Euan’s Guide Aims to help disabled access to local venues.

A website which reviews the disabled access standards of local venues has been gaining momentum after boosting new celebrity backers, Stephen Hawking and JK Rowling. The website, Euan’s Guide, was started by Euan McDonald, who suffers from Motor Neuron Disease, in a bid to share information on disabled access with other people with accessibility needs.

Paisley’s MSP George Adam is encouraging people across Paisley to use the site to review local bars, restaurants and other venues.

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Commenting, George said:

“This is a fantastic initiative which can make a real difference to the social lives of disabled people across Scotland, as well as their friends and families.

“Disabled people often face challenges in accessing everyday venues which most people don’t have to think twice about, with proper information about disabled facilities often being a process of trial and error. My wife Stacey is a wheelchair users and we need to think carefully before choosing a restaurant, café or pub to go to. If the place has stairs but no lift, then we simply cannot go.

“Euan’s Guide is looking to help us make the decision on where to go before leaving the house and provide a reliable portal for information on disabled access for venues across Scotland, which would help disabled people across the country enjoy access to the bars, restaurants and cinemas which most people take for granted.

“Renfrewshire Access Panel already do a great job highlighting accessibility weaknesses at venues across our town, recently consulting on disabled access to the refurbished Paisley Town Hall, while helping consult on access for disabled spectators during the Commonwealth Games. I hope Euan’s Guide can supplement the great service they already provide the people of Paisley.

“I would encourage people across the constituency to contribute to the website and rate local venues – and make a real difference to the quality of life of disabled people in our community.”

Founder of Euan’s Guide, Euan McDonald, said:

“Following years of investigating, me and my family have built up something akin to a local directory on disabled access that we were keen to share with others with accessibility needs. And then we thought that there must be thousands if not millions of people who have the same issues that we do so we decided to take this a step further and create a site that will benefit the whole disabled community.”

The Euan’s Guide website can be found at http://www.euansguide.com/ .

New phone app showcases Paisley’s treasures.

History-lovers are being encouraged to be a tourist in their own town thanks to a new mobile phone app which acts as a virtual guide to Paisley’s best buildings.

The Look Up Paisley phone app offers pictures and audio from ten important heritage sites around the town for residents and visitors alike.

The sites featured are – Paisley Abbey, town hall, the Russell Institute, the arts centre, the snail in a bottle site, the museum and library, Coats Memorial Church, the grand fountain, Sma’ Shot Cottages and Paisley Cross.

The free-to-download app has been available in iPhone format for a couple of months, but has now been released for Android users too.

Look Up Paisley app

App users will find each site has accompanying audio footage telling the story of the building’s history – meaning the user is talked through the town’s hidden secrets, such as the network of tunnels that form the Abbey Drains.

Many of the audio clips are voiced by staff and volunteers from tourist sites and by local residents.

To launch the app, Councillors Terry Kelly and Bill Brown, Convener and Deputy Convener of the council’s Planning and Property Board, were joined by Sma Shot Cottage volunteers June Kennedy and Cath Mitchell, and by the Abbey’s David Goldie.

Councillor Kelly said: “Paisley has a superb architectural heritage – the town centre has the second-highest concentration of listed buildings of anywhere in Scotland, behind only Edinburgh.

“This phone app is a handy guide to the pick of those buildings which will be of interest and use to residents and tourists alike.

“The Look Up Paisley name is a fitting one – because people have to literally look up when walking around the town to get the best view of the stunning detail and architectural treasures you may miss if only looking at eye-level.

“The council has big plans to use Paisley’s considerable heritage appeal to drive the regeneration of the town and boost tourism – and this phone app is another way for people to fully appreciate the value of what we have here.”

To download the app, visit the Apple store or Google Play store on your smartphone (assuming device is compatible) and download it from there.

Courtesy of Renfrewshire Council.

Council stands by its commitment to help families.

Families First, Renfrewshire Council’s flagship initiative to improve the lives for local children is set to receive an additional £2.5million per year.

The extra cash means the work taking place to improve access to services for the families that need them most can continue into 2018.

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Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Education Policy Board, Councillor Jacqueline Henry said: “It’s absolutely vital that our children get the best possible start in life if we are to break the cycle of deprivation that affects far too many families in Renfrewshire.

