Could Peebles Hydro be advertising the best job in the world?

As the nation trudges through ‘Blue Monday’, widely believed to be the most depressing day of the year, and the thought of getting out of bed and going to work is too much for many, Peebles Hydro may have just the antidote to those January blues – a job, career and escape to put a smile on even the weariest of faces…

Peebles Hydro are recruiting for a Head of Fun.

The 125-year-old hotel, located in the heart of the Scottish Borders and under 25 miles from Edinburgh, is searching for someone energetic and creative who can lead the way on all the fun things guests can do at the rural resort, from running the Bike Zone to creating innovative activities to engage children in the Kids Club.

Usually landing on the third Monday of January, this year’s Blue Monday has arrived on January 18th 2016 and, at what is a notoriously gloomy time of year for many people, Peebles Hydro hope their new job opening will inspire people to dump the desk job and apply to be part of something special where no one day is the same.

Patrick Diack, General Manager of Peebles Hydro, commented:

“We cannot think of a better time of year to recruit for a Head of Fun. January can be such a gruelling time of year for many and perhaps ‘Blue Monday’ will bring us some amazing applicants who are ready to have some fun at Peebles Hydro. The position is certainly not a desk job, this is a hand-on position for someone who gets a kick out of bringing a smile to the faces of people of all ages and is adept at connecting with people.”

Peebles Hydro, part of the Crieff Hydro Family of Hotels, is a hotel steeped in history welcoming visitors for over a century. A traditional grand building, Peebles Hydro has embraced the modern, while retaining its heritage and appeal as an idyllic and relaxing country retreat, offering a state-of-the art gym and pool, a luxuriously rejuvenating spa, a beautifully refurbished grand dining room and an array of leisure activities for guests to enjoy in the leisure resort.

To apply to be the Head of Fun at Peebles Hydro, visit www.crieffhydro.com/leisure/our-jobs/

www.peebleshydro.co.uk

Design Grants Available

No such thing as a free picnic? Well, perhaps there is. Scottish Enterprise have recently launched their Scottish Enterprise By Design grant which can enable businesses to tap into support of up £5000 towards design for your business.

Scottish businesses can now apply for support from £2000 up to £5000 to help design new products, websites, packaging and all the things that make make your business not only look great, but drive success. And the very good news is that Volpa can help you with all of it…..

Here’s some details on the grant:

Who can apply?

  • VAT registered companies in Scotland (except Highlands and Islands) looking to develop new products or services
  • You must be able to contribute at least 25% of the cost
  • You must be able to fund the project up front
  • You must be able to demonstrate the benefits of the project
  • While you don’t have to be trading, you do have to be VAT registered, and be able to describe how the grant will help take your product or service to market
  • If you’re a social enterprise company, you can still apply as long as you are trading and VAT registered.

What can you use it for?

  • Design a new product or service or improve the design of existing products or services
  • Hire a designer to help improve your business processes
  • Updated branding and packaging as part of a larger innovation project, however this must not make up the whole of the project
  • External research providing information on customer needs and wants
  • Hire an expert to help write a design brief or prepare a design blueprint
  • Develop a more user-friendly approach to new product development
  • Hire an expert to help your business use design more effectively
  • Expert advice and feasibility studies
  • Designing and developing a website, as long as the website is part of a project and the costs don’t make up more than 10% of the grant amount.

If you’d like to apply, all you have to do is head over to the Scottish Enterprise website. But if you fancy having a chat first about how we can help, please get in touch on 01738 658187 or email us on info@volpa.co.uk and we’ll set up a meeting to have a chat.

Newlyweds’ p-p-perfect visit to aquarium on dream wedding day

Staff at St Andrew’s Aquarium in Fife were met with a rather unusual request one Saturday afternoon late last November, when a newlywed couple turned up at their reception desk in their wedding attire and asked if they could visit the resident penguins.

Graeme Mackenzie wanted to surprise his penguin-obsessed new wife Carrie-Anne with an impromptu trip to the popular seaside aquarium, right after getting hitched at St. Andrew’s Holy Trinity Church and before the glittering reception at the famous Old Course Hotel. The childhood sweethearts, who met at school in Banff, Aberdeenshire at the age of 16, married on 21st November 2015.

Speaking about his whirlwind big day, Graeme commented:

“Carrie-Anne had no idea about the visit to the aquarium. I told her we were going to get some photos taken on the beach, which she didn’t look too pleased about considering the freezing weather! When she realised that we were pulling up into the aquarium carpark, I saw that her eyes started to fill up with tears – luckily they were happy tears!

