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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Business news

Investors group buys Hilton Dunkeld House Hotel

April 18 2016

The Hilton Dunkeld House Hotel, one of Perthshire’s premier establishments, has been sold for an undisclosed sum. The new owners, Dunkeld House Hotel LLP, a partnership between Arnold Schnegg, James Hawksworth and funds managed by Downing LLP, will take over on May 5. The four-star hotel, set in 280 acres with 98 rooms on the banks of the River Tay, offers fishing and other leisure pursuits in one of Scotland’s most scenic locations. The hotel’s status suggests a sale price in millions of pounds. All 120 staff will transfer to the new owners. Arnold Schnegg, chief executive of Dunkeld House Hotel LLP, said: “Dunkeld House is very well known throughout Scotland and has a loyal customer base. “We look forward to making a significant capital investment to further improve the quality of the hotel facilities, with a view to relaunching as an independent country house hotel.” Arnold Schnegg and James Hawksworth founded and built the Hallmark Hotels group. Mark Gross, Downing LLP’s investment director, said: “Downing has extensive experience investing in UK hotels and we are excited to be starting a long-term relationship with Arnold and James for Dunkeld House.” Downing LLP has more than £700m in funds under management and invested £170m into UK businesses last year. A Hilton Worldwide spokesman said: “We have successfully operated Hilton Dunkeld House for more than 15 years.”

Business news

New owner for Hilton Dunkeld House Hotel

April 17 2016

The Hilton Dunkeld House Hotel, one of Perthshire’s premier establishments, has been sold for an undisclosed sum. The new owners, Dunkeld House Hotel LLP, a partnership between Arnold Schnegg, James Hawksworth and funds managed by Downing LLP, will take over on May 5. The four-star hotel, set in 280 acres with 98 rooms on the banks of the River Tay, offers fishing and other leisure pursuits in one of Scotland’s most scenic locations. The hotel’s status suggests a sale price in millions of pounds. All 120 staff will transfer to the new owners. Arnold Schnegg, chief executive of Dunkeld House Hotel LLP, said: “Dunkeld House is very well known throughout Scotland and has a loyal customer base. “We look forward to making a significant capital investment to further improve the quality of the hotel facilities, with a view to relaunching as an independent country house hotel.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_YusW-v0aI Arnold Schnegg and James Hawksworth founded and built the Hallmark Hotels group. Mark Gross, Downing LLP’s investment director, said: “Downing has extensive experience investing in UK hotels and we are excited to be starting a long-term relationship with Arnold and James for Dunkeld House.” Downing LLP has more than £700m in funds under management and invested £170m into UK businesses last year. A Hilton Worldwide spokesman said: “We have successfully operated Hilton Dunkeld House for more than 15 years.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsuOA4n8QX0

Perth & Kinross

Memorial to honour man who safeguarded Perthshire trees

June 3 2017

A memorial with a twist has been unveiled on the banks of the River Tay to remember a man whose generosity helped to protect Perthshire’s trees. Sydney Draper, a former forester who quantified forestry investment opportunities for the World Bank, died in July 2015 aged 90. His work took him all over the world including the Himalayas, Afghanistan, India and Nepal but the woodland of Scotland, and Perthshire in particular, remained his first love. Now a new bench in the grounds of Dunkeld House Hotel commissioned by Woodland Heritage to commemorate Mr Draper, a long-standing supporter of the charity, has been unveiled. It has been carefully crafted to appear as though it is twisted and made of several different sections of timber, whereas it has actually been crafted from a single piece of native oak by local artist Nigel Ross. Mr Ross’s creations can be found throughout the UK, from London’s Canary Wharf to the Ness Islands in Inverness. It was through Mr Draper’s generous support of Woodland Heritage that the charity was able to support the renovation of Dunkeld’s Big Tree Trail in partnership with the National Tree Collections of Scotland and the Perth and Kinross Countryside Trust. Woodland Heritage Trustees felt it was a fitting memorial to Mr Draper, who lived near Dumfries, to commission the new piece by Mr Ross to sit on the banks of the Tay. Tom Christian, a trustee of Woodland Heritage, said: “Sydney loved Dunkeld and returned here on his 90th birthday to plant a commemorative tree. “Environmental education was very important to him, which is why he made his generous gift to help support the costs of a new tree trail here at Dunkeld, to tell visitors the amazing stories of the trees around us, the landscape they sit in, and how vital trees and healthy forests are to life on earth. “We are enormously grateful to Sydney, and to Dunkeld House Hotel and Land Rover Experience Scotland for their help in making this fitting memorial possible.” Visitors to Dunkeld will now be able to sit and rest a while, courtesy of Mr Draper, as they enjoy the wooded riverside walks.

