the importance of working together to protect our town centres for future generations.

“Despite the changing nature of our high streets, it’s encouraging that 79% of those filling in the survey still visit Ayr Town Centre to shop. This may change in the future, however a modern leisure facility in the heart of the town, regular events and more people living nearby could mean a thriving town centre for many years to come.

“We will continue to engage with the public and key stakeholders throughout and I am looking forward to seeing more detailed proposals in due course.”

Based on the results of the consultation, the Council is keen to move to the next stage and draw up an action plan featuring timescales and possible costs.

This will be available to share with the public in March and there will also be more public consultation exercises specific to each project as they move through the design and planning stages.

The full consultation results can be found HERE

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


Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Scottish exports increase by 6.2%

Scottish Development International welcomes findings from the latest Export Scotland Statistics which reveal that Scotland’s international exports (excluding oil and gas) increased by £1.9 billion to £32.4 billion in 2017, an increase of 6.2%.


Neil Francis )pictured above) is director of trade and investment at Scottish Development International. He commented: “These figures represent the highest annual growth in our international exports since 2011, and underline the fact that demand for Scottish products and services continues to grow in international markets.

"The largest single market for Scottish exports remains the US, and the majority of growth came from EU countries, with a significant 11% increase on the previous year.

“Our food and drink industry continues to be one of our greatest export success stories, with our high-quality produce accounting for around 18% of our total exports. We want to see other sectors replicate this export growth by creating products and services to sell globally, and we are continuing to work with Scottish business across a wide range of industries to help them embrace international opportunities.”

Posted by the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.


Sunday, 20 January 2019

Three global humanitarians contest Robert Burns' 260th birthday award

Three incredible finalists are in the running for a prestigious global award named in honour of the Scots Bard, with the winner to be announced at a special ceremony next week in the very cottage where Robert Burns was born 260 years ago.

Humanitarian Umra Omar founder of Safari Doctors, which provides essential medicines and healthcare to people in remote parts of Kenya; nonagenarian and founder of Edinburgh Direct Aid, Dr Denis Rutovitz MBE – who put his life on the line to assist victims of natural disaster and war around the world; and human rights campaigner Jasvinder Sanghera CBE – who founded Karma Nirvana, which supports victims of honour-based abuse and forced marriage have been shortlisted as finalists for the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award 2019.

Part of the Burns an’a’that! Festival 2019 and Burns 260 celebrations, the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award is supported by South Ayrshire Council and Scotland's Winter Festivals – a programme of events funded by the Scottish Government and managed by EventScotland.

The award recognises courage, commitment, inspiration and hands-on humanitarian efforts from people of any nationality, race, age or gender, with the three finalists meeting that criteria perfectly.


Umra Omar (35) (pictured above) founded Safari Doctors in Lamu, Kenya in 2015 and now provides essential medicines and healthcare to around 20,000 people in 20 villages along the country’s remote coastline. The free service is provided by land, sea and air to villages that are caught between military and militants, and it has seen child immunisations rise, communicable diseases halve, expectant mothers attend antenatal appointments double, and family planning triple. Safari Doctors’ mission is to provide affordable and appropriate healthcare to marginalised communities, with the aim of creating thriving communities in remote settings that have adequate access to affordable health solutions and improved livelihoods. Umra has also launched a youth Health Ambassadors programme with 30 young men and women, across eight villages, having received basic health education and training, with the aim of them becoming leaders in their communities and promoting wellbeing.

Umra said: “If we can, then we must make a difference – life is a journey for service. We are humbled and honoured to follow in the spirit of Robert Burns. It is indeed a global village whose fabric is interwoven by the beauty of diversity. In both sorrow and joy, we are one.”


