wallace-bruce

Hey, Lucas here again. Now I suggest if you are not into good old Scottish history then probably best not to read this. My great grandfather loved Scottish history so I decided to dedicate this article in memory of him. 

wallace-bruce

Now if you are Scottish, have been brought up within Scotland or just love good old Scottish history then you will know the famous King Robert The Bruce and the famous Scottish rebellion by the name of William Wallace…or maybe you have just seen Braveheart. Anyways, you will know William Wallace was the famous Scottish rebellion who chased King Edward and his army back down to England after they tried to invade Scotland and take it over. King Robert The Bruce was the King of Scots, he was the man who won the battle of Bannockburn and freed Scotland from the English rule announcing Scotland as an independent kingdom. So, what do these guys have to do with Paisley? A-lot, well according to legend as it stands. 

Let us start with William Wallace, shall we? There is still a lot of debate surrounding it but Elderslie is still regarding as William’s birthplace. This is due to it being known that within the 15th century poem by Blind Harry it says that William’s father was in fact the Sir Malcolm of Elderslie which is in Renfrewshire which is why Elderslie is still commonly held as William’s birthplace. Within the legends it says that William was educated by the monks of Paisley because he was the son of a second minor noble. Now to myself William being educated by monks makes sense considering there is a stain glass window of William in Paisley Abbey but who knows? Anyways, legend has it that it may have been expected for Wallace to become a priest, clearly this did not happen and life took him down a very different road. He led in what was called the Scottish Resistance in the first years of the long battle between Scotland and England to free Scotland from the English rule. 

Of course, this all started because King Edward decided to imprison the Scottish King at the time John de Balliol and decided to declare that he was now the ruler of Scotland, I guess that was one way to take over another land and then of course this led to a very long war where William Wallace lead the Scottish Resistance into battle with King Edward’s army and chased them back down to England at one point during the war. Now, when I say chased, I mean they did battle and the Scottish Resistance won, making the English army retreat. I don’t mean the Scottish Resistance literary chased English army all the way back down to England shouting “FREEDOM” or that, no people this isn’t Mel Gibson in Braveheart. However, on that note all these stories are just legends there is no documented evidence to say any of this is true so I will leave that up to yourself to decide. 

Now moving onto Robert The Bruce as I explained Robert the Bruce otherwise known as the King of Scots was the King of Scotland. It was the year after William Wallace was killed that Robert the Bruce became the King of Scotland, he became King in 1306. Now even though Robert is not himself directly linked to Paisley (sorry to disappoint all you Robert the Bruce fans), his eldest child Marjory Bruce is. When Marjory was young, she was taken and imprisoned by King Edward when Robert The Bruce her father snatched the vacant crown that was called King of Scots. Marjory was kept imprisoned within the now famous Tower of London, though I imagine back in those days the Tower of London was not a place you wanted to go to never-mind be imprisoned within. #

Anyways, Robert’s daughter was only freed when the Scots and English armies went to war and won the Battle of Bannockburn, the Scots army being led by Robert the Bruce himself. The battle took place in 1314 which was when Robert’s daughter was released finally from the Tower of London, a year later in 1315 she was wed to one of her father’s lieutenants, his most loyal one at that. She was wed to a man name Walter Fitzalan who was the High Steward to the King. He was also a decedent of Walter Fitzalan the man who built the Paisley Abbey 150 years or so before. The legend goes that Marjory who was pregnant was riding back to her husband William’s castle in Renfrew on May the 2nd 1316 when she accidentally had fallen from her horse. Her baby had to be delivered by C-Section however, sadly Marjory did not survive the accident. 

There is a Wallace Monument within Elderslie and of course the stained-glass window earlier that I mentioned of William Wallace which is within Paisley Abbey. The Marjory Bruce Cairn is a large carin stone that stands on Renfrew road in Paisley, nobody knows to this day if the story of Marjory Bruce is true or not again I will leave that up to you to decide for yourself. Do you believe that Marjory was killed in the way the legend says or do you think she died of childbirth that was common back in those days? How about William Wallace do you think he was born in Elderslie or another part of Scotland? 

One thing is for sure though no matter whether these legends or true or not they make up a great part of Scotland’s magnificent history and Paisley and Renfrewshire’s. Maybe one day we will find out if these legends are true or not but for now let’s just embrace it as another part of Paisley and Renfrewshire’s hidden history.

alien gargoyle paisley abbey

Hello, let me introduce myself my name is Lucas, I am one of the newest journalists for Paisley.org.uk. I am so pleased to be able to share my first article with you guys and I hope you enjoy this article as much as I enjoyed writing it for you. Just so you can all get to know me a little better I am a new journalist starting out.  I have always had an interest in journalism and I love writing. I am not originally from Paisley nor do I currently live there.  I live in a different region however; Paisley was a large part of my teenage years.