Perth & Kinross

Waverley Hotel fire accused pair cleared

February 1 2017

A pair of Perth youths accused of burning down a hotel owned by businesswoman Ann Gloag have been acquitted. A jury at Perth Sheriff Court took around 90 minutes to find the charge against James McCrory, 20, of Greyfriars Hostel, and Liam Gall, 18, of Ochil Cottage, not proven. The pair had denied setting fire to pieces of paper, furniture and other flammable items in a second-floor room of the Waverley Hotel. The hotel, which was not being used after latterly serving as homeless accommodation, was gutted in a devastating blaze on the evening of November 17, 2015. During a two-day trial, the court heard that Shirley Chin, a forensic chemist brought in as part of a fire investigations team to look into the cause of the blaze, concluded that it had been caused by a human, but she could not establish whether it had been deliberate or was an accident. It was also confirmed that both McCrory and Gall had attended Perth Police HQ voluntarily when the latter told detectives how the pair smoked cigarettes inside the hotel and then threw them away on to some napkins in a "living room area" of the former hotel. Simon Guyan, 46, a fire investigations officer with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, had told the court that following observations within the building, he identified a former private staff living quarters on the second floor as being the "room of origin" of the blaze. However, he stated it was "unlikely" that the fire had been caused by a cigarette. The blaze took firefighters around five hours to extinguish, with units being called from Dundee and Dunkeld to assist Perth fire crews. Ms Gloag's £3.6 million plan to demolish the derelict building and build a multi-use hall and gym, has been passed by Perth and Kinross Council.

Perth & Kinross

Perthshire hotel goes on the market for £1.7million

April 15 2017

An award-winning hotel has gone on the market for £1.7million. The Atholl Arms Hotel in Dunkeld is a stop-off for many major events in Perthshire, and recently won an award for its beer garden, which overlooks the River Tay. It is a starting point for participants in the famous Tay Descent, which sees hundreds of canoeists, kayakers and paddle boarders make their way to Perth. The hotel boasts views up to Thomas Telford’s famous five arched bridge, opened to the public about 25 years before the Atholl Arms was built. It also has links to royalty, as Queen Victoria dined there as a princess prior to ascending the throne in 1837. Estate agents believe the hotel, which was built in 1832, has the prospect go from strength-to-strength in the future. Stuart Drysdale, associate director at Christie & Co, which is handling the sale said: “The Atholl Arms Hotel is the most prominent building on Dunkeld's main street with a fantastic outside bar and terrace which overlooks the River Tay. “The Cairngorms National Park is located nearby and Dunkeld is a popular base for tourists and visitors to the area. “This sale presents a great opportunity for an investor or experienced operator to acquire a business with the potential for further strong growth producing a high level of return.” The 17-bed hotel contains a lounge bar and bistro, an outside bar and terrace which was awarded “Best Outdoor Area” at the 2016 Scottish Licensed Trade News awards, and the RiverView Restaurant which won "Best in the Region for Informal Dining” at the 2014 Scottish Hotel Awards. The current owners built the outdoor area in the gardens overlooking the River Tay along with the Pavilion Bar in 2016 and have also carried out other extensive renovations in recent years. In 2013 the hotel played host to celebrity chef James Martin, who
travelled to Perthshire to film an instalment of his TV show The Flying Chef. Martin and his group enjoyed drinks in the hotel’s garden on the riverbank before dining in the RiverView restaurant. .  

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Perth & Kinross

First fish taken just minutes into new River Tay salmon season

January 17 2012

The annual ritual of the opening of the salmon season on the River Tay got off to a flying start on Monday with the first fish taken within a few minutes of anglers taking to the water. Hundreds of people lined the river banks to take part in ceremonies at Dunkeld and Kenmore. The early salmon was taken at Kenmore, minutes after a 100-strong parade had made its way from the Kenmore Hotel to the river bank to see the first cast made by Lee Conway from Glasgow, who caught the first fish on last year's opening day. A cornerstone of the local economy it is estimated that angling is worth in excess of £5 million annually to Perthshire fishing directly supports around 50 jobs and many more indirectly in the retail and tourist sectors. Among those recognising the financial importance of angling was Stephen Leckie, president of the Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, who hosted a breakfast for the business community at the Hilton Dunkeld House Hotel before St Johnstone manager Steve Lomas took the first cast on the river in front of the hotel. Mr Leckie said: ''I am delighted to see so many people gathered here today to celebrate this jewel in Perthshire's crown a major contributor to the local economy. ''Perthshire is one of the country's premier fishing locations and the river Tay is famous across the world. The area's fishing industry supplies important domestic and international markets for some of Scotland's highest quality food products.'' He added: ''Fishing is also a key tourist attraction for visitors from across the UK and overseas and this helps support Perthshire's economy and jobs, particularly in remote and fragile areas that may otherwise struggle to survive in today's tough climate. ''Fishing is often perceived as a traditional pursuit of a select few, when the reality is that a growing number of people from all walks of life of all ages are participating in, and enjoying, this activity. ''One could also imagine that only large estates and sporting agents benefit, however the public are now coming to realise the value of country sports, including fishing, and associated land management practices.'' William Jack, chairman of the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board, took up the theme that salmon fishing was not only for the rich. He said: ''On the opening of the new season the Tay board would like to take the opportunity to counteract the widely-held misconception that salmon angling is the preserve of the wealthy. ''For example in February, there are currently over 3,000 rod days available on the Tay. Half of these cost £30 pounds or less and 95% less than £60.'' He added: ''In addition there is a great amount of water owned or managed by clubs and associations, offering easy access at little cost. Obviously many prices increase as the season progresses but there is still a wealth of good value fishing available to all.'' The Dunkeld event was organised by the Hilton Dunkeld House in conjunction with Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board, the Dunkeld and Birnam Tourist Association and Perthshire Chamber of Commerce. A procession of locals, chamber of commerce members and the hotel's ghillies were led to the Dunkeld fishing beat by piper Andrew MacQueen before sharing a dram at the water's side. A traditional blessing, dousing the boats with whisky to wish them and their passengers well for the coming season, was carried out before the angling got under way.

