With both climate change and the recent slashing of government funding to the culture sector continuing to make the headlines, Culture & Business Scotland will be hosting a Members’ Forum focussing on how sustainability strategies can be incorporated into culture organisations.

Taking place on Thursday 26 October at the National Museum of Scotland, the Forum will unite members for a series of presentations, success stories and sustainability strategies, with the aim of fostering collaboration and initiating a dialogue around environmental issues ahead of the launch of COP28 next month.

The cross-sector event will be attended by representatives from businesses of a range of sizes and geographical backgrounds, facilitating networking opportunities as well as providing a platform for businesses to forge connections with culture sector organisations and secure creative solutions to challenges within their practices.

The event will also feature speakers from across the industry, who will be sharing insights into how sustainability can be embedded within culture organisations’ practices.

Dr Ben Twist, Director of Creative Carbon Scotland, will compare the different ways that arts councils are addressing climate change, while Scott Mackay, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Scottish Youth Film Foundation, will showcase COP TV, a project aimed at amplifying the voices of Scotland’s youth in the context of the crucial COP event.

Meanwhile Hannah Schlesinger, Director of Development & Marketing at Edinburgh Science, will discuss The NetZeroToolkit, a product of the organisation’s Climate Co-Lab initiative, designed to help businesses reduce their carbon emissions. Ruth Gill, Director of Public Programmes at National Museums Scotland, will also introduce the event and give a presentation on how the museum is progressing on its quest for Net Zero.

David Nelson, Head of Development and Programmes at Culture & Business Scotland, said: “The significance of ‘sustainability’ in the culture sector is huge. Incorporating sustainability strategies within our practices should be at the forefront of all our minds as the climate crisis worsens, and our Members’ Forum is set to create a dialogue around how best to do that.

“With funding to culture organisations under threat, it’s also crucial that we maximise opportunities to build strong and sustainable relationships between the culture and business sectors. Amongst the many benefits of membership to Culture & Business Scotland is the chance to access these networks and build innovative solutions to the challenges we’re currently facing, as an industry and as a society”.

Individuals interested in attending the Members’ Forum can find out more about Culture & Business Scotland membership here: https://www.cultureandbusiness.scot/members/.

Businesses across Caithness, Sutherland and Orkney aiming to enter the rapidly expanding offshore renewable energy sector can apply to a regional Fit For Offshore Renewables (F4OR) programme for the first time today (12th September 2023).

The industry leading F4OR supply chain growth programme will be delivered by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, and supported by £125,000 from offshore wind developer, the West of Orkney Windfarm.

F4OR Caithness, Sutherland and Orkney will provide up to seven companies with the opportunity to take part in the rigorous 12-18 month development programme, designed alongside offshore wind industry experts, and focused on improving business readiness for the offshore renewable energy market.

Davood Sabaei, F4OR Programme Manager at ORE Catapult, said: “We are excited to be launching our first ever F4OR programme in Caithness, Sutherland and Orkney, and we look forward to working alongside local companies on their journey towards success in offshore renewables. It is also fantastic to have endorsement and support from offshore wind developer, the West of Orkney Windfarm, as part of this programme.

“F4OR Caithness, Sutherland and Orkney will build on the success of five F4OR regional programmes delivered by ORE Catapult in the North East of Scotland, North East of England, East Anglia and Suffolk, alongside national programmes run across Scotland and UK-wide, with over 100 companies supported. Participating companies experience an average 28% increase in turnover, and many have gone on to secure a wide range of new contracts.”

Last year, the ScotWind leasing auction created a multi-million pound opportunity for offshore renewable energy projects around the Scottish coastline.

Stephen Kerr, West of Orkney Windfarm Project Director, said: “We’ve been engaging with businesses and organisations in Caithness, Sutherland and Orkney for a number of years, and although construction of ScotWind projects will not ramp up until the latter half of this decade, early engagement with the local supply chain is critical. Participation in this F4OR programme will equip forward-looking firms with the attributes they need to compete successfully for future contracts.