Paisley is a town that people are drawn to; it is a town that people are happy to call home even when some people are negative about it.  Paisley is a town that has a lot to offer from its Shopping Centres, High Street and parks to the Paisley Abbey and Paisley fountain gardens. There is so much to see and do and most of it is free. Paisley is a very welcoming town full of people who are more than happy to help if you need directions or if you just need to know where a certain place is. As previously stated I did not grow up in Paisley but I did go to high school there so it was a town that I spent 4 years getting to know and that I still go back to even to this day.  When I first started school in Paisley, I had no knowledge about the town and I did not know anything about it. Now many years on it is a town I have grown to become quite fond of in many ways.

grand fountain

When I think of Paisley the first thing that comes to mind is its transport system.  I,have no knowledge on the buses of Paisley as I am a rail traveller. I love using the trains and that is always the one thing that sticks out to me when I think of Paisley is the train stations. Paisley has three train stations Paisley Gilmour Street, Paisley St James, and Paisley Canal.  Paisley Gilmour Street sits in the town centre of Paisley and is most likely the busiest due to its location.  Paisley St James is situated right across from St Mirren Football Club and is at its busiest when St Mirren are playing a home game.  Sadly this won’t be the case just now due to COVID-19 but it is still popular with regular commuters. Paisley Canal is a five- or ten-minutes’ walk from the Royal Alexandra Hospital.  So, as you can see Paisley has a good rail network in terms of getting you to different parts of the town.

town-hall-abbey-centre

This is one of many positives about Paisley, Paisley is a historical town and it is popular with tourists. People near and far come to see the Paisley Abbey, The Paisley Horseshoe, Coats Observatory just to name a few things. So, let me tell you a little information about these sights I have mentioned.

horseshoe

Paisley Abbey is still an active abbey, services take place there and people can just go to pray. Services take place on a Sunday but you do need to contact the abbey to check if you can attend due to the COVID-19 restrictions.   During this pandemic the café is closed and the gift shop is only open for a few hours on certain days. When the Abbey is open however, you can go in and see what the Abbey has to offer from its beautifully designed windows to its magnificent organ. After exploring the building you can enjoy a light lunch or just a coffee in the tearoom or buy a souvenir from the gift shop. Although the Paisley Abbey is free to enter, donations would be appreciated. . The Abbey relies on public donations to keep running and to remain open. The profit from the gift shop and café also go towards its upkeep. Just because the Abbey itself is currently closed to the public this does not mean you still can’t go see the outside of the Abbey, the building is beautifully built…just don’t get too freaked out by the gargoyles.

 

Moving on from creepy gargoyles to a lovely metal horseshoe plaque surrounded by cobblestones in the middle of the crossroads where Maxwellton Street and George Street cross. You may think that this is a nice lovely little plaque but, this plaque tells the story of a very dark but interesting part of Paisleys past. On the plaque the words are embedded Pain Inflicted, Suffering Endured, Injustice Done. I remember one day walking over this plaque while crossing the road and having no idea the story behind it, most folk might just think it is a drain cover. The story behind this horseshoe plaque is back some time ago in Paisley in the 17th century when a little girl called Christian Shaw became unwell, a few days before this a woman named Katherine Campbell has shouted curses at Christian. This led Christian to accuse Katherine of witchcraft along with six men and women. At this time witchcraft was illegal in Scotland so when the case went to court all seven of them were sentenced to be executed. Although it is said that one of the men took his own life in prison before the law could.

alien gargoyle paisley abbey

The six remaining people including Katherine were strangled and burned at the stake in the park within Paisley named Gallow Green, one of the women burned is said to have cursed all of the people at the execution and their descendants. The charred remains of the six bodies were buried at the crossroads where Maxwellton Street meets George Street. The horseshoe and plaque were supposedly to stop the witch’s spirits coming back. The story might seem a bit dark and glum but this is a big part of Paisley’s history, unfortunately you can’t get a close up look of the horseshoe plaque due to it being situated in the middle of the busy crossroads but you will still be able to see it from a distance.  If you do want to surround yourself with that part of Paisley’s history you can go have a look around Gallow  Green Park where the executions took place all those years ago.

From scary gargoyles and witch trials to the very last place I am going to tell you about. Barshaw Park is a lovely big park located within Paisley There are a few things to see and do in this lovely park. If you have children then there is a playpark for them , there is a safe play area for younger children  too.

The park is not only for children. For those who just want a bit of peace and quiet then take a walk around the Walled Peace Garden which has paved paths for you to follow. Depending on how energetic you feel you could always climb to the top of the hilltop and look at the stunning views of Paisley. Great photo opportunity if you are a budding  photographer maybe take some pictures from the hilltop as the sun rises or sets over Paisley. It’s also a great place to walk your dog.  We should not forget about the miniature railway, loved by people young and old , however due to vandalism the engines were destroyed in an arson attack.  Funds are being raised to help the volunteers with the repairs. If none of that sounds like your  thing then why not just take a walk round the park, or  maybe even grab a coffee and go and sit on one of the benches within the park and watch the world go by.

