Television presenter Sean Batty has been hearing from Scotland’s High Street Hero about the town she loves – and the community’s critical support.
Cumnock businesswoman Marion Gilliland highlighted the difference that people can make by backing businesses in their area as she flew the flag for Scotland Loves Local.
The Presents and Correct owner, who has dedicated 36 years to supporting her community, sat down with the STV weatherman at CentreStage in Kilmarnock as he learned about trailblazing work taking place locally to support people and businesses.
And that ranged from the dedication to make a difference shown by community champions such as Marion and the team at CentreStage to the life-improving and business boosting impact of initiatives such as the East Ayrshire Gift Card.
Marion, who was crowned as the nation’s High Street Hero at last year’s Scotland Loves Local Awards, met Sean as she received another accolade – a certificate from the Motor Neurone Disease Scotland for raising in excess of £26,000 by gift wrapping in her shop.
On the need for everyone to choose local, she said: “It’s 100% important. Without our customers we wouldn’t be here.
“We have to provide a good service to make them want to come, to stay in their community and spend their money. Even the likes of sports clubs need that support. If people support the businesses, we, in turn, can support them because there’s always someone looking for a raffle prize to raise funds.
“Money spent locally goes around in a circle, which makes high streets really important. In businesses such as ours, we also might be the only people someone speaks to in a day.”
Sean said: “The work that Marion and her team do is a powerful example of the difference people can make by getting behind local businesses – ensuring they not just survive, but thrive. It was great to meet her. The awards she has received are very well deserved.”
The TV personality was at CentreStage filming a special video in his role as an ambassador for Scotland Loves Local, the campaign encouraging people to build stronger communities by choosing local and getting behind people and organisations in their area.
Presents and Correct and CentreStage are both places which accept the East Ayrshire Gift Card – a way by which people can spend directly with businesses locally and lock more money into the region’s economy.
Spearheaded by East Ayrshire Council, it has been used by the authority to channel financial support to lower income households as well as being available for all to buy, including local businesses who have used them as staff rewards.
Councillor Iain Linton, the authority’s cabinet member with responsibility for resources and economy, explained that every £1 spent with the gift card translated to £6 into the local economy because of the knock-on effect of people supporting local businesses.
Filming at CentreStage took place as polling commissioned by Scotland’s Towns Partnership – the organisation behind Scotland Loves Local – revealed a desire among people living in the region for businesses to use gift cards to better support each other.
Nine-in-10 (90%) of people in the South Scotland Scottish Parliament region, which covers East Ayrshire, agreed that when rewarding and incentivising staff, employers should use local gift card schemes to support local town centres and small businesses rather than national alternatives.
A similar number agreed that employers should do more to support local businesses in their area.