A West College Scotland student from Paisley has been named Student Citizen 2016 at a prestigious event celebrating outstanding achievements in all Scotland’s 26 colleges.

of Amanda Allan with her award

 Amanda Allan with her award

Amanda Allan, who is studying Science and also working as a technician in the College’s labs, picked up her award at a ceremony in Glasgow city centre last night (Tuesday 22 November).  Her success means this is the second year in a row a West College Scotland student has won this award.

The judges said Amanda’s “determination to succeed and enthusiasm to help and support others has resulted in a wide range of key achievements”. They went on to say how impressed they were with her leadership skills and her many accomplishments.

Twenty-one-year-old Amanda joined West College Scotland from school in 2013 and graduated this year with an HNC in Applied Science, while also working and studying for a Modern Apprenticeship as a Laboratory Technician at the College.  She hopes to go on to study Biomedical Science at university.

Amanda is also a passionate ambassador for her subject, regularly volunteering to visit schools and youth groups to encourage young people to consider studying science.  She is especially passionate about engaging nursery and primary school children in science and even designs fun experiments for them.

Commenting on her award, Amanda said:

“I am absolutely thrilled to have won this award. I love science, I love learning about it, and I love engaging young people in it.  I have a lot of people to thank for this award, not least the lecturers and staff at West College Scotland who have supported me since I joined.”

Sharon Gardiner, who is the Head of Sector for Sciences, said

“Amanda is a wonderful asset for our College and a true ambassador for science. Having such a positive role model is fantastic for her fellow students and the school pupils she works with.  Amanda has engaged and enthused so many people. We are very proud of her and we know she will go far.”

West College Scotland also won the Essential Skills Award, which was presented to the College’s Head of Essential Skills, Grant Taylor. It recognises the college that has introduced the most imaginative and inspiring ways of allowing students to develop the relevant essential skills which will, eventually, help them get a job.

Grant Taylor and his team

Grant Taylor and his team

College Principal, Audrey Cumberford, said:

“Everyone at the College is delighted to win these very important awards. We are very proud of all our staff and students involved.

“These awards show that we are a College at the very top of its game.”



Celebrity interior designer and television presenter John Amabile was at Pro- Life Fitness Centre in Paisley to help in the design of a  £100,000 makeover for the popular gym.

Gayle, chief executive at Renfrewshire Sports Charity with celebrity interior designer John Amabile

Gayle, chief executive at Renfrewshire Sports Charity with celebrity interior designer John Amabile

The Buddie, who has enjoyed a vibrant and successful design career in front of the camera on such shows as ITV Better Homes, This Morning and GMTV was delighted to be back in his home town to help with the ambitious project.

John, who grew up in Ralston, is helping Renfrewshire Sports Charity –who run the centre in New Sneddon Street – by sharing his knowledge and expertise to make sure members enjoy a luxury new look.


He said: “It’s great to back at Pro-Life and to hear all about Renfrewshire Sports Charity and the tremendous effort the team are making to ensure the two local hospices and others in the community benefit from any profit they make.

“Amabile Design was called in some 10 years ago to re-design the changing and I am more than happy to take on this new challenge of bringing fresh ideas to the gym as they move forward in their plans for an exciting new phase.

John added: “I am so happy Gayle, who is spearheading the project, has asked me to get involved with the charity in this way. It is so good to hear of the work they are doing and that any profit is going to where it can be used best and by those who will benefit most.”

Gayle Brannigan, chief executive at RSC, said: “It’s fantastic to have Amabile Design back on board because he did such a wonderful job last time for us. Our members are in for a real treat just in time for Christmas.

“We have to keep moving on up to make sure we attract more members and therefore make more money for the various good causes we support right here in the heart of the local community.

“There’s never been a better more exciting time to join the Pro-Life family. We are spending a £100,00 on a fantastic revamp which will see give us a new spa.

“On top of that the studio where we hold a huge variety of classes will be completely transformed into a high-intensity training area with superb new equipment.”

