Balhousie Ruthven Towers Grade 6 rating

Balhousie’s Ruthven Towers gains top Care Inspectorate Rating

Staff and residents at Perthshire-based Ruthven Towers Care Home, one of 25 care homes owned by Balhousie Care Group, are celebrating the award of two top Grade 6 ratings after a recent Care Inspectorate visit.

Ruthven Towers in Auchterarder was awarded an ‘excellent’ rating of Grade 6 for both ‘Management and Leadership’ and ‘Care and Support’, after measures were introduced which saw residents, their families and staff involved in everything from policy and recruitment to activities at the home.

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 last month and assessed two of the four themes: ‘Management and Leadership’ and ‘Care and Support’. The care home received grading of 6 in each area, adding to the Grade 5 rating for ‘Environment’ that Ruthven Towers had received in a previous inspection.

The Care Inspectorate’s latest unannounced visit found that residents and their relatives spoke very highly of the quality of support provided, and that communication with the service staff and manager was excellent.

People living at Ruthven Towers and their relatives commented on the “excellent, responsive staff”, the “empathy and compassion” and the “very kind, friendly care” in looking after residents.

Ruthven Towers is “performing at an excellent level” in supporting people to identify and achieve their personal outcomes and goals, through meaningful conversations with people and their families about what is important to them.

Assessors were “very impressed” with the positive approach staff took in encouraging people to identify and access hobbies and activities of interest to them, noting that “a wide range of experiences are provided both within the care home and out and about in the local community and beyond.”They also commended the “inclusive style of the management team and their commitment to listening to the views of people to bring about positive change.”

The report concludes that the care home, which provides accommodation for up to 51 individuals, is “an extremely well run home with a management team who are committed to providing a person centred, professional service which focuses on best practice and continuous improvement.”

Manager Jozi Stables heads up 38 full- and part-time staff at Ruthven Towers. At 26, she is the youngest home manager at Balhousie Care Group. Her infectious enthusiasm for person-centred care and an energetic willingness to embrace new working methods secured her a place as a finalist in the Innovative Practice category at the Scottish Care Awards this month.

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 Director for Balhousie Care Group, added:

“This is a fantastic outcome for Ruthven Towers and a testament to the hard work of the entire team. These grades come as a result of sustained performance over a period of time and show continuous improvement and development. The staff have fully embraced Balhousie’s Participation Charter and Together We’re Great initiatives to create a care home that shows consistency in the excellent way it promotes individuality and a person-centred approach. Ruthven Towers’ Grade 6 rating is a prime example of how adopting these principles can have a positive impact on residents’ quality of life and care.”

Balhousie’s success comes at a pivotal point for the group, which is celebrating 25 years as a care home provider and 25 homes – both owned and managed – across the north east of Scotland. The group, which just recruited its first Chief Executive, Steve White, is working hard to promote person-centred care and to encourage participation of everyone – staff, residents and families – across all of its homes and head office.

To find out more about Balhousie Care Group visit


Two students at Perth College, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, have been awarded exclusive scholarships with Volpa, one Scotland’s top independent marketing agencies.

The Perth based award winning agency selected Lucy Ross, currently studying a BA in Visual Communication & Design, for its Creative Design Scholarship and HND Business student Brooke Watson for its PR & Marketing Scholarship.

Lucy and Brooke will benefit from 40 hours of invaluable work experience or contact time at the agency. They will be under the direct supervision of Gordon Low, Head of Creative and Fraser Kirk, Head of Publicity at Volpa. Both students will also be gifted £500 from the agency, which can be used in any way which supports their studies. The scholarship period ends in May 2018.

Designed to help students who are committed to their studies and are keen to develop their skills to reach their full potential, the scholarships are funded by Perth College Development Trust. Donations are made by entrepreneurial businesses and individuals willing to invest in Scotland’s talent and economic future.

