Issue 052

The Festive Edition

Top Stories

“Outrageously funny!”

Who doesn’t love a panto at Christmastime? These musical comedy stage productions have entertained families for decades – oh yes they have!
This year’s pantomime at Ayr’s Gaiety Theatre is Cinderella, and who better to tell us what to expect than Buttons himself, actor Gavin Jon Wright?

The Red Hot Chilli Pipers

Back in 2002, three talented (top-class) pipers decided to join forces and form a band. Bored of playing solo at weddings, the idea of performing as a group at large, corporate events appealed to the three young men.
“It was either that or we’d just go back to doing solo weddings, and if you’re piping at a solo wedding three or four times a week, the money’s not bad but it’s quite boring after a while. We thought this was a better way of doing it.”


It’s less than a month after the Rugby World Cup Final and the sport is starting to get back to normal. South Africa were worthy champions, the run they had to get to the final – and the final itself – proved to the rugby community that they are still the team to beat. Scotland can consider themselves unlucky to be drawn in the same group as the back-to-back champions and Ireland, who at the start of the tournament were the top ranked side in the world. I caught up with Ayrshire’s own Ollie Smith to find out what he made of his first ever World Cup, what it was like to face South Africa, and the confidence he has taken from the tournament.


I’ve never been totally comfortable referring to people by their surname, but Andrew Roachford insists – for the purpose of this article, at least – so that’s what I’ll do.
I begin by asking him about his upcoming gig on 17th December at St Luke’s in Glasgow. It’s part of an 11-date tour titled, ‘A Soul Christmas Evening with Roachford’.
“I love touring, it’s what I do. I’ve kind of grown up on the road and I thought it was about time to do another tour. And being as it was in that period so close to Christmas, I think I needed to include the festive spirit in my shows.”
I’m inclined to agree.


Tony Black is the author of over 20 novels, many of which fall within the category of ‘tartan-noir’, Scotland’s very own crime fiction genre. Not bad for a native Australian.
“I was born in Australia,” Tony confirms. “My mum and dad were Ten Pound Poms. They were out there for about ten years. Then they came back and I was in Kelso until I was 7 or 8, then we went over to Ireland for a couple of years, and then my dad got a job in Ayr.”


What’s it like playing Tosh?
Alison O’Donnell laughs at my opening question before repeating it out load. It’s as though she’s never been asked it before, which I find impossible to believe. Still, she has a comprehensive answer ready.
“There’s always something new. It’s just like your own life, I suppose, you don’t know what’s coming. And with every season they develop her further and further and there’s always new things to explore.

The Festive Edition

We are working to add the stories from this issue! Come back soon to view them

We are working to add the stories from this issue! Come back soon to view them

issue 052

Choc Orange Espresso Martini

For the holidays this year, we’ve combined two of the great luxuries life has to offer. The Espresso Martini and Chocolate Orange.


It’s not unusual to spot wild deer in Ayrshire, the iconic red deer, in particular, being perfectly at home in the county’s bountiful countryside. Drive through Mauchline, though, and you’re likely to see the native red deer in much greater numbers.
Ross Woodburn set up Woodrose Venison Farm in 2016. The first thing I do is clarify the company name.


I love winter walks through the woods; they never fail to lift my spirits.
Research shows ‘forest bathing’ – immersing ourselves in nature, being among trees and taking time to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of woodland – benefits our physical and mental health; lowering our blood pressure, boosting our immune system and helping us to hit our reset buttons to relax and de-stress. And, honestly, who couldn’t be doing with a bit of de-stressing at this hectic, festive time of year?

Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce

All members of Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce can access a full range of services and benefits, depending on their tier of membership. These include everything from Networking with other local businesses to large events such as the Annual Dinner, one to one Mentoring Support to HR, Health & Safety, Tax and Legal support.
“The Ayrshire Chamber has provided us, as a member, invaluable business support during this difficult time. I have found the HR service particularly helpful.