John is co-director of Amabile Design, a company which creates tailor-made designs for private and commercial interiors and has carried out hundreds of interior design makeovers for clients all over the UK and Europe.


HUNDREDS of young people from across Renfrewshire will tell Renfrewshire Council and its planning partners what really matters to them at a unique event later this month.  #RenYA

Renfrewshire’s first Youth Assembly  will bring together around 300 young people aged between 12 and 25 in Paisley Town Hall on 29 November in what will be Renfrewshire’s biggest single community youth forum event .

The Council’s Youth Services team have been supporting 30 young people from local schools and other organisations over the past few months to create the event where delegates will set out their views on key local issues to the Council and Renfrewshire’s multi-agency Community Planning Partnership.

The event – planned by Renfrewshire Council-supported Renfrewshire Youth Voice – will look at topics including:

  • education, jobs, and training
  • social and cultural issues
  • 2021 City of Culture Bid
  • health and wellbeing
  • having a say in what happens in your community.

The aim is to hold a Youth Assembly every year, with young people meeting regularly in between to investigate the key themes further and figure out how to make a difference.

Among the issues they will look at is creating youth hubs and central youth meeting spaces as well as finding ways for young people to prevent or deal with anxiety and mental health problems.

Mark Dougan, Chair of Renfrewshire Youth Voice, said:
“The Youth Assembly will be a fantastic opportunity for young people to get involved and have their say on a range of issues young people face across Renfrewshire. It will be a fantastic day for youth representation.”

Mark Dougan

Mark Dougan

Councillor Jacqueline Henry, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Education and Children Policy Board, said: ”The Council is pushing ahead with a huge range of actions for our vision of making Renfrewshire a fantastic  place for everyone – including our young people – to live, work and invest. 

 “The Youth Assembly is a hugely important way to give young people their say in shaping the future of our community in Renfrewshire – and challenges any perception that ‘young people aren’t bothered.’

“It shows our young people that we value their opinions, and offers the young organisers from Renfrewshire Youth Voice a unique opportunity to be involved in designing and staging – with support from the Council’s Youth Services – an event of this scale and importance.

“The Assembly promises to be interactive, challenging, informative, and above all, will provide the foundations for action and positive change.
“This is an exciting chance for the young people of Renfrewshire to shout out about the things that matter to them and we are proud to support them in doing that. 

“We look forward to hearing what comes out of the event.”

The Assembly is not a walk-in event but any youth groups, young people or organisations who want to be involved in the ongoing process can get in touch with Renfrewshire Council’s Youth Services   tel 0141 889 1110 or email youth@renfrewshire.gov.uk

Follow news on and from the Youth Assembly on Facebook:  YoungRenfrewshire and on Twitter  #RenYA

St Mirren FC boss –  and children’s author – Tony Fitzpatrick  was in for a storytelling treat along with a class of P3 pupils when he visited St Catherine’s Primary School in Paisley.


The local football legend was in the Gallowhill school to join a storytelling session of his book Babakoochi Bear – The Promise: Together Again, published last year in memory of his late son Tony.

The session was the first time that the popular St Mirren Director and Chief Executive had heard a story teller narrate the loving tribute he penned to Tony jnr, who died in 1983 aged just six.

Tony sat with the 22 Primary 3 pupils who took it in turns to hear children and families mobile library worker Laurence Doherty tell the adventures of the magical bear – named after father Tony’s nickname for his wee boy.  And all the action took place in Renfrewshire Leisure’s award-winning Skoobmobile early years outreach bus on one of its regular visits to St Catherine’s.

While one half of the class was captivated by the storytelling, the other half took part in mini focus group sessions by the Council’s Paisley 2021 officials to hear what the children like about Paisley – and what they would like happen if Paisley is awarded the  coveted UK City of Culture title.

Tony spoke about his book and its characters to the youngsters and donated copies to St Catherine’s school and the Skoobmobile.

