Scotland’s first ever innovation district dedicated to advanced manufacturing is being developed in Renfrewshire and eminent engineer Professor Keith Ridgway CBE believes AMIDS has all the right ingredients for success.

Professor Ridgway should know, having co-founded the pioneering Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Sheffield in 2001, which has attracted Boeing, Rolls-Royce, McLaren and UKAEA to set up premises there and now employs over 600 people, boasting 120 industry partners.

Now dedicating all of his time in Renfrewshire in his role as Executive Chairman of the University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC), part of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS), Professor Ridgway explains why AMIDS has so much to offer.

After three years of commuting between Sheffield and Inchinnan, I’m delighted to be here full-time and playing a part in growing both the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) and the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS) in Renfrewshire.

There are a lot of similarities between this region and northern cities such as Sheffield and Manchester, where I was brought up. All have a proud industrial past: in Sheffield it was steel and cutlery; in Manchester it was heavy engineering and here it was shipbuilding along the Clyde.

Professor Keith Ridgway CBE

Professor Keith Ridgway CBE

In the space of 10 years, Sheffield lost much of the steel industry, the mining industry and all the jobs in the supply chain, so it was particularly poignant that we developed the Advanced Manufacturing Park on the site of the famous Battle of Orgreave miners’ strike.

Being in at the start is the most exciting time. We were able to attract world-renowned companies such as Rolls-Royce, Boeing, and McLaren and creating jobs and opportunities for young people from the area was very rewarding.

I want to see that happen in Renfrewshire.

In decades-gone-by, people lived close to the place they worked, the supply chain was local and skills were highly localised. Over time, we have changed the way we work and have become accustomed to a daily commute, spending one hour at each end of the working day sat in a car. Now, the Coronavirus pandemic and the climate change emergency are making us rethink this.

Working from home and greater digital connectivity will shape our future working environment. At NMIS, there is a real possibility less people will be working at desks, but there will be more workshop and interactive space for people to meet informally. It is important to have this collaborative workspace. It’s surprising how often you need a big empty space to do things in, a space where you can build a prototype, throw ideas together and see what happens.

AMIDS has a fantastic opportunity to really shape the way we work, not only in Renfrewshire, but the rest of Scotland and the UK. It brings skills, research expertise and manufacturing all together in one place, creating an attractive place to work, where people can mix and generate new innovative ideas.

Renfrewshire Council is approaching its development in the right way, starting with Netherton Campus as its nucleus, and with Inchinnan Business Park and Westway, there’s ample space to see that nucleus expand.

AMIDS artist impression of aerial view of site

Artist impression of Netherton Campus, at the heart of AMIDS

One big thing here that Sheffield doesn’t have, is the global connections afforded to us by an international airport; people can get here from London in an hour and a half and with ease if travelling from further afield.

Having NMIS here is crucial to attracting big-name manufacturers to the district and if you attract a company making ships, planes or trains they will subsequently attract the companies within their respective supply chains.

NMIS will bolster SMEs to ensure they are ready to seize the opportunities that come from working with the big companies. It will upskill the current workforce as well as working with Scotland’s colleges and universities to give young people the skills and experience needed to become the highly-effective workforce of the future. It will also give businesses access to the technical expertise and capabilities they need to de-risk innovation and ultimately grow and become more competitive in a global market place.

We’ll be doing things differently in 20-years-time, new processes, new technologies and new materials will emerge and AMIDS will enable Scotland to be at the forefront of this manufacturing revolution.


About Professor Ridgway

  • Born in Partington, Manchester
  • Graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Manchester in 1973 and completed an MSc and PhD at Shell Marine
  • Started his working life as an Apprentice Production Engineer at Mather & Platt
  • Joined the University of Sheffield in 1988
  • Co-founded the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with businessman Adrian Allen and Boeing in 2001
  • Awarded an OBE in 2005 and a CBE in 2012
  • Is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering; the Institution of Mechanical Engineers; and Honorary Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society
  • Joined the University of Strathclyde as Executive Chairman of the Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) in 2016
  • Enjoys sailing and is a season ticket holder at Manchester United
  • Has two dogs, a rescue greyhound called Izzy and a ‘brown dog’ called Bryn

Find out more about AMIDS

New stay at home guidance and lockdown regulations for mainland Scotland were announced on 4 January 2021.