“We are putting funding into improving the things that impact on a child’s early development.

“We are increasing the number of teachers in our nurseries and putting increased emphasis on the transition to primary school. By developing a more nurturing approach our aim is to ensure our children ready and fully equipped to start learning so that they continue to progress in life.

“We’re investing in parents too, who need to be able to support their child’s development through positive reinforcement at home.

“If we can achieve better outcomes for families it’s better for our children and better for the future of Renfrewshire.”

The council’s Early Years Strategy was approved in March 2013. This latest announcement takes the council’s commitment to early intervention to almost £14 million over five years.

In the past 12 months the council has increased the number of teachers in its nurseries by 50%, changed its policies to reduce exclusion rates for children in care and supported a number of voluntary groups to increase their services in key locations.

Two teams have also been set up to provide on the ground support for families with young children. Working out of Woodlands Primary School in Linwood and Glencoats Primary School in Ferguslie, the teams have helped 152 families, through self-referral, to get the support available to them.

Families that would otherwise struggle to access council services can now get information on benefits and debt advice, get help with finding and joining a local community group or take part in a range of free parenting classes.

The council continues to be the only authority in Scotland to provide free school meals during the holidays for children of nursery age up to P3, who depend on this service during term-time. Delivered via its Families First activity clubs, invites have gone out to 1,100 families across Renfrewshire encouraging them to take advantage of this service during the forthcoming spring break.

For more information visit: renfrewshire.gov.uk/familiesfirst

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New Loom Gallery at Paisley Museum Opened in Honour of Former Mill Girl Ellen Farmer MBE.

A new gallery has been created in Paisley Museum housing the looms associated with the manufacturing of the Paisley Shawls. The Loom Gallery in Paisley Museum will be officially opened on Friday 28 March 2014, with the unveiling of a plaque dedicated to Ellen Farmer MBE, founder of the Paisley Development Association, Old Paisley Society and a key driving force behind Sma’ Shot cottages and the Thread Mill Museum.

Paisley Museum has always given great importance to preserving and interpreting this unique textile heritage. The collection of shawls in the museum is regarded as one of the most important of its kind in the world. The Loom collection is part of the Paisley Shawl Collection cared for by Renfrewshire Arts & Museums Service, a recognised collection of National Significance to Scotland. This project has been undertaken with the support of Museums Galleries Scotland through the Recognition Fund. Recognition is a Scottish Government scheme managed by Museums Galleries Scotland.

In marking the opening of this new gallery with a dedication to his mother, Bobby Farmer states ‘When the family heard Paisley was going to do something to honour mum’s memory we were really pleased. But when we heard that the new Loom Gallery at Paisley Museum was going to be dedicated to her, we couldn’t have thought of anything more appropriate. We can’t thank enough everyone that was involved in making this happen’.

Councillor Jim Harte, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Sport, Leisure and Cultural Policy Board said ‘Ellen Farmer was a remarkable woman who had Paisley in her heart.  She worked tirelessly to educate and inspire local people and visitors about the rich heritage of the town of Paisley.  Her work was recognised in 1997 when she was awarded the MBE.  It is therefore very fitting that we honour and recognise Ellen’s work by installing a plaque in her memory in the new Loom gallery at Paisley Museum.’

Renfrewshire’s premier road race returns in 2014.

To the delight of hundreds of runners, registration has opened for the 2014 Paisley 10K and Fun Run.

1,500 competitors took part in last year’s road race and there were over 300 fun runners. It is hoped that similar numbers, if not more, will sign-up in 2014.

Sponsored for a third year by MEPC Hillington Park, the 10K and Fun Run will take place on Sunday 31st of August, with road runners taking to their marks at 10am and fun runners lining up at 12.15pm.

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The 10K starts and finishes in the centre of Paisley and as one of four ‘Heart Towns’ in Scotland, all proceeds from the day will go to British Heart Foundation (BHF) Scotland.

Councillor Jim Harte, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Sport, Leisure and Culture Policy Board said: “Last year runners who registered online raised £1,500 so they literally gave ‘pound for pound’ by hitting the road. With the Commonwealth Games taking place in Glasgow this summer, we hope hundreds more people will be inspired to find their place at the start line, which would not only be good for the British Heart Foundation, it would also be good for their own personal health and wellbeing”.

