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Twin-tastic start to new school term

Renfrewshire’s pupils headed back to school for a new term today, and at one school it was double the fun as two sets of twins started Primary 1.

Twins at St Catherines PS. James Harkness, Stuart Harkness, Caris Orr, Kacey Orr

James and Stuart Harkness, and Kacey and Kariss Orr were enjoying their first day at St Catherine’s Primary in Paisley this morning.

Teresa Brown, Headteacher of St Catherine’s Primary School, said: “Welcoming our new Primary 1 class into the school is always a good day, but with two sets of twins there will be even more excitement for the young ones.

“It’s an emotional day for parents and grandparents too as they watch their children go into school for the first time.”

For almost 25,000 pupils across Renfrewshire’s 11 secondary, 49 primary and two additional support needs schools, today was the first day of term.

Renfrewshire Council’s Convener of Education and Children’s Services Policy Board, Councillor Jim Paterson, added: “The first day of school is always filled with excitement as well as nerves and I wish all the very best to all our pupils as they start this new school year.

“Here in Renfrewshire we want to make sure all our pupils can reach their full potential, regardless of their background, and as one of nine local authorities taking part in the Scottish Government’s Attainment Challenge, we will be broadening our approaches to literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing.”

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Paisley marks Indian independence anniversary with stunning dance video

Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 has been boosted by a beautifully-made video showing Indian dancers performing against the backdrop of the town’s iconic landmarks.

stills from the video

The video stars dancers from Abhinaya Glasgow Dance Academy and was funded by a grant from the Renfrewshire, Culture, Heritage and Events Fund, created as part of the Paisley 2021 bid.

It has been released to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Indian independence (TUESDAY) which will see events taking place across the UK, India and beyond.

The film can be seen now via paisley2021.co.uk and on the 2021 social media channels.

The four-minute-long film – called The Longing – was shot earlier this summer and uses classical Indian dance to tell the story of ‘a beautiful girl’ Rada, who is waiting for her hero Kanan to return.

It is set in the grounds of Paisley’s 850-year-old Abbey, while dancers in traditional costume can be seen performing in front of local architectural treasures such as Paisley Town Hall, Anchor Mills and the cobbled streets of Oakshaw, while the Paisley Pattern also features.

Paisley is bidding to be UK City of Culture 2021 as part of a wider push to transform the town’s future using the power of its internationally-significant heritage and cultural story.

Earlier this month, the town was confirmed by the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as the only Scottish place on the final shortlist – which also features Coventry, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea.

And Paisley 2021 bid director Jean Cameron said: “We are thrilled to support this wonderful project through Renfrewshire’s Culture, Heritage and Events Fund, created to help bring new talent to the area and boost our local creative scene.

“The diversity it shows will be central to our 2021 cultural programme, while the film also highlights the massive contribution the Indian diaspora make to the UK arts scene.

“Everything about the video is stunning – the choreography, direction, cinematography and costumes, and it shows Paisley, the Paisley Pattern, and our wonderful collection of historic buildings at its best.

“Of course Paisley and India are already linked – with our weavers having mastered the production of the original teardrop-motif Kashmiri shawls in the 19th century and created a fashion symbol which spread the Paisley name around the world.

“We are delighted to be celebrating those links for the 21st century through our digital channels, and to be making our own contribution to the 70th anniversary of Indian independence celebrations.”

The dancing was choreographed by Esther Sunija, artistic director of Abhinaya Dance Academy, who teaches Indian dance classes in the town.

Esther said: “With help from Paisley 2021, we wanted to showcase the important buildings of Paisley to people around the world.

“We used the Paisley Pattern onto the sarees and rangoli and also showed the beautiful venues of Paisley, especially the mill and riverside, to help us communicate the story behind the scene.

“The video also raises awareness of the South Asian classical dance of Bharatanatyam, which is part of one of the eight ancient dance forms in India.

“We found Paisley’s heritage buildings go well with Bharatanatyam and are delighted to highlight the diverse cultural influence of Paisley.”
Abhinaya’s classes are open to all will resume after the summer break starting next Monday, in the town’s Wynd Centre, from 6 until 8pm.

