Edinburgh-based Beeline PR specialises in:

Public Relations | Crisis and Reputation Management | Brand Building

We can:

create maximum impact through strategic communications

raise the awareness of your brand or organisation

support your business objectives

identify and communicate with target audiences

provide white-label services for other creative agencies


About Beeline PR

Debbie Byers


Debbie was Chair of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) in Scotland 2009/10 and also scooped the CIPR Award for Best PR Consultant under the age of 30 in Scotland in 1998.

Debbie Byers, Director

Debbie Byers established Beeline PR in September 2011.  The independent agency works with corporate clients and consumer brands as well as other creative agencies looking for strategic PR and business development support.  Services include brand building, media relations, business-to-business marketing support, crisis communications and reputation management, stakeholder and political engagement and social media strategy.

Each client is provided with a strategic tailored approach to both its campaign planning and the dedicated team selected to implement the activity.  Beeline PR is affiliated to a number of organisations and consultants to create positive working relationships for the benefit of the client.   

With almost two decades of experience, Debbie worked for leading PR consultancies in Edinburgh, London and Glasgow before establishing Beeline PR in September 2011.

She is a business degree graduate and the past Chair of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations in Scotland representing its 750-strong membership from the private, public and charitable sectors.

Debbie has fostered a broad experience across consumer, business-to-business and corporate campaigns as well as issue-led media relations working across all sectors from financial and professional services to food and drink. 

She is a Trustee and Chair of The Polar Academy charity.

Peter Ranscombe, Consultant and Corporate Writer

Peter Ranscombe, Consultant and Corporate Writer

Peter spent nine years as a journalist with The Scotsman newspaper, including three years writing for and helping to edit the professional pages - such as Science & Environment, Education & Learning, and Law & Legal Affairs - and six years on the business desk, writing about life science companies, technology firms and university spin-outs. His articles have also appeared in the Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Herald, the Sunday Post and the Sunday Times.

As the editor of BQ Scotland and a commissioned corporate copywriter, Peter writes across a broad range of subjects from entrepreneurs, investment finance, renewable energy, technology and law.  

Peter holds a Bachelor of Science degree with honours in physics from the University of St Andrews and a master's degree in journalism studies, awarded jointly by Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of Strathclyde.

Colin Hutchison, Consultant on Tiso Group

Colin Hutchison, Consultant on Tiso Group

Before he could barely walk, Colin was on family trips that explored the beaches and remoter parts of Scotland’s highlands and islands. A few decades later, the Edinburgh-based PR and writer has more than 15 years’ experience, including within the sport and adventure tourism sectors.

A keen alpine skier, kayaker, mountain-biker, climber and hiker, he has written extensively about Scotland and the great outdoors for the national and specialist media.  A former outdoor adventure columnist for the Sunday Herald, he has also co-authored / contributed to several international travel guidebooks about Scotland, including Footprint, Rough Guide Highlands & Islands and Frommer’s Best Walking Trips in Scotland. 

Making Colin the perfect candidate to support Beeline PR on the PR account for Scotland’s leading outdoor clothing and equipment retailer, Tiso - as well as the charitable initiatives it supports including, The Polar Academy.

Rosemary Gallagher

Rosemary Gallagher, Consultant 

Rosemary has enjoyed a career in media and marketing spanning more than two decades, including senior roles in journalism and communications.  Her specialisms include professional services, food and drink and parliamentary affairs.  Rosemary is a content writer for Beeline PR and also supports on securing national media placement across a number of clients.  She is also a freelance journalist for The Times, Sunday Times and Business Insider.

Heidi Cordner
Heidi Cordner, Consultant

Heidi Cordner creates engaging content for the social media platforms of Beeline PR’s clients.  She spent many years promoting adventure tourism in-house at VisitScotland and also worked for Scotland’s leading outdoor adventure retail specialist and Beeline PR client, Tiso.
A recent graduate of Digital Mums, Heidi is the creator of Helensburgh Living, which promotes the best places to eat and drink, events and festivals to showcase the towns incredible houses, gardens and people.  Heidi also manages the social media for her popular family business, Cruise Loch Lomond .
Sarah Howden

Sarah Howden, Consultant

Sarah is a PR consultant and journalist with more than 15 years’ experience in media, PR, marketing and events for retail and luxury brands.

Having worked in some of Scotland’s top PR consultancies, she specialises in creative results-driven multi-media campaigns spanning media relations, marketing, digital and social communications.

Sarah also spent several years working for the Scotsman Publications as a columnist, lifestyle journalist and magazine editor.  She is currently a beauty columnist for the Edinburgh Evening News, a regular contributor to Scottish national glossy, i-on, and continues to write for publications including the Press & Journal, the Scottish Sun, Tie the Knot Scotland and Glamour.com. 

How we can help

As a small PR business with a carefully managed portfolio of clients, Beeline PR can offer senior level support and commitment at all times.  In addition to working with our own clients, we provide a white-label service to other PR consultancies and creative agencies that need support driving busy projects or assistance with securing new business.

Current clients

Click on the client logo to find out more

Beeline PR client experience has also included:

Gardens Galore
Graham's The Family Dairy
Nick Nairn Cook School
Rare Whisky 101
Keenan Recycling
Turcan Connell

Our partners

Beeline PR works with a number of partners to pollinate creative ideas while project managing campaigns for its clients:

Digital/Social Media
Digital/social media
Direct Marketing
Direct Marketing
Public Affairs
Public Affairs
Contract Publishing
Contract Publishing

Recent News from Beeline PR

27 April 2018

Fife’s Young Arctic Explorers Recognised with Prestigious Polar Academy Medal

Lochgelly High School pupils rewarded for their achievements after life-changing Greenland expedition 

Last night (26 April) 10 young Arctic explorers from Lochgelly High School in Fife received a prestigious Polar Academy Medal at a special awards ceremony hosted by Lord Bruce at Broomhall House near Dunfermline, Fife. 
The medals were presented to the expedition team of seven girls and three boys in recognition of their courage and achievements after they completed a life-changing 14-day and 100km expedition in Eastern Greenland with the charity, The Polar Academy. 
The event took place in the home of Lord Bruce, with the medals presented by the parent or guardian of each youth and in front of more than 100 special guests.
Throughout their expedition, the youths aged between 14-17 years old and their head teacher Carol Ann Penrose, braved snow-storms and temperatures as low  as -25C.  The team camped on sea ice and visited Inuit villages and throughout the journey, each pupil was required to haul his or her own 45kg sled. 
The Polar Academy was founded in 2013 by Craig Mathieson, Scotland’s greatest living Polar explorer, to inspire youths struggling with lack of confidence and low self esteem to transform their lives through exploration. 
Bo’ness-based Mathieson, who in 2014 was named the first Explorer in Residence of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in 129 years, was the expedition leader. 
Paying tribute to the magnitude of the pupils’ achievements, Mathieson said: “These pupils have achieved the extraordinary by pushing themselves physically and mentally to the limit. Their rekindled sense of self-confidence is evident to all. They are more than ready to inspire others struggling with self-confidence and esteem to take that first vital step to change their lives for the better.  Each is deserving of a rare and coveted Polar Academy Medal.”
Lord Bruce said: “The Bruce Family is delighted to be involved with a truly worthwhile cause such as The Polar Academy. It is a great pleasure to welcome the Lochgelly team on their safe return to Scotland and to host the awards ceremony at Broomhall House.  Several members of my family have gone to the ends of the Earth in a similar spirit of adventure: James Bruce of Kinnaird discovered the source of the Blue Nile in 1770; William Speirs Bruce led the Scottish Antarctic Expedition (1902-04); and John Geoffrey Bruce set a mountaineering record in 1922, climbing Mount Everest to reach 27,300 feet without oxygen.   
“In the Year of Young People 2018, we are delighted to support this adventurous group of Fife students, who are learning valuable leadership and life skills. I am sure they have benefited enormously from their experiences with the Academy and we are very happy to work with such an inspiring organisation.”

Like the participants of three previous Polar Academy expeditions, each of the pupils will now share their personal account of being part of The Polar Academy with their peer groups in Fife and throughout Scotland. In just four years, more than 60,000 school-aged children have been engaged by the charity. 
Last night also saw two members of The Polar Academy Leadership Team receive a Polar Academy Medal to recognise their commitment to undertake rigorous physical training and personal sacrifices during the eight-month period between selection and the departure to Greenland of the expedition team. 
Mathieson’s fellow guides, Nigel Williams (Glenmore Lodge by Aviemore) and George MacHardy and expedition doctor Naomi Dodds also received a special Polar Academy Medal.  
Future Polar Academy Expeditions
Mathieson highlighted that annually, The Polar Academy must fundraise over £170,000 to operate. Tiso, the outdoor adventure retail specialist, Bergans of Norway and Cornhill Building Services are among the organisations, individual donors and supporters who generously contribute to the work of the charity.  During the nine months prior to the expedition, the pupils, supported by their school, family and the wider Lochgelly community also undertook considerable fundraising to support their expedition and charity.  
The fifth expedition team will comprise pupils from Bathgate High School in West Lothian.  Potential team members have yet to be selected for that expedition which will depart for Arctic Greenland in April 2019.  
Notes to the editor
The Polar Academy 2018 Expedition Team: 
Morgan Adam - 14
Kieran Burns - 14 
Daisy George - 14 
Megan Hargrave - 16 
Conner Harper - 16 
Carla Masterton - 14 
Carol Ann Penrose - Head Teacher
Daniel Pratt - 17
Hannah Reid - 15 
Lauren Scott - 14 
Carrie Wotherspoon - 14 
The Polar Academy 2018 Leadership Team:
Lewis Fotheringham – 14; Louise McLeary – 14; Cameron Duff – 14; Louise McArthur – 15; Isla Stewart – 16; Keigan Thomson – 16; Ryan Harley – 16; Erin Cuthbert - 14

For free to use images from medal presentation, please contact Beeline PR.

27 April 2018

Two historic Edinburgh hotels to be restored back to their residential grandeur

Plans have been unveiled to return two of Edinburgh’s best-known historic boutique hotels back to their residential grandeur with the creation of luxury apartments.

The luxury residential property developer Square and Crescent, which was founded by directors Simon Cook and Euan Marshall in 2010, has bought The Howard and Channings Hotel from The Edinburgh Collection. 
Work is due to begin on converting the Grade-A listed Howard on Great King Street in Edinburgh’s New Town into nine luxury apartments in early May.
The three townhouses that form The Howard were originally built as private residences during the 1820s and were converted into a guesthouse and later a hotel in the years following the Second World War.
The transformation of the three Georgian townhouses that form the previously five-star hotel, which sits within the Scottish capital’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, is expected to take around 12 months, with the nine apartments due to be completed in the spring of 2019.
The former four-star Channings Hotel on South Learmonth Gardens in Comely Bank will be converted into 15 apartments in two phases, with phase one due to also start in May.  There will be a mix of one, two and three bedroom apartments with some upper units having lift access.  The ground and lower ground apartments will have private gardens.
The 42-bedroom hotel consisted of five townhouses, one of which was home to Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and his wife, Emily Mary Dorman, between 1904 and 1910, during the time when he was secretary of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in Edinburgh.
Simon Cook, director of Square and Crescent, said: “It’s not often that you get to work on two properties with such rich histories and so we’re very excited about unveiling our plans for this pair of sites.
“The Howard forms an integral part of the Edinburgh Old and New Towns World Heritage Site, while Channings Hotel has its own illustrious history.
“These apartments are going to make truly magical homes for their new owners and will give them a chance to own a small piece of Edinburgh’s history.”
Square and Crescent has converted more than 20 townhouses in Edinburgh’s New Town and West End since its first refurbishment on the city’s Queen Street in 2012 and have also diversified into flatted new build projects in the city centre.
Recent developments have included 40-44 Drumsheugh Gardens, previously the Scottish Legal Aid Board, the Arts & Crafts building at 235 Corstorphine and the conversion of Westerles House and stables in Murrayfield.  Square and Crescent are also currently on site converting Guthrie Court in Liberton into 30 apartments and have recently acquired another two prime projects in the West End and Murrayfield.
Euan Marshall said: “Our business has grown significantly over the past few years and we are delighted to have secured a number of prime opportunities in such a competitive market place.”
Ricky Kapoor, managing director of The Edinburgh Collection, added: “The Howard and Channings Hotel are in safe hands with Simon Cook and Euan Marshall, who I know will respect their history and their heritage while converting them into what will be some of the most stunning apartments in Scotland.
“Selling the two hotels will allow my company to reinvest the proceeds and to continue to develop our other Edinburgh Hotels; the Old Waverley Hotel, the Holyrood Aparthotel, and the Haymarket Hub Hotel.”
Will Scarlett, formerly of Rettie & Co, acted on behalf of Square and Crescent with Alistair Letham from Colliers International acting on behalf of The Edinburgh Collection.  For further project information please contact Square and Crescent at info@squareandcrescent.com


25 April 2018

GlenAllachie to unveil a special treat for whisky fans at The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 

Whisky industry icon Billy Walker announces hand-picked single cask bottling for whisky festival in May

Boutique Scotch whisky company GlenAllachie has revealed it is releasing a special bottling exclusively at the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival in May.
The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2018 bottling is a 12-year-old single cask that was personally selected by Billy Walker, GlenAllachie’s Master Distiller. 
With 1,028 50cl bottles available, the special festival release, which is bottled at cask strength, will be on sale during the festival (3-7 May) at The Whisky Shop Dufftown and the Highlander Inn, Craigellachie. 
Walker, the whisky industry icon who last year led the purchase of The GlenAllachie Distillery near Aberlour in Speyside, will unveil the bottling at a series of events during the festival. 
On Thursday 3 and Friday 4 May, he will host informal sessions at the Whisky Shop Dufftown from 10:30–11:30am, and then at the Highlander Inn, Craigellachie from 1–2pm. 
At the free drop-in sessions, whisky fans can buy the festival bottling, have bottles signed, hear Walker’s plans for the distillery, and taste samples of the new GlenAllachie range, which is being released in June.
The festival bottling is the second release from the distillery following the six limited edition 50cl single cask bottlings, which were launched in February to mark the 50th anniversary of the distillery’s maiden production run on February 17 1968.
Walker and his business partners – Trisha Savage, who worked with him on his previous venture at the BenRiach Distillery Company, and former Inver House Distillers Managing Director Graham Stevenson – bought GlenAllachie last year from French spirits giant Pernod Ricard. 
The three directors have almost 100 years’ experience in the Scotch whisky industry and plan to launch a range of premium quality yet affordable whiskies in domestic and export markets.
Walker said:  “When we started the distillery, we all agreed that one of our key goals was to step away from the ‘big business’ corporate approach to whisky and have some fun releasing great whisky that we’re personally passionate about. As we’re independent and privately owned, we have the flexibility to do that and this special festival bottling is a great example of our philosophy.
“We’re fortunate to have a fantastic range of casks in the warehouses dating back to the 1970s and I personally selected this cask to showcase the GlenAllachie single malt and highlight the direction we’re taking the distillery.’’
Prior to setting up GlenAllachie, Walker established his reputation as an innovator in the whisky industry during spells with Ballantine’s, Inver House and Burn Stewart before forming the BenRiach Distillery Company in 2003.
The GlenAllachie Distillery was designed by William Delme-Evans – the architect behind Jura, Macduff and Tullibardine – and was built in 1967 by Mackinlay McPherson, the distilling arm of brewers Scottish & Newcastle.  It sits within a 20-acre estate and uses water sourced from Henshead Burn on the slopes of Ben Rinnes. It has four stills but unusually it also has two separate spirit safes, one for each set of stills.   
The GlenAllachie Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2018 bottling (12yo, 58.9%, 50cl, £56) is available exclusively at The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, 3-7 May. www.spiritofspeyside.com

5 April 2018

Nick Nairn to close his Cook School in Aberdeen and focus on expanding his pizza business

Nick Nairn has today (Thursday 5 April) announced his decision that he will close his Cook School in Aberdeen at the end of June but has confirmed that he will remain in the city with his successful pizza restaurant business, Nick’s Pizza Bar. 

The Aberdeen Cook School launched in May 2012 as an expansion of Nick Nairn Cook School in Port of Menteith, near Stirling and was catering for the growing demand for cooking experiences in the north-east fuelled by the buoyant oil and gas sector.
Offering full-day and shorter classes for up to 24 people, the Cook School is based on the first floor of a stunning listed building in Back Wynd, formerly St Nicholas Kirk’s old church hall in the city centre, while Nick’s Pizza Bar is located on the ground level.  
More than 60,000 customers have enjoyed culinary classes in Aberdeen since its opening – with in excess of 4,000 customers learning how to cook the perfect steak and 2,185 perfecting their beef wellington - but the downturn in the north-east economy in recent years means that the Cook School business is no longer commercially viable.  Staff were notified of the decision yesterday.   
Nick Nairn explained: “Expanding into Aberdeen had been a long-term passion of mine as we had a huge number of loyal customers regularly travelling from the north-east to our Cook School in Port of Menteith.
“We enjoyed a great run of custom for a number of years but like many other businesses in Aberdeen and the surrounding areas, we are not immune to the downturn in the north-east economy.  Our corporate custom suffered in particular for understandable reasons and we have worked exceptionally hard for the last 18 months to diversify our offering, but we have now reached a point where the Cook School is no longer commercially sustainable.”
Aberdeen Cook School will close on 30 June 2018.  The Cook School will ensure that everyone who has purchased gift cards will be able to redeem these prior to its closing.  Customers are encouraged to contact the booking line to arrange a class.  The Port of Menteith Cook School is not affected and remains busy with a number of new initiatives in the pipeline.
Nick add: “Despite these challenges, we have been really encouraged by the vibrant success of Nick’s Pizza Bar located on the ground floor of the premises and will now concentrate on expanding that operation.  We remain committed to maintaining a presence in Aberdeen so from 1 May the restaurant will open seven days a week from 12pm – 10pm.  We will also make a small refurbishment to the space in the first two weeks of July and are currently exploring further opportunities for Nick’s Pizza Bar in Edinburgh and Glasgow.  
“We’d like to thank everyone who has supported the Aberdeen Cook School during the last six years and our incredible team who have made every effort to make it work in really challenging times.”  
Voucher holders are being encouraged to book their class places before 30 June 2018 by calling the Nick Nairn Cook School booking line on 01877 389 900 between 9.30am and 4.30pm.  This is open seven days a week.

29 March 2018

GlenAllachie releases first ever bottling since takeover by Billy Walker-led consortium

Billy Walker, the Master Distiller who last year led the purchase of The GlenAllachie Distillery near Aberlour in Speyside, is releasing a special bottling of limited edition whiskies as his first product launch from the site after examining casks of world-class Scotch in its warehouses.