The 10K road race is open to all and is aimed at both the serious runner and those competing for the first time. Once again the race will be on a flat, fast course which will take runners to the west of the town after a loop around Paisley’s historic town centre.

Competitors can take in the sights of Paisley Abbey and Town Hall buildings as they begin and finish the race in County Square.

For families, friends and youngsters there is the chance to take part in the Fun Run and the other activities taking place along the route. The Fun Run is approximately 3km and participants are encouraged to run, walk or stroll their way around the course soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the benefits of being active.

Roddy Proudfoot, Head of Asset Management at MEPC Hillington Park said, “I took part in last year’s 10K road race so I’m delighted MEPC Hillington Park is able to sponsor the event again. It allows us to support the ambitions of two great organisations that are committed to improving the wellbeing of Renfrewshire’s residents – many of whom are employed at Hillington Park and who are also keen runners”.

Each runner will receive a medal for their participation and there will be trophies awarded to the winner of each age category in the 10K.

You can apply online at www.paisley10k.com, download an application form at www.activerenfrewshire.co.uk or request a paper form on 0141 889 1110.

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Renfrewshire Council comparisons show positive trends.

The body charged with supporting improvement in local authority services says that councils in Scotland are continuing to deliver innovation and improvement in services despite ‘very significant financial pressures’ on their budgets.

The second annual report of the Local Government Benchmarking Framework, conducted by the Improvement Service, has compared costs and levels of public satisfaction with services provided by Scotland’s 32 local councils.

The newly-published report found that councils were making significant progress in working as partners and in offering better value for public money.

While collaborating, innovating, and working more efficiently, councils are also delivering services to increasing numbers of people, more of whom report increased levels of satisfaction with the service they receive.

Ronnie Hinds, Chair of the Local Government Benchmarking Board, said: “Our report enables people to see how their councils are performing and how well their money is being spent. That level of accountability and transparency is increasingly important as a spur to improvement.

“There is clear evidence in this year’s benchmarking report that there is a high level of public satisfaction with local authority services.

“Councils are also responding well to the need to reduce costs and get better value for money.

“At the same time we are using the co-ordination of information not only as a measurement of how councils are currently performing, but also as a springboard for improving standards and delivering even better services.

“In the next few months, we will be able to demonstrate the value of this approach as we publish the results of two collaborative pilot schemes between councils using benchmarking data.  One pilot is comparing and making recommendations on roads maintenance, and the other is looking at the positive destinations of young people after leaving secondary school.

“We will continue to work with all local authorities and appropriate partner organisations to strengthen that support for more effective services for our communities.

Included in the report’s findings is information on:

Education
Increasing numbers of young people leaving school are heading for positive destinations in further education, work and training (an increase from 88.9% in 2010/11 to 91.4% in 2012/13).

More young people are achieving more than five awards at SQA Levels 5 and 6 (an increase from 36% to 39% for level 5, and 23% to 26% for level 6 since 2010/11).
The attainment gap is closing with the exam performance of pupils in the most deprived areas improving at a faster rate than the national average (e.g. for level 5 awards, an increase of 4 percentage points from 16% to 20% across the period)

Housing
The number of vacant council homes has been reduced and the standard of housing stock is improving (e.g. the % dwellings meeting Scottish Housing Standards has increased from 54% to 77% across the period)
Environmental Services

Customers are reporting increased satisfaction with street cleanliness and waste collection (from 73% to 75% and 81% to 83% satisfied respectively).
Cultural and Leisure Services

Visitor numbers are increasing while costs are reducing (e.g. for sports facilities, an increase in visitor numbers of 13.5% against a backdrop of a reduction in gross expenditure of -6.4% over the same period).

Council costs
The cost of running councils and collecting council tax and business rates has been kept to around  5% of total gross revenue spend.

The report also pinpoints challenges where further work is required.

Those issues include growing rent arrears (from 5.9% to 6.8%) – possibly linked to UK Government welfare changes – and increasing waste disposal costs (an increase of 3.7% in real terms since 2010-11).

