Scotland’s most southerly whisky distillery – and one of its oldest – is coming back into production in time to celebrate its 200th anniversary.Bladnoch Distillery near Wigtown was bought out of administration by Australian entrepreneur David Prior.He made a fortune out of organic yoghurt and decided to invest about £25m of it in the facility.
It is hoped it will eventually lead to production of more than a million litres a year from the site.Mr Prior has been back in Scotland for the first time since refurbishment started.It has cost £5m on top of the near £20m spent acquiring the run-down facility and, importantly, the valuable casks of ageing malt in its large complex of bonded warehouses.
Back in 2015, after years of under-investment, Bladnoch’s potential was not universally apparent.However, Mr Prior saw scope to combine hard-headed business with the romance of a product close to his heart.”The Scotch whisky category is a very great opportunity from a business perspective but it is also a huge passion of mine,” he said.”It’s something that I have been involved in since I was 18 years old, my father and I used to have a drink together at the end of every week and download and share stories about the week.”So I have grown up in a Scotch-drinking household.”
He said the Bladnoch site was “steeped in history” and something he had fallen in love with.
The Australian yoghurt millionaire is an unlikely saviour for a facility economically important to rural Galloway.So far nine jobs have been created on site and more will follow with the development of a visitor centre and the possible need for extra shifts to meet a production target of one-and-a-half million litres a year. He may be largely an absentee owner, but Mr Prior said his actions and hard cash underlined his commitment to the local community.
THE scale of the problems facing councillors over the condition of DGOne have been revealed in a report to be considered by Dumfries and Galloway Council last Tuesday.
It is estimated that it will take millions more to bring the building back into use on the back of a £10 million repair project which is currently going on.
And other buildings in Dumfries and Galloway – the Ice Bowl at Dumfries and the Ryan Centre at Stranraer – are now being examined and at the Ice Bowl a number of issues have already been uncovered.
Structural engineers are being or have been brought in to make full investigations into the condition of the buildings.
The report prepared by council director Colin Grant says that in addition to these buildings a review of Dumfries and Galloway Schools constructed under PPP, had already commenced prior to the Edinburgh Inquiry report as a result of the emerging findings, and established no similar concerns in relation to wall ties and safety of construction as experienced in Edinburgh.
Dealing with the DGOne building, Mr Grant says that during the initial period of the remediation project at DGOne, a full strip back, survey and breakout of the building have established that previous action to identify and rectify issues with the facility and bring DGOne back into operation had not exposed the scale and extent of building safety issues.
The work on site found the defects were much more pervasive than was originally advised and reflected in the contract for remediation works, and that the building was in a significantly worse condition than had been reasonably assumed.
He said the most significant issues found were blockwork wall defects (the same defects found at Edinburgh schools on brick and blockwork due to missing head ties and wall restraints), incorrectly installed ductwork, issues with fire protection of steelwork, and corrosion to steel columns. Mr Grant’s report goes on: “Due to the extent of these new issues and their significance, in addition to the defects we were previously advised of, and the emerging potential for significant additional works at DGOne to address these safety concerns,
A WARNING has gone out to motorists about the additional hazards they could face on the region’s roads as the school holidays are now upon us.
Police Scotland Roads Policing Inspector Campbell Moffat in Dumfries is reminding motorists across the Dumfries and Galloway that the start of the school summer holidays is a time to remember that there is a likelihood of more vulnerable road users using our roads.
This will include people out walking, cycling, or even on horseback, as the summer months usually sees an increase in people out and about using the roads across our countryside.
Inspector Moffat said: “ I ask that drivers be mindful of how busy the roads network can be at this time of year with children off school on holiday and out and about on our roads, whether in town or in the countryside. Drivers must be careful of and considerate towards all types of road users especially those requiring extra care.
“The roads in the region are there to be shared by all motorists, including older, learner and inexperienced drivers, as well as other vulnerable groups such as pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. We all have a duty to help each other stay safe.
“Extra traffic brought about by tourists visiting, or passing through Dumfries and Galloway for their summer holidays only adds to the potential dangers. The increase at this time of year in slow moving agricultural vehicles for harvest activities also can pose further danger on the roads network.”
He added: “Slow moving and often large and wide vehicles used in farming today can increase the potential for coming across the unexpected, particularly on some of the narrower roads in our countryside. This often includes the hours of darkness because when the weather is right, harvest activities will go on around the clock.
“I also ask those involved in the harvest and other farm work to remember to take their time and expect the unexpected on all our rural roads, no matter how well you think you know them. Complacency itself can be a danger and just because the last five times that day you haven’t met anything on the road back to the farm doesn’t mean that you won’t meet something on the sixth journey. We all have a duty of care on our roads.
“Parents and those who care for children and young people should have the relevant conversation with them about road safety in general. Reducing the number of casualties on our roads is a priority for Police Scotland, however we all need to work together to help achieve this goal.”
Shambellie House Trust has received funding from Heritage Lottery Fund, Architectural Heritage Fund, Dumfries and Galloway Council, and Scottish Enterprise to develop plans to re-purpose Shambellie House in New Abbey.
