We did it! It’s all supporters on deck as historic RRS Discovery surpasses its crowdfunding goal

Backers of a campaign to help conserve the historic ship RRS Discovery gathered in Dundee on Wednesday to celebrate surpassing their £40,000 fundraising goal.

And as the pledges kept rolling in right up until the Wednesday lunchtime deadline, surpassing the goal by almost £2000, it was all supporters on deck – and on the quayside at Discovery Point where the famous Antarctic exploration ship is docked.

The five-week crowdfunding campaign, which hit its target a day early, spread worldwide and gained the backing of everyone from schoolchildren to global businesses, a newborn baby to a television celebrity. Despite a nailbiting last few days, in the end more than 250 backers came together to pledge money.

Dundee Heritage Trust launched the campaign to raise £40,000 five weeks ago on crowdfunder.co.uk to pay for vital restoration and preservation work to the masts and rigging of RRS Discovery, which famously took Captain Robert Falcon Scott and crew to the Antarctic for a voyage of scientific exploration.

In a bold move, the Trust made a call out to the public to contribute towards a nine-month cleaning and repair project to the rigging and masts which will cost £350,000 in total. During a painstaking three-week process in which passers-by witnessed the ship gradually being deconstructed, the masts and rigging were removed and have been sent to a specialist shipbuilders in Gloucester for repair.

Dundee Heritage Trust received pledges big and small, from individuals, businesses and heritage groups both locally and worldwide. Backing came from everyone from a newborn baby and pupils at a Dundee primary school, to TV presenter Lorraine Kelly, a patron of Dundee Heritage Trust.

Paul Jennings, executive director of Dundee Heritage Trust, acknowledged that putting Discovery’s fate in the hands of the public was risky. But he said he was always sure of the support of the iconic ship, which returned to Dundee – the city where it was built – in 1986.

Paul Jennings said:

“On behalf of Dundee Heritage Trust I would like to extend my sincere thanks to everyone who pledged money, both in Dundee and further afield. The support we’ve had has been amazing and the fact that we hit it early and that pledges are still coming in is fantastic. Not only does it enable us to carry out this important restoration work on the ship, but it proves how dear RRS Discovery is to people, particularly in her home city.”
Andy Lothian, chairman of Dundee Heritage Trust and chief executive of Insights, headquartered in Dundee, said:

“This rigging project is crucial to the ongoing conservation and preservation of this incredible ship and simply couldn’t be borne out of existing budgets. We’re hugely grateful to everyone who has supported it – and helped us smash our target. I feel strongly that RRS Discovery is one of our national treasures, and the impressive amount of backing this campaign has received clearly demonstrates that many others share my view.”

For Lorraine Kelly, who fronted the crowdfunding campaign five weeks ago with a video appeal, reaching the goal was a double celebration. The TV presenter celebrated her birthday on Wednesday. She said:

“It’s been so gratifying to see people get behind this campaign to help preserve one of the country’s, and in particular Dundee’s, most important visitor attractions. It was a pleasure to front this crowdfunding effort and to see the public and businesses really step up to help. A huge thanks to everyone involved.”

Although the crowdfunding campaign has now closed, Dundee Heritage Trust still welcomes contributions towards the overall cost of the £350,000 rigging project. Anyone wishing to support it should contact Brian Kelly, development officer for Dundee Heritage Trust, or Paul Jennings, executive director for Dundee Heritage Trust. Email Brian on dhtdevelopment@dundeeheritage.co.uk or Paul on paul.jennings@dundeeheritage.co.uk or call 01382 309060.

For more information visit www.rrsdiscovery.com

Top grading for Balhousie Ruthven Towers Care Home

Perthshire-based Ruthven Towers Care Home, which is one of 25 care homes owned by Balhousie Care Group, has been awarded the top grading after an unannounced Care Inspectorate visit this month.

The Care Inspectorate was set up to inspect and regulate care services in Scotland to ensure they meet required care standards and provide users with safe, high quality services. Assessors visited Ruthven Towers on 8th November and assessed two of the four themes: ‘Care and Support’ and ‘Environment’. They received grading of 5 in each area, adding to the two 5’s they received in a previous inspection earlier this year, which looked at ‘Management and Leadership’ and ‘Staffing’.