Tricia Fox, Managing Director at Volpa, commented: “We are looking forward to welcoming Lucy and Brooke to the team. Their excitement and enthusiasm to be with us is very evident. They both have a clear desire to learn as much as they can in their time with us, gaining work experience which will help them determine whether marketing and design are career paths they want to follow. I’ve no doubt the experience and employability skills they gain in their time with us will give them a significant advantage when applying for jobs in the industry.”

Fiona Leslie, Development and Alumni Relations Manager at Perth College UHI, said: “The scholarship scheme is a great way for Perth College UHI to work in partnership with local businesses helping to develop a talented workforce for the future. Giving the students the opportunity to encounter a real working environment and gain knowledge and experience in the workplace is a real advantage for them. We are extremely grateful to Volpa for their generous support.”

Volpa is a full service marketing agency boasting dedicated publicity, creative and digital departments. Specialists in the tourism, hospitality and food and drink sectors, Volpa has experienced incredible success since it was founded by Managing Director Tricia Fox in 2002. It has received a raft of awards over the years, including three times winner of the Scottish Event Award for Best Marketing Strategy.

Mary Berry at Scone Palace, Perthshire

Mary Berry programme is dedicated to Scone Palace’s Lady Butler

This week’s episode of Mary Berry’s Country House Secrets will be dedicated to long-time staff member Jean Stewart, who passed away shortly after the BBC One show was filmed there.

Jean, the Lady Butler, had worked at Scone Palace for 39 years, first for the late Lord Mansfield and then for the current Earl and Countess of Mansfield. Jean, 75, died last May after a bout of pneumonia a couple of months after the filming of the TV programme. She is honoured with a mention in Wednesday night’s episode.

Lady Mansfield described Jean, from the nearby village of Guildtown, as “a treasure” and “sorely missed”. She said: “Jean worked here for almost four decades and was loved by everybody. She always had a smile for fellow staff and our guests. Jean made so many friends over the years and really was an absolute treasure who is sorely missed, so it will be bittersweet watching Wednesday night’s episode.”

Jean’s widower Chic Stewart said he planned to tune in on Wednesday, adding: “Jean was a hard worker who loved her time at the Palace. She was an early bird who’d often be first in at work. The fact she worked there for 29 years showed she enjoyed what she did.”

The historic Perthshire visitor attraction is known worldwide for being the crowning place of the Kings of Scots. In the programme, which airs on BBC One at 8pm on November 29th, Mary Berry will create dishes inspired by Scone Palace’s long, lauded heritage. Wednesday night’s episode is the second in the four-part cooking series, which gives the public a unique behind-the-scenes peek at stately home life.

Mary’s visit to Scone Palace takes her off the well-trodden tourist paths to meet the staff and owners, visit its gardens, private quarters and wider estate, and create sumptuous dishes in the Palace’s stunning Victorian-style Old Kitchen. Scone Palace’s kitchen gardens – headed up by Brian Cunningham of BBC’s Beechgrove Garden – provide the ingredients for many of the dishes cooked there, including its annual festive lunches every Christmas.

Mary and her TV crew spent ten days filming at Scone Palace, which is owned by the 9th Earl of Mansfield. The Earl and Countess of Mansfield, daughter Lady Iona Murray and son William Murray, Viscount Stormont, all feature in the programme along with many of the Palace and Estate staff team. Mary is seen cooking with the Countess and Lady Iona, attends a ceilidh in the Palace and is accompanied by game keepers, Roddy and Stewart McIntosh, deer stalking on the Logiealmond hills.

The wider Scone Palace estate covers 24,000 acres. Stretching from the stunning River Tay across to the hills of Logiealmond, it provides some of the best salmon fishing, deer stalking and a wide range of agricultural and forestry activities. Scone Palace is host to regular events throughout the year, including the Scottish Game Fair, 1980’s Rewind Music Festival and its own Spirits of Scone Halloween ‘Frightfest’. It also provides accommodation, allowing guests to experience the unique opportunity of staying within the Palace.

