The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Nicky Richards lands Coral Scottish Grand National for the north

By Iain Ferguson

NICKY Richards struck a blow for the north in the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr Racecourse-on Saturday when Takingrisks, given a super cool ride from Sean Quinlan, won the £122,500 first prize in front of a sell-out crowd of 18,500.

The Penrith-based trainer is one of the most loyal supporters of Ayr Racecourse during the jumps season, and he followed his father Gordon, who trained Scottish National winners Playlord (1969) and Four Trix (1990), into the history books.

He said afterwards: “It was great for racing in the north. Takingrisks (pictured above) is owned by Frank Bird, who is one of the biggest poultry farmers in the country, and is based near our yard. He is a great owner, and just lets me get on with it.”

At the start of the season, the aim of jockey Sean Quinlan (pictured above) was to ride 50 winners, and Takingrisks gave him his 54th win. He said: “Things have gone well for me since teaming up with agent Richard Hales, and today was by far my biggest win.

“It’s one of the top jumps races and is easily the pinnacle of my career.”

Takingrisks blundered at the first but recovered well from that and travelled well into the race and caught the eye from four out and drew clear on the run in to win by four lengths from Crosspark, trained by Caroline Bailey, with Cloth Cap in third and Blue Flight fourth.

Connor Brace, a 17 year-old conditional jockey was another rider claiming his biggest ever success when steering Verdan Blue to victory in the CPMS Scottish Champion Hurdle for trainer Nicky Henderson.

This was a tremendous performance as he pulled seven lengths clear of Dino Velvet and a trip to the Punchestown Festival could be on the cards next.

There was a double on the day for trainer Dan Skelton and his jockey brother Harry when they teamed up to win the first two races on the card – the Scotty Brand Handicap Chase, Listed race, with Azzuri and the J & D Pierce Novices’ Champion Handicap Chase with Molly The Dolly.

The Jordan Electrics Future Champion Chase went to Paul Nicholls and jockey Harry Cobden with Secret Investor.

More than 1.2 million watch Coral Scottish Grand National

A record number of viewers tuned into the ITV coverage of the Coral Scottish Grand National on Saturday with more than 1.2 million watching the closing stages of the race.

The ITV Racing average viewing figure for Saturday was up 10% from 609,000 in 2018 to 673,000 this year while the three minute peak was up 17% from 1.01 million to 1.18 million.

The 1.213 million recorded towards the end of the show is believed to be the biggest figure on a Saturday excluding the Grand National, Derby and Saturday of Royal Ascot.

ITV Racing’s Ed Chamberlin (pictured above), who presented the action from Ayr, said: “It was great to bring viewers both great jumps and flat racing on Saturday. I love going up to Ayr, we had a brilliant day and I couldn’t be happier that, following on from such great stories and viewing figures at Cheltenham and Aintree, so many people watched the Coral Scottish Grand National, one of the big races in our jumps calendar.”

David Brown, Managing Director of Ayr Racecourse said: “These figures just underline the huge appeal of the Coral Scottish Grand National and the supporting card.

“When you consider that the race is also the fourth biggest in the UK in terms of betting turnover it shows the wide appeal of this great race.”

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.

Burnsfest 2019 – the very best in free entertainment

Anticipation is building for this year’s Burnfest with more musical talent and family entertainment than you can shake A-Coo-Stick at! Add fantastic food and drink to the mix and Burnsfest 2019 is shaping up to be a cracker.

Organised by South Ayrshire Council, the free event which takes place at Rozelle Park, Ayr on Saturday 4 May from 1pm-10pm will feature an amazing line-up of top musical acts.

The Temperance Movement, Eddi Reader, The Primitives, The Pearlfishers, Stephanie Cheape, Tom McGuire & The Brassholes, Dopesickfly and the Barr Stools are all set to play the main stage.

Headliners, the Temperance Movement (pictured above) were recently voted ‘Best Rock Band’ at the SSE Scottish Music Awards are set to tour the US later this year with Deep Purple and Judas Priest.

There is sure to be a warm welcome home for local singer songwriter Eddi Reader (pictured above). Eddi was the lead singer of the warmly remembered Fairground Attraction where the single Perfect and the album First of A Million Kisses both topped the British charts.

