Kelvingrove Bandstand re-opens

May 29, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Ed and Ruth Gillatt with the re-furbished Kelvingrove Bandstand behind them.

Ed and Ruth Gillatt with the re-furbished Kelvingrove Bandstand behind them.

Kelvingrove Bandstand re-opened today to the sound of music.  And the people who had campaigned since 1992 to keep it, were pleased.

Ed Gillatt one of the leaders of the original ‘Save Our Bandstand’ which became ‘Friends of Kelvingrove Park’ said: ‘The Council was going to demolish it and let a developer build a pub. But it was worth saving. I’m delighted it is now up and running again. They’ve done a great job.’

Added Abdul Khan who led the legal battle all the way to the Court of Session: ‘This is a public park for everyone. It’s not a place to drink.’

Following the formal cutting of the ribbon ceremony by Lord Provost Sadie Docherty, former Councillor Pat Chalmers MBE, who now chairs the Board of Glasgow Building  Preservation Trust which led in the £2.2 million re-furbishment of the amphitheatre, praised the campaigners. She said: ‘The Friends of Kelvingrove Park gathered the community around this project. They’ll think it ironic they are mentioned here today. But they are to be congratulated. Their voices were crying in the wilderness for a long time but now they have achieved their vision.’

She thanked all the key partners in the project and presented gifts to representatives including four apprentices: Robert McGowan, Christopher Tennent, Jamie Ramsey and Adam Forteath.

Apprentices Robert, Christopher, Jamie and Adam with their presentations.

Apprentices Robert, Christopher, Jamie and Adam with their presentations.

Said Robert, a bricklayer: ‘It’s a good outcome. It makes me realise how things are always changing.’ Added Adam, a metal worker: ‘An Hop, the company I work for, restored all the metal work including the railings round. It looks pretty good!’ Jamie, a joiner, said: ‘This was interesting to do and different from normal.’

The only discordant note came from wheelchair musician Maki Yamazaki. A baritone horn player who was one of the Brass, Aye? group which played as the audience assembled, said said: ‘I was really glad they’ve made the stage accessible (with a hoist lift). There is not bad access from Kelvin Way down to the stage though it is a fairly steep slope. But there are only steps in the amphitheatre, no ramps. I’d like to be included in the audience not sitting in front of my friends as I have to do.’

Maki cannot sit beside any friends because her wheelchair will block a passageway.

Maki cannot sit beside any friends because her wheelchair will block a passageway.

A spokesperson for the project said that space for wheelchairs and baby buggies had been included at the entrance from Kelvin Way.  ‘They can get a very good view from here,’ said the spokesperson.’  Anyone in a wheelchair would then be sitting behind any friends who would be seated on the wooden benches in front of the space.

After the formal opening,  musicians from Hillhead Secondary School and Glasgow Gaelic School entertained the crowd.

Three of the four accordionists from the Glasgow Gaelic School with, behind them on stage, the fiddler players from the School

Three of the four accordionists from the Glasgow Gaelic School with, behind them on stage, the fiddle players from the School

The Bandstand will be used to show the opening and closing ceremonies of the Commonwealth Games in July on big screens. It is understood tickets will be available for those events but they will not be free.





The art of welcome by children

May 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Children aged between 8 and 12 are invited to create their own WELCOME art work to celebrate the Commonwealth Games.   Organised by Global Minorities Alliance (GMA), the organisation which campaigns for persecuted minorities of any denomination anywhere in the world, the art workshop will be held in the Crypt Cafe of Wellington Church on University Avenue G12 on Saturday 7 June from 10am till 4pm.  Book via GMA email:   The children’s creations will be on display in Glasgow University memorial chapel during the Games in July.

Have a look, too, at the latest blog by GMA Vice Chair Shahid Khan on the plight of  Aasia Bibi in Pakistan.  The mother of five was sentenced to death in June 2009 convicted of blasphemy after a heated argument.

