07 Nov 2018 - Adoptions - Barry and Lynn Cook from Renfrew with their 4-year-old son (9)

Barry and Lynn Cook have lovingly created a special gift for their four-year-old son which they will hand over when they think he’s old enough.

07 Nov 2018 - Adoptions - Barry and Lynn Cook from Renfrew with their 4-year-old son (9)

But it’s no ordinary present – instead it’s a ‘life story box’ for their son full of mementoes and photographs to explain his background to him later in life.

The couple from Renfrew adopted their much -loved son when he was just weeks old and are sharing their story as part of Adoption Week Scotland.

They say that Christmas four years ago was the most special festive season ever as just days earlier their baby son came to live with them.

After three failed rounds of fertility treatment, the couple had decided that adoption was the way forward for them.

07 Nov 2018 - Adoptions - Barry and Lynn Cook from Renfrew with their 4-year-old son (5)

They registered their interest in becoming adoptive parents with Renfrewshire Council and were visited by a social worker in the first step of the process.

Barry, 39, said: “When he’s old enough we will sit down and have a proper conversation with him.

“Being able to have our son has changed our lives. We had already talked about adoption when it became clear there were issues with us conceiving. The fertility treatments were hard on Lynn and we decided not to go down that road any further.”

07 Nov 2018 - Adoptions - Barry and Lynn Cook from Renfrew with their 4-year-old son (4)

The next step was attending ‘Preparation Groups’, set up to ensure prospective adopters are equipped for the reality of parenting. The groups also allow them to meet others who have already successfully adopted.

Barry said: “It’s almost like training in what kinds of thing you can expect and also like an informal interview with social workers. They present the realities and make it clear that there is some hard work involved and that children will come from a variety of backgrounds with sometimes traumatic experiences.

“After the first session we actually laughed because our brains were so full of information. But the great thing was we heard the stories of other adopters because you were hearing the ups and downs of real stories. You’re getting it warts and all and it just brought it to life.”

18 months on from those first preparation groups, the couple’s social worker contacted them to say they had a child in mind for them, an 11-week-old baby boy.

Barry said: “Our situation is fairly unique as it’s very unusual to get a baby. We also got to name him which was pretty special.”

Lynn said: “No matter how prepared you think you are it turns your life upside down but we absolutely loved it.

“Because he was so young we weren’t worried that we wouldn’t bond with him and we got lots of information from the foster carers he’d been with. We still visit them to this day because they love hearing what our son’s getting up to.

“We wanted to keep in touch because we thought it was an important part of his story.”

Their son, who is now four, started nursery school in November 2017 and Barry added: “We’ve had a lot of support from the social work adoption team and that’s still ongoing if we need it.

“There’s a lifelong commitment from them to you and your child. Some people want to adopt and get on with their own life, but we’ve kept in touch with some of the other couples we met during the process.

“It’s great to chat about how they’ve dealt with certain issues, especially with some of the ones who have older children. “

Renfrewshire’s Council Education and Children’s Services Convener, Councillor Jim Paterson said: “We are committed to ensuring that all children to reach their full potential and for some that means joining new families who can give them the love, care and security their birth family are unable to provide.

“Our experienced adoption team is on hand to guide families through the process and beyond.

“I’m delighted that the Cooks have shared their story because as well as having a positive impact on the lives of young people and children, adoption benefits communities and society as a whole by giving children a better future.”

To become an adopter you don’t have to be a parent or have any parenting experience, and applicants from any religious or cultural background are welcome.

You can be unemployed and can be single, married, cohabiting, or in a civil partnership and can own or rent your property. Prospective adopters do need to be 21 or over, have a spare room and be in good health.

Adoption Week Scotland runs from Monday 19 November until Friday 23 November and aims to raise awareness. An information event is being held at Glasgow’s Mitchell Library on 22 November from 3- 6pm

If you think you can provide a loving home for a child, please contact our adoption team on 0300 300 1199 or send an email to: childrenandfamilies@renfrewshire.gov.uk.

paisley christmas lights photograohs 2018

Families enjoyed a full day of free fun, with Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron carrying out the big switch on.