Perth & Kinross

Bid to save famous conifers of Dunkeld’s Cathedral Grove

December 23 2011

A bid will be mounted to rescue a grove of trees at Dunkeld. The Cathedral Grove was battered by storms earlier this month, felling several massive boles completely and damaging others. The biggest casualty was a Colorado white fir, while the UK champion Douglas fir situated nearby narrowly escaped. A large section of a silver-fir came down destroying a section of the fence separating Dunkeld Cathedral with the Dunkeld House Estate. Other casualties include an old larch and one of the largest specimens of the Japanese hiba known in Perthshire. The site is also home to 10 tree specimens planted as part of the iCONic (Internationally Threatened Conifers in Our Care) project, which escaped unscathed. Experts in tree collection management will hold a meeting in Dunkeld on January 9 to put together a rescue plan for the two-acre site. Tom Christian, project officer for the National Tree Collections of Scotland, said: ''Several trees have been blown over completely and others lost tops, which did considerable damage to many neighbouring trees on their way down. ''The result is that the grove is now covered in debris, many standing trees are no longer worth keeping and significant safety concerns have arisen in some of the damaged trees. ''Given the national significance of this iconic site, and the new collaboration between the Dunkeld Hilton and the National Tree Collections of Scotland, it is vital that we do what we can to rescue cathedral grove, clean up the significant debris, address new safety concerns and re-plant a new generation of trees to replace those that have been lost.'' Partners from the National Tree Collections of Scotland including Forestry Commission Scotland and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh will meet with managers at the Dunkeld House Hotel to consider how best to plan and fund the necessary work. The grove is important to Perthshire's tourism-friendly tag as Big Tree Country. The Douglas fir with the widest girth in the UK 23 feet stands within cathedral grove, where it is thought to have been placed after being gifted to the Duke of Atholl in about 1846. Record breaking boles exist across the region, including what is possibly the oldest living thing in Europe the Fortingall Yew Glen Lyon, which is up to 5,000 years old. At several hundred years old, the Birnam oak sometimes known as Macbeth's oak stands on the banks of the River Tay near Dunkeld and is said to be the only surviving tree from the Birnam Wood immortalised in Shakespeare's Macbeth. The region's tall fir trees are also regularly recorded in the record books. The iCONic project is an attempt to save the world's fir tree species, around half of which are threatened with extinction in the wild. Sites including Blair Atholl, Aberfeldy, Dunkeld, Pitlochry, Scone, Gleneagles and Perth have some of the few remaining examples of rare types of conifer in existence.

Perth & Kinross

Celebrations to be held for opening of salmon season on the River Tay

January 15 2016

The eagerly-awaited opening of the Tay salmon fishing season will be celebrated along the banks of Scotland’s longest river. At Kenmore anglers and guests including Provost Liz Grant will gather in the village square before heading down to the riverbank in a procession led by the Vale of Atholl Junior Piper Band. The provost will then bless the boat before the first cast of the season will be made by three times World Speycasting Champion Scott Mackenzie. Downriver at Dunkeld, Dr Aileen McLeod, minister for environment, climate change and land reform, is the guest of honour at the Hilton Dunkeld House. The ceremony has been organised by the Hilton in conjunction with Dunkeld and Birnam Angling Association, the Dunkeld and Birnam Tourist Association and the Perthshire Chamber of Commerce and is supported by the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board (TDSFB) and the Tay Foundation. At Meikleour, three-year-old ghillie’s daughter Eilidh McRoberts will be assisting with the symbolic first cast while Pipe Major Ian Duncan will be leading anglers to the river just below Kinclaven. The celebrations continue on Friday in Kenmore with a gala fundraising dinner followed by a dinner and ceilidh on Saturday night. Over the last 12 years the Kenmore Hotel has raised £1.17 million for many worthy causes including the Nicola Murray Foundation, CHAS, Sarah’s Promise and Angling for Youth Development as well as many smaller charities. This year more than 200 guests will be attending the gala dinner and it is anticipated that it will generate in excess of £100,000 for charity. Kenmore Hotel general manager Ross McEwen said he was delighted to be welcoming anglers from around the country. “The Kenmore Hotel has been a popular hostelry for anglers since 1572 and this landmark event has been celebrated at Kenmore since 1947,” he said.

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