Having sampled an extensive selection of the distillery’s 40,000 casks, Mr Walker has identified six casks that have been bottled to mark the 50th anniversary of the distillery’s maiden production run on February 17th 1968.
Over 3,500 50cl bottles have been filled as special edition single cask whiskies; 720 for the UK, 2,391 for General Export and 425 for Taiwan – all bottled at cask strength, with prices ranging from £200 to £699.
The single cask bottlings are being released ahead of the launch in June of the full GlenAllachie range, which will mark the first time the distillery has had its own cohesive identity as a brand.
GlenAllachie was designed by William Delmé-Evans – the architect behind Jura, Macduff and Tullibardine – and was built in 1967 by Mackinlay McPherson, the distilling arm of brewer Scottish & Newcastle. 
Mr Walker and his business partners – Trisha Savage, who worked with him on his previous venture at the BenRiach Distillery Company, and former Inver House Distillers Managing Director Graham Stevenson – bought GlenAllachie last year from French spirits giant Pernod Ricard.
The distillery has four stills and, unusually, two separate spirit safes, one for each set of stills.
Mr Walker, who sold BenRiach Distillery Company to American producer Brown-Forman in 2016, said: “Even though GlenAllachie is one of the younger distilleries in Scotland, we are very fortunate in that we have casks of whisky stretching back to the early 1970s, in the first years after the site opened.
“The past few months since we bought the distillery and its stock have been so exciting for the whole team.  I’ve been able to try samples from some really remarkable casks of Scotch and to study how the spirit has evolved over time.
“I’ve been involved in distilling whiskies for much of my forty-year career in the industry, but I’ve seldom come across such a high-quality collection of casks.”
Mr Walker, who was named Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2016 Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards, added: “GlenAllachie has always been prized as an important blending ingredient, not just by Chivas Brothers but also by other whisky companies, which would buy casks to add to their own blends.
“What’s particularly exciting about these special-edition single cask bottles is that we’ll be able to demonstrate the really high quality of GlenAllachie as a standalone whisky.
“GlenAllachie produces a much more muscular spirit than many of the other distilleries on Speyside and so it works well with lots of different casks, whether they’re American oak barrels and hogsheads or European sherry butts.
“Discovering these hidden gems in the warehouses has given us a great opportunity, not only to give whisky connoisseurs a taste of what’s to come later this year when we launch the full GlenAllachie range, but also to celebrate the half century since this very special distillery first fired up its stills.
“Why wait when it’s ready to be enjoyed by the world?”
Notes to the editor
Each of the six special-edition single cask bottles has distinctive aromas and flavours:
  • 1978, Cask 10296, Sherry Butt, 55.9%: A rush of raisins, dark chocolate and spices, followed by hints of orange peel and liquorice.
    • 120 bottles for the UK, 340 for General Export and 68 for Taiwan.
  • 1989, Cask 986, Sherry Butt, 57.7%: A galaxy of sultanas, pineapple and plum pudding, with hints of spices and orange peel. 
    • 152 bottles for the UK, 640 for General Export and 92 for Taiwan.
  • 1989, Cask 2587, Hogshead, 45.4%: The melange of dark cherries, bananas and orange peel develops into dark chocolate and rich spices. 
    • 80 bottles for the UK, 211 for General Export and 32 for Taiwan.
  • 1990, Cask 2515, Sherry Butt, 44.9%: Rich sherry and raisin presence, with a supporting cast of dark chocolate, grapefruit and spices. 
    • 156 bottles for the UK, 484 for General Export and 108 for Taiwan.
  • 1990, Cask 2517, Sherry Butt, 54.6%: The amazing flavour rainbow of raisins, bananas, sweet cloves and pineapples extends to orange peel and dark chocolate. 
    • 144 bottles for the UK, 524 for General Export and 84 for Taiwan.
  • 1991, Cask 100285, Hogshead, 55%: Wonderful notes of vanilla, caramel, butterscotch and hazelnuts as the lead players with hints of dark chocolate, mocha and spices. 
    • 68 bottles for the UK, 192 for General Export and 41 for Taiwan.
Further information on the distillery and company can be found at www.theglenallachie.com
Facebook - @TheGlenAllachie
Twitter - @TheGlenAllachie
Instagram - @theglenallachie_

12 March 2018

It's an 'Ice Day for the Beach!
Final tyre haul for Fife youths ahead of Arctic challenge

Ten youths from Lochgelly High School in Fife yesterday (10 March) and pictured, braved the chilly waters off St Andrews Beach when they dragged heavy tyres into the North Sea. It was part of their tough final training session, before leaving for Eastern Greenland on 2 April for a 10-day, 100km expedition with the Bo’ness based youth charity, The Polar Academy.  In the Arctic, the pupils and head teacher Carol Ann Penrose will haul their own 45kg sled for up to ten hours a day. 

Aged between 14 and 17, the teenagers (seven girls & three boys) have been relentlessly training for eight months since being selected for The Polar Academy expedition team. Nine additional pupils (see below) also benefit from the training as part of a back-up leadership team. 
With a vision to inspire youth through exploration, since 2013 The Polar Academy has annually rigorously prepared a ten-strong group of shy teenagers for what proves to be a life-changing expedition. With the support of founding partners Tiso, the outdoor adventure retail specialist and Bergans of Norway, it aims to help young people rebuild lives affected by crushed self-confidence and feeling ‘invisible’ in school. Following the expedition, each pupil talks to school assemblies across Scotland about the impact of the charity on his or her life and with the aim of inspiring other young people to overcome their own challenges and achieve personal ambitions.  In just four years, more than 50,000 school-aged children have been engaged by the charity. 
The infamous two-hour beach haul is designed to replicate the resistance the team will encounter when their sleds are dragged across the snow.  For Craig Mathieson, expedition leader and founder of The Polar Academy, the gruelling exercise is also a chance to check everyone is fighting fit and mentally prepared for the Arctic.  
The 48-year-old, who is Scotland’s greatest living polar explorer and a veteran of several expeditions to the polar regions, explained: “Supported by their school and parents, over the past eight months each member of The Polar Academy expedition team has already shown tremendous courage and determination to commit to what is Europe’s toughest youth training programme.  
“Through successfully overcoming tough challenges like today’s beach haul, this group of remarkable youths have already grown immeasurably in mental strength and self-confidence. Greenland is no guided school-trip and it will test their resolve, fitness, focus and team working skills to the limit.  But like the thirty youths who have gone before, it will be a hugely positive, rewarding and life-changing experience.  
“I am sure they will return from the wilds of Greenland bursting with pride and ready to inspire thousands of other young people throughout Scotland.” 
In the Arctic, each youth will haul his or her own sledge, navigate, camp on the sea-ice and undertake scientific experiments in support of the Scottish school curriculum.  They may also encounter remote Inuit villages and observe the Northern Lights. 
The Polar Academy is wholly self-funded and does not ask pupils to pay for their participation. With the generous support of companies and private donors, including Tiso Group, it must annually fundraise over £170,000 to operate.   Carol Ann Penrose, Head Teacher of Lochgelly High School, highlighted how the pupils and parents have reacted to The Polar Academy: “The calm, understated approach of Craig (Mathieson) and his guides (Nigel Williams / George MacHardy) really gets results. Somehow they quietly instil a ‘can do’ mind-set in the participants.  You come to recognise that with a little more self-belief you can accept and overcome challenges. 
“The pupils are increasingly unfazed and accepting of tasks they would have recoiled from just six months ago. Previously very quiet, shy and ‘under the radar’ in school, they seem to unquestioningly accept each new challenge! I’m really looking forward to being in Greenland and watching the pupils grow further in confidence.
“The commitment of the pupils’ parents has also been outstanding. All have relentlessly fundraised and they really are getting actively involved in the whole spirit of The Polar Academy.”
Commenting on her own training ahead of the tyre haul on the beach, Carol Ann added: “I’m trying to do a little more training than the pupils so hopefully, it will not just make me fitter but ensure I can keep up in the wilds of Greenland!”
The Polar Academy Expedition Team departs on 2 April and returns to Glasgow Airport on Wednesday 18 April. 
The Polar Academy 2017/2018 Expedition Team: 
Morgan Adam - 14
Kieran Burns - 14 
Daisy George - 14 
Megan Hargrave - 16 
Conner Harper - 16 
Carla Masterton - 14 
Carol Ann Penrose - Head Teacher
Daniel Pratt - 17
Hannah Reid - 15 
Lauren Scott - 14 
Carrie Wetherspoon - 14 
The Polar Academy 2017/2018 Leadership Team
Lewis Fotheringham – 14; Louise McLeary – 14; Cameron Duff – 14; Louise McArthur – 15; Isla Stewart – 16; Keigan Thomson – 16; Ryan Harley – 16; Erin Cuthbert – 14

26 February 2018

Time waits for no-one – especially when it comes to court cases 

TIMING is everything, as any actor will tell you. Get your timing right and an audience will lean forward in their seats, hanging on your every word from the stage; get your timing wrong, and you’ll be greeted with silence when the curtain comes down, no matter how good the script might be.

The same is true when it comes to the law. Whether it’s personal injury claims being time-barred by a three-year period of limitation or criminal convictions being “spent” under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, it’s crucial to understand the importance of timing.

That sense of timing is at the very heart of the Prescription (Scotland) Bill, which Justice Secretary Michael Matheson introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 8 February. The proposed legislation is designed to amend the law relating to “the extinction of rights and obligations by the passage of time”.

At present, a non-personal injury claim becomes “stale” under negative prescription if no legal action has been taken within five years of a creditor finding out that they have suffered a loss, regardless of their state of knowledge on the cause of the loss. This “discoverability test” was clarified by the Supreme Court in 2014 in an appeal successfully brought by lawyers from BLM – in a previous guise as HBM Sayers – that related to property damage from an explosion at a chemicals factory in Maryhill in Glasgow in 2004.

Following a recommendation from the Scottish Law Commission, the Scottish Government wants to change the point at which the clock starts running on the discoverability test to take into account three factors instead of one. Rather than beginning when a creditor simply discovers they have suffered a loss, the five-year prescriptive period will only start when a creditor discovers: that loss, injury or damage has occurred; that the loss, injury or damage was caused by a person’s act or omission; and the identity of that person.

Commenting on the proposals, Legal Affairs Minister Annabelle Ewing said that the new bill was needed to “remove grey areas in the existing law, such as contention regarding the date the prescription clock starts ticking” and to ensure claims are raised promptly. Ewing added: “The changes in this bill will increase clarity, certainty and fairness, and benefit persons or bodies in resolving disputes.”

At the moment, the law is very clear – the 2014 Supreme Court ruling made plain the moment at which the clock starts ticking – and the introduction of three factors rather than one for the discoverability test means that cases will not necessarily be raised more promptly. Further, questions over who knew what and when – or who should have known what and when – could create more grounds for disagreements and legal wrangles, prolonging the time it takes for cases to be resolved. 

Yet Ewing’s comment on fairness, to creditors at least, will undoubtedly be addressed by the new bill. A recent case before the Supreme Court has highlighted how the current set-up could be seen to be unfair.

Last July, the Supreme Court in London heard an appeal against a decision taken in the Court of Session in Edinburgh in the case of Gordon v Campbell Riddell Breeze Paterson LLP. The Court of Session, bound by the 2014 Supreme Court decision, had ruled that the five-year prescriptive clock had begun ticking in 2005 when the solicitors had served defective notices to quit on agricultural tenants and not in 2008 when the Scottish Land Court ruled that the notices had been defective.

That decision meant that the professional negligence action raised against the solicitors in 2012 was dismissed because it had been started too late. Last November, the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal against that decision, upholding the Court of Session’s original judgment.

Lord Hodge, delivering the Supreme Court’s judgment in Gordon, recognised that the present “discoverability formula” may indeed give rise to “hard cases”, with arguably “harsh” outcomes. But, as the Supreme Court pointed out, “it offers certainty, at least with the benefit of hindsight”.

The present proposal to reform the discoverability test is a good example of parliaments, not the courts, “making” the law. In the cases mentioned above, the courts were interpreting and applying a 1973 Act of Parliament, rather than making new law. More than 40 years on from that Act, the point has been reached when the timing of non-personal injury litigation is being reconsidered at parliamentary level. 

Shirley Wyles is a partner in the Edinburgh office of law firm BLM.

8 February 2018

GlenAllachie unveils sales team and confirms first overseas orders

The GlenAllachie Distillers Company, the Speyside venture launched by a consortium led by whisky industry veteran Billy Walker, has made a raft of senior appointments to its sales team, taking the business’s headcount to 14 and unveiled its first export orders.

The firm, which last year bought the GlenAllachie distillery near Aberlour from Pernod Ricard, has also signed deals with distributors covering twelve countries, including the key Chinese, Netherlands, Taiwanese and French markets.
The first distributor to stock GlenAllachie will be Belgium-based Premium Spirits, which was also the first company to sell the whiskies produced by BenRiach, Walker’s previous business which was founded in 2004. 
GlenAllachie’s core range of aged whiskies, ranging from a 10 year old to 25 year old, will be launched in June this year.
News of the maiden overseas orders came as the company named the line-up for its sales team.
David Keir has been appointed as GlenAllachie’s Sales and Marketing Director, bringing with him more than 20 years’ experience working across a variety of retail and marketing roles.
Keir will be joined in his new role by Colette Savage who becomes GlenAllachie’s Marketing Manager; Ally Stevenson, joins as Sales Manager along with Administration Manager Lorraine Walker.
They are joined by production and warehouse operatives Michael Duncan, Phillip Murray, Lindsay Cormie, Stuart Geddes and William Kewley. 
The appointments come hot-on-the-heels of GlenAllachie selecting Richard Beattie as its Operations Director.  Beattie was previously Director of Distilling at Mossburn Distillers, the parent company of Torabhaig Distillery on Skye.
As well as investing in its staff, the company has also built a filling store and two dunnage warehouses at the distillery bringing total storage on site to sixteen warehouses and over 100,000 casks.
David Keir, Sales and Marketing Director at GlenAllachie Distillers Company, said: “We have assembled a top team, and continue to invest in the distillery, to help launch The GlenAllachie brand and position it as a premium quality Scotch whisky. In his role as Sales Manager, Ally Stevenson will have a specific focus on developing the key European markets such as Germany and France along with the likes of Russia and Ukraine. Colette Savage will be instrumental in developing our branding and sales tools to help us grow as a global whisky brand.
“The GlenAllachie has always been a bit of a hidden gem as the previous owners focused on their other distilleries.  It is a hugely exciting opportunity for us all to be involved in a truly independent, Scottish-owned and managed business and to build the brand from scratch.
“These first orders from twelve countries prove that there’s demand out there for the high-quality single malt that has been produced at the distillery over the years. Along with these confirmed deals we’ve had strong expressions of interest from around the world including Asia, and will be attending Vinexpo Hong Kong with a view to finalising these. In fact, we’re hopeful to have confirmed distribution in over 30 countries, including the USA, by the time we launch in June.
“As well as selling the existing stock of single malt that was bought along with the distillery, we’ll also be involved in developing the blended Scotch brands MacNair’s and White Heather.”
Walker’s consortium also consists of long-term business partner and former General Manager at BenRiach Trisha Savage and Graham Stevenson, a former Managing Director at Inver House Distillers.
The GlenAllachie distillery was designed by William Delmé-Evans – the architect behind Jura, Macduff and Tullibardine – and was built in 1967 by Mackinlay McPherson, the distilling arm of brewers Scottish & Newcastle. It was ultra-modern in its day was designed to be gravity fed
Further information on the distillery and company can be found at www.theglenallachie.com
Facebook - @TheGlenAllachie
Twitter - @TheGlenAllachie
Instagram - @theglenallachie_

25 January 2018

ezPyro sensor from Pyreos enables Trueyes to create the world’s smallest pyro-electric flame-sensing module

Pyreos, the Edinburgh-based infra-red sensor developer and manufacturer, has revealed that its ezPyro chip is being used by South Korean firm Trueyes to make the world’s smallest pyro-electric flame-sensing module.

Trueyes’ TF100 module measures just 16mm by 16mm and provides highly-sensitive flame detection at a distance of up to 35 metres. The TF100 has a field of view of more than 90 degrees, with a quick response time and low power consumption.
Trueyes’ new module will be used to add flame-detection capabilities into cameras, thermal imaging equipment, motion detectors and IoT devices. Target markets include devices for homes, factories and warehouses in China, Japan and Korea.
Do Hyung Kim, vice president and co-founder of Trueyes, said: “The ezPyro solution from Pyreos not only allows us to build a very small flame sensing module, but also enables a flexible platform to tailor the TF100 module to meet the specific requirement of the different end user applications.”
Andrew Wallace, CEO at Pyreos, added: “This is an exciting implementation of our ezPyro product.”
“Whilst this particular application doesn’t fully utilise ezPyro’s low-power capabilities, the small size and the programmability of the device ensures that end customers can optimise their products to meet their requirements.”
“We are looking forward to new flame and gas detection modules being launched based on our ezPyro family of products.”
Pyreos launched its ezPyro chip at the Sensor+Test measurement fair at Nuremburg in Germany in May 2016.
The ezPyro chip is the world’s smallest pyro-electric sensor with a digital interface.
The component can be used in a wide range of applications, from flame and gas detection through to motion and gesture sensors in wearable devices.
News of the launch of Trueyes’ TF100 module comes just days after Pyreos revealed it has secured £1.7m of funding from a syndicate of new investors led by Jon Moulton’s family office, Perscitus, alongside existing shareholders.
The latest investment brings the total raised by Pyreos since 2015 to almost £7m, with existing shareholders including Seraphim Capital, London Business Angels, Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH, the Scottish Investment Bank (the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise) and Siemens Technology Accelerator.
Pyreos’ unique technology was originally developed by Siemens, from which Pyreos was spun out in 2007.  
The company, which is based at the Scottish Microelectronics Centre in Edinburgh, grew last year’s revenues by 50%, with exports accounting for 81% of sales thanks to growth in major markets including China, Korea, India and the United States.

24 January 2018

Story Scotland poised to double turnover to £40m

Story Scotland, the Uddingston-based civil engineering firm, is expanding beyond the rail sector as it unveils a five-year plan to double its turnover to £40m.

The company has worked on a series of high-profile projects in the rail sector, including the £5m Queen Street tunnel track slab replacement in Glasgow for Morgan Sindall and the £2.5m Stirling station canopy replacement for Network Rail.
Previous projects have included the St Ninian’s level crossing replacement in Stirling, the renewal of the canopy glazing over platforms five and six at Inverness station, the platform extension at North Berwick station and the installation of “Access for All” bridges at stations including Blairhill in Coatbridge and Elgin in Moray.
Having grown its rail team to 52 members, the business is now expanding its civil engineering work into other areas, including construction and plant hire.
Story Scotland is part of Story Contracting, a civil engineering business based in Carlisle, and has revenues of £120m a year and employs more than 600 people.
John MacArthur, director at Story Scotland, said: “We have experienced strong growth in the rail sector over the past three years, delivering a significant volume of challenging civil engineering projects for our clients.
“We have great appreciation for the clients and contractors who have supported Story in Scotland during this time and we have purposely focussed on using local companies to help grow our business, while creating local employment opportunities.
“This has allowed us to develop a collaborative and professional team, based at our Uddingston office, which also has the skill set and experience to deliver projects out with the rail sector. 
“Our five-year business plan will see turnover doubling to £40m per annum, which will allow us to continue to invest in our staff and employ both graduates and apprentices to help us meet our growth targets across the civil engineering sector.
“Our new Story Scotland name reflects our strategy to diversify our business and the markets in which we operate.”
Fred Story, owner of the company, added: “Story has successfully delivered a number of key projects around Scotland, including the challenging IEP Infrastructure upgrade at Inverness and Aberdeen Depots, and are currently improving the station facilities at Dundee Station for Abellio ScotRail.
“The team has also grown by almost 500%, allowing Story to invest in Scotland’s future talent with apprenticeships and graduate schemes. 
“This year marks the 30th anniversary of Story Construction, as we were then known, being launched from a portacabin in my back garden. 
“It therefore makes me incredibly proud to see the growth of Story Scotland, built by John and his team through hard work and passion over the past few years, as they continue to service the civil engineering industry in Scotland.”
As well as Story Scotland, the group also owns Reiver Homes, which builds houses in the South of Scotland and Cumbria, with current projects including the March Mount development in Dumfries.

