HIGHNET NAMED AS APPROVED UK GOVERNMENT SUPPLIER FOR GIGABIT SCHEME

Telecoms service company HighNet has been confirmed as the only Scottish-based, UK Government-approved supplier for a scheme to help businesses install gigabit broadband.

HighNet is one of 17 companies so far confirmed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport to be part of a £2 million trial taking place in four areas around the UK, including Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

Under the scheme, suppliers will be offering vouchers worth between £500 and £3,000 each to local businesses which can then be used to pay for the installation of gigabit (Gb) speed connections. The aim of the pilot is to encourage the market to extend full fibre infrastructure in the UK by increasing demand and reducing the cost to customers.

The vouchers will cover the normal charges for installation, including hardware and on-site engineer visits. Businesses can also pool their vouchers to help build clusters of connectivity and further reduce costs.

HighNet, which manages more than 17,000 business lines across the UK, will work to provide connectivity with infrastructure provider CityFibre, the UK’s builder of Gigabit Cities and the national alternative provider of wholesale full-fibre network infrastructure.

David Alldritt, technology and innovation director at HighNet, said: “We are delighted to be a Government-approved supplier for this landmark scheme which will bring the benefits of gigabit broadband to a range of businesses.”

Gb connectivity will allow firms to upload and download huge files in seconds and future-proof businesses in the face of ever-increasing demands for internet speed and connectivity. It will also allow companies in remoter areas to compete with those based in cities where full fibre connectivity may already be installed.

Four areas across the UK will pilot the scheme to test infrastructure conditions – Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire; Bristol, with Bath and North East Somerset; Coventry and Warwickshire and West Yorkshire Combined Authority (Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds, Wakefield and York)

The test phase will end when the money is used up, or by the end of March 2019, whichever is sooner.

Follow Highnet on:

Twitter  Facebook  LinkedIn

WHISKY, HISTORY AND MYSTERY ALL WINNERS AT TOURISM AWARDS

One of Scotland’s most historic battlefields has fought off opposition to pick up two major tourism honours at an annual awards ceremony.

The double success was celebrated by Culloden Battlefield, near Inverness, at the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA), which enjoyed another record-breaking year.

Winners in 16 categories overcame unprecedented competition to be crowned the best in the region and picked up the famous piper trophies.

In all, 232 business and individuals – 14 per cent more than last year – were put forward for honours and 55 finalists were vying for the awards, which celebrate and recognise the best places to eat,
drink and enjoy the area’s scenery, hospitality, wildlife, history and culture.HITA banner

HITA chairman Craig Ewan said: “Congratulations to all our award winners and finalists in another outstanding year. HITA continues to grow with the number of entries and nominations rising each year, making it more difficult than ever to win one of our coveted trophies.”

The awards finale, held at the Drumossie Hotel, Inverness, was addressed by Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs. She said: “As these awards demonstrate, the iconic attractions, vibrant culture and stunning landscapes of the Highlands and Islands continue to be an important tourism draw.

“It is hugely encouraging to see a record-breaking number of entries this year and I congratulate all of the HITA 2017 winners and finalists.”

Inverness, Ross-shire and Moray enjoyed the most success with three trophy winners each, with two going to Skye and others to the Outer Hebrides, Argyll, Orkney, Lochaber and Sutherland.

Rebecca Brooks, chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards Industry Panel and VisitScotland Board member, said: “On behalf of the panel, I’d like to congratulate all of the winners of the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards. They are a credit to themselves, their local area and the entire Scottish tourism sector.

“Tourism is more than a holiday experience – it creates jobs and sustains communities. These awards let us recognise the unsung heroes of our industry who show real dedication and enthusiasm for Scotland’s tourism industry.

“As the Scottish Thistle Awards prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary I’d like to wish all HITA winners the very best for the national final.”

HITA, which is run in association with SSE, is recognised as one of the premier industry hospitality awards programmes in Scotland. The awards highlight and reward excellence throughout the sector which is worth more than £4.5 billion to the Scottish economy.

Mike Seaton, SSE’s Director of Development, said: “It has been another outstanding and recording breaking year for the Highlands and Islands Tourism awards with nominations up again from last year.

“These awards recognise the excellence of the tourism industry in this region and celebrate, as well as promote, the high standards seen across the Highlands and Islands.

“This is SSE’s fifth year as lead sponsor of the event and we are thrilled to have been part of another amazing evening. The energy industry and the tourism industry in the Highlands and Islands help to sustain communities, create jobs and generate income and I hope we can continue to work together and support one another for many more years to come.”

