RRS Discovery enters vital restoration phase, launches crowdfunding appeal


TV presenter Lorraine Kelly is fronting a crowdfunding campaign which will back RRS Discovery, Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s famous expedition ship, in a vital restoration phase.

The ship, which is docked at Discovery Point in Dundee, is about to enter a nine-month repair programme which will see its masts come down and its rigging cleaned and repaired. Dundee Heritage Trust, which owns the ship – now a major visitor attraction for the city – wants to raise £40,000 towards the highly detailed work, which will cost £350,000 in total.

A crowdfunding campaign launched this week features Lorraine Kelly, a patron of Dundee Heritage Trust, long-time supporter of RRS Discovery and resident of Dundee. “The Discovery was built to last a relative few years in one of the harshest environments on the planet. That’s why ongoing maintenance and restoration are essential, to keep her looking outstanding and also to maintain her position as one of Dundee’s favourite visitor attractions – she’s certainly one of mine! Dundonians quite rightly feel a kind of ownership of her,” says Lorraine in a video that accompanies the campaign.

Dundee Heritage Trust has appointed maritime consultant John Watson for the rigging project. John was instrumental in getting RRS Discovery back to Dundee in 1986 and is a former chief executive for Dundee Port Authority. The work will be carried out by T. Neilsen & Company, a world specialist in repairing, restoring and building traditional ships, based in Gloucester.

RRS Discovery will be closed for three weeks in November while the masts come down, during which time Discovery Point will remain open for business with entry at a discounted rate.

Donors to the crowdfunding campaign, which runs throughout November, will receive a range of rewards, depending on the size of their donation.

Paul Jennings, executive director for Dundee Heritage Trust, said:

“We’re proud of the fact that RRS Discovery and Discovery Point are one of Dundee’s most popular visitor attractions. However, regular and detailed upkeep of this historic vessel is vital and as a charitable trust we rely on the generosity of the public. That’s why we’re asking for donations, however big or small, towards the rigging project. It’s only through proper maintenance and restoration that we can ensure she will be here for Dundonians and their families to enjoy for many more years to come.”

Dundee Heritage Trust, formed in 1985 to preserve and interpret Dundee’s industrial past, operates RRS Discovery and social history museum Verdant Works, both five-star rated attractions and winners of numerous awards.

The public can make donations here: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/rrs-discovery-conservation-project-2016-17?tk=a0e313b9371e91223be21265ebf508d59957318b

For more information visit www.rrsdiscovery.com


Perth Entrepreneur to address national conference on Living Wage

Perth businesswoman Tricia Fox, founder of Perth-based integrated communications agency Volpa, is to address hundreds of Scotland’s leading businesses at the upcoming Living Wage Expo Conference 2016, to held in Glasgow next week on Monday 31st October.

Kicking off Living Wage Week 2016, the conference is being held at the University of Strathcylde’s Technology and Innovation Centre and invites both accredited and non-accredited businesses to find out more about the benefits of being a Living Wage employer. Tricia, who gained her MSc in Marketing from Strathclyde University in 1999, will be sharing advice on how businesses can make the most out of their Living Wage accreditation, as well as help spread the word about the benefits of being a Living Wage employer, through the use of traditional and social media.

The conference, run by the Poverty Alliance, will also be addressed by Mr Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Employability and Training as well as Professor Mike Kelly, former chair of the Living Wage Foundation and a visiting Professor of Accounting and Finance at Strathclyde University. Fellow Perth business, SSE, will also be represented by Rachel McEwen, Head of Sustainability for SSE, who will open the conference alongside the Principal of Strathclyde University, Sir Jim McDonald.

According to the Office for National Statistics it is estimated that around 3.9 million people in the UK live in poverty and a staggering 32.5% of the population say they have experienced hardship at some point in the three-year period between 2011 and 2014. One of the key root causes, which many independent reports point to, is the inability of individuals to escape the low wage trap.

The Living Wage is an hourly rate set independently and updated annually. Unlike the Government’s National Living Wage, introduced earlier this year, The Living Wage is calculated according to the basic cost of living using the ‘Minimum Income Standard’ for the UK and is inclusive of all employees regardless of their age. Decisions about what to include in this standard are set by the public; it is a social consensus about what people need to make ends meet. It is different to the recently introduced National Living Wage, set by the UK Government, which is still considerably lower at £7.20 compared to the current Living Wage rate of £8.25.