She was helped by 11-year-old Skye Thomson, from Paisley’s Heriot Primary School, who won the annual Christmas card design competition.

paisley christmas lights photograohs 2018

 Earlier in the day, a glittering parade with hundreds of tinsel-clad youngsters and Santa Claus and his reindeers wound its way through the town centre.

Photographs of the Cutkelvins performing on stage before the big switch on was made as well as some photographs around the town taken by David Cameron on behalf of www.paisley.org.uk

More than 27,000 people flocked to Paisley town centre to enjoy this years’ Christmas Lights spectacle.

Families enjoyed a full day of free fun, with Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron carrying out the big switch on. 

She was helped by 11-year-old Skye Thomson, from Paisley’s Heriot Primary School, who won the annual Christmas card design competition.

 Earlier in the day, a glittering parade with hundreds of tinsel-clad youngsters and Santa Claus and his reindeers wound its way through the town centre. 

Many families got an early start on Christmas shopping with the town centre shops open for business and The Urban Market at Paisley Abbey. 

The main stage featured entertainment from Capital FM DJs Des Clarke, Steven Mill and Garry Spence, with performances from family favourites Funbox, while the Princesses of Pop paid tribute to the music of Ariana Grande and Little Mix. 

X-Factor stars The Cutkelvins entertained the crowds just before the big Christmas countdown. 

Provost Cameron said: “The Paisley Christmas Lights Switch-On is one of the big events in the winter calendar and this year didn’t disappoint.

“It was great to see so many families and young people coming into the town centre to mark the start of the festive season and take part in all the activities on offer. 

“I’d like to take this chance to wish everyone a peaceful and Merry Christmas when it comes.” 

The winter event thrills will also extend across Renfrewshire with Christmas Lights Switch-Ons in Renfrew on Saturday, 24 November and Johnstone on Saturday, 1 December. 

Paisley First’s WinterFest also opens in the town centre on 24 November and runs daily until December 30, except for Christmas Day.

clyde bridge

A major project to transform the Clyde waterfront, connect communities and bring thousands of jobs and investment to the regional economy has taken a significant step forward.

clyde bridge

Scottish Government ministers today (Friday 16 November 2018) approved the Clyde Waterfront and Renfrew Riverside project.

It is expected to create more than 2300 jobs and inject £867million into the regional economy, ranking it one of the top performing economic growth projects in the Glasgow City Region City Deal.

The project will see construction of the first opening road bridge over the River Clyde, linking Renfrew and Yoker. It has been designed by leading engineering consultancy Sweco working with Kettle Collective, the award-winning architects behind the Falkirk Wheel.

clyde bridge

The crossing will greatly improve access to employment, education, health and leisure for communities on both sides of the river and increase access for businesses to more customers and suppliers.

It also includes new roads, walkways and cycle routes into a 150-acre site next to Glasgow Airport being developed into a manufacturing district, which has already attracted two national innovation centres, the National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland and a major centre revolutionising medicines manufacturing.

clyde bridge

“This is fantastic news for the entire city region and for Scotland,” said Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson, welcoming the waterfront planning decision.

Councillor Nicolson added: “The completed project and subsequent regeneration has the potential to deliver a significant economic boost to the Glasgow City region.

“Current businesses will gain access to more customers and suppliers, while new companies and developers will be attracted to locate to the regenerated waterfront.

clyde bridge

“Communities on both sides of the Clyde will benefit from greatly improved access to their work, to education and to hospitals through the new connections which will also help reduce congestion and improve journey times.

“It builds on the development of the new manufacturing district which will bring thousands of new high skilled jobs and training opportunities to Renfrewshire and the wider region and help secure the future of Scotland’s vital manufacturing industry.

