Thursday, 17 April 2014

Stars take to home-town stage for Gerry Rafferty tribute

A star-studded line-up led a powerful musical tribute to Paisley songwriting legend Gerry Rafferty during a unique event to honour the singer in his home town.

Paisley Town Hall provided a spectacular setting as a spellbound capacity crowd was treated to an evening of Gerry’s greatest hits by his family, friends and fans.

The show – on what would have been Gerry’s 67th birthday - was directed and compered by his lifelong friend and collaborator Rab Noakes.

Featured artists Barbara Dickson, Roddy Hart, Emma Pollock and Siobhan Wilson all took turns as the lead singer, with Gerry’s daughter Martha and other family members providing backing vocals on various songs.

A 24-piece orchestra made up by members of the RSNO added an extra musical layer as songs spanning Gerry’s career – from his early Humblebums days through to his million-selling solo work - were reworked.

The concert opened with the aptly-titled New Street Blues – inspired by his home town – with international hit such as Baker Street and Right Down the Line following.

Between songs, artists talked of how Gerry’s work had helped inspire theirs, with Rab Noakes adding a personal touch with the tale of how the pair had first met as up-and-coming musicians – introduced by Billy Connolly – back in 1969.

The concert was the centrepiece of a week-long festival of music at various venues in Paisley, all inspired by Gerry’s songwriting legacy.

It was timed to take place alongside an exhibition into his life and work, which will run at Paisley Museum until 18 May.

The Renfrewshire-Council-supported-festival will close on Saturday with a Celebration of Scottish Songwriting Show in Paisley Town Hall featuring Midge Ure, James Grant, Hamish Stuart, Karine Polwart and more.

Each artist will perform some of their own songs, plus other material from their favourite Scottish performers.

The remaining tickets for that show are available on a buy-one-get-one-free basis from or by calling 0300 300 1210. They will also be available on the door at Paisley Town Hall from 5.30pm on Saturday.

Renfrewshire’s Provost Anne Hall – who hosted a short reception for artists and guests in the town hall after the show – said: “It was a wonderful occasion and there could be no more fitting setting for this concert than here in Gerry’s home town.

“This was a great way for the people of Paisley to celebrate the life and work of one of the town’s greatest sons.

“We are very proud of the town’s cultural and musical heritage and Gerry’s work takes its place at the forefront of that tradition.”

The event is being organised by Renfrewshire Council, with support from Homecoming Scotland, Creative Scotland and the Rafferty family.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014


The Look Up Paisley phone app offers pictures and audio from ten important heritage sites around the town for residents and visitors alike.

The sites featured are – Paisley Abbey, town hall, the Russell Institute, the arts centre, the snail in a bottle site, the museum and library, Coats Memorial Church, the grand fountain, Sma’ Shot Cottages and Paisley Cross.

The free-to-download app has been available in iPhone format for a couple of months, but has now been released for Android users too.

App users will find each site has accompanying audio footage telling the story of the building’s history – meaning the user is talked through the town’s hidden secrets, such as the network of tunnels that form the Abbey Drains.

Many of the audio clips are voiced by staff and volunteers from tourist sites and by local residents.

To launch the app, Councillors Terry Kelly and Bill Brown, Convener and Deputy Convener of the council’s Planning and Property Board, were joined by Sma Shot Cottage volunteers June Kennedy and Cath Mitchell, and by the Abbey’s David Goldie.

Councillor Kelly said: “Paisley has a superb architectural heritage – the town centre has the second-highest concentration of listed buildings of anywhere in Scotland, behind only Edinburgh.

“This phone app is a handy guide to the pick of those buildings which will be of interest and use to residents and tourists alike.

“The Look Up Paisley name is a fitting one – because people have to literally look up when walking around the town to get the best view of the stunning detail and architectural treasures you may miss if only looking at eye-level.

“The council has big plans to use Paisley’s considerable heritage appeal to drive the regeneration of the town and boost tourism – and this phone app is another way for people to fully appreciate the value of what we have here.”

