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Every year we take a look at the exploits of people and the companies in the trade to award our very own New Year Gongs. Read on to see who made our role of honour this year.
John GilliganThe coming around again gong
John Gilligan
John Gilligan announced early in 2015 that he was stepping back from the MD’s role at Tennent’s with a view to cutting down on his workload in the lead up to retirement! Huh… his definition of taking it a bit easier is definitely not mine. Due to management changes there, he has been stepping back in all over the place, not to mention that he is also part of the management process at a certain football club!   And guess what… he is loving it!

bob_DSCF1179aCalamity Jane gong
Senga Love
The adorable Senga from Holdfast damaged her ankle a few years ago dancing on a table. And last month she managed to fall out of her loft while getting her Christmas tree down. Although she had to pay a visit to hospital and had concussion,  no serious damage was done… to the tree, only joking!  Hope there are no more calamities this year!

15822014837_86e76f1239_bLack of progress Gong
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
Another year has passed and we are no further forward on Minimum Pricing. The Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012 was passed in June 2012 but it has not yet been implemented due to a legal challenge. Is it ever going to be implemented? This Gong goes to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Brian Calder

Surprise of the year… Brian Calder
This is another C&C story and this goes to Brian Calder. The news began to leak out that he was leaving Wallaces TCB, and when I called him he confirmed the news from the golf course. No doubt he has made good use of his golf clubs over the intervening months.

Sandy Oak Tree-1_optIndustrious Gong of the year
The Fraser Family
This has to go to the Fraser family who have taken over Balmaha. Not content with running the Oak Tree Inn – a hotel with a restaurant and a bar, and cottages to let, but owner Sandy, his wife and kids also run their own coffee shop and ice-cream parlour (they make their own ice-cream) and the Village shop. They have their own  whisky too. But they didn’t stop there. This year in October The Oak Tree Inn staged the first Balmaha’s Braw Weekend, a festival of food, drink, live music and family fun. Whew!

_HOT9107_optHi-jack of the year James Mortimer
That has to go to James Mortimer and my staff, who managed to keep it a secret that they were hi-jacking our awards, to give me one! James presented me with a beautiful Glencairn vase for services to the Scottish Licensed Trade. For once I was speechless! Thank you.

The Devil’s Advocate i_optCoolest beards Gong.. The Devil’s Advocate
This goes to the guys at The Devil’s Advocate in Edinburgh. Its male staff are not the only ones with impeccably groomed beards, but its customers too are generally on trend. However the staff are not too cool for school, they also serve great cocktails and service is
spot-on too.

AlistairDonDoublet 5_optEnd of an era Gong Alistair Don
Alistair Don sold his family-owned pub, The Doublet, at the tail-end of the year. The Glasgow pub had been in his family for two generations, and Alistair had spent the last 40 years running it after his father had run it for 14 years. He too is planning on spending some time playing golf.

Grilled Herb Chicken on_fmtTrend of the year Gong… Chick, chick, chicken!
I was torn between ‘Pop-ups’ and Rotisserie Chicken!  The chicken just pipped ‘pop-ups’. A few years ago Jim Tullis talked about opening a ‘Chicken’ only restaurant and I was amused. However, it seems he was ahead of the curve. They have been big business in London for a few years, and now Scotland has its first chicken only restaurant. While two of Scotland’s most dynamic companies DMG and Buzzworks offer great Rotisserie chickens too.

Jim-Hamilton.-copyMost prolific designer of the year gong
Jim Hamilton
Jim Hamilton has his finger in lots of bars. Not only has he designed The Millhouse for Buzzworks, and updated Edinburgh’s Tigerlily, but has been busy re-designing the Radisson hotels around the world, and has also just completed G1’s The Cotton Club. He’s definitely one of our most influential designers with a passion for low-hanging lights!

awards15_53_optPhotobomb of the year.. Robert McManus
This goes to the DRAM’s Robert McManus. I asked him to help get the Sunday Mail Pub of the Year mirror to the stage at this year’s awards. However during the process, and Jinty McGuinty’s winning, he was left literally holding the mirror when the photographer decided to take the winners pics. So there is Robert (the one with the beard) at the very centre!  Jinty must have wondered who it was?

cover 2_optShang-a-lang gong.. Donald Macleod, Holdfast
Donald Macleod, he of the Clan Macleod, has been very visible of late due to the fact that he has almost single-handedly made a lot of 50- something women very happy! Yes… he was instrumental in getting the Bay City Rollers along to the Scottish Music Awards in aid of Nordorff Robbins and Donald’s management company CPL and Regular Music lined up a series of concerts at the Barrowlands in December.

Margaret gong_optUnsung hero gong
Margaret Elvin, Elliot’s, Prestwick
A few years ago I met a lady by the name of  Margaret Elvin (right) who was a cleaner at Elliots in Prestwick. This amazing lady is now in her 80’s and is still cleaning for the Buzzworks team. Apparently her buffing skills are legendary and it’s a brave man or woman who gets in the way of her buffing machine!  I understand she has cut down her hours just a bit, but she is still doing a sterling job of keeping not just the cleaning under control but everyone else too!  Margaret this gong is for you… one of the industry’s unsung hero’s!

Billy_Lowe_optLucky b*****d gong
Billy Lowe
Stand up Mr Billy Lowe. He confirmed that he had sold his Le Monde and Angel’s Share hotel to Glendola. Since then he has definitely been on the golf course and no doubt pondering on how best to spend his hard earned millions. I cannot think of any other Scottish licensed trade entrepreneur who has successfully sold as many businesses as he has!

ducks gong_optUnusual fetish gong
John Gemmell, Heineken UK
At the opening of the new Apex in Glasgow I was in the company of John Gemmell and wife Jane, and a duck ice sculpture, which Jane was keen to take a picture of.  She went on to reveal that hubby John in fact collects rubber ducks… and as Apex is famous for putting different coloured rubber ducks in its hotels, John, no doubt, has a few of their ducks in his collection.  No doubt he will now be inundated with rubber ducks! lol

clooney1_optBest lunch guest gong
George Clooney
As if I needed another excuse to put George Clooney in the magazine! But really he was the lunch guest of the year. What a great way to end the year having George come to lunch at Tigerlily. He spread his good cheer and good looks about. He visited the Social Bite Cafe, then Tigerlily and stayed at The George and spoke at the EICC. The best news of all his visit to Edinburgh has helped generate a thousands an thousands of meals for the homeless.