Holyrood Headlines with Alex Salmond, MSP

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President’s visit strengthens Scotland-Malawi ties

This past week I have had the honour of welcoming President Joyce Banda to Scotland in celebration of 200th anniversary of the birth of David Livingstone.

Livingstone was born in the Lanarkshire town of Blantyre and is renowned by Scots as an African explorer and missionary, and by the people of Malawi as a pioneering social reformer.

Although, in many ways, Dr David Livingstone personifies the historical links between our two nations, nearly every parish across Scotland can draw its own connection with Africa’s ‘warm heart’. Indeed many of these connections find their roots in Aberdeenshire.

Between 1914 and 1921, the Rev Alexander Gillon Macalpine ministered in the North East parish of Monquhitter and New Byth. His term here followed several years of ministry and missionary work in Nyasaland, modern-day Malawi. Indeed, Macalpine served as the very first Clerk of the Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian and was responsible for collating one of the earliest dictionaries of the Chitonga language, and translating the New Testament into Chitonga.

The historical links forged between Aberdeenshire and Malawi, and between many of Scotland’s communities and the African nation, remain strong to this day. For example, Aberdeenshire’s own ‘FROM. Scotland’ (Famine relief for orphans in Malawi) has in recent years raised over £250,000 for families in Malawi. At the end of this month FROM Scotland plan to ship a container of medical supplies and equipment, hospital beds, clothes, toys and sewing machines to Malawi. It is encouraging and inspiring that these links are being maintained and continue to make such a positive contribution to the lives of Malawians.

President Banda’s visit presents an opportunity for us to reaffirm our commitment to our sister nation in Africa, with whom we share a great deal of history.

The Scottish Government has recently committed £5 million over the next three years to 15 projects run by Scottish organisations in Malawi. I look forward to what the continued fellowship between Scotland and Malawi will offer for both our nations in future years.

1 year milestone for greengrocer

Last week I visited The Green Grocer in Inverurie, to congratulate the Sorrie family on their first successful year in business. John and Connie Sorrie are probably best known for their locally produced Ola Oil, but decided to venture into the retail world with (by their own admission) little experience.

I’m glad to see that this leap of faith has paid off for them and they have taken the business from strength to strength.

The Green Grocer predominantly stocks local, organic and Fair Trade produce with made-to-order vegetable boxes available for collection or delivery. They also supply a range of ‘Fly Cup’ baked goods – an excellent local charity that provides catering training opportunities for young adults with learning difficulties.

It is heartening to see local independent businesses across the constituency flourishing in spite of the economic challenges of recent years. The Scottish Government’s commitment to maintaining the Small Business Bonus has helped many small businesses, such as the Green Grocer, in recent years. The scheme continues to save local firms up to £4500 a year in business rates, giving a valuable boost in terms of local employment and the health of our communities.