“The West of Orkney Windfarm has already committed to a £105 million investment initiative that will be enhanced to £140 million by third parties to support the offshore wind supply chain locally, in Scotland and across the UK ahead of a Final Investment Decision in 2026.”

JGC Engineering and Technical Services, based in Caithness, previously took part in a F4OR pilot programme.

Stephen Sutherland, Director of JGC, said: “JGC already had a presence in the offshore renewables market with some key industry leaders. However, as we were transitioning from existing markets into this new marketplace, we wanted to demonstrate to prospective clients we had the standards in place required to supply within these new and upcoming markets.

“For JGC, the programme did help us focus on areas we had not focused previously, which has also helped. What F4OR does is give your business a standard that you can market against within the renewables sector, giving prospective clients confidence in the standards you work to within your business.”

Applications are encouraged from established companies, with products or skills that are relevant to the offshore wind sector. To find out more information, go to F4OR and to apply, fill out an expression of interest form here: F4OR – ORE (catapult.org.uk)

Companies have until Tuesday 31 October to express their interest in taking part in F4OR Caithness, Sutherland and Orkney. The programme will start in December 2023.

  • The West of Orkney Windfarm and ORE Catapult will attend a multi-developer supply chain event at the Robert Rendall Building, Franklin Road, Stromness, Orkney from 9am on Tuesday, September 12, hosted by Orkney Islands Council.
  • On Thursday, September 14, West of Orkney Windfarm will also host a supply chain event at the Pentland Hotel in Thurso, in partnership with Caithness Chamber of Commerce where local businesses can meet members the project team.

Left to Right: Nigel Scott (Denchi Group CEO) and Emma Thomson (High Life Highland’s highlife Development Manager) shake hands at Inverness Leisure to announce corporate membership deal

Thanks to recently taking out a corporate deal, Denchi employees across the Highlands now have discounted access to all High Life Highland leisure facilities.

Emma Thomson, High Life Highland’s highlife Development Manager, said: “High Life Highland is excited to be partnering with Denchi to support the health and wellbeing of their staff by giving them access to the many leisure facilities, and hundreds of activities taking place every week across the Highlands.

“Denchi is the most recent in a growing number of Highland businesses I am working with to arrange corporate membership access for their staff. To have yet another high-profile Highland business joining our corporate membership is a brilliant step forward.

“Staff health and wellbeing is becoming one of the highest priorities for responsible employers and I’d be more than happy to have discussions about how High Life Highland can support businesses to, in turn, support their staff.

“It is important to note that High Life Highland’s corporate membership offering does have the option to include staff family members – an extra perk to ensure that staff are getting the most value out of their membership.”

Nigel Scott, Denchi Group’s CEO, added: “At Denchi, the health and wellness of employees is a high priority. We want to encourage our staff to make healthy lifestyle choices which create a positive work environment, improve morale, and keep people focused.

“Several support systems are already in place, including a ‘Wecare’ 24/7 support network giving access to GPs, mental health support, an online get-fit programme, and financial guidance support.

“Signing up to subsidise staff membership with High Life Highland – for individuals and families – is the next step in supporting staff health and wellness.

“High Life Highland has a fantastic range of sports facilities, lessons, and fitness sessions. With High Life Highland, there are additional benefits and discounts through member access to fitness facilities across Scotland and discounts to many local and national companies.

“It feels like the right thing to do for the company and its Workforce. Signing up for the corporate membership is easy and straightforward, and High Life Highland are there to help every step of the way.”

Steve Walsh, High Life Highland’s Chief Executive, concluded: “More than ever in this post-pandemic world, it is important to prioritise and look after the health and wellbeing of staff, another reason High Life Highland is delighted to have Denchi on board with the corporate membership offering.