Special guests The Primitives (pictured above) will be warmly remembered from their 1988 infectious hit ‘Crash’.

The Pearlfishers are a Glasgow based rock band fronted by singer and songwriter David Scott (pictured above)  who is also a UWS music lecturer in Ayr. The band were described by as ‘one of Scotland’s best kept musical secrets’.

Stephanie Cheape is Capital FM’s Best Unsigned Act and has supported Bryan Ferry and Hipsway as well as playing the world famous street party at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay!

Up and coming bands Tom McGuire and the Brassholes and Dopesickfly complete the main stage line-up along with local band The Barrstools, who are opening the event.

There is also a strong line-up of local bands again this year, with an array of popular acts performing in the A-Coo-Stick Tipi, and if you’re looking for traditional music with some dancing thrown in, why not visit the Jook Aboot Ceilidh tent!

For the first time at Burnsfest, The Haverin’ Hoolie will have comedy entertainment from previous Comedian of the Year winner Stephen Buchanan, Rachel Jackson who has appeared in Still Game and talented Irish comic Paul McDaniel.

The Chillootery is another new attraction with zentangle meditation sessions and more!

There are lots of activities for kids of all ages with a Haggis Hunt, Crazy Golf, Archery, Burns Fair and much more!  Younger children are sure to enjoy Forest Creature puppets and Wildlife Explorers in the Bairns Bunnet tent.

As always, the Mercat has some great produce and a fantastic range of street food on offer, while a visit to Scran Street will provide the very best festival food and drink.

Bring a picnic blanket, relax and soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the many attractions Burnsfest has to offer!

Councillor Brian McGinley, Economy and Culture Portfolio Holder for South Ayrshire Council said: “Burnsfest has become a firm favourite with locals and visitors alike and showcases the very best that South Ayrshire has to offer.

“We are well versed when it comes to putting on large scale events so it’s no wonder that this musical extravaganza attracts some legendary performers.

“There is always a family feel to Burnsfest with entertainment and performances throughout the day so don’t miss out!”

There will be a free shuttle bus running from Ayr Train Station via Blackburn Carpark, Park ‘n’ Ride to Rozelle Park on Saturday 4 May from 12.30pm – 10.30pm.

The Burns an’ a’ that! Festival also boasts a Burnsfringe programme with popular events including Land o’ Burns Weekender, Land o’ Burns 10k, Land o’ Burns Starlight Walk, Girvan Traditional Folk Festival and more!

For more information on Burnsfest or what’s planned for Burnsfringe visit

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

Monday, 1 April 2019

Joe Farrell could bid for back to back Coral Scottish Grand Nationals

Joe Farrell, the winner of the 2018 Coral Scottish Grand National, is among the 67 entries for this year’s running of Scotland’s richest race at Ayr Racecourse.

[Pictured: Joe Farrell wins the Coral Scottish 
Grand National 2018 at Ayr Racecourse.]

The Rebecca Curtis trained ten year-old returned to form at Newbury ten days ago, finishing second to Chic Name in a three mile two furlong handicap chase.

Although he holds an entry in the Grand National, he looks more likely to head to Ayr to defend his crown. Last year’s runner up Ballyoptic, beaten only by a nose, could re-oppose.

Among the other notable entries is Beware The Bear, winner of the Ultima Chase at Cheltenham earlier this month, and the nine year-old is one of two Nicky Henderson trained horses entered for the £215,000 contest, the other being Vyta du Roc.

Crosshue Boy, who won the inaugural running of the £100,000 three mile Novices’ Handicap Chase on Coral Scottish Grand National Day last year, could make a return trip from Ireland to compete in the big race this year.

The Scottish based entries include Lucinda Russell’s Big River, fourth in the Cheltenham race won by Beware The Bear, and Geronimo from the Sandy Thomson yard.

West country trainer Colin Tizzard has Sizing Codelco and Royal Vacation  entered, while Paul Nicholls has three entries including Give Me a Copper, part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson and Jeremy Kyle.

The main supporting contest on the day, the £105,000 CPMS Scottish Champion Hurdle has attracted 41entries, with the 2016 winner Ch’tibello, fresh from his success in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham, the top rated.