16 January 2018

The GlenAllachie Distillers Company appoint new operations director for fresh chapter in Speyside distillery’s future

Billy Walker-led consortium lays foundation for plans to revive GlenAllachie

The new owners of The GlenAllachie Distillery near Aberlour in Speyside have appointed Richard Beattie as its new Operations Director to help realise their vision for a global independent whisky brand.
Operations Director Richard Beattie was previously Director of Distilling at Mossburn Distillers Ltd, parent company for Torabhaig Distillery in Skye and Akashi Distillery in Japan.
Mr Beattie began his career as distillery manager at Speyside Scotch Malt Whisky Distillery and has almost 30 years’ experience within the industry. His past roles include Distilling/Technical Sales Director for Crisp Malting Group and Business Development Director at Briggs of Burton, where he was involved in developing distilling projects in Scotland, Ireland and the US.
A Fellow of the Institute of Brewers and Distillers, he is former Chairman of the Scottish section of the Institute of Brewing & Distilling, a member of the Education and training committee of the Malt Distillers Association of Scotland and has chaired the commercial committee for the last five Worldwide Distilled Spirits Conferences.
Consumers are expected to enjoy their first taste of a revived GlenAllachie this year following the distillery’s sale to a consortium led by award-winning whisky veteran Billy Walker. 
He had earlier sold BenRiach Distillery Company to American drinks giant Brown-Forman, after transforming a £5m investment in a previously mothballed distillery into a global business with £40m turnover. 
Mr Walker was joined in acquiring GlenAllachie from Chivas parent company Pernod Ricard by long-term business partner and BenRiach colleague Trisha Savage, and Graham Stevenson, a former Managing Director at Inver House Distillers.  The GlenAllachie Distillery Company Ltd consortium has more than a century of experience between them.
Mr Walker, named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards 2016, said:  “GlenAllachie is one of Speyside’s younger distilleries, yet we’re fortunate to have a substantial stock portfolio laid down ready for release.
“Richard brings a wealth of experience and knowledge not only about whisky making itself but also understands the intricacies of distillery engineering and design. Incidentally, GlenAllachie was designed so that the whole process was gravity fed, this is one of the reasons we have horizontal condensers which is an unusual feature for a distillery.”
GlenAllachie Distillery sits within a 20-acre estate in Speyside and has warehouse stocks dating to the 1970s, which will form the foundations for the brand’s future development.
As well as the 1967-built distillery, the consortium has taken over the single malt brand and blended Scotch brands MacNair’s and White Heather, which it plans to develop as a premium yet affordable range to a global market. 
The first phase will see a selection of aged whiskies, from a 10 year old to 25 year old, that are expected to launch this year. There are also moves to develop special edition whiskies. 
GlenAllachie plans include exploring emerging markets as well as more established export arenas in France, Germany and the United States.
Majority shareholder Mr Walker, who began his career in production at Ballantine’s in Dumbarton in 1974, added: “We are looking forward to bringing classic GlenAllachie single malt to a new generation, and exploring how it can deliver new blends that can become the classics of the future.“
The GlenAllachie Distillery was designed by William Delmé-Evans – the architect behind Jura, Macduff and Tullibardine – and was built in 1967 by Mackinlay McPherson, the distilling arm of brewers Scottish & Newcastle. It has four stills and, unusually, two separate spirit safes, one for each set of stills. 
Further information on the distillery and company can be found at www.theglenallachie.com
Facebook - @TheGlenAllachie
Twitter - @TheGlenAllachie
Instagram - @theglenallachie_

10 January 2018

BGF invests £4m in Walker Precision Engineering to fuel expansion

Walker Precision Engineering, a high-precision component manufacturer, has secured a £4m investment from BGF to expand its operations in the UK and mainland Europe. 

From premises in Glasgow, Basildon and Poland, the family-owned business manufactures and assembles complex parts for the aerospace, defence and industrial sectors.

Founded in 1979, the company is run by brothers Gary and Mark Walker and employs more than 250 staff.  
BGF’s funding will allow Walker to invest in specialist machinery, further increasing its high accuracy machining capacity. The business has experienced an increase in demand from existing and new customers, particularly in the burgeoning space market. Walker has been forging closer links with the International Space Agency and academic institutions, and has been involved in the Galileo Satellite System, which is the European high accuracy positioning system. 
In addition to further investment at its Glasgow HQ, Walker will move its Basildon operations to a new purpose-built facility and double the capacity of its manufacturing facility in Poland. 
As part of the group’s expansion plans, Chris Melrose has joined Walker as non-executive chairman, following an introduction by BGF. Melrose is a non-executive director of Ralph Martindale and of ADS, the aerospace, defence and security trade association.  Previous posts include that of managing director of a General Electric JV, vice president of Bombardier Aerospace and latterly non-executive chairman of Daher Aerospace.
Mark Walker, Managing Director at Walker Precision Engineering, said: “Walker has grown steadily over the years through our deep commitment to investing in technical expertise and innovation. 
“We first met BGF back in 2012 and since then have been getting to know the team and how it operates. Now is the right time to bring on board a minority investor. BGF’s funding will help us pursue new opportunities in the market faster than we would otherwise have been able to do, without losing control of the business.”
Paddy Graham, BGF investor, added: “Walker is one of the leaders in its field, having built a strong heritage and long-standing customer relationships. Having known the business for a number of years, we’ve seen the team successfully scale up its operations and customer base and break into the space market. 
“There are significant opportunities for Walker to expand its capacity further in both existing and in new markets. We’re delighted to be helping the team capitalise on this.”
The investment in Walker brings the total BGF funding in Scottish businesses to more than £200m. Its portfolio of growing companies includes Campion Homes, Bar Soba, Keenan Recycling and M Squared Lasers, which has been more than doubling its revenues every two years since BGF’s investment in 2012.
BGF provides patient capital to businesses with revenues typically between £5m and £100m in exchange for a minority, non-controlling stake. BGF invests exclusively in small and mid-sized firms headquartered in the UK and Ireland, and is in the top ten most active investors globally. 

9 January 2018

Pyreos raises £1.7m from consortium led by Jon Moulton’s family office

Pyreos, the Edinburgh-based passive infrared sensor developer and maker, has secured £1.7m of funding from a syndicate of new investors led by Jon Moulton’s family office, Perscitus, alongside existing shareholders.  The funds will be used for further commercial expansion building on Pyreos’ recent sales growth and the start of field trials and mass-production by several customers. 

Pyreos is the only supplier in the world of thin film pyroelectric sensors.  These are used for passively sensing infra red light and are typically very small, fast, sensitive, energy efficient and accurate.
The sensors are primarily used for gas and flame sensing, food safety, and for monitoring oil and fuel in engines.  These growth markets have a combined accessible value estimated at $1.2bn a year in 2018.
Pyreos’ unique technology was originally developed by Siemens, from which Pyreos was spun out in 2007.  Pyreos now owns an extensive patent portfolio reflecting its innovative approach.  
The latest investment brings the total raised by Pyreos since 2015 to almost £7m.  Existing shareholders include Seraphim Capital, London Business Angels, Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH, the Scottish Investment Bank (the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise) and Siemens Technology Accelerator.
The investment follows a busy year for Pyreos in which the company grew its revenues by 50%, with exports accounting for 81% of sales thanks to major markets including China, Korea, the USA and India. 
Products launched in the past year that contained Pyreos’ chips included an oil analyser developed by Parker Kittiwake, on sale to shipping operators and navies worldwide, and several fire-detection and CCTV devices made by South Korean customers.
Field trials have started for several other applications and several customer product developments are also in the pipeline.
Andy Laing, chief financial officer at Pyreos, said: “We’re delighted to welcome a new set of professional investors with the appetite to support further growth and product development. This funding sets the basis for more ambitious product development in the future.
“Our sensors are also already used in a wide array of industrial applications, from monitoring additives in milk through to detecting flames from burning gases.”
The lead investor in the syndicate is one of the investment vehicles owned by venture capitalist Jon Moulton.

6 January 2018

Wise investors are looking to the east in Edinburgh

Property expert Will Scarlett examines why the focus for developers, retailers and restaurateurs has shifted to Edinburgh’s east end, and looks ahead to who might be next to arrive in the capital.

THE 12 days of Christmas that lie between Boxing Day and Epiphany on 6 January commemorate the journey that the Wise men made as they followed a star in the east until it settled over a stable in Bethlehem. Property investors are also looking east when it comes to Edinburgh.

Whether it’s the Trongate in Glasgow or Shoreditch in London, regeneration projects are breathing fresh life into the east end of our city centres; and Scotland’s capital is no exception.

The redevelopment of Edinburgh St James by TH Real Estate is acting as an anchor for a revitalisation of Auld Reekie’s east end. The 1.7 million sq.ft development, which is due to be completed in 2020, will include a mix of high street and high-end shops (850,000 sq.ft of retail space), 30 restaurants, an Everyman cinema and hotels from W and Roomzz. The scheme is one of the UK’s largest and most significant regeneration projects and represents a major international vote of confidence in the Edinburgh market – and in Scotland itself. 

The transformative power of the development is already having an effect; Scarlett Land and Development received ten bids for the nearby Forth House and Playfair House office investment. Those came from a selection of residential, hotel and investment bidders, which demonstrates the broadening appeal of the east.

Yet the shift is about much more than simply Edinburgh St James. Artisan Real Estate Investors have made significant progress with their award winning New Waverly development, which includes the completion of three hotels and a new 190,000 sq,ft office hub (completion June 2019), in part pre-let to HMRC. The office will attract some 2,900 civil service jobs to the east end of Edinburgh’s city centre. The development has won several awards with the highlight being the national RICS award for the best city regeneration project in the UK.

The redevelopment of South St Andrew Square has attracted London restaurant brands such as The Ivy, Dishoom and Gaucho, joining existing retail labels such as Harvey Nichols, the boutiques on Multrees Walk and Apple on nearby Princes Street. 

There is more to come on St. Andrew Square with S.Harrison Developments having acquired Buchan House on the north side of the square site for development of a luxury hotel of around 70 bedrooms and restaurant, and Knight Property Group having acquired and now developing “4North” (formerly Edinburgh House) on North St. Andrew Street into a 41,000 sq.ft office, pre-let to Computershare. 

On the east side of the square development of The Registers development by Chris Stewart Group’s  is transforming the former Royal Bank of Scotland into a game changing mixed use scheme that will link St Andrews Square through the Register Lanes area to Edinburgh St. James. The Registers combines more than 15,000 sq.ft of ground floor restaurant and bar space together with 61,000 sq.ft of Grade A office accommodation and more than 50 serviced residential apartments;  it will offer a new city centre destination for locals, visitors, tourists and office occupiers alike.

The proposals allow for West Register Street, between St Andrew Square and Register Place, to be pedestrianised with the cobbled roadways and paved footpaths re-laid to create a smooth, shared surface. Lighting, street furniture and greenery will be used to enhance both the ambience and security of the external area.

St Andrew Square will also become home the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s new purpose-built concert hall.  Located in the former Royal Bank of Scotland’s Dundas House, the world-class arts centre will provide the orchestra with a new home, a 1,000-seat auditorium and a studio for rehearsals, recitals and recording; a superb asset to our cultural capital. 

The combined effect of these projects is transformational – in an area that already has the highest restaurant rents in the city, according to the leading retail property expert, James Godfrey from Culverwell.  The  projects will unlock the social, cultural and economic potential of this strategically important location, linking more of the east end to St Andrew Square and beyond. 

Over the coming months, I expect a halo effect to continue, with the interest in the city centre’s eastern fringes spreading out into the surrounding areas. The closure of Meadowbank stadium and sports centre will trigger a regenerative effect in the surrounding area, perhaps including the neighbouring St Margaret’s House, which could be attractive for flats or student accommodation. We have seen this regenerative effect reflected in demand for a residential site on Marionville Road that we have recently placed under offer (c.125 units). 

Few areas are likely to benefit from Edinburgh’s eastern promise as much as Leith. The Shore is already a vibrant setting and Leith Walk is now being transformed too. 

CSG have completed a development on Baxters Place, at the top of Leith Walk into a 240-bedroom Courtyard by Marriott hotel. 

With a tram link from the city centre to Ocean Terminal looking increasingly likely, Leith stands to benefit even more. Major proposed developments in the Ocean Drive area include: CALA - 338 homes and 19 workspace units; S.Harrison Developments -  site acquired for development of a hotel of around 200 bedrooms;  S1 Developments – site acquired with potential for around 240 apartments at “Skyliner”. The combined effect of these will be transformational, bringing more residents and visitors to eat and shop locally. 

Some were surprised at CALA’s acquisition of the former Royal Mail sorting office on Brunswick Road but any doubts have been dismissed by the achievement of exceptionally strong sales. Currently, S1 Developments have exceeded expectations with 36 off plan sales already at their 450 unit Ropeworks scheme on Salamander Street in Leith.

All these positive developments are stimulating further interest in Edinburgh from UK and International investors seeking regional diversity outside London. I predict that Student Housing investment will follow, given the vibrancy, strong transport links and excellent connectivity from Leith to the City Centre. 

We expect that the year ahead will see more UK and overseas investors attracted to the Scottish capital, driven by factors such as Edinburgh being ranked in first place in the 2016-17 foreign direct investment strategy category by Global Cities of the Future, and being ranked in ninth spot in a new index of Europe’s most dynamic cities compiled by Savills. While there is still a reluctance in Build-To-Rent in Scotland among certain funds, we are seeing an increasing number who are now actively seeking to commit funding to the Scottish capital.

With developments stretching from St Andrew Square and Edinburgh St James out to Meadowbank and Leith, it looks increasingly likely that 2018 will attract wise property investors keeping their eyes on the east. 

Will Scarlett is the founder and director of Scarlett Land and Development.

29 December 2017

Everest Record Breaker to Inspire Youth as Guide with The Polar Academy 

Mollie Hughes, who on 16 May 2017 became the youngest woman in the world to successfully climb Mount Everest from both its north (2017) and south (2012) sides, is to train as an Arctic polar guide with the ground-breaking Scottish youth charity, The Polar Academy.

Following 18 months of specialist training, the 27 year-old Edinburgh-based and Devon-born climber aims to be part of the charity’s 2019 expedition team, guiding ten teenage pupils from Bathgate Academy in West Lothian.

The Polar Academy annually supports secondary school aged pupils (aged 14-17) who on selection into the expedition team first undertake 10-months of rigorous training in their school and in the Scottish Highlands before being tasked with journeying for ten-days through Eastern Greenland. 

Hughes, who also works with Tiso Group, the outdoor adventure retail specialist and her principal sponsor of the 2017 Everest expedition, will be trained as a polar guide throughout next year by Craig Mathieson, founder and expedition leader of The Polar Academy.  This will include accompanying 48-year old Mathieson, Scotland’s greatest living polar explorer, on special instructor training in Greenland next summer. 

Under Mathieson’s guidance she will learn essential skills for exploration in the Arctic and designed to ensure the guide can effectively look after her/himself and the group in all weather conditions and cope with all eventualities in a remote and unforgiving environment.   Skills will include ‘natural navigation’ by observing the ice, wind and clouds and recognising the significance of changes in the feel and sound of the ice. 

In just four years, the Bo’ness based charity has engaged over 60,000 youths across Scotland. With a vision to inspire youth through exploration, the pupils it annually selects to benefit from the training are all identified as acutely lacking in self-esteem and self-confidence and often present with a range of mental health challenges.  Mathieson and his core team aim to help the youths redefine their physical and mental limits, through a process that has been described as Europe’s toughest youth training programme. 

Jess Ainslie, an instructor at Glenmore Lodge near Aviemore has been part of Mathieson’s core team since 2015 and he has keenly observed the strong rapport and support Ainslie can establish with the expedition groups, including its young female participants.  Mathieson is confident that Hughes will draw on her own experiences to make a positive impact and help nurture an awareness among the participants that they can overcome personal issues and achieve their goals. 

 As a teenager, Hughes was very shy and it was her positive experiences of climbing and pursuing other activities in the great outdoors that gave her the self-belief and awareness that she had the ability to achieve her aspirations in life.  The mountaineer has already devoted several years to giving motivational talks in schools and youth groups about her experiences and with the aim of inspiring young people to fully realise their own potential in life. 

Commenting on her forthcoming role, Mollie Hughes said: “I am absolutely thrilled to have been approached by Craig (Mathieson) to train as a polar guide with the aim of being part of his core team in 2019.  While I have some of the technical skills already, the months ahead promise to be challenging and hugely rewarding.  
“I have followed the work of The Polar Academy for a number of years and I’m really looking forward to being part of a dynamic charity that’s working to positively impact on young lives through immersion in the great outdoors, including the wilds of Arctic Greenland.  Hopefully, I can impart some of my own experiences and help the youths selected for The Polar Academy to recognise that they have the qualities within themselves to change their outlook and lives for the better.”  

Craig Mathieson, who in 2014 was named Scotland’s first Explorer in Residence of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS) in 129 years, added: “From her feats in the mountains of Scotland and the Alps to Mount Everest, Mollie has already demonstrated that her modest, unassuming demeanour belies rock-solid determination and a cool focus allied to impressive technical abilities.  

“Highly personable and with an innate ability to engage with young people, she promises to be a highly valued part of The Polar Academy team. As a mixed expedition group, it’s essential we have highly competent, motivated female guides in the core team. Jess (Ainslie) has already highlighted her invaluable role as an experienced guide who in addition to strong technical skills, draws out the best in the participants and nurtures a ‘can do’ spirit in the female participants. 

“In the months ahead, I’m really looking forward to helping Mollie develop some specific skills that are fundamental for our work in the Arctic environment. Her training will be challenging, with a focus on learning to read the ice terrain, navigate in all weather conditions and demonstrate the capability to look after herself and the team in all circumstances.  Like Jess, Mollie is a fantastic role model and I’ve no doubt that in the years ahead Mollie will firmly establish herself as one of very few specialist polar guides.” 

Tiso opens in Aviemore

8 December 2017

Tiso the outdoor adventure retail specialist to open in Aviemore

Tiso Group, Scotland’s leading outdoor adventure retail specialist has today (7 December) confirmed it is to open one of its Outdoor Experience stores in the highland town of Aviemore within the Cairngorms National Park.  

