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Clowns of the sea: Wildlife film maker Gordon Buchanan helped us kick off the inaugural 10 day Puffin Fest back in May.

Message Matters' work on the PR campaign for the inaugural Puffin Fest has been recognised in the annual Association of Scottish Visitor Attraction awards, with the Scottish Seabird Centre winning this year's Marketing Award.

The independent visitor attraction's 10-day Puffin Fest was the first event of its kind in Scotland. The islands of the Firth of Forth including Craigleith, Fidra and the Isle of May are home to around 90,000 puffins, and the month of May sees the much-loved seabirds clearing out their burrows ready for the new breeding season. Puffin Fest inspired locals and visitors to learn more about Scotland’s most popular seabird, while highlighting the importance of conserving and protecting our seabirds for future generations.

As the Scottish Seabird Centre's communications partner, Message Matters handled the political relations around the event for the conservation and education charity, promoting important messages about the need for understanding and protection of our precious seabirds. We devised a social media event for the Centre - #Wildhour - which engaged Twitter audiences on the Sunday evening during Puffin Fest with conversation about Scotland's seas, coastline and wildlife. Message Matters ensured that media commentators and bloggers attended the event, with valuable coverage appearing in national and local newspapers and in radio and TV broadcasts. In particular, we secured the appearance of wildlife film maker, Gordon Buchanan, to open such a unique event and participate in media requests ranging from BBC Scotland's Good Morning Scotland to a comment article in the Edinburgh Evening News.

Congratulations to the Seabird Centre on a fantastic addition to the Scottish events calendar. We're looking forward to 2015's Puffin Fest already!



KSB chief Executive Derek Robertson and Keith Brown, Minister for Transport and Veterans at Alloa War Memorial.

The independent environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful has announced a new partnership between its mass engagement Clean Up Scotland campaign and the War Memorials Trust. The War Memorial Campaign will encourage and support volunteer members of the public in Clean Up events around their local war memorials and in reporting graffiti and conditions of the structures to the War Memorials Online project.

With an estimated 6,000 war memorials in Scotland (and an estimated 100,000 across the UK), nearly every community has a war memorial, and its preservation and upkeep is an integral part of having respect for our local areas and those who fought for our country.  

In preparation for, and as a legacy of, Remembrance Sunday 2014, Keep Scotland Beautiful is encouraging volunteers to step forward to help care for their local memorial. Volunteers are being sought to: organise Clean Up events in the green spaces and streets surrounding war memorials; report incidences of graffiti and the general condition of local war memorials; and

care for a war memorial site in the long term by entering the annual ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ awards, to improve and develop the local area.

The Clean Up Scotland campaign aims to make Scotland the cleanest country in Europe. To achieve this, individuals, groups, schools and businesses are encouraged to take pride in where they live, work and spend their leisure time. Clean Up Scotland leads community Clean Up activities to tackle the carelessness and illegal behaviour of those individuals who damage our quality of life and tarnish the country's image.  

To find out how you can get involved in cleaning up your community and creating a legacy of activity following on from The Great War centenary, visit  

Derek Robertson, Chief Executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, said:

“War memorials remind us of the sacrifice many servicemen and women have made for us all and we must ensure that they receive the respect they deserve.

“Many of the estimated 6,000 war memorials in Scotland are treasured but too often others are neglected and vandalised or left to suffer the effects of ageing and weathering. War memorials are an important feature of the Scottish landscape, and caring for them, and the whole communities which surround them through Clean Ups, is integral to installing pride in our local areas.”

Keith Brown MSP for Clackmannanshire and Dunblane, said:

“War memorials are very important; they link the past to the present and enable people to remember and respect the sacrifice of those who died, fought, participated or were affected by conflicts. They are a central part of communities the length and breadth of Scotland, and I would encourage people to get involved with Keep Scotland Beautiful’s campaign to clean up Scotland’s war memorials.”



The Campaign for Scottish Home Rule has launched today in Edinburgh, bringing together key figures from across Scotland’s political spectrum as well as from outwith party politics.

The Campaign has a steering group of 12 people including figures closely associated with Labour, the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives and the Greens, as well as people with no party affiliation. They have come together to make the case for an effective, sustainable and productive Home Rule settlement for Scotland.

