Renfrewshire kids are gearing up for a fun-packed October school holiday – with a full programme of children’s events planned as part of Paisley’s Spree festival.

The annual extravaganza of music, comedy and more – on between 9 and 17 October – will also include family fun at various venues around the town.

Highlights taking place while the schools are off include daily Let’s Do Robotics with Lego workshops in the specially-erected Spiegeltent in County Square.

The free drop-in workshops, a popular feature of last year’s festival –will allow visitors to build and programme creatures which move using the latest Lego robotics technology.


Also in The Spiegeltent is another set of free daily drop-in workshops based around popular fantasy video game Minecraft, where visitors have to storm a Spree castle in search of treasure.

Other children’s events taking place during The Spree include:

– Jurassic Adventures (Saturday 17 October, Paisley Town Hall, tickets £12) which was created by the team behind Disney on Ice and is set on a magical island, which will transport families back to a prehistoric age;

– Oor Scotland (Thursday 15 October, Paisley Arts Centre, £5), which will see entertainer Andy Cannon retell Scotland’s history with lots of music and audience participation;

– Bookbug (Monday 12 and Wednesay 14 October, The Spiegeltent, free), staff fropm Renfrewshire Libraries lead babies and pre-school children along with nursery songs and action rhymes;

For more information, a full list of dates and times, or to buy tickets for any of these shows, visit www.the.spree.co.uk

Big-name music acts starring at this year’s Spree include Idlewild, the RSNO, Karen Matheson, James Grant, Barbara Dickson, Aidan Moffat, Horse McDonald and the Khartoum Heroes featuring King Creosote.

There will also be comedy from Des McLean as well as two Best of Scottish Comedy nights run with The Stand Comedy Club.

The festival is run by Renfrewshire Council as part of the build-up to Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “The Spree programme has something for people of all ages – and I would encourage parents to check out the full programme as there is plenty to help keep kids occupied during the October week.

“The Spree is now in its fourth year and in that time has fast established itself as a must—not-miss date on the area’s cultural calendar.”


22 years ago, in 1993 Graeme Sim, our company director and a local to the area, started Paisley Chem-Dry, a carpet and upholstery cleaning franchise with patented techniques.

We may have changed our name to 1st Choice Chem-Dry and continued to grow but we still believe in our original ideals; excellent customer service and excellent results.


In the upcoming year 1st Choice Chem-Dry will be working with lots of other local companies, creating deals and offers which will be beneficial to all, including the people of Paisley!

Our first offer will be launching extremely soon, with Patrick’s hairdressers so…








If your company would like to work with us on any mutually beneficial deals, please get in touch.

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Senior pupils at Gleniffer High have spoken out on issues affecting young people in Renfrewshire at a special community planning meeting dedicated to children and young people.

Speaking on the barriers facing young people, such as employment; health and wellbeing; community facilities and transport; and having a say on local issues, the twenty-three sixth-year pupils – a mix of boys and girls from diverse backgrounds – presented their thoughts and suggestions to the board.

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Topping the list was the pressure to succeed and keeping good mental health, with a call for positive role models and young voices to be heard also a key concern.

Poverty, employment opportunities and transport were also big issues with young people asking for information and advice on programmes and initiatives to be easily accessible to young people.

Councillor Jacqueline Henry, Chair of the Children and Young People Thematic Board, praised the pupils for their hard work and taking the time to present the issues to the board and said: “Young people have the future very much in mind and listening to their views on issues that will affect them, such as employment and transport, is vitally important. I was delighted to have Gleniffer High senior pupils present their views and suggestions and we are now looking into what we can do about the issues raised.

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“Feedback is a big deal for young people, so we will be getting back in touch with the pupils once we have explored their suggestions and spoken with our partners on key issues.

“I know the pupils got a lot out of the day and I hope to involve more young people in the work of the thematic board in future.”