“We will continue to work closely with neighbouring councils to ensure the project delivers on its significant potential and the benefits reach all communities on both sides of the Clyde.”

There has been strong support for the project during extensive engagement over a two-year period, with surveys signalling 90 percent backing for the plans.

Public engagement helped identify the preferred bridge location, guaranteed environmental enhancements and ensured all new roads come complete with pedestrian walkways and cycle lanes.

Clyde Waterfront and Renfrew Riverside is one of three Glasgow City Region City Deal-funded projects in Renfrewshire alongside the Glasgow Airport Investment Area project, which will deliver the underpinning infrastructure behind the new manufacturing district and the flagship Airport Access Project, creating a direct rail link between Glasgow Airport, Paisley Gilmour Street and Glasgow Central Station.

The £1.13billion City Deal is an agreement between the UK Government, Scottish Government and eight local authorities to deliver improved infrastructure, create new jobs, tackle unemployment and drive innovation and growth.

It has already helped 8085 people across the region into jobs through a pioneering youth gateway programme, including 745 in Renfrewshire.

Tony Fitzpatrick, Councillor Cathy McEwan and St Catherine's Primary pupils (3)

Pupils at St Catherine’s Primary in Paisley were delighted to receive a visit from Renfrewshire Council gritter ‘Tony Gritzpatrick’ yesterday after the name they submitted was voted to be one of nine famous names for the gritting machines.

Tony Fitzpatrick, Councillor Cathy McEwan and St Catherine's Primary pupils (3)

Pupils from the school’s Citizenship Committee wanted to honour friend of the school and St Mirren legend Tony Fitzpatrick, and the man himself took the time to pay them a visit and meet his winter namesake.

Tony said: “It’s fantastic that the young people at St Catherine’s Primary put my name forward for one of the gritters and I’m humbled to have been chosen.

Tony Fitzpatrick in his winter namesake

“The competition caught the imagination of everyone, for all the names, and I just want to again say thank you to everyone who voted, and especially to the pupils at St Catherine’s.”

The pupils had taken part in the council’s #NameOurGritters competition which set out to recognise the local heroes within Renfrewshire who keep the area moving throughout the winter period.

Famous faces, places and landmarks were sought for their new names and Tony’s gritter will be joined by names such as Ploughlo Grittini, Fridge of Weir and Paisleigh.

Lauren Berry, Head of St Catherine’s Citizenship Committee, said: “The pupils were delighted to take part in the competition and had fun coming with ideas and learning about what happens to prepare for winter.

“They’re all big fans of Tony and they’re thrilled that their suggestion was chosen as one of the winners and that they got to meet the newly-named gritter alongside their hero!”

The competition was part of the annual #RenReady campaign which aims to prepare local communities, groups and businesses for the effects of winter weather.

Councillor Cathy McEwan, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Infrastructure, Land and Environment Policy Board, said: “The competition reached people of all ages and we received more than 1600 suggestion and over 8000 votes in the final polls which is fantastic.

“We need to celebrate the people who work in our gritting teams, our Care at Home staff and our homeless support team as these are the people keeping Renfrewshire going throughout the winter, and this competition gave us the chance to highlight that.

“We saw last year the trouble an unexpected weather event can cause so it’s important that we are all #RenReady to cope with anything winter can bring.

“Please check our website for advice and guidance on how to keep safe this winter.”

For more information on the competition, visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/nameourgritters, and for advice and guidance on how to be prepared for winter, visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/readyforwinter.

Tony Fitzpatrick book launch

St Mirren football legend Tony Fitzpatrick escaped a life of poverty and violence to become a trophy-winning footballer, manager and now chief executive.

Tony Fitzpatrick book launch

Tony has penned his autobiography, Fitzy – The Story of My Life, revealing many humorous and heart-breaking tales of his time in and out of football.

Bullied at school, he was seconds away from taking his own life by drowning himself in the Forth and Clyde Canal and was saved when he found a tiny statue of the Virgin Mary he had been carrying around in his pocket.