To download the app, visit the Apple store or Google Play store on your smartphone (assuming device is compatible) and download it from there.
History-lovers are being encouraged to be a tourist in their own town thanks to a new mobile phone app which acts as a virtual guide to Paisley’s best buildings.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Bring It All Home Exhibition

Gerry Rafferty exhibition set to open its doors

A unique exhibition showcasing the life and work of one of Scotland’s greatest-ever songwriters – Gerry Rafferty – is opening its doors in his home town of Paisley.

Bring it all Home: The Exhibition will feature items from Gerry’s career – from gold discs and guitars to hand-written lyrics to his biggest hits.

The exhibition is expected to attract interest from around the UK and abroad, given the worldwide fanbase of the man best-known for iconic songs such as Baker Street and Stuck in the Middle With You.

Many of the personal artefacts have been loaned to Paisley Museum by Gerry’s daughter Martha, who helped curate the exhibition in her father’s memory.

Also on show will be original artwork from Gerry’s close friend and fellow Paisley Buddie John Byrne, who designed many of his album covers – while work by the artist from Renfrewshire Council’s own collection will also feature.

The free-to-enter exhibition will run at Paisley Museum from 7 March until 18 May and will coincide with an eight-day music festival in the town in April inspired by Gerry’s legacy.

Martha Rafferty said: "My father's home town meant a huge deal to him and helped inspire a lot of his work, so it is fitting to be able to hold this event here in Paisley.

"There remains a huge deal of interest in his music from his fanbase throughout the UK and abroad - and I hope they will find plenty to interest them in the exhibition."

Bring it all Home is being organised and promoted by Renfrewshire Council and is taking place as part of Scotland’s Year of the Homecoming 2014.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan added: “Bring it all Home is a celebration of the life and work of one of Paisley’s best-loved sons.

“We are delighted to be able to host the exhibition and festival and are ready to welcome the visitors we expect them to attract. We would also like to thank Martha Rafferty and John Byrne for their generous contribution to the event.”

Bring it all Home: The Festival takes place from 11 to 19 April and includes a star-studded celebration of Gerry’s music featuring Martha and many of his friends from the music world, such as Rab Noakes, Barbara Dickson and Eddi Reader.

The gig – due to take place in Paisley Town Hall on Wednesday 16 April – sold out within three hours of going on sale last month.

The festival will also include appearances from Hamish Stuart (Average White Band), Midge Ure, James Grant, Karine Polwart and Kathryn Williams as well as an international concert and a series of free songwriting masterclasses.

For more information and tickets, visit

Bring it all Home is supported by Renfrewshire Council, Homecoming Scotland, Creative Scotland, and the Rafferty family.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

20 Jan. 14 | PRESS RELEASE


Young children and their parents are invited to climb on board the PlayTalkRead buses ‘Bessie’ & ‘Benji’ as they visit Renfrewshire.

Designed to help encourage parents and carers to play, talk and read with their little ones, the buses - affectionately known as Bessie & Benji – will be stopping at:

·         County Square, Town Centre, Paisley from 10am-1pm and 2-4pm on Monday 27 January
·         Tannahill Centre, 76 Blackstoun Road, Ferguslie from 10am-1pm and 2-4pm on Monday 27 January
·         County Square, Town Centre, Paisley from 10am-1pm and 2-4pm on Tuesday 28 January
·         Lochwinncoh Library, High Street, Lochwinnoch from 10am-12.15pm on Tuesday 28 January
·         Old Library, High Barholm, Kilbarchan from 1.45-4pm on Tuesday 28 January
·          Gallowhill Community Centre, Netherhill Road from 10am-12.15pm on Wednesday 29 January
·         High Street, Renfrew from 1.45-4pm on Wednesday 29 January
·         Amochrie Road, Foxbar  from 10am-1pm and 2-4pm on Wednesday 29 January
·         Houston Square, Johnstone from 10am-1pm and 2-4pm on Thursday 30 January
·         O-X Linwood Brediland Road, Linwood from 10am-1pm and 2-4pm on Thursday 30 January
·         Glenburn Community Centre, Fairway Avenue, Glenburn from 10am-1pm and 2-4pm on Friday 31 January
·         Erskine Library, Bridgewater Place from 10am-12.15pm on Friday 31 January
·         29 South Street, Houston from  1.45-4pm on Friday 31 January

Giving parents and carers of 0 – 3 year olds the chance to hop on board, inside there’s ample opportunity for all types of fun with books, toys, interactive storytelling as well as song, rhythm and rhyme sessions.