They feature two disciplines – Bharatanatyam – one of the most popular classical Indian dance forms, noted for its fixed upper torso, spectacular footwork and sophisticated vocabulary of hand and facial gestures, and Dancercise, which blends aerobics and dance moves with upbeat Bollywood music.

For more information on the bid, visit www.paisley2021.co.uk and for the classes, see www.abhinayaglasgow.org/paisley-2021

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Johnstone hots up as Fire Engine Rally returns to the town

Johnstone was alive to the sound of sirens at the weekend as the annual Fire Engine Rally returned to the town once again.

Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron joins in the fun

Thousands of people turned out across the day to see fire engines, past and present, showcased in the town centre.

Fire engines from throughout the years parade through Johnstone

15 emergency vehicles paraded from Johnstone Fire Station into Houston Square, where they remained for the afternoon, giving everyone the chance to climb on board and learn how they’ve advanced through the years.

A fireman of the future enjoys the falconry

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service undertook a variety of demonstrations throughout the day including cutting a trapped person out of a car and how to deal with a chip pan fire.

Scottish Fire and Rescue tackle a chip pan fire

The crowds were kept further entertained with music, face painting and falconry taking place all afternoon.

Youngster get to grips with the fire bell

The event was hosted by Renfrewshire Council in partnership with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Heritage Trust.

Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron was on hand to welcome everyone to the event on the day.

Provost Cameron said: “What a fantastic day in Johnstone town centre.

“It was great to see so many people visit to take in the parade of fire engines and then stay for an afternoon full of family activities.

“The Fire Service provided a terrific day of education and it’s an event that the whole community now looks forward to each year.

“Renfrewshire has a packed events schedule which continues for the rest of the year including the upcoming Spree Festival in October, so make sure you check out what’s on and come along if you can make it!”

For upcoming events in Renfrewshire visit www.paisley2021.co.uk/events or www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/events.

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Exam results boost for Renfrewshire’s young people

renfrewshire council logo .JPG

Renfrewshire’s young people have once again achieved high levels of attainment, as early indications of exam results suggest.

renfrewshire council logo .JPG

S6 pupils achieving Advanced Highers has risen by six per cent, which is the highest level achieved by young people in Renfrewshire.

S4 and S5 pupils also maintained the strong performance earned last year, matching the best results ever achieved for these year groups, with the percentage of S4 pupils achieving seven awards at National 5 and S5 pupils achieving three or more Highers even surpassing those of previous years.

Renfrewshire Council’s Convener of Education and Children’s Services Policy Board, Councillor Jim Paterson, said: “Renfrewshire’s young people have done an amazing job achieving great results and I would like to congratulate them all.

“The support given to young people to reach their full potential is vital, and this is achieved through our teachers, our support staff and parents. I would like to thank everyone for the hard work they have put in together that has helped our young people flourish.

“The results in Renfrewshire are encouraging but we want to do more to help children and young people reach their full potential, regardless of their background, into positive destinations. We know that exam results are only one way to measure success and there are a number of wider achievements young people also gain from school.”

Renfrewshire Council will be looking at the results in more detail, with particular focus on literacy and numeracy, attainment for our most vulnerable young people and schools’ performance against similar-sized schools from across the country. A more accurate picture of young people’s success is expected in the next few months.

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Exam Results Day – SDS Helpline Open from Tuesday

Renfrewshire students will receive their National, Higher and Advanced Higher exam results on Tuesday (8th August).

Renfrewshire North & West MSP Derek Mackay is highlighting help and advice available to students and parents on results day.

Skills Development Scotland’s (SDS) annual Exam Results Helpline will be open from 8am to 8pm on Tuesday 8th and Wednesday 9th August, and then from 9am until 5pm up until the 16th August. The number is 0808 100 8000.

This is the 25th year of the free Helpline which offers advice, information and support for young people and their parents, who make a third of all calls.

Qualified Careers Advisers are on hand to help young people who may not have received the results they were hoping for and those who have done better than anticipated. These skilled professionals have unique access to information on UCAS course vacancies at UK colleges and universities, confirmation and clearing, advice about Modern and Foundation Apprenticeships and employment or volunteering.

Post-results information for students and parents is also available at myworldofwork.co.uk. There’s also information about Modern Apprenticeships and Foundation Apprenticeships, at apprenticeships.scot. Foundation Apprenticeships help young people gain valuable, real-world work experience and access work-based learning while they are still at school.