The park is not only for children. For those who just want a bit of peace and quiet then take a walk around the Walled Peace Garden which has paved paths for you to follow. Depending on how energetic you feel you could always climb to the top of the hilltop and look at the stunning views of Paisley. Great photo opportunity if you are a budding photographer maybe take some pictures from the hilltop as the sun rises or sets over Paisley. It’s also a great place to walk your dog.  We should not forget about the miniature railway, loved by people young and old, however due to vandalism the engines were destroyed in an arson attack.  Funds are being raised to help the volunteers with the repairs. If none of that sounds like your thing then why not just take a walk round the park, or maybe even grab a coffee and go and sit on one of the benches within the park and watch the world go by.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this article about some of the sights and history of Paisley. I want to finish this article by giving you some lovely comments I received about Paisley.

“Something positive about Paisley is actors like Gerald Butler and musicians like Paolo Nutini come from there and having people like that come from a small town really promotes the town itself and its creative industries.”  Laura, Hertfordshire.

“The people of Paisley are proud of their heritage, their culture and their identity. Paisley is widely known for its textiles, its architecture and its talent” Gavin, former teacher at Kibble Education and Care Centre.

“I like Paisley because it has really good bus connections and it is easy to get from one place to another.” Ewan, Glasgow

abbey-jacket

The first of many articles to come from the talented Rachel Campbell:

“I’m Rachel and I’m a 20-year-old student studying English Literature and History. I’ve always enjoyed writing and after getting involved in the student newspaper during my time at university, I’ve found a real interest in journalism too. I’m looking to write positive stories about what is going on in Paisley, and help readers learn more about the businesses and activities that are so close by. I’m interested in sustainability and how we can support local businesses whilst also doing our bit for the planet. Along the way, I’ll hopefully write about a wide range of topics: music, fashion, theatre, art, health and wellbeing, and anything else that is happening in Paisley. I’d love for anyone to get in touch if they’re interested in having me write an article about their business/charity/event/activity. ”


Fast fashion is hard to escape. Retailers churn out the latest trends from the runway, and nowadays they infiltrate our inboxes too. Emails are full of discount codes and updates on the latest bargains available at the click of a button. It’s easy to forget that a lot of these companies use exploited labour to produce these clothes and stay on trend. Not only that, the wasteful nature of fast fashion is harmful to our planet too. The more I read about this, the more I wanted to make changes to my own shopping habits. So I set out on a mission to find stylish clothes at a reasonable price from charity shops here in Paisley. Sewing machine at the ready, I planned to make amendments to the clothes I found, and turn them into something I was more likely to wear. That way, I could feel better about the stylish clothes I was buying, as I was producing less waste, and putting something back into charities in my local area. Here’s how I got on.

 

  1. Green Suit- Accord Causeyside St – £6

I saw this green suit in Accord and loved the colour. It was a size bigger than my usual size and I wasn’t sure how it would sit so I took a bit of a risk and bought it anyway. As you can see in the first picture, the trousers did fit me but sat a bit low compared to how I prefer them. I just put a stitch on either side of the trousers at the seam where the pockets lie, and I love how they look now. The slightly higher waist makes them look a lot more modern. Similarly, rolling up the sleeves on the blazer made it look more trendy and versatile. I’ve styled it with heels and a black cami top which I think would be a great look for a work night out. I’ve also styled it with trainers and a black and white t-shirt for a more casual afternoon at the beer garden with friends. It could easily be styled with a blouse and boots for a more professional look. I love how versatile this suit is and I know I’ll get loads of wear out of it with just a few small changes made. I’ll call this one a win at only £6.

green suit

  1. Men’s Blue Check Shirt- Salvation Army High Street- £3

 

I loved the colour of this blue shirt and after seeing a few upcycles online, I thought I’d try my hand at turning this 2xl men’s shirt into a something I could wear. These shirts are easy to get your hands on in charity shops and there’s lots of different ways you can upcycle them. I did start off making a matching skirt from the bottom half of this shirt, but I am very new to this and it went wrong somewhere along the way. You win some you lose some! I think I had some redemption with the shirt section though, as it is definitely something I see myself wearing a lot. I simply cut the shirt where the pockets ended and sewed a hem along that line. The sleeves were also too long for me so I cut them into short sleeves and then decided they were a bit boxy for my liking (it is a men’s shirt after all). I played about a bit with the sleeves and tried out different things, but eventually settled on putting two little tucks in them and securing them with stitches. This is kind of my own version of the puff sleeve trend that is going on at the moment.  I definitely think I’ll do another large-shirt-upcycle, in a different way, as I had a lot of different ideas with this one. Here I’ve just styled it with denim shorts for what will probably be the last very sunny dog-walk for a while. I think it looks great either closed or open with a crop top underneath.

shirt

  1. Orange Corduroy Blazer- Accord Causeyside St- £10

 

This was the most expensive thing I bought as it was brand new and still had the original price tag on it. It was originally from Primark and would have cost £20. Finding new items from shops like Primark in second-hand stores is a great way of keeping up with trends and getting a bargain. And if more of us were to donate clothes we no longer wore to local charity shops we’d have a lot more modern things to pick from when we do venture in. This blazer was quite a few sizes up from my usual size, but I love the oversized style and it looks great over a skirt for that blazer-dress look that’s very in at the moment. I styled it with my Doc Martens and a black backpack for a mooch around Paisley today. I could also see myself wearing this to uni over jeans and a black jumper. Again, it’s a versatile piece that I think I’ll wear lots especially as we go into autumn. 