Volpa was accredited by the Living Wage Foundation, in partnership with the Poverty Alliance, in April 2015. Tricia Fox, Managing Director of Volpa commented:

“Being a responsible business is about making a difference to both your customers and your employees, it’s not just about delivering profit to the bottom line in any given year. Employees are at the heart of any business and it’s important to have a team that are focused on delivering your business exceptional results. Not only that, becoming a Living Wage Employer can boost the profile of your business and it’s a great thing to be able to shout about through the media and on social media. Modern employers really need to start asking themselves how they can pay a living wage, not if.

Tricia continued:

“I’m proud that Volpa can call itself a Living Wage Employer and I’m happy to support the movement in encouraging other businesses to help make poverty a thing of the past.”

To find out more about Tricia’s commitment to Living Wage, visit http://www.cunninglygoodmediatraining.co.uk/why-living-wage-accreditation-is-important/

To attend the free event, visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/living-wage-expo-conference-2016-registration-27023232215

Balhousie Care Group shortlisted for two Scottish Care Awards

Balhousie Wheatlands Care Home was shortlisted for Most Innovative Partnership for its work with Lingo Flamingo and Balhousie Ruthven Towers Home manager, Jozi Stables, was shortlisted for her work with The Princes Trust in the Training and Development category.

Balhousie Care Group joined forces with The Prince’s Trust Scotland earlier this year to offer young people the opportunity to train for a career in the care sector. Seven young people took part in the five-week training programme. Speaking of her Training and Development shortlisting, Ruthven Tower’s Care Home manager Jozi Stables explained:

“It’s wonderful that this fantastic initiative has been recognised by Scottish Care. There are many perceptions about what a care role looks like and there is a lack of awareness about how rewarding and varied it can be. By introducing young people to the industry in partnership with organisations such as The Prince’s Trust, we have been able to open care up to people who perhaps wouldn’t have considered it before.”

Balhousie Wheatlands Care Home has been recognised for their partnership with Lingo Flamingo, which saw them introduce foreign language classes to residents with dementia. Evidence suggests that people who can speak foreign languages can delay dementia symptoms by up to five years. Grace Sloan, Home Manager at Balhousie Wheatlands Care Home added:

“I’m absolutely thrilled that Wheatlands has been shortlisted for their work on this fantastic project. It’s been such a delight to see our residents learning foreign languages with the tutors from Lingo Flamingo and, from week to week, seeing how they have developed and enjoyed each session has been wonderful.”

Louise Barnett, Director of Operations at Balhousie Care Group, commented:

“Balhousie Care Group is delighted to have been shortlisted for two awards at this year’s Scottish Care Awards and it is a testament to the hard work of the staff at Wheatlands, Ruthven Towers and across the organisation. We are working hard to offer residents the very best, personalised care through initiatives like Lingo Flamingo as well as passing on skills and knowledge to the younger generation through our work with The Princes Trust Scotland.

Louise continued:

“It’s brilliant to see their hard work recognised by Scottish Care and we look forward to the award ceremony next month.”

The Scottish Care Awards take place on Friday 18th November at the Hilton Hotel Glasgow following on from the Scottish Care Home Conference and Exhibition during the day at the same venue.

To find out more about Balhousie Care Group, visit www.balhousiecare.co.uk

Time for employers to change with the times when it comes to workplace dress codes, solicitors firm warns

Workplace dress codes: they’re no longer about ties and skirt lengths, they extend to religious headgear, tattoos and more. And with such a complicated set of factors, it’s time employers took a good look at their rules and changed with the times, says Tayside solicitors firm Miller Hendry.

Rules surrounding workplace dress were highlighted again recently when the Trades Union Congress approved a petition launched by Nicola Thorp, who was told to wear shoes with a heel at her job with consultancy firm PwC. Thorp’s petition has attracted more than 150,000 signatures. The deadline for signatures is 9th November. Parliament will consider for debate all petitions that get more than 100,000 signatures.

This month a new research paper and dress code guidance from the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) stressed that dress codes should not be stricter for one gender over another, nor discriminatory in terms of age, disability, gender reassignment, religion, belief, sex or sexual orientation. It also suggests that employers consult with their employees over any proposed dress code.