Dr Denis Rutovitz MBE (90) (pictured above) enjoyed a distinguished career in human genetics before founding Edinburgh Direct Aid (EDA), a voluntary organisation assisting victims of natural disaster and war around the world. Established in response to the daily reports of war in Bosnia in 1992, Denis led the majority of aid convoys for the first three years, delivering food and essential supplies – often under sniper fire. After the war, Denis and EDA continued working to provide aid in Bosnia as well as Kosovo, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Kenya. In Arsal in Lebanon, where there are 35,000 Lebanese and around 70,000 Syrian refugees, EDA operates a community and vocational training centre, sewing workshop and gym for refugees and poor Lebanese alike. Denis has also personally raised thousands to help others, marking his 90th birthday by running two 10k races to raise funds to support refugee twin brothers through a three-year degree course at the Lebanese International University.

Denis said: “Our aim in Edinburgh Direct Aid is to help people in desperate need in distant places, and to do so in person with a hand of friendship, always. In our small way, we work to bring about the Bard’s prophecy: ‘That Man to Man the world o’er, Shall brithers be for a’ that’. And so, I’m honoured indeed on behalf of all my colleagues as much as myself to be selected as a finalist for the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award.”


Jasvinder Sanghera CBE (pictured above) founded Karma Nirvana, a human rights charity that supports victims of honour-based abuse and forced marriage after escaping her own forced marriage and seeing one of her sisters take her own life as a way out of the domestic abuse within her forced marriage. At the heart of the charity is a national helpline – which receives around 500 calls per month – to support victims in immediate danger, alongside training and development for professionals, including the police, NHS and social services, as well as in schools. Jasvinder and the charity also act as expert witnesses in court, raise awareness at events nationally and internationally and lobby government – Jasvinder’s work over 10 years of lobbying and campaigning was pivotal in forced marriage becoming a criminal offence in the UK in 2014. A passionate and prominent campaigner and author, Jasvinder has spent the last 25 years standing up for others.

Jasvinder said: 'I'm absolutely thrilled to have to have been selected as a finalist for the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award. I have absolute respect for Burns and his work in the field of social reform. I’ve always received a wonderfully warm reception from the Scottish people, so I'm really excited to be coming up for the award ceremony.”

Councillor Douglas Campbell, Chair of the RBHA judging panel and Leader of South Ayrshire Council, said: “The calibre of this year’s nominees – who came from right across the world – was truly outstanding and my thanks to everyone who took the time to nominate and share the fantastic stories of the 28 nominees my fellow judges and I had to consider.

“While it was no easy task to filter the list down to a final three, Umra, Denis and Jasvinder all stood out right from the start as fantastic examples of individuals who follow in Rabbie’s footsteps and devote themselves to others and push the boundaries for social change – transforming lives in the process.

“It’s fitting that they will be celebrated – and the winner announced – in the place where Rabbie was born almost exactly 260 years ago to the day. It’s going to be a fantastic event and a fabulous part of the celebrations to mark what would have been Rabbie’s 260th birthday.”

The winner of the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award will be announced at the awards ceremony in Burns Cottage on Wednesday 23 January 2019.

As well as the RBHA 2019 title, the winner will receive the equivalent of 1759 guineas (approximately £1,800) – a sum which signifies the year of the Bard's birth and the coinage then in circulation.

Find out more about the award – including previous winners – at www.robertburnsaward.com

Find out more about the Burns an’a’that! Festival 2019 at www.burnsfestival.com.

South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.
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Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Grand National winner schools at Ayr Racecourse

By: Iain Ferguson

THE 2017 Grand National winner One For Arthur delighted trainer Lucinda Russell last week when he schooled after racing at Ayr.

Ridden by his regular jockey Derek Fox, One For Arthur jumped nine fences and will now head to Haydock Racecourse on Saturday to run in the Peter Marsh Chase, before another tilt at the Grand National in April.


[Pictured: One for Arthur (right) schools at Ayr Racecourse.]

Lucinda said afterwards: “That was great. As always, Derek gave him a good ride, and that will have done him good. I can’t thank Ayr Racecourse enough for letting us gallop and school him after racing.”