Culloden Battlefield picked up the Best Visitor Attraction title, while Peter Cowe, who has been a volunteer at the site for ten years, was named HITA’s Tourism and Hospitality Hero.

Culloden is the site of the last pitched battle on British soil in 1746 when Jacobite supporters, seeking to restore the Stuart monarchy to the British thrones, fought the Duke of Cumberland’s government troops.

HITA judges said the battlefield attraction works hard to constantly improve its offering to visitors and has an ‘unwavering desire to re-awaken the past in the present’.

They said Peter Cowe has a passion for bringing history alive and has a pride for the whole of Culloden, not just the battlefield.

Captain Iain Dunderdale, who has worked for 27 years developing the cruise ship industry which now generates millions of pounds annually, was named Highland Ambassador of the Year.

The Ambassador title is a special award given by the HITA Board to an individual who ‘goes the extra mile’ in contributing to the success of tourism in the Highlands and Islands.

Judges said Capt Dunderdale has built up a business that is burgeoning and contributes greatly to the economic wealth of the area.

Eilean Donan Castle in Dornie, Wester Ross, was named Best Heritage Tourism Experience, an award introduced to mark the Year of Heritage History and Archaeology.

Portavadie in Argyll, a former oil platform construction site which was transformed into a visitor attraction, won the award for Best Accommodation Provider and Links House at Royal Dornoch won the Best Restaurant Experience title.

The Ferry Inn, in Stromness, Orkney, was named Best Pub/Bar and Gordon Castle Walled Garden in Fochabers won Best Informal Eating Experience.

The Hebridean Celtic Festival in Lewis picked up the award for Best Cultural Event or Festival, and the title for Best Outdoor Adventure Experience was secured for a second year in succession by Go to St Kilda.

The Best Sporting Event title went to the Fort William UCI Mountain Bike World Cup; Most Hospitable Hotel was The Torridon in Wester Ross and the Most Hospitable B&B/Guest House award was collected by Inverglen Guest House in Inverness.

Ghillie Basan, a Moray-based food and travel writer, won the Innovation in Tourism Award, and the trophy for Working Together in Tourism went to the Malt Whisky Trail in Aberlour.

Charlotte Poynton, sommelier and assistant restaurant manager at The Three Chimneys in Skye, was named Highland Rising Star.

Judges’ commendations went to Cuil Moss Cottage, Ardgour, by Fort William, in the Best Accommodation Provider category and the Isle of Harris Distillery in the Best Visitor Attraction category.

HITA winners, with the exception of the Highland Rising Star and Highland Ambassador categories, will go on to compete at the glittering Scottish Thistle Awards next year.

MORE SUCCESS FOR AWARD-WINNING HEBCELT FESTIVAL

The internationally-acclaimed Hebridean Celtic Festival is centre stage again after picking up its third award in three weeks.

Best cultural event and festival HebCelt HITA award

HITA 2017 at Drumossie Hotel
Best Cultural Event or Festival – Hebridean Celtic Festival
Gayle Findlay, Iain MacPhail, Caroline MacLennan, Caroline Mitchell
Pictures: John Baikie 039407

The Stornoway-based event was named Best Cultural Event or Festival in the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA), a title it also won in 2014.

HITA recognised the economic, cultural and musical impact of the festival. Judges highlighted the fact HebCelt has been running for more than 20 years, during which time it has generated in excess of £20 million for the islands, and that it attracts a wide overseas audience, including from across Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. They add that HebCelt is a “clear demonstration of hard work, commitment and enthusiasm”.

Last month, HebCelt also collected both the Festival of the Year award and the Grand Prix prize for ‘best of the best’ at the Scottish Event Awards.

Festival director Caroline MacLennan said: “This is another wonderful honour for everyone connected to the festival, including our audience, sponsors, supporters, volunteers and our community.

“Getting this recognition from the tourism industry underlines the festival’s drawing power for visitors, many of whom use the event as a starting point for a longer visit to the Outer Hebrides. As well as its cultural significance, it is also a huge economic driver for the islands.”

The HITA award is for the 2016 HebCelt, which was headlined by Runrig and attracted an estimated 18,000 people over four days to Stornoway and outlying areas in Lewis and Harris.

An independent economic impact study showed the festival generated £2.2 million for the economy and helped safeguard 40 tourism-related jobs.

The survey found that 63 per cent of festival goers came from outside Lewis and Harris, with almost three quarters saying they were in the area to attend HebCelt.