The Hunter Foundation (‘THF’), in partnership with the Scottish National Investment Bank (‘The Bank’) has opened up applications for its second ScaleupScotland2.0 programme for highly ambitious, scaling businesses to join their next cohort.
The programme sees 12 scaling businesses work collaboratively with fellow CEOs and leadership teams to supercharge growth over a one-year period beginning January 2024. During that year they attend quarterly overnight events for inspiration and action including masterclasses, focused dinners and peer-to-peer learning.

human resources

Is there a full moon or something in the water?
Is anyone else feeling that it’s all a little chaotic and strange?
I was talking to a business owner the other day, who asked me the above questions. He told me his staff seemed to be less engaged, more frustrated and generally a bit more stressed. There didn’t appear to be any reason for this change.


Originally from Northern Ireland, Janice Russell moved to Newcastle when she was 18 years old and, after graduating from university, worked in the city for a number of years. However, at 30, she decided it was time to move on.
“I decided I was getting a job in Glasgow, Edinburgh or Manchester. I got a job in Glasgow and that was me!”

Arran Festival of Food and Drink

As well as being the most southerly of Scotland’s populated islands, Arran is one of the largest, having a total area of 167 square miles and being home to just under 5000 people.
Although best known as a tourist destination, Arran is also home to several producers of fine foods, from ice cream to oatcakes, marketed under the ‘Taste of Arran’ banner. And whilst produce from Arran is quite widely available in the west of Scotland, there is no better place to sample it than on the island itself.


It’s a well-known fact that more and more farmers are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to secure a sustainable future through farming. As a result, they are looking to diversify, with many turning to glamping pods, alpaca rides, or wind turbines to subsidise their farming income.
Neil and Jen McGeoch, however, had other plans for their cattle farm in the South Ayrshire countryside.

Winter warmth and festive fun in Ayrshire

Here we are again – another year has flown by! In what seems like an instant, our kids have grown taller and wiser – or maybe just cheekier! This Christmas, they’re likely to have their eyes on the latest gadgets, clothes, or skincare, all with a price tag to make us gulp. But, amidst the festive rushing around, what matters is family.


I’m instantly impressed when I step inside Sandra Steele’s Harbour 39 Art Studio. The walls are adorned with modern art, or, to give it its correct name, Contemporary Abstract Fluid Art.
My eyes are drawn to a seahorse, before floating to the crest of a wave and then lingering on what looks very much like the shore of Maidens Beach. I’m sensing there’s a definite theme…

The Murmurs

Looking for a good read to coorie in with on a wild winter’s night?
Then, look no further than The Murmurs by Ayrshire author Michael J Malone – a tale with a whisper of the supernatural about it, dealing with repressed memories, secrets, lies, fractured family relationships and evil hidden crimes.


This jazzy, modern cover is sure to attract readers.
A lively book buzzing with interesting characters, so well-drawn they leap from the pages.
The opening chapter immediately draws the reader into a gripping read with romance, crime, betrayal and some steamy encounters. Football is at the heart of the story, as one would expect from a writer who is a devoted fan of the game.


Ayrshire has given the world some great inventions and discoveries, tarmac and penicillin to name just two. But one of its best kept secrets is Irvine prog rock folk fusion band, Culann.
Formed 15 years ago, they have built up a loyal fan base in the UK and Europe, with Scandinavia in particular loving them. There is after all, a warrior heart at the core of the rich anthemic and epic soundscapes they create.

The Sparkle of Christmas Theatre

Sleigh Bells are ringing and lights are twinkling and people all over the country are heading out to pay a visit to the theatre for some colourful, festive shenanigans. Panto season is upon us and it’s the time of year that draws a bigger audience than any other to see what’s on our local stages. Most of us love a colourful fairy tale brought to life in front of us, we can’t seem to get enough of throwing foam bricks at the villain and catching sweeties from the comic character’s cap, but are we missing out on who’s treading the boards the rest of the year?

best scottish short films of 2023

2023 has been a fantastic year for film. Amidst the unstoppable juggernauts of Barbieheimer and indie critic darlings such as Anatomy of a Fall, the previous 12 months have been peppered with an incredible array of short films, in particular short films created in Scotland. As the year draws to a close, here’s my top picks for Scottish short films produced in 2023. Enjoy!