“As a charity with the core aim of making lives better, High Life Highland hopes to see more Highland organisations signing up for corporate memberships so that their staff can take full advantage of the discounted access to leisure facilities and other benefits the highlife membership offers.”

For any businesses interested in offering their employees discounted access to all of High Life Highland’s leisure facilities, please contact Emma Thomson on the following email address: emma.thomson@highlifehighland.com

The West of Orkney Windfarm will be hosting a supply chain event in Thurso on September 14 where local businesses can meet members of the project team and learn more about how to bid successfully for future work packages.

The event, which has been organised in partnership with Caithness Chamber of Commerce, will be hosted in the Pentland Hotel

  • Jack Farnham Development Manager West of Orkney Windfarm with Trudy Morris, CEO, Caithness Chamber of Commerce at Scrabster Harbour.
    Jack Farnham Development Manager West of Orkney Windfarm with Trudy Morris, CEO, Caithness Chamber of Commerce at Scrabster Harbour.

“We would like to encourage companies from across the north of Scotland to come along to this event and engage with the West of Orkney team,” says Rob Heaton, Supply Chain and Local Content Lead.

“Although construction of the wind farm will not ramp up fully for a number of years, we believe early engagement is critical in helping local firms understand how work will be advertised and procured, and in enabling them to bid successfully for future contracts,” Rob says.

In addition to the Caithness event, the West of Orkney Windfarm will also be participating in a number of other supply chain events in Aberdeen, Inverness and Orkney this Autumn.

The West of Orkney Windfarm has already committed to a £105 million investment initiative during this initial phase of the project to develop the supply chain that will be enhanced to at least £140 million by match funding from third parties.

“We will be making announcements in the coming weeks on specific initiatives which will create opportunities for the supply chain in Scotland, and I would encourage companies to come along to one of the supply chain events to meet the team and understand more about our project,” Rob concludes.

Trudy Morris, Chief Executive, Caithness Chamber of Commerce commented:

“We are delighted to be working alongside our premier partner, West of Orkney Windfarm on this event. This early engagement offers a fantastic opportunity for our local supply chain to gear up for the work ahead.

Alongside developments for the operations and maintenance base at Scrabster, the development is expected to offer significant opportunities to local companies during both the commissioning and service of the onshore support network.

Our Chamber Supply Chain Directories encompass a wide range of businesses from engineering, construction and fabrication through to consultancy and accommodation providers, showcasing local supply chain capability and services available in the region. These are the types of services developers such as West of Orkney will require to support their projects.

The North Highland region is fundamental to Scotland’s transition to renewable power and meeting the nation’s ambitious net-zero targets. We encourage local businesses to register for the supply chain event so they can learn more about the project and see how they can get involved.”

Bookings can be made via Eventbrite here, for further information contact Fiona@caithnesschamber.com

Elaine McInroy and Coll Murchison-MacDonald, Saffery.

Saffery Champness, the accounting and advisory firm, has reached a major milestone in its more than 165 year history as it launches its refreshed brand and becomes Saffery.

Founded in 1855, Saffery is one of the oldest accounting firms in the UK to remain entirely independent, and its new brand and supporting visual identity – optimised for digital environments and experience – builds on this unparalleled heritage and positions the firm to grow and succeed alongside its clients into the future.

In Scotland Saffery has had an office in Edinburgh for 37 years and in Inverness for 43 years with a current headcount between the two locations of just over 130 partners and staff.

Over its long history the firm has been widely regarded as the pre-eminent adviser to private clients, their families and business interests – including some of the UK’s largest and most valuable landed estates. History underpins the firm’s focus on tailored solutions and client relationships that stand the test of time.

These principles have seen Saffery evolve to also become a trusted partner to creative, innovative, dynamic organisations and individuals: from the biggest film and TV productions and international talent to entrepreneurial companies, real estate businesses and charitable entities.

The updated Saffery brand epitomises this combination of deep-rooted values, agile approach, and bold spirit.