Event organisers followed up last year’s HebCelt with another hugely successful event this summer which was headlined by The Waterboys, Imelda May and Dougie MacLean.

Just a few weeks later, HebCelt curated a sell-out opening concert at the Lorient Interceltic Festival in Brittany on 5 August – Europe’s largest Celtic festival – when Scotland was Guest Country of Honour.

HebCelt is also one of only two Scottish events among the ten finalists for a UK Greener Festival Award.

Stay connected with all the festival’s news:

* on Twitter
* on Instagram
* on Facebook
* Website
* YouTube
* Spotify
* Sponsors

ELECTRICAL FIRM TARGETS SURGE IN GROWTH 

An ambitious, award-winning electrical firm is marking five years in business by planning a major expansion of its Scottish operations.

NES (North Electrical Services) Ltd, which is based in Inverness and Elgin, has already more than quadrupled its permanent workforce to 60 since setting up in 2012.

It is now targeting another four-fold increase, to bring the staff up to 250 within the next five years and is also proposing a move into the central belt.

At the same time, the company expects turnover to rise from between £3 million-£4 million to around £12 million-£15 million.

NES had added four new recruits already this year – three admin staff and an estimator – as well as four new apprentice electricians.

The company, which is renowned for its apprentice scheme and ‘grow your own’ staff policy, have based the new trainees in Inverness and Elgin. It will bring the total number of apprentices at both sites to 15.

Picture caption. (Apprentice Kyle Livingstone,; Kirsty Bulloch, NES business development manager; Kenny Duncan, NES managing director; Keith Paterson, NES director; Drew Hendry MP; and apprentice Tyler Whitty.)

NES’s services include industrial and commercial electrical installation and maintenance works, control and instrumentation, electric motor repair, overhaul and rewinding for clients including schools, offices, commercial premises, distilleries and fish processing plants.

Its experienced workforce includes electricians, project engineers, estimators and a full-time health and safety manager, a post normally found in much larger businesses.

NES managing director Kenny Duncan said widening its Scottish presence is a natural progression for the company.

“There are still opportunities for us to grow in the North and North-east, but we also feel we can pursue other areas, like the central belt, and other sectors, such as energy and social housing.

“If it goes as we expect it to go over the next 4-5 years we will quadruple the existing workforce and seek new projects we feel we’re well suited to.

“However, we will continue to be heavily focused on apprentices and people development which has been very successful for us.”

NES’s progress has been praised by Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey MP Drew Hendry, who said: “NES is a great success story, growing from a small company to one with 60 employees and with ambitious plans to develop significantly in the next five years.

“The fact that growth has been driven by a desire to create opportunities for young people and on staff development makes the achieved and planned progress even more commendable.”

NES’s workforce is presently around 100 with the addition of contract workers as it completes a major contract for Norbord, Inverness. It is also engaged in projects at Cauldeen School in Inverness; the new £100 million Macallan distillery in Moray and at SGL Carbon Fibers Ltd in Ross-shire

Kirsty Bulloch, who has recently been appointed business development manager, will assist in a more pro-active approach to secure new work.

NES’s commitment to safety and developing new staff has seen it win prestigious awards in successive years from SELECT, the Electrical Contractors’ Association of Scotland, which represents more than 1,250 companies, 15,000 electricians and 3,500 apprentices.

NES picked up the award for Best Electrical Safety Project in 2016, having won the Best Use of Training category in 2015.

www.nesnorth.com

HIGHLAND GOLF EVENT LEAVES ECONOMIC AND CHARITY LEGACY

A prestigious golf tournament has provided a late season economic boost to the Highland economy and to two major charities.

The annual Highland Golf Links 54-hole Pro-Am sponsored by Blue Group was held this week at three of Scotland’s finest links courses – Castle Stuart Golf Links, The Nairn Golf Club and the Championship Course at Royal Dornoch Golf Club.

Fraser Cromarty, Nairn Golf Club and Austin Carey, Blue Group Director

Despite challenging weather conditions at times, the capacity field of 300 players in 80 teams from the UK, Europe and Doha enjoyed three days of outstanding golf, culminating in a dinner at the Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness last night (wed).

The Kingsmills, along with Culloden House in Inverness and the Royal Golf Hotel in Dornoch and the three courses, are members of Highland Golf Links (HGL) which promotes play and stay golfing breaks in the north of Scotland.

Joint pro winners were Neil Fenwick, Jonathan Grogan, Neil Henderson and Gareth Wright. Team winner was Glasgow Whisky2, captained by Rory Taylor and with pro James Ross.