Renfrewshire North & West MSP Derek Mackay said:

“Exam results day can be a daunting and nerve-wracking time, and I think it is important that all students who are receiving results are supported with advice and guidance.

“If you get the results you are looking for, then that is obviously fantastic. However, if students do not get what they need this time round, then be assured that there are a huge number of options available and there is support and advice available to help you get where you want to be.

“Whatever the outcome, these results will be a beginning, rather than an end point.

“Skills Development Scotland are on hand to offer support and advice to students and parents on the next chapter.

“I would like to take this opportunity to wish all students the very best of luck.”

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Exhibition of prisoner artwork helps weave new side to Paisley 2021 bid

Prisoners at one of Scotland’s jails have created an exhibition of creative artwork inspired by Paisley – now on display in the town’s museum.

artwork depicting Paolo Nutini and John Byrne, while

The exhibition – called Weave – opened this week and features paintings, creative writing, sculpture, textiles and song produced by inmates at HMP Low Moss.

Paisley Museum’s Georgia Edmondson poses in the gallery

The programme was run by the Learning Centre at the prison, who each year work with Glasgow School of Art on a residency aimed at helping the prisoners turn their lives around by using creativity to express themselves.

As many of HMP Low Moss’s inmates are from the Paisley area, this year’s event was themed around the town – with input from the team behind Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021.

It saw a series of workshops inspired by Paisley’s story, including a demonstration of traditional weaving skills, and a songwriting masterclass run by the University of the West of Scotland.

End products include striking paintings of famous Buddies Paolo Nutini and John Byrne, and artwork depicting local features such as Paisley Town Hall, the Paisley Pattern…and even the logo of the Paisley Pirates ice hockey team.

The free-to-visit exhibition was curated by staff at Paisley Museum – who also worked with the prisoners – and runs from this week until October.

The programme was run by Ruth Facchini, learning manager at HMP Low Moss, who said: “To make our society safer, it pays to channel offenders’ energies to positive ends, build their self-worth and help them learn new skills.

“The arts are an especially effective way of engaging with offenders who feel alienated from mainstream education and employment, and there is growing evidence they are effective in turning around offenders’ lives.

“I have already had amazing feedback from people who have viewed the exhibition and our guys who produced it could not be more thrilled to have their work recognised and appreciated.

“They feel valued and that they have contributed something really positive to their community.

“We in HMP Low Moss are firmly behind Paisley’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2021. The town needs regeneration and an economic boost, and our learners – who know more than most about deprivation and lack of opportunity – recognise what a winning bid might bring to Paisley.”

Margaret Scott, Development Manager in the Paisley 2021 bid team, said: “We were delighted to be able to work with the staff and prisoners at HMP Low Moss on this hugely worthwhile project.

“We know involvement in culture makes people’s lives better – one of the key themes of Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 is in making those benefits available to every segment of our community.

“This exhibition shows us putting that into practice – by reaching members of society most in need of a change of direction and, through the power of culture, helping equip them to do that.

“It’s also a great example of partnership in action – with staff from the Scottish Prison Service, the 2021 bid team, Renfrewshire Leisure and the prison charity the Koestler Trust – all playing a part.

“The quality of the artwork is fantastic and really tells the town’s story – I would encourage the public to get along and check out the exhibition for themselves.”

Paisley is bidding for the prestigious title as part of a wider push to transform the town’s future using the power of its internationally-significant heritage and cultural story.

Earlier this month, Paisley was confirmed by the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as the only Scottish place on the final shortlist – which also features Coventry, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea.

For more information, visit www.paisley2021.co.uk

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Excitement is hotting up in Johnstone ahead of Fire Engine Rally

The ever-popular Johnstone Fire Engine Rally is set to attract another huge crowd in the town centre when it returns on Saturday 12 August.

2016 rally

Fire engines from across the decades are set to parade from Johnstone Fire Station at 11:30am into the town centre, ending in Houston Square.

2016 rally

A day of family fun then commences which will give people the opportunity to discover a variety of emergency vehicles from throughout the years.

