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."