Poster for the Art Worshop on Saturday 7 June.

Poster for the Art Worshop on Saturday 7 June.

Much of the Mackintosh saved

May 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The blaze early in the afternoon.

The blaze early in the afternoon.

Firefighters’ efforts have saved 90% of the Glasgow School of Art and up to 70 % of the contents – including students’ work – it was stated tonight while the building still smouldered after a major fire which started around 12.30pm.
The unique building was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and has been a world attraction as well as a working School of Art since 1845.
In a release from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Assistant Chief Officer Dave Boyle said: ‘Crews have been working absolutely flat out during this very challenging incident and it is clear their effort and skill has saved this treasured building and many of the items it housed.’
The building was busy with students meeting today’s deadline to hand in work for their final degree shows. Everyone exited quickly and no one was injured.
Said ACO Boyle:‘The priority from the outset was to save life. But we worked closely with Glasgow School of Art staff to ensure firefighters conducted an effective salvage operation.
‘We are very conscious the Macintosh is a world renowned building that is a key feature of this great city, and that the artworks it stores are not only valuable but also cherished.
“We are acutely aware this period is the culmination of years of endeavour for students and that their irreplaceable work is inside the Mackintosh.
“Work to save everything that can be saved is ongoing and we will continue to work closely with GSA staff and students throughout this operation.’
A spokesperson for Glasgow School of Art added: ‘We would like to express our very sincere thanks to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service for their tremendous efforts throughout today.’

Mackintosh building's charred roof visible beyond the (green) £50 million Seona Reid Building across the street, which won the AJ100 Building of the Year Award 2014 only hours before the fire started.

Mackintosh building’s charred roof visible beyond the (green) £50 million Seona Reid Art School base  opposite, which won the AJ100 Building of the Year Award 2014 only hours before the fire started.

Still smouldering at 8pm

Still smouldering at 8pm

Fire destroys Glasgow School of Art masterpiece

May 23, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Fire has destroyed Glasgow’s unique School of Art designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

A projector in the basement  exploded around 12.30 today and the masterpiece was set ablaze.  Firefighters were still dousing the fire at 6pm and were expected to be on site for hours after that with three aerial rescue pumps in use.

Appliances from across Glasgow and West Central Scotland were at the scene within four minutes of the first 999 call. Search and rescue teams entered the building wearing breathing apparatus and led a number of people to safety. But no one was injured.

Said Chief Officer Alasdair Hay: ‘This is likely to be a protracted incident and crews have been working extremely hard to tackle what is clearly a very significant fire.  The priority throughout this operation has been to protect life but salvage operations are also underway.’

Neil Baxter, Secretary of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland said: ‘This is the loss of a dear friend. It is desperate. People have been crying in the streets of Glasgow and throughout the world. The loss is beyond belief.’

Muriel Gray, chairman of the Board of Directors of the School said: ‘This is a double blow and couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Today was the last day for students to hand in work for their degree shows. While it is a nightmare and there are a lot of very upset people here, everyone is incredibly supportive.’

Just hours before, the new £50 million Seona Reid Building across the street, won the AJ100 Building of the Year Award 2014. The unanimous choice of the judges, The Steven Holl designed building was recognised as the finest to be completed by any of the UK’s top 100 practices during the past year.

Stuart Robertson, Director of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society  said the blaze and the loss of the building and its contents was ‘a human tragedy.’

Tartan gifts win Lochend the title

April 9, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The winning team in tartan -from left: -Heather Kerr(Link Teacher), Jacqueline Garden, Thomas Deans, Lauren Scally, Christina McIntyre, Natalie Brewer, Kayleigh Murray, Luke Dawson, Chloe Kay, Emma Montgomery, Stevi-Lee Rennie, Amy Maguire, Allison Burnett (Link Teacher), Alan Taylor (Business Advisor)

The winning team in tartan -from left: -Heather Kerr(Link Teacher), Jacqueline Garden, Thomas Deans, Lauren Scally, Christina McIntyre, Natalie Brewer, Kayleigh Murray, Luke Dawson, Chloe Kay, Emma Montgomery, Stevi-Lee Rennie, Amy Maguire, Allison Burnett (Link Teacher), Alan Taylor (Business Advisor)

Lochend Community High School won the Glasgow final of the Young Enterprise Scotland (YES) Company Programme with their company called LÙTH producing candles decorated with tartan.