Headteacher David Nicholls said: “The senior pupils who worked with the thematic board are great examples of what can be achieved in all schools. The demands and expectations on their young lives are substantial but despite these everyday pressures they are fully committed to their school and community. In many ways, they inspire young pupils who will follow them through school so it is really important we listen and work with senior pupils on youth issues.”

For more information, visit www.renfrewshire2023.com.


Renfrewshire’s men are being asked to don high heels support a campaign against sexualised violence against women.

The Walk a Mile in Her Shoes campaign aims to increase communication and raise awareness on the issue to prevent future cases of violence.


The march is a fun opportunity for men to show their support for the campaign by wearing high heels, or something red, to demonstrate a collective unity between the genders.


Councillor Iain McMillan, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Social Work, Health and Well-being Policy Board, said: “The Walk a Mile in Her Shoes campaign brings an important issue to the fore. It is vital that there is discussion on the issue of sexualised violence towards women.

“Communication is imperative not only for prevention but also to provide support to those affected to aid their recovery.”

Johannes Gonani, project development officer of West of Scotland Regional Equality Council, said: “The walk is terrific opportunity to raise awareness over an issue far too often overlooked. We need men and women to come together to demonstrate a togetherness and show it is unacceptable in our society.

“I hope that as many men as possible will volunteer to take part in the march even if they are not willing to wear high heels. If we can have a sea of red from both genders taking part this will bring the issue into the public eye.”

The event takes place on Wednesday 14th October at 12pm and supporters will walk from the top of Paisley High Street to Dunn Square.

Volunteers are sought to take part in the march as are donations of high heel shoes, size 7 and above, for willing volunteers to wear.

All genders and ages are encouraged to join on the day to make a stand against sexualised violence against women.

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Paisley’s iconic Arnotts building is being brought back to life by the owners of several of the town’s most popular restaurants.

The Cardosi brothers will next summer open a new 120-seat restaurant covering the entire ground-floor unit in the former Gauze Street store, in what is being hailed as a ‘sign of the town’s centre’s ongoing rebirth’.

The new venture – to be titled Pendulum Bar and Grill – will offer a British and continental menu, complementing the Cardosi family’s existing Italian restaurant in Storie Street.

The restaurant is part of a much bigger development on the site, with work set to finish this year on 11 luxury apartments on the upper floors overlooking Paisley Abbey and Town Hall – most of which have already been snapped up.

Earlier this summer, residents moved into 31 new flats on the corner of Gauze and Lawn Streets, owned by Link Housing Group.

The Arnotts site is owned and marketed by Park Lane Developments Renfrewshire LLP, a limited liability partnership between Renfrewshire Council and Park Lane Developments.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan met with Stefano and Riccardo Cardosi – whose family has run businesses in the town since the 1920s – to see inside the unit, which sits inside the listed façade on Gauze Street.

And Councillor Macmillan said: “We are thrilled that someone whose name is as well-known and well-regarded in the town as the Cardosi family has agreed to lease the retail unit in the former Arnotts store.

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“For years, the Arnotts site stood as the most visible gap site in the town – but for us to now fill that gap with a development of this quality is a fitting symbol of Paisley’s town centre’s ongoing rebirth.

“Of course we know there are still problems to be fixed but the signs of progress are now all around us – take a look at the number of new residents and businesses in the area around the Abbey for example.

“As the town’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 takes shape we hope to create even more opportunity for traders to thrive – and for businessmen such as the Cardosis to be investing in this way is a vote of confidence in where Paisley is heading.”

Stefano Cardosi added: “Things in the town are moving at such a fantastic rate and we want to complement what is already available by creating a new, exciting bar and grill.

“Pendulum will offer a varied menu, beer, wine and cocktail list in a stylish, contemporary setting currently not available in Paisley.”

Brian Clarke, joint managing director of Park Lane Developments added: “We are delighted to have secured such a quality tenant. This is a really good single use for the building and we don’t think we could have got anyone better for the town.”