Tiso Aviemore Outdoor Experience, located within the new £10 million Myrtefield Retail Park off Grampian Road, promises to ooze outdoor inspiration when it opens next year.  The store will incorporate the specialist key components of Tiso, Alpine Bikes and Blues the Ski Shop, together with a café and soft play area.
Tiso Group, which currently operates 15 stores across Scotland, has a long history serving Scotland’s outdoor community since the company was founded in 1962.  The business is uniquely placed through its long established knowledge and experience to offer customer service of the highest levels.  Tiso anticipates the store will create in the region of 30 jobs locally.
This latest evolution of its established Outdoor Experience concept will span a ground and mezzanine floor creating approximately 12,000 square feet of retail space. 
The store will showcase an extensive range of brands and products from around the world.  Alongside the well-known names, customers will find exclusive brands and products not available elsewhere.  Walkers, mountaineers, skiers, bikers and watersport enthusiasts will all be catered for.
Experienced and qualified technicians will provide full ski and bike servicing, in addition to bike and boot fitting.
Visitors will have access to an adventure themed soft play area and a wide range of freshly prepared food and drinks in the Explorer Café.    
Chris Tiso, CEO of Tiso Group who grew up skiing and mountaineering in the Cairngorms area, highlighted the significance of the store:
“I am immensely proud to confirm the opening of our exciting new Tiso Aviemore Outdoor Experience store.  Aviemore is Scotland’s adventure capital and is renowned as a destination for people of all ages to access and enjoy the variety offered by the local mountains, forests, lochs and rivers.
“The area already attracts in excess of 1 million visitors annually and with its diverse attractions and the on-going dualling of the A9, we can expect more people coming to explore an area renowned for climbing, winter-sports, cycling and watersports. 
“Opening an Outdoor Experience store in Aviemore is the natural next step for us. I look forward to welcoming customers - new and existing - to our store and for Tiso to complement the choice and knowledge offered by local businesses as part of the wider outdoor community.”  
Commenting on the opening, former Olympic skier and founder of the Alpine Training Centre (ATC), Sean Langmuir, said:
“From the 1960’s my parents were not only great friends of Graham and Maude Tiso but together they were at the heart of climbing and skiing in Scotland and the Cairngorms in particular.  As a local resident and business owner I am delighted to see Tiso opening - their investment in the area only reinforces the view that Aviemore is fast establishing itself as The Outdoor Capital of Scotland.”
The late Graham Tiso and his wife Maude founded Tiso in Edinburgh in 1962.  Fifty-five years later the business is still run from offices in Leith above its Outdoor Experience store on Commercial Street.  Tiso Group employs more than 300 people across Scotland and the Lake District where it owns George Fisher, the iconic outdoor store in Keswick.  JD Sports Fashion Plc invested in Tiso in 2013, however Chris Tiso remains a significant shareholder and the business remains true to its founding principles of commitment to quality of range and service.

21 November 2017

Stunning ‘Johnny Ca$h Cow’ sculpture to go under the hammer for Edinburgh charity

Artwork contains poignant message that reflects It’s Good 2 Give charity’s role supporting young cancer patients and families

A remarkable sculpture of a highland cow that incorporates a legendary song with a touching message is to be auctioned to help an Edinburgh cancer charity continue its groundbreaking work. 
Johnny Ca$h Cow – named because of its musical links to one of the country star’s songs - was created by Ratho-based blacksmith Kev Paxton and his ArtFe team and gifted to young people’s cancer charity It’s Good 2 Give. 
The intricate sculpture, weighing more than 300kg, features 100 treble clefs delicately woven into its shaggy steel coat. 
Inside the cow and clearly visible are the notes from the poignant Johnny Cash song ‘Walk the Line’. Its lyrics 'Because you’re mine, I walk the line' are a touching reference to the unbreakable bond that exists between young cancer patients, their devoted families and the dedicated professionals who care for them. 
The extraordinary work of art is currently on show outside the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa in Edinburgh, in preparation for the charity’s fundraising ball on Saturday, 25 November. 
The glittering event will be hosted by the charity’s Patron, radio and theatre personality Grant Stott. His King’s Theatre pantomime co-stars Allan Stewart and Andy Gray, are also expected to attend.
The event will bring together around 400 guests, many of whom provided vital support and funds to enable construction of the charity’s Ripple Retreat, a stunning haven on the banks of Loch Venachar where cancer patients and their families can enjoy precious time together.
The sculpture creators, ArtFe, is an ambassador for the charity, and has also donated a variety of metalwork features at the Ripple Retreat, including intricate details on gates and bike racks.
Johnny Ca$h Cow, named following a competition on the charity’s Facebook page, has already attracted a bid of £7,500. It’s hoped the sculpture can fetch over £10,000.  Anyone can place a bid by contacting the charity, with the winner announced on the evening.
Also being auctioned on the night is a stunning Ash Beaker designed by noted Scottish silversmith Grant McCaig and handcrafted by expert silversmiths at Hamilton & Inches of Edinburgh. Inspired by the protective qualities of the ash tree in Gaelic folklore, it is one of only two in existence. Its sibling has been donated to the Silvery Treasury in the National Museum of Scotland. 
Charity founder and chair Lynne McNicoll OBE said: “Johnny Ca$h Cow is a stunning work of art with a very touching message that reflects what It’s Good 2 Give tries to do – walk alongside cancer patients and their families, wherever the road leads them. 
“The beautifully designed Ash Beaker has been specially created for us by master craftsmen at Scotland’s leading silversmiths. That its neighbour is kept at Scotland’s national museum shows the quality of the work.
“We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who has offered items to raffle and auction, and those who give in so many other ways.”
Lynne originally decided to raise money for charity to mark her 50th birthday. Within a year she had raised over £54,000, and over the next four years she raised over £650,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
She went on to launch It’s Good 2 Give in 2010. 
She received the Sir William Y Darling Award for Good Citizenship from the City of Edinburgh Council in 2014, and was awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List the following year, in recognition of her services to children's charities in Scotland.
Those interested in bidding for Johnny Ca$h Cow can contact Lynne McNicoll direct on Lynne@itsgood2give.co.uk.  Bids must be received by 5pm on Friday 24 November.
Ewan Ogilvie

13 November 2017

Former Accountant Unlocks Key to Success as Gifted Cabinetmaker

New collaboration with Jeffreys Interiors created

A love of hand-crafting beautiful items from natural wood, working with unusual materials and a desire to own his own business, inspired Ewan Ogilvie to retrain from finance manager to cabinetmaker and launch, Ogilvies of Haddington.
The bespoke design and hand crafting business has now announced a new collaboration with the prestigious interior designers, Jeffreys Interiors, providing woodwork and restoration services to its client base.
The 44-year old former accountant from the town of Haddington spent more than a decade working in finance, holding positions including Principal Finance Manager and the Acting Head of Revenues & Benefits for City of Edinburgh Council between 2008 and 2012.  Ogilvie took his leap of faith to study at the prestigious Chippendale International School of Furniture in East Lothian.  In 2013 he qualified as a cabinetmaker and set up his artisan business.
From his workshop and studio located just 18 miles east of Edinburgh, he initially worked on small furniture commissions, with each piece crafted from locally sourced timber and materials.  Ewan has since gained a growing and glowing reputation for his beautiful craftsmanship in the design and creation of impressive kitchens, wine cellars and larger scale furniture. 
Ewan Ogilvie explained:  “I have always been interested in design and aesthetics, although had limited opportunity to explore these in my previous lines of work.
“I have been working with clients across Scotland since I launched Ogilvies of Haddington but this new collaboration with Jeffreys Interiors is expanding my business into new horizons.  The renowned interior design business has a loyal and diverse range of customers who are open to innovative designs and working with new materials.  It’s already become a very positive and creative working relationship.”
Alison Vance, Design Director at Jeffreys Interiors explained:  “The quality of Ewan Ogilvie’s work is outstanding and meets the demands of Jeffreys’ clientele.  It is wonderful to be able to offer interesting designs, made locally with high quality materials and constructed using efficient workshop techniques and machinery.
“Ewan has a great eye for design and is clearly passionate about the sourcing of his materials.  Our clients are very happy with the commissions he has undertaken to date.”
Ogilvies of Haddington also makes bespoke furniture for private clients and one of his most impressive kitchens (pictured) has been for the Geary family in Fife who spent years renovating a former Manse near Anstruther.  Its previous off-the-shelf kitchen units did not harmonise with the grandeur of the lofty Georgian room so he designed a kitchen with the look of old apothecary and created a sociable family layout.

The father of four (ranging between 8 months and 20 years old) has also immersed himself in the East Lothian community, handcrafting shop fittings for customers, including the newly renovated Humbie Hub, which features a village shop, café and community space.

7 November 2017

Port Edgar Marina boosted by prestigious retail signing -  Shapes Furniture to swap city base for redeveloped waterfront

A major antique, art and furniture dealer is to relocate from its city home to Port Edgar Marina in South Queensferry, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, heralding a major boost to the waterside development’s transformation. 

Shapes Furniture, which attracts buyers from around the world, is preparing to move from its base in Sighthill in Edinburgh, at the end of this year.  It will bring to an end more than 40 years of trading in the capital. 
The business will take up a prime location in the shadow of the famous three bridges across the Firth of Forth. The Port Edgar Marina site will become its base for all its furniture, art and antique viewings and sales.  
The retailer’s arrival marks a key point in the development of Port Edgar Marina into a visitor destination, which will combine its stunning setting and reputation as a major water sports hub, with new attractions for visitors and shoppers.  
News that Shapes Furniture has opted to move to the South Queensferry site follows recent confirmation that award-winning Buzzworks Holdings – which manages nine bar and dining venues across Ayrshire – is to run a new restaurant at the marina. 
Russell Aitken, managing director at Port Edgar Marina, said: “Shapes Furniture is well known for its appreciation of quality, classic style and craftsmanship combined with a deep love for history. That makes it a perfect fit for a location in the shadow of the three stunning Forth crossings, which itself can reflect on centuries of history.
“We are looking forward to an exciting new era at Port Edgar Marina, and are delighted that such a prestigious and well-known business is joining us on our journey.”
Port Edgar is located between the Forth Road Bridge and the new Queensferry Crossing, close to the heart of picturesque South Queensferry. 
Its name is believed to derive from King Edgar Aetheling, who apparently landed there in 1068. His sister, Princess Margaret, married Malcolm III.
A pier was erected at Port Edgar in 1819, and King George IV landed there in 1822 during a visit to the Earl of Hopetoun. The harbour provided a base for the Royal Navy during both World Wars. 
Operators Port Edgar Holdings took over its running from City of Edinburgh Council’s Leisure division in April 2014.  Redevelopment work has already involved refurbishing buildings and demolishing others to create better parking facilities, and dredging work to make the harbour available to larger vessels.
The marina provides berths for around 300 boats and is home to a yacht club, a rowing club, several cruise boat operators and Scotland’s largest water sports centre.
Mr Aitken added: “Down the years Port Edgar has enabled generations of sailors to enjoy fantastic views across the Firth of Forth. We are preparing to share that with a new generation of visitors, in an exciting new development that will see Port Edgar Marina become a new Scottish tourist attraction.”
Shapes Furniture was launched in Edinburgh in 1974 and has evolved into a major force in the UK furniture, antique and auction market.  It has a reputation for holding a particularly interesting stock of high quality and hard to find furniture, reputed to be the largest and best of its kind in the UK. 
As well as selling a wide range of quality furniture, its auction house holds regular high profile sales. One notable highlight was the sale of Jack Vettriano’s “Dance Me to the End of Love”, which sold for £346,000.  
It plans to hold a relocation sale in December, before launching from its new home at Port Edgar Marina in April 2018.
Ali Black of Shapes Furniture said: “Port Edgar Marina is in a beautiful location, overshadowed by the marvels of engineering that are the three Forth bridges. 
“We’re looking forward to moving to such an iconic setting, in a waterside development that will attract visitors from around the world.”
Mark Buchan

6 November 2017

Richard Irvin Energy Solutions mobilise MOD hard FM services

Richard Irvin Energy Solution’s Technical FM team has been awarded a two-year contract with CarillionAmey to provide maintenance and support at the army barracks and military bases in Hampshire, Dorset and Northern Ireland.

The contract, which is worth an estimated £10 million, builds on the company’s successful working relationship with CarillionAmey that dates back to 2014.
Mark Buchan, Richard Irvin Energy Solution’s Business Unit Director Technical FM, said: 
“Richard Irvin Energy Solutions has enjoyed a positive working relationship with CarillionAmey across Scotland, delivering mechanical and electrical maintenance, repair and projects works at the MOD bases in Leuchars and Condor.
“The professionalism of the team and the quality of our work during the past couple of years has resulted in the business expanding its contract agreement to military bases in Hampshire, Dorset and Northern Ireland. 
“In addition to the delivery of the mechanical and electrical works in these areas, we have enhanced our scope of services to include fabric works.  As a result of the contract we will be transferring teams in each area from the outgoing contractors, adding an additional 100 employees to the Richard Irvin headcount during November.”  
Richard Irvin’s Technical FM team works with customers from a wide variety of sectors including local authorities, commercial managing agents, Oil and Gas and Leisure and Retail.  Core services include planned and reactive maintenance, housing servicing, energy management and minor projects.
Established in 1871, Richard Irvin Energy Solutions is one of Scotland’s largest private engineering companies, currently employing 450 staff across its network of bases in Dundee, Edinburgh, Elgin, Glasgow, Inverness and its head office in Aberdeen.
The business turns over £45 million a year, with a large percentage of this now coming from outside its North-East heartland.
Richard Irvin’s M&E installation customers include Balfour Beatty, Morgan Sindall, Kier and Galliford Try, while its Technical FM customers include a number of local authorities, Hilton Hotel & Resorts, BP and Total E&P UK.
For further information on the services Richard Irvin offers to its customers or to view company case studies visit www.richard-irvin.com
Richard Irvin

11 October 2017

Richard Irvin Energy Solutions doubles headcount in Dundee after Scottish Electrical Group liquidation

Richard Irvin Energy Solutions (RIES) has doubled its presence in Dundee by recruiting nearly an eighth of the workers made redundant by the collapse of Scottish Electric Group.

The company, which specialises in mechanical and electrical (M&E) engineering and technical facilities management (TFM), opened its Dundee office in 2014.

 RIES has hired 12 members of staff to take its total headcount in the city to 24.

 The business is already very active in Dundee, Fife and Tayside and provides M&E projects to a number of organisations, including Dundee City Council, Ninewells Hospital, the University of Dundee and the University of St Andrews.

 Its current projects include the refurbishment of the Perth crematorium with Morrison Construction, which is expected to complete in December, and the firm is also active within Perth & Kinross Council’s framework with Hadden Construction.

 Kevin Shinnie, head of RIES’s M&E division, said: “This is not only a boost for our company but also for the wider business community in Dundee.

 “We were disappointed to hear that Scottish Electric Group had fallen into liquidation and so we are delighted that we can help many of those workers affected by the collapse of their former employer.

 “Being able to strengthen our business and the services that we supply to our at the same time as supporting the local economic is great.”

 Shinnie added: “This is a very exciting time for Dundee – the construction of the Victoria & Albert Museum will act as a catalyst to stimulate the local economy, not just on the waterfront but in the wider city.

 “Hiring these talented members of staff will help us to meet demand for our existing customers and make sure we’ve got the right mix of skills for the years ahead.”

 RIES employs 450 staff across its network of bases in Dundee, Edinburgh, Elgin, Glasgow, Inverness and its head office in Aberdeen.

 The business turns over £45 million a year, with 35 per cent of its business now coming from outside its North-East heartland.

 Its M&E installation customers include Balfour Beatty, Morgan Sindall, Kier and Galliford Try, while its TFM clients consist of big names such as Carillion Amey, BP, Total E&P and Hilton.

Will Scarlett

10 October 2017

Scarlett makes his consultancy debut with the launch of two high-profile office developments

Will Scarlett, the former director of land, development and residential investment at Edinburgh-based estate agency Rettie & Co, has launched his own consultancy with two significant office developments.

Scarlett’s eponymous firm will consult on land and development deals, and in part, will continue to work with Rettie & Co on a number of existing development sites and land along the East Coast of Scotland.

Scarlett is kicking-off his solo career by selling Forth House and Playfair House, jointly with Rettie & Co, a pair of connected office buildings in Edinburgh city centre, on behalf of a London-based property fund.

Forth House, currently occupied by Forth Radio, is a category B listed townhouse located on Forth Street, while Playfair House is a modern office development on Broughton Street Lane and is currently occupied by Curo Compensation, the Humanist Society, Social Investment Scotland and Wallace Whittle.

Headon Developments is currently building 11 terraced mews houses on the lane, filling a gap site left behind by a former warehouse that was previously used as a car park.  Scarlett previously sold this site for the same fund while working at Rettie & Co. 

The new company is also jointly marketing a number of land deals including the former Forth Bridges Hotel site in South Queensferry, consented for up to 125 residential houses, the Touchill Farm development at Plean, which has planning consent for 167 units, and the Broich Road site in Crieff, which has consent for more than 300 units. 

Another prime site for sale is Beechmount, a mansion house in Edinburgh’s Corstorphine area set in eight acres with planning permission for a hotel.

Will Scarlett, director of Scarlett Land and Development, said: “After more than 15 years running the land and development team at Rettie & Co, I’m thrilled to be starting my own company.  I’m looking forward to working with landowners, property companies and funds to manage the sale and purchase of sites and developments.

“Forth House and Playfair House in Edinburgh are prime examples of the work that the new firm will undertake.

“Not only do they offer excellent income in their current guise as offices but they also present a rare opportunity to be developed into residential, serviced apartments, hotel or student accommodation, all of which will become even more attractive once the nearby Edinburgh St James development is completed in 2020.”

During his 15 years with Rettie & Co, Scarlett has worked on a number of high-profile projects in Edinburgh, including: the acquisition of the Q1 building at Quartermile development on the site of the former Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh; the Summerhall development on the former Royal Dick Vet site; and the Edinburgh St James regeneration project.

His expertise extends beyond Scotland’s capital, with his other work having included the former Yorkhill hospital in Glasgow, the Perth City West development and the former Forth Bridges Hotel in South Queensferry.

Annie Hulme, who has worked alongside Will for more than 10 years, will join Scarlett Land and Development in mid-October.

Simon Rettie FRICS Managing Director at Rettie & Co, added: “Will has been instrumental in building our land and development department as part of the wider land and consultancy team over the past 15 years and so I’m delighted that we will continue to work together as he launches his new venture.

“Our two businesses will continue to work together on the sale of both land and developments across Scotland and the North East of England.”

Prior to joining Rettie & Co in 2002, Scarlett worked as a developer at Kilmartin Property Group.  His career has also included eight years with Clarkson as a shipbroker.  After an initial five years in London, Scarlett moved to Singapore to run a client account based in Jakarta, before spending three years working throughout the South-East Asian market.

He holds a history degree from the University of Bristol and a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from the University of Strathclyde’s Strathclyde Business School.


3 October 2017

New Owners Lay Out Plans for the Glenallachie after Toasting Completion of Distillery Deal

Billy Walker-led team unveil vision to launch single malt and create premium blends

The new owners of The GlenAllachie Distillery, near Aberlour, have unveiled their ambitious expansion plans for the business after completing the acquisition of the Speyside site from Pernod Ricard in a multi million pound deal.

Billy Walker, Graham Stevenson and Trisha Savage, who came together as The GlenAllachie Distillers Company Ltd to make the purchase, plan to launch a range of premium quality yet affordable whiskies in domestic and export markets.

Key targets include emerging markets as well as more established markets such as France, Germany and the United States.

The GlenAllachie Distillers Company will work with distributors that share its focus on quality drinks brands.  Plans include releasing a range of aged whiskies from a 10 year old to 25 year old.

In future, a range of single cask bottlings and special edition whiskies will be developed.

Experienced team 

Across the senior team the three directors of The GlenAllachie Distillers Company have almost 100 years’ experience in the Scotch whisky industry.

The consortium has also bought MacNair’s and White Heather, a pair of blended Scotch whisky brands, which it plans to rejuvenate with a various range of ages.

Majority shareholder Billy Walker served with Ballantine’s, Inver House and Burn Stewart before forming the BenRiach Distillery Company in 2003. 

The company was ultimately sold to American drinks giant and Jack Daniel’s owner Brown-Forman last year, earning Walker the accolade of “Entrepreneur of the Year” at the 2016 Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards.

Exciting opportunities ahead

Walker said:  “There are so many exciting opportunities in the whisky industry and the outlook for Scotch in emerging markets has never looked brighter.

