My Column

Think Bright to Thrive not just survive

  • Date: Monday 25th May 2020
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We proved we’re well and truly a fast food nation recently when drive-throughs started opening again for business.

It might have signaled a bit of ‘normal life’ returning but it also caused a bit of mayhem on the roads. Towns across Scotland reported gridlocked traffic as everyone clamoured to get their hands on a prized takeaway.

Some people took to social media to express their joy at the fact their favourite fast food joints were reopening.

Others, however, shared photographs of the queues at various drive-throughs or coffee shops and turned their noses up at them, branding the scenes an embarrassment.

But it was a third group of social commentators that really caught my attention.

It was nice to see a lot of pleas going up on Facebook and Twitter urging people to “buy local”.

They urged people to support local companies in their towns and cities, as unlike big multinationals, these independents have considerably less financial security.

Indeed many independent businesses fear this crisis will send their companies under.

I read about an entrepreneur called Robbie Allan who has made it his mission to help smaller companies to thrive during these unprecedented times.

He just started up an Edinburgh-based company called The Thriving Box Co, a gift box service that’s allowing small businesses to keep selling their products.

In the space of just three weeks he has joined forces with 75 business from Scotland, England and Wales. A massive 4,000 boxes have already been sold, representing a whopping £100k of revenue for those businesses.

It’s a brilliant idea. Some of these companies were relying on the likes of market stalls to sell their wares and now they have a sales and distribution platform.

As I mentioned in my column just last week, we’re also seeing real creativity from smaller businesses and traders on our high streets with many diversifying in order to keep revenue coming in.

Little businesses that might never have dreamed of delivering are having to. And yes, the circumstances that have forced them to are awful.

But if we’re to look around for the positives, I honestly believe that this has led to some consumers rediscovering the magic of some of those wee local traders.

Many of people’s ‘go-to’ takeaways are closed, and they’re stumbling upon other companies on their doorstep they’ve overlooked.

This week I noticed an Italian restaurant that had never delivered before has now launched a delivery app meaning you can get its quality cuisine right to your door.

Tiny bakeries are delivering amazing home cooked cakes and scones.

Bars are serving up everything from hearty pub-grub staples to signature cocktails, with delivery or click-and-collect options.

You can even get things like afternoon teas and charcuterie boards delivered to your doorstep.

As for doing the shopping, we all love the big supermarkets and wouldn’t be without them – especially for things like that big weekly shop.   But I’ve also heard many people sing the praises of their local corner shops where they managed to get their hands on hard-to-find items like toilet roll and soap when stockpiling was at its worst.

To an extent all of these things have opened consumers’ eyes to the wealth of cracking wee businesses that operate close to home.

And I genuinely believe that when these businesses are back up and running they’ll have earned themselves an army of new fans.



Us Scots like to think of ourselves as a funny bunch.  We pride ourselves on our quick wit and sharp sense of humour.  And now, it’s been proven by science! 


 A new study released by Beano revealed that funny people are twice as likely to hail from Scotland or the north of England than those from further south. 


Liverpudlians topped the charts, but those from Glasgow ranked impressively, placing fourth in the UK.  Edinburgh didn’t fare quite so well, coming in ninth place, but still ranked higher than those in Oxford who were voted the nation’s least funny. 


The results come as no surprise to me – you can’t beat a Scottish sense of humour.  And there’s never been a more important time to be able to have a good laugh. 



I was disheartened to hear about the catastrophic effect coronavirus has had on the music industry in Scotland, with many raising concerns about the long-term effects on our country’s venues. 


As long as social distancing measures are in place, it’s hard to imagine going to a concert.  I’m not sure what a socially-distanced gig would look like, or how a music venue would even begin to enforce these rules while still making a profit and giving concert-goers an enjoyable experience. 


With so many iconic music venues in Scotland, it’s clear that something has to be done to preserve its future.


I hope those working in the industry are able to access support until venues can safely re-open so they can bounce back when the time is right.



Over the last couple of months, I’ve listened with great sadness to stories about charities across the country struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic. 


It’s a difficult time for all sorts of organisations, and charities have been particularly badly hit, with many now facing a cash crisis as major fundraising events continue to be postponed. 


That’s why I was so pleased to hear about an online charity auction which is taking the fundraising auction experience online to raise money for good causes. 


John Pye Auctions, a Bo’ness-based online charity auction house, has launched its biggest ever coronavirus charity auction to date.  Proceeds will go towards community projects including national food bank charity FareShare and the Falkirk Homeless Project. 


A whole host of celebrities, sportspeople and Scottish businesses have got involved by donating memorabilia and trips, with a focus on experiences and luxury breaks to give bidders something to look forward to post-lockdown. 


The auctioneer is hoping to raise £50,000 which I’m sure will make a huge difference to the charities receiving the funds. 


As bleak as the current circumstances may seem at times, I find it extremely reassuring to see businesses adapting and organising events like this in order to help those in need.  It goes to show that as a nation, we’ve not lost our sense of charitableness.


Bidding closes at 8pm on Sunday 31 May, so you’ll have to get in there fast if you fancy getting your hands on any of the items up for grabs and helping a good cause at the same time..  I’ve certainly got my eye on one or two of the pieces, and will be more than happy to bid knowing it’s all for a good cause. 









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