There was a brief time around the turn of the millennium when not one but two football-themed films were made in Scotland.
The better known of the two is probably A Shot at Glory, filmed in 1999 but not released until 2002. It’s perhaps most notable for attempting to combine the acting talents of Oscar-winning actor Robert Duval with those of, er, Ally McCoist. Yes, that Ally McCoist. It failed, however, to hit the back of the net at the box office.


We are Friends of the Broadway Prestwick, and our aim is to reopen the Broadway as an independent cinema, exciting multi-use venue, and inter-generational community hub.
The Broadway Cinema opened on 29th April 1935, and stood as a shining jewel in Prestwick’s crown for decades, before showing its last film, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, on 20th November 1976. The Broadway of the future will capture the spirit and soul of the cinema’s golden age past, with heritage preservation at the forefront of everything we hope to achieve.

Ayrshire Film Company

Ayrshire might not enjoy quite the same climate as Hollywood but it does share one thing with Tinseltown, and that’s its own filmmaking industry. Granted, there may be a slight difference in scale between the two but we all know what acorns grow into.
One of those acorns is Ayrshire Film Company, a filmmaking company with a social purpose. And who better to tell their story than Taylor McInroy, one of its co-founders?


With everyone yelling and kids doing your head in, it gives me the fear… for it’s the most wonderful time of the year!
There you are, a wee festive jingle to get you all in the mood!
I can’t believe I’m sat at the laptop writing yet another Christmas special for Ayrshire magazine. It feels like only yesterday I was running late for my deadline for the last one!

Ayr and Prestwick Men’s Shed

Doing Good Work David Milloy There’s a realisation, somewhat belated it must be said, that men’s health and wellbeing is a matter of some considerable importance.Of course, realising that something is an issue in need of attention is of little value unless that realisation is accompanied by action. It was such a combination of knowledge…


Ayr Hospital Radio, one of Scotland’s oldest hospital radio stations, celebrates its 70th anniversary this year – and it can thank honorary chairman Mike Manley’s gregarious nature.
“I always loved singing and going to parties and being the MC,” Mike tells Ayrshire Magazine, recalling that at one of these parties, a woman approached him to ask if he’d ever thought about doing football commentary. He hadn’t, but he was an Ayr United FC fan and it turned out that Somerset Park was looking for someone to broadcast to football fans listening in from a number of local hospitals.

William Hogg

Originally from Dalrymple, William Hogg has lived in Ayr for the last 15 years. As well as running his business, WSH Fencing, he has also taken it upon himself to try and educate the people of Ayrshire when it comes to the disposal of rubbish. You may have seen one of his many (humorous) videos, filmed at the scene of various fly-tipping sites throughout the county.


Cor Hutton was just 43 years old when she lost both hands and legs below the knee to sepsis. As well as having to deal with the obvious physical challenges, she had endless questions that, unfortunately, remained unanswered.
“I had no idea what life was going to be like,” Cor tells me, recalling those early days after surgery. “Would I be able to drive? Would I walk? I had no idea at all. The medical staff were amazing but they’ve never been in that position so it’s hard for them to be of help.”


Ayrshire Magazine’s Gill Sherry visited The Rotary Club of Troon as a guest speaker recently. She commented that she was pleasantly surprised to see so many women in the room as Rotary is still widely believed to be a male-only service club. Gill gave us the opportunity to show what Rotary in Ayrshire really means to the communities and how incredibly rewarding it is to be part of such an amazing organisation.

Shoot Soccer, Ayr

For more than 30 years, Whitletts has been home to a sports complex with an emphasis on football. Its pitches have seen at least two generations of enthusiastic players experience the thrills, spills, ups, and downs of the planet’s favourite sport, and its gym has been used by those seeking to add muscle, lose weight, or rehabilitate from injury.