The new ACAS guidance highlights the fact that dress codes today go beyond neckties and skirt lengths. Its research found that public and private sector employers had issues with people with visible tattoos, and yet almost a third of young people now have tattoos. “So while it remains a legitimate business decision, a dress code that restricts people with tattoos might mean companies are missing out on talented workers,” said Stephen Williams, head of equality with ACAS.

Alan Matthew, employment expert at solicitors firm Miller Hendry, with offices in Dundee, Perth and Crieff, said: “When an employer can send home a worker for not wearing high heels, as happened with Nicola Thorp, and when managers can have a problem with tattoos – and yet a third of young people have them – clearly it was time for a new set of rules surrounding workplace dress codes.

“We would urge employers to draw up their workplace dress rules carefully and to be attuned not to their individual preferences, but to the needs and image of the workplace as a whole, as well as societal trends.”

For further advice or information on employment law or other legal issues, visit www.millerhendry.co.uk

Why Living Wage Accreditation is Important

It’s just one week to go until Living Wage Week begins. We’re still firmly in the throes of a post-brexit-vote economy, and it’s literally only 9 weeks (and two paydays) until Christmas.

Now anyone who’s ever met me will tell you I’m a capitalist through and through. But I’m also the owner of a small, but beautifully formed, service business. An employer of ten people. And it’s a job I take very seriously indeed.

About 18 months ago I applied to the Poverty Alliance to become a Living Wage employer.

About twenty years ago I spent a year studying at Bradford University. Not far from the university was a little place called Saltaire, and I fell in love with Saltaire.

Set in a Yorkshire valley with the magnificent 19th century textile mill right at its heart, owned originally by 19th century entrepreneur Titus Salt, Saltaire was built by Titus Salt to move his employees from the then polluted and overcrowded slums of industrial Bradford to a healthier living format in the midst of the Yorkshire countryside. Salt’s vision as an employer created a unique community which is preserved even to this day as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For those who are fans of literature, Salt’s story is not that far removed from Elizabeth Gaskell’s story North and South, which sees a progressive mill owner strive to break down the barriers to find a common ground in fixing the plights of the downtrodden working class employees, to the benefit of the production output of the mill.

Both stories emanating from the mid 1800s, one fact and one fictional, you’d be forgiven for wondering what on earth this has to do with modern employment practices and my answer to this is simply: a lot.

Just last month SportsDirect was heavily criticized for maintaining working practices akin to the “Victorian workhouse” creating turmoil for the business in the weeks that followed. Already, since the introduction of the Government’s National Living Wage (which is lower than the real Living Wage), there has been a 23% increase in companies reporting financial distress.

Yet, despite our apparent wealth in this country, 3.9million people in the UK still live in poverty according to the Office for National Statistics, and a staggering 32.5% of the population experiencing hardship at some point in a three year period. one of the key root causes, which many reports point to, is the inability to escape the low wage trap. Worsened further still by the minimum wage (now called the National Living Wage) not actually being sufficient for a full-time employed person to live off.

As employers we are very much the solution to this problem. Which is why Volpa became a Living Wage Employer. This goes above and beyond the Government’s National Living Wage, seeking to ensure that the people who work for you can come to work focused on their job, not how they are going to pay the electric bill this month, or whether or not they can afford Christmas this year, but actually focused on earning a living.

So if you are curious about what it all means, and how to find out more, why not come along to the Living Wage Expo Conference in Glasgow on Monday 31st October and get involved. There will even be a session from yours truly on how to make the most of your Living Wage accreditation once you’re successful.



Colours of Cluny preparations get underway thanks to local funding

Forres Features, the Community Interest Company behind the staging of the inaugural Colours of Cluny, have announced that, thanks to substantial local funding donations, preparations are well underway for Forres’ first spectacular light and sound show, taking place from 9th-20th November.

Colours of Cluny, to take place in Forres’ Grant Park and Cluny Hill, a popular gathering place for the town, is a self-funded event with any profits arising being reinvested into staging future similar events. The Budge Foundation, set up by Aberdeen-based Bill Budge, who was born in Forres, and his wife Lorraine to support cultural and education-related projects in Scotland and worldwide, has given the project their backing with a generous £25,000 donation.

