21 Gun Salute
June began with a visit to Edinburgh Castle to take part in celebrations for the 60th Anniversary of the Coronation of Her Majesty the Queen. My hosts were the Highland Reserve Forces and Cadets Association, and it was a chance to learn more about the many opportunities the Reserves can open up for local people. The 21 gun salute at the Castle was a spectacular way to mark a remarkable royal milestone.
While in the capital I was also able to join the Italian Consul General and members of the Scottish-Italian community at an event at the City Chambers to mark Italy’s National Day. It was great to represent Stirling at this enjoyable gathering, and to be part of an event designed to say thank you to Italian friends and colleagues for their important contribution to our arts, culture and economy.
Raploch Campus on Tuesday evening was the venue for a vibrant celebration of all things volunteering with the annual Volunteer of the Year Awards. The event was arranged by Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise, and I was honoured to present the winners with their prizes in categories ranging from Young Volunteer Team to Volunteer Team of the Year. Many of those present have been donating their time, energy and enthusiasm to help others for decades, and it was brilliant to see them centre stage to receive thanks from an entire community for their dedication and commitment. In my welcome speech I thanked each and every one of the Stirling area’s 28,000 volunteers.
Bloody Scotland: a dead good book festival
If last year’s inaugural Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival was brilliant, this year’s follow-up is shaping up to be off-the-scale! I was invited to the programme launch at Deanston Distillery along with representatives from sponsor Mazars and authors Alex Gray and Christopher Brookmyre.
This September Stirling will host some truly outstanding international writing talent, with the US’s Lee Childs and master of the murder-strewn Nordic blockbuster Jo Nesbo jetting in to join home-grown big names including Mark Billingham, Val McDermid, Stuart MacBride, William McIllvanney, Louise
Welsh and Denise Mina. If you’d like to hear these writers talk about their craft, and maybe learn more about writing noir, police procedurals, spy thrillers and other kinds of crime novels yourself, better book now!
Go to the official Bloody Scotland Website
Down on the Farm
On Saturday I joined a huge crowd from across our rural community at the Stirling Agricultural Show, this year held at Blackgrange Farm on the road to Alloa. Once again I was on prize-giving duty, and awarded certificates to some of the very best specimens on display – including the best ‘beef pair’ of equal-sized bull and cow! Locals and visitors from across Scotland all had a great time, and the successful event underlines the enduring importance of agriculture to the Stirling economy.