M&S cheque presentation to George Street fire victims

BIG-HEARTED shoppers in Paisley town centre rallied round in their usual generous fashion to support a worthy cause.

Caring staff at the busy Marks and Spencer store in the High Street were so dismayed when they learned five families had lost everything after fire gutted their homes, they organised a bucket collection to raise money to help the victims.

From left - Laura Kirkland; Greg McGoldrick, from M&S; George Street fire victim, Karen McAvoy; Paul Luby and Cath Menzies, from M&S.

(From left – Laura Kirkland; Greg McGoldrick, from M&S; George Street fire victim, Karen McAvoy; Paul Luby and Cath Menzies, from M&S.)

The George Bar and flats in Causeyside Street, Paisley were destroyed in the blaze that broke out in the early hours of Sunday, February 24 leaving 24 people homeless. What remained of the building had to be demolished.

A team of fundraisers at the popular store organised buckets to be set up at the check-outs where customers could donate their loose change and it wasn’t long before they got the backing of Buddies.

Now a cheque for  £1,171 to be split among the families who lost their homes has been collected by young mum, Karen McAvoy who was left with nothing after the fire.

From left – Paul Luby; Cath Menzies, from M&S; George Street fire victim, Karen McAvoy; Laura Kirkland and Greg McGoldrick, from M&S.

(From left – Paul Luby; Cath Menzies, from M&S; George Street fire victim, Karen McAvoy; Laura Kirkland and Greg McGoldrick, from M&S.)

Karen, 30, said: “It is quite incredible that complete strangers would want to help in this way. Everyone lost everything that night and I know I speak on behalf of all the families when I say we are really grateful for this donation.

“I had no idea at all that this was happening and it was very kind of people to think about those who lost so much when the fire broke out.

“I would like to thank all those involved at Marks and Spencer and all the customers who donated when they were shopping in the store. It really is appreciated and will mean so much to those who not only lost their homes but everything in them too.

“I cannot thank everyone enough and will use my share to buy a few bits and pieces for my new place.”

Karen told how she had just gone on holiday to Spain with her seven-year-old son, Connor the day before and was devastated when she got a call from home to say there had been a fire at the property.

She said:”I called the police at Mill Street and asked them to make sure my front door was secure until we got back to Paisley. What I didn’t realise at the time that all that was left was my front door and there was nothing else left to secure.

“Everything was gone. We had lost it all. I started to Google what had happened and quickly realised it was more serious that I could ever have imagined. We decided to stay for the rest of our break so I had a few days before I had to deal with the reality of it all.

“This donation is so welcome and will be a nice boost for all those concerned.”

Joyce Kirk, manageress at M&S, in Paisley High Street, said: “The staff who took this fund raising effort on board voluntarily were terrific in organising this collection and they tell me the response from the public was magnificent.

“It was a real team effort from everyone who helped set up the collection and those who shop in our store in Paisley. So it is well done to all.”

Mark Macmillan, leader of Renfrewshire Council and chairman of Paisley Vision Board, said: “Paisley means many things to many people, but no one can deny that Paisley Is…a caring place.

“Our town centre stores always play a huge role in supporting those causes which affect the lives of people in Paisley and elsewhere in Renfrewshire. It is testimony to the hard work of the staff at Marks and Spencer and the generosity of their customers that such an excellent sum of money was raised for those families who lost so much in the George Street fire.”

Major national retailer set for Paisley (news from Paisley Photographs)

A major national retailer is finalising plans to open in Paisley High Street boosting the regeneration of the town centre.

Wilkinson, which has over 330 stores in the UK, is close to reaching agreement to occupy the former Littlewoods store.
Renfrewshire Council and Paisley Vision Board have been working hard to secure the redevelopment of the site which has lain vacant since 2005 and believe a new store could be open within a few months.