The new restaurant is expected to open in June of next year. For more information on Paisley’s regeneration, see www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/paisley

In 2010 Marcus Crawford Guy of Lochwinnoch was the FIRST EVER SCOTSMAN to be accepted to the prestigious actor training program at the Juilliard School in New York City. Marcus followed in the footsteps of now Broadway star Gayle Rankin. Juilliard Drama boasts graduates JESSICA CHASTAIN, ROBIN WILLIAMS, KEVIN SPACEY, MICHAEL URIE & VIOLA DAVIS.
 Marcus graduated a BACHELOR OF FINE ARTS as one of only 5 students receiving SCHOLASTIC DISTINCTION for his paper SHAKESPEARE: THE POWER OF A WORD. He graduated alongside TONY AWARD WINNING ACTOR, ALEX SHARP and Wallis Currie-Wood, currently starring in CBS’ Madam Secretary. Marcus received the prestigious JOSEPH W. POLISI “ARTIST AS CITIZEN” AWARD for his achievements serving the community with his artistry while completing the most intensive acting program in the world.
Marcus served for 3 years as a Gluck Community Service Fellow which serves  INNER CITY HEALTH CARE AND REHAB FACILITIES with arts therapy workshops and performances. He also worked with ART POWERS ARUSHA a student driven initiative which took ARTS EMPOWERMENT WORKSHOPS to rural TANZANIA. Marcus now plans to launch an initiative SHAKESPEARE IN SWAHILI  in partnership with the Umoja Youth Empowerment Centre (www.umojacentre.au) which will raise money for students at organizations in Arusha, Tanzania as they make a docudrama using text from A SWAHILI TRANSLATION OF THE MERCHANT OF VENICE
Marcus also runs an ARTS IMMERSION AND COLLEGE PREP organization in CENTRAL FLORIDA called START OSCEOLA (www.startosceola.org) which offers 2 weeks of education from world class artists to over 150 students at an  incredibly low fee. This summer stART was nationally recognized by two television news networks and was featured by Art Schools Network in a webinar hosted by Dr. Mary Palmer.
Marcus will appear in NICHOLAS GIURICICH’S FEATURE LENGTH FILM ‘RESERVATIONS’ shooting in the fall of 2016 in the principal role, Zach. This will shoot on Long Island with a view to doing the indie film festival circuit.

The woman who will lead Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 is coming home – and wants the bid to inspire a new generation the way Paisley inspired her.

Having been brought up in Ferguslie Park, Jean Cameron will be back where it all started when she takes up her role as City of Culture Bid Director next month.

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The former pupil of St Fergus Primary and St Mirin’s and St Margaret’s High has enjoyed a career in the arts which has taken her across Europe over the past two decades, including producing Scotland’s exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 2005.

She will join Renfrewshire Council having spent the past few years leading on the international strand of the cultural programme for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, working with artists from many of the 71 competing nations.

Her current role is as a senior arts producer at Glasgow Life where she has shaped many of the city’s leading cultural outputs including the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Arts, Glasgow Mela and Aye Write!

And Jean, 46, is delighted to have come full circle as she prepares to help launch the town which inspired her career on to the international cultural map.

She said: “I am really thrilled to be coming home and it is an incredible honour to be able to work on this in my home town.

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“My love of the arts and culture was fostered in Paisley – my first love was dance and my first time on a stage was aged three at a dance display in Paisley Town Hall.

“I left the town at 17 to study in Edinburgh but came back at 20 and worked part time at Paisley Arts Centre, while helping out David Wallace at PACE with the choreography on their pantomimes.

“Sadly, I had to move away from Paisley because there wasn’t much here in terms of a career in the arts.

“But that’s why it is so exciting to see the range of courses in creative industries available now at UWS and West College Scotland – it is great to think that has changed in the past 20 years.

“I am really excited about the opportunities the UK City of Culture bid throws up to retain these people in the town – young creative people will have a reason to stay.”

Jean’s family are still dotted around Paisley, including her mum, who worked in the Ferguslie Mills.

And Jean – who grew up in Tannahill Road, named after the town’s most famous poet – was back on home turf when she visited her old primary school at St Fergus, where she met head boy and girl James Ramsay and Jade Corrigan.