Said LÙTH managing director – pupil Stevi-Lee Rennie- : ‘We are proud of our company and proud of our journey. We’ve come so far in a short period of time and have learned so much. We’ve made friends for life and memories to treasure. This is an experience none of us will forget.’

In the competition, senior school pupils work with a teacher and a business volunteer to set up and run their own business. The LÙTH business advisor was Alan Taylor, general manager at Holiday Inn Glasgow Theatreland. He said: Congratulations to the team – and link teachers Allison Burnett and Heather Kerr. I’m delighted for them. They put a lot of time and effort into their impressive presentation of their range of scented Weegie Candles presented in jars with tartan ribbon.’

Providing training and practical learning experiences to young people of all backgrounds, across Scotland, the YES Company Programme gives them a true understanding of how a business works and how wealth and employment are created.

Participants gain experience of marketing, financial management, sales, customer care and human resources, as well as practical experience of the market, supply and demand, raising finance, cost, price, profit and competition.

Lochend now go forward to the finals in June.

Opening blow-down leading to bust-up

April 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The last blow-down at Red Road.

The last blow-down at Red Road.

An explosive launch to the Commonwealth Games has brought more fireworks with it.

The Red Road tower blocks in Sighthill will be demolished LIVE during the opening ceremony and seen by 1.5 billion people around the world. Those in Celtic Park, where the opening ceremony will take place, will see the blow-down on the enormous 100 metre-wide screen which will occupy the entire south stand.

Eileen Gallagher Chair of the Ceremonies, Culture and the Queen’s Baton Relay Committee: ‘By sharing the final moments of the Red Road flats with the world as part of the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games,  Glasgow is proving it is a city that is proud of its history but doesn’t stand still. Glasgow’s story is always one of its people; their tenacity, their genuine warmth, their ambitions. Marking the end of Red Road is very much a celebration of all of those things.’

Commented Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council: ‘The opening ceremony will be a ceremony like no other, showcasing our city’s unique style and personality and with our people and communities at its very heart. We are going to wow the world, with the demolition of the Red Road flats set to play a starring role. Their demolition will all but mark the end of high-rise living in the area and is symbolic of the changing face of Glasgow, not least in terms of our preparations for the Games.’

Gone! in seconds.

Gone! in seconds.

Gordon Sloan, Chairman of Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) said: ‘The Red Road flats were very popular in their day and hold a special place in many people’s hearts. But they are no longer viable as modern homes and GHA made the decision to demolish them as part of the wider regeneration of the North of Glasgow. We will bring them down in strictly controlled conditions with the expertise of our contractor Safedem, during the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony.’

David Zolkwer, Head of Ceremonies & Artistic Director for Glasgow 2014 said: ‘By sharing the blow-down with the rest of the world, I hope it will be seen as the noble, respectful and celebratory send-off that it is intended to be.’

Shona Robison, Minister for the Commonwealth Games said: ‘This spectacular start to the Games within the opening ceremony will send a strong signal about the power of the Commonwealth Games. For many people, these Games are more than sport. They are the chance for regeneration, renewal and having better places to live and work.’

But Neil Baxter,  secretary of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, said: ‘It’s the oddest thing. They will knock down five blocks but leave one which houses asylum seekers. What does that say?’