One For Arthur was off the course for 20 months after his National win, and retuned at Aintree in December only to unseat his rider at the third, and yesterday’s gallop at Ayr was considered crucial by Lucinda.

The star of racing itself at Ayr was Las Tunas, who made amends for his fall two out at the track on 2 January when winning the Watch Racing TV Now Handicap Chase for trainer Mike Smith and jockey Stephen Mulqueen.

Travelling easily throughout the seven year-old went clear in the home straight and ran out a 10 length winner from The Orange Rogue.

Mike Smith said afterwards: “That was impressive. I was gutted last week when he fell,, but he is an improving horse and can go on from here.”

The feature race of the afternoon the racingtv.com Handicap Hurdle was won by Apache Jack who made all for trainer Stuart Crawford and jockey JJ Slevin to win by three quarters of a length from Bold Emperor.

The last race, a national hunt flat race, was won decisively by Ribble Valley, trained by Nicky Richards and ridden by Brian Hughes, who justified odds of 5-6 favourite to win by five lengths from Milvale.

The biggest priced winner of the day was the Tim Reed trained Leverock Lass, who won the 2m 4f novices’ hurdle at odds of 25-1 under a positive ride from Harrison Beswick. The big disappointment here was the 1-14 favourite Queens Cave, who was never travelling and pulled up after two out.

For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 01292 294972 or 07795 565691.

Ayr Racecourse and the associated Western House Hotel are Founder Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.


Celebrating the bard for the 260th anniversary of the birth of Burns

People across Scotland are being invited to raise a glass and toast the bard as part of an expanded festival taking place in his name. The 2019 Burns an’ a’ that! festival is set to bring a fantastic programme of new events and family favourites as South Ayrshire celebrates the 260th anniversary of Burns’ birth in Alloway.


There’s a host of activity planned for January including:

•  New free ‘Burns Hame Toun’ family event with The MacDonald Brothers and Clanadonia and entertainment including horse & cart trips, Scottish street food, poet’s podium and more. The day concludes with a Burning Burns Finale on the Auld Brig  (Sun 27 Jan 12 – 5pm).

•  New ‘Burns Hame Toun Live Music Nights’ live music nights from Karen Mathieson, Horse, Carol Laula and MĂ nran (Fri 25 Jan & Sat 26 Jan, Ayr Town Hall).

•  New World’s First Burns Supper Drive Thru (Sat 26 & Sun 27 Jan 3-7pm).

•  New Burns 19 (Sat 26 Jan 6-10pm).

•  Centre for Robert Burns Studies Annual Conference (Sat 12 Jan, Burns Museum).

,,Wreath Laying Commemoration Service (Fri 25 Jan, 12pm, Burns Statue Square).

•  The announcement of the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award 2019 (Wed 23 Jan).

All of this plus haggis hoolies, Burns Suppers, theatre, musical performances and even a hairy haggis afternoon tea, help to create a programme that the bard would be proud of.

Councillor Brian McGinley, South Ayrshire Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economy and Culture said the programme was shaping up to be one of the best ever, “Every year thousands of people come to South Ayrshire to celebrate the birthplace of the Robert Burns and the 260th anniversary programme promises to be one of our most memorable years.

“Through events like these we’re putting South Ayrshire on the map as a go-to destination as we celebrate the rich tradition of Burns in as diverse a way as possible.

“With a broad range of free and affordable entertainment on offer I’d urge anyone looking for a great day out to save the dates and raise a glass to Scotland’s national bard.”

Burns Hame Toun was successful in securing £25k in funding from EventScotland through the Burns Night element of the Scotland’s Winter Festivals programme. This event will put South Ayrshire on the stage as one of Scotland’s primary Burns Night events.

Minister for Europe, Migration and International Development Ben Macpherson, said, “Burns Night is one of Scotland’s most well-known and best loved national days, celebrated by millions around the world. Our national bard is one of our favourite icons, and each year Burns Night is a chance for us to come together, celebrate his poetry, enjoy the occasion and affirm some of our country’s most important values - fairness, equality and internationalism.”