You can read more about these measures and the very latest Scottish Government guidance here.

To minimise the risk of spreading the virus, you must stay at home as much as possible.

  • You must, by law, stay at home unless you have a reasonable excuse.
  • If you have to travel for essential purposes, you should follow the guidance on travelling safely.
  • You should also keep journeys within the area to an absolute minimum.

Renfrewshire has a great range of outdoor attractions for exercise and recreation, provided you follow the existing guidance. Find out more about places you can visit in Renfrewshire here.

During this time, we will continue to do everything we can to support our local business sectors.

It’s vital that we all follow this guidance and help stop the spread of coronavirus. Nothing is more important to us than your health and wellbeing.

We urge you all to please continue to follow the FACTS advice and stay safe:

F – Face coverings. These should be used in shops and on public transport (buses, trains and taxis)

A – Avoid crowded places

C – Clean your hands frequently, using water & soap whenever possible

T – Two metres – observe physical distancing

S – Self-isolate and book a test if you are suffering from COVID-19 symptoms

The team

Take a look at these stunning images captured by local photographer Gary Chittick as he showcases the area’s beauty with his work.

Gary Chittick spends his working week as a project lead and manager for Renfrewshire Council, but his spare time sees him indulge in his love of the outdoors and photography.

Gary says Paisley will always be somewhere that he can connect with. The town and Renfrewshire gives him a constant supply of subjects, from unique historical buildings and architecture to green spaces and landscapes.

Here, he tells you the stories behind some of his favourite photographs taken around Paisley.

Aurora from Glennifer Braes

As an experienced “aurora chaser”, this was an image from one of my favourite displays from Renfrewshire. The beams and movement were visible to the naked eye and lasted about 20 minutes.


Paisley Skyline and Noctilucent Clouds

Often visible between May and July, these noctilucent (night shining) clouds made for an interesting horizon on this view from Saucel Hill.


Glennifer Braes Lightning

A disclaimer first – I do not recommend standing outside in a lightning storm with an assortment of metallic items. The chance of capturing a lightning bolt in our own backyard was too inviting to pass up though!


Anchor Mill and Noctilucent Clouds

An evening image of the iconic Anchor Mills but this time with a very still White Cart River and some noctilucent clouds visible to the north.


Paisley Abbey

The historic Paisley Abbey always looks amazing – and is particularly stunning when lit up for various events in the town.


Glennifer Braes, Tree Lined Avenue


Without doubt, my favourite tree-lined avenue in Renfrewshire on the Glennifer Braes. It looks amazing no matter the season. This image was taken in winter.


Craigielinn Falls, Glennifer Braes Country Park

This waterfall can be spectacular, especially after some rain. Best of all, it’s right on our doorstep.

You can follow Gary’s photography via:

Plus, find out more about Gary with his blog by clicking the link below:

In a town that sees creeping influences of Mackintosh and Thomson amongst others, it very much extends the structural beauty of Glasgow to its neighbour in the west.

Neil Robertson
Travels With A Kilt

We miss you all.

We’ve had to cancel our major events programme up until the end of October (although, that’s not stopping us having a Sma’ Shot Day celebration online!)

We’ve also had to advise all our lovely visitors against any non-essential travel to Paisley and Renfrewshire.

Hopefully, some better days are ahead soon. As we ease out of lockdown, please keep an eye on the very latest Scottish Government guidance. It’s vital that we all follow this guidance and help stop the spread of the virus. Nothing is more important to us than your health and wellbeing.