Other entries include Tom George’s Summerville Boy, the Colin Tizzard trained Vision des Flos and Pinsghou, Nicky Henderson’s Verdana Blue, Brain Power and Angels Breath and Paul Nicholls Malaya.

See the full list of entries - Click Here

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

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Key to the door - great day in Saltcoats as hub South West hands over its first housing success

The first residents have moved into a new housing complex in Saltcoats, Ayrshire, following the successful completion of one of the first residential projects by infrastructure group hub South West.

Locals will occupy 36 new homes in a landscaped courtyard-style setting on the site of the former Canal Court complex, just east of the harbour and the town centre and a short stroll from the popular Stevenston Beach.

The attractive new £6.4 million development for North Ayrshire Council (NAC) will provide accessible one- and two-bedroom flats with communal areas including a lounge, a dining room, a private courtyard and a social services hub.

The redevelopment of Canal Court was designed by North Ayrshire Council’s in-house design team, specifically to meet the future needs of older residents.

The handover, which took place this month, marks a milestone for hub South West, which until now has focused on major infrastructure work in the health and education sectors.

[Pictured at the handover ceremony: Michael Ross, Director, hub South West Scotland Ltd; Lynne Boyce, Contracts Co-ordinator, Ashleigh (Scotland) Ltd; Linda Martin, North Ayrshire Council; and Derek Davidson, North Ayrshire Council.] 

The success of Canal Court, which not only encourages independent living but promotes energy efficiency, has led to further housing work for hub South West with NAC, and will see work commence on a new housing development in Largs this Spring.

Michael McBrearty, chief executive of hub South West said: “Canal Court was a new challenge for us, and the successful partnership with NAC and Ashleigh Building Ltd proves that our business model is transferrable between construction sectors.

“hub South West has achieved its current level of delivery through a focus on partnership working, stakeholder consultation and the sharing of design and build expertise. Crucially, the majority of our work packages have been awarded to companies in our territory.”

Jim Montgomerie, Cabinet Member for Place at North Ayrshire Council said: “This is an amazing facility which will allow our residents to live in high quality, sustainable and fully accessible homes.

“In the past few years we have refurbished or redeveloped a number of sheltered housing complexes across North Ayrshire and the results have been first class - the residents have given us hugely positive feedback on their new surroundings.

“Our ambitious Council Housing programme has already delivered hundreds of modern, energy-efficient homes across North Ayrshire, and we are well on track to build more than 1300 new Council homes by 2024.”

Euan Clark, Commercial Director, Ashleigh Construction Ltd added: “We are delighted with the successful delivery of the Canal Court project for North Ayrshire Council, through hub South West. There was a truly collaborative approach throughout the development and construction phases, and the quality of the completed facility is testament to the efforts of all involved. Projects like this allow us to continue with career, employment and supply chain opportunities within North Ayrshire, and fulfil our commitment to provide tangible benefits within the local community.”

Since its inception in 2012, hub South West has provided hundreds of millions of pounds worth of benefits to communities in Ayrshire, Lanarkshire and Dumfries and Galloway, setting the gold standard in procurement for improved public facilities and services.

The long-term public-private partnership is a realisation of the vision of the Scottish Futures Trust which established the hub network, each one serving areas of around one million population.

Posted by the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Scotland’s eighth quarter of continued economic growth

The Scottish economy has grown for the eighth consecutive quarter according to official statistics.

The latest GDP figures show the Scottish economy grew by 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2018, higher than the UK rate of 0.2%. Compared to the same period last year, it has grown by 1.3%.

Scotland’s Economy Secretary Derek Mackay MSP (pctured above) said: “With eight consecutive quarters of growth and record low unemployment - down to 3.4%, the lowest in the UK - Scotland’s economy continues to go from strength to strength.

“Growing our economy and supporting businesses and jobs is a top priority for the Scottish Government. We have provided more than £5 billion of capital investment to grow and modernise Scotland’s infrastructure, and a wider package of support to businesses including maintaining a competitive business rates package and providing the most generous package of non-domestic rates reliefs anywhere in the UK.

“However, the UK’s EU exit remains the biggest threat to our economic stability. All forms of exit will cost jobs, make people poorer, damage our society and undermine the democratic decision of the people of Scotland to remain in the EU.

