Crieff Hydro gets even greener, with a splash of gold, as it notches up latest tourism award

Crieff Hydro’s commitment to sustainability has been rewarded with a Gold Green Tourism award in recognition of a series of planet-friendly initiatives.

The 900-acre Perthshire resort won the accolade after a recent inspection found that sustainable activities being undertaken on the 900-acre Perthshire resort met 80% of the Green Tourism criteria.

The popular tourist destination, which has more than 200 bedrooms, 50 self-catering units and six eating outlets, as well as two swimming pools, a horse riding centre and Action Glen activity centre, was commended on its ‘green’ efforts across the board in one of the most rigorous certification programmes in the industry.

Assessors praised Crieff Hydro on its commitment to sustainability, in particular the staff training and awareness.

Crieff Hydro has a dedicated ‘Green Team’ made up of representatives from across all departments, who become ambassadors for identifying and implementing changes that contribute towards becoming a greener business.

The introduction of LED lighting within the hotel, significant changes to their food waste management and its visitor payback scheme, where guests are invited to donate £1 during their stay to help Perthshire’s Big Tree Country Initiative, was also recognised. A truly green scheme, it helps to conserve some of the world’s most enigmatic conifers in the woods, forests and estates of Perthshire.

Alexandra McDonald, Crieff Hydro’s Support Services and Environment Manager, heads up the Green Team and led the visit by Green Tourism. She commented:

“Since Green Tourism’s last visit in 2013, we’ve worked hard to look for ways to improve and our Crieff Hydro Green Team are all passionate about playing their part in helping to implement the little changes that all go a long way to working more efficiently. Whether it’s closer monitoring of the food waste and ways we can reduce it, or working with local community schemes to donate duvets and kitchen equipment, all of these steps have helped us achieve a fantastic grading from Green Tourism.”

Stephen Leckie, CEO of Crieff Hydro, said:

“We’re always looking for new ways to make Crieff Hydro operate more efficiently and it’s great to see Green Tourism recognise this. All of the efforts, from the team across Crieff Hydro, go a long way in making Crieff Hydro a truly green and sustainable business.”

Crieff Hydro has been a member of Green Tourism, the UK’s leading sustainable tourism certification scheme, since 2007. Businesses who opt to join are assessed by a qualified grading advisor against a rigorous set of criteria, covering a range of areas like energy and water efficiency, waste management, biodiversity and more.

Andrea Nicholas, Managing Director at Green Tourism, commented:

“Crieff Hydro has put a lot of work into this project and the Green Team should be very proud of its achievements.  Reducing food waste, working with a local company to recycle soap waste, installing LED lighting in key areas of the hotel and becoming involved with the Big Tree Country are just some of the measures that have seen Crieff Hydro to its well-deserved GOLD award!”

Green Tourism is considered one of the most rigorous certification programmes of its kind. It is the only one independently validated by the International Centre for Responsible Tourism (ICRT). They also offer support and advice on developing sustainable tourism businesses.

More information is at www.crieffhydro.com

Carling Property Group enters student market with affordable rentals

Property and investment firm Carling Property Group has entered the student accommodation market with the acquisition of Alloway Halls, formerly owned by Abertay University. The Dundee-based company is to turn the halls of residence into affordable student housing, with rents at a lower rate than when the University owned them.

Announcing the news, owner Graeme Carling invited John Alexander, Convenor of Neighborhood Services, to view the property, now called Kingsway Apartments. The price for the halls, which are already taking tenants, is £80 per week.

With more than two decades in property development and investment, Graeme and wife Leanne are now Scotland’s largest private residential landlords and are making a name for themselves in delivering quality affordable private sector housing to the Scottish rental market.

Graeme Carling, co-founder of Carling Property Group along with Leanne, said:

“There is a distinct shortage of quality, affordable housing in Scotland, including in the student market. We believe our acquisition of Alloway Halls and the rental rates we are setting will go a little way to addressing that issue in Dundee.

“We had a number of ideas for what to do with the property, but then spotted a gap in the market for good accommodation for students that is not outside of their reach financially. We’re excited to be dipping our toe into the student market.”