He continued:

“We turned up, me in my kilt and Carrie-Anne in her gigantic dress, and if I remember rightly, I said ‘I just got married, this is my new wife and she loves penguins, will you let us in to see them?’ and luckily they let us straight through!”

The staff, who were just preparing for the daily penguin talk, were delighted to be able to give the couple some time to enjoy the special moment together.

John Mace, Owner of St Andrew’s Aquarium commented:

“It was a lovely surprise to see Graeme and Carrie-Anne visit the aquarium just after getting married and we we’re thrilled to be part of their very special day. We hope to see them back for one of our special penguin feeding sessions soon so they can meet the penguins properly!”

After moving to Glasgow in 2013, Graeme has had no choice but to embrace Carrie-Anne’s love of penguins and has allowed penguin bed covers, cushions and ornaments into the house, along with more stuffed toys than he cares to count.

Recalling their joy and the excitement of other visitors at the aquarium, Graeme added:

“Seeing the penguins meant so much to us both and there were so many well-wishers at the aquarium, some of the little children thought Carrie-Anne was a princess! The staff were incredibly generous in letting us in and we’re looking forward to going back and picking up a little souvenir to add to Carrie-Anne’s large collection of penguins – perhaps in slightly more casual attire this time.

When asked why penguins are so special to them, Graeme continued:

“Carrie-Anne’s love for penguins isn’t something I think she could ever articulate. She just loves everything about them – you can imagine what happened when she saw the John Lewis advert last year! For me, every time I see a penguin I think of her and, more importantly, they mate for life so I think they’re a great role model for us.”

The beautiful moment was captured by photographer Emma Lawson.

To find out more about St Andrews Aquarium, visit www.standrewsaquarium.co.uk

Volpa Set to Expand in 2016

Perth-based integrated communications agency Volpa is set to expand in 2016, following another year of rapid growth.

The award-winning marketing firm, which has made a name for itself for delivering cunningly good publicity, added several big names to its client roster in 2015 and is set to recruit more staff to fulfil burgeoning demand for its services in 2016.

Volpa provides marketing, public relations, design and digital services. Its newest contracts include public relations for Balhousie Care Group, one of Scotland’s leading providers of elderly care with 25 homes spanning the North East of Scotland, design services for Horsecross Arts, the creative organisation that runs Perth Concert Hall and the soon to be refurbished Perth Theatre; and design services for Stirling Venues, the accommodation, conference and events arm of the University of Stirling.

These clients join an impressive portfolio at Volpa which includes high-profile names in tourism and hospitality such as The Enchanted Forest, St. Andrews Aquarium, The Famous Grouse Experience, Scotland’s Secret Bunker, Dundee Science Centre and Scone Palace.

The past two years have seen rapid and healthy growth for Volpa. In 2015 alone the firm took on 20 new clients, doubled its staff to eight and expanded its office space at Castlecroft’s King James VI Business Centre in Perth. The firm, run by serial entrepreneur and marketing expert Tricia Fox, is set to hire two additional team members this year.

Last year also saw Volpa listed in the national Recommended Agency Register (RAR) of marketing services suppliers for the seventh year running, as well as four more awards nominations including a shortlisting for Outstanding Small PR Consultancy at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations Scotland’s Pride Awards, and Business Growth at the Perthshire Chamber of Commerce Business Star Awards.

Managing Director Tricia Fox, whose career in marketing spans more than two decades, said:

“Volpa has grown considerably in the last three years and last year was one of exciting growth in both clients and staff, making us the biggest marketing agency servicing the Perthshire region and one of the biggest agencies servicing Tayside. We just took on a new public relations executive and we’ll shortly be hiring an operations manager and a second full-time graphic designer. All of this means an even wider skill set for our clients to work with. Retaining clients while at the same time generating new business is, I think, testament to the hard work of Team Volpa and the exceptional work they can deliver. We’re all incredibly excited for what 2016 will bring.”

Why your PR Activity Should not just Focus on Print

The day most of knew was coming, has undoubtedly arrived.

The annual Ofcom study is reported to suggest that only 31 per cent of the general population read a printed newspaper now to stay informed, making it officially the least popular form of news coverage.

So, while traditional PR agencies are still scrambling to generate press cuttings, more progressive agencies have been embracing digital, as well as exploring new opportunities generated by more traditional broadcast outlets such as television and radio.

The drop in print newspaper readership on last year is around a 25% down on 2014’s 41 per cent of the population. TV news and the internet, on 67 per cent and 41 per cent respectively, are comfortably ahead of their rivals, whereas radio is just slightly ahead on 32 per cent.

 

What is clear, however, is that we’re in new territory for using public relations to, well, reach the general public.