Other stately homes featured in Mary’s new programme include: Highclere Castle (the fictional Downton Abbey) in Hampshire; glorious Goodwood in Sussex; and Powderham Castle in Devon.

More information is available at

More photos available here:


Photo credits: Courtesy of BBC/Scone Palace.

Photo captions: Jean Stewart, long-time Lady Butler at Scone Palace; Mary Berry with Scone Palace ghillie Iain Kirk.


Balhousie Care Group’s success at National Care Awards

Balhousie Care Group won a coup last weekend as it saw three of its employees recognised as finalists in the National Care Awards, and operations director Louise Barnett winning in her category.

Louise Barnett, Heather Smith and Elaine Nerr were competing against hundreds of people in a ceremony which recognises the very best of those working in the long-term care sector. Operations Director Louise Barnett, who has been integral in pushing forward Balhousie’s Together We’re Great initiative, won the Operations Manager of the Year award. Heather Smith, care home manager at Balhousie Orchard Court in Balbeggie, was a finalist in the Learning Disabilities Manager of the Year category. Nominated in the Resident Engagement category was Elaine Nerr and The Dalguise Centre and Orchard Court in Balbeggie.

Balhousie’s success comes at a pivotal point for the group, which is celebrating 25 years as a care home provider and 25 homes – both owned and managed – across the north east of Scotland. The group, which just recruited its first Chief Executive, Steve White, is working hard to promote person-centred care and to encourage participation of everyone – staff, residents and families – across all of its homes and head office.

Its Together We’re Great initiative, launched in 2016, has seen a positive cultural shift company-wide, while programmes such as peer-to-peer recruitment have meant employees and residents feel more involved with care, said Louise Barnett.

“The name Together We’re Great sums up what that initiative is about. Through enhanced communication and a focus on individuals and their values, we are showing that Balhousie is only the sum of its parts, which are employees, residents and family members. When we took on Steve, we had residents and family members, as well as employees at all levels, sit on recruitment panels. That breaks down hierarchies and fosters engagement at all levels. We’re also committed to much more community involvement and charity work, which you will see the results of this winter. I’m proud to be part of Balhousie Care Group as it continues to strengthen and grow.”

Balhousie Chief Executive Steve White said:

“I feel honoured to have joined an organisation in the throes of change – and all for the good. Balhousie is an inspiring place to work, and it’s so rewarding to see our employees reaching the National Care Awards finals. Their recognition among the cream of the care sector crop is well deserved, and we’re delighted that Louise won in her category.”

Next for Balhousie is Sleep in the Park 2017, a charity sleepover event in Edinburgh which will see 20 employees, including senior executives, camp out in sleeping bags in freezing temperatures to highlight homelessness.

The National Care Awards, organised by Caring Times magazine, took place last Friday at a black tie ceremony in London, with awards presented by comedian and author David Baddiel.

To find out more about Balhousie Care Group, visit

Photo caption: Louise Barnett accepting her ward for Operations Manager of the Year.

For photos of the finalists and winner click here:

Glen’s Cask: Glenturret Distillery’s famous feline becomes the latest famous Bottle Your Own whisky

The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery has announced that its latest limited edition Bottle Your Own cask is to be named after one of its famous feline residents: Glen.

An exclusive cask of 13-year-old limited edition single malt whisky – named after ginger ‘Mouser-in-Chief’ Glen – is now available from the on-site Famous Shop.

Glen – and his furry friend Turret – are quite the celebrities at The Famous Grouse Experience in Crieff. The popular pussycats have an important role welcoming 80,000 visitors every year and ensuring the mice stay well away from the precious malted barley as they patrol the award-winning visitor attraction.

The duo follows in the proverbial paw-steps of Towser, who still holds the Guinness World Record for best mouser, catching 28,899 mice in her 24 years at the distillery and whose statue and World Record Certificate is proudly displayed on the distillery wall.