The Red Road flats were ‘a place of despair’ and should never have been built, said Robina Qureshi, Director of the charity Positive Action in Housing (PAiH) ‘Through our work we have regularly visited refugee and asylum seeker families and seen the misery for everyone. This is where the Sehryk family committed suicide from the balcony of their 15th floor flat on the day they were to be made destitute by the UK Borders Agency. The windows all had so-called suicide prevention netting but they managed to tear it away. Those flats were not meant for human beings, they were just great big filing cabinets of humans living in misery or despair.

‘Before the demolition programme the Council tried to market them to university students, then professionals, but it didn’t work. No one wanted to stay there. And I guess that’s how the planners wanted it.

Local children plant trees to regenerate the area adjacent to the Red Road flats to be demolished at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony.

Local children plant trees to regenerate the area adjacent to the Red Road flats to be demolished at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony.

‘Then thousands of asylum seekers came in from war torn countries like Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan in 2001 as part of a five year contract between the Council and the Home Office. They had no choice in housing.  Red Road was one of the places where they were effectively dumped out of the way while Glasgow City Council collected the council tax payments and rent from Westminster.

‘What is ironic is that the Commonwealth Committee in Glasgow denied asylum seekers the right to volunteer for the games.’

She went on: ‘For the Olympic games, they light a torch. Here in Glasgow, they celebrate the start of the Commonwealth Games by blowing up the Red Road flats. It is highly insensitive and jars with the senses.

‘Sports men and women in the Commonwealth Games may well be claiming asylum here because of the threat of torture or denial of certain freedoms in their own countries. The Commonwealth Committee clearly thinks it’s a great idea to blow up the high flats but has no concept of the misery the Red Road flats caused to thousands of people from Glasgow and across the world. No change there then.’




Trained midwives follow from the birth of a nation

April 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Professor Barbara Parfitt (centre) with four of her 178 Bangladeshi 'daughters.'

Professor Barbara Parfitt (centre) with four of her 178 Bangladeshi ‘daughters’ who are continuing their B.Sc Nursing Studies at Glasgow Caledonian University. The nurses are from left:  Popi Rani Bhowmik, Royeya Akter Bristy, Rafiqun Nesa, Satu Mondal.

A woman with ‘178 daughters’ was an honoured guest at the Bangladesh Independence Celebration in Glasgow on Sunday 30 March.

Professor Barbara Parfitt who set up and was first Principal of the Grameen Caledonian College of Nursing told the happy, national, gathering: ‘I had four wonderful years in Bangladesh. Now I feel I have 178 daughters – the students who have worked so hard and graduated from the College.  They will help reduce child mortality and maternal mortality.’

She was accompanied by four of the College’s graduates who are studying, now, for their B.Sc in Nursing Studies at Glasgow Caledonian University.  (see photograph)

Aged 22, Popi Bhowmik was one of the four at the celebration evening.  She told this website: ‘After three years of study I know I am a totally responsible person. I have the patient’s life in my hand. They depend on me. I am very proud to be a nurse.’ She admits she was scared delivering her first baby at 3am with no doctor around. ‘But the mother was happy and the baby boy was healthy so I was happy.’ Popi’s dream it to ‘learn more’ and ‘reach the top of nursing.’

The University, in partnership with the Grameen Healthcare Trust, established the College of Nursing in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, in 2010.

Led by Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Laureate and Chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian University, the Grameen Caledonian College of Nursing’s aim is to establish a nationally and internationally recognised institution for nursing and midwifery education in Bangladesh.  Professor Parfitt was Professor and Dean of the School of Nursing and Midwifery and Community Health at Glasgow Caledonian University from 1995 till 2007 when she was appointed Director of the Caledonian Centre for Global Health. In that year she was also awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Honours List for services to international health development. She set up the College from scratch and became first Principal.