The recent inspection found that residents’ relatives were “constantly impressed with the calibre of the care team” and that the team at Ruthven Towers go “above and beyond” and “deliver care with professionalism and compassion”.

The report concludes that the care home, which provides accommodation for up to 51 individuals, is “well led by a manager who demonstrated a strong value base and promotion of an individualised approach to residents’ care and support needs.”

Balhousie Care Group recently promoted Jozi Stables from deputy, to home manager at Ruthven Towers, with support from area manager, Yvonne MacKenzie. At 26, Jozi is the youngest home manager at Balhousie Care Group and brings sector experience and enthusiasm after working in the care industry since the age of 14. She was recently named as a finalist at the Scottish Care Awards for her Training and Development partnership with the Prince’s Trust Scotland. Here, she introduced a personalised approach, working with several young people and providing them the opportunity to train for a career in the care sector.

Speaking of the recent inspection, Jozi commented:

“The whole team at Ruthven Towers is absolutely delighted by the grading from the recent Care Inspectorate visit and I’m extremely proud of what we’ve achieved by working together as a team. At Ruthven Towers, we’re dedicated to providing personalised care, which puts our residents, their relatives and our staff at the heart of what we do and they have played a massive part in helping us ensure we offer the very best care and support. It’s great for that to be have been recognised by the Care Inspectorate in their visit.”

Louise Barnett, Operations Manager at Balhousie Care Group, added:

“This is a fantastic outcome for Ruthven Towers and a testament to the hard work of the entire team. They have had a very clear focus over the last 12 months and really worked together to help build relationships within the community to support and deliver on this. There’s a lot of positive energy in the home as they continue to implement a person-centred approach to care. I’m thrilled this has been reflected within the grading and confident that the next 12 months will bring further success.”

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

More than 200 back the historic RRS Discovery as it reaches its £40,000 crowdfunding goal a day early

In a campaign that has spread worldwide and gained the backing of everyone from schoolchildren to global businesses, a newborn baby to a television celebrity, the historic RRS Discovery ship today (29th November) reached its crowdfunding goal.

More than 200 backers came together to reach the ship’s goal of £40,000 a day early. And after a nailbiting last few days the rush of support continues, with owners Dundee Heritage Trust reporting that pledges are still coming in. Supporters are set to gather on Wednesday afternoon at Discovery Point in Dundee to celebrate at the ship, which is open again to visitors after a few weeks of closure.

Dundee Heritage Trust, which operates the iconic Antarctic exploration ship – now an award-winning visitor attraction in Dundee – received pledges big and small, from individuals, businesses and heritage groups both locally and worldwide. Backing came from everyone from a newborn baby and pupils at a Dundee primary school, to TV presenter Lorraine Kelly, a patron of Dundee Heritage Trust.

Dundee Heritage Trust launched the campaign to raise £40,000 five weeks ago on crowdfunder.co.uk to pay for vital restoration and preservation work to the masts and rigging of RRS Discovery, which famously took Captain Robert Falcon Scott and crew to the Antarctic for a voyage of scientific exploration.

In a bold move, the Trust made a call out to the public to contribute towards a nine-month cleaning and repair project to the rigging and masts which will cost £350,000 in total. During a painstaking three-week process in which passers-by witnessed the ship gradually being deconstructed, the masts and rigging were removed and have been sent to a specialist shipbuilders in Gloucester for repair.

Paul Jennings, executive director of Dundee Heritage Trust, acknowledged that putting Discovery’s fate in the hands of the public was risky. But he said he was always sure of the support of the iconic ship, which returned to Dundee – the city where it was built – in 1986.

Paul Jennings said:

“On behalf of Dundee Heritage Trust I would like to extend my sincere thanks to everyone who pledged money, both in Dundee and further afield. The support we’ve had has been amazing and the fact that we hit it early and that pledges are still coming in is fantastic. Not only does it enable us to carry out this important restoration work on the ship, but it proves how dear RRS Discovery is to people, particularly in her home city.”