Other donations have come from The Berry Burn Foundation, who donated £10,000, Highland and Islands Enterprise, who donated £17,500, Forres Events Ltd (the organisers of “Piping in Forres”), Forres Area Local Forum and Forres Common Good Fund. In addition, BAM Nuttall, in conjunction with Network Rail, the company currently developing the new station in Forres, have agreed to meet the cost of the generators which power the event.

Bill Budge commented:
“My wife Lorraine and I are delighted to assist with this fantastic project, which offers so much for all age groups. We never cease to be impressed with what the many volunteers within the Forres area achieve and believe that it will be a great benefit for local businesses and families. Colours of Cluny has the potential to be another fantastic event on the annual calendar to promote the town and deliver a very positive reason to be in Forres.”

The interactive family show has been developed by the same creative team who are behind the multi-award-winning Pitlochry sound and light show, The Enchanted Forest. Set to enhance the natural landscape in a dramatic and mesmerising mixture of sound and light, bringing awe to children and igniting a playful sense in adults, Colours of Cluny follows a route that begins close to the town centre with an illuminated walk through Grant Park, up Cluny Hill, before culminating in a show-stopping finale at the historic Nelson’s Tower.

Graham Murdoch, Chairman of Forres Features Community Interest Company, commented:
“We’re extremely grateful for all donations from charitable trusts such as The Budge Foundation and The Berry Burn Community Fund. Thanks to the generous support from all of our backers, we’re delighted to be moving forward with this exiting project, the first of its kind in Morayshire. The local support shows that Colours of Cluny really is a community effort and we can’t wait to welcome locals and visitors alike to enjoy the fantastic show we have planned.”

The show will run from Wednesday 9th to Sunday 20th November and tickets are available by visiting the website at www.coloursofcluny.com.

Carling Property Group acquire Alloway Halls in Dundee and become Scotland’s largest independent residential landlord

Dundee property and investment firm Carling Property Group has this week confirmed the acquisition of Alloway Halls in Dundee from Abertay University in a seven figure deal that sees them take the lead as Scotland’s largest independent residential landlord.

The 148 tenancies secured in the purchase of the building, takes Carling Property Group’s portfolio to over 350 properties making them the biggest independent group in Scotland and one of the biggest in the UK.

The Group last year took the award for Most Outstanding Affordable Housing Provider in the UK 2015 at the UK Over 50s Housing Awards and this latest addition to their portfolio puts them firmly on track to own 1000 properties within the next 5 years.

Graeme Carling, co-founder of Carling Property Group, commented:

“We are delighted to have successfully acquired Alloway Halls from the University of Abertay who were an absolute pleasure to deal with. This is a significant purchase for our business and is part of a multi-million pound plan for the site. There’s a tangible shortage of quality affordable housing in Scotland, and a collection of well-maintained properties like this will help us to plug that gap.

“The residential property investment market is a volatile landscape for small operators at the moment and, with the introduction of new tax changes, investment in this sector will undoubtedly become increasingly difficult. As a sustainable business with the intent to provide affordable housing at our core, Carling Property Group believe scale is vitally important to ensuring the future of affordable housing in the UK providing good quality and value for tenants and we’re well on track to achieving those aims.”

Situated to the north of Dundee, Alloway Halls were built by the University in the 1980s and enjoy excellent views of the Sidlaw Hills with easy access to the main travel routes in to and out of the city centre. They were refurbished by the University in recent years and, as well as the student accommodation blocks of which there are three, the purchase also includes two on-site three-bedroomed caretakers’ bungalows.

The deal was part financed by The Bank of Scotland, and overseen by McVey and Murricane in Glasgow, one of Scotland’s largest conveyancing practices.

To find out more about Carling Property Group visit www.carlingpropertygroup.com

Crieff Hydro voted U.K.’s top family hotel in Sunday Times listing


Crieff Hydro has sealed its position as one of the country’s leading resorts by being voted the U.K.’s top family hotel by The Sunday Times.

In a listing of the Ultimate 100 British hotels by The Sunday Times last weekend, Crieff Hydro was voted winner in the Family Hotel section. The newspaper’s prestigious travel section described the 900-acre resort as offering a “bumper buffet of ways to wear out the offspring”, listing its supervised kids’ clubs, swimming pool, mini zoo, riding stables and water sports, kids’ tea, quiz nights and an in-house cinema.