“The Scottish Government is firmly opposed to the UK’s EU exit and we continue to hope that it can be avoided, but with every passing day, the UK Government is getting closer to taking our economy off the cliff.

“Our first priority is staying in the EU, in line with the overwhelming vote in Scotland to remain, and we support another referendum on EU membership. Short of that, the least damaging option is to remain in the Customs Union and European Single Market of 500 million people - eight times larger than the UK market alone.”
Change in gross domestic product (GDP) is the main indicator of economic growth in Scotland. Two estimates of Scotland’s GDP growth are now published each quarter on a faster timetable than previously available.

The full statistical GDP publication –  CLICK HERE

Since December 2018, the publication of the second estimate of GDP for 2018 Q3 revised growth estimates for previous quarters. The revisions changed quarterly GDP growth in 2017 Q2 from 0.0% to 0.1%. As 2017 Q1 was also positive, the first estimate of 2018 Q4 has three additional quarters of growth compared to the first estimate of 2018 Q3 (8 in total).

Last year the Scottish Government launched Prepare for Brexit, a multi-agency campaign aimed at informing companies on a wide range of potential Brexit impacts and encouraging them to proactively prepare. is a dedicated website which hosts a Brexit self-assessment tool to help businesses identify how Brexit might affect them, providing recommendations for action to help their planning activities. It is also home to a 12-point checklist, expert advice, events, workshops and access to financial support.

The campaign is being delivered in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Development International, Skills Development Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Business Gateway.

Posted by the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Growth Deal confirmed as Ayrshire celebrates major investment boost

A multi-million pound investment package that will change the face of Ayrshire was rubber-stamped this week (Friday 8 March) by the three Ayrshire Councils and the UK and Scottish Governments.

The £250 million Ayrshire Growth Deal was signed and sealed which will now kick-start a range of projects across the region.

The UK and Scottish Governments will both each invest just over £100m. This will be supported by South, East and North Ayrshire Councils which will be investing upwards of £45 million in total.

It is hoped the deal will create approximately 7000 jobs across a wide range of sectors. The investment will be delivered over a 15-year period.

The deal will position Ayrshire as the UK's leading hub for aerospace and space and sees approximately £80 million being invested which will support the ambition of establishing a horizontal space launch facility and visitor centre at Prestwick Airport, and a range of high quality flexible commercial business space around the airport to support the continued growth of the sectors.

The further development of Ayrshire's proud history in manufacturing and engineering will be significantly enhanced with approximately £60 million being invested to create a range of high quality business space to support our entrepreneurial businesses to start up and grow.

We also aim for Ayrshire to be the go-to region for smart manufacturing and along with approximately £12 million of investment to support our digital infrastructure and digital automation, we should be at the forefront to attract and grow technology/digital driven businesses.

Ayrshire is well placed to be a leading location to solve many of the current and future energy needs. Over £40 million is to be invested to ensure that the area is at the leading edge of energy research to find new technological solutions to energy production, storage and management.

The magnificent Ayrshire coast and islands will benefit from approximately £25 million investment to support the growth of tourism and targeted investment at key points will see the transformation of some of our destinations for the benefit of visitors and residents alike.

One of the key features of the deal is to ensure that our residents and communities can take advantage of these new opportunities as they come on stream. Over £8 million will be invested to improve the skills of Ayrshire residents with extra support for those furthest away from the labour market.

Ayrshire's three Council leaders were joined by the Secretary of State for Scotland, the Rt Hon David Mundell MP and Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson MSP, to sign the Heads of Terms on the deal.

The Ayrshire Growth Deal team – which comprises the three Ayrshire Councils and representatives from the private and public sector – has been working on developing securing this investment since 2015.

Councillor Douglas Campbell, Leader of South Ayrshire Council, welcomed the Deal being signed: "Today is the pinnacle of more than three years of incredibly hard work based around partnership, persuasion, perseverance and – most of all – potential, and it really is a proud day for Ayrshire.

"Across Ayrshire, we have always been clear that by working together to deliver investment, jobs and business growth, we can be greater than the sum of our parts and create a legacy for generations to come that will spread far beyond our Council boundaries.

"That is exactly what we have before us today – a deal that will turn our ambitions into reality and help make Ayrshire more successful, more productive, globally competitive and the best place to learn, live and work.