Lorraine Kelly, who fronted the crowdfunding campaign five weeks ago with a video appeal, said:

“It’s been so gratifying to see people get behind this campaign to help preserve one of the country’s, and in particular Dundee’s, most important visitor attractions. It was a pleasure to front this crowdfunding effort and to see the public and businesses really step up to help. A huge thanks to everyone involved.”

For more information visit www.rrsdiscovery.com

Glenturret-washed Strathearn Cheese receives Gold World Cheese Award

An artisan cheese washed in The Glenturret single malt has received a gold award at the World Cheese Awards, which took place in Northern Spain this month.

‘Strathearn’ from Strathearn Cheese in Comrie is a handmade rennet set cheese hand washed with a brine that’s flavoured with Glenturret’s 10-year-old single malt whisky. The brine, along with a four-week maturation process, gives the cheese a hint of whisky taste.

The awards, which took place during the International Cheese Festival in San Sebastian, Spain, attracts over 3,000 entries from over 25 countries and is judged by over 250 experts; from retailers, buyers, cheesemakers and food commentators. The cheese is split into categories and awarded bronze, silver, gold or ‘super gold’. The ‘super gold’ cheeses then go on to be narrowed down until one cheese is crowned the ‘best cheese in the world’.

Strathearn Cheese launched in January this year and pride themselves on using local ingredients where they can, which made the 10-year-old Glenturret, produced by hand at the nearby Glenturret Distillery in Crieff, a natural choice.

Pierre Leger, who co-owns Strathearn Cheese along with Drew Watson, commented:

“We are both absolutely delighted that judges at the World Cheese Awards awarded a gold award to our Strathearn cheese. There aren’t many cheeses made with whisky in Scotland so being able to showcase a truly Scottish cheese, made with whisky crafted right on our doorstep here in Perthshire, on an international level has been fantastic.”

Stuart Cassells, General Manager at Glenturret Distillery, said:

“At Glenturret Distillery our stillmen still hand mash our ingredients by hand so it was only fitting for us to lend our Glenturret 10-year-old malt to this fantastic handmade, local cheese. For the Strathearn to pick up the gold award is a fantastic success for the guys at Strathearn Cheese and we’re delighted for Glenturret to have played its part in giving it that special flavour.”

For more on The Glenturret visit www.theglenturret.com

For more information about Strathearn Cheese visit www.strathearncheese.co.uk

Colours of Cluny success means event to return in 2017

Organisers of Forres’ first Colours of Cluny event have announced that, due to the resounding success of the 2016 sound and light spectacular, it is to return in November 2017.

Over 12,500 visitors descended on Forres to enjoy the vibrant display of colour and sound during its inaugural 10-night run, enjoying over 600 light fittings and consuming over 20,000 marshmallows.

The event, the first of its kind in Morayshire, was staged by Forres Features Community Interest Company, a non-profit organisation formed by the local community in Forres, who invested just over £120,000 in staging this year’s event, which was staffed by over 50 volunteers from the local community. With over £500,000 of equipment used, all of which had to be hired, transported and put in place, together with being removed at the end of the show by a large number professionals, such events are very expensive to stage.

Ticket sales exceeded organisers expectations for the first year and any proceeds made will provide the working capital for the 2017 event and complement additional grant funding required to stage a larger, more impressive event with many new and exciting features.

Graham Murdoch, Chairman of Forres Features Community Interest Company, commented:

“We’re absolutely delighted by the support of the public and want to thank those who came and enjoyed our first Colours of Cluny. With over 12,500 people attending the event, this truly exceeds what we thought we could achieve in our first year. We aim to build on our success and have decided that Colours of Cluny will be back in November 2017, introducing many new and exciting sound and light concepts and hopefully extending the footprint of the event within Grant Park.

“We have had visitors from as far north as Wick and as far south as Airdrie attending and not only was it wonderful to host an event for the north of Scotland to enjoy, the economic benefit to the local area has been fantastic, with local hotels, restaurants and businesses all benefiting. Initial indications are positive that the event’s impact on the local economy was in excess of £125,000 in its first year.