For further information on all events visit the Burns an’ a’ that website.

Live music tickets available from Ayr Gaiety website or 01292 288 235

For events held at Robert Burns Birthplace Museum – check out the website or contact 01292 443 700 for further details

Plus save the date now for the May Burns an’ a’ that! events including family live music festival Burnsfest! (Sat 4 May, 1-10pm, Rozelle Park, Ayr) and more.

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


Monday, 14 January 2019

MPs asked to dismiss UK Government's Brexit options

Letter calls for MPs to support new referendum on 
EU membership in 'crucial week for future of Scotland.'

Constitutional Relations Secretary Michael Russell is writing to all MPs setting out steps the Scottish Government believes must be taken to protect both Scotland and the UK from the UK Government's Brexit deal and a no deal outcome.


Mr Russell (pictured above) said the views of the people of Scotland, the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government should not be ignored and has detailed four key decisions MPs will face in the week ahead.

Mr Russell said: "This will be a crucial week for the future of Scotland but I urge MPs not to think just of the days to come but of the generations to come.

"The UK Government's Brexit deal will take Scotland out of the EU against our will. It will make us poorer, diminish our rights and damage opportunities for future generations.

"The Scottish Government is today setting out our view of the steps that have to be taken this week, to protect Scotland and the UK from the disaster of both the UK Government's bad Brexit deal and a no deal outcome. 

"Four decisions need to be made: MPs should vote against no deal; they should vote against the Prime Minister's deal; the EU should be asked to extend Article 50 deadline to stop the UK crashing out in March; and, MPs should come together to support a new referendum on EU membership.

"Throughout this process, the Scottish Government has offered to work with others to soften the blow of Brexit but our offers of compromise have been dismissed by the UK Government.

"I am now writing to all members of the House of Commons setting out the Scottish Government's view of the way forward and our analysis of the damage the UK Government's deal will do to Scotland.

"If the UK is a genuine partnership of nations it is essential that the views of the people of Scotland, the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government are taken seriously, and not ignored, when the vote on the UK Government's deal takes place on Tuesday."


Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Ayr Racecourse and Stagecoach team up on 2 January to get you to the races

By: Iain Ferguson

ALL roads lead to Ayr Racecourse tomorrow 2 January, when the course stages its traditional New Year Raceday featuring seven exciting races.


And those attending needn’t worry about how to get to and from the track as Stagecoach will be operating services on the day including the ever popular X77 Express from Glasgow to Ayr which will run hourly from 8.55am until 17.55pm.

And after racing Stagecoach will run a shuttle service from the racecourse for those meeting the last two X77 services between Ayr Bus Station and Buchanan Bus Station in Glasgow. Shuttles will leave at 4:30pm and 5:30pm from Ayr Racecourse to Ayr Bus Station to meet the X77.

To help racegoers have an even better day Stagecoach are also promoting a special ticket for groups of four. While those travelling individually will pay £12 return, groups of up to four can buy a dayrider for only £24.

Links to Stagecoach Festive timetables can be found CLICK HERE 

New Year Raceday is one of the highlights of the jumps season at Ayr and the first race is due off at 12.30pm.

The feature race is a Class 3 2m 5f handicap hurdle with £15,800 in prize-money – the richest jumps prize of the day in the UK.

The main supporting contests are a 2m handicap chase and a 2m novices’ hurdle with the latter won in January last year by the highly rated Better Getalong from the Nicky Richards yard.

Gates are open at 11.00am with the action concluding with a national hunt flat race at 3.45pm.

And after racing DeVille will play in the Princess Royal Suite in the Club area for three hours with a DJ in the Ayrshire Suite.

For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 01292 294972 or 07795 565691.

Ayr Racecourse and the associated Western House Hotel are Founder Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.