Let’s keep chatting from time-to-time with some news and light relief – we’re going to be a bit busier again on our social media channels, and we’d love to hear from you. 

We’ll continue to do everything we can to support our local tourism and cultural sectors until the days when we can get together again.

Until then, please stay safe and well.

Much love.

The team

It’s a busy time of year as we all rush about getting ready for Christmas. So spare a thought for Widow Swanky, star of this year’s PACE pantomime at Paisley Arts Centre…

Not only is she busy trying to open the best boutique fish and chips emporium in Paisley…but the Snow Queen has kidnapped her beloved son, Percy!

We caught up with her mid-adventure to ask her a few questions:

What brings you to Paisley, Widow Swanky?

I’m opening the best new fish and chips restaurant in Paisley! It’s going to be a boutique restaurant that sells all the very best of gear. Everyone will call it the ‘plaice-to-be’ – geddit?! Castelvecchi, watch out! I’m coming for you to plunder all your business!

Will you see much else of Renfrewshire?

Well, the Snow Queen has kidnapped my lovely son, Percy …. so yes! My beautiful daughter Persephone and I are going to have to go on a quest to win him back.

We’ll be passing the John Stone (it’s a big lump of rock somewhere) and travelling through the Wood of Lin, battling winged rabbits on the way. We have to cross the Bridge of Weir to get to the Snow Queen’s palace … so we’ll be see a lot of Renfrewshire!

What happens on Christmas Day in the Swanky household?

When you want to run the best fish and chip boutique shop around, you have to work everyday. We’ll be out catching special fish for the shop. Percy will have to blow up the dinghy and do all the rowing…Persephone will catch all the fish, she’s the clever one…and I’ll be on the poop deck, drinking Pimms!

Do you have a special Christmas message for the boys and girls?

In the show, I always say “Enjoy yourself…it’s later than you think!” and that’s my message for Christmas too.

Oh, and don’t forget to come to my boutique fish and chip shop in 2020. But leave the brussels sprouts at the door…we don’t want any gas!

Finally…everyone likes a good joke in their Christmas cracker. Do you know any good jokes?

I’m embarassed to say that I’m addicted to the Hokey Cokey…

But I’ve turned myself around, and that’s what it’s all about, eh!


You can see Widow Swanky and the rest of the gang in The Snow Queen, this year’s PACE pantomime at Paisley Arts Centre, until 31 December. Remaining tickets can be bought from the Renfrewshire Leisure Box Office.





Santa Claus is coming to town – and he can’t wait to be part of all the festive fun at Paisley’s Christmas Lights Switch-On 2019!

While he might be the world’s busiest man at Christmas time, Father Christmas has taken a few minutes of his time to speak to before the big event.

Find out how to see the jolly one and what he’s looking forward to at this year’s switch-on.

Where will children be able to see you at Paisley’s Christmas Lights Switch-On?

Children, mums and dads, grannies and granddads can come along to Paisley Town Centre on Saturday 16 November. The event starts at 12noon – and at 1:30pm, I take to my sleigh with the reindeer on a new parade route around Paisley.  The Provost said she wants to come along as well.  If you are arriving by car, come early to get a parking spot as many roads will be closed.  Later in the afternoon I will be in the Grotto at the Piazza Shopping Centre, so come along and say hello.

What’s your favourite part of the event?

My favourite part of the event is seeing all the happy Paisley buddies enjoying themselves before Xmas.  There is a happy and joyous atmosphere around.

What advice would you give to boys and girls to stay on your nice list in the run up to Christmas?

B good

B kind to others

B ehave

B in bed early on Xmas eve

B the best you can be whatever you are doing

If you follow these Bs, you sill stay on the nice list.

Remember the Elves are watching…

What’s your favourite thing about Christmas?

Spending time with those I love.

What is your favourite snack once you’ve delivered presents?

Smoked salmon and possibly a mince pie to follow.

Find out all the details and timings you’ll need to come to Paisley’s Christmas Lights Switch-On on our event page below.