The event, which is part of the Tartan Tour and was sponsored for the second year in succession by Blue Group, raised a total of £2,250 for two charities – The Oxygen Works, created by the MS Therapy Centre, in Inverness, which is marking its 25th anniversary this year; and Highland Hospice, which supports people, their families and carers, living with life shortening illness.

The Oxygen Works provides a range of treatments – including oxygen therapy, physiotherapy and massage and reflexology – to help people with a number of medical conditions, including multiple sclerosis, cancer, Parkinson’s and diabetes, as well as sports injuries.

It is the only facility of its kind in the UK providing such a range of therapies and services to a diverse population of individuals and uses the only oxygen chamber in the central Highlands of Scotland.

Highland Hospice has been caring for patients and their families for 30 years. The first patient entered the day hospice in November, 1987 and a year later the purpose-built inpatient unit opened. A new, upgraded hospice opened in 2016.

Prizes at the fundraising events included 4-ball matches at Castle Stuart, Royal Dornoch or Nairn, with accommodation at a HGL member hotel.

Blue Group director Austin Carey said: “Once again, the HGL Pro-Am proved to be an outstanding success. We had a capacity field and while the weather ensured we got the full links experience at times, it was fantastic to play these amazing courses and also raise money for important charities.”

Pro-Am competitors play on successive days at Castle Stuart, home of the Scottish Open on four occasions in the last seven years; Royal Dornoch, which hosted the Northern Open last year as part of celebrations to mark 400 years of golf being played in the town; and Nairn, which has staged both the Walker Cup and Curtis Cup and this year held the international Boys Amateur Championship.

The Pro-Am is estimated to generate about £200,000 for the Highland economy, with HGL partners and other businesses in the area all benefiting from late-season business.

Event organiser Fraser Cromarty, CEO at The Nairn Golf Club and chairman of HGL, said: “The Pro-Am continues to set records with the highest ever number taking part this year. The event gets stronger and more popular each year, thanks to Blue Group and everyone who supports us over the three days.

“I’m also delighted that our fundraising this year will help two leading charities who do amazing work in the area.”

The event, which currently boasts a professional prize fund of more than £50,000, is open to teams of four players from anywhere in the world consisting of three amateurs (ladies or gentlemen) plus a professional of their choice. Teams that do not include a pro are allocated a leading player from the PGA Scotland Order of Merit.

FINALISTS READY TO DO BATTLE FOR TOURISM AWARDS

More than 50 tourism businesses have taken a step nearer being crowned the best in the Highlands and Islands after being named as finalists in the industry’s annual ‘Oscars’ today (29 Sept).

Competition to win a coveted Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA) trophy has reached an unprecedented level with entries and nominations this year surpassing previous record-breaking levels.

The 232 businesses and individuals vying for honours was more than 14 per cent up on last year’s figure.

Judges have had the arduous task of narrowing down contenders to a 55-strong shortlist in 16 categories.

Among those to be recognised will be the best places to stay, eat, drink and enjoy the area’s sporting and cultural events, as well as its wildlife and scenery. A new category, Best Heritage Tourism Experience, was introduced in 2017 to mark the Year of Heritage History and Archaeology.

The finalists represent the entire length and breadth of the region – from Shetland to Argyll and from Moray to the Outer Hebrides – and range from castles to pubs and from internationally-renowned visitor attractions to remote get-aways.

Ten of the finalists are from the Inverness area, with nine each from Argyll and Moray and six from Strathspey, while Lochaber, Ross-shire, Sutherland, Skye, Orkney and Shetland all feature.

Craig Ewan, the HITA chairman, said: “Congratulations to everyone who has made the shortlist which is a fantastic achievement given the unprecedented number of quality entries and nominations we received this year. The geographical spread of finalists demonstrates the strength of tourism facilities across the Highlands and Islands.

“The competition is really hotting up now and the judges have a really tough job to pick our winners.”

HITA is regarded as one of the premier industry hospitality awards programmes in Scotland, where the tourism sector is worth more than £4.5 billion to the economy.

The awards scheme, which is held in association with SSE, is free and is open to people operating in the Highland, Moray, Orkney, Shetland, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Argyll & Bute (excluding G postcode areas) local authority areas.

Winners will receive the famous piper trophies at a ceremony in the Drumossie Hotel, Inverness, on Friday,3 November and (with the exception of the Highland Rising Star and Highland Ambassador) go on to compete at the glittering Scottish Thistle Awards next year.