"I am especially overjoyed to see such a significant level of investment around Prestwick Airport. Combined with our own capital funding, this will deliver more than £100 million to ensure Ayrshire is the go-to place for the aerospace and space industries.

"Today marks a sea change for Ayrshire and the work to deliver jobs, growth and prosperity for our people and places starts now."

Councillor Joe Cullinane, Leader of North Ayrshire Council, said: "This is extremely exciting as there is huge potential here in Ayrshire. Now we have a chance to really capitalise on our strengths.

"At the very heart of the Deal, and a vision that is shared by all the partners, is inclusion. We feel that successful economies are inclusive economies and tacking inequality will help ensure that the region is primed and ready to compete in the global market.

"The vision is for Ayrshire to be a vibrant, outward looking and confident region that is an even better place to live and attractive to investors and visitors.  We believe Ayrshire can make a major contribution to Scottish and UK growth."

Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council, said: "What a momentous day for Ayrshire! This is the day when our collective dreams and ambitions for Ayrshire really start to become a reality.

"Our Growth Deal journey began in August 2015 and here we are, three and a half years of hard work, commitment and determination, and skilful negotiation and collaboration on the part of many, many people.

"By putting aside political differences and geographical boundaries we have succeeded in securing funding of more than £250 million to develop an astounding set of business and investment propositions to put Ayrshire firmly back on the map.

"Throughout our journey we have received an incredible amount of support, advice and counsel from industry experts, national agencies and business leaders, but none of this would be possible without the financial assistance offered by the two governments.

"We are hugely grateful for their respective investments of £100 million and delighted by the additional boost of £6 million offered today.

"It is immensely encouraging to know that our belief in Ayrshire is shared by the two national governments!"

Infrastructure Secretary Michael Matheson said: "Today's Ayrshire Growth Deal demonstrates our commitment to supporting the region and delivering long-term benefits to the local economy.

"The Scottish Government will invest £103 million as part of a £251.5 million Growth Deal that will drive inclusive growth and benefit people across Ayrshire. Partners estimate this will leverage £300 million of additional investment from the private sector and around 7,000 jobs for the region.

 "Scottish Government investment includes £18.5 million for tourism and regeneration, £14.5 million for skills, community wealth building and digital infrastructure and £40 million to develop innovative projects around engineering, manufacturing and digital automation – as well as £30 million for an Aerospace and Space Programme.

"I am delighted that we have reached today's important milestone in delivering this deal and helping Ayrshire thrive. The successful delivery of the Deal will create new jobs, protect existing ones and extend economic opportunity to communities, families and individuals throughout Ayrshire."

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: "It's fantastic news that the UK Government is to invest more than £100 million to grow Ayrshire's economy, create jobs and boost prosperity. This investment will transform the Ayrshire economy over the coming 15 years.

 "We are investing in a raft of exciting and ambitious projects right across Ayrshire. Initiatives include an aerospace development at Prestwick, a low carbon energy scheme at Hunterston, a local electricity supply project in Cumnock, a manufacturing corridor in Kilmarnock, and a digital subsea cable to dramatically improve connectivity.

 "The Ayrshire Growth Deal brings UK Government investment in Growth Deals in Scotland to £1.3 billion, a huge commitment to growing Scotland's economy."

Projects within the Growth Deal include:

£80 million investment that will position Ayrshire as one of the UK's leading centres of Aerospace and Space activity. This will include the development of an Aerospace and Space Innovation Centre (ASIC)
£23.5 million to create the Ayrshire Manufacturing Investment Corridor (AMIC) in Bellfield, Kilmarnock.
£16 million will go on developing the Ayrshire Engineering Park will provide expansion and development of Moorfield industrial Park in Kilmarnock
£21 million investment into the i3 area of Irvine building on current Life Science busineses on site
£14 million tourism investment at Irvine Harbourside and Ardeer peninsula
£9.5 million in Marine Tourism, which will focus on securing infrastructure that supports key components such as sailing and boating, marine leisure, and recreation.
£24.5 million in the National Energy Research Demonstrator Project (NERD)
£18 million for the Centre for Research into Low Carbon Energy and Circular Economy (CECE) at the Hunterston Strategic West Scotland Industrial Hub.
£10.5 million for a new International Marine Science and Environmental Centre (ISME) based at Ardrossan
£11 million for a subsea fibre optic cable to have its landing point in Irvine.
South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