abbey-jacket

  1. Pink T-Shirt- British Heart Foundation High Street- £1

 

I forgot to get a ‘before’ picture of this upcycle- oops! It was a simple t-shirt shape and I made a few adjustments which make it a lot more wearable for me personally. The white embroidery is lovely so I didn’t do anything there, but I decided to crop some length off of it and put some elastic in the new hem I sewed. This makes a ruched finish on the waist which can be quite flattering. I also turned up the sleeves and put a little stitch in them, to make it look a bit less boxy and add some more interest. I paired it with my favourite jeans and white trainers for a casual look. For only spending £1 and a bit of time sewing, I’m really happy with what I’ve now got.

t-shirt

That’s it for now, though I’m looking to do some more upcycling and thrifting, so I might share some more of these in future. I hope my experience finding and modifying good quality, trendy clothes in Paisley’s charity shops encourages you to do the same!

 

Sma shot day 2020

This weekend marks the digital debut of Paisley’s annual Sma’ Shot Day celebrations as a series of virtual events and workshops will take place to mark this important date in the town’s calendar.

Sma shot day 2020

The online event will take place on Saturday 4 July – the time when the weavers and their families would traditionally always take their holidays.

The move to take the event online for 2020 is in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure celebrations can still take place in adherence with national guidance.

The traditional Sma’ Shot holiday in Paisley takes its name from a famous dispute between the local shawl weavers and manufacturers in the 19th century. In 1856, following a long dispute, the manufacturers backed down and an agreement was reached to pay for the Sma’ Shot, the invisible stitch which bound the Paisley shawls, with a new table of prices published on 1 July 1856.

This year’s event will not only mark this important date in the town’s history but will also celebrate our fantastic key workers.

The event always offers plenty of opportunities for people to get involved and have fun and this year is no exception.

The day will kick-off in style at 12pm as The Charleston Drummer himself, Tony Lawler, will lead a mass online drum-off where the public are being encouraged to make as much noise as they can and share their celebrations on social media.

Aerial dance theatre company, All or Nothing, will be performing dance and music project – Connecting Threads – inspired by the background and history of Sma’ Shot. Everyone is invited to join in and dance along to the new Sma’ Shot inspired music track by Dave Boyd.

In the run-up to Connecting Threads local groups and individuals have been participating in online classes and creative tasks with the group and have submitted videos that will feature in a short film that can be viewed online on the day.

Local theatre company PACE will be hosting live drama workshop sessions created especially for the day – an interactive storytelling workshop suitable for 3-7 year olds and an activity-based session aimed at children aged 7 and above.

Sma’ Shot Day favourite – The Tea Dance – will also take place this year, albeit it from the comfort of your own home, as Renfrewshire Leisure and Paisley FM bring a special Sma’ Shot Day radio broadcast of this popular event.

For those who want to be fully immersed in the day’s events, local upcycled fashion innovators ReMode have put together some online video tutorials to show how people can get crafty and make their own costumes or window decorations to celebrate the day.

It would not be Sma’ Shot Day without the popular Poetry Slam. This year the spoken-word event will be known as the ‘Dooslan Staying Hame’ where people can enjoy some poetry written during lockdown and performed by some of Renfrewshire’s finest contemporary poets and spoken-word artists.

In addition, Renfrewshire Leisure and The Bungalow are partnering up for the Sma’sh Hits Sma’ Shot Special music event, showcasing a selection of local musicians.

For those looking to start Sma’ Shot weekend off early join CREATE Paisley and host Jordan Stewart for an unplugged Live Open Mic night on Friday 3 July featuring young singer/songwriters from across Renfrewshire.

This will be followed on Saturday 4 July by ‘Paisley in Song’ where people can enjoy five songs from young Renfrewshire songwriters in this exclusive online showcase. The youngsters worked alongside Paisley-songwriter Michael Cassidy to develop a set including two new collaborative songs celebrating our key workers and NHS, and three songs exploring Paisley’s incredible history of song writing and poetic legacy, written in 2019 as part of Renfrewshire Council’s THCARS2 project.

Renfrewshire’s Provost, Lorraine Cameron, said: “Sma’ Shot Day is such a popular date in the town’s calendar and it’s excellent that we can still celebrate it this year through a series of fantastic online events.

“The digital programme is packed full of fun, interactive and creative activities that the whole family can participate in and enjoy – helping to create the amazing sense of community that is always so present at this event.

“I can’t wait to welcome you all to Saturday’s event and I look forward to logging on and enjoying some of the great activities planned.”

For all the information on what’s taking place as part of this year’s digital Sma’ Shot Day and how you can get involved, please visit www.paisley.is/featured_event/sma-shot-day/.