Shambellie House, originally built by the Stewart family, was the National Museum of Costume from 1977 to 2013, when it closed. Since then, the Trust has been working with the Scottish Government, which owns the building, to re-purpose it for the benefit of the community.
The Trust proposes to develop Shambellie House as a centre for day and residential courses on photography, arts, crafts, history, wildlife and the environment. The overall vision is to develop the house as a resource centre and base from which to explore Dumfries and Galloway more widely, connecting the centre to the wider community and allowing the courses to benefit fully from the environment, culture and history of Dumfries and Galloway.
The grants support the first phase of work, focusing on business development: working with architects to cost out capital works; market research; developing the Trust’s Board; product development through community workshops; and business planning. It is expected that this development phase will last about 12 months, after which the Trust hopes to be in a position to apply for capital funding.
Commenting on the award, Gordon Mann, Chair of the Trust, said: “We are thrilled to have received support thanks to National Lottery players, alongside Architectural Heritage Fund, Dumfries and Galloway Council, and Scottish Enterprise. We are confident that Shambellie House has a great future that will benefit New Abbey and Dumfries and Galloway in general.”
Lucy Casot, Head of HLF Scotland, said: “Resilient Heritage allows the heritage sector to build financial independence and resilience in a changing economic landscape of reduced public funding. It provides a tailored package of support that responds to the individual needs of organisations such as Shambellie House Trust, so, thanks to National Lottery players, they can not only survive in these challenging financial times, but thrive.”
South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has welcomed plans by Transport Scotland to install a new pedestrian crossing for Locharbriggs Village Hall after years of campaigning by the local community.
Work by Scotland TranServ on behalf of Transport Scotland to install the innovative new A701 crossing begins this week for the next fortnight.
South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said:
“This work is long overdue. Parents whose kids attend the toddlers group at the hall have been pressing for action on what is a very busy trunk road for years”.
“I wrote to Transport Scotland pointing out that they had promised the local community and then local MSP Elaine Murray two years ago that a crossing would be installed but they had so far failed to keep their promise. It’s good to see them delivering at long last and parents, staff, volunteers and kids will soon be able to cross the road in safety using the new innovative crossing”.
The crossing will be only the second on a Scottish trunk road to operate under the Bluetooth, Remote Lamp Control System (RLCS). Locharbriggs will also be only the second Scottish community to receive Neatebox technology on a trunk road crossing.
Youth Beatz 2017 has announced its main stage headline acts as Example and Ben Haenow.
Now, thousands of young people are expected to flock to Dock Park, Dumfries on Saturday 12 August to attend Scotland’s largest free youth music event.
Last year, tickets sold out in record time and demand for this year’s tickets is expected to be equally high with the quality headline acts raising the standard again.
The main Youth Beatz day will be the highlight ending an 8 day Fringe Festival that will see a large number of community based events run over the Nithsdale area.
Example has certainly made his mark in the music industry, with 5 successful albums under his belt, a 6th one underway, and multiple collaborations. These include working with Jacob Plant on Reflections, which had regional and specialist Radio 1 support from Danny Howard, MistaJam and Greg James.
Example’s 6th album will see a return to the rapping over huge electronic club bangers, which earned him millions of fans across the globe, and 2 huge Top 5 albums, 7 Top 10 singles, and 2 No.1s in the UK.
Example said: “I’m really looking forward to coming back to Scotland to put on a great show. The Scottish crowds are always so amazing and I just can’t wait to be part of this fantastic event.”
Ben Haenow rose to stardom in the 2014 series of the X Factor, never being in the bottom two, and ultimately makingit to the live final. He went head to head with Fleur East, with both contestants performing the same winner’s song, a cover version of One Republic’s ‘Something I Need, with Ben winning on the public vote. Since winning X Factor, Ben has signed a record deal with Simon Cowell’s Syco Music, starred in the X-Factor Nationwide tour, and released his debut album, enjoying great chart success.
Ben said: “I really enjoy playing gigs like Youth Beatz – there’s such brilliant crowd engagement and I can’t get enough of that festival vibe. See you in August.”
The headline acts will all be supported by local youth talent, including Be Charlotte, Lewis Capaldi, and Gracefell.
The Chair of Nithsdale Area Committee
Councillor Ronnie Nicholson, chairman of Nithsdale Area Committee, and Councillor Tracey Little, vice-chair, said: “Our Council is proud to continue our support for this vibrant community event that is of such benefit to our region. We’re delighted that the festival will again run for 8 days and will be of the same high quality that the people of Dumfries and Galloway have come to expect and enjoy so much. The event has such a positive impact on the youth in our region and is a great opportunity for all to see high quality artists perform in our own region. We’re delighted that Nithsdale Area Committee has again part funded the event, maintaining the event’s heritage as the largest free youth event in Scotland, open to all the young people of our region. We have no doubt that Youth Beatz Fringe Festival and Youth Beatz, including the Toon, will continue to build on previous successes to make it the best event to date.”
Now in its ninth year, the award-winning event is managed through a partnership led by the Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Youth Work Service in conjunction with the Oasis Events Team. Funding for the event has been secured from Nithsdale Area Committee, Choices for Life, Magnox, Young Start, CashBack for Communities, Scot Rail, The White Ribbon Campaign, and the Inspiring Entrepreneur Project.