The brand also aligns the firm more closely with Nexia, a leading network of independent accounting and consulting firms of which Saffery is a founding member and leading UK firm. This reflects an increasing focus on and demand for cross-border advice and services from globally mobile and multi-jurisdictional clients.

The Saffery network of 10 offices across the UK and Ireland – which together support a team that has grown to over 1,000 people focused on the firm’s core areas of expertise including Audit & Assurance, Business Advisory, Corporate Finance, Tax, Trusts, and VAT – all adopt the new branding from today.

The firm’s independent fiduciary business, which has offerings in Guernsey, Switzerland, Dubai, and the Cayman Islands, has also rebranded as of today, moving forwards as Saffery Trust.

Complementing its new brand, today Saffery has also launched a new Employee Value Proposition, further enhancing the firm’s offering to its people and reinforcing the firm’s position as a destination-of-choice for the best talent in the market.

Elaine McInroy, Partner in the firm’s Edinburgh office said:

“This is an exciting development. The Saffery name is well established in Scotland but this is another step up as we continue to build and grow the firm’s reach and presence north of the border.”

Coll Murchison-MacDonald, Partner in the firm’s Inverness office said:

“Progress is important and the firm’s business in Inverness continues to move from strength to strength as we respond to the needs of our varied client base across the north of Scotland and beyond.”

Matthew Burton, Managing Partner of Saffery, commented:

This is a hugely exciting time for the firm. A key pillar and commitment of our 2022-2026 business plan was to seize the opportunity to revisit our brand to better reflect the modern, forward looking firm that we are. This includes our international outlook, supported by our relationship with our Nexia colleagues around the world. Launching a fresh brand, alongside our new employee value proposition, was a key strategic priority for us and I am immensely grateful to all those involved for their efforts and for delivering a brand that everyone in the firm can be proud to be part of.”

“Our history and our longevity as an independent firm is integral to our business Stretching right back to 1855 we have always focused on building long-term relationships. This means being guided by our heritage and values as we look and move forwards in a fast-changing world – which is both increasingly international and digital-first. Just as the needs of our clients and people are changing and adapting, so are we. We have achieved significant growth in recent years and our evolved business is perfectly captured and supported by our new brand. It builds on our heritage and supports our ambitions for the future.”


“Overwhelmed” and “Lost” by Artist, Barry Smith.

During September Strathnaver Museum will be hosting Australian sculptural artist and metal worker Barry Smith’s new body of work entitled ‘Betrayal and Loss’. Inspired by his visits to north Sutherland, Barry’s new exhibition is based on Donald Macleod’s Letter XI published in Gloomy Memories: The Highland Clearances of Strathnaver.

Barry is based in Maleny, Queensland and regularly spends time in north Sutherland. Taking salvaged materials and objects Barry gives them new life transforming them into artwork reflecting themes of peace, stillness, social justice and the environment.

Donald Macleod was born in the village of Rosal at the end of the 18th century and wrote a series of letters, initially published in the Edinburgh Weekly Chronicle during 1840 and 1841. His letters depicted the events he witnessed during the Strathnaver Clearances which took place from the early to mid 19th century.

During this time 1,000s of families were removed from the inland straths, to make way for more lucrative sheep farming, and allocated new lots along the coast. Rosal was one of the largest of the 49 townships cleared in Strathnaver, home to 13 families farming 50 acres of arable land. Rosal was cleared between 1814 and 1819 becoming part of what was now Rhiloisk Farm, and the tenancy held by the infamous Patrick Sellar.

Donald’s letter XI explains how some of those removed looked to take up fishing, but with no experience and often inferior equipment this was an especially perilous enterprise. In one year, he claims that ‘upwards of 100 boats’ had been destroyed along the 30 mile stretch of coast from Portskerra to Rabbit Island often with loss of life, leaving families in increasing deprivation.

Donald further explains that those obliged to take up fishing could often only afford second rate equipment, cast off as useless by experienced fishermen. Those taking up fishing having to make do and mend with whatever resources they could lay their hands on.