Graham continued:

 “The best part has been to see people young and old clearly enjoying themselves in our magnificent Grant Park and being so complimentary towards all aspects of the event. One of the first tangible benefits which will come from the event is that we noticed that many people used the benches we placed on the Cluny Hill whilst walking up to see the display. We have decided to pay for the cost of a number of benches and get them permanently installed.”

The self-funded event was helped thanks to substantial local funding donations from The Budge Foundation, The Berry Burn Foundation, Highlands and Island Enterprise, Forres Events Ltd, Forres Area Local Forum and Forres Common Good Fund, as well as donations from many other local businesses.

To find out more about Colours of Cluny, visit www.coloursofcluny.com.

It’s storytime with a difference for these Antarctic explorers

Children from Rosebank Primary School in Dundee wrapped up Book Week Scotland with a storytime with a difference – on board the famous ship RRS Discovery.

Braving icy weather just like Captain Scott and his crew as the temperatures dipped below zero, the kids were treated to a reading of Shiver Me Timbers! by their teacher turned children’s book author Jill Sim.

The children and Jill have a special connection to the historic ship, now an award-winning visitor attraction in Dundee. Jill, a learning support teacher at Rosebank Primary School, has been a volunteer tour guide at RRS Discovery for six years. Her book Shiver Me Timbers! lets the historic ship tell the story of its journey, from being built in Dundee to setting sail and returning home.

Rosebank Primary is the school-in-residence of Dundee Heritage Trust, which runs RRS Discovery. Pupils at the school have been learning about the Antarctic exploration ship and raising money towards a crowdfunding campaign that has until Wednesday to raise £40,000. The funds will go towards a nine-month repair and restoration programme of the ship’s masts and rigging.

Donations to the campaign on crowdfunder.co.uk have been coming in from individuals and businesses, including TV presenter Lorraine Kelly and a substantial pledge from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Rosebank Primary School pupils and staff held two bake sales in support of the campaign.

Shiver Me Timbers! can be bought from the gift shop at Discovery Point. Jill Sim, who is currently working on the sequel to Shiver Me Timbers!, said:

“I grew up in a boat-loving family and so it made sense for me to volunteer at RRS Discovery. I think our children are the ones who will benefit from this fabulous resource in the future. That’s why staff and pupils at Rosebank Primary supported it with proceeds from a bake sale and it’s why I would urge others to come forward and pledge in this next few days.”

For more information visit www.rrsdiscovery.com

The crowdfunder ends on November 30th. The public can make donations here: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/rrs-discovery-conservation-project-2016-17?tk=a0e313b9371e91223be21265ebf508d59957318b.

Shiver Me Timbers! can be bought from the gift shop at Discovery Point and Jill is currently busy working on a sequel.

For more information visit www.rrsdiscovery.com

The Famous Grouse Experience lends its expertise to distillery of polar opposites

The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery, Scotland’s oldest working distillery, has forged a partnership with one of the world’s newest distilleries and one that boasts a title of its own as the most northerly distillery in the world.

The Famous Grouse Experience has been giving the team at Norwegian-based distillery Aurora Spirit, located around 350 kilometres north of the arctic circle near the city of Tromso, an insight into how to run a successful whisky visitor attraction and produce small batch whisky on site.

The small Crieff distillery and craft distillers Aurora Spirit, who produce whisky, gin, vodka and aquavit under the name Bivrost®, have been swapping skills, ideas and successes since meeting in early 2015 when Aurora Spirit Directors visited The Famous Grouse Experience on a fact-finding mission.

In a case of old meets new, the two distilleries couldn’t be more different in their distilling process with Glenturret whisky made entirely by hand and Aurora Spirit using the latest technology. However, their passion for small, craft produce and offering visitors a world-class experience are very much the same.

Their partnership has since gone from strength to strength and The Famous Grouse Experience Operations Manager, Lesley Williamson, and Distillery Manager, Neil Cameron, are looking forward to a trip to the arctic-distillers early next year for their official opening.