There are also challenges arising from the integration of social care and health services, and the increasing numbers of people who require self-directed support packages.

Courtesy of Renfrewshire Council.

The report can be downloaded from here. http://www.improvementservice.org.uk/benchmarking

Local youngsters win jobs at Recruit finale.

A group of local young people were given a helping hand into the world of work at the glittering finale of a popular council-run youth employment programme.

The Recruit is loosely modelled on telly favourite The Apprentice and sees a group of young jobseekers take part in a series of business-based challenges.

The latest instalment of the programme featured 38 local unemployed young people and took place throughout February and March.

The awards ceremony in Paisley Town Hall – presented by DJ George Bowie – saw 200 family members, Invest in Renfrewshire employers and invited guests.

A total of 16 young people have found jobs through the programme, with two more set to go through final interviews in the next week. A further eight were offered training opportunities with the council.

On the night James Campbell, 23, from Paisley, was named as the Top Recruit. A delighted James said: “I was gobsmacked to find out I was Top Recruit – the whole programme has been fantastic.

“Before I was on The Recruit my confidence was low – there were so many things I would have said I wasn’t. But now – thanks to all the things the Recruit team has taught us – I would look at all the things I can do.”

Darren McCormack, 23, of Renfrew, was voted Recruit’s Choice by his team-mates for being the person they felt deserved special recognition.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan, who helped present some of the prizes on the night, said: “Once again, the young people on The Recruit programme have been a credit to themselves and to the area.

“They have earned the opportunities they were given tonight through their own hard work and I wish them all the best with their futures.

“Over the years, the programme has helped hundreds of local young people get ready for and find work, while being universally recognised as an enjoyable and rewarding experience for those who take part.

“The council has made tackling unemployment one of our biggest priorities through the Invest in Renfrewshire programme and we are proud to be able to run a programme as well-supported and well-regarded as this.

“Once again, we would like to thank the local businesses and organisations who offered their time and expertise to run challenges and who have helped sponsor the programme, as without them The Recruit wouldn’t be the success it is.”

On the night, the Recruits handed over a cheque for £1,570 to Accord Hospice, having raised the money through a charity fundraising challenge.

The full list of young people taken on by local companies through the programme is as follows: James Moore (Miller Joinery), Alexander Crossan (Hamilton Bros), Tyron Dingle (Signs Express), Sean Kelly (Steam Wheeler), John Campbell (St Mirren FC), Darren McCormack (Trident House), Robert Cherry (Jetcut), Callum Wilson (Matrix Uniform), Kelly Roskell and Tasja Lennox (both Healthier Business) and Sean McLean (Showcase Cinema).

Three others – Andrew Douglas, Alice Ferguson and James Campbell – have been given posts within Renfrewshire Council, while Zoe Carroll and Paul Callaghan have been taken on by Renfrewshire Leisure.

The Recruit will be back in the summer with a programme for S5/6 school pupils, set to start in June.

Renfrewshire kids find their Warrior side.

Glasgow Warriors were kicked into touch as Renfrewshire’s pupils dominate on their home turf.

Over 300 pupils from Renfrewshire’s primary schools have enjoyed a day of competitive rugby at the Scotstoun Stadium in Glasgow as part of a rugby festival organised by Renfrewshire Council.

The celebration marked the end of a six-week training programme, giving pupils from 11 schools the chance to put their newly acquired skills to the test at the home of the PRO12 side.

St Peter’s Primary were the winners in the boys contact tournament, Gallowhill took the honours in the girl’s contact tournament and it was Bushes Primary who were crowned champions in the touch tournament. The winners of each tournament took home medals as a reward.

In attendance were eight Glasgow Warriors’ players including Nikola Matawalu, Sean Maitland and Peter Horne, as well as Scottish Women internationalists Lindsey Smith, Sarah Smith and Megan Gaffney.

The council’s rugby programme is delivered in school by its team of development officers with support from five modern apprentices.

Pupils start by learning the basics before moving on to more advanced skills as the weeks progress. They complete the six-week course by taking part in a competitive tournament to demonstrate their grasp of the game.

Rugby Development Officer Lindsey Smith said: “It was a very successful event and the biggest primary school festival we’ve held to date. Having the Warriors and Scotland players there, joining in with them, was a great reward for the kids and hopefully the inspiration they need to continue their involvement with rugby, even if that’s as a club supporter”.