Donald goes on to say that although £210,000 was spent by Sutherland Estate on improvements to roads, bridges, inns and manses, this was primarily of benefit only to the gentry and clergy. Of the vast sum expended on improvements only £500 directly benefited the small tenantry through the making of a harbour.

Artist Barry Smith explains: “The exhibition is inspired by Donald Macleod’s account of the cruelty and injustice of forcing those removed during the Clearances to become fisherfolk. The works reference the hardships faced by families forced to the edges; and the great loses sustained on destructive seas along perilous rocky shores”.

Fiona Mackenzie, Strathnaver Museum Manager says: “We are delighted to host Barry’s new body of work in our recently opened Annex building. The themes Barry explores in his work relate not only to our past, exploring the hardships of our predecessors during what was a traumatic period in our history, but also to our future through his reuse and reclamation of resources. Much like our forebears had to do to survive following their removal to the coastal fringes and we now have to consider as part of the climate crisis”.

The exhibition, part of the Highlands and Islands Climate Festival, will run in Strathnaver Museum’s Annex from 1st to 30th September. Strathnaver Museum invites members of the public to an exhibition launch on 1st September from 7pm. Copies of Donald Macleod’s Gloomy Memories can be purchased from Strathnaver Museum.

Artist, Barry Smith.


Vasile Damian, new Sawmill Manager at GMG Energy.

A rapidly-expanding Highland timber products specialist has made a keystone appointment to its management team which will enable it to enhance its contribution to the sustainable trading environment of the sparsely-populated region.

Biomass supplier GMG Energy, which contributes significantly to the circular economy in the Highlands and the Northern Isles, has secured the services of a new Sawmill Manager at its eco-friendly plant in the Strath of Halladale in Sutherland.

Vasile Damian, 30, a joiner to trade and originally from Romania who has lived in Thurso for the last 17 years, will oversee the six full-time employees and production of more than 2,000 tonnes of timber a year in the £2 million turnover company, reporting to owner Malcolm Morrison.

He will also be responsible for the successful operation of a massive solar array on the roof of its production facility which recently was installed at a cost of £100,000 to reduce GMG’s dependence on expensive and polluting diesel generators for its energy-intensive activities.

The former foreman at Caithness- and Inverness-based windows, doors and kit homes specialist Norscot, said: “I am pleased to be joining GMG at a time when Malcolm is looking to upgrade and extend our product range.

“With our solar panels in place, our sawmill moving to optimum capacity, such that we will shortly see sawdust being used for brickettes, and our bio mass machine becoming fully functional, we will soon see the business becoming as self-sufficient as possible. That is the ultimate goal.

“We have invested recently also in new machinery to make more upmarket consumer-friendly wood products such as garden offices, cabins, pods and staircases which will use pine wood. Currently, we are only able to use spruce for outside products like fencing, posts and pallets.

“No one else in our locality is doing what we are doing so there is a lot of opportunity for the business. Our goal is to make the Caithness region aware of us and to opt for our locally manufactured, rather than shipped-in, products. We have just launched our online shop too, so it’s certainly an exciting time to be working at GMG Energy.”

Malcolm Morrison, Director of GMG Energy, said: “Everyone in the team is delighted that we have been able to attract a manager of such proven calibre. Vasile is very knowledgeable; he is attuned to the peculiarities of the area and he is very intuitive.

“At a time when we have been investing so substantially, he is taking on a great responsibility and we are sure he will rise to the challenge of making the company even greener and more environmentally sensitive than it already is.

“Vasile will be instrumental in driving towards our stated aim of ending fossil fuel consumption and becoming reliant on solar for 100% of our energy needs.”

As well as the solar array, GMG has invested £150,000 in state-of-the-art sawmill equipment which takes its larger timber and processes it into posts, rail, cladding and purlins, or structural roof members.