His visit was a welcome return to St Catherine’s Primary School as his twins – Steven and James, now aged 27 – attended the primary school for a while as nippers.

Tony said: “It was a terrific experience to hear Babakoochi read by a storyteller – it really came over well and was a great moment for me.

“I loved the experience – the kids really took Babakoochi and the other characters to heart. They started to speak about their own losses. One wee girl said she had lost her dog and her gran – it was wonderful to hear them talking about the themes in the book.”

Originally Tony had hoped to bring along his second Babakoochi Bear story: “The Dream: You Can Do This” – due out in a few weeks with the plot based around Babakoochi’s ambition to become a footballer.

This time, says Tony, the theme will be about the importance of self-belief and determination in reaching goals in life.  

Babakoochi is told he’s too small to become a footballer and has to work hard to prove everyone wrong – a theme from Tony’s own young life before he went on to have a glittering football playing career which included captaining St Mirren to the Scottish Cup Final in 1987.

Despite his new book not quite ready to show to the pupils, Tony relished the chance to be with the youngsters.

“It was also really nice to be back in St Catherine’s. I used to pick the boys up from school there.  It was a great day.”

Teresa Brown, Head Teacher of St Catherine’s, said: “Tony’s visit and the Skoobmobile sessions were wonderful opportunities and a great way to inspire the children.

“To welcome an author who has written such a marvellous book and to hear reading brought to the life by the narrator was a fantastic experience for all the children.  

“We’ve already begun reading the book which Tony so kindly gave to the school – and the children are loving it!

“We’re also delighted to have the chance to contribute to the 2021 bid to become UK City of Culture.  St Catherine’s has 14 Active Citizenship groups and one of them is for Paisley 2021 – they’re very involved in doing what we can to promote and support Paisley’s goal of getting the UK title.”

paisley first
paisley pirates

A charity ice hockey match organised by a grateful dad has raised an amazing amount for two vital neonatal units, after they helped save his baby daughter’s life.

paisley pirates

Ross Andreucci, a member of the 2013 Paisley Pirates championship winning side and now playing for Kilmarnock Storm in the Scottish National League, is amazed, not to say humbled, by the support he received after he decided to raise money for the Crosshouse and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Neonatal Units when his daughter Millie received 24 hour, round the clock, care after weighing only 180 grams at birth.

“I felt a simple “thank you” to the people who gave Millie all the care she needed during the first few months of her life was insufficient after all they’d done for her.. She was so small, it was months before we got her home, and I had to do something to recognise all that they did for her. I spoke to a few folk I know in the ice hockey world and the response was just overwhelming. So many folk wanted to play, or help out with some of the jobs needing done to make a game of ice hockey take place, it really was a humbling experience to have so many folk wanting to take part in the event. It’s also true to say I’ve got a far greater appreciation now of what it takes to run an ice hockey club now, I was a nervous wreck in the days and weeks leading up to the game, which took place at Ayr Ice Rink on 12 November.”

The match resulted in a 9-6 win for the pink team against their purple opponents, both teams made up of players playing for Scottish National League teams, recreational sides, and even players who came out of retirement just to take part, but the result really wasn’t important as the event raised a staggering £5,443 which will go to both neonatal units and allow them to purchase vital life saving equipment.

Ross went on, “I’ll never be able to properly thank all the folk who helped make the event an overwhelming success, from those who baked and sold cakes on the day, to those who donated items for an auction, the players who turned up to play, and even just the people who turned up to watch the game. We had an attendance which a few clubs would be happy to see at their games, and it just goes to show that the ice hockey community really does turn out in numbers to support one of their own. They made the event the success it was, and I just want them to know I’ll never forget their generosity. I’ve already been asked if I’m running another event next year so the work for that one is already underway. After the success of this year’s inaugural match I’m hoping to make the next one even bigger and better.”



Paisley Natural History Society is continuing its winter programme of evening talks with an illustrated talk by Tom Byars on Thursday 1 December at 7.30pm at Paisley Museum.