Minister for Children and Young People, Aileen Campbell commented: “We can never underestimate the power of play and its crucial role in the positive development of our wee ones.  The first three years in a child’s life are critical to their development.  Our PlayTalkRead buses offer free fun for parents and carers of tots, to help give them the very best start in life.  The good news for mums and dads is you don’t have to wait until your kids are bigger to do fun things together. There are lots of opportunities to get out there and have simple fun every day and for little cost. 

“We’re really looking forward to visiting Renfrewshire and to welcoming lots of mums, dads, grandparents, carers and their wee ones on board. It’s free, it’s fun and each child that hops on board Bessie or Benji will also receive a PlayTalkRead pack to take home.”

Activity on the buses includes demonstrating easy ways for parents to interact with their children during their early years, with lots of low-cost ideas can all be done at home and easily incorporated within daily routines.

If you want to schedule a visit for your nursery please contact

The PlayTalkRead roadshow is part of the Scottish Government’s Early Years campaign which focuses on the early years (0 – 3) of children’s lives, and is travelling across the country to all 32 local authorities. Entry is free. You can see when the PlayTalkRead buses will next be in your area at:

For more information – plus lots of handy tips and advice - visit www.playtalkread.orgYou can also visit the Play Talk Read Facebook page at

Friday, 17 January 2014


Motorsport legend Paddy Hopkirk will wave off the cars at the Monte Carlo Classic Rally in Paisley next Thursday (23rd), 50 years after his Monte victory made world news.
The 80 year old Irishman will be on the Start Ramp with Renfrewshire Provost Anne Hall to flag off the 70 classic cars starting out on their epic 5 day journey to Monte Carlo.
His appearance is a major coup, with his 1964 victory in a Mini, alongside co-driver Henry Liddon, being the last Monte victory by an all-British crew.
After winning that event, Hopkirk became a household name, introducing his own branded product range and becoming a global ambassador for BMW Mini.
He is delighted to be coming to Scotland for the start next Thursday evening, mindful of how the magic of the ‘Monte’ changed his life.
“When we won in 1964, it was completely unexpected,” said the octogenarian, who learned to drive on an estate in Belfast in a car left to him in a will by a local priest.
“We were competing against much more expensive cars in an untried vehicle designed ostensibly as a district nurse’s car but we had a great team.
“It was amazing really. I’ve never had to wait for a table in a restaurant since and, of course, I have followed the event very closely each year. When I was asked if I could help send the cars off in Paisley, I said I’d be more than happy to do so and I am really looking forward to it.
“This year, I will be at the start of the event and at the finish, where I will present the winner’s trophy in Monaco, on behalf of the French organisers, Automobile Club de Monaco, which is a real honour, 50 years on.”


Hopkirk previously started a Monte in Scotland, back in 1959 from Glasgow, expressing his relief at managing to leave the city without ‘hitting a tram’.
In 1964, he and Liddon left for Monte Carlo from Minsk with the temperatures at minus 39 and their famous number 37 Mini had to be towed to the start line due to the cold.
In order to keep the windscreen wash from freezing, some neat gin was added to the car’s water flask.
He is not expecting anything quite so dramatic in Paisley next Thursday evening.
“The gin worked a treat and the smell in the car was excellent, too,” he laughed.
“In those days, communications were not the same so the journalists from all over the world were awaiting news at the finish in Monte Carlo.
“Someone actually phoned me at 4 in the morning to tell me we had won. It was amazing. Who would have thought that, 50 years on, we’d still be remembering that in Paisley and Monaco.”
Preparations for the 2014 Monte Carlo Classic Rally are now reaching fever pitch, with the entries hitting 70.
Chief Organiser Douglas Anderson is honoured that Paddy Hopkirk will be there for the ceremonial start at Abbey Close.
“Generations of people knew who Paddy Hopkirk was after that 1964 victory and Paddy coming here is fantastic for the event.
“With Rosemary Smith set to drive the lead car as well, we really have two of the top names in world rallying blessing the Start from Paisley and everyone is really excited now, with just a few days to go until the cars go over the ramp.”
Renfrewshire's Provost Anne Hall said: "It will be great to share a stage with a legendary figure like Paddy and I look forward to meeting him on the day.
"Being able to attract a showpiece day out with the prestige of the Monte Carlo Classic Rally shows that Paisley is really on the map as a venue for top-class events With a crowd of thousands expected next week, it's going to be a great day for the whole area."
A rally preview day will be held on Saturday (18th jan) at Braehead Shopping Centre.
Shoppers and classic car buffs will be able to see a rare 1970s Dolomite and chat to event organisers, who will be there all day.