Lesley Williamson, Operations Manager at The Famous Grouse Experience, visited Tromso in January 2015 on a trip organised as part of the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions and Aurora Spirit’s key investors. She commented:

“It has been wonderful working with the team from Aurora Spirit and we’re excited to develop this special partnership, continuing to work together to share our skills and passion. Having visited Tromso last year, when the conditions were at some of the toughest, I’ve seen first-hand how different their distillery is to ours and the challenges they face.”

The team at the small Norwegian distillery were impressed with how The Famous Grouse Experience and Glenturret Distillery work as both a working distillery and visitor attraction. Colin Houston, one of the founders of Aurora Spirit, spoke of why his team contacted the top Scottish attraction.

“Having grown up in Oban, the whisky industry has always been close to my heart and I had met with Lesley at The Famous Grouse Experience prior to Aurora Spirit’s founding. When we began, we wanted to gain an insight not only into the whisky making process but also how to incorporate a successful visitor experience centre too. Our distillery is set in the most beautiful location, with magnificent displays of the aurora borealis overhead in the winter and the midnight sun in summer, and we offer visitors a whole host of unique experiences that make the most of our fantastic location.”

AuroraSpirit is situated on a peninsula overlooking Lyngen Fjord on the site of an old underground NATO base that once tracked Russian submarines coming over the top of Norway. The water for their whisky comes from glaciers and their casks are stored in long tunnels drilled into the hillside and underground chambers.

Colin continued:

“We’ve got some of the most advanced technology in our distillery but we want to maintain some traditional aspects of whisky production so it is a sort of fusion, an exciting experimental journey. There’s no more traditional way of making whisky than the way they make it at Glenturret so it really has been a fantastic opportunity for us to come over and share skills with the team there. We can’t wait to welcome Lesley and Neil across to see how Aurora Spirit has progressed since our first meeting.”

The five Glenturret stillmen welcomed head distiller at Aurora Spirit, Gjermund Stensrud, for a week of work experience. As a brewer by trade, he wanted to learn about the traditional craft of whisky distilling and what better place to learn than at a distillery that still makes the whisky by hand.

Neil Cameron, Glenturret Distillery Manager, commented:

“It was wonderful to welcome along Gjermund for a week to show him the ropes of our traditional whisky processes here at Glenturret. Although it is very different in their distillery in Norway, it is important to know the skills and have the knowledge of the techniques which date back to when whisky was first produced. We’re delighted to hear they’ve just produced their first run of whisky and look forward to seeing the outcome in three years’ time.

Neil continued:

“Whilst there’s no computers here at Glenturret and I’m used to the traditional distilling process, I can’t wait to take a trip across to Tromso early next year to see how they make whisky in their beautiful, and quite challenging, surroundings!”

Do you have an animal alter ego? Peebles Hydro thinks so!

You may have heard of Cherith Harrison, the award-winning Peebles artist who’s now gracing the shelves of Sainsbury’s.

Cherith was recently commissioned by the supermarket chain to come up with some of her uniquely Scottish animal drawings for its shortbread tins.

Peebles Hydro, which stocks a wide range of Cherith’s illustrated gifts, is running a competition to win a goody bag of her gifts and an exclusive sketch of their pet on a postcard. Entrants are asked to share a photo of their pet on Peebles Hydro’s Facebook page with a reason why their pet should win. The competition runs from Thursday November 24th and the winner will be announced on Wednesday November 30th.

Cherith’s animal-inspired gifts include cards, tote bags, tea towels and mugs. A big hit with Peebles Hydro visitors and locals alike, they go a bit deeper than just cuteness. Cherith’s belief is that we all have an animal alter ego, whether it’s the Loyal Scottie, the Cheery Red Squirrel or the Loyal Stag.

After graduating from Edinburgh School of Art, Cherith began her giftware business in 2012. A recent commissioning from Sainsbury’s has led to her animal designs being featured on the front of shortbread tins in their Christmas collection.

Patrick Diack, General Manager of Peebles Hydro, said:

“We’re delighted to offer the chance to win a bespoke drawing by the very talented Peebles artist Cherith Harrison. We’ve stocked her delightful range of gifts in our shop here at Peebles Hydro for a few years now and they’re a massive hit with our visitors. Her collection represents something unique and quaintly Scottish and we’re sure she’ll come up with something very special for our winner. Plus, the gift of goodies is a perfect animal lover’s present for Christmas.”