The Famous Grouse Experience boasts an illustrious line of Bottle Your Own ‘celebrities’ who have ties to the Perthshire area including actors Gerard Butler and Ewan McGregor, tennis ace Andy Murray and The Earl and Countess of Strathearn.

The Bottle Your Own series is hand-picked as an exceptional cask from the Glenturret Distillery. These are extremely collectable and the bottles from these casks are only available by bottling your own from the Glenturret Distillery shop and is also available online on both the The Famous Grouse UK and global sites.

John Laurie, General Manager at The Famous Grouse Experience, said:

“Our Bottle Your Own experience always proves incredibly popular and Glen’s Cask will take his rightful place alongside the other Bottle Your Own ‘celebrities’ like the famous ‘Towser the Mouser’.

“The previous Towser Cask was the fastest selling Bottle Your Own cask to date, selling out in just three months. Hopefully Glen’s Cask will be just as successful. Both of these casks were filled on the same day 13 years ago and have similar desirable flavour characteristics.

“We’ll then follow on with Turret’s Cask once this one is finished.”

Glen’s Cask was specially selected by Master whisky maker, Gordon Motion, who describes it as “a really nice dram with lingering citrus notes.” The 13-year-old single cask is a first fill American oak sherry puncheon filled on November 6, 2003 with an ABV of 59.2% and bottle will cost £85.

Continuing the charity donation from the Bottle Your Own, a £5 donation from each bottle sold will go to this cask’s chosen charity, the Snow Leopard Trust, which aims to aims to protect endangered cats through community-based conservation projects.

 Glen’s Cask Bottle Your Own edition tasting notes:

Aroma: Very fruity, satsuma and pineapple.

Taste: Orange peel, pear crumble and vanilla.

Aftertaste: Lingering citrus notes.

For further information on The Famous Grouse Experience and to book your tour, visit

The Famous Grouse Experience is a finalist in The Scottish Field Whisky Challenge Awards

The Famous Grouse Experience is celebrating after reaching the finals of the highly prestigious Scottish Field Whisky Challenge Awards.

Scotland’s most visited and oldest working distillery attraction achieved a significant position in the Top 10 out of an extremely competitive field of 40 entrants in the category of Distillery Visitor Experience of the Year 2016.

The Glenturret Sherry Cask Edition – part of the Distillery’s core range – was also nominated in the £40-£80 category.

John Laurie, General Manager at The Famous Grouse Experience, said:

“I am thrilled to reach the finals of The Scottish Field Whisky Challenge Awards. It means a lot to be recognised for the work we are doing at The Famous Grouse Experience. Our success is very much a team effort and I’m extremely proud of the hard work and dedication that my colleagues put in to ensure our visitor attraction remains the most visited in Scotland.”

The Scottish Field Whisky Challenge Awards saw the great and the good of the whisky industry honoured at a glittering event in Edinburgh’s Ghillie Dhu recently.

Janice Johnston, project manager for the Whisky Challenge, said:

“I am delighted that we continue to be associated with such an exciting and passionate industry and am hugely grateful for the support and dedication that our judges bring to the table, giving so freely of their time and experience throughout the year.”

Perth IT company m3 Networks inspires tech stars of the future with innovative Perth & Kinross Schools competition

Two computer whizz kids spent part of the October break seeing how a real-life IT company operates after winning an innovative competition run by Perth-based IT support company m3 Networks.

Sixth year pupils Kier Alexander (17) from Perth High and Jonah Ramponi (17) from Kinross High School were placed first and second respectively in the challenge organised the Inveralmond-based tech firm.

Runners-up also came from Perth High, with fifth year pupil Keiran O’Sullivan (15) placed third, while sixth year pupils Andrew Coburn (17) and Ben Irvine (16) came joint forth.

Masterminded by m3 Network’s Technical Director Mark Lamb, students throughout Perth & Kinross secondary schools were asked to produce an IT project plan.

First prize was a one-week work placement with m3 Networks during the October 2017 school holidays and a £200 Amazon voucher, and the second prize was three days’ work experience plus a £150 Amazon voucher.