John Alexander added:

“Demand for decent, affordable housing in Scotland is at an all-time high, and with reports showing that demand is outstripping supply, it’s heartening to see investors like the Carlings trying to fill a much-needed gap. The Kingsway Apartments project is proof that quality needn’t be compromised in return for affordability.”

Carling Property Group owns and manages 350 rental properties all over Scotland with most in the Dundee and Arbroath area. The company is on course to increase its portfolio to 1,000 properties within the next five years.

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

The Enchanted Forest secures place as one of the nation’s top tourism events as it’s named Best Cultural Event in the U.K.

Scotland’s premier sound and light show, The Enchanted Forest, secured its place as one of the U.K.’s top tourism events after winning Best Cultural Event at the U.K. Event Awards.

The Pitlochry based show, which recently celebrated its 15th anniversary with a record 70,000 visitors, beat off stiff competition at The Drum awards, including the Magical Lantern Festival London and Diwali Festival of Lights, at Thursday night’s ceremony in London.

The win, for The Enchanted Forest’s 2015 show FLUX, is the latest in a long line of awards for the Perthshire event, which recently swept the board at the Scottish Event Awards, picking up no less than three titles.

The Enchanted Forest has grown from a 3-night run and 1500 visitors when it launched to becoming an event that attracts visitors and media attention from across the globe. Each October the show turns Pitlochry’s Faskally Wood into an other-worldly experience, funds local community grants and boosts the local economy to the tune of more than £2 million. Last year’s FLUX show funded 27 community grants for local initiatives, as well as donating money to three chosen charities.

The Enchanted Forest has built up a strong, ever-growing audience by changing theme each year and bringing together the cream of the crop of the U.K. arts scene. FLUX combined the creative talents of producer and creative director Derek Allan, lighting designers Kate Bonney and Simon Hayes, and composers and sound designers RJ McConnell and Jon Beales

This year’s show, shimmer, sold out six days after opening and more than 90% of visitors recently cited The Enchanted Forest as their main reason for visiting the Pitlochry area.

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

“We’re absolutely thrilled by this accolade. Being named the U.K.’s Best Cultural Event underscores all the hard work that goes into not only putting on The Enchanted Forest, but keeping it fresh each year. People travel from all over the world for the show and it generates lots of positive press for Highland Perthshire. We’re proud to be driving tourists ‘into the woods’ of Pitlochry at what has always been a traditionally quiet time of year.

“A huge thanks must go to the hard-working and talented team behind the show, from technicians, stewards and volunteers to the producers and creatives, and also our marketing agency Volpa.”

The Enchanted Forest picked up three titles at the annual Scottish Event Awards ceremony in October: Best Large Event; the prestigious Chairman’s Award; and Best Marketing & PR Strategy for its marketing agency Volpa.

For more information visit www.enchantedforest.org.uk.

Perth Museum & Art Gallery shortlisted for innovative gaming exhibition

Perth Museum & Art Gallery has been shortlisted for a national award for an interactive exhibition that traced 30 years of videogaming.

The museum is on the short leet for Enterprising Museum in the 30th annual Arts & Business Scotland Awards for its exhibition Player: Videogame Interaction from Atari to Toys for Life.

The innovative exhibition, featuring videogames from 1988’s Spectrum to today’s PS4, ran from July to September 2016. It allowed visitors to pick up consoles and try the exhibits out for themselves to see up close how video gaming has changed through the last three decades.

The Player exhibition was run by Culture Perth and Kinross in conjunction with the University of Abertay. It drew record crowds of gamers and pop culture buffs of all ages to Perth Museum & Art Gallery after a formal launch by Chris van der Kuyl, Chairman of Dundee based 4J Studios, which developed Minecraft: Console Edition.

Culture Perth and Kinross is the charitable trust set up earlier this year to take responsibility for the delivery of museum and library services in Perth & Kinross.

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

“When we launched our interactive Player exhibition we knew it would capture the imagination of people locally and across the country and it did, drawing great crowds to Perth Museum & Art Gallery. We’re proud that it also got the attention of Arts & Business Scotland with this awards shortlisting.