  • Peebles Hydro is at Innerleithen Road, Peebles EH45 8LX.

For more information visit Peebles Hydro’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PeeblesHydro or www.peebleshydro.co.uk

Balhousie’s ‘Auld Wullie’ to donate Oor Wullie annuals to local school as part of Book Week Scotland

Auchterarder-based Balhousie Ruthven Towers Care Home will visit the local Community School of Auchertarder will their special visitor, ‘Auld Wullie’, to donate 20 The Broons & Oor Wullie ‘Mair Music Please’ Annuals to round of Book Week Scotland.

Ruthven Towers Care Home Manager, Jozi Stables, will visit the school with Lifestyle & Leisure Lead, Lisa McGraw, giving the pupils the chance to grab a selfie with the Oor Wullie sculpture that has made Balhousie Care Group his home. They’ll also present the 20 annuals to be donated to the school’s library.

Book Week Scotland, which runs from 21-27 November, is a national celebration of books and reading that brings hundreds of events to a variety of venues across the country. It aims to celebrate Scottish literature and bring people from all ages together to share their love of literature.

Jozi commented:

“Residents at Balhousie Ruthven Towers love reading and many grew up reading the iconic Oor Wullie annuals so we’re delighted to be able to donate some for the younger generation to enjoy and it’s only fitting the Auld Wullie comes along too! I’m sure the children will enjoy the chance to meet the Oor Wullie sculpture as much as our residents have loved having him at Ruthven Towers over the last week.”

The sculpture, which depicts what Oor Wullie would look like as an 80-year-old, has begun his own mini-trail of Balhousie’s 25 care homes after it was bought by Balhousie Care Group’s Chairman, Tony Banks, at a fundraising auction in Dundee in September.

Oor Wullie Noo has been fondly renamed as Auld Wullie by Balhousie and spent the summer in Broughty Ferry as part of the successful Oor Wullie’s Bucket Trail.

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

Colours of Cluny welcomes Moray MSP on final weekend of show

Richard Lochhead MSP, visited what has quickly become the North’s most visited tourism event, Colours of Cluny on Friday. He met with members from Forres Features Community Interest Company, who have organised the event to congratulate them on their success in this, their first year of the event.

Richard was met by Graham Murdoch, chairman of Forres Features, who guided the MSP and his family around the sound and light spectacular which has now been enjoyed by over 10,000 people. Colours of Cluny, the first event of its kind in Moray, is a non-profit organisation formed by the local community and is designed to attract both tourists and locals to enjoy the natural surroundings in a new and exciting way.

Graham Murdoch, Chairman of Forres Features Community Interest Company, commented:

“We were delighted to welcome local MSP Richard, his wife Fiona and their two young children to the experience this truly magical show, which showcases the beautiful surroundings here in Forres in a completely different way.

Graham continued:

“Being so far North, we often miss out on the chance to attend some of the events in Scotland so we wanted to give people the chance to experience something special using the beautiful surroundings we have here in Forres. With over 10,000 tickets sold, Colours of Cluny has become one the biggest tourist events in the North of Scotland and we’re delighted to talk Richard Lochhead through this fantastic project we’re incredibly proud of.”

Richard Lochhead commented:

“Events like Colours of Cluny have the potential to shine a spotlight on Forres and I have been extremely impressed at what the community have achieved this year by working together and attracting over 10,000 visitors to the area. It is a fine example of community drive, Moray’s magnificent landscape and a creative vision. I thoroughly enjoyed the show, as did my family, and I look forward to returning in 2017.”

Organisers worked with some of the creative team behind the multi-award winning Enchanted Forest to create a unique event set to showcase the natural beauty of the towns Grant Park, Cluny Hill and Nelson’s Tower in a whole new, very colourful light. The event has had a very positive economic effect on local restaurants, hotels and accommodation providers which organisers say is all part of the aim behind this project. The show closes on Sunday 20th November. For more information, visit www.coloursofcluny.com