In her new job, Jean will co-ordinate Paisley’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid document, while driving the campaign to support it. The bid is due to be lodged and decided upon by the UK Government in 2017.

And she is brimming with enthusiasm for the impact the bid can have on Paisley and the wider Renfrewshire area. She added: “The bid will help us change the town for the better and you can see the drive and momentum building up already.

“The benefits will be social and economic – we know culture is worth around £7.7bn to the UK economy and we want to increase the slice of that which comes to Renfrewshire.

“The bid offers a real opportunity to take the great strengths the town has with its heritage and built environment and to build on that.

“But ultimately this bid is for the people of Paisley and it will be them who make it happen – it has the potential to galvanise the entire town and I am very excited to be part of it.”

Councillor Mark Macmillan, chair of the Paisley UK City of Culture 2021 partnership board, added: “As bid director, Jean will have a key role to play as we look to pull together a bid which the whole town will get behind and be proud of.

“We are delighted to have appointed someone who not only has vast experience of the Scottish and UK arts scene but is already part of the cultural DNA of Paisley.”

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Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan has called on both the UK and Scottish governments to “give councils the time and money they need” when allocating funding to local services.

Councillor Macmillan criticised the budget-setting timetables announced by both governments as Renfrewshire Council prepares to meet this week and discuss its own financial outlook.

Cllr Macmillan said: “Setting the council’s budget is an ongoing process we will be working on up until the 2016/2017 budget is announced to the Renfrewshire public in February. But the timetables announced by the UK and Scottish governments mean councils will be in the dark about their funding levels until very late in the day.”

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“The Chancellor spoke in July of £20bn of spending cuts across Whitehall departments but won’t confirm where these will be made until the delayed Comprehensive Spending Review in November. The Scottish Government won’t confirm the local government settlement until January 2016 so there’s very little time for councils to react. I think it’s only fair councils should be given the time we need.

Councillor Macmillan added: “It’s important people understand the funding difficulties Renfrewshire Council has consistently been faced with in recent years. Renfrewshire has been on the grant floor of Scottish Government funding every year since 2009 – the only mainland local authority to be treated in that way. About 80% of our funding is determined by the Scottish Government and we anticipate over the next two years a further 3-6% cut in that funding, potentially at the higher end of that scale, which will have repercussions for our residents. This has a damaging impact on the our ability to deliver the services our citizens and our communities need and deserve. We are only asking for a fair deal for Renfrewshire.”

“We know what the priorities for Renfrewshire are and our next budget will continue to invest in education and social work so that we support vulnerable families, tackle poverty and look to close the educational attainment gap. Creating employment opportunities and regenerating our town centres will continue to be key priorities. But we need to know as soon as possible exactly what our funding settlement is so that we can allocate funds across our spending priorities.”

Renfrewshire Council has previously announced the need to make budget savings of up to £30million between 2015 and 2018.

Cllr Macmillan said: “Like other Scottish councils, we have to adjust our financial plans because of uncertainties over our funding settlement and other factors. We have identified where we can make ongoing savings with no compulsory redundancies, minimal impact to frontline services and, in many cases, with a better service provided.

“Our level-headed approach to managing our finances has been recognised by Audit Scotland. Audit Scotland checks that public money is spent properly, efficiently and effectively and it has given our accounts a clean bill of health, including the level of reserves we maintain for emergencies.

“Our programme to roll-out LED street lighting is a prime example of this approach. It will save us £750,000 every year on top of the environmental benefits it will bring. Similarly, introducing a new online customer portal in 2016 will generate significant savings while improving the experience of doing business with the council.”

Thousands Of Syrian Refugees Seek Shelter In Makeshift Camps In Jordan

Renfrewshire Council is set to lead a new partnership approach to help refugees.

The move is part of a series of recommendations on supporting refugees which will be considered at a meeting of Renfrewshire Council on Thursday September 24.