“This shortlisting is testament to all the hard work that’s going by Culture Perth and Kinross to bring museum and library services to the people of Perth & Kinross in an innovative, exciting way.”

The Arts & Business Scotland awards ceremony will take place on Thursday 23rd March at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

For more information visit www.culturepk.org.uk

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.

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

Jacobite collection gets the official ‘tale’ wag from Meg

Meg, a border collie from Falkirk that has followed in the footsteps of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s arduous escape of 1746 and whose tales of the road have been recorded by her companion, Gregor Ewing, dropped into Perth Museum & Art Gallery this week to survey one of their latest exhibitions, Gifts for a Jacobite Prince.

The twosome are due to present to a local audience in Loch Leven Library in Kinross next week as part of Culture Perth & Kinross’ Book Week Scotland events. Perth Museum & Art Gallery curator JP Reid allowed Gregor to view some of the artefacts from the display, including a shield carried by one of the Highland soldiers.

Gregor and Meg retraced the Prince’s epic 530 mile walk through remote wilderness, hidden glens, modern day roads and uninhabited islands. Gregor Ewing tells the Prince’s story alongside the trials of his own present day journey, whilst reflecting on the plight of the highlanders who, despite everything, loyally protected their rightful prince. The author’s love of history and the landscape in which he travels shines through in this modern day adventure.

Gregor commented:

“It was really kind of the team at Perth Museum & Art Gallery to allow me to see the collection up close. It’s astonishing to think that some of the items he would have carried with him on that journey are now on view for the public to see in Perth. For anyone interested in Jacobite history, Meg and I will be at Loch Leven Library in Kinross next Friday as part of Book Week Scotland so please pop along, Meg loves an audience!”

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

“We were delighted to welcome Gregor today and to show him the Gifts for a Jacobite Prince exhibition. Book Week Scotland is about bringing books to life and Gregor & Meg’s journey in Bonnie Prince Charlie’s footsteps can be really brought to life with a trip to the museum to see exactly what the Prince would have carried with him on the very same journey. Meg certainly seemed impressed and Perth Museum got a firm wag of the tail.”

Gifts for a Jacobite Prince is on display at Perth Museum & Art Gallery until 25 February 2017, touring in advance of the opening of a major Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites exhibition next summer at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Charlie, Meg and Me: an illustrated talk with Gregor Ewing will take place in Loch Leven Library on Friday 25th November at 7.30pm. Tickets are free and available online from http://www.pkc.gov.uk/library or by telephoning 01577 867205

Initiated by the Scottish Government and supported, along with a Readers in Residence programme in libraries, by £200,000 from Creative Scotland, Book Week Scotland will be delivered by Scottish Book Trust. Scottish Book Trust works with a range of partners across the nation to deliver a packed programme of free projects and events during Book Week Scotland 2016, bringing Scots of all ages and from all walks of life together to celebrate books and reading.

Book Week Scotland in libraries is funded by The Scottish Library and Information Council. For more information about Book Week Scotland, visit www.bookweekscotland.com or follow @Bookweekscot on Twitter, or like the Book Week Scotland Facebook page.

Bestselling historical fiction author Simon Scarrow to open Book Week celebrations in Perth

Simon Scarrow, one of the UK’s foremost historical fiction authors and a Sunday Times No1 Bestseller, is set to kick off events taking place next week across Perthshire for Culture Perth & Kinross’ Book Week Scotland celebrations, in what is expected to be an enthralling “Meet the Author” event to be held at Perth’s AK Bell Library on 22nd November at 7.30pm

Simon’s serialization of Roman soldiers Cato and Macro made their debut in 2000 and have appeared in a series of novels written by the author including CENTURION, THE GLADIATOR and, most recently, BRITANNIA. His latest novel, INVICTUS is due to be published this month.