“We want to create a boutique Scotch whisky company that is truly independent, Scottish-owned and managed. The team have all been in corporate roles previously and this is our opportunity to step away from that. At this stage in our careers we simply want to create a company that is fun to work with and passionate about making great whisky.

“The GlenAllachie Distillery has been in good hands and I’m delighted to have the opportunity to become the custodian and continue the development as a single malt.

“At fifty years old, it may be one of the younger distilleries on Speyside but the range of casks we have warehoused is tremendous, with whisky dating back to the 1970’s. Our aim is to nurture this liquid, develop the single malt and a range of blends that will be admired both home and abroad.”

Trisha Savage worked with Walker at both Burn Stewart and BenRiach, while Graham Stevenson is a former managing director at Inver House Distillers.

The GlenAllachie Distillery was designed by William Delmé-Evans – the architect behind Jura, Macduff and Tullibardine – and was built in 1967 by Mackinlay McPherson, the distilling arm of brewers Scottish & Newcastle.  It sits within a 20 acre estate and uses water sourced from Hangman’s Craig and Black Banks on the slopes of Ben Rinnes. It has four stills but unusually it also has two separate spirit safes, one for each set of stills.   Further information on the distillery and company can be found at www.theglenallachie.com

Facebook - @TheGlenAllachie
Twitter - @TheGlenAllachie
Instagram - @theglenallachie_
John Phair, Pyreos

26 September 2017

Sensor Leaders Pyreos Win Major Innovation Grant

Edinburgh-based Pyreos has been awarded a grant of almost £1m to help drive forward the next generation of its world class thin-film pyroelectric infrared sensors.

Edinburgh-based Pyreos has been awarded a grant of almost £1m to help drive forward the next generation of its world class thin-film pyroelectric infrared sensors.

The company, spun out from German industrial firm Siemens in 2007, has received the £950,000 award from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. It paves the way for a joint project with world leading nanotechnology innovators at Imperial College in London, aimed at further enhancing the capabilities of ultra-sensitive PZT materials used in the production of pyroelectric thin films. 

The award cements Pyreos’ role as global leaders, and confirms UK recognition of the importance of PZT materials.

Pyreos, which is based at the Scottish Microelectronics Centre at the University of Edinburgh’s Kings Buildings campus, is the world’s only supplier of thin-film pyroelectric sensors.  They are used in a wide variety of industrial and consumer products ranging from devices that detect flames or analyse gases through to spectrometers which analyse foodstuffs, engine oils and blood, through to switches and other electronics that detect gestures and presence.

The new project combines Imperial College’s expertise in thin film deposition control, characterisation and analysis, with Pyreos’ skill in sensor development.  A third partner, an Oxford-based SME, which specialises in the manufacture of highly customisable advanced modular sputtering (PVD) equipment, is also involved. 

The aim is to advance the general understanding and technology surrounding thin film pyroelectric oxides, piezoelectric and ferroelectric oxides, with a view to further enhancing product uniformity, repeatability and stability.

It also aims to develop new process control and monitoring capabilities, which it’s expected will pave the way for establishing the next volume manufacturing level. 

The award comes after Pyreos secured £1.8m of funding last year from new and existing shareholders to help expand the business. That followed a £2.5m funding package from investors in 2015.

As well as raising the potential for further jobs, the Innovate UK grant highlights the high regard for Scottish technology in a ground-breaking sector, and Pyreos’ role in commercialising ultra-sensitive PZT materials across a range of uses.

Dr John Phair, Chief Technical Officer of Pyreos, said: “The purpose of the project is to advance state-of-the-art techniques of depositing thin film pyroelectric oxides and piezoelectric and ferroelectric oxides generally, in order to obtain thin films with enhanced performance characteristics, substantially improved uniformity, repeatability and stability for volume manufacturing compared to what is available today.

“This project is vital for maintaining a strong Scotland and UK presence in the growing area of MEMS sensors for a high tech based economy.” 
Innovate UK
Innovate UK is sponsored by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. It works with people, companies and partner organisations to find and drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy.

Imperial College London
Imperial College London is world-renowned for its nanoscience and nanotechnology research. The Thin Film Technology Lab provides facilities for nano-scale thin film deposition, device patterning and electrical characterisation.

About Pyreos

Pyreos is the world’s only supplier of thin-film pyroelectric sensors.  The company develops and makes these infra-red sensors for use in a wide variety of industrial and consumer products ranging from devices that detect flames or analyse gases through to spectrometers which analyse foodstuffs, engine oils and blood, through to switches and other electronics that detect gestures and presence. The company was spun out from German multinational Siemens in 2007 following €10m (£7.5m) of research and development work in Germany and is based at the Scottish Microelectronics Centre in Edinburgh. The company owns an Intellectual Property portfolio of 173 patents.

Investors include Siemens Technology Accelerator (STA), Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH (RBVC), Scottish Investment Bank (the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise), Seraphim Capital and London Business Angels.

Caroline O’Brien

22 August 2017

Pyreos appoints industry veteran Caroline O’Brien as its vice president of sales and marketing

Pyreos, the world’s only supplier of thin-film pyroelectric sensors, has appointed technology industry veteran Caroline O’Brien to the newly-created position of vice president of sales and marketing.

Caroline has spent 25 years in the semiconductor and wider technology market, amassing experience across the business spectrum from start-up companies to blue-chip corporations across the UK, the United States and Asia.
Her career has included commercial and executive roles at semiconductor companies including NEC Electronics, Oxford Semiconductor and PLX Technology, now Avago.
Caroline joins Pyreos from Bedford-based audio components developer Tectonic Elements, where she was managing director.
Andrew Wallace, chief executive at Pyreos, said: “Caroline is an excellent addition to the Pyreos team and we’re delighted that she’s come to work with us as we continue to build the company.
“Her semiconductor and components experience across both start-ups and blue-chips adds an extra dimension to our sales and marketing.  Pyreos exported more that 80% of sales in FY16, mainly to Asia, Germany and the USA.  Caroline’s previous work in America and Asia will be key to continuing our export growth. 
“Given the quality of mid-IR sensors Pyreos design and manufacture, we are selling our products to a diverse range of market segments in a number of international territories.  This is why it is important to have talented sales and marketing staff like Caroline supporting the ground-breaking technical work that Pyreos undertakes from Scotland.”
Caroline added: “Pyreos has been on my radar for some time now, so I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to join the team.
“The company has been turning heads throughout the technology sector with its thin-film pyroelectric sensors and I’m excited that I’m going to be engaging customers with these components.
“Pyreos is already operating in a host of countries, including India, China, Japan and Korea, and I’m looking forward to expanding our international footprint.
“The sheer variety of applications for Pyreos’ sensors – from detecting flames and gases through to movement sensors for wearable technology – means that I’ll be able to work with a broad range of partners across a whole host of sectors.”
Caroline completed her bachelor of engineering degree in electrical and electronic engineering at Swansea University and gained a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Bath.
Her appointment is the latest in a series of hires for Pyreos as the senior team at the company adds skills and resources to fuel further expansion.
Bob & Bert's

22 August 2017

Scottish expansion for Bob & Berts coffee shops after £2m BGF investment

Coffee shop chain Bob & Berts is poised to open its first outlet in Scotland after serving up an ambitious expansion plan with £2 million of backing from BGF.

Industry expert Mohan Mansigani – a former chief finance officer at Costa Coffee and Casual Dining Group will join the board as non-executive chairman.
Bob & Berts was founded by Colin McClean, his father Arnold and brother-in-law David Ferguson in Portstewart.  The team recognised the market opportunity to create a differentiated offering, with a focus on satisfying demand for quality coffee and fresh food.  With its distinctive relaxed style and wide food offering, Bob & Berts appeals to a growing wide customer base.
The company already has a chain of 16 eateries in its native Northern Ireland and plans to open a further 30 stores over the next four years, creating up to 600 full- and part-time jobs in the process.

Twenty of the new outlets are planned for Scotland, accounting for some 400 jobs, with the first stores expected to open in the Central Belt of Scotland in the coming months.
The company’s strategy involves targeting market towns with strong local communities across Scotland, replicating Bob & Berts success to date.
Colin McClean, co-owner of Bob & Berts, said: “The business is growing quickly and we are looking forward to taking the next step. We have successfully opened ten stores in the past two years and are looking to open a further 30 stores over the next four years. 
“Working with BGF will enable us to accelerate our growth plans and we are now actively looking at sites in Northern Ireland, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. Fundamental to our growth plans will be maintaining the culture and the ethos that has made Bob & Berts a hit with our customers.”   
David Ferguson, co-owner of Bob & Berts, added: “When we set up Bob & Berts, we wanted to offer something different to large multi-national coffee chains. Our branding, food selection and interior design sets us apart from our competition and we believe we have created an environment that encourages people to relax. All of our new cafes will be created with this culture in mind.”
New chair Mansigani served as chief finance officer at Casual Dining Group – the company behind brands including Belgo, Bella Italia and Café Rouge – from 2002 until 2014, having previously worked as finance director at Costa Coffee and TGI Fridays and in senior finance roles at Grand Metropolitan and Pizza Hut.
Gemma Hamilton, an investor at BGF, will also join the board of Bob & Berts.
Patrick Graham, Head of BGF’s Central Scotland and Northern Ireland team, said: “We are excited to begin working with Colin and David who, in a short period, have successfully developed a strong brand with significant growth potential. 
“This investment, along with the introduction of Mohan, who brings a wealth of experience to the company, will help unlock their desire and drive to expand significantly in the coming years and we look forward to partnering with the business for this journey.”
BGF’s other investments in the leisure and hospitality sectors include Bar Soba, Mexican restaurant group Barburrito, and Thai chain Giggling Squid.
An established and independent company, BGF has £2.5bn to support a range of growing companies – early stage, growth stage and quoted – across every region and sector of the economy.
In return for an initial investment of typically between £2m and £10m, BGF takes a minority equity stake in the business.
The company can also provide follow-on investment and access to its Talent Network of business leaders who can give advice to its portfolio of companies.
Advisors to the transaction include:
  • Company Advisors: Deloitte 
  • Company Lawyers: Shoosmiths
  • BGF Lawyers: Tughans
  • BGF Tax Diligence: RSM 
About BGF
BGF is the most active and influential investor in small and mid-sized businesses in the UK and Ireland. An established and independent company, it has £2.5bn to support a range of growing companies – early stage, growth stage and quoted – across every region and sector of the economy.
BGF makes long-term equity capital investments in return for a minority stake in the companies in backs. Initial investments are typically between £2-£10m and BGF can provide significant follow-on funding. BGF is a minority, non-controlling equity partner with a patient outlook, based on shared long-term goals with the management teams it backs. With a 150+ strong team, BGF offers an unparalleled international network of business leaders, sector experts, board-level non-executives and provides in-house support with Chair and senior executive selection and appointments.
BGF offers flexible investment structures with a mix of equity and unsecured debt. BGF can provide equity release for existing shareholders, and funding to support acquisitive and organic growth strategies.

21 August 2017

Funding Boost is Game Changer for Life Changing Charity

The Polar Academy, a Bo’ness based charity with the aim of inspiring and positively changing young peoples’ lives through exploration, has today (Monday 21 August) announced it is the recipient of a significant award from The Weir Charitable Trust discretionary award fund.

Craig Mathieson, who since establishing The Polar Academy in 2014 has worked tirelessly to transform the lives of young people crushed by a lack of self-confidence and self esteem, described the substantial £60,000 sum as a “hugely generous donation and a game changer for The Polar Academy that through exploration is fully committed to positively changing young lives in Scotland.”  
In just four years The Polar Academy has already engaged more than 50,000 pupils across the country. However, despite the positive feedback from participants and their families involved with the charity, The Polar Academy has remained wholly dependent on private donations and the help of founding supporters, including Chris Tiso, CEO of Tiso Group, in order to raise the £170,000 annually required to operate. 
Mathieson, Scotland’s greatest living polar explorer and one of only 12 polar explorers in the world to have skied to both the south and north poles, has no doubt the donation by The Weir Charitable Trust marks a further and significant step-change for The Polar Academy. 
The 48 year-old commented:  “I’m personally overwhelmed by the hugely generous financial support offered by The Weir Charitable Trust. Its support will directly impact on our commitment to use exploration to transform the physical and mental wellbeing of young people who feel invisible at school and plagued by feelings of anxiety and self-doubt.  
“Specifically, this donation will make a huge difference to our 2017/2018 expedition training programme that’s focused on helping some of the pupils at Lochgelly High School in Fife.”
Annually for the past three years, ten teenage boys and girls from Scottish schools have been selected by The Polar Academy to undertake a rigorous and life-changing eight-month training programme.  
With the active support of their school and family, for each participant the journey to transform their life culminates in a challenging, self-guided 100km, 10-day expedition in Eastern Greenland. It’s relentless and tough but individual confidence soars as each young person successfully hauls his or her own 45kg sledge, camps and navigates through some of the world’s remotest terrain. All return home as ordinary pupils who have achieved the extraordinary. Exuding fitness and a can do attitude, the youths subsequently recount their experiences to peer groups in schools across Scotland; inspiring others to also change their life for the better.” 
Lorraine Tait, manager of The Weir Charitable Trust, explained why the trust decided to support The Polar Academy. “Since creating The Polar Academy, Craig Mathieson has demonstrated a passionate and relentless commitment to help positively transform the mental and physical wellbeing of young people in Scotland. 
“Significantly, feedback from parents and participants involved with The Polar Academy highlights how its methods undoubtedly help a young person regain self-confidence and esteem.  Previous participants clearly gain the physical and mental strength to lead positive and fulfilled lives and to serve as role models in their community.  
“The Weir Charitable Trust hopes that this £60,000 award towards training and running costs will ensure that The Polar Academy can continue to build on its impressive work to boost the mental and physical health of Scotland’s young people.” 
Nick Gibbons

31 July 2017

Drone-jacking: The perils and possibilities

DRONE technology offers many benefits – from the potential for speedy Amazon deliveries from the sky, to saving lives, as witnessed recently when the Lochaber mountain rescue team used a drone to help find an injured climber.

But on the flip side, there are risks associated with this aerial technology – for example drone jacking or hacking. 

Typically, when the conversation moves to the subject of drone-jacking, people immediately envisage a Hollywood-style breach of national security - probably in or around the White House - before Will Smith leaps in to save the day.

However, attacks on this technology represent very real risks for the growing number of businesses using drones for more ‘everyday' purposes, such as engineers surveying buildings and infrastructure, ecommerce giants sending deliveries by drone, or companies gathering surveillance for insurance claims.

As a law firm, we are currently seeing increasing interest and investment in drone technology for a range of purposes. Earlier this year, Amazon announced an expansion to its research and development team in Cambridge.

This will see 400 technology specialists get to work on fine-tuning the technology behind delivery drones. Despite claims that such deliveries are ‘pipe dreams', there is a growing market for commercial drone technology, and with this comes a growing risk of drone-jacking.

Last November, a report from security software company McAfee predicted that cybercriminals will soon turn their attention to targeting drones, particularly those used for law enforcement, filming and deliveries.

Drones without adequate security in place will be vulnerable to hacks, as well as physical attacks. The McAfee report speculates that 2017 will see an increase in availability, via the dark web, of pre-packaged software and toolkits for hacking drones.

In these cases, hacking of the drone itself or its supporting software may result in either physical misuse or data breaches. Hacking for the physical diversion of a drone carries the potential for personal injury or property damage, or actual theft of the drone or indeed the item it was carrying.

Theft of data is another real risk, particularly if the drone contains personal or sensitive information, whether customer data included for delivery purposes or even footage collected via an attached camera.

The loss of data via drone-jacking leaves businesses and authorities with many privacy concerns - especially with the EU's General Data Protection Regulation coming in to force in May 2018.

In recent years, there have been a raft of data breaches resulting in an invasion of privacy for customers of companies, including TalkTalk and Camelot, and breaches of the GDPR could entail fines of up to four per cent of a company's global turnover.

These attacks are becoming ever-more sophisticated and wide-reaching; recently, we saw the extensive damage that hackers can unleash with the WannaCry cyber attack bringing organisations across the globe to a standstill.

If cyber attacks start targeting drones, drone-jacking could leave businesses and their customers equally exposed with regards to personal and commercial data, and the prospect of big fines levied by the Information Commissioner's Office.

Although the use of drones is already, to an extent, covered by a range of laws and regulations, including the Data Protection Act, greater focus and more specific and targeted legislation is necessary, as are effective insurance products for organisations that use drones. This is especially important with the European Commission predicting full integration of drones into European airspace by 2028.

The UK Government is clearly live to the emerging risks of drone technology. Following a recent consultation exercise, a registration system is to be launched for drones weighing 250g or more. The UK Government is now considering the best legislative option for introducing the new rules. 

Currently, a combination of existing insurance policies are required to cover the risks associated with drone technology. As the risk of electronic theft of sensitive data rises, the market for these specialised policies grows.

In the case of drone-jacking, it would be wise for a business to consider cyber risk policies that are available for first and third parties. These policies can provide protection against business interruption, reputational risks, loss or theft of third party corporate data notification expenses and the payment of compensation to individuals affected by security or privacy breaches. Care should be taken, however, when selecting a particular cyber policy, including detailed discussions with a specialized broker, to ensure that that policy does in fact cover the businesses individual cyber exposures when using drones.

So while drones may have life-saving potential for Scotland’s mountain rescue teams and a business may find investing in drone technology an attractive proposition, an outbreak of drone-jacking could be incredibly costly. It is critical that companies consider the security breaches drone-jacking could leave them open to, and invest in the appropriate protection, for when Will Smith is not available.

Nick Gibbons is a cyber security expert and partner at law firm BLM.