Two groups of young women have now graduated. ‘They are girls from poor backgrounds who are daughters of Grameen Bank borrowers,’ explained Professor Parfitt. ‘They borrow from the Bank and study for three years. Every one of the first group had offers of jobs before they finished their degree. They will pay back their loan over an agreed period as they earn. Without this education and training they would have married young, had children and continued in the cycle of poverty. But now they are able to break that cycle not only for themselves but also for the country while improving the health of other women and children.’

The 43rd Independence celebration showed a moving account of the fierce war in 1971 with what is now Pakistan. An estimated 3 million people died before Independence was declared. Speaker Dr Zasheem Ahmed, who is an Economist and Endowed Professor at Caledonian University, spoke eloquently of ‘my people who sacrificed their lives so that we could live in peace. We must honour them.’

He said he was proud of what Bangladesh had achieved since Independence. ‘We see economic growth thanks to things like the Grameen Bank – founded by Bangladeshi national, Professor Yunus and recognised world wide -  and the College of Nursing.’

Economist Dr Zasheem Ahmed and Bailie  Phil Greene

Economist Dr Zasheem Ahmed and Bailie Phil Greene

Bailie Phil Greene from Glasgow City Council, extended greetings on behalf of the City’s Lord Provost.  He reflected on his visit by ship to what was East and West Pakistan before Bangladesh’s Independence. ‘It took three weeks to sail from West to East. I couldn’t understand how that was supposed to be the same country, being so far apart.’ As an SNP Councillor, he said he hoped to be able to invite everyone to a celebration of Scottish Independence after September.

The cultural programme for the evening had been organised by Dr Alvis Atique, who has recently gained her PhD in Civil Engineering from Strathclyde University while raising two young children.  She sang and played the harmonium, others danced and sang and presented a fashion show. Children also performed to the delight of the audience.  The event finished with a grand dinner.


Music and memories of Mandela launch Aye Write! book festival

April 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Performer Marah Louw and Brian Filling who both lead in the 'Glasgow Celebrates Mandela' event at Aye Write! festival.

Performer Marah Louw and Anti – Apartheid champion Brian Filling who both lead in the ‘Glasgow Celebrates Mandela’ event at Aye Write! festival which takes place in the Mitchell Library, behind them.

Marah Louw, the singing sensation who famously danced with Nelson Mandela when he received the Freedom of the City in 1993, will sing in Glasgow again on Friday 4 April, at the start of Aye Write! book festival.

Marah – a former judge on South Africa’s Pop Idol – will perform at the ‘Glasgow Celebrates Mandela’ event in Mitchell Library. Chairing the evening will be Brian Filling, Chairman of the Scottish Anti-Apartheid Movement and now Honorary Consul for South Africa.

Said Marah: ‘That event in George Square in 1993 was a turning point in my life and career as an artist. The invitation from Brian Filling and the Anti-Apartheid organisation to come to Glasgow and perform in front of thousands of Glasgow people was a huge honour. The crowds were happy and excited at seeing Mandela for the first time. For me to have been part of that historic moment has been priceless.

“People standing in the rain, cheering, touching him, touching me, was magical. Not a lot of artists from my country have had that opportunity. I kept pinching myself in disbelief that I was on the same stage with this great man. I felt blessed, I still feel blessed.’

Nelson Mandela – South Africa’s first democratically elected president – died last year aged 95. Marah shared special moments with her country’s leader, including performing at his freedom concert at London’s Wembley Stadium, as well as his Presidential inauguration in 1994.

The singer will share her memories of her time with Mandela, as well as her affection for Glasgow, with the Aye Write! audience.

Marah said: ‘I’m filled with mixed emotions of remembrance, sadness and the humble responsibility of keeping the memory and legacy of Tata Nelson Mandela alive. I also feel joy. My reason for joy is that I am honoured to take part and be able to come to Glasgow and celebrate the memory of Tata Nelson Madiba Mandela.  I just love Glasgow, the warmth and hospitality of the Scottish people is amazing. The audience at our Celebrating Mandela event can expect to be entertained with some of the music that Madiba used to enjoy and which I always had the opportunity to perform in his presence.”