The event, taking place at the AK Bell Library, is a must for historical fiction fans and no prior knowledge of the book is required to attend. This “Meet the Author” event is part of a series of events to celebrate Book Week Scotland taking place in Perth, Crieff, Blairgowrie, Kinross and Auchterarder organised by Culture Perth & Kinross Libraries. Book Week Scotland, which runs from 21-27 November, is a national celebration of books and reading that brings hundreds of free events to a variety of venues across the country.

It is one of eight events set to be staged across Perth & Kinross, embracing the official theme for Book Week Scotland 2016 which is discovery, celebrating how reading exposes us to a world of discovery, exploration and adventure. Writers set to visit the region include BBC radio Scotland presenter and author Theresa Talbot and children’s book author Keith Brumpton.

The 2016 events programme is a literary box of delights, with the full programme offering something for readers of all ages to enjoy:

• An Evening with Simon Scarrow, 22nd November 2016, AK Bell Library, Perth
• An Evening with James Robertson, 23rd November 2016, Auchterarder Library
• Meet the Author: Clare Mackintosh, 24th November 2016, AK Bell Library Perth
• An Evening with Theresa Talbot, 24th November 2016, Strathearn Library, Crieff
• Earthmovers in Scotland with David Wylie, 24th November 2016, Blairgowrie Library
• Charlie, Meg and Me; an illustrated talk with Gregor Ewing, 25th November 2016, Loch Leven Library, Kinross
• Family Fun with Keith Brumpton, 26th November 2016, Strathearn Library, Crieff
• Birds, Beasts and Books: An Illustrated Talk with Polly Pullar, 26th November, Scone Library

Events are all free and bookings have now opened online at http://www.pkc.gov.uk/library

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

“We’re delighted that Simon will be opening up Perth & Kinross’s Book Week Scotland events in the first of eight events across the county. His books are a gripping read and, for those fans of historical fiction, an exciting glimpse into more mysterious eras, full of mythical figures and cultures. Book Week Scotland is the perfect chance to get signed up to your library or dig out your old membership card, to make sure there are books in your house and to take the time to enjoy them by yourself and together with your children.”

Initiated by the Scottish Government and supported, along with a Readers in Residence programme in libraries, by £200,000 from Creative Scotland, Book Week Scotland will be delivered by Scottish Book Trust. Scottish Book Trust works with a range of partners across the nation to deliver a packed programme of free projects and events during Book Week Scotland 2016, bringing Scots of all ages and from all walks of life together to celebrate books and reading.

Book Week Scotland in libraries is funded by The Scottish Library and Information Council. For more information about Book Week Scotland, visit www.bookweekscotland.com or follow @Bookweekscot on Twitter, or like the Book Week Scotland Facebook page.

Family donates special bench to remember residents who passed away

Relatives of an elderly couple who passed away within 12 hours of each other have donated a memorial bench to the care home where they spent their final years. Jim and Marjory Ower both passed away on the 7th of January, 2016 just weeks after celebrating their 75th wedding anniversary at Balhousie Coupar Angus Care Home.

Jim and Marjory’s sons, Jim and Ian, kindly donated the bench, with their names added to a plaque, to be placed in the care homes gardens for other residents and relatives to enjoy.

Both originally from Coupar Angus, Jim and Marjory married during the Second World War on December 7th 1940 and Jim was a farmer while Marjory took care of the children. They saw the world change dramatically during their three quarters of a century together, from post-war Britain and the Queen’s Coronation, to the invention of the personal computer and the turn of the millennium. Another special date came last year when Jim turned 100, so a great many landmark dates were celebrated by the elderly couple.

The couple enjoyed a special 75th wedding anniversary party at the Coupar Angus care home where they received a special telegram from the Queen congratulating them both on their long and happy marriage.

Alison Miller, Home Manager at Balhousie Coupar Angus Care Home, commented:

“It was incredibly sad when Jim and Marjory passed away earlier this year, especially so close together. We were honoured to help them celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary shortly before they both passed and I think they thoroughly enjoyed marking such a special milestone together. We would like to thank Jim and Marjory’s family for donating the beautiful bench which has pride of place in our gardens. I’m sure our residents will enjoy using it very much.”

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