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Bandsman's tartan wins business accolade

A former bandsman in a Highland regiment is drumming up business as a kiltmaker, thanks to a qualification in owner management business planning.

Gary Smyth, aged 29, from Inverness, was one of eight students who received accolades at the annual Scottish Vocational Education Council awards in Glasgow last week.

This year's awards, presented by Lord Younger, were the last to be staged by Scotvec which will become part of the Scottish Qualifications Authority from next April.

Mr Smyth, was student of the year in business administration and management for which he received a trophy and Pounds 350 cheque, as did the other seven winners.

He set up his firm, Feilidh Beag ("wee kilt" in Gaelic), after a spell of unemployment during which he took his training course. Mr Smyth is making his own contribution to job creation, having taken on a member of staff at his Inverness-based company.

He hopes to generate some business for Scotvec, too, by persuading the council to establish a course in kiltmaking. "The existing textile courses related to garment-making are not specific enough," he said.

Jennifer Greer, aged 42, from Glasgow, overcame visual impairment to become Scotvec's student of the year in the service industries category. Despite her condition, which was brought on by diabetes, she has a passion for pastry-making. This won her a UK cookery competition in May with the aid of a colour-coding system to help her to decorate her creations, devised by her cooking partner.

Richard Moar, aged 20, from Lerwick, also went that extra mile by devising a multimedia training programme for instrument technicians during his HNC course in process control at Jewel and Esk Valley College. It is now set to be used in colleges all over Europe. Mr Moar will not, however, make a penny from his invention: it is the intellectual property of his college.

The other winners were: * John Ferguson, 23, from Irvine, who battled against dyslexia to gain an HND in TV operations and production and is a full-time editor; * Noreen Mohammed, 18, from Bellshill, who took community involvement modules and played a central role in Bellshill Academy's work with the Asian community; * Ian Macrae, 32, from Peterhead, used the findings of a study undertaken during his HNC in electrical and electronic engineering which helped to save his employer Pounds 3,500 a year; * Iain Dewar, 44, from Penicuik, opted for an HND in countryside recreation and conservation management at Oatridge College for which he organised many high-profile events and was chairman of the student body; * John Denholm, 27, from West Lothian, completed a double HND in construction management and quantity surveying at Falkirk College, scoring the highest level of diploma merit passes ever at the college where he now lectures part-time.

Among Scotvec Fellows honoured at last week's ceremony was Willis Pickard, editor of the TES Scotland. The others were Val MacIver, chairman of Highland Council's education committee and of the Highlands and Islands University steering group; John Hillier, chief executive of the National Council for Vocational Qualifications; and Gordon Beaumont, chairman of the group that reviewed the top 100 SVQsNVQs.

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