Covering 843 acres, two and a half miles long by half a mile wide, Central Park is an oasis for migrating birds travelling the east coast during spring and autumn. Central Park is considered one of the best birding spots in the United States, attracting birders from all over the world. More than 280 species have been recorded here in iconic bird-watching sites, such as the Ramble, Cherry Hill, Azalea Pond and Strawberry Fields.

This talk is free of charge and open to everyone, just come along.

SWIMMERS at Renfrew’s Victory Baths are being given the chance to celebrate St Andrew’s Day in a rather unique way.

Staff have organised an Aqua Ceilidh with Scottish dancing in the pool.

The event takes place between noon and 1pm on Wednesday, November 30 and there will be Scottish music playing along with traditional refreshments, like Irn Bru, shortcake and teacakes afterwards.

Staff will be wearing lots of tartan for the St Andrew’s Day Aqua Ceilidh and tickets are only £1.50 from the pool reception.

And after the adults have had their fun, it’s the turn of the kids with an Aqua Run inflatable for them to play on in the pool between 1pm and 3pm.

Chief executive of Renfrewshire Leisure, Joyce McKellar said: “We have regular water aerobics classes at Renfrew Victory Baths, but since St Andrew’s Day was coming up, we thought we’d inject a bit of extra fun into the proceedings and have Scottish dancing at the shallow end of the pool.

“It will still be great exercise and afterwards everyone can enjoy a taste of Scotland.
“We can’t wait to see everyone doing the Splashing White Sergeant!”

Keep Safe Scotland is available to download free from iOS and Android.


The app will map out all Keep Safe places in Scotland and provide a link to Police Scotland for online reporting.

Renfrew town centre is set to be illuminated this Saturday (26 Nov) as the town’s Christmas Lights are switched on for the holiday period.


2015 fireworks display

The festivities will commence at 12pm with an outstanding array of entertainment on offer for all the family.

Renfrew Town Hall will play host to Santa’s grotto as well as face-painting, circus workshops and arts and crafts until 4:30pm- with puppets shows taking place until 2:30pm.


Renfrewshire’s Provost Anne Hall with Santa and a competition winner

There will be a chance for kids to have their photo taken with Santa’s reindeer at specially created pen in the High Street up until 3pm- so don’t miss out!

Renfrewshire’s Provost Anne Hall will then host a carol service at 3pm inside the town hall, with Christmas classics expertly played by the Renfrew Burgh Band.

From 4pm-5pm, local performers will take to the stage- hosted by Pulse FM- in the High Street to showcase their talents ahead of the big switch-on.


Performers at last year’s event

At 5pm, Provost Hall will be joined by a lucky competition winner to turn on the lights and set off the spectacular fireworks display from the roof of town hall.

Kids can visit the funfair one last time until 6pm before heading home full of Christmas cheer.

Provost Hall said: “The events across the winter season have been excellent so far and the Renfrew lights switch-on is shaping up to be one of the best.

“There is fantastic entertainment taking place all afternoon for all the family- with carol singing, face-painting, Santa and his reindeer, and more.

“Make sure you don’t miss out and get yourself into the town centre next weekend.”

The lights switch-on was organised by Renfrewshire Council as part of its town centre events programme.

For more information on events in Renfrewshire visit:  www.renfrewshire.co.uk/events

Renfrewshire Council’s pioneering Families First early-years programme has now put more than £3m into the pockets of some of the area’s hardest-pressed families.

St Anthony's PS head teacher Jacqueline McBurnie, Cllr Jacqueline Henry and Kelly McGarvey, Families First Johnstone co-ordinator, with staff and service users

St Anthony’s PS head teacher Jacqueline McBurnie, Cllr Jacqueline Henry and Kelly McGarvey, Families First Johnstone co-ordinator, with staff and service users

The Families First initiative aims to give young children the best start in life by offering support to parents in five Renfrewshire locations.

It pulls together a number of services under one banner – such as debt and budgeting advice, help accessing services and funding, and help with practical parenting skills.