As one of the fastest growing sports across Renfrewshire, and with the School of Rugby based at Paisley Grammar, there is plenty of opportunity for pupils to become more involved and emulate those who they met at the event.

Councillor Jim Harte, convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Sport, Leisure and Culture and Policy Board, said: “I’m delighted we’ve been able to give so many school pupils this opportunity, which is a direct result of the council’s investment into grass-roots rugby. Working with Scottish Rugby we’ve been able to appoint five apprentices, which have helped us to grow participation in rugby across Renfrewshire, at all levels.”

Courtesy of Renfrewshire Council.

WW1 centenary inspires new war memorial appeal.

Renfrewshire Council is marking the centenary of the First World War by ensuring all local fallen service personnel have the chance to be recognised on the area’s memorials.

This August will be 100 years from the outbreak of the conflict – with the date to be marked by a programme of commemorative events in Renfrewshire and elsewhere.

RWM 2 Provost flowers

And Renfrewshire Council wishes to honour all locals who lost their lives in that and subsequent conflicts, to coincide with the 100-year anniversary.

The council has authority to allow consideration of requests from relatives to add the names of local service personnel who lost their lives in either world war or any other conflict since, and who are not yet mentioned.

Last year, a service was held at Renfrew war memorial to install a permanent inscription to Lance Corporal James Murdoch, who died in the Falklands.

Renfrewshire’s Provost Anne Hall said: “Since the First World War ended, the UK armed forces have been involved in more than 54 wars and conflicts.

“Many of the Renfrewshire people who lost their lives are already recognised on local memorials – but as there is no definitive list of war dead, we don’t know if there are still some who are not.

“While we have received some requests over the years, we want to ensure all fallen service personnel get the same chance to be recognised.

“And the upsurge in interest in military history expected around the First World War centenary means now is a fitting point to find out if there any omissions.”

The council is responsible for 10 war memorials – erected after the two world wars – to honour those who fell in those conflicts.

They are in Paisley, Renfrew, Johnstone, Howwood, Houston, Lochwinnoch, Kilbarchan and Bridge of Weir, as well as Abbey and Hawkhead Cemeteries.

Any changes to existing memorials would be made with certain criteria in mind.

These include that the alterations would need to be in keeping with the aesthetic of the memorial, and that the fallen service person’s details would need to be verified with the appropriate authorities.

Names would not be added to memorials which do not already contain individual name inscriptions, and cannot be added to those where there is no room for additions.

Anybody who wishes more information about war memorials should phone 0300 300 0300 or email am-serv.es@renfrewshire.gov.uk

Renfrewshire pupils receive jazz training from music maestros Brass Jaw.

Famous for creating energetic and charismatic live performances, Brass Jaw is a four-piece band from Glasgow currently taking the jazz scene by storm.

Awarded the prestigious ‘Best Innovation’ and ‘Best Ensemble’ prizes at the 2013 Scottish Jazz Awards, Brass Jaw – made up of trumpeter Ryan Quigley and saxophonists Paul Towndrow, Konrad Wiszniewski and Allon Beauvoisin – are praised for bringing a vibrant new sound to the jazz genre.

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Brass Jaw are also renowned for their educational work with schools and young people: regularly delivering improvisation and composition workshops, small and large ensemble coaching, individual tuition and mentoring schemes.

Ahead of their gig at Paisley Arts Centre on 4 April, Brass Jaw will be meeting with pupils from Renfrewshire Schools’ Jazz Orchestra to deliver a two hour workshop; giving participants the chance to develop their skills in saxophone, percussion, drums and piano with help from the professional musicians.

Following the workshop, the pupils have been invited to support the band before they perform at Paisley Arts Centre on Friday 4 April at 7.30pm. For many of the participants, this will be their first experience of performing live to a public audience.