Tony tells of the violence that was the norm in his life and how he was arrested for carrying a knife and attacked by a machete-wielding thug, who left him with his pinkie hanging off his hand by a thread.

He tells how as a teenager he was left devastated after Aston Villa told him he would never make it as a footballer because he was too small.

Tony defied his Celtic-daft father and signed for St Mirren. It was a good move on his part though, as when he was still a teenager, Saints manager, Alex Ferguson made him team captain. But not before Tony’s dad had to phone Fergie pretending to be the family doctor assuring him the young footballer was fit enough to play after suffering pleurisy!

Tragedy struck at the height of Tony’s football career when his six-year-old son, Tony Jr. died from cancer. And if burying his boy wasn’t heart-breaking enough, when Tony returned home after the funeral, he discovered callous thieves had ransacked his house, stealing anything and everything they could load on to a furniture van.

Tony goes on to win the Scottish Cup with St Mirren and tastes alcohol for the first time by drinking champagne from the trophy in the Hampden dressing room. He also describes at length the worst moment of his football career. The St Mirren game against Hammarby, who scored two last-minute goals to put them out of the UEFA Cup, still haunts him.

Tony twice becomes manager of St Mirren and admits he behaved like a “mad chimp” during his first stint in the dugout – trying and failing to emulate Fergie and his infamous hairdryer treatment.

But in charge for a second time, he tricked his players with a bogus scouting report to get them fired up to win a game that would save the club from relegation.

He was sacked after constant battles with the board and Tony goes on to run Livingston FC’s youth development programme. He pours thousands of his own money into the club and loses it all when the club goes into administration. But he bounces back and as part of a groundbreaking police initiative, works with some of the most violent young men in Glasgow’s gangs encouraging them to give up the blade and the gun.

Now the chief executive of St Mirren FC, Tony’s must-read autobiography is a heart-warming story of personal triumph over adversity.

Fitzy – The Story of My Life is published by Macdonald Media Publishing and is available from www.fitzybook.co.uk for only £11.99.

Nutcracker-Trail-Map-Square-Social-Media-11-11-18pdf

Paisley First’s free Festive Nutcracker Trail returns to Paisley town centre this weekend.

Starting Saturday 17th November, this Christmas trail will help the town get into the festive mood, running daily apart from Christmas Day and Boxing Day, until Sunday 30th December!

Nutcracker-Trail-Map-Square-Social-Media-11-11-18pdf

There will be 15 Nutcracker Kings and three mini-nutcrackers spread throughout the town…can you name them all?

Collect your free trail booklet at the Paisley Centre or the Piazza Paisley Shopping Centre and complete the trail for your chance to win prizes in a weekly draw!

If you are feeling extra adventurous, you may also wish to undertake the search for the special hidden nutcrackers, Sven and Kristoff!

They seem to be spotted in different locations every few days and are enjoying the festivities throughout the town centre so you may wish to check out Paisley First’s website www.paisleyfirst.com or social media for clues!

Once completed, post your entries in the special mailboxes located in both shopping centres.

One overall winner at the end of the Nutcracker Trail will also win an iPad mini. Good luck!

Tony Fitzpatrick book launch

FOOTBALL legend Frank McAvennie is teaming up with an old football Buddie for a book signing session.

Macca will be at intu Braehead shopping centre on Saturday, November 17 between noon and 2pm to sign copies of his former St Mirren teammate, Tony Fitzpatrick’s newly-released autobiography.

Tony Fitzpatrick book launch

Fans will be able to buy the book, Fitzy – The Story of My Life, at the signing session being held outside Costa Coffee in the lower mall.

Tony Fitzpatrick not only won a league title and a Scottish Cup medal with St Mirren, he also had two spells as manager and now he’s the club’s chief executive.

frank mcavennie

In his book he tells some hilarious tales from the dressing room and reveals the behind-the-scenes boardroom battles he had.