RECORD ENTRIES MEAN ANOTHER CHALLENGE FOR AWARDS JUDGES

Freda Newton, chair of Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards judging panel

Another record-breaking year; another record-breaking challenge for the judges.

The Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards just keep getting bigger. This year we’ve received 232 nominations and entries – up 14 per cent on last year’s previous best-ever total, and an amazing 70 per cent rise since 2014.

This fantastic response demonstrates a confidence within the industry and highlights the growing number of high quality tourism establishments and services provided for our visitors.

HITA is one of the most well-respected award programmes and it is heartening to see so many businesses coming forward, or being nominated, to be open to scrutiny and ultimately try to be named as the best in the industry in this area.

As tourism is so vital to the Highlands and Islands, it is essential that we continue to improve standards and bring fresh ideas into the sector. HITA encourages and rewards good business practice, which provides visitors with high standards of service, and also innovation, which can elevate a business beyond the ever-increasing tourism expectations and demands.

For 2017 we have introduced a new category, Best Heritage Tourism Experience, as part of the themed Year of History Heritage and Archaeology, and to celebrate the extraordinary wealth of historic assets we have in the Highlands and Islands.

Demonstrating the region’s strength in this particular sector of tourism, we have received 15 entries in the new category. Other categories have also attracted large entries, including Best Accommodation Provider with more than 30.

Judging this amount of entries, particularly as the standard just keeps getting higher, is an enormous task for our 12 judges who are drawn from all parts of the Highlands and Islands and from all sections of the industry.

So, how do we choose the winners?

Over the coming weeks, we will examine all these entries and start forming opinions on who we think deserve to pick up the trophies. Each judge marks the entries independently online, and can use personal knowledge, reviews and information from industry contacts to support details provided with the entry or nomination.

When we meet up on 13th September we will compare notes, discuss and debate our choices and come to a consensus on who should make the shortlist for each category, and who in our combined opinions have gone that little bit further to be crowned winners.

From experience, some of these decisions are easier than others and a few intense conversations await as we narrow down our choices. All, or nearly all, will be revealed on 29 September when we announce the shortlists.

Thank you to everyone for giving us this onerous but highly rewarding task, and good luck.

TOURISM AWARDS CELEBRATE RECORD ENTRIES HAT-TRICK

The biggest ever battle to find the best tourism businesses in the Highlands and Islands has started, with the number vying for honours reaching an unprecedented level.

For the third year in succession, the competition has scaled new heights with entries and nominations surpassing previous record-breaking levels.

A total of 232 businesses or individuals will compete in the 2017 Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA) – more than 14 per cent up on last year’s figure.HITA statue

The number of entries and nominations for the prestigious competition has now risen by a remarkable 70 per cent since 2014 as a growing number of tourism operators bid to get their hands on the coveted piper trophies.

Judging got under way this week to determine the winners in 16 categories with the best places to stay, eat and drink and enjoy the area’s sporting and musical culture among those to be honoured.

Craig Ewan, the HITA chairman, said: “The growth of HITA over the last three years has been amazing, with unparalleled numbers of people entering or being nominated.

“It demonstrates the strength of the industry in this region where tourism is so vital. It also reflects a confidence among operators who are providing an ever-improving quality of service for our visitors.

“I am delighted that so many businesses and individuals are in the running for recognition and I wish everyone good luck in what will be the toughest competition in HITA’s history.”

Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey MP Drew Hendry, the SNP’s shadow spokesperson on business, energy and industrial strategy, praised the ongoing success of the awards.

He said: “Tourism is such a key sector for the Highlands and Islands and awards schemes like HITA are important to help raise standards and reward excellence.

“HITA has enjoyed remarkable growth in the last three years and it is extremely encouraging that the spotlight is being shone on more of our hard working and dedicated tourism operators. I wish everyone al the best for the competition.”

HITA is regarded as one of the premier industry hospitality awards programmes in Scotland, where the tourism sector is worth more than £4.5 billion to the economy.

The awards scheme, which is held in association with SSE, is free and is open to people operating in the Highland, Moray, Orkney, Shetland, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Argyll & Bute (excluding G postcode areas) local authority areas.

Winners will receive the famous piper trophies at a ceremony in the Drumossie Hotel, Inverness, on Friday,3 November and (with the exception of the Highland Rising Star and Highland Ambassador) go on to compete at the glittering Scottish Thistle Awards next year.