Youth Beatz 2017 will also see the return of the hard-hitting immersive and interactive learning experience The Toon, which brings a new point of view when dealing with issues that affect young peoples’ lives. Topics addressed will include domestic abuse, poverty, alcohol, sectarianism, and legal highs.
Also returning for 2017 is the successful Youth Beatz Fringe, that will see events running for 7 days across Nithsdale, including events in Kirkconnel, Sanquhar, Dumfries, Lochside, Heathhall, Locharbriggs, and Moniaive. See www.youthbeatz.co.uk for more information and the full programme as it becomes available over the next few weeks.
In the days and weeks leading to Youth Beatz and on the days of events, a large number of volunteers give up their time to come and help and the event would not be possible without them. Last year, 107 volunteers give their time between Youth Beatz, Youth Beatz Fringe, and The Toon. If you would like to volunteer and be a key part of Youth Beatz, look out for this year’s volunteering opportunities in the next few weeks.
Michael Williams, a young volunteer from the Oasis Events Team involved in organising the event, said; “It’s great being involved in developing Youth Beatz as part of the Events Team. What we achieve each year is always so brilliant, and this year’s line-up looks like it will make sure Youth Beatz is as popular as ever. The Events Team members are always working with the staff at the Oasis Centre to build on our events and productions skills. Running the lighting for the show last year was such a highlight. And, we’re excited to show the difference we make through such a special event again this year.”
Youth Beatz 2017 is a free event. Tickets are required and can be obtained from the Official Youth Beatz website www.youthbeatz.co.uk
Priority will again be given to ticket applications from Dumfries and Galloway postcodes to ensure as many local residents get to attend the event.
Annandale North Councillor Adam Wilson has welcomed the decision at Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Communities Committee to replace the Helter Skelter slide at the Park Place Play Park. The slide was removed from the park due to age and safety reasons.
The decision was taken at the Communities Committee as part of the Capital Programme. Along with the decision to replace the slide at Park Place other works will take place across Annandale North including the replacement of litter bins, replacement of picnic tables and the replacement of railings at Hope Johnstone Park in Moffat.
Commenting Councillor Adam Wilson said;
“I welcome the investment in our park at Park Place. This follows on from many concerns from local residents about the state of our parks in Lockerbie. The decision taken today will result in £20,000 being spent over 2017/18 to replace the slide and to fix the fence around the perimeter which is long overdue.
It is my view that any item in our play parks that is removed should be replaced on a like for like basis and I am pleased that the Council has followed this principle here.
While this investment is welcome there is still a considerable amount of further work required to improve all of our parks in Lockerbie which I will continue to champion.”
The count down is on!
Eden Festival is opening its gates this Thursday welcoming festival goers from across the UK and beyond. Set in the stunning Raehills Meadows of Dumfries and Galloway this family friendly event has really catered for all. Hosting 12 stages with 300 performers, you can also catch some theatre, comedy, art and more.
We caught up with Adam Curtis, Eden Festival Founder, for his top ten tips for you to get the most out of your Eden experience.
- Grab some popcorn, climb into your vehicle of choice and watch a film in our Vintage Drive in Cinema.
- Looking for love? Take part in Blind Date at the Thunderdome this Saturday at 3.30pm.
- Join Vamous Arts who will be helping you create masterpieces with paint and pencil’s for our very own charity auction.
- A crowd pleaser and one of our favorites, Mr Motivator in all his Lycra glory will be re-energizing you with an uplifting workout on Saturday afternoon at 2pm.
- New to Eden Festival this year is the Mountain Stage, supported by EventScotland (part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate and in celebration of the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.) We have actually built this construction from scratch, which in time will blend into the natural surroundings and this year it will feature the best acts to come out of Scotland.
- The kids can show off their talents too in the Casa Caliente tent for the Open Mic Children’s Talent Stage.
- You can sit back and relax while Gypsy Disco make all the effort with their acrobatic performance in Furry Chillum Stage.
- Celebration Parade, a super charged music finale in the Garden of Eden, Sunday at 7pm. Bring an instrument and/or something to bang.
- Not forgetting the kids’ procession, where they dress up and wave their hand made creations which they produced in the free weekend workshops.
- My biggest tip, just keep your eyes peeled and walk around the site having a peak in every space, make new friends and soak up the music and the atmosphere.
This year’s Eden Festival has been made more accessible by their release of day tickets. You can purchase them on line or on the gate.
Day Tickets – £45 Friday, £45 Saturday only
Saturday & Sunday – £75 and Sunday only £39
Weekend tickets cost £119 for an adult, £95 for a teenager and under 12’s get in free! (Must be accompanied by an adult).
Local Radio Day took place on Friday 26th of may 2017 with over 75 stations around the UK taking part. At Alive 107.3 we used it to essentially show 7 days worth of programming into 24 hours. As part of the day we hosted a free gig with local musicians :- Clan Blues, Stoney Broke, Kate Kyle, McCrossan & Taylor and Nithville have a listen to how the evening went.