Thursday, 9 January 2014


One of the most famous drivers in the world and a pioneer for female achievement will lead the cars off for the Monte Carlo Classic Rally from Paisley on January 23rd.
Rosemary Smith, a tall, blond Dublin dress-maker, rose to international prominence in 1965 when she defeated her male counterparts to win the famous Tulip Rally.
She become only the second fully contracted international lady rally driver of her time, alongside Pat Moss, sister of Formula One legend, Stirling Moss.
Throughout her career Smith recorded major wins, taking on male counterparts while refusing to eschew the painted nails and false eye-lashes that marked her femininity.
Now the Dubliner is set to return to Scotland, at the age of 76, to drive the lead car at the 2014 Monte Carlo Classic Rally in Paisley- an event which kick-started her professional rallying career.
After the 1962 start from Blythswood Square in Glasgow, Smith was approached to take a paid works drive with Rootes, the group which manufactured the famous Hillman Imp at Linwood.
She is looking forward to revisiting that defining start, as she leads the classic cars on their epic 2688km odyssey to the French Riviera from Paisley Abbey.
“I competed in the rally about 8 times, three times from Glasgow. It’s great to be coming back,” said the driver, recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award in Dublin last month.
“It was after my first Monte from Scotland that I was approached by Rootes.
“We had skidded and slid all the way from Glasgow to the finish. I was a total greenhorn. I knew rallying, but not in the snow and ice of the Alps.
“In fact, I was ready to give up for good when the approach was made and I originally said, no.
“My mother later wrote a letter to say I’d a change of heart and that was the start.” When Smith won her first international rally outright, with English female co-driver Val Domleo in a Hillman Imp, she was sent flowers by Elizabeth Taylor and Roger Burton.
A telegram arrived from the Irish Prime Minister and the media swarmed the airport to speak to the glamorous lady who had succeeded in a male-dominated sport.
For her special lead role on January 23rd, Monte Carlo Classic Rally organisers are fittingly preparing a Hillman Imp for her to lead the cars over the start ramp in Renfrewshire.
“I didn’t think a lady defeating the men would be of any great interest to anyone but the reaction was quite astonishing,” she recalls.
“People asked me questions like, ‘why do you paint your nails if you’re a rally driver? Why stick the false eye-lashes on? But it was because I wanted to be me. I didn’t want to be a man.”
Smith famously won the Coup de Dames at the 1966 Monte Carlo Rally but was later controversially disqualified, along with 9 others, for a headlight infringement.
Monte Carlo Classic Rally Organiser, Douglas Anderson, said: “It is a real privilege to have Rosemary come over from Ireland to start this year’s event from Paisley.
“She has such a strong connection with the Monte and, of course, the Hillman Imp, which was manufactured at Linwood close by. She tells me she has photographs of herself at the Linwood factory and I look forward to hearing some of her stories. She is a remarkable individual.”
Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: "We are sure the event will be a fantastic spectacle for residents and visitors alike.
"Rosemary's fascinating story really showcases the rich history of this great event, and its close links to Renfrewshire's proud car-manufacturing heritage - and we look forward to celebrating that later this month."