£1.6 million to transform Maybole

Maybole Regeneration Project has just been awarded a National Lottery grant of £1,670,000 for the regeneration of the town’s historic High Street and the project team are thrilled at securing this significant sum of money towards the overall project investment of £7.8M

The Maybole Regeneration Project, a partnership between Maybole Community Council and South Ayrshire Council, has a confirmed National Lottery grant of £1,670,000 for the regeneration of Maybole’s historic High Street.  Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the project aims to transform the appearance of the High Street, by investing in buildings and improving the roads and pavements.  The project should start this spring if all the funding is in place, and will run for five years.

Supported through the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the project aims to carry out essential conservation work and improvements to buildings.  An educational and training programme is also planned with 30 different activities so the people of North Carrick can get involved and do their bit to help.

The catalyst for change is Maybole bypass which is set to make a huge difference to the town. For years the high street has been eroded by heavy traffic but with the bypass due for construction now is the time to revitalise Maybole’s main thoroughfare.

There will be wider footpaths, buildings will be brought back to use, roof lines and facades will be cleaned up, stone work will be repaired, shop fronts replaced and the castle and town hall will be repaired and given new opportunities for use.

Riona McMorrow, Acting Head of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Investing National Lottery money to revitalise the historic heart of Maybole will not only make it a more attractive place to live and work, but will provide exciting skills and training opportunities for local people. We’re delighted to make this award as part of our on-going commitment to preserving Scotland’s heritage in a way that is relevant to the people and the needs of today.”

Councillor Brian McGinley Portfolio Holder for Economy and Culture said: “We are determined to work with our partners to transform our people and our places, a theme which is central to the regeneration of Maybole High Street.  This latest funding announcement is another significant milestone for the project and after a decade of planning, everyone is keen to get started.

“The bypass is set to make a huge difference, and I’m sure residents will appreciate a much safer high street too. This is a golden opportunity to put Maybole back on the map as a historic town with revitalised buildings and public spaces.

“I would like to thank the National Lottery Heritage Fund for their financial support and everyone else involved in the project for their drive and determination.”

Mark Fletcher Chair of Maybole Community Council said: “The Community Council is overjoyed at the news of the funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund towards the town regeneration project. For some of us this is the culmination of 10 years of work and commitment. 

“With support through small grants from South Ayrshire Council and others we were able to pull together the funding for a team of consultants (JURA) to work with us to submit initial applications to National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic Environment Scotland.  National Lottery Heritage Fund provided development funding, which has now led to a successful award.

“The Community Council will remain heavily involved in the process through to completion and beyond. We have had the pleasure of working with some great people and can now look forward to this continuing through the delivery period. Our own elected members and the wider members of South Ayrshire Council have been a constant support and for this we are truly thankful.”

For further information please email 

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

Friday, 8 March 2019

Club badges and Grandstand tickets sold out for Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr Racecourse

All Club badges and Grandstand tickets for the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr Racecourse on Saturday 13 April are already sold out - five weeks before the event.

[Pictured: Joe Farrell wins the Coral Scottish 
Grand National 2018 at Ayr Racecourse.]

Following on from Club badges selling out last week, the last of the Grandstand tickets were sold on Wednesday night. Now the only admission available on the day is through the few remaining hospitality places.

There are Club badges and Grandstand tickets available for the opening day of the two-day Coral Scottish Grand National Festival - Ladies Day on 12 April.

A crowd of more than 18,000 will watch the biggest event in the Scottish racing calendar, which features the £215,000 Coral Scottish Grand National, the £105,000 CPMS Scottish Champion Hurdle and the £100,000 J & D Pierce Novices’ Handicap Chase.

This is the fourth successive year the Saturday of the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival has been sold out, but this year it is by far the earliest.

To book Club Badges and Grandstand tickets for Coral Scottish Grand National Ladies Day on Friday 12 April go online at or call 01292 264179.

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.