Halloween

Renfrewshire Council has today announced that all large-scale Council-run events will be cancelled until the end of October in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The decision means that the following events will no longer take place: Renfrew Gala Day; Barshaw Gala Day; Johnstone Fire Engine Rally; Renfrewshire Doors Open Days; The Spree festival; and Paisley Halloween Festival.

Halloween

Paisley’s annual Sma’ Shot Day celebrations will be marked this year – but in a different way. A programme of online events will take place on Saturday 4 July to commemorate the historic victory of local weavers, as well as the invaluable contribution of today’s key workers across Renfrewshire.

All Council-run events after October will continue to be reviewed in line with national guidance from the Scottish Government and public health advice, with a further decision on the staging of Paisley Fireworks Spectacular and the Paisley, Johnstone and Renfrew Christmas lights switch-on events expected by June 30.

The Council announced in March that its spring/summer events programme, including the Paisley Food and Drink Festival and the British Pipe Band Championships in Paisley, had been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “We are hugely disappointed to have to announce this news today but, given the ongoing public health and government advice, it’s the safe and prudent action to take.

“Since we announced the cancellation of our spring/summer programme, festivals and events in the UK and further afield scheduled up until October have continued to be cancelled. The current advice on mass gatherings and events is expected to be in place for some months to come, along with significant physical distancing restrictions.

“Our events programme is regarded among the highlights in Renfrewshire’s annual calendar – and we’re rightly proud of the economic and social impact it brings for our communities. As with many of our Council services, and sectors of our local economy, we want to be in a position to restart and support recovery as soon as possible – but only when the public health advice recommends it is safe to do so.

“Despite the cancellation of our large-scale events until the end of October, we will still celebrate Paisley’s annual Sma’ Shot Day – but in a different way. The online programme of events will allow us to honour the historic victory of local weavers and thank the key workers in Renfrewshire today, who are doing a fantastic job on the frontline to support us all during this unprecedented time.”

Renfrewshire Council is continuing to plan its major events programme in Renfrewshire for next year, whilst monitoring the latest government and public health advice.

The Council advises everyone to continue to follow the national guidance on coronavirus set out by the Scottish Government and to consult www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus for up to date medical advice.

For the latest local updates, visit our ‘Information, help and guidance on Coronavirus’ webpage here: http://www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/coronavirus.

Paisley Halloween Parade 2018 and flying witches

Paisley Halloween Festival has been named Best Cultural Event or Festival at the Scottish Thistle Awards 2019/2020 National Final.

Organised by VisitScotland, the prestigious awards celebrate innovation, excellence and success in the Scottish tourism sector.

Paisley Halloween Parade 2018 and flying witches

Paisley Halloween Parade 2018 and flying witches

The popular event in Renfrewshire Council’s annual calendar picked up the National Award for its 2018 festival, which saw crowds of over 34,000 people flock to the town across two days to enjoy a bumper programme of spectacular aerial performances, thrilling live acts and a Mardi-Gras style parade with more than 500 costumed performers.

Inspired by the town’s dark and deathly 17th century witch history, the enhanced theme of ‘Something Wicked this Way Comes’ thrilled visitors from all over Scotland.

Judges were impressed with the seasonality of the event and the growth that it has seen in recent years. They also praised event organisers for their engagement with young people and the community.

Paisley Halloween Festival (002)

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The festival was a highlight of VisitScotland’s Year of Young People 2018 celebrations, with young people at the heart of the festival’s development and delivery.

A 20-strong Youth Panel worked alongside Renfrewshire Council’s Events Team to design and deliver the programme, while more than 500 young people took part in a new creative learning programme. This provided young people with the opportunity to participate in all aspects of festival from performance to live event management and technical production.

 

Paisley Halloween Parade 2018 and flying witches

Paisley Halloween Parade 2018 and flying witches

The Scottish Thistle Awards is based on five regional programmes with the winners of each progressing to the National Final.

Paisley Halloween Festival was among 15 winners in the regional finals for the West in November – which included businesses and individuals from Greater Glasgow & The Clyde Valley, Ayrshire & Arran, Dumfries & Galloway and Argyll & Bute.

The National Final took place at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre last night (5 March), and saw 18 individuals, businesses and events honoured for their contribution to the tourism sector.

Louisa Mahon, Renfrewshire Council’s Head of Communications, Marketing and Events, said: “We are absolutely thrilled that Paisley Halloween Festival has won Best Festival in Scotland at the Scottish Thistle Awards. We were in a category with some of Scotland’s most amazing cultural events and are delighted to be keeping company with them. Well done to everyone.

Paisley Halloween Parade 2018 and flying witches

Paisley Halloween Parade 2018 and flying witches

“Paisley Halloween is one of the most highly anticipated events in our calendar – and is now regarded as one of the biggest and best of its kind in the UK.

“Winning this award continues to put Paisley on the map as a great place to visit and experience world class cultural events – and we look forward to continuing to welcome even more people to Paisley to enjoy.”

VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director Gordon Smith, said: “Congratulations to everyone at Renfrewshire Council on winning the national Scottish Thistle Award for Best Cultural Event or Festival. This is a fantastic achievement for Paisley Halloween Festival which has become one of the most anticipated events in the region’s calendars which has gone from strength to strength in recent years.

“The Scottish Thistle Awards give businesses and individuals working within tourism in Scotland the opportunity to earn the recognition and appreciation they deserve from their own industry peers.

“The impact of tourism goes far beyond the holiday experience. It is vital to the Scottish economy, reaching every corner of the country, creating jobs and bringing economic and social change.”

The Scottish Thistle Award marks another celebration for the Paisley Halloween Festival after it won Best Festival or Outdoor Event at the EventIt E Awards in June 2019.

The Paisley Halloween Festival is organised by Renfrewshire Council and the 2018 event was supported by the Year of Young People 2018 event fund managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.

To find out more about the Paisley Halloween Festival, visit: https://paisley.is/featured_event/halloween/

For more information on the Scottish Thistle Awards, visit: https://www.scottishthistleawards.co.uk/

JOHN BYRNE

Legendary artist and playwright John Byrne is in line to receive his hometown’s highest honour – the Freedom of Renfrewshire.

Provost Lorraine Cameron has submitted a motion, which will be considered at this week’s council meeting, to give the award to one of Paisley’s favourite sons in recognition of his contribution to the area.

JOHN BYRNE

Playwright John Byrne revists Paisley Town Hall to back Paisleys 2012 bid for City of Culture.
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The Freedom of Renfrewshire is an honorary title and is the highest civic honour that can be bestowed upon an individual or group. It has only been awarded five times previously.

John Byrne was born in Ferguslie Park in Paisley in 1940 and is best known for writing The Slab Boys Trilogy – a set of plays telling the story of young-working class Scots in Paisley and inspired by his own experiences working in Stoddard’s Carpet Factory in Elderslie.

Alongside being an accomplished writer of stage and screen, John Byrne is known for his distinctive painting style and continues to paint and exhibit new work regularly.

John returned to Paisley on Saturday 22 February to celebrate his 80th year as part of the inaugural Paisley Book Festival. The sold-out event in Paisley Arts Centre featured readings from his plays and live music.

He will also bring his new musical play, Underwood Lane, to Paisley Arts Centre from 25-28 June for its world premiere, in partnership with Renfrewshire Leisure and Tron Theatre. The play tells the tale of a young skiffle band trying to make it and is written in memory of John’s Paisley buddy, Gerry Rafferty, who was born and brought up on the street.

Underwood Lane is the last event to be held at Paisley Arts Centre before it closes for refurbishment and is supported by Future Paisley –  a programme of economic, social and physical regeneration building on the work already done to use Paisley’s internationally-significant culture and heritage story to change its future.

Provost Lorraine Cameron said: “John is a celebrated playwriter, painter, printmaker and theatre designer and has put Paisley on the map. He continues to be committed to our local community and is treasured by citizens of Ferguslie Park, past and present, as well as the wider Renfrewshire community and its civic leaders. I’m delighted to offer him this honour and thank him for the contribution he has made to Renfrewshire.”

Opposition party leader, Councillor Eddie Devine, who seconded the motion said: “I’m delighted to second Provost Cameron’s motion to award the Freedom of Renfrewshire to John Byrne, in recognition of his achievements and commitment to Renfrewshire. Throughout his successful career he has never forgotten his roots.”

If approved, the Freedom of Renfrewshire will officially be awarded to John Byrne later this year. Find out more about the Freedom of Renfrewshire at  http://www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/freedomofrenfrewshire

Photo Booth London

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A first-of-its kind study with radical ideas for how Paisley town centre could look in a decade has been published – and aims to start a conversation about what might be possible in the town.

The ‘Vision for Paisley Town Centre 2030’ is the result of a unique link-up between Renfrewshire Council, the Scottish Government and Scotland’s Town Partnership – and uses Paisley as a test case for a series of bold ideas imagining how empty retail space could be better used

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Aileen Campbell, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, will officially unveil the report at an event in the town centre today.

The study – produced by Glasgow-based Threesixty Architecture – is based on the idea changes to the way people shop have left towns like Paisley with far more retail space than they need

The authors lay out a series of radical ideas for how the town could be rebalanced to better meet community need – bringing with it new life and footfall. Their suggestions include:

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– introducing hundreds of new town centre residents, including repurposing the Paisley Centre shopping centre into a new residential quarter with ground-floor retail;

– new ‘attractors’ such as a High Street cinema, or European-style food hall housing independent food and drink businesses;

– bolstering remaining retail by concentrating it back on to the High Street and street-fronts;

– new public spaces for outdoor activity, and new lanes and streets creating new views and routes to ‘hidden’ parts of the town centre

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– how key vacant historic buildings such as the Liberal Club, YMCA building and TA Building could be brought back into use;

– other ideas such as shared office spaces or makers’ spaces, a new hotel, and relocating parts of university and college campuses into the heart of the town centre;

Cabinet Secretary Aileen Campbell said: “This study represents another significant milestone in the regeneration of Paisley and is further evidence of the ambition and commitment of the local community and partners.