“It’s big, but no bunfight and there’s no campfight nonsense,” said The Sunday Times, listing Crieff Hydro’s accommodation options, which range from bedroom suites to self-catering cabins.

Located in the heart of Highland Perthshire, Crieff Hydro has invested around £40 million in its facilities in recent years with, most recently, a play zone for 8- to 12-year-olds. Featuring traditional board games, PlayStation and Xbox One and Kinect consoles, the tween zone is part of Big Country, a child care facility for 2- to 12-year-olds which is included in room rates.

With more than 200 bedrooms, 50 self-catering units, 6 eating places and over 60 on-site activities, Crieff Hydro has consistently won awards as a family business and a family hotel. Accolades include Scottish Hotel Awards’ Family Hotel of the Year and Outstanding Contribution, Herald Scottish Family Business Awards.

Stephen Leckie, CEO of Crieff Hydro Family of Hotels, commented:

“We are thrilled to have been recognised as the country’s best family hotel in last weekend’s Sunday Times listing of ultimate British hotels. This accolade is testament to the consistent hard work and the team effort that goes into making this resort the ideal family getaway. Crieff Hydro began life as a healthy spa getaway in 1868 and we’re proud that in 2016 it’s a healthy family getaway too.

“It’s fair to say we’re not fans of shushing and tutting at Crieff Hydro. The whole resort is designed with families in mind and with kids to the fore.”

More information is at www.crieffhydro.com


MDG Group expands, taking on new premises in Perth city centre

MDG Group, one of Scotland’s leading business cost consultancies, has taken on new premises in Perth’s city centre as part of the company’s planned expansion.

The new premises saw MDG Group’s team of ten staff take up residence in a new city centre office located on Tay Street in Perth, boosting the firm’s profile as a growing Perth business.

Last month saw the appointment of Annette Welch as a Director of both MDG Group and its sister company MDG Telecoms and has recently been nominated for a Perthshire Chamber of Commerce Business Star Award for Most Promising New Business.

Douglas Reid, Managing Director at MDG Group, said:

“Our new office premises are perfect for us, allowing us to expand as well as giving out team a convenient city centre base to work from with excellent public transport links. This is a new stage in MDG’s growth and development as a business and we are delighted to be making Perth city centre our base for future expansion.”

MDG Group specialises in business cost and energy consultancy, obtaining exclusive rates for business energy, water and telecoms contracts – in some cases saving their customers tens of thousands of pounds every year. Established in 1998, they offer businesses a free, no obligation review of their supply contracts and their only income is from commissions earned from savings their customers make. Put simply, their growth is driven solely by their ability to save hundreds of businesses thousands of pounds every year.

For more information on MDG Group visit www.mdggroup.co.uk


Some lucky visitors to The Enchanted Forest this year, will be given regaled with tales from around the world with two internationally renowned storytellers set to join the event’s in house storytellers for a special guest appearance.

On Saturday 15th October, Finnish Storyteller Markus Luukkonen will join Highland Perthshire storyteller Claire Hewitt in her cosy storytelling yurt to share a tale with her. Markus is on a three-month storytelling residency in Scotland. He is a founder member of Finnish Storytelling Association called Samova Ry and also a founder member and storyteller of touring Storytelling Theatre called Erämaateatteri (Wilderness Theatre).

A second visit from Finland will take place on Saturday 29th October, this time from Finnish storyteller Anna-Maria Toivonen, who will join Claire for a special evening of stories and songs from the North of the world in the yurt.

This is not the first time Claire has been joined by storytelling colleagues from around the world, many of whom travel to Scotland for the annual Scottish International Storytelling Festival which this year runs from 21st – 31st October. This annual celebration of traditional and contemporary storytelling brings together artists and audiences from across the world to entertain and inspire with live storytelling performances and fun family activities.

Ian Sim, chairman of The Enchanted Forest Community Trust commented:

“The Enchanted Forest is a unique opportunity for visitors to really see the forest brought to life and the storytelling yurt is a very popular feature for our younger visitors. We are delighted that we are able to welcome such world renowned storytellers, Markus and Anna-Marie, to join with Claire in making these two very special evenings indeed.”

The 15th anniversary show, shimmer, is now sold out and will run throughout the month of October although tickets have now sold out. For more information on the event and to sign up for advance notification of tickets for 2017 visit www.enchantedforest.org.uk.