25 per cent of the population now use their mobile phones to keep up to date with the news, only 14 per cent rely on word of mouth. The changing media landscape is even more stark, however, when you consider that more young people (59 per cent) access news online compared to around 50 per cent who access news on television.

Topping the leaderboard as news sources? It will be no surprise that BBC1 leads the pack with 48 per cent and its closest rival, ITV neck and neck with the BBC’s app and website, all on 23 per cent. For those considering social media as part of their PR mix, 12 per cent of the country get their news content from Facebook – the same as Sky News.

The lesson to be learned here? If your PR agency isn’t prioritising digital and broadcast opportunities for you, and including social within their media mix, it may be time to ask them why.

They might not think it’s important. But the public do.

Home Owners Facing a Billion Pound Property Bill

Almost 1.2million home owners in Scotland are collectively picking up the tab for a land registration bill that could amount to over £900,000,000 as the Scottish Government pushes forward its plans to have all Scottish properties registered in the Land Register by 2024. A bill which, in the opinion of a property law expert at Tayside Solicitors and Estate Agents, Miller Hendry, delivers little benefit for both the home owners and those involved in processing the data.

Alistair Duncan, Partner at Miller Hendry and Head of both Commercial and Residential Property explained:

“While there are clear benefits to having a new digitised Land Register providing clear and up-to-date information about land values and ownership, we are coming across a number of situations whereby clients are having to meet substantial costs with no benefit apparent to them.

“There are a significant number of titles – nearly 1.2million – which are not held on the Land Register, sometimes known as Sasine titles. Until now, certain transfers of properties held by way of a Sasine title followed a straight forward process. However, due to the Government’s plans, potential costs for these properties have increased significantly. Existing property owners on Sasine titles actually have perfectly valid rights of ownership and there is no significant or legal reason for it to change their position.”

One of the aims of the Land Registration (Scotland) Act 2012 is to speed up completion and modernisation of the Land Register of Scotland. The Land Register, a map-based register of titles, was brought into effect in 1979 to replace the existing General Register of Sasines, also known as the Sasine Register.

Dating back to 1617, the Sasine Register is the oldest public register of land ownership in the world. However, it is not map-based and is instead a chronological list of land deeds. After introduction of the Land Register in 1979, progress of completing the registration of all titles to land in Scotland has been slower than originally thought and, crucially, slower than the Scottish Government would like. Legislation imposing compulsory registration has been introduced but it has been suggested that the supposed benefits are not immediately apparent to property owners and, in fact, the government aim will have homeowners seriously counting the costs of increased fees for no tangible outcome.

The move to the map-based Land Register involves an application for registration of all the relevant titles rather than just the effective deed and requires a one-off examination of all relevant titles and, if required under the new legislation, preparation of a new deed plan and pre-registration Plans Report, which is where additional costs arise.

Alistair Duncan commented:

“The types of transfer affected include transfers where there is no price paid. An example of which would be a gift between husband and wife or parent to child, and where property is inherited from an owner who has died. The additional costs incurred will vary from case to case but, as an indication, the registration of title process will increase legal fees by approximately £600 including VAT. Clients may also be looking at additional costs for deed plans, which are not prepared by lawyers and generally outsourced to surveyors at a cost of around £100, and pre-registration reports of up to £150. These costs mount up so most property owners are facing costs of over £700 for each property, not including the registration dues charged by the Land Register which are based on the value of your property.”

Mr Duncan continued:

“The new scheme is undoubtedly affecting those who wish to provide a legacy for their loved ones. In recent years, there has been an increase in the elderly considering equity release schemes and they are set to particularly suffer as a result of Land Registration. From April 1st 2016, a remortgage of a Sasine title will likewise trigger a compulsory registration in the Land Register, thereby increasing the costs of remortgaging for some property owners. Again, it is likely that this will impact on elderly clients as many elderly clients have remained in the family home and their titles are recorded in the Sasine Register. People need to be aware that this particular government scheme is currently not a mandatory one but will be compulsory from April 2016.”

As an incentive, the Scottish Government are encouraging voluntary registration of Sasine titles by offering a 25% discount on the registration dues charged by the land Register to those property owners who voluntarily register their property in the Land Register but, by doing so, existing property owners will still incur the legal costs and other outlays.

Mr Duncan added:

“As unintended as the consequences of Land Registration may be, the implications are not just affecting home owners but public authorities too, with the Government insistent that their properties are also placed on the Land Register. This is a mammoth task which is tying up legal departments of public authorities across Scotland. It also begs the question of whether it is an effective use of what are already stretched and limited public resources.”

For further advice or for information about Miller Hendry, visit www.millerhendry.co.uk