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“A huge opportunity now exists to use this collaborative vision to create more positive change in the town, as well as sharing learning which can benefit other town centres and communities across Scotland.

“The Scottish Government will continue to work in partnership with local government to support the regeneration of our towns and high streets.”

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “The way people shop has changed forever, and towns everywhere are seeing the same issues with empty retail space.

“We can’t turn the clock back but we can consider how we could change to attract new life and footfall in future – and that’s what Paisley is doing.

“It’s important to stress these are not concrete plans – they are a set of ideas designed to spark a conversation about what might be possible over the next decade.

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“Paisley town centre is already changing for the better – the number of new cafes and restaurants and new housing built in recent years shows it is recognised as a good place to live and invest.

“Current and future council investment will make Paisley even more attractive to the private sector, but change of the scale imagined by the Vision could not be achieved by the council alone – so we want to hear from developers who could make that next stage of the journey happen.”

The contents of the report build on work already happening to use Paisley’s unique cultural and heritage story to transform its future through the Future Paisley programme, which aims to build on the momentum created by the town’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021.

That includes a £100m investment in the town’s venues and outdoor spaces, including turning Paisley Museum into a world-class destination for the town’s internationally-significant collections, which last week saw £3.8m of funding confirmed from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Paisley is already finding new uses for vacant High Street spaces – construction will start soon to bring a formerly-empty retail unit back into use as a new learning and cultural hub housing library services, for which the first images have just been revealed.

That will build on the success of Paisley: The Secret Collection – the UK’s first publicly-accessible High Street museum store, which opened in 2017 – showing Paisley’s ambitions to put culture at the heart of its future high street are already being realised.

The Paisley Vision was produced after gathering feedback from key local partners – including community groups, businesses, educational establishments and private developers.

The idea for a High Street cinema is already being taken forward by a local group – the Paisley Community Trust – who, with support from the council, are developing their own plans to convert an existing building for that purpose.

Gary Kerr, chair of the Paisley Community Trust, said: ““It’s exciting to see such a transformational and radical vision for Paisley’s future revealed. Paisley Community Trust fully back this new vision for Paisley and we congratulate Threesixty Architecture on producing a superb piece of work.

“It’s particularly encouraging to see cinema at the forefront of the vision. This completely aligns with our current plans to bring cinema back to the heart of our town.

“We believe a cinema by and for our community is a vital first step in realising the wider vision for regeneration in the town centre. It’s Project One if you like.

“We’ve been working behind the scenes on it for a while now and will reveal more details very soon. We also look forward to seeing the other concepts from the vision being explored and developed into regeneration projects of their own in the years ahead.”

Colette Cardosi, chair of town centre business improvement district Paisley First, added: “In recent years, Paisley has found itself firmly back on the map with fantastic events for visitors and a growing number of independent businesses.

“However, like many towns throughout the country, we need to continuously adapt and evolve and Paisley First welcomes collaboration on any long-term strategy for the future which can help bring in new investment and new footfall to local businesses in Paisley town centre.”

Phil Prentice, chief officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership, added: “Paisley has a rich tapestry of heritage and culture, is steeped in industry and tradition, and has many major assets.

“We hope this exciting blueprint can create a high street fit for 21st century citizens and Paisley can become an exemplar for other large towns across Scotland.”

Alan Anthony, managing director of Threesixty Architecture, who authored the Vision, said: “This study shows a people-first approach that reconnects the whole community to their town centre.

“We have an unprecedented opportunity to rebalance our High Street back to a place with a rich mix of uses. As a lifelong Paisley Buddy, it’s exciting to think Paisley could lead the way on town centre regeneration in Scotland.”

The council now hopes to hear from developers who are interested in investing in Paisley – with one firm which has already done so believing a template for success already exists.

Brian Clark, managing director of Park Lane Developments, said: “We believe  Park Lane’s partnership with Renfrewshire Council on the regeneration of the former Arnotts department store has already shown the way for how the public and private sector can work together to transform a town centre site.

“That project has already delivered 67 completed private and social rented housing along with the welcome addition of the Pendulum restaurant. The final phase is just about to go for planning and will bring an additional 70  new homes.

“The site was derelict for 10 years and is now back in beneficial use bringing new residents and activity back into the town centre – and shows the potential that exists in Paisley as a place to live and invest.”

Residents and businesses have the chance to see and give their views on the Paisley Vision plans for themselves at a public exhibition open in POP (the former Post Office) in the town’s Piazza shopping centre – on Friday 24 (1 to 4.30pm), Saturday 25 (9.30am to 4.30pm) and Monday 27 January (9.30am to 3pm).

The full report can also be viewed online at www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/paisleyvision, along with a Q&A which goes into more details on the ideas it contains and what happens next.

SOBS Memorial tree

Renfrewshire’s annual memorial service to commemorate those who have lost their lives to suicide will be held in Paisley later this month.

A short service will take place on Thursday 23 January at Renfrewshire House, hosted by support group Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS).

