Scottish Enterprise spent £100,000 on hiring celebrities

SCOTTISH Enterprise has splashed out more than £100,000 to hire celebrities such as Fred MacAulay, Jackie Bird and Sally Magnusson to attend business events.

The extravagant spending included £23,500 for former Ryder Cup golfer Sam Torrance to give golf tips to potential investors and £12,000 to comedian Fred MacAulay to act as master of ceremonies at two dinners.

The move has been branded “desperate” by David Whitton MSP, Labour’s shadow finance spokesman.

The quango receives a £276 million budget to help boost economic growth in Scotland.

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Doctor Who’s Karen Gillan hunted for witch role

By Clare Carswell

The lead role in a film about Scotland’s most notorious witch will hopefully be played by Doctor Who’s, Karen Gillan, if screenwriter, David Ness has his way. 

Ness who lives in Nairn, has worked with some of Hollywood’s biggest names and has had his most recent screenplay about Scottish witch, Isobel Gowdie snapped up by a production company.

Ness, who is also a lecturer in sociology, philosophy and English literature at the University of the Highlands and Islands, was inspired by Gowdie, who was tried for witchcraft in 1662.  The confession that she gave is considered to provide the most detailed insight into European witchcraft folklore.

In the film, Ness intends use the 17th century story as the basis for a contemporary tale of a young girl who is distressed by the loss of her mother.  The character is haunted by a woman from the time of Isobel Gowdie’s life, therefore providing a link back to the original story.

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Claire is the perfect perch for meerkat friends

Claire Murphy was the perfect perch for her meerkat pal Basil

By Christine Lavelle

IT’S not every day you find yourself with a meerkat using you as a watch tower to keep guard of potential predators.

But it was the case for Claire Murphy, 35, when she travelled to the Kalahari Desert in South Africa, to monitor the behaviour and lifestyles of the small mammals.

She said: “The meerkats work in shifts to keep guard for threats, whether that be aerial or something coming on the ground.

“They tend to use the highest vantage point – a tree or a bush – to allow them to see all around, but in this particular case Basil, who was part of the Lazuli group I was monitoring, took it upon himself to climb up my body and sit on my head.

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Scottish businesswomen fail to impress TV Dragons

Sarah McLean and Sandy Maxwell-Forbes

By Cara Sulieman

TWO SCOTTISH businesswomen failed to impress the Dragons when they pitched their business idea on national television this week.

Sandy Maxwell-Forbes and Sarah McLean run dog-sitting service Citidogs Creche and were hoping the five entrepreneurs on Dragons Den would see the potential in their unique idea.

Although they impressed the formidable group to start with, the duo cracked when their finances were examined by the experienced Dragons.

Looking for £75,000 for a 20 per cent stake in the business, their proposition looked promising after they pitched their idea.

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Staffies not being picked because of bad reputation

By Christine Lavelle

ANIMAL lovers at Scotland’s oldest dog shelter say they will refuse follow the example of their English counterparts putting Staffordshire bull terriers on death row.

A third of all dogs taken to London’s Battersea dog home last year were put down according to a BBC Panorama investigation aired on Monday.

But last night Scottish campaigners hit out at the “over-exaggerated” stigma attached to Staffordshire bull terriers, claiming it has made them more difficult to re-home than any other breed.

They say the massive increase in abandoned staffies is mirrored on both sides of the border.

But rather than putting animals down, the solution is education according to David Ewing, manager of Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home (EDCH). Continue reading

Ben Fogle still “chasing memories” of Taransay

By Cara Sulieman

TV PRESENTER Ben Fogle today revealed the reason he keeps stretching himself is because he is still “chasing memories” of his time in the Outer Hebrides.

He said that the reason he keeps setting himself mammoth challenges is because he misses his time on Taransay, where he was marooned with 35 other people for the BBC show Castaway 2000.

The Country Tracks presenter was speaking ahead of his next expedition where he will cycle 3,000 miles from Canada to Mexico with friend and fellow adventurer James Cracknell.

And he said it was shaping up to be the hardest challenge he has done since his time on Taransay.

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Pig pair win Monty’s hungry heart

By Martin Graham

TWO unlikely TV stars have had their bacon saved and found a new home at a heritage centre in Livingston.

Smokey and Streaky got their first taste of fame as cute little piglets on the BBC TV show Monty Halls’ Great Hebridean Escape where the presenter reared them to be eaten on New Years Day.

But Monty became so attached to the pair of Gloucester Old Spot pigs that they were spared the butcher’s block.
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