Jim Mair Driver Training Ltd

Having provided driver training for over three decades, Jim Mair has few rivals when it comes to experience and expertise in his field.
Jim’s company, Jim Mair Driver Training Limited, which he runs with his son Neil – who, like Jim, is an experienced Large Goods Vehicle (‘LGV’) instructor – operated for several years from premises in Kilmarnock but moved to Ayr in 2018 when the opportunity to buy a site which had been designed as a driver training centre came up for sale.

Vauxhall Combo Electric

Kerr & Smith, the Cumnock-based Vauxhall commercial vehicle dealer, were kind enough to invite us to take one of their electric vans for a spin, so naturally we jumped at the chance.
The vehicle we drove was a Vauxhall Combo Electric, a small panel van with three seats, sliding side doors, and a 134 bhp electric motor mated to a 50 kWh battery.


Founded in 1876 by John Lockhart and originally based at premises in the town’s Wellington Square, Lockharts/Law is Ayr’s oldest surviving firm of solicitors.
The Lockhart family has always been represented at partner level throughout the firm’s existence, but that will cease to be the case when Peter Lockhart, a highly regarded criminal ligitation solicitor who has been a partner since 1980, retires in 2024.

Ayrshire Eye Clinic

Ayr is home to the only consultant-led private eye clinic in the west of Scotland: Ayrshire Eye Clinic.
Started in 2012 by Consultant Eye Surgeon Professor Sathish Srinivasan, Ayrshire Eye Clinic was originally based at Dalblair Road, Ayr. As those premises did not, however, offer the facility to conduct eye surgery onsite, the clinic purchased a former nursing home in the town’s Broomfield Road in 2017, thereafter transforming it into a bespoke eye clinic equipped with a full suite of state of the art diagnostic and surgical facilities before moving into it in 2019.


With winter fast approaching, many of us will be keeping a closer eye than usual on our energy bills, and with the cost of living crisis still very much a concern, reducing our heating costs remains a priority. But unless our homes are protected by efficient windows and doors, those bills are likely to escalate.
That’s where Ayrshire Trade Frames can help. Established in 2014 by James McCormack, it is a local, family owned business and Ayrshire’s leading supplier of quality windows, doors, conservatories and sunrooms. Victoria, James’ wife, also works in the company, as does their son, Kyle.


Situated in the historic market town of Cumnock, The Dumfries Arms Hotel has delighted locals and visitors for over 300 years. Once a coaching inn, it is now a contemporary boutique hotel with a recently refurbished ballroom and 26 elegant en-suite bedrooms, including the luxurious Lennox Suite, designed with honeymooners in mind.
When it comes to weddings, the rural location of this characterful hotel makes it the ideal choice. Perfect for both intimate ceremonies and grand celebrations, the hotel prides itself on its bespoke, personal service and attention to detail.

Corney and Barrow

Corney and Barrow’s beautiful little wine shop, tucked away down the historic cobbles of Academy Street, is a welcome respite from the Christmas hustle and bustle – simply follow the glow of twinkling fairy lights, cross the threshold, and let one of their resident wine experts take care of you. Whether it be wine for your Christmas dinner, or the perfect gift for a work colleague, there is something for every occasion and every budget. They also have a fleet of iconic red vans delivering all over the UK, so why not relax and let them do the hard work for you!

The Stravaig

This December, the door opens to an exquisite and unique new venue in the heart of Ayr: The Stravaig Restaurant, Bar & Function Room at the Kylestrome Hotel.
Having opened The Bistro Restaurant in Sandgate, Ayr, last year (already number one on Tripadvisor), owner David Storrie is delighted to bring life back to the extensive venue in Miller Road. “At Stravaig, we champion the finest seasonal Scottish produce, to create an exquisite and relaxed dining experience like no other.


With its eye-catching frontage and vast array of products, Cherry Soda has been a favourite with shoppers in Ayr town centre since it first opened its doors in 2007.
Such is its popularity, the boutique has again moved to bigger premises – its third home in Ayr Central Shopping Centre – and is now open for business at 15 Skye Square.

Issue 052

The Festive Edition

read the magazine