23 July 2017

Charity to Benefit from First Release of Polar Explorer Single Malt

Limited edition Islay whisky containing Arctic iceberg water  will appeal to collectors with nose for adventure 

The launch today (Sunday 23 July) of a limited edition 12 year-old Port Charlotte single malt Islay whisky that includes drops of pure blue, millennia-old iceberg water from the Sermilik Fjord in Eastern Greenland, is certain to appeal to the international whisky collector with a nose for unique expressions and adventure. 
From this Friday (28 July), bids with an expected starting price of £100 can be placed through Whisky Auctioneer for one of ten individually numbered bottles of the Polar Explorer single malt whisky. All monies raised from the auction of each bottle will directly benefit the work of The Polar Academy - a Scottish charity. 
Following the auction, donations can also be made directly to the charity for one of an additional 190 bottles of the limited edition single malt whisky. 
Craig Mathieson, Scotland’s greatest living polar explorer and one of only 12 polar explorers in the world to have skied to both the south and north poles, founded the charity in 2014. Its life-changing work helps young people afflicted by low self-esteem to unlock their potential and redefine their physical and mental limits through expeditions to the Arctic. The charity has already engaged more than 50,000 young people across Scotland. 
Mathieson’s remarkable journeys have also inspired the Polar Explorer.  It is the first single malt whisky from Scotland to reduce its natural cask strength to 50% ABV by incorporating water from Scotland and melted pure blue iceberg water from Greenland.
In the summer of 2016, while exploring by sea-kayak, Mathieson carefully collected samples of iceberg calved from the ancient glaciers and now adrift in the stunning and remote Sermilik Fjord.  Meaning ‘place of glaciers’ in Greenlandic, its serene waters form one of the largest fjords on the south-eastern coast of Greenland. 
The internationally acclaimed whisky expert Charles MacLean described the Polar Explorer as ‘a cracking dram’ and went on to explain:  “It is a very interesting whisky with real depth and a very good texture.  It’s an exceptionally good Port Charlotte with a base note of smoked honey glazed ham and salty seaweed.  It was a real honour to meet Craig and learn more about his Polar exploration.  I have scored the Polar Explorer an impressive 8.1 out of 10.”
The journey to produce every precious drop of the Polar Explorer single malt whisky began when a single sherry cask of matured Port Charlotte single malt whisky was generously gifted to Craig Mathieson by Steve Thom, a director of Edinburgh-based Cornhill Building Services Ltd.  A heavily peated single malt whisky with a long finish, Port Charlotte is an expression expertly crafted by the renowned Bruichladdich Distillery on the Inner Hebridean Isle of Islay.   
From the single privately owned cask of Port Charlotte, a limited number of bottles subsequently received the addition of pure iceberg water.  A very small amount of ice was carefully hand harvested in the same way the local Inuit population has collected ice for water for centuries.
Mathieson, who is also the first Explorer in Residence of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in 129 years, has signed each individually numbered bottle of Polar Explorer.  Designed by Wolffe in Edinburgh, Polar Explorer is presented in a wooden box and wrapped in an eye-catching sketch map of Arctic Greenland.  The necktie and beautifully illustrated label tell the story of the explorer’s bonds to both the wild waters and landscapes of the Isle of Islay and Arctic Greenland. 
Commenting on the launch of the Polar Explorer, Craig Mathieson said: “Supported by Trustees of The Polar Academy and private donors, today I am immensely proud to announce the first release of individually numbered and signed bottles of the Polar Explorer limited edition single malt whisky.
“The Polar Explorer is truly unique, a bottle that reflects both its spiritual home in the Isle of Islay and bond with the wild Arctic landscape.  Both are close to my heart. To support the work of The Polar Academy, I invite purveyors of this fine single malt Scotch whisky to bid at auction, or subsequently make a donation to the charity for a bottle of the whisky and share my taste for a fine malt and adventure. Slainte!”  
Polar Explorer – Tasting Notes
Courtesy of Blair Bowman, whisky consultant and author (www.blairbowman.com)

Colour: Bright copper

Nose: Salted caramel with macaroons and pear drops at first, followed by soot and sea salt. More green fruit notes, crisp granny smith apples and very tart gooseberries.  Balanced with sweet and soft smoke. 

Palate: A chewy and juicy mouth feel gives more delicious apples and pear notes, combined with burnt marshmallow and smouldering charcoal BBQ smoke. Followed by more sea spray, waxy ropes and oily soot. 

Finish: A wonderfully long finish that perfectly balances elements of sweet and smoke. 

Overall: A fantastic dram with plenty of fruitiness and smoke, though not too much smoke, to appeal to a wide variety of tastes. A cracking dram to sip and savour with friends after a meal (or after an arduous expedition!) letting the combination of sweet and smoke dance on your tongue.
About Craig Mathieson
After a career in the military, Mathieson went on to lead the first dedicated Scottish expedition to the South Pole in 2004, The Scot100 Expedition.  The route took him from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole. In temperatures below minus 55°C, he hauled a 180lb sledge for 56 days over a total distance of 730 miles.  
He has since completed many expeditions, including skiing to the North Pole. Yet he gains the most satisfaction from training and inspiring the young adults he annually selects to join him on Arctic expedition in Greenland.  It’s a life-changing journey for the participants, redefining their physical and mental limits. In the Arctic wilderness, self-confidence soars with every step. 
The label of the Polar Explorer limited edition single malt whisky reads
‘Craig Mathieson’s senses are enlivened when paddling amidst Greenland’s icebergs and circumnavigating Islay’s challenging waters. Islands close to his heart, it’s fitting that every precious bottle from the Polar Explorer’s malt cask is informed by pure drops of iceberg and the sea air of the malt’s spiritual home. Slainte!

19 July 2017

Catering firm Entier’s overseas expansion is oven-ready thanks to £6.5m BGF investment

Entier, Scotland’s largest independent privately-owned catering company, is preparing to grab a bigger slice of international markets after BGF (Business Growth Fund) served up a £6.5m investment.

The Westhill-based company in the north east of Scotland plans to expand its overseas operations, building on its existing work at 38 remote locations in 23 countries.  The business already has a presence in Australia, Canada, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States, and last year picked up a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for International Trade.
Revenues grew by 13 per cent in the year to 30 September 2016 to £44.9m despite the industry downturn in the prices of oil and gas, with pre-tax profits rising by 72 per cent to £1.5m.
More than 4,500 people on oil and gas rigs and other remote installations around the world are served meals each day by Entier’s 760 staff, along with receiving hotel services such as cleaning, laundry, recreational & welfare services and with an emphasis on wellbeing and healthy eating.  Major clients in the offshore sector include Apache, Awilco Drilling, EnQuest, Rowan Drilling and Technip.
Chief executive Peter Bruce founded Entier in 2008 after running similar services for catering giant Compass, with Aberdeen businessman Mike Reilly, former proprietor of the Olive Tree Restaurant in Aberdeen’s west end.
Bruce said: “I’ve said in the past that I want to grow Entier into a £100m company and, with the backing of BGF, I believe we could do far better than that.
“While the price of oil and gas remains low, offshore operators are keeping a keen eye on cost, which presents opportunities for companies like Entier because we are big enough to deliver large contracts, but small enough to work with clients to offer bespoke services on their offshore installations.
“An army marches on its stomach, and we focus on delivering high quality, healthy and nutritious food to offshore workers, to play our part in improving productivity and reducing costs.”
Back onshore, Entier has developed the Fresh chain of cafés situated across Aberdeen as well as providing catering and hospitality services in 20 client offices including Stork, Helix and Archer.

The company also recently acquired Wilde Thyme, the Perthshire-based catering firm, which runs the restaurants at Glamis Castle in Angus and the Glenturret Distillery in Perthshire, home to the Famous Grouse whisky brand.
In addition to its permanent premises, Wilde Thyme is the caterer of choice at various venues including the new Barn @ Bara Castle in Aberdeenshire & Carlowrie, Cluny and Drumlanrig castles. Wilde Thyme are the only hospitality company that can cover all of the National Trust Sites in Scotland.
Mike Sibson, head of BGF’s Aberdeen office, said: “We are most impressed by the way in which Peter Bruce and his team have differentiated themselves from their rivals.  They provide a bespoke service and build strong relationships with their clients, and the customer feedback is outstanding.
“We are delighted to be backing one of Aberdeen’s success stories, and to have the opportunity to support Peter and the team in their continued growth.”
Simmons & Company International represented the shareholders of Entier.  Nick Dalgarno, managing director of Simmons & Company, said: “Despite the backdrop of challenging market conditions, Entier has continued to demonstrate strong growth and increase their market share.  At what is an exciting time in the company’s strategic development, this transaction represents an excellent deal for BGF and the Entier shareholders, setting the company up for significant future growth”      
About BGF: BGF (Business Growth Fund) is the UK’s most active provider of growth capital to small and mid-sized businesses. The companies it backs are privately-owned or listed on AIM, and typically have revenues of between £5m and £100m. BGF makes initial investments of between £2m-£10m and can provide additional funding to support further growth. The investment provided is typically in the form of equity in return for a minority equity stake.

26 June 2017

Chance for Corporate Scotland to Engage in Mindfulness for Personal, Business & CSR Success

The official business launch event today (26 June 2017) of The Mindful Enterprise aims to encourage corporate leaders and executives to reflect as much on the strength of their own mind as spread-sheets and sales pitches in order to positively transform individual and team business performance; and life beyond the office. 

The Mindful Enterprise C.I.C is the brainchild of owner Gary Young and chairman Alister Gray of the executive coaching business, Mindful Talent.

Young (41) is an Edinburgh-based father of one and passionate about the transformative effects of mindfulness and meditation.  He has 23 years previous experience working in financial services, including 12 years involved in strategic business change in the Scottish banking sector. 

Sceptics may question the validity of introducing a new intervention into an already pressurised, busy work environment. However, a wealth of research, including by the Institute of Employment Studies (IES) documents organisations as diverse as Google, Transport for London, the US military and BlueBay Asset Management have recorded positive outcomes as a result of employee participation in mindfulness. 

Transport for London observed a 71 per cent reduction in absence rates due to employee stress and anxiety while participant feedback in private sector businesses highlighted greater focus in meetings and ability to prioritise.

Young is now encouraging members of Scotland’s corporate sector to explore the business and personal benefits of adopting a ‘mindful’ approach in the office and everyday life.  

He already works on mindfulness with business teams at KPMG and recycling business Changeworks and the social enterprise now wants to use its taster sessions, workshops and courses to engage other corporate businesses. The sector has already positively responded to an opportunity to attend a free mindfulness in the workplace event on Wednesday 28 June in Edinburgh. All tickets are now allocated for the evening at The Dome at which the guest speaker will be Martin Stepek, a mindfulness expert and author.

As Young explained: “The Mindful Enterprise is a mindfulness and meditation training provider that delivers tailored, innovative programmes in both the public and private sector. My motivation is to help people at work, in education and home to thrive and to live their best life. 

“In the fast-paced, often stressful world of business, the simple power of mindfulness, focusing on the present, is often overlooked. Yet mindfulness has been shown to open the door for people to adopt more positive actions that will benefit the individual, their work, education and family.” 

Reflecting a vision to ensure mindfulness becomes part of the core school curriculum in the years ahead, 20% of the company profits will go towards part-funding mindfulness courses in Scottish schools and to provide free training to disadvantaged young people and adults in impoverished communities in Scotland. 

Since 2015, Young has been further developing his business model and building an executive team. He has undertaken pilot programmes on mindfulness with S5/S6 groups at Larbert High in Stenhousemuir and Drummond Community High School in Edinburgh. Since May, the social enterprise has also delivered a 7-week mindfulness course to (P5) pupils in Abbeyhill Primary School in Scotland’s capital. 
Young added: “Part of our business model is trying to team up corporate
businesses with schools, to help part fund the mindfulness courses to pupils.  With benefits to both the school and the business, this also presents a relatively low cost CSR opportunity for corporates.” 

Young has no doubt that his own life has been greatly influenced by the power of mindfulness.  He grew up with a close family member who suffered from mental health problems and who spent many months being treated in the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. Consequently, during their adolescent years Young and his sister suppressed a lot of their own emotions.

It was only in his early 30’s, after throwing himself into a successful career and busy social life that Young began to recognise a need to re-evaluate his life and heal some ‘old wounds.’ He turned to meditation, a technique which had an immediate and transformative impact, led to new ways of behaving and thinking and igniting his passion to help others.

He hopes his engagement with the corporate sector will lead to greater implementation of mindfulness in schools and communities. Said Young: “I want to see mindfulness recognised as a fundamental part of Scottish and global workplace culture, promoting improved health, wellbeing and optimal performance.” 

About Gary Young and The Mindful Enterprise   
  • Gary Young has 23 years in financial services, including 12 in strategic business change in the banking sector. 
  • Initially formed in 2015, over the past two years the social enterprise has steadily evolved, undertaking pilot programmes with a number of schools and providing mindfulness sessions to corporate businesses. 

19 June 2017

Fife Youths Selected for Life-Changing Arctic Expedition

Ten pupils from Lochgelly High School in central Fife are preparing for a life-changing expedition to Arctic Greenland next March after being selected for the expedition team by the Bo’ness based charity, The Polar Academy.

The seven girls and three boys (all between 14-16 years of age) now face 8 months of 
tough training with The Polar Academy to ensure all are physically and mentally equipped for the 10-day, 100km expedition in Eastern Greenland. In the Arctic, each youth will haul his or her own 45kg sledge, navigate, camp on the sea-ice and undertake scientific experiments in support of the Scottish school curriculum. 

An additional nine youths from the school have been selected for the leadership team (names below). They will benefit from much of the same life-enhancing training as the expedition team.

The pupils, who in mid June undertook a final challenging selection process at Glenmore Lodge by Aviemore, are the fourth expedition team to be annually selected by the self-funded charity that aims to inspire youth through exploration. 

Craig Mathieson established The Polar Academy in 2014, determined to help positively transform the lives of young people he describes as ‘invisible’ at school and devoid of self-confidence, direction and self-esteem. To date, thirty youths from schools in North Lanarkshire and Edinburgh and with similar personal issues have seen their lives transformed by the work of the charity. 

Significantly, over 50,000 pupils across Scotland have also heard first-hand accounts of The Polar Academy experience from former participants. Following their return to Scotland from Greenland, all participants must address school assemblies with the aim of inspiring their peer groups to overcome personal challenges and to pursue their own goals. 

Mathieson (48), who in 2013 was named Scotland’s first Explorer in Residence in 129 years by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, described selecting the ten pupils for the latest expedition team as “an agonising decision.” He explained: “I have no doubt that all twenty of the short-listed pupils would benefit immensely from going to the Arctic – I wish I could take them all.

“The pupils selected should be proud of their decision to bravely step forward and aim to make their lives better.  The months ahead promise tough, relentless training and a need for immense individual effort. However, with the support of their school and parents, each youth has already started their life-changing journey and can now seize the chance to shake off the shackles of self-doubt and despair. 

“However, let’s also be clear. This is no guided school-trip.  These pupils will be working as a team to navigate, ski and camp in some of the world’s most unforgiving terrain but ultimately it will be a hugely positive, life-changing experience.  I am very confident they will return from the Arctic bursting with pride, emanating with self-confidence and ready to inspire their peer groups across the country. Their lives are about to get better.”  

Carol Ann Penrose, the head teacher of Lochgelly High School and a mother of three children, also experienced the selection process and will be part of the expedition group and training.  She commented: “One of our big messages as a school and as part of the local community is not to be afraid of challenge but to take it on and believe you can succeed if you are prepared to work hard, pick yourself up and keep going after every setback. I am very proud of the twenty pupils at Lochgelly High School who have been selected to be part of The Polar Academy. They now have a powerful opportunity to put into practice the school’s belief that with real commitment and determination it’s possible to achieve. 
“To be part of this expedition is a real privilege and a once in a lifetime opportunity for me as a person, as well as a head teacher.  I am certain that it will inspire me to continue to strive for and work towards what I believe in and to fulfil my own aspirations in my personal and professional life, working alongside the young people and families of the Lochgelly community.”  

The Polar Academy is wholly self-funded and does not ask pupils to pay for their participation. With the generous support of companies and private donors, it must annually fundraise over £170,000 to operate.  Chris Tiso, CEO of Tiso the outdoor adventure retail specialist, is a founding partner of the charity.  Reflecting on the selection of The Polar Academy’s fourth intake of participants, Chris Tiso commented: 

“Over the past three years I have personally witnessed the remarkable change in the young people who have had the opportunity to experience The Polar Academy.  I have no doubt that in 8 months time, the seven girls and three boys from Lochgelly High School will return from Greenland with greater self-confidence and self-esteem, ready to be role models in their local community. 
“These are ordinary youths who can – and will – achieve the extraordinary. All at Tiso Group wish them well.” 

In addition to considerable support from founding partners Tiso Group and Bergans of Norway, the charity is also helped by the likes of Cornhill Building Services, Baillie Gifford and by private donations. 


The Polar Academy 2017/2018 Expedition Team: 
Kieran Burns - 14 
Morgan Adam - 14
Carla Masterton - 14 
Megan Hargrave - 16 
Lauren Scott - 14 
Josh Farmer - 15 
Conner Harper - 16 
Daisy George - 14 
Carrie Wetherspoon - 14 
Hannah Reid - 15 
Carol Ann Penrose - Head Teacher

The Polar Academy 2017/2018 Leadership Team
Daniel Pratt – 16; Lewis Fotheringham – 14;  Louise McLeary – 14; Cameron Duff – 14; Louise McArthur – 15; Isla Stewart – 16; Keigan Thomson – 16; Ryan Harley – 16; Erin Cuthbert - 14

Fast facts about The Polar Academy
  • The Polar Academy was established in 2014 by the Bo’ness based explorer Craig Mathieson. 
  • It is a registered Scottish charity with a vision to inspire youth through exploration.  
  • The Polar Academy has been described as one of Europe’s toughest youth training programmes. 
  • A total of 30 teenage pupils to date from 9 schools have participated in the expedition teams of The Polar Academy.  The first expedition team was selected from two North Lanarkshire schools in 2014. Subsequently, The Polar Academy has built further on its growing success by selecting pupils from five Edinburgh schools (2015) and two further Edinburgh schools (2016). All the pupils’ selected for the expedition teams were identified by Mathieson as ‘invisible’ at school and crushed in self-confidence. 
  • Following selection, the participants undertake 8 months of rigorous training before an expedition in Arctic Greenland.  They return as ‘ordinary individuals who have achieved the extraordinary.’  Those involved with the expedition team have described the experience as life-changing.
  • The ‘magic’ of The Polar Academy is also the requirement of all participants to undertake post expedition talks to school assemblies (and even businesses) across the country.  These aim to inspire youth to realise that whatever their personal circumstances, it’s possible to make the personal decision to change life for the better. 
  • The Polar Academy is wholly self-funded and depends on the generosity of private donors and individual businesses. Chris Tiso, CEO of Tiso Group is a founding supporter of the charity. Bergans of Norway is also a founding supporter while Cornhill Building Services (CBS) is among many generous supporters. 
•    In 2013, Craig Mathieson was named the Royal Scottish Geographical Society’s (RSGS) first Explorer in Residence in 129 years. A former military man and expert tax adviser, he has led several successful expeditions to the North and South Poles. 

16 June 2017

It’s Gold for Mollie … Everest Record Breaker Awarded Rare Blue Peter Badge

Mollie Hughes, who on 16 May became the world’s youngest woman to climb Mount Everest (8848m) from both sides, is today (Friday 16 June) also one of very few adults to be the recipient of a prestigious gold Blue Peter badge. 

The rare accolade was announced live on air last night during the CBBC Blue Peter programme, when the inspirational 26-year old climber was in the Blue Peter garden recounting her recent experience of ascending the north side of the world’s highest mountain - and entering the record books.  

The Devon-born, Edinburgh-based climber, who works for the outdoor retail adventure specialist Tiso, had previously ascended the south side of Mount Everest in 2012 at the age of just 21. 

Each year a handful of gold badges are awarded in recognition of outstanding achievements, bravery, inspiration and citizenship. Tim Peake the British astronaut, Oscar-winning film director Steven Spielberg and children’s author JK Rowling are among relatively few previous adult recipients of CBBC Blue Peter’s coveted top award that is a gold-plated brooch in the shape of the iconic Blue Peter ship logo. 

The award came as a complete surprise for the unassuming Hughes, who in May was photographed holding a blue coloured Blue Peter badge on the summit of the world’s highest peak. 

Referring to her award, an emotional Hughes, said: "I am both surprised and humbled by this super cool award of a gold Blue Peter badge. I'm absolutely thrilled. You could say I’m on top of the world - again! 

“It's wonderful to be recognised in this way, but more importantly I hope my record breaking Everest climb and this gold Blue Peter badge will really inspire young people across the country, and in particular girls to realise that it's always possible to follow and achieve your dream." 

Ewan Vinnicombe, Editor of Blue Peter, said: “Mollie’s exceptional achievement is an inspiration to our viewers. Our gold Blue Peter badge is very well deserved. We’ve been following Mollie’s story this year and were very pleased to see a Blue Peter badge make it to the summit of Everest with her.”

During her latest ascent of Everest, Hughes also succeeded in raising thousands of pounds for Cancer Research UK by asking people to pledge £1 for very metre she climbed. The brave and unassuming climber is currently undertaking speaking engagements throughout the UK, hoping her climb to the top of the world will inspire as many children as possible to pursue their own ambitions in life. 