The steering group’s members are as follows:

- Matthew Benson
- Derek Brownlee
- John Dunsmore
- Susan Egelstaff
- Dr. Alison Elliot
- Prof. Richard Kerley
- Hamira Khan
- James Mackenzie
- Henry McLeish
- Margaret Smith
- Ben Thomson (Chair)
- Andrew Wilson

Biographies of the steering group members, as well as a blog of their reasons for being part of the Campaign, can be seen at

The Campaign has made a submission to the Smith Commission (see notes to editors). Its core recommendation is for the Commission to require clear underlying principles. The Campaign itself has three underlying principles, which are:

- Responsibilities Devolved

There should be a presumption in favour of devolving responsibility to Holyrood.Schedule 5 of the Scotland Act 1998 should be reviewed and the burden of proof for reserving a power rest with Westminster should it wish to retain that responsibility. The precedent was set in the original 1997 Act, but the implementation of it has not been in keeping with the spirit of its intent. 

- Raising what you spend

Ensure that both Holyrood and Westminster have responsibility over the tax and borrowing powers required to make each of them responsible for raising the money that they spend. We believe if either tier of government is overly reliant on fiscal transfers from the other (whether that is from Westminster to Holyrood, or Holyrood to Westminster) this diminishes responsibility and blurs lines of accountability.

- Mutual respect

We understand the desire to ensure the Scottish Parliament is made permanent. Without a written constitution for the UK or similar changes at that level we cannot see how this could be meaningfully implemented in anything other than a symbolic way. However, we believe that we can address the democratic deficit and improve the relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK by strengthening the mutual respect between parliaments and considering other ways to strengthen the security of the constitutional position of Holyrood.

Further detail on these three underlying principles can be seen in the Campaign’s Smith Commission submission and on

The Campaign believes that the No vote in the referendum on Scottish independence indicated that there is a desire amongst the people of Scotland to see meaningful Home Rule within the United Kingdom.

The steering group’s members have written for the Campaign’s blog - The Route Home - explaining why they are part of the Campaign.



Proceeds from Tesco's carrier bag charge in Scotland will go to Keep Scotland Beautiful.

The independent charity Keep Scotland Beautiful (KSB) has welcomed the introduction of the mandatory 5p charge for single-use bags taken from shops from today (Monday 20th October). The regulations, agreed by the Scottish Parliament in May, follow similar schemes introduced in Wales and Northern Ireland, where initial results showed a 75-80% reduction in bags used.

Keep Scotland Beautiful has been identified by responsible retailers, large and small as a natural partner. The charities reach into communities gives it unprecedented opportunity to ensure that proceeds from the 5p charge are used to stimulate the improvement of local environmental quality across Scotland. Through their Clean Up Scotland Campaign - Scotland’s anti-litter campaign – 400,000 clean up actions have been registered. They are working across the country to reduce litter and make local environments cleaner, greener and more beautiful.

Following a customer vote, Keep Scotland Beautiful will receive all the proceeds from the 5p charge collected by Scottish Tesco stores for one year, with Initial estimates suggesting proceeds approaching £1M. KSB will re-invest that financial support in environmental projects and initiatives whilst also supporting grass roots activity in communities across Scotland. Photographs of Derek Robertson launching the partnership with Tesco and Richard Lochhead MSP, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment and Rural Affairs are available - see notes to editor.

Welcoming the introduction of the 5p charge, Derek Robertson, Chief Executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful said:

“We have always been clear that the bag charge can be a major stimulus for improvement in local environmental quality in Scotland. Reducing potential litter and eliminating plastic waste are key benefits that everyone should welcome.”

"The introduction of the Scottish Government legislation brings Scotland in line with many countries across Europe where it is estimated that some 800 billion carrier bags are used each year. This is clearly unsustainable particularly given the considerable environmental impact they have when discarded into the litter chain. So it is encouraging that there is now an opportunity for the people of Scotland to play their part”

“Our work with Tesco will make the best use possible of the money they collect from the bag charge. We have a unique reach across Scotland to deliver real change with these funds. We’ve delivered significant environmental improvements before, and these bag charge proceeds will allow us to do more, making Scotland cleaner, greener and more sustainable.

"This new charge for bags will be transformational for the environment."