Mark Lamb said: “m3 Networks wanted to give something back to the local community by running a competition which got students thinking about how IT is used in businesses.

“We were delighted by the success of the competition and are now looking at running monthly workshops aimed at young people looking for careers in the tech industry.

“The plan is to get students into our offices to give them an overview of the different areas of IT and technology and to help them to better understand the options out there.

“Fifth and sixth year is a key time for students and we want to give them some prior knowledge and experience before they sign up for university or college courses.

“For the students who have spent some time with us this week, they have had their eyes opened to this in a big way and it seems to have had the desired effect.”

Matthew Mackie, Principal Teacher of Computing at Perth High, added:

“I’d like to thank m3 Networks for organising this competition which has given our students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience of computer programming and business IT support.

“It is more important than ever for young people to understand the basics of programming and the power technology can have in transforming the world.”

Snow time like the present! 7 things Tayside employers need to know if your staff take the day off because it’s snowing

With bookies slashing the odds of a White Christmas this week, Scotland and the rest of the UK is braced for the coldest winter in five years.

But while a generous sprinkling of the white stuff looks fabulous when you’re tucked up inside, it also brings with it a whole host of challenges for employers, not least its ability to bring your business to a standstill.

But what happens when schools close, public transport grinds to a halt and your staff can’t get into work?

Alan Matthew, employment law expert at Tayside solicitors Miller Hendry, said:

“In an ideal world, employers should communicate what is expected ahead of any forecasted bad weather, and make sure their employees know the procedures.

“Of course, that’s not always possible. So here’s seven things employers (and employees) need to know if the weather turns nasty over the festive season …”

  1. Do I have to pay my staff if they can’t get into work because of travel disruption?

There is, in principle, no obligation for employers to pay staff if they cannot physically get to their place of work. This is, technically speaking, an unauthorised absence. Employers must ensure your contracts entitle you to make deductions from staff wages in the event of unauthorised absence, otherwise you risk claims for unlawful deductions.

  1. Can I make staff take weather-related absence as paid leave?

In theory you can always ask, but you should review contracts in advance and clearly communicate your approach to weather-related absences. Do not force employees to accept this retrospectively. Instead, consider alterations to contracts with consent to permit you to deduct from employees’ holiday entitlement in such circumstances.

  1. Is there is any obligation to pay employees if a workplace is closed?

Yes. When severe winter weather has made it necessary for an employer’s business to close and employees remain willing and able to attend for work they are, in principle, entitled to be paid.

  1. What if employees are able to get in to work, but need time off to care for dependants?

Employees are entitled to unpaid time off to care for dependants, but this is only to deal with emergencies. If closure was foreseeable, or continues on, employees should make alternative childcare arrangements and return to work.  If they do not, such absences would then become unauthorised.

  1. Whose responsibility is it to clear the way to keep businesses open?

Our local councils are on standby to ensure they are ready to clear ice and snow on thousands of miles of local roads, to keep emergency services running smoothly, and to improve conditions so that people can get to and from work safely.

  1. What happens if I clear pavement outside my business and someone slips?

Pavements are not such a critical priority for council workers, but important nevertheless. There is actually no law preventing snow and ice being cleared from pavements which means, in fact, that anyone can do it! And the message rings loud and clear: the council needs your help.

But … if you clear the pavement and it ices over, and someone slips and falls, does that mean you are liable?

Well, the good news is: No, this is very unlikely.

Provided that you are careful, use common sense and do not do anything which would be likely to cause harm or distress to others, it is very unlikely that you will be found responsible for any accidents.

  1. Should I have a Bad Weather Policy?

Yes! Employers should consider introducing a Bad Weather Policy. This can save a lot of frustration and business disruption if it’s well thought out and clearly backed up by systems and processes that can keep your business running, even through the darkest and deepest snow storms.