NOTES TO EDITORS

HITA is an industry-led project representing all sectors of tourism. It is overseen by a voluntary board of directors and the independent judging panel is drawn from experienced industry professionals working across the region.

This year’s sponsors also include VisitScotland, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Loch Ness by Jacobite, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, System2, NorthLink Ferries, Historic Environment Scotland, Scottish Provincial Press, Inverness Hotels Association, Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd, Caledonian Sleeper, Chivas Brothers, The Highland Council, the Federation of Small Businesses, J Thomson Colour Printers, Fishers and BidFood Scotland.

www.highland-tourism-awards.co.uk
Facebook – www.facebook.com/Highlands.and.Islands.Tourism.Awards
Twitter – @HiTourismAwards

The 2017 categories are –

Best Accommodation Provider
Most Hospitable B&B/Guest House
Most Hospitable Hotel
Best Cultural Event or Festival
Best Informal Eating Experience
Best Outdoor/Adventure Experience
Best Restaurant Experience
Best Sporting Event
Best Visitor Attraction
Best Bar/Pub
Innovation in Tourism
Highland Ambassador
Highland Rising Star
Tourism & Hospitality Hero
Working Together for Tourism
Best Heritage Tourism Experience

WOMEN GOLFERS KEEN TO TEE UP AT CASTLE STUART

Castle Stuart Golf Links is flagging up a rapid response to its forthcoming Highland Ladies Open, with just a few places left in the field.

The call for entries was only made on 6 June and already the capacity of 20 teams has almost been reached, with just a few places remaining.

To book a place in the event on 17 September contact Castle Stuart on 01463 796111 or bookings@castlestuartgolf.com 

Gillian Stewart coaching

Stefanie Whyte gets coaching tips from Gillian Stewart.

This year players have the added incentive of having one of the UK’s leading golf coaches help them prepare for the competition.

Former Curtis Cup player Gillian Stewart, a four-time winner on the Ladies European Tour, is now a respected coach based at Castle Stuart and will offer some tips on the putting green to help them maximise their performance.

Stefanie Whyte, Castle Stuart’s administration and marketing manager, said: “The response to this year’s event has been amazing. Within a matter of days of launching the event we had filled half the field and the enquiries have kept coming in.

“We still have a small number of places available, but I would encourage players to book quickly.”

Castle Stuart Golf Links, which has hosted the Scottish Open four times in the last seven years, is holding the Highland Ladies Open for the third time. The event attracts golfers from across the Highlands, with players from Sutherland, Caithness, Ross-shire, Inverness, the Black Isle and Grantown already booked to compete.

They include defending champions and 2015 runners-up Linsey Munro and Jackie Philips (from Inverness Golf Club)

The competition, which uses the Stableford scoring system, is limited to 20 teams, each of two women, resident in the KW, IV or PH19–41 postcode areas.

VIDEO REVOLUTION LEADS TO MERGER AND GROWTH

Two leading communication agencies are set to merge and create the next generation of news and PR services.

System2, experts in PR, corporate intelligence, social media and communication strategies, will now also provide and use video as one of its services following the merger with strategic partner DP Digital Media.

Ian Forsyth, Peter Kane, System2

Ian Forsyth (left) and Peter Kane of System2

The move will take System2 into the top 100 PR agencies in the UK outside of London and comes amid forecasts that video will account for 80 per cent of all internet traffic by 2019.

The merger creates a joint team of eight staff, with operations in Inverness and Glasgow, and film studio facilities in Dingwall to provide a wide variety of media content.

Peter Kane, Director at System2, said: “We’re delighted to announce this growth and expansion through an equal merger of the two teams. Video and film is of vital importance and is crucial to businesses and organisations that want to engage with customers and audiences.

“The world of news, media and engaging with customers online is clearly changing. Newspapers, social media platforms and how people search out information about news and their interests continue to go in new directions. That’s why it’s important for public relations and film companies to respond and change too, as well as businesses. That’s what we’re doing, and in the process, we’ve created the next generation PR company.”

Ian Forsyth, Director at System2, said: “System2 is a new type of PR agency which delivers ‘full circle’ communications. We can identify customer targets, provide corporate intelligence, design communication strategies and deliver them through a variety of channels, ranging from news and social media through to film for multiple platforms. 

“This merger works because we have the same approach and work ethos, as well as a unique range of services.” 

Ian Forsyth, along with Peter and Suzanne Kane, are the leading directors of System2 and their combined client list includes national and international brands in golf, IT, oil and gas, aviation, healthcare, music, tourism and other sectors, with activity in the UK, Europe and the USA.