A Renfrewshire Refugee Support Group would draw on the input and experience of housing, health, social care, education, welfare, social care, third sector, police, religious, and refugee association representatives.

Renfrewshire has also linked with East Renfrewshire and Inverclyde councils in an effort to better coordinate local efforts to help the refugees.

The idea for the group emerged from a recent faith summit chaired by Bishop John Keenan of the Diocese of Paisley, which brought together a range of religious and political representatives.

The group would have two main aims. A detailed programme would be developed to welcome and integrate Syrian refugees who arrive under the UK Government’s national resettlement programme.

In the meantime, the new group would continue to help support local charitable activities which are providing immediate aid to refugees.

Five sports and town halls across Renfrewshire along with a church hall and Islamic centre are currently being used as collection points for items which will be taken from Renfrew to Calais later this month in an aid convoy organised by Renfrew couple Jade and Stephen O’Neil.

Renfrewshire Council is also proposing to donate £10,000 to the British Red Cross.

Councillor Mike Holmes, Depute Leader of Renfrewshire Council, said: “As representatives of civic and public life in the wider Renfrewshire area, we are coming together to speak with one voice on the ongoing refugee crisis.

“We believe we have a moral and humanitarian duty to assist those who are fleeing oppression, persecution and war.

“People and organisations in Renfrewshire have set an inspiring example in their commitment to helping others facing hardship. We can be proud of that and we want to help as many people and groups as we can to build on that work.

“Our aim is to support in any way we can those ongoing charitable and humanitarian efforts, along with working with Engage Renfrewshire to develop a community register of interest where people can give support to refugees in different ways through activities such as volunteering or translation services.

“At the same time we will continue to work on putting in place the detailed partnership support arrangements on health, housing, schooling and social care that Syrian refugees will need when they come here.

“Renfrewshire was one of the first councils to sign up to the Government’s resettlement programme and we are continuing to have discussions with the Home Office on the details of the support for councils.

The exact numbers of refugees who will arrive in Renfrewshire are still to be worked out.

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This September, all across the UK, thousands of parents will have experienced the huge emotional pull of seeing their children start school for the very first time. No doubt there will have been tears, and hugs, and plenty of reflection at what is a genuine new life stage for their kids.


There’s no doubt, too, that many parents will have remarked on the speedy passing of time and also voiced concerns that their little ones aren’t quite ‘ready’ to start full-time education. They have a point. The topic of whether UK children start school too young has been discussed at length for many years now and won’t be easing up any time soon.


An article in the Guardian stated that 88% of countries in the world have a school starting age of six or seven, in order ‘to ensure that their children are given the space and time to develop all their neuro-physiological, social and emotional capacities.’


At around the same time, the Too Much, Too Soon Campaign was launched in 2013 by the Save Childhood Movement. ‘Very few countries have a school starting age as young as four, as we do in England,’ the campaign noted in an open letter sent to the Telegraph. ‘Children who enter school at 6 or 7 – after several years of high quality nursery education – consistently achieve better educational results as well as higher levels of wellbeing.’ A powerful side of the argument is that children can focus and concentrate more at an older age, and are therefore better equipped for schooling. They are also more capable of coping with formal testing.


At Early Years Foundation Stage the emphasis is on learning through play and assessment is based on classroom observation, therefore, school starters aren’t tested. This stage of education bridges the gap between nursery and primary school, using arts and crafts, messy play, role play and imaginative resources – readily supplied by companies like Hope Education – to maintain a fun and creative atmosphere. That’s the reality of school life for four and five year olds.


Currently, children have to start school in the UK by the age of five, but many enter Foundation/Reception at four, depending on which school year they fall in. The difficulty in setting a strict age-specific entry point is that children mature at different rates and it’s completely possible to have a four-year-old who is more than ready to start school, and a four-and-a-half year-old who is not.


The issue of summer-born children – the very youngest pupils beginning primary school education, for they could have a birthday in August and start the very next month, besides classmates who are 11 months older than them – is being debated now. Parents of summer-born children can delay their start to school until they are five, but this means children will miss the first year (Foundation/Reception) and go straight into Year 1.