Notes to the editor
Mollie Hughes reached the summit of Mount Everest in the early hours of 16 May 2017.  She climbed the mountain with guide Jon Gupta and two sherpas as part of the Tiso Returns to Mount Everest 2017 expedition. 

Hughes is three years younger than Ms Maya Sherpa (Patale) of Nepal who in 2007 was aged 29 when she summited Everest for the second time.  Hughes is also 28 years younger than Lynne Hanna (Northern Ireland) who in 2016 and at the age of 54 became the first British woman to achieve ascents from both the north and south. In 1975, Junko Tabei (Japan) became the first female climber to summit the mountain. 

Mount Everest was officially successfully first climbed by the mountaineers Tenzing Norgay and (Sir) Edmund Hillary in 1953.
Everest Climber Displays Bold Suit for International Women’s Day

16 May 2017

Top of the world! Young Brit enters Everest record books

Mollie Hughes, a 26 year-old British climber has today (Tuesday 16 May) reached the summit of Mount Everest (8,848m) from the north side. Her feat makes the Edinburgh-based and Devon-born climber the youngest Briton, the youngest European woman and the first English woman to successfully scale the peak from both the north and south sides of the world’s highest mountain. 

In temperatures as low as minus 40C, Hughes originally from Torbay in Devon reached the summit at 1.14am GMT (5.34am local time in Nepal) with climbing partner Jon Gupta of Mountain Expeditions.  

With a £1 donation for every metre climbed, Hughes hopes to raise more than £8,000 funds for Cancer Research UK.  She is being supported throughout the expedition by Tiso, the outdoor adventure specialist where she is an employee in Edinburgh and has been supporting British expeditions to Mount Everest since the 1970’s. 

Relaying a brief message shortly after reaching the summit, Hughes commented: “I am elated, exhausted and know I still have the hardest part to do – the long and difficult descent to base camp.  Jon (Gupta) and I have already spent more than four weeks acclimatising on the mountain.  Thanks to a weather window, yesterday evening we left Camp 3 (8,300m) and we’ve finally reached the top. The climbing has been really, really hard but our mental and physical strength got us up here.  I can confirm that the north side is definitely more difficult than the south side!

“Huge thanks to Jon, the sherpas, family, friends and to Tiso as my principle sponsor on this expedition. I am really proud to be the youngest Briton to have scaled Everest from both sides – and to have raised funds to support the work of Cancer Research UK. Now, we’ll focus on achieving a safe descent from the top of the world.” 

Hughes, who in 2012 summited Mount Everest from its south side at the age of 21, is 28 years younger than Lynne Hannah (Northern Ireland) who in 2016 and at the age of 54 became the first British woman to achieve ascents from both the north and south. In 1975, Junko Tabei (Japan) became the first female climber to summit the mountain that in 1953 was first officially climbed by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary.

Hughes has been periodically posting video clips during her record-breaking ascent.  One clip shows guide, Jon Gupta, talking to camera as they camp at 7,069m on the north-west shoulder of Everest and as part of their essential acclimatisation process. 

A soundtrack by Britney Spears plays in the tent as Gupta reveals that a rubik’s cube is among the items carried by the pair to test their mental alertness at altitude and to keep occupied during rest periods. 

While many climbers choose to ascend from the south, the north route from base camp in Tibet, China is considered to expose the mountaineers to colder and windier conditions. The route includes an arduous and psychologically testing final day ascent over three prominent rocky steps on the northeast ridge. All are negotiated at an altitude of over 8,500 metres (28,000ft) in the so-called ‘death zone.’ 

Prior to her record-breaking climb, Hughes had commented: “To climb Mount Everest is an incredible experience; one that is also the ultimate test of your psychological resolve and ability to cope with physical suffering. The spectacular north side of the mountain will push us to the limit.

“I love climbing and adventurous activities.  Hopefully, my second expedition to Mount Everest will inspire other young women to realise that with careful planning and determination, challenges can be overcome and dreams achieved.”   

Chris Tiso, CEO of Tiso Group and who was part of the 2000 Tiso expedition on which Polly Murray became the first Scottish woman to summit Mount Everest, commented: “Mollie Hughes is an inspirational young woman.  All at Tiso Group are very proud that she has reached the summit after a long and difficult climb and entered her name in the Everest record books.  It is a phenomenal achievement.  

“Of course, Mollie and Jon (Gupta) now face an equally daunting descent. All involved with the Tiso Return to Mount Everest 2017 Expedition wish them a safe return to base camp and look forward to welcoming Mollie home in early June.” 

In addition to support from Tiso Group, Hughes is also receiving help from the philanthropist Kae Tinto Murray, from Osprey Backpacks and the engineering firm ch2m. 

Hughes started climbing at secondary school and at the age of 17 summited Mount Kenya (Africa’s second highest peak). She was first inspired to climb Mount Everest when as part of her sports psychology degree at UWE Bristol she interviewed seven Everest summiteers and learned of their different psychological experiences on the mountain.

Hughes left the UK for Kathmandu in Nepal in early April before travelling into Tibet.  If all goes to plan she hopes to return to the UK in early June. 

A full set of media materials including photography and video footage of Mollie Hughes and Jon Gupta on Mount Everest is available via this Dropbox folder – password is TisoReturns 

For further information about Mollie Hughes Everest 2017 expedition, visit: www.tiso.com/everest and www.molliehughes.co.uk

Mount Everest – selected records

1924: British climbers George Mallory and Andrew Irvine attempt summit from the north side.  Unknown if they ever made the summit 
1953: Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary – first climbers confirmed to reach summit
1960: Chinese team claim to make first summit from north side of Everest
1975: Junko Tabei (Japan) – first woman to summit Mount Everest
1975: First ascent of south-west face of Everest by a British team led by Sir Chris Bonington. Doug Scott and the late Dougal Haston reach the summit 
1988: Lydia Bradey (NZ) makes first female ascent without supplemental oxygen
1993: Rebecca Stephens becomes the first British woman to climb Mount Everest
1995: The late Alison Hargreaves becomes the second British woman to climb Everest, ascending alone via the north ridge
1999: Kathy O’Dowd (South Africa) becomes the first woman at the age of 31 to climb Everest from both the south col (1996) and north col (1999)
16 May 2000: Polly Murray - first Scottish woman to summit Mount Everest
2012: Leanna Shuttleworth (England) and 19 years old becomes the youngest British woman to summit Mount Everest
2012: Mollie Hughes (England) summits Mount Everest from the south side aged 21
2016: Lynne Hannah (Northern Ireland), at the age of 54, becomes the first British woman to summit Mount Everest from both the south (2009) and north (2016) 
2017: Mollie Hughes (England) summits from the north side of Mount Everest. At the age of 26, she becomes the youngest British person to reach the top from both sides of the mountain. 

3 May 2017

Port Edgar Marina reaches milestone with restaurant operator appointment
- Buzzworks to open its first restaurant in the East of Scotland -

The redevelopment of Port Edgar Marina will take a major step forward today when Buzzworks is appointed to run a new restaurant at the marina in South Queensferry, near Edinburgh.

Buzzworks Holdings – which manages nine prestigious venues including Elliots, Scotts in Troon and Largs, Lido venues in Prestwick and Troon, The Treehouse in Ayr, The Longhouse in Kilmarnock, The Mill House in Stewarton and their newest venue The Corner House in Kilwinning – now has over 400 employees and a turnover of more than £15 million in the last financial year. 
The family-run business founded by Kenny, Colin and Alison Blair, is excited to be expanding Buzzworks and launching its first restaurant in the East of the country.  It is expected to open at the marina before the end of 2017 after an extensive fit out programme and will create around 60 new jobs.

The creation of the restaurant marks a milestone for operators Port Edgar Holdings, who took over the running of Port Edgar Marina from City of Edinburgh Council in April 2014.  The Council’s Edinburgh Leisure division had been running the marina since 1998. 

Since taking over the facility, Port Edgar Holdings has been redeveloping the site, including refurbishing ancillary buildings, demolishing derelict structures to create more parking spaces, and dredging the harbour so it can take larger vessels and make the marina less dependent on the tide.

The restaurant will be located above the marina’s newly refurbished retail space, Bosuns Locker.  The shop stocks a wide selection of outdoor clothing and footwear including a Coast and Country collection from brands including Musto, Dubarry, Schoffel and Joules.  

Russell Aitken, managing director at Port Edgar Marina, said: “Port Edgar has a rich and varied history and we’re making sure that it has an exciting future ahead of it.  We’re delighted that Buzzworks has chosen to locate its next restaurant at the marina, where diners will be able to enjoy quality food with stunning views of the Forth’s three bridges.

“Over the past year, we’ve secured the future of the marina as a sailing destination by dredging the harbour, bringing in a mobile crane, and improving the security, lighting and access to the slipway for boat handling.

“We’re putting Port Edgar on the map as a tourist destination by opening up the marina to a much wider audience.  Visitors can now enjoy the spectacular views across the Firth of Forth that myself and other sailors have done for so many years.” 

Kenny Blair, Buzzworks Holdings MD, said: “This is another ambitious step forward in our continued growth strategy as we branch out from the west of Scotland. The venue will not only bring a new dining experience to the area, but an opportunity for the local community to work with a company ranked 40th within The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For.

“Buzzworks prides itself on the delicious food, serious cocktails and superb service we provide to customers, so it’s an exciting time for the business as we extend our portfolio to the east coast and take Scotts to South Queensferry. We can’t wait to begin fitting out the property.”

Lying between the Forth Road Bridge and the new Queensferry Crossing, Port Edgar has berths for around 300 boats and is home to a yacht club, a rowing club, several cruise boat operators and is home to Scotland’s largest water sports centre.

Fergus Ewing, MSP and Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, said: “I had the pleasure of visiting Port Edgar Marina where I was very impressed with the imaginative re-use of the infrastructure in the development of the site, including the positive the impact the dredging has in being able to attract larger vessels to the marina.

“This is yet another positive addition to the marine tourism portfolio in Scotland, helping the economic development of communities around the entire coastline of Scotland.”

Port Edgar traces its roots back to 1810 when a pier was erected on the site, with King George IV landing at the harbour in 1822 during a visit to the Earl of Hopetoun.

Port Edgar served as a naval base during both World Wars and was taken over when the Royal Navy left in 1978 by Lothian Regional Council, before passing into the hands of City of Edinburgh Council during local government reorganisation in 1996.

The marina’s name is believed to derive from King Edgar Aetheling, who fled from the Normans and is thought to have landed on the site in 1068 to seek refuge at the court of King Malcolm III. Edgar’s sister, Princess Margaret, later married Malcolm III.


27 April 2017

Pyreos secures first volume order for ezPyro chip from South Korean customer

Pyreos, the Edinburgh-based passive infra-red sensor developer, has won its first volume contract for its ezPyro chip, which incorporates both a sensor and a processing unit.

The order was secured from a South Korean customer, which is deploying the sensor in two of its products.
The ezPyro component has been designed into a standalone fire-detection device and a standard closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera, adding a flame-detection feature to the system.
Pyreos already has a well-established customer base in South Korea, mainly in gas detection and fire detection.
Exports account for about 78 per cent of the company’s total revenues, with 44 per cent of sales coming from Asia.
Andrew Wallace, chief executive at Pyreos, said: “Winning our first volume order for ezPyro so soon after launching the sensor is a real validation of the how our customers value this new product.
“Our client in South Korea will not only include ezPyro in a fire-detection device, but will also build it into standard CCTV cameras, adding extra value to those cameras for its clients.
“This is just one example of how our sensors can help move customer devices up the value-chain, adding features that will set equipment apart from its competitors.
“There’s a lot of careful work that’s gone into the development of ezPyro and I’m really pleased to see that’s now being rewarded with volume shipments.”
The ezPyro chip is the world’s smallest pyro-electric sensor with a digital interface.  It was launched last May at the Sensor+Test measurement fair held at Nuremburg in Germany.
The component is much smaller than a five pence coin and can both detect gestures and provide information on the direction and speed of a movement.
The company’s pyro-electric sensors allow its devices to have response times measured in milliseconds, one thousand times faster than the timescale measured in seconds offered by some rival components.

Mr Wallace added: “Our South Korean deal demonstrates the broad range of applications for the ezPyro sensor.
“It can be incorporated into a wide variety of devices, from fire and gas detection systems through to wearable technology like smart-watches and fitness trackers.
“Pyreos’ sales have been growing by 25-50 per cent quarter-on-quarter since the middle of last year.
“That growth demonstrates how popular our chips are becoming and ezPyro is a big part of that success.”
Pyreos’ expansion has been fuelled by £1.8 million raised last September from new and existing investors.
The company was spun out from German industrial firm Siemens in 2007.  Shareholder include Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH, the Scottish Investment Bank (the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise), Seraphim Capital and Siemens Technology Accelerator.
They were joined by new investor London Business Angels, one of Europe’s most respected and active private investment groups.
The investment followed on from the £2.5m funding package that Pyreos secured from its shareholders in 2015.
Port Edgar

25 April 2017

Port Edgar Marina Hoists Sails for Big Open Weekend: Saturday 6–Sunday 7 May 2017

Novice and expert sailors, kayakers, paddle-boarders, committed ‘yachties’ and landlubbers alike are being invited to join in the fun at Port Edgar Marina when the popular year-round leisure destination hosts what promises to be an action packed Open Weekend over Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 May between 10am and 5pm. 

To celebrate the marina’s on-going multi-million pound transformation, and in association with Port Edgar Watersports, the impressive facility is gearing up to help young and old alike discover and enjoy a myriad of activities on and off the water. Nestled less than 30 minutes drive from Edinburgh city centre on the southern banks of the Firth of Forth, Port Edgar Marina boasts stunning views of the new Queensferry Crossing road bridge and the Kingdom of Fife beyond. 
If you’ve always wanted to try paddle-boarding, sail a dinghy, try your hand at rowing, safely paddle a stretch of the Forth, get up close to RNLI lifeboats or simply relax on shore with music and quality food and drink and browse through the marina’s extensive Bosuns Locker retail offering, the Open Weekend promises an ocean of entertainment.  
For just £5 per person, more than 350 taster sessions (60 minutes) are being offered over the two days. With expert instructors from Port Edgar Watersports on hand, take to the water with a dinghy, paddleboard or kayak.  Or with Queensferry Rowing Club, experience rowing one of its two skiffs for a donation of just £5, while Port Edgar Dragons will offer trips on their eye-catching dragon boats.
Courtesy of Seafari Adventures and its impressive RIB, why not sit back and power off for a memorable ride under the three iconic bridges of the Forth!  While, Edinburgh Boat Charters is also offering half price taster sessions on its catamaran yacht.   
The dry land activities promise to be equally exciting, including children’s entertainers, face painting and peeks inside a real RNLI lifeboat. Those wishing some retail therapy can step into Bosuns Locker chandlery to browse through an extensive range of brands including Musto, Schoffel, Fairfax & Favor, Joules and Dubarry.  There will be an incredible 20% discount on all clothing and footwear during the weekend at the Bosuns Locker, that also offers boat sales and a workshop service, celebrates its grand re-launch with the promise of ‘mega deals’!
Experts will be on hand throughout the weekend to discuss everything from sail making to rigging and there will even be knot-tying sessions for all the family to attempt.
Quality food and drink will be available, including burgers straight from the BBQ, authentic Spanish paella, Spice Pot curries, Japanese noodles and dumplings and delicious Luca’s ice cream. 
The local microbrewery, The Ferry Brewery, will be providing a taste of its latest refreshing ales and offering a 10% discount on off-sales during the event.
As one of the east coast’s largest marinas with berths for over 300 boats, Port Edgar  is also home of Port Edgar Yacht Club and a number of major marine businesses.   The Bosuns Locker chandlery boat sales and workshop business will celebrate its grand re-launch on 6 May and over the weekend promises the sailing fraternity some ‘mega deals.’
For those drawn to wheels and keels, Port Edgar based Engine 710 will be displaying its impressive range of Land Rovers as well as a some classics, courtesy of Pentland Landrover and the Chelsea Truck Company.  There will also be the opportunity to peruse a range of Mercedes cars and vans.
The Port Edgar Berth Holders Association will also be holding a Jumble Sale on Saturday afternoon in the Scout Hall between 2pm and 4pm.  Proceeds from the event will be given to the RNLI.
Russell Aitken, the entrepreneur and qualified skipper who acquired Port Edgar Marina in 2014, said. “Whether an avid dinghy sailor and yachtie or a family in search of weekend entertainment and excitement by the sea, the Open Weekend over 6-7 May promises to be an ocean of fun.
“As part of Scotland’s thriving £100m marine leisure industry, Port Edgar Marina and Port Edgar Watersports look forward to giving young and old alike the chance to experience the freedom and fun of seafaring.”
To avoid disappointment it’s recommended to pre-book a taster session by contacting Port Edgar Watersports on 0131 319 1820 or by emailing bookings@portedgarwatersports.com.
Rachel Rough

3 April 2017

Changes to compensation rates may become costly

COMPENSATION is an essential part of the insurance system – if an individual is injured and can no longer work or needs care then a compensation payment can quite rightly support them for the rest of their life. 

Yet changes to compensation rates in England and Wales unveiled by Lord Chancellor Liz Truss in February - which changes have been adopted by Scottish Ministers for Scotland in March - have the potential to turn the whole system on its head – and force up the cost of cover for policyholders.

When a claimant is receiving compensation to cover future loss of earnings or lifelong care, they receive a lump sum, which is discounted to factor in the investment income that the compensation payment will generate so that the claimant isn’t overcompensated.

Truss decided to change the “discount rate” that is applied to compensation payments. 
Back in 1998, the House of Lords decided that index-linked government securities – better known as government bonds or gilts – should be used as the benchmark for the discount rate. This was based on an assumption that claimants would want their investment to carry as little risk as possible.

A lot has changed since 1998. The 2008 global banking crisis and ensuing recession triggered a rush of quantitative easing by central banks; in effect “printing money” to prop up the financial system by buying bonds.

This has taken its toll on gilts and their “yields” – the amount that an investor will receive in interest for buying the bonds – which in turn has heavily distorted the market. 

Despite this, the Lord Chancellor decided that an investment portfolio consisting of just gilts was still the best benchmark for the discount rate – even though independent financial advisors say a properly advised claimant would never use such an investment strategy.

As a result, the discount rate has dropped from 2.5 per cent to minus 0.75 per cent.  This means that the lump sum is not discounted.  Instead it is actually increased to reflect an assumption that the claimant will lose money when he or she invests it.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI), the insurance industry’s trade body, has said that the decision is “crazy”. The ABI warned that the cost of up to 36 million individual and business motor insurance policies may have to rise “in order to over-compensate a few thousand claimants a year”.

A switch of 3.25 percentage points may not sound like a large figure, but the movement is amplified over time. If a young person is injured and can no longer work then a negative discount rate can have a huge effect over their lifetime.

For example, let us consider a 17-year-old man who has a care regime that costs £150,000 a year – not an unusually high sum by any means.

The compensation to cover this care is nearly £5m at the 2.5 per cent discount rate, but at the 0.75 per cent level the figure leaps to just over £14m.  

This not only raises issues of a claimant being over compensated, it also creates significant risks for businesses, many of which have claims limits on their insurance policies of £5million or £10million.  These businesses are now at risk of needing to meet any shortfall between what a claimant is entitled to receive and what their policy covers.  This shortfall could be millions of pounds.