It has also recently spent in the region of £100,000 on timber treatment equipment which will open up new markets among construction companies and farm businesses which require treated and stress-tested products.

The resource-rich company last year completed strategic purchase of a substantial swathe of forest in the far north-east to protect future supply and increase its resilience to market shocks. The forest contains 21,000 tonnes of productive timber, very roughly equivalent to 90,000 tree-sized logs.

As a major plank of its business model, the company is committed to replacing every log of timber that it uses, and plants 10,000 new trees a year, which grow to maturity in 35 years. It far exceeded this target in 2021, planting in the region of 20,000 trees.


The Supplier Development Programme (SDP) will hold the sixth annual Meet the Buyer North event on Tuesday, 12 September as an in-person event at the Music Halls in Aberdeen.

Partnered by the Scottish Government and the Commercial and Procurement Shared Services, this free event will allow local businesses based in Moray, Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen City, Highland, Orkney Islands, Western Isles, and Shetland Islands Councils to connect directly with the public sector to learn about upcoming contracts and opportunities worth £14.5bn in Scotland.

Gillian Cameron, Programme Manager, Supplier Development Programme, said:

“Now in its 6th Year, Meet the Buyer North is an unmissable opportunity for businesses of all sizes to meet buyers and decision makers from across the public and private sectors.

“This is the first time we have held the event in Aberdeen, and the Supplier Development Programme is delighted to be partnering with the Commercial & Procurement Shared Services (CPSS) representing Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Highland Councils, Scottish Government, and our local authority partners to support more local businesses to find, win and keep public sector contracts at Meet the Buyer North.

Fiona Conti, Chair of the Supplier Development Programme and Strategic Procurement Manager at Commercial & Procurement Shared Services (CPSS), said:

“We are delighted to be hosting this year’s Meet the Buyer North event and this is your opportunity as a local/ regional business or social enterprise to meet with us, so that when we are looking for goods, services, or works we have a better understanding of who is out there”.

“There are fantastic benefits to having a public sector buyer as a customer for small businesses, including getting paid within 30 days as a legal maximum, which offers cashflow they can count on.”

On the day, suppliers will have the opportunity to listen to presentations on a wide range of topics that offer opportunities to grow and support their business or social enterprise.

This action-packed agenda will include Richard Lochhead MSP, Minister for Small Business, Innovation, Tourism and Trade, delivering the Ministerial Address, and joining an open panel Question and Answer session, which will include representation from Scottish Government, the Commercial & Procurement Shared Services and SDP offering SMEs, Social Enterprises and Third Sector Organisations a forum to talk all things procurement, so get your questions ready for this interactive session.

In addition to exhibitors from the Scottish Government, Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council and Highland Council, other confirmed public sector exhibitors include buyers from Moray Council, Historic Environment Scotland, and Scottish Procurement Alliance.

Corporate members, Balfour Beatty Construction and Robertson Facilities Management will also be exhibiting on the day to engage suppliers in the North of Scotland and discuss the range of projects they have in their pipeline and upcoming supply chain opportunities.

More than 550 people have already registered to attend Meet the Buyer North 2023 on 12 September. Have you? It is a must-attend event for businesses of all sizes based in the North of Scotland.

Businesses must register for free tickets in advance via www.sdpscotland.co.uk.

Eastern Airways announce two fantastic offers on the Wick/John O’Groats-Aberdeen air service.

Students baggage offer 

Moving away for studies can be a stressful time for all, especially with all of that luggage!

Eastern Airways are helping all students this September using our Wick – Aberdeen and Newquay – London Gatwick routes by offering a FREE upgrade on baggage allowances.

Kids fly free this October between Wick and Aberdeen!

Make memories this half term and let Eastern Airways take the whole family away for less. Receive one free child ticket with each adult booking between Wick and Aberdeen.

Take in the city delights as a family, or make the most of a rural getaway.

Booking should be made with Easter Airways directly by calling: 01652 680600