People: Woolf’s achievements need no embroidering

Fiona Woolf, Lord Mayor of London. Picture: Greg Macvean
Fiona Woolf, Lord Mayor of London. Picture: Greg Macvean
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THE lord mayor of the City of London has chosen a good time to return to her native Scotland, hitting the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and then returning to Edinburgh at the invitation of the lord provost to celebrate the opening of the International Festival.

Edinburgh-born lawyer Fiona Woolf is the second Scot to wear the Square Mile’s chain of office in as many years, after banker Sir Roger Gifford in 2012-13, but only the second woman in the post since 1189.

Woolf’s Scots heritage is illustrious indeed. While in the Scottish capital she posed for a picture with a portrait of her mother, Lancashire-born Margaret Swain MBE (1909-2002), at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

The pencil drawing by Dame Elizabeth Blackadder was accepted by the gallery in 2001. Swain was a celebrated historian in the field of embroidery and textiles.

While in Glasgow promoting British professional services to the Commonwealth nations, Woolf was signed up to the GlobalScot network of influential global businesspeople by Holyrood’s minister for energy, enterprise and tourism, Fergus Ewing.

Peebles’ persuasive dram

Ever wanted to know the secret of winning business in the US? Entrepreneur John Peebles reckons he’s cracked it.

The US-born chief executive of Edinburgh-based software firm Administrate said the power of Scotland as a brand is “incredible” when it comes to making an impression on the other side of the pond.

Peebles, who has traced his family roots back to the Borders town that
shares his name, added: “Every trade show we go to in North America, we raffle off a bottle of whisky. People
think it’s really cool when they find out we’re from Scotland, so it sticks in the mind and people recognise us at the next event.

“We’ve got deals with whisky that we would not have got otherwise.”

Getting it in the neck

Mark Wilson, boss of Aviva, which has big operations in Perth and Bishopbriggs, was in dry form at the insurance giant’s interim results last week.

He was talking about fraud in the general insurance industry in Britain.

“Whiplash claims in the UK are three times the average in Europe,” Wilson, an antipodean, said. “I don’t believe British necks are three times weaker than the rest of Europe,” he quipped.

Little bit of Elbow room

Property developer Iain Mercer was upbeat when a member of the business desk caught up with him last week.

The son of the late former Hearts owner Wallace Mercer has had a testing time after his Almondale and Cosmopolitan ventures fell into administration earlier this summer. A recent holiday seems to have helped restore some of his spirit and Mercer tells us that one or two things are in the offing through his new venture, Elm.

He also expressed delight at bagging the autograph of Guy Garvey, the front man of alternative rock outfit Elbow, after spotting him by chance while travelling. As a fellow fan, it left our man green with envy.