The impact of the change in Scotland may be greater than down south, as the Scottish courts can only make lump sum payments whereas in England and Wales, courts can make orders spreading the payments over the lifetime of the injured person.

Having only recently been introduced, the new discount rate may itself be looked at again shortly. The Westminster Government is reviewing the framework under which the rate is set. Following that review, the formula used to determine the rate might be changed which might lead to another new rate for England and Wales, with Scotland then expected to follow suit.

Whilst those most seriously injured are entitled to be fully and properly compensated, if the negative discount rate remains in place then claimants could be over compensated.  This will be at the expense of the wider public, who will be faced with picking up that bill through higher insurance premiums, and businesses, which will be at risk where their insurance cover has a financial limit on it that could be exceeded by the significant increase in the value of the most serious claims.

Rachel Rough
BLM, Glasgow
Polar Academy Trustees

20 March 2017

Education and Business Boost for Leading Scottish Charity

The Polar Academy, a leading Scottish charity with a vision to inspire youth through exploration, has today (Monday 20 March) further boosted its business and education credentials with the appointment of three additional trustees. 

Chris Tiso, CEO of Tiso Group the outdoor adventure specialist and who is renowned for his passion for the great outdoors, will further strengthen the business acumen of the impressive six-strong Trustee panel. 
Mike Hancock, the founder of Cornhill Building Services (CBS), a leading Edinburgh based building contractor also further complements the considerable business experience on the trustee panel. It already includes Keith Neilson, CEO of Craneware plc, Andrew Ford of tax specialists Barr & Ford Ltd and Mike Robinson, CEO of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS). 
John Gilmour, headmaster of Craigclowan Preparatory School in Perthshire and who formerly served in the Royal Navy has also accepted an invitation to join as a trustee from the charity’s founder, Craig Mathieson.  With the charity increasingly engaging pupils and teachers across Scotland about its work, Gilmour’s 19 years of experience in education will be invaluable to The Polar Academy.  
Referring to his appointment, John Gilmour said: “I am very pleased to be invited to support the work of The Polar Academy as a trustee, and I look forward to sharing my many years of experience of the educational system.  As a former member of HM Forces and for many years a member of Swanage lifeboat crew, I also passionately believe in helping to nurture team work and leadership in young people. These are skills that increase self confidence and instil the all important ‘can do’ spirit embedded in the work of The Polar Academy.”
Chris Tiso, who is also a founding supporter of the charity, added: “Craig Mathieson is a remarkable individual and friend with whom I share the belief that Scotland’s youth can be inspired through exploration. Over the past three years I have seen first hand how the charity has positively transformed the lives of many young people who previously felt trapped by feelings of self doubt and their personal circumstances. 
“As the third expedition of The Polar Academy prepares to depart for Arctic Greenland, I look forward to being part of the trustee team, supporting The Polar Academy in the next phase of its inspirational journey as it helps ordinary individuals to achieve the extraordinary.”  
Tomorrow (Tuesday 21 March), the third expedition team of The Polar Academy departs on a 10-day, 100km expedition through Arctic Greenland. After eight months of rigorous training and supported by Craig Mathieson (Bo’ness) and three fellow expert guides, the Edinburgh based teenagers (all aged 14-17) from Fettes College and Broughton High School will haul their own 45kg sledges, navigate and camp on the sea ice. The expedition is designed to instil greater self-confidence and belief in young individual’s who Mathieson has identified as ‘invisible’ in the school system. 
Like two previous expeditions, the pupils return to Scotland ready to speak to thousands of fellow school pupils about their personal challenges and experiences. Often described as the living breathing proof that ordinary individuals can achieve the extraordinary, they in turn seek to inspire their peer groups, urging them to overcome feelings of insecurity, self-doubt and anxiety in pursuit of their own dreams. 
Established in 2014, The Polar Academy is wholly self-funded by donations from companies and private donors.  Tiso Group and Bergans of Norway are founding supporters of the charity that needs to fundraise over £170,000 per year.  
Last week, after working with Links Design, the charity launched its new website with the latest information about its mission and successes.  Further details can be found at www.thepolaracademy.org 

Free to use image (landscape) of new trustees for The Polar Academy  (l-r: Mike Hancock (Cornhill Building Services; Chris Tiso, CEO Tiso Group; John Gilmour, headmaster Craigclowan Prep School -  pix credit Peter Sandground Photography). Download full size image here

Everest Climber Displays Bold Suit for International Women’s Day

8 March 2017

Everest Climber Displays Bold Suit for International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day with its theme of ‘Be Bold for Change.’ Twenty-six year-old Edinburgh-based and Devon-born mountaineer Mollie Hughes hopes her own actions will inspire women to change their lives for the better.  

For in May, Mollie will return to Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain (8848m) with the support of Tiso the outdoor adventure specialist, aiming to become the youngest Briton, the youngest European woman and the first English woman to scale the 8,848m peak from both the north and south sides. With every step she will also be raising funds for Cancer Research UK. 
Mollie is pictured in the shop window of Tiso’s Rose Street store in the special clothing she will wear on her bold 2017 Everest expedition.  She’s flanked by the kit worn by Chris Tiso, CEO of Tiso Group on the 2000 expedition and the clothing worn by the late Graham Tiso on his 1972 Everest expedition. 
You can track Mollie Hughes progress at www.tiso.com/Everest
Nicola Buchanan

13 February 2017

Protecting children from abuse must be the paramount consideration of the courts

Few pieces of news hit home as hard as stories of children being killed by their parents. Though such terrible crimes are rare, they are perhaps not as rare as society may think.

Over the past ten years, 19 children have been murdered by violent fathers after they were granted contact with sons and daughters by judges, according to a report, covering England and Wales, by charity Women’s Aid. In 12 cases, contact had been granted to the fathers through the family courts, with a further six agreed in family court hearings and the other via a non-molestation order and occupation order.

Since the report was published last year, the charity has identified a further case in which a child was murdered by the father after contact was granted via the family court. The escalating total raises questions about whether other cases remain to be uncovered, both north and south of the border.

The report and an accompanying briefing paper by Westminster’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Domestic Violence prompted a review by Sir Stephen Cobb, a senior family judge at the High Court of England and Wales. Mr Justice Cobb’s review called for the presumption, in England and Wales, that both parents should have contact with their child to be scrapped if there is evidence of domestic violence.

Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division of the High Court of England and Wales, endorsed the recommendation from the review in last month’s, “View from the President’s Chamber”. He noted: “These are problems that can no longer wait.”

The Cobb Review highlights the differences between Scots Law and the Law of England and Wales on the issue of contact between children and their parents. In Scotland, no presumptions apply in these matters. The 2006 Family Law (Scotland) Act made changes to the 1995 Children (Scotland) Act to ensure that courts took abuse or the threat of abuse into account when granting parents contact with their children.

The fundamental principle in the Children’s Act is very clear: “The court shall regard the welfare of the child concerned as its paramount consideration and shall not make any such order unless it considers that it would be better for the child that the order be made than that none should be made at all.” Cutting through the legal language, it is clear that judges need to adopt a child-centric approach and think about the child’s safety.

The Family Law Act spells out the responsibilities of the court to “protect the child from any abuse, or the risk of any abuse, which affects, or might affect, the child”, and to have regard to “the effect such abuse, or the risk of such abuse, might have on the child”. It is important to note that, as well as protecting the child from abuse, the legislation also protects the child from being exposed to abuse of others who have care of them.

A broad definition of “abuse” is also inserted into the Act, including “violence, harassment, threatening conduct and any other conduct giving rise, or likely to give rise, to physical or mental injury, fear, alarm or distress”. Conduct in this context includes both speech and being present in a specified place or area.

Mr Justice Cobb’s review also recommended ending the right of alleged perpetrators in England and Wales to cross-examine survivors of domestic violence in the family courts. The practice has been banned in the criminal courts for the past 15 years. 

Justice Minister Sir Oliver Heald last month told the House of Commons that the Government would bring forward primary legislation to ban cross-examination of domestic violence survivors by their alleged abusers in the family courts of England and Wales. With the practice already outlawed in criminal court cases, both north and south of the border, the template has been laid out for a similar prohibition in the family courts.

In Scotland, domestic abuse survivors may be classed as “vulnerable witnesses” who can access a variety of special measures, including giving evidence from behind a screen or by video link and having a supporter with them. As in England and Wales, though, there remains the possibility of an abuse survivor being cross-examined by an abuser in a civil court. In an interesting development, though, a Judge in Scotland considered, towards the end of 2016, that it would not be “in the interests of justice” to allow a footballer who had allegedly raped a female to ask questions of that female in a civil court. 

Nicola Buchanan
Solicitor, Family Law Team
BLM Glasgow

7 February 2017

Royal & Awesome scores hole-in-£1m as it breaks through revenue barrier

Royal & Awesome, the spectacular golf-clothing brand, whose trousers are favoured by celebrities including former First Minister Lord Jack McConnell, singer Brian McFadden and newsreader Naga Munchetty, has broken through the £1m turnover mark as it prepares to celebrate its fifth birthday.

The Edinburgh-based label, which was launched in April 2012, has morphed from a tongue-in-cheek start-up, into a global brand.

Sixty per cent of its sales are now made in the United States, with a significant contribution coming from online retailing giant Amazon, with 35 per cent coming from the UK and the remaining five per cent from Australia.

Sales have grown by 50 per cent year-on-year each year since the label was created.

The brand was launched by Graeme Smeaton, in partnership with Morphsuits’ founders Gregor Lawson and Ali and Fraser Smeaton.

Royal & Awesome shares Morphsuits’ e-commerce and fulfilment systems but also has its own dedicated team working on the business.

The Smeaton brothers hail from Gullane, the East Lothian village that is home to Muirfield, the championship course that has regularly hosted The Open.

Graeme Smeaton, managing director at Royal & Awesome, said: “The growth of our brand over the past five years has been absolutely ‘awesome’ – there’s no other word for it.

“All four of us are keen golfers and we wanted to create a brand that really stood out as different.  We’ve done this by taking all the history and heritage of golf in Scotland and adding loads of fun and colour. 

“Golf is a game that’s played throughout the world, so knew the potential for Royal & Awesome to become a global brand.

“The reaction has been fantastic – people buy our trousers, shorts and Plus Twos to wear at charity games, stag parties and lads’ annual outings.”

As well as becoming popular with celebrities, the Royal & Awesome brand has also attracted a host of sportsmen as ambassadors, ranging from former football players and managers like Neil Lennon, Ally McCoist and Ian Wright through to cricketers such as Darren Gough, Matthew Hoggard and Kevin Pieterson and athletes including Kriss Akabusi, Mike Tindall and Sir Steve Redgrave.

Mr Smeaton added: “Social media has been at the heart of our growth.  We’ve got so many great pictures and videos of people having fun in our range and social media is the perfect channel to share these.

“Golf trick-shots are incredibly popular on platforms such as Instagram and Youtube and we’ve partnered with some of the best in the business to create bespoke branded content.  We can then share this content to the audience on our own channels and especially through our email newsletters, which are particularly
popular with customers who perhaps don’t have time to trawl the net.

“I am totally confident that our growth will continue as we keep raising the profile of brand through social media and we keep increasing our distribution and availability through our own website, Amazon and third party retailers.”

The growth of Morphcostumes, the company behind the Royal & Awesome and Morphsuits brands, has been supported by BGF (Business Growth Fund) since June 2012, following a £4.2m investment.

BGF was established in 2011 by five of the UK’s largest banks – Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Chartered – with a £2.5 billion fund to invest in businesses with the potential for high growth.

6 February 2017

Young British Climber aims to make Everest History

Mollie Hughes, a 26 year-old British climber has today (Monday 6 February 2017) announced her plan to again climb Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak (8848m). If her attempt this May is successful, the Edinburgh-based and Devon-born climber will become the youngest Briton, the youngest European woman and the first English woman to scale the peak from both the north and south sides.

If successful, Hughes, who in 2012 summited Mount Everest from its south side, would be 28 years younger than Lynne Hannah (Northern Ireland), who in 2016 and at the age of 54 became the first British woman to achieve ascents from both the north and south. In 1975, Junko Tabei (Japan) became the first female climber to summit the mountain that in 1953 was first officially climbed by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary.
Hughes, who started climbing at secondary school and at the age of 17 summited Mount Kenya (Africa’s second highest peak), will be joined on her latest expedition by sherpas and the experienced climber, Jon Gupta of Mountain Expeditions. 
Tiso, the outdoor adventure specialist where Hughes is an employee and which staged a successful expedition to Mount Everest in 2000, is the main supporter of Hughes latest expedition during which she also hopes to raise funds for Cancer Research UK.
After leaving the UK in early April, the climbers will acclimatize. They will be on the mountain for approximately six weeks during which Hughes anticipates the final summit push will take 6-7 days. If all goes to plan, Hughes aims to stand atop Mount Everest on 19 May, elated and braving temperatures as low as minus 40C. She will then start the tricky descent, returning to base camp by 22 May and the UK in early June.
Hughes, from Torbay in Devon was first inspired to climb Mount Everest when as part of her sports psychology degree at UWE Bristol she interviewed seven Everest summiteers and learned of their different psychological experiences on the mountain.  She now also has first-hand experience of the fears and challenges presented by Everest. Hughes explained: “To climb Mount Everest is an incredible experience; one that is also the ultimate test of your psychological resolve and ability to cope with physical suffering. 
“After over two years of preparation, training is going well and I am really excited to be climbing with Jon Gupta. I am also hugely appreciative to have the invaluable financial and technical support of Tiso the outdoor adventure specialist for an ascent of the spectacular north side of the mountain that will push us to the limit.
“I love climbing and adventurous activities.  Hopefully, my second expedition to Mount Everest will inspire other young women to realise that with careful planning and determination, challenges can be overcome and dreams achieved.”   
While many climbers choose to ascend from the south, the north route from a base camp in Tibet, China is considered to expose the mountaineers to colder and windier conditions. This route includes an arduous and psychologically testing final day of ascentover three prominent rocky steps on the northeast ridge. All negotiated at an altitude of over 8,500 metres (28,000ft) in the so-called ‘death zone.’
Chris Tiso, CEO of Tiso Group and who was part of the 2000 Tiso expedition on which Polly Murray became the first Scottish woman to summit Mount Everest, believes Hughes can achieve her dream: “A talented and focused climber, Mollie Hughes is an inspirational young woman.  I am very proud that Tiso will be returning to Mount Everest in support of Mollie Hughes Everest 2017 bid for which she is making meticulous preparation. All at Tiso Group wish her a safe and successful expedition.”
In addition to support from Tiso Group, Hughes is also receiving help from the philanthropist Kae Tinto Murray, from Osprey Backpacks and the engineering firm ch2m. Mollie Hughes, Everest 2017 expedition also hopes to raise thousands of pounds for Cancer Research UK.
For further information about Mollie Hughes Everest 2017 expedition, visit: www.tiso.com/everest 
To support Mollie Hughes fundraising for Cancer Research UK, please visit:
Mount Everest – selected records
1924: British climbers George Mallory and Andrew Irvine attempt summit from the north side.  Unknown if they ever made the summit
1953: Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary – first climbers confirmed to reach summit
1960: Chinese team claim to make first summit from north side of Everest
1975: Junko Tabei (Japan) – first woman to summit Mount Everest
1975: First ascent of south-west face of Everest by a British team led by Sir Chris Bonington. Doug Scott and the late Dougal Haston reach the summit
1988: Lydia Bradey (NZ) makes first female ascent without supplemental oxygen
1993: Rebecca Stephens becomes the first British woman to climb Mount Everest
1995: The late Alison Hargreaves becomes the second British woman to climb Everest, ascending alone via the north ridge
1999: Kathy O’Dowd (South Africa) becomes the first woman at the age of 31 to climb Everest from both the south col (1996) and north col (1999)
16 May 2000: Polly Murray - first Scottish woman to summit Mount Everest
2012: Leanna Shuttleworth (England) and 19 years old becomes the youngest British woman to summit Mount Everest
2012: Mollie Hughes (England) summits Mount Everest from the south side aged 21
2016: Lynne Hannah (Northern Ireland), at the age of 54, becomes the first British woman to summit Mount Everest from both the south (2009) and north (2016)
BGF makes £10m investment in Frontrow

30 January 2017

BGF makes £10m investment in Frontrow

Monday 30 January, 2017: BGF (Business Growth Fund), the UK’s leading growth capital investor, has invested £10m in Frontrow Energy Technology Group to support the company’s growth plans, alongside a £3m investment from the Group’s founders.

Formed in 2013, the Frontrow team has acquired, established and grown a group of energy service companies, creating a hub for the development of exciting new technologies and providing entrepreneurial teams with operational guidance and expertise. 

Companies already in the Group include Well-Sense, a downhole technology business with an innovative and low cost way of collecting data from oil wells; Well-Centric, a provider of wellhead servicing operations offshore; and Interventek, a subsea technology business with a unique ‘shear and seal’ valve designed to reduce the cost of subsea well interventions while improving safety and reliability. The companies are based in the same incubator facility in Dyce, Aberdeenshire and have access to extensive shared resources.

Frontrow will use BGF’s funding to expand its resources and infrastructure, allowing it to develop even more promising young technology companies in the region’s energy industry. The investment follows a record year for BGF in the UK, and enables it to unlock much needed investment into a higher number of businesses across Scotland, and in the North East of Scotland in particular. 

Frontrow was set up by chairman Graeme Coutts, the former chief executive at Expro Group and current chairman of BGF portfolio companies Spex Group and STATS Group. The Group is led by chief executive Stuart Ferguson, former Chief Technology Officer at Weatherford, with an established track record in building valuable oilfield technology businesses. The senior team also includes non-executive director Colin Smith, who sold his Petrowell business to Weatherford in 2012, and executive director Frank Summers, who ran the successful Simmons Fund 1 leading investments in Red Spider Technology, Xodus and EFC.

Mike Sibson, an investor in BGF’s Aberdeen office who will join the board of Frontrow, said: “The past two years have been incredibly challenging for companies operating in the North East of Scotland’s oil and gas industry, and many entrepreneurs have understandably been shaken by the downturn. 
“Despite these strong headwinds in the energy industry, and across the whole of UK, 2016 was a record year for BGF, and we will continue partnering, supporting and investing as part of our strategy to provide truly long-term capital to companies scaling up.  

“This deal allows us not only to invest in the growth and development of Frontrow, but it also extends our reach into younger, earlier stage companies in oil and gas, and the broader energy industry. We are backing a team with a deep understanding of energy technology, a strong industry network and the operational experience to bring new products to market.”

Graeme Coutts, chairman at Frontrow Energy Technology Group, said: “This funding will allow us to acquire and to grow more high-potential companies in the energy sector. Our vision is to build a group of world-leading technology businesses based here in the North East of Scotland, which has long been a centre for the development of downhole and subsea technologies.

“We’ve had a long-standing relationship with Mike Sibson and his colleagues, so BGF was top of our list when we wanted to expand Frontrow’s capability. We’re not just tapping into the capital that BGF can supply but also into its expertise and network too.”

BGF’s other portfolio companies in the oil and gas industry include STATS Petrotechnics and Rovop, while its investments in the broader North-East business community consist of IT services business Inoapps, optician chain Duncan & Todd and food and garden waste firm Keenan Recycling.

BGF is taking a minority stake in Frontrow as part of the investment. 

Contact Beeline PR

Find out how Beeline PR can help your business:

24 Braid Road Edinburgh EH10 6AD

0131 466 2282 / 07990 570 220 debbie@beelinepr.com