Weekly update, 23rd June

Tourism, Food & Drink:

Following last week’s food & drink success for Caithness companies, news this week that two more local businesses have been nominated for the Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards with Thurso’s Mr C’s Bar and Annie’s Bakery both nominated in categories.

Interesting discussion this week about the proposed North Highland Way with Tina Irving, and to hear of the work being done in conjunction with Ramblers Scotland’s “Medal Routes” initiative, which is a Commonwealth Games legacy project.

Enabling activities:

CNSRP partner the Highland Council is holding two public engagement events in Caithness next week in support of the developing strategy for a new LEADER programme for the Highlands. Both events will be held in the Pentland Hotel, Thurso, on Wednesday 2nd July, from 3pm-5pm and again from 7pm-9pm.

I took part with representatives from Big Box Productions, Thurso Cinema and North Highland College this week regarding future joint working on creative industries projects. The three organisations provide a powerful combination of skills and experience that stands the area is good stead as plans begin to move forward. Thurso Cinema’s Rob Arthur spoke about the short film made recently to highlight the impact of live cinema events in Thurso. The film was recently shown at Cine Europe in Barcelona, further enhancing the Thurso Cinema reputation as a cutting edge example of what digital cinema can achieve in the 21st century.

Rob Arthur was also a guest speaker at an event held today (Friday) in Thurso to highlight to Baroness Verma (Minister at the Department of Energy & Climate Change) the positive progress being made in moving the area’s economy away from its dependence on Dounreay. Also speaking as recipients of funding from the North Highland Regeneration Fund were Keith Whittles (Whittles Publishing) Gary Reid (Reid’s of Caithness) and Martin Murray (Dunnet Bay Distillery). I was able to have time with Baroness Verma the previous day to highlight wider progress, and to talk in detail about our forward strategy for the area. Many thanks to colleagues at the NDA and DSRL for arranging this opportunity.

Communications:

As part of an ongoing process of helping communicate progress with the delivery of aspects of our economic transition programme CNSRP’s partners work together to generate news stories for local, regional and national media. I also speak on a regular basis to individuals and organisations across the area to update on progress. This week:

  • Congratulations to Wick High School’s “Chore Attack” team, who won the Productivity Award at the UK-wide Apps for Good competition in London’s Barbican Centre this week. Delighted to see that the great work being led by teacher Chris Aitken was also recognised at the event with an award. Chris has also taken two teams of student programmers to the Scotland-wide Kodu Cup competition in Paisley, and returned with first and second place out of 10 teams. The teams pitched their own video game creation to industry experts from companies such as Microsoft.
  • I met this week with Magnus Davidson of the Environmental Research Institute to discuss the research he is doing on the impact of marine energy on the economies of Caithness & Sutherland. I outlined the CNSRP vision and programme, and we spoke about how current plans integrate with the development of the marine energy industry.
  • The North Line Action Group (NorLAG), which exists to promote an enhanced rail service on the far north line, has its inaugural General Meeting tomorrow (Saturday) in the Pentland Hotel, Thurso at 12 noon.