Having started in Ferguslie and Linwood in 2013, the programme was this year extended to Foxbar, Gallowhill and Johnstone thanks to funding from the council’s Tackling Poverty programme.

Each of the five core teams includes an income advisor, whose job is to advise families how to claim any benefits they may be entitled to, and on the best ways to manage their debts.

And latest figures show that has now generated more than £3m of income for residents across the five areas – while helping them pay off around £350,000 of debt.

As Families First Johnstone co-ordinator Kelly McGarvey explained: “You read so many negative stories about people falsely claiming benefits  – actually lots of benefits are going unclaimed and families  need that money to meet the growing cost of family life.

“When our staff are out meeting families they are encouraged to do a financial health check and make sure they are getting everything they are entitled to.”

In total, more than 850 people have passed through the doors of the five teams since the programme started – with many self-referred or referred from schools, nurseries, and other services.

Councillor Jacqueline Henry, convener of Renfrewshire Council’s education and children policy board, marked the milestone by popping in to see some of the service users and staff of Families First Johnstone at St Anthony’s Primary.

She said: “I am thrilled that Families First has now managed to put £3m back into the pockets of some of the Renfrewshire residents who need it most.

“I would like to thank all the staff who have contributed to this fantastic milestone and really enjoyed meeting some of the parents who have benefitted from the scheme.

“The programme is all about giving families a better chance in life by equipping them to deal with financial issues and offering practical help with everyday things.

“A recent impact evaluation report on the programme concluded it is having a significant impact on children and their families across Renfrewshire.

“Putting the work of Families First next to our ground-breaking Tackling Poverty Programme, Renfrewshire Council is now seen as leading the way within Scotland on our work to help lower-income families.”

More information can be found at www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/familiesfirst


paisley from drone

If you have been feeling a little bit bored of doing the same things all the time, you may be looking to switch up some of your hobbies and try something fun and new. Trying new things, even those a little bit outside of your comfort zone, can be very beneficial for your personal growth. We’ve had a look around and collated a list of all the trendiest hobbies that are super trendy right now in Scotland.

  • Online casino games

The online casino game industry has been vastly expanding internationally over the past few years – and now it has exploded in many Scottish communities across the country. Online sites, and apps such as Mr Green  -a three time Gaming Awards winner – offer you a classy platform on which you can play many exhilarating and fun casino games, such as slots, blackjack, and roulette. It’s so much fun, and super easy to play. Whether you want to play from your computer or your mobile device, you will have a great time.

  • Golf

While golf used to be fairly trendy, it went through a bit of a dip in popularity as many people stopped golfing. However, golf in Scotland is now experiencing a big resurgence in popularity. This could be in part due to more younger players picking up this relaxing and technical sport that requires much skill, determination and focus.

  • Pokémon GO

This year Pokémon GO has been a worldwide trend, with people of all ages taking to the streets with their smartphones in the hopes of catching some rare Pokémon while out. Scotland is no exception when it comes to the Pokémon Go hype, even with dedicated online groups and maps detailing where poke-stops and gyms are located. If you have not joined the craze yet, download the app now and get some fresh air outside –hopefully you will find a Pikachu there!

  • Podcasts

Podcasts are really amazing, and they are becoming more and more popular in Scotland too! Podcasts are great for a variety of reasons; you get to learn new things very easily, you can learn about topics you like in more details and it’s a great thing to listen to when you are stuck in traffic or want to make household tasks such as washing the dishes a little loess boring! The BBC’s Radio Scotland has some really wonderful podcasts you can listen to here.

  • Knitting

This may sound like an old ladies hobby, but many younger people, both men and women, are beginning to enjoy the calming craft of knitting. Knitting can be very relaxing and meditative; helping you reduce your stress levels. It is also a wonderful feeling to be able to make something from start to finish –even if it is just a simple scarf!

Hopefully these five trendy hobbies that people all over Scotland are enjoying will inspire you to try something new. You never know if you will like an activity until you try it!