But behind the football banter and bust-ups, there’s an amazing story of being brought up in one of the poorest and most violent areas of Glasgow and how he used his football skills to escape that life.

While at the top of his football career, tragedy struck when his six-year-old son, Tony Jr. died after cancer struck down the young boy. And on the day of his funeral, callous thieves ransacked the family home stealing anything and everything they could load on to a furniture van.

Sir Alex Ferguson, in only his second managerial job, made the teenage Fitzpatrick the captain of St Mirren FC.

But not before Tony’s dad had to phone Fergie pretending to be the family doctor assuring him the young footballer was fit enough to play after suffering pleurisy!

Tony said: “Frank McAvennie is one of the great characters in Scottish football and he was a fantastic teammate. He’s still a good friend and we keep in regular contact.

“I can’t wait to hear some more of his banter with the fans at my book signing session at intu Braehead on Saturday.”

 Fitzy – The Story of My Life is published by Macdonald Media Publishing and is also available from www.fitzybook.co.uk for only £11.99.

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Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson is calling on enthusiastic community members to sign up for their nearest Local Partnership and have their say on the issues that matter locally.

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Replacing the previous Local Area Committees (LACs), the partnerships aim to be more inclusive and give local people more of a role in decision making at a local level.

A series of community events have been taking place across Renfrewshire to introduce the new Partnerships and to encourage people to become community representatives.

Councillor Nicolson said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for people to have their say on the issues that matter to them within their community.

iain nicolson

“It’s important that the opinions of local people are highlighted and that decisions are made with the thoughts of local people in mind.

“I’d encourage anyone who has a passion for their community to put their name forward.”

The first official meetings of the new partnerships were due to take place over the next few weeks but will be rescheduled to early 2019 to ensure that all interested community members have a chance to express their interest in being part of a Local Partnership.

Councillor Nicolson added: “It was clear from the community events that people are very positive about the move to the new Local Partnerships but need more time to submit their applications to be a member.

“We want to give everyone the opportunity to be a part of the new partnerships as they are about achieving a range of views and working together as a community to make the local area better.

“So, get in touch to put your name forward and take this opportunity to make a difference.”

Seven new Local Partnerships will replace the previous five Local Area Committees, with membership split evenly between local elected members, and local community representatives.

Local Partnerships will continue to allocate funding to local voluntary and community groups.

For more information on the Local Partnerships and to submit your application to become a member, visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/localpartnerships,The closing date for membership applications is Friday 14 December..

Renfrewshire housing

The Council has been working with four local housing associations – Bridgewater, Linstone, Paisley and Williamsburgh housing associations – to develop a draft Common Housing Allocation Policy for Renfrewshire which all five landlords will use.

Renfrewshire housing

They are keen to get the views of housing applicants, existing tenants and other people who have an interest in how housing is allocated by the five social landlords which collectively own and manage over 17,000 homes in Renfrewshire.

The proposed new policy would mean the Council and housing associations would all use the same approach, no matter which organisation residents approached.

Their aim is to make it easier and more straightforward for people to apply for housing.

The draft Common Policy takes account of legal requirements and best practice guidance, including the duty to give priority to people in housing need along with changes introduced by the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014.

Councillor Marie McGurk, who is Convener of the Council’s Communities, Housing and Planning Policy Board, said: “Having a single policy that covers Renfrewshire-based social housing organisations will make it simpler for people who are applying to either the Council or one of the four local housing associations.

“It means that if people choose to apply to another organisation for social housing, that they know their circumstances will be treated in the same way. We will be consulting with tenants, housing associations and other housing groups in November to ensure that the new proposals are fit for purpose.

“I would urge everyone to get involved in these events and give us their views on the proposed policy.”

The consultations take place on:

Tuesday 13 November, 11am – 2pm in Johnstone Town Hall
Wednesday 14 November, 4pm – 7pm in Paisley Town Hall
Thursday 15 November, 11am – 2pm in Renfrew Town Hall

For more information, visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/commonallocationpolicy