Monday, 4 March 2019

New awards to celebrate construction sector’s best training providers

The best-of-class in south-west Scotland’s construction sector are set to be honoured in the area’s first-ever awards focused on those actively excelling at upskilling their workforce.

Contractors on projects for hub South West – the partnership dedicated to community infrastructure projects in Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Dumfries & Galloway – will discover who is leading the way in training and recruitment at a ceremony taking place on 16 May at the Dalziel Park Hotel in Motherwell. 

The awards will commend local companies for their commitment to inspiring the next generation of professionals within the industry, as well as those firms committed to nurturing staff already working in the sector.

The South West Skills & Training Awards will be divided into two categories: Best Training Culture and Best Employment Initiative for Young People. In each category, there will be a winner for firms employing more than 25 people, and those with staffing of 25 or less.

All entries must be directly linked to a hub South West project, meaning that any entry must be directly connected to an initiative contracted by the partnership. Finalists will be expected to give a short presentation on their company’s initiative on the day to a small panel of representatives from CITB and Skills Development Scotland.

Tier-1 contractors are encouraged to nominate sub-contractors from their supply chains. The deadline for entries is 29 March.

For more information and to enter these awards CLICK HERE. .

Michael McBrearty, chief executive of hub South West, said the awards mark an important new phase in the partnership’s commitment to raising the bar within the industry.

“The skills shortages we have within this sector have been widely-reported and are well-known,” he said.

“In addition to supporting the project’s commitment to engaging local communities, the small and larger firms involved with hub South West also strive to do their part in tackling wider skills issues across the industry. It is only fitting that we should applaud their efforts.”

Entries are limited to one per company. Those for the category of Best Employment Initiative for Young People will be judged on the criteria of youth employment, the introduction of construction as a viable career path, structured framework apprenticeships, graduate programmes and initiatives targeted at women, the disadvantaged and the disabled.

Best Training Culture will examine ideas and programmes that have proven successful, with a learning platform that encourages training and staff development that underpins the overall development of the business.

The hub South West partnership was established in 2012 to deliver value for money on public sector community-based infrastructure projects to generate growth in local economies across Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Dumfries & Galloway. Since then, it has successfully completed projects with a total value of more than £380m.

Posted by the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

New campus set to transform learning in Prestwick

Children in Prestwick are set to benefit from a new learning campus as South Ayrshire Council continues its commitment to invest in education.

[Pictured: Councillor William Grant, Children and Young 
People Portfolio Holder for South Ayrshire Council.]

Work to build a new Glenburn Primary School and St Ninian's Primary School as well as a new standalone early learning centre will start in July 2020 with completion in December 2021.

Construction of the new campus. which will feature state-of-the-art learning environments, interactive play areas and first-class sporting facilities. will take place at the Glenburn site. It is the preferred site for the campus, as it's easily large enough to accommodate the new schools and early learning centre as well as the outdoor areas.

As well as having more space, the Glenburn site was also chosen thanks to better access for pedestrians and vehicles.

At an estimated cost of £19.3 million, the innovative campus will feature outdoor classroom facilities, multi-use games halls, social areas for play and even allotments. There will also be fully accessible community spaces which are not present at the existing schools.

Although this will be a joint campus with some shared facilities, each school will retain its own name, identity, staff and pupils, while the new early learning centre will have its own dedicated centre manager.

Safeguarding the identities of both schools was something which was flagged up during the consultation process when parents and carers, children, staff, the Catholic Diocese of Galloway, HM Inspectors, stakeholders and the wider community had their say on the new campus.

Councillor William Grant, Children and Young People Portfolio Holder for South Ayrshire Council said: "This marks another important milestone for South Ayrshire Council. We are not only transforming learning for generations to come, but also putting schools back at the heart of our communities, ensuring their first-rate facilities can be enjoyed by everyone.

"Both Glenburn Primary and St Ninian's Primary have a proud history of learning, and this is something which we are not only protecting but enhancing by providing them with the best facilities possible.

"In this situation, a campus-style approach is the best way forward as both existing schools require significant work to secure their future for the next generation.

"Giving children and young people the best learning experience possible is a key ambition, and with new schools already making a huge difference in other parts of South Ayrshire, this is Prestwick's turn to benefit."

South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of 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

Find out more about the Burns an’a’that! Festival 2019 at

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

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 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.