Among the benefits of the proposed deal would be:
the creation of an estimated 85 jobs
the reopening of one of the most prominent shopfronts on Paisley High Street
additional access for shoppers to the units in the Paisley Centre,
the enhancement of Paisley’s appeal to shoppers and other potential new retailers, and
a boost to public finances through non-domestic rates revenue of £145,000 per annum.
“To have such a key retail site in Paisley High Street occupied again would be a major vote of confidence in Paisley’s future,” said Renfrewshire Council Leader Derek Mackay, who also chairs Paisley Vision Board.

“The redevelopment would be further proof of the continuing regeneration of Paisley.

“In recent years Renfrewshire Council and our partners prioritised three key projects which would significantly boost Paisley’s appeal as a place to live and do business in.

“The first – the redevelopment of part of the former council hq in Cotton Street for housing – is well underway.

“The second goal – the revival of the iconic Arnott’s site – has seen the creation of an innovative public private partnership to make the site ready for development and attract residential and commercial development.

“What a hat-trick it would be for Paisley if we can help restore the Littlewood’s site in the middle of the high street to its former prominence.”

Tom Johnston, President of Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce said: “It’s particularly encouraging that it would be a major national retailer which would be coming to Paisley.

“Having that level of support for Paisley as a strong retail centre can act as a catalyst for the broader regeneration of the town centre as well as its retail sector.”

A meeting of Renfrewshire Council’s Planning and Development Board on Tuesday December 07 will consider a report recommending that the Council supports the deal through an investment of up to £336,000.

The money would help towards the £1.5m plus cost of refitting the store which has a large, complex layout and has lain empty for six years. Council funds would only be awarded if the deal is concluded.

The cost of preparatory works in the vacant store followed by a refit is expected to total £2.5m

Renfrewshire Council’s Paisley Town Centre Action Plan has already identified the need to support the upgrading of property assets to boost retail development.



Dec 17 2009 by Alison Rennie, Paisley Daily Express
IT’S only a few days old but already the ‘Paisley is…’ campaign has got the whole town talking.
Every Buddies favourite daily is leading the way in backing the bid to boost our town.
We helped launch the campaign and want to make sure all our readers know all about the positive events and good people living in our historic town.
And we’ve been inundated with responses from folk wanting to come on board and do their bit to promote Paisley.
Now Brian McGuire, who runs the popular website from his home in Glenburn, wants to spread the postive Paisley message all over the world.
Brian set up his excellent website nine years ago and it has grown to become massively popular across the world, receiving an incredible 1.38 million hits last month.
He explained: “I got it going to promote Paisley. I had just left the army and come home to Paisley and after touring the world, I realised Paisley isn’t as bad as everyone makes out.
“At the time, the town was going through the drug wars, as they were called, which gave it a bad reputation but it really wasn’t that bad compared to some places I’d seen.
“I started putting up pictures of Paisley and a bit of history on a website and it grew from there.”
Brian is right behind the ‘Paisley is…’ campaign and already has the logos on his website. The logo cleverly uses the ‘is’ in Paisley to promote certain aspects of the town such as its history or popular events.
Brian said: “The logo is on every page of the website and when you click on a different page, the logo changes to something relevant to the page.
“So if you’re looking at the history of Paisley, the logo would change to ‘Paisley is…rich in culture’.
“It’s quite clever and can be used to promote lots of different parts of the town.
“I’m right behind the Paisley Daily Express and Paisley Vision Board for doing this.”
The website reaches across the world and is manned by Brian and 10 volunteers.
Around half of all the website visitors come from America and the rest from across the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Europe.
Brian added: “We never have any problems with people on the site, it’s always very positive.
“It’s a community website. I have been asked to make money out of it by doing different things but I’ve always said no.
“It’s for the people of Paisley and that’s the way it’s going to stay.”

We want to know all about what ‘Paisley is…’ doing so if you’ve got a good news story about the town or its people that you want to share, phone our newsroom on 0141 887 7911 or drop us an e-mail at

click here for the Paisley Daily Express website


I am trying to find a possible relative of mine, I hope you can help.

Her maiden name is Isabella Ross Wilson and would be 86 years old now. She used to work for a Dr. J.H. Allen in Milton House, Love Street, Paisley.

I would appreciate any information about her or any relatives she might have. Sandy..

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