Business people: Kissing goodbye to Kylie concert

Suzanne Birney has just won her eighth award of the year ' now she is modern apprentice of the year 2014

Suzanne Birney has just won her eighth award of the year ' now she is modern apprentice of the year 2014

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Forced in October to delay her company’s flotation, the chief executive of Virgin Money successfully returned to the market last week with an IPO valuing the bank at some £1.25 billion when shares started trading on Thursday morning. Job well done – but it came at a price.

Gadhia had been on Wednesday night’s guest list to see Kylie at The Hydro in Glasgow, but was forced to cancel amid last-minute flotation preparations in London. Invited months ago as a guest of the SECC – which is chaired by former Virgin Galactic chief executive Will Whitehorn – Gadhia had her choice of any forthcoming event, but zeroed in on the Australian singer’s Kiss Me Once tour. Texting her apologies to her hosts, Gadhia was said to be “gutted”.

Gin and tonic and Geddes

John Campbell QC, chairman of the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust (SHBT), was doing his best to extract cash from the great and the good of Edinburgh on Wednesday evening.

The charity’s trustees threw a reception within Riddle’s Court, an A-listed courtyard house set behind the capital’s Royal Mile. Over its 400-year-odd history, the building has seen many famous occupants, including David Hume and the Duchess of Buccleuch. It has even seen service as university digs after it was acquired by Patrick Geddes, the pioneering town planner and conservationist, in the late 1880s.

SHBT is about to embark on a £5.6 million top-to-bottom renovation of the building, creating a much-needed public and community resource in Edinburgh’s World Heritage site.

There was a fair din from within the building’s ground floor as guests chatted and sipped on some excellent “Geddes-inspired” cocktails, concocted by the people at Edinburgh-based Pickering’s Gin. Campbell was forced to tap his glass pretty loudly to gain attention to make his speech. In it, he pointed out that the project faced a £600,000 funding shortfall. His plea to “please get out your cheque books” no doubt sobered up a fair few of those present.

St Fillans flights of fancy

With his multiple ventures and interests, Arran Brewery’s outspoken managing director Gerald Michaluk is never far from the news these days.

His latest plan involves bringing seaplanes back to St Fillans on Loch Earn, where they were frequently seen moored next to the former Drummond hotel.

Having bought the hotel, Arran is adding a brewery and visitor centre at the site and is also keen to see amphibious aircraft return to the loch side. The twist is that Michaluk is a fully qualified pilot, and has flown seaplanes over Italy’s majestic Lake Como.

He says: “Loch Earn is a fantastic site to fly from with most of Scotland on its doorstep, in flying terms. Now having studied the subject in more depth it’s an ideal place to base a seaplane with such spectacular mountains, lochs and glens around.”

Michaluk admits he has yet to contact the national park authorities or local community council over his blue-sky thinking. He adds: “I plan to talk to the authorities once I have got an operator interested in the venture, as without one it may as yet come to nothing.”

Apprentice’s star is rising

THE Business Desk receives a considerable volume of awards-related submissions and usually gives them a wide berth. Everyone’s a winner these days, it would appear.

However, we are prepared to make an exception for Suzanne Birney, 20, an apprentice at Doosan Babcock in Renfrew, was has been named modern apprentice of the year 2014 by the Scottish Skills Development Board. Impressively, it marks her eighth award of the year, which surely must take some beating.

She tells us: “The awards have been really humbling. It’s great to know your achievements are recognised, especially when you’re in the company of such amazing talent.

“The job has been a fantastic opportunity for me at such a young age.”

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