Scottish Anti-Apartheid activist Brian Filling campaigned for Mandela’s release from prison and became firm friends with Madiba. He was a guest at Mandela’s inauguration in 1994.

Brian will also share some of his memories with the audience. He said: ‘Nelson Mandela was well aware of the support he had in Glasgow before arriving in 1993 and he went on to have a special relationship with the city. I met with him a number of times after his visit and he always expressed his thanks for that support.

‘I’m delighted Marah will be joining us at Aye Write! on Friday. She’s a very good entertainer and I’m sure the audience will have an enjoyable night.’

Scottish hip-hop group Stanley Odd will also be appearing at Glasgow Celebrates Mandela, adding a whole new dimension to the event. The group has been commissioned to produce a song on Mandela’s life and achievements and will perform the track live for the first time at the evening event. There are still a few tickets left for this event.

Aye Write, Glasgow’s book festival, runs from Friday 4 April till Saturday 12 April. It will bring more than 150 famous authors and speakers to the city for a huge celebration of books and writing.

For the full programme of events see:

Tickets can be bought via the website, by calling 0141 353 8000, or in person at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow.




Residents’ to quiz Network Rail on Queen Street Station plans

April 1, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

 Network Rail intends to redevelop Queen Street Station.  Because of concerns expressed by local residents and surrounding businesses, a Network Rail presentation will take place in Glasgow City Chambers on Tuesday 15 April at 7 pm.  This will be hosted by the Merchant City and  Trongate Community Council.
Said Gerald Hirst, the Community Council Treasurer: ‘This promises to be an interesting event. The proposal

impacts on our built environment. There are possible temporary effects on vehicular and pedestrian circulation during the period. Network Rail are seeking input from and dialogue with, affected residents.’

On balance – kids’ programme wins

March 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 


Balanceability Coach Scott Cowan  with four -year-old Max Nelson, Emma Clancy and  Junior Nelson  at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in the Emirates Arena. Photograph: Ian Watson :

Balanceability Coach Scott Cowan with four -year-old Max Nelson, Emma Clancy and Junior Nelson at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in the Emirates Arena.
Photograph: Ian Watson :

London Road Nursery children had their first experience of a Glasgow Life Balanceability class in the inspirational Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, this week.

The tiny tots learned to use the latest pedal-less bikes. Balanceability is a ‘learn to cycle’ programme, designed for children under 6. It is the first step in learning the balance, co-ordination and stability needed to ride a bike. By learning these core skills it is hoped that the youngsters will learn to ride a bike in future and be inspired to continue to lead healthy and active lives.

Already, the legacy is evident. A number of the children in the programme have started to access other physical opportunities at the Emirates Arena including mini kickers football and gymnastics.

Parents and Glasgow Life staff also benefit from the Balanceability class. Around 85% of the parents had never been to the Emirates Arena till their child was enrolled at the Balanceability class. To keep parents and children coming back, incentives are offered: as a tour of the Emirates Arena; a Glasgow Club gym session or a chance to watch Glasgow Rocks – the professional basketball team which plays at the world class stadium.

Ten Glasgow Life staff members have been trained to teach the Balanceability programme in the Emirates Arena. Another 14 are doing the same across the city.

Councillor Archie Graham, Chair of Glasgow Life and Executive Committee Member for the Commonwealth Games, said: ‘Programmes like these create a legacy from the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Local people are encouraged to use our world-class facilities and future generations are inspired to get active and learn core skills.’

Scott Cowan, Glasgow Life Balanceability coach, said: ‘You can see the kids progress every week. Within a couple of classes they are so excited they don’t want the session to end. Learning to ride a bike here is something they will never forget.  I am very proud to be part of that.’

Wendy McLauchlan, London Road Nursery staff member, said: ‘We have seen our kids flourish due to the staff’s excellent approach. Some children who were wary in week one, now confidently participate.’




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