Freefall author Adam Hamdy set to thrill in Kinross

Thriller fans can enjoy An Evening With Adam Hamdy at FREE event hosted by Culture Perth & Kinross at Loch Leven Community Library in Kinross next Thursday, November 30.

The acclaimed screenwriter and author of the Pendulum trilogy will discuss his successful career and read from his latest book Freefall, which features John Wallace.

Crime writing legend James Patterson described Pendulum as “one of the best thrillers of the year”, and the novel was nominated for the Glass Bell Award for contemporary fiction, and chosen as book of the month by Goldsboro Books and WH Smith Travel. Pendulum was also selected for the BBC Radio 2 Book Club. Adam is currently adapting Pendulum into an eight-part series for Hardy, Son & Baker and NBC Universal.

Freefall, the second book in the Pendulum series, will be published by Headline in November 2017. It has been described as a “thrill overload” with one critic saying, “It’s a fabulous thriller, with a very contemporary spin. Excitement guaranteed”.

Prior to embarking on his writing career, Adam was a strategy consultant and advised global businesses in the medical systems, robotics, technology and financial services sectors, experience that has given him a useful insight into many industries.

Adam has a law degree from Oxford University and a philosophy degree from the University of London. He is a seasoned rock climber, skier and CPSA marksman.

An Evening With Adam Hamdy on Thursday, November 30 from 7.15-8.15pm is Culture Perth and Kinross event for adults only at Loch Leven Community Library. Tickets are FREE but booking is essential via the website or by phoning 01577 867205.

Monarch of the Glen goes on display at Perth Museum & Art Gallery

Perth art lovers will be able to enjoy one of Scotland’s most iconic paintings when The Monarch of the Glen goes on public display this Saturday (November 25, 2017) from 10am.

Sir Edwin Landseer’s 1851 masterpiece will visit Perth Museum and Art Gallery for a seven-week period between November 25, 2017 and January 14, 2018.

The Fair City dates are part of a nationwide circuit which also includes Paisley, Inverness and Kirkcudbright. The tour is being funded by the Scottish Government and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The magnificent 1851 painting of a stag set against a Highland backdrop had been on long-term loan to the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh for 20 years before owners Diageo decided to put it up for sale for the first time in 100 years.

However, the 163.80 x 168.90 cm oil-on-canvas was saved for the nation after the drinks company struck a deal with the National Galleries of Scotland to sell it for less than half its £10 million valuation. It was acquired by the Galleries in March after a global fundraising drive to keep the painting in the country.

Helen Smout, Chief Executive of Culture Perth & Kinross, said:

“I am delighted that Perth Museum and Art Gallery has been chosen to host this iconic painting which comes with such a rich history and cultural significance. It underlines Perth’s ability to host these big name travelling exhibitions and I am sure The Monarch of the Glen will be a big draw for art lovers across Perthshire, Kinross-shire and beyond.”

Sir John Leighton, Director-General of the National Galleries of Scotland, said:

“Thanks to the generosity of The National Lottery and the Scottish Government we are able to take this fantastic picture across the country to be enjoyed by as many people as possible. We want this tour of The Monarch of the Glen to be seen as a huge thank you for the overwhelming support that we received during the fundraising campaign and as a celebration that this amazing work of art now belongs to all the people of Scotland. We hope that it will be admired and debated by audiences across the country. Inverness was a great success and I’m sure the painting will attract plenty of excited visitors to Perth”.

Alongside this majestic painting, Perth Museum and Art Gallery will be taking the opportunity to display other works from the permanent collection including the much-loved Loch Katrine by Horatio McCulloch in an exhibition that explores the reality behind the romanticised vision of the Scottish landscape and wildlife of the 19th Century. Other works in the exhibition focus on the Highland Clearances, Clans, hunting and the coming of the railways.

The exhibition will be supported by a programme of events and activities that will offer a range of audiences an opportunity to explore and enjoy the artworks, and to engage with debates surrounding issues of history and identity raised this by national icon.