SOBS Memorial tree

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The service is open to all and anyone who has been affected by suicide is invited to meet in the Marriage Suite from 3:10pm to collect a commemorative purple heart on which they can write a message to a loved one, if desired.

At 3:30pm there will be a short set of readings followed by a procession to the memorial tree where Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron will light the tree.

After the service, all those in attendance are invited to join the Provost, the local SOBS support group and the Choose Life team for light refreshments in Paisley Abbey.

The memorial tree was first dedicated in 2010 as a permanent memorial to those who have died through suicide and is believed to have been the first of its kind in Scotland.

SOBS Memorial tree

SOBS Memorial tree 25.1.18

The service aims to provide an opportunity to remember those who have been lost while providing an arm of support to the survivors. It is an opportunity to connect with others who have faced similar situations.

Provost Cameron, who helped establish the tree, said: “Over the past ten years this service has become extremely important to members of the local community and I’m honoured to be involved.

“Suicide is still very much a taboo subject, but the Choose Life and SOBS team will be available after the service to provide any support you, or a friend or family member, may need, and I would encourage anyone who has been affected by suicide in any manner to come along.

“If you’re unable to make it along, please get in touch with the team to talk about how you are feeling or what support you need. Someone is always there to listen.”

Anyone unable to attend the service who wishes a message to be placed onto the tree can get in touch in advance or can visit the council reception at any time following the service to collect a commemorative heart.

If you are feeling suicidal, or you know someone that might be then please call one of the helpline numbers: Samaritan’s 116 123, Breathing Space 0800 83 85 87, RAMH First Crisis 0141 849 90 90 or 0500 829 093

For more information contact the Choose Life Team on 0141 849 2200 or visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/sobs.

Paisley Halloween Festival

Paisley’s popular Halloween and Spree 2019 festivals delivered a £1.2million economic boost to Renfrewshire.

That’s according to the findings of independent assessments into the two October events, which also showed record numbers of people attended the festivals in 2019.

Paisley Halloween Festival

One of the largest events of its kind in the UK, the Dark Circus themed Paisley Halloween Festival attracted 41,000 people across the two-days – up 17% on 2018. The event was delivered alongside internationally-acclaimed outdoor theatre specialists, Cirque Bijou.

More than 350 costumed performers and community groups took part in the Mardi Gras style parade, the centrepiece of the festival, which wound its way through the town centre. The parade also featured fantastic, giant lion and elephant floats, ferocious fire performers, creepy clowns and curious creatures, to delight the gathered crowds.

Gerry Rafferty Song Book

Twenty six percent of attendees to the Halloween festival were from outside Renfrewshire demonstrating the popularity and stellar programme of the free, family-friendly activities on offer.

The Paisley Halloween Festival was awarded £16,950 of National Programme funding from EventScotland for the 2019 event.

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The festival delivered £824,250 to the local economy with local businesses benefiting from the high number of visitors in the town that weekend.

Paisley Halloween Festival scooped the Best Cultural Event or Festival at the 2019/20 Scottish Thistle Awards West Scotland regional finals and will now go on to compete in the prestigious national final on March 5, 2020.

Glasvagas

The Spree also delivered impressive results for the area. More than 12,000 festival-goers turned out to enjoy the diverse range of acts in the stunning Salon Perdu Spiegeltent in Paisley’s County Square – allowing for more people to enjoy the performances.

The numbers also add up, with a £411,000 total economic boost from the 10-day music, arts and cultural festival.

Paisley Halloween Festival

The Spree 2019 saw record ticket sales with music and comedy fans being treated to sell-out shows from Hue and Cry, Glasvegas, The Snuts, Jerry Sadowitz and spectacular performances from Soul legend PP Arnold, Hayseed Dixie, Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys, Karine Polwart’s Scottish Songbook and two Friday comedy nights compered by Fred MacAulay and Scott Gibson.

The festival was programmed by Regular Music and sponsored by Tennent’s Lager.

There was also a packed Wee Spree programme for kids during the school holidays with 2,822 people heading along to enjoy the events – the highest number of attendees on record for the event.

The festival also provided a boost to local traders with many festival-goers choosing to Spend Local and sample the great bars, restaurants and cafes in the area.

Jacqueline McCaig, owner of The Old Swan Inn which hosted the Spree Festival Club of daily events during the festival, said: “We absolutely loved hosting the Spree Festival Club at The Old Swan – it was a fantastic week of live music. The pub was really busy with a great atmosphere and a great mix of customers old and new, who came to see what the Festival Club was all about and enjoy the variety of talent we had on show.”

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “It was phenomenal to see such great numbers coming along to Paisley’s Halloween Festival and to Spree and now this report shows the positive impact these major events have on the local economy and local businesses.

“We’re continuing to work with partners to offer a fantastic calendar of events to attract residents and visitors from across Scotland and the rest of the UK.

“Renfrewshire has so much to offer and major events are an important part of our plans to use our culture and heritage to drive footfall and cement our status as one of Scotland’s top visitor destination.”