Falconry, a bouncy castle and face painting will ensure kids are entertained all afternoon with a music stage hosted by the Fire Service keeping up the excitement until 5pm.

The event is being hosted by Renfrewshire Council in partnership with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Heritage Trust.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service will undertake a variety of dramatic demonstrations to give an insight to how they respond to emergencies.

Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron will be in attendance and will welcome all to the event.

Provost Cameron said: “The Fire Engine Rally has become an extremely popular event with the local community in Johnstone and I can’t wait to be a part of it.

“The chance to see the evolution of the vehicles and equipment which the fire service have used over the years is fascinating.

“The event provides just the right balance of providing an exciting day of fun for all the family as well as informing the public of important safety messages.

“It’s always fantastic to see the many hundreds of people who descend on Johnstone to be a part of the day and I’d encourage everyone to bring their friends, families, children and even their pets along to join me.”

For further information visit www.paisley2021.co.uk/events

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Deputy speaker of House of Commons backs Paisley 2021 bid

Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 will bring ‘tremendous benefits’ – says one of the most senior politicians in the House of Commons.

Ms Laing with Cllrs MacLaren and Nicolson and some of the entrepeneurs from InCube

Deputy Speaker of the House Eleanor Laing MP – who was born in Paisley and grew up in Renfrewshire – spoke of her passion for her home town during a visit this week.

Paisley is bidding for the prestigious title as part of a wider push to transform the town’s future using the power of its internationally-significant heritage and cultural story.

Earlier this month, Paisley was confirmed by the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as the only Scottish place on the final shortlist – which also features Coventry, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea.

Eleanor – the Conservative MP for the Epping Forest constituency in Essex since 1997 – was given a tour of the town centre by Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson and leader of the local Conservative group, James MacLaren.

And she said: “It is absolutely brilliant Paisley has been shortlisted to be UK City of Culture 2021.

“I am passionately backing the bid because I know the impact it will make on Paisley. Not only have the people of Paisley got tremendous energy and enterprise skills, the town is full of potential.

“I think a lot of people have forgotten what a beautiful town Paisley was in its heyday and I really believe we can help people to rediscover Paisley’s glory.

“Working together towards the 2021 bid will bring tremendous benefits to everybody of all ages and backgrounds from this wonderful town.”

While here, Eleanor paid a visit to the Gilmour Street retail base of InCube – Renfrewshire Council’s creative business incubator.

She was joined by staff and some of the local designers and makers who through InCube receive an intensive programme of business support and access to a shop to sell their creations.

Cllr Nicolson – who is also chair of the Paisley 2021 partnership board – added: “We were delighted to welcome Eleanor to the town and talk her through the latest plans for Paisley 2021.

“Eleanor was really interested to hear about how the bid has already raised Paisley’s profile and changed how people see the town – it came across how much she still cares about Paisley and we really value her support.

“Since Paisley was announced as the only Scottish place on the shortlist the town has had fantastic support from across the political spectrum and from various government agencies.

“It was also great we were able to visit the InCube shop as part of the tour – Paisley has such a rich history of creativity and design and the young entrepreneurs working on the programme are keeping that tradition alive.”

Since Paisley made the shortlist three weeks ago, the bid has been publicly supported by political figures including First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop, Conservative and Labour party leaders Ruth Davidson and Kezia Dugdale, and Scottish Secretary David Mundell, as well as major agencies including Visit Scotland, Creative Scotland, Glasgow Life and Glasgow Airport.

For more information, visit www.paisley2021.co.uk

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Renfrewshire’s Provost visits community project ‘The Men’s Shed’

Build it and they will come

Many hands made light work for volunteers at ‘The Men’s Shed’ in Foxbar as Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron visited to see the community project in action.

Renfrewshire Provost Lorraine Cameron with volunteers at the Men’s Shed

Taking place at the Foxbar Youth Centre, men of all ages come together in a social setting to build bird houses, plant boxes and bird feeders, tend to community allotments and undertake guided walks all over Renfrewshire and beyond, all in a safe, friendly and inclusive environment.

Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron working on the allotments with volunteers from the Men’s Shed

The group use recycled or donated wood to create a variety of items which are then used to raise money to cover costs for Shelter Scotland and support its work with homeless people across the country.

Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron presented with a hand painted bird box by Shannon (12)

Alongside its charitable endeavours, the Men’s Shed also gives community members a place to meet like-minded people in a fun and welcoming social setting.

Provost Cameron said: “I was delighted to visit the Men’s Shed project to meet with the volunteers who make this fantastic project a success.

“The group provides an opportunity for social interaction for men of all ages and it’s great to see the amount of friendships that have been forged through volunteering.

“The different activities which take place give a chance to revisit skills forgotten or even learn new ones no matter what age the volunteers may be.

“I’d encourage anyone with an interest to get in touch, go along and become a member- you won’t regret it!”

The Men’s Shed was first set up by Shelter Scotland’s Foundations First Project- funded by the STV Children’s Appeal- and aims to help people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

Across the UK, there are currently 418 Men’s Shed’s in operation, with a further 115 in development, and almost 9,000 members achieving a sense of purpose through the inspiring projects in their area.

Alison Watson Deputy Director of Shelter Scotland said:  “I’d like to thank Provost Lorraine Cameron for her continued support of The Men’s Shed.

“Our Foundations First service in Paisley is making a huge difference to people who are at risk of homelessness or struggling with poor housing.

“The Men’s Shed is a big part of our work in the town helping people in poverty to set and achieve their own goals and support each other.”

The group meet every Monday at __ and new members are welcomed with open arms.

Janice MacNamara, Volunteer Coordinator- Foundations First, said: “It has been a privilege to support an inspiring group of men to develop, grow and achieve so much.

“The difference in their overall wellbeing, their impact in the environment and in the community is admirable.

“The Men’s Shed has so many benefits, it is a social gathering that aims to tackle isolation and loneliness, it is also a place of learning or skill sharing and can have a positive effect on those who become part of it.

“I encourage Renfrewshire men of all ages to give it a try, you have nothing to lose and will be met with a friendly smile and a warm welcome. “

For information on how to join the Men’s Shed in Renfrewshire contact Janice on 07471 812 774 or jmacnamaravolco@shelter.org.uk.

For advice and support, visit scotland.shelter.org.uk.

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£100,000 investment set to safeguard future of historic Bascule Bridge

The only remaining bascule bridge in Scotland is set for a six-figure investment to ensure it remains operational for river traffic.

The Category A listed Inchinnan Bascule Bridge which straddles the White Cart River in Renfrew, will undergo essential mechanical works to lengthen its lifespan and ensure it retains the ability to open and close when required.

The bridge will be closed for a period of four weeks from Saturday 5 August with diversionary routes in place to ensure access across Renfrewshire is maintained.

The bridge will remain open for pedestrians and cyclists across the duration of the scheduled works.

Planned works set to take place on the outlying Barnsford Road will be postponed until a later date in order to minimise disruption in the area as much as possible.

Councillor Cathy McEwan, Convener of the Infrastructure, Land and Environment Policy Board, said, “The Bascule Bridge is a historic part of Renfrewshire’s heritage and we must ensure that we protect its status as the only lifting bridge of this type currently operational in Scotland.

“There was a fantastic turnout at last year’s Doors Open Day when hundreds of people came along  to see it open and close, highlighting the regard in which the bridge is held in the community.

“We apologise for any inconvenience closing the bridge may cause and hope the public will appreciate by closing it once, we are avoiding a series of closures to complete repairs section by section.

“We recognise the bridge is an important transport link for Renfrewshire and it is vital it is maintained to a high standard for use by commuters and businesses.

“The works will preserve the bridge and ensure it remains fully operational for both road and river traffic for years to come.”

The White and Black Cart rivers have been an important crossing site for many years. Initially, people were forced to wade across before a ferry was used to make the crossing.

A seven-arch bridge was built in 1759 crossing both rivers, but was washed away in 1809.

Two separate bridges, which are still in use today, were built in 1812 as a replacement for the crossing although they could not accommodate large ships sailing into Paisley.

In 1838, a swing bridge was installed, the name of which still remains locally, despite the lifting bridge being opened in 1923.

The bridge was given Category A listed status in 1994 which classified the bridge under the category of ‘buildings of national or international importance, either architectural or historic, or fine little-altered examples of some particular period, style or building type’.

Full information on the diversion routes in place can found at www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/basculebridgeworks