Effectively, then, they are a year behind their peers. But new proposals would see them start in reception at the age of five. ‘Parents know their children best and we want to make sure summer-born children can start reception at the age of five if parents think it is in their best interests,’ said Schools Minister Nick Gibb.


For those who want a later start to school, it’s a step in the right direction at least.


CHILDREN who are victims of the “forgotten disaster” at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor yesterday got the chance to enjoy themselves in the Soar at intu Braehead leisure destination.

The youngsters, aged between nine and 14, were invited to spend a day there and the intu Braehead shopping centre as part of their three-week stay in Scotland, organised by the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline charity.

The group of ten children from the Borodianka district, south of Chernobyl, in Ukraine played a round of golf at Paradise Island Adventure Golf; went sledging at Snow Factor’s indoor snow mountain; had a McDonald’s for lunch; received gifts from Marks and Spencer and Primark; then rounded off their day with a session at Laser Station.

Gail Macdonald, who is chairperson of the Forth Valley branch of the charity explained:
“The nuclear explosion at Chernobyl almost 30 years ago is the forgotten disaster. Although it has long been out of the media spotlight, the horrifying effect of the disaster and radiation leak is still being felt and people are still suffering.

“Scientists reckon it will take 1000 years for things to return to normal in the area. Of all children born in Ukraine and Belarus, 90 per cent will suffer from some form of illness or defect by the time they reach adulthood caused by the radiation leak.”

Gail added: “It may sound like an exaggeration, but the three weeks these children spend in Scotland could be enough respite from the radiation that it could save lives.
“These youngsters are approaching puberty and while they are in Scotland they are breathing clean air and eating uncontaminated food for long enough to reduce radiation levels in their bodies and boost their immune systems.

“At the very least, it could add two years to their lives.”

The Chernobyl Nuclear Plant was the biggest employer in the area and since the explosion workers have been unable to find other jobs.

Gail continued: “The youngsters brought over to Scotland by our charity live in poverty and deprivation as there is massive unemployment. Youngsters have told us that families forage in the forests for mushrooms and people fish in the river for food to put on the table because they can’t afford to buy food from shops.

“But the land and the river are still contaminated with radiation. All the children we have staying with families have extremely high levels of radioactive caesium in their bodies.

“We’ve got to a say a big thank you to the good people at intu Braehead for giving these kids a great day out. It’s an experience they would not be able to enjoy back home.

“They were absolutely wowed by their visit to intu Braehead and are very grateful.”

Community development manager at intu Braehead, Lydia Brown said: “It was great to see the look on the faces of the youngsters as they enjoyed their visit to intu Braehead.
“The Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline charity do great work raising the £600 it takes to bring each child over to Scotland and giving them a once in a lifetime experience.”

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Paisley’s Kibble Education and Care Centre has been shortlisted for a top national award.

As one of the country’s leading social enterprises, the organisation provides a wide variety of services to educate and look after young people at risk and also delivers vital youth employment training and job opportunities.

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Now Kibble is one of the finalists in the Government Opportunities (GO) Excellence in Public Procurement Awards Scotland.

The awards aim to recognise excellence within procurement and the benefits to the wider business and social community that effective and sustainable purchasing can deliver.

The GO Awards Scotland ceremony is being held on Tuesday, October 6 and that is when Kibble will find out if they have won the category of Best Service Award for UK suppliers working with the Scottish public sector.

Kibble chief executive, Graham Bell said: “We are one of Renfrewshire’s biggest employers and being chosen as one of the finalists in these prestigious awards is recognition of the way we run our business and provide services that are of value to the public sector.”

Public sector spending on goods and services across Scotland is estimated to be over £10 billion per annum.

Grahame Steed, the lead judge of the GO Awards Scotland said: “Our firm belief is in celebrating excellence in procurement and profiling those organisations who continue to excel in their field and make genuine differences to everyday life.”