James Cunningham, Music Co-ordinator for Renfrewshire Council’s Education and Leisure department said:

“Renfrewshire Council is delighted to be working in partnership with Strathclyde Youth Jazz Orchestra to provide this opportunity. Brass Jaw and the SYJO tutors are among the best jazz musicians in Europe and our young people have been so inspired working with them over the last few months. I am delighted that collaboration has been so fruitful and would love to see it develop further over the next few years”

Tickets to Brass Jaw cost £10 (£6 conc) and can be booked by calling the Box Office (located at Paisley Arts Centre) on 0300 300 1210 or going online to www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/onlinebooking

Young people put Scotland in the frame

The Scottish Civic Trust is delighted to announce the winners of the 2014 My Place Photography Competition for young people.

Conor Bolton (aged 6), Rothesay Primary school, snapped up 1st prize in the Primary School category for The Dry Keep and Amy Sheppard (aged 14), Buckie High School, won 1st prize in the Secondary School category with After the Dance.

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The competition, which is an annual open opportunity for young people of school age in Scotland, aims to give children a platform to express ideas, experiences and perspectives on the heritage, buildings and archaeology around them.  Each entry is presented as part of the My Place exhibition at The Lighthouse, Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture, from 2pm March 27 – 5pm May 4 2014.

A total of 464 photographs were submitted by young people from 29 primary and secondary schools across 15 local authority areas in Scotland. All photographs were viewed by a distinguished panel of judges:  Ian Walford, Chief Executive of Historic Scotland; Sylvia Grace Borda, award winning Canadian-UK artist and lecturer; Robin McClory, Architect and Director of ADF Architects; Learning and Access specialist May McGurk of Glasgow Museums; and the Scottish Civic Trust’s very own Steve Brady, Trust Manager.

Steve Brady, Trust Manager, said:   ‘This year’s crop of photographs was of a very high standard.  The competition goes from strength to strength and has grown into one of the Scottish Civic Trust’s most impactful projects.’

Ian Walford, Chief Executive, Historic Scotland said: ‘The entries fully lived up to my expectations; they formed a stunning collection of work from 4 year olds to 18 year olds.’

Sylvia Grace Borda, artist said: ‘The high quality of photo work submitted illustrates how each participant is acutely aware of the built environment, but more so how youth are defining, and adding value to communities and the places we call home.’

See HERE for online showcase of images or visit http://www.scottishcivictrust.org.uk/news/young-people-put-scotland-in-the-frame/

Exhibition venue:

My Place, Scottish Civic Trust

The Lighthouse, Level 5, 11 Mitchell Lane, Glasgow G1 3NU

27 March – 4 May 2014

 

Opening Hours:

Monday to Saturday 10.30am – 5.00pm

Sunday 12.00pm – 5.00pm

ADMISSION FREE

 

Web:

www.scottishcivictrust.org

 

4 star Stage Award nominated show to appear at Paisley Arts Centre.

After appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe, the humorous, ambitious and universal story, Pirates and Mermaids is now on tour in the UK and North America and will be stopping off in Renfrewshire on 8 April.

If home is where the heart is, what do you do when your heart is all over the place?

On a bench in a park, a young man in a kilt is grappling with one of life’s big questions, aided only by his mobile phone, a bottle of whisky, some sweets and an old storybook.

Pirates and Mermaids

Cameron and Eilidh live in different countries divided by an ocean and, perhaps even more so, by the differences between their rural and city lives. Their parents remember when the only way to keep in touch across the world was by letter, postcard and a short phonecall at Christmas and even now video messaging doesn’t quite have the ‘cuddle’ option.

Pirates and Mermaids, hailed as a ‘fairytale for adults’, is an uplifting and surprising story about love, loyalty, family and national identity. It challenges the audience’s assumptions about their nearest and dearest and questions the judgements we all make on those we consider simply as passersby.

Written by Poorboy’s Artistic Director Sandy Thomson and Associate Director Jeremiah Reynolds, the play continues the company’s decade long exploration of ideas of belonging and has received 4 star reviews across the Edinburgh Fringe press, was labelled a ‘Must See’ show by The Stage and Jeremiah was nominated for The Stage Award for Acting Excellence for Best Solo Performer.

Pirates and Mermaids will be at Paisley Arts Centre on Tuesday 8 April, 7.30pm. The show is suitable for ages 12+ Tickets cost £10 (£6 conc) and can be booked at the Box Office (located at Paisley Arts Centre) by calling 0300 300 1210 or going online to www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/onlinebooking