My favourite part of the event is seeing all the happy Paisley buddies enjoying themselves before Xmas. There is a happy and joyous atmosphere around.

Santa Claus
Bringer of gifts to those who have been good...

More festive fun

Santa Claus is coming to Paisley on Saturday 16 November when we’ll be switching on Paisley’s Christmas lights – and you can be part of the fun.

Renfrewshire Council’s events team are looking for keen volunteers to assist with various aspects of the event and help spread the festive joy.

By volunteering as a festive volunteer, you will be able to experience the event in full and enjoy a range of exciting opportunities – such as supporting volunteers and staff, assisting visitors to the festival, as well as helping out Santa at his popular, annual parade.

Take a closer look at the volunteering roles available below:

  • Volunteer and Staff Support – you will play an important role in supporting other volunteers at the event, making sure they are looked after and provided with equipment.
  • Way Finders /Town Centre Crew – you will help event visitors to find their way around town centre give directions to the venues and event information / schedule.
  • Activities/Workshop Assistant – you will help with the creative workshops for children, welcome guests and help set up the workshop space.
  • Parade Support – you will support community groups and get them organised for the festive parade, including positioning parade members and walking alongside groups in the parade.
  • Photography/Videography Volunteer – your main role will be to capture event content through photography and film, following a creative brief outlining tasks and reporting content back to the Communications Team.

Why volunteeer?

Volunteering is a great way to connect with like-minded people. It is a fun way to make new friends and give back to your local community, while gaining new skills and knowledge.

You will also become part of our network of Paisley Is volunteers in Renfrewshire with opportunities to be part of other events in the area.


To find out more about the volunteer roles and to register your interest, email:

We are getting involved in everything from the technical side and working with aerial artists to creating large props and helping with special effects. I am really looking forward to seeing how everything will work together.

Kate McBurnie, 15 years old
Paisley 2018 Halloween Youth Panel

Laura Forbes had never fully been out of her wheelchair before participating in aerial workshops as part of this year’s Paisley Halloween Festival.

But next week, she will perform 100ft in the air in front of Paisley’s iconic Abbey alongside her Dirty Feet Dance Company family.

The Paisley-based Dirty Feet Dance Company aims to create opportunities for disabled and non-disabled people and carers to enjoy, express and fulfil their potential through dance. They have been working with professional performers from Scotland’s leading aerial dance company All or Nothing, on the ‘Into the Dark’ show which is taking place as part of this year’s Paisley Halloween Festival.

During the workshops the group have been given the opportunity to take to the sky in special aerial harnesses to allow them to express themselves in the air.

Laura joined Dirty Feet Dance Company in 2013 and this is the first time she has tried anything like this.

In their own words

Here are the views of just some of the people involved:

“I’ve never been fully out of the wheelchair before, when I get lifted in the harness it’s an amazing feeling, it’s freedom.

“Before I first went up in the air I was scared but after the first time in the harness I just loved it. It gives me a total sense of freedom out of my wheelchair. If there’s something I’ve learned from this experience it’s that I won’t let being scared stop me from trying something new.”

“I can’t wait for us all to perform at next week’s festival. When we all come together we can do anything and achieve anything – we’re all like family.”

Laura Forbes


“It feels amazing when you’re up in the air. I know I’m a wheelchair user but I don’t feel disabled when I’m up there. Being part of Dirty Feet Dance Company lets me try new experiences – this is the first time I’ve ever done aerial and I love it. I think it’s amazing what we’re able to do as wheelchair users.”

Claire Eason, Dirty Feet member since 2006


During the workshops the performers are able to use either a full body or sitting harness attached to a rope system to give them the opportunity to see how their bodies react in the air.

“It gives the performers a real sense of weightlessness and allows them the chance to explore their range of motion in a new platform and artform which has been a great experience for everyone.

“It’s within their power how high to go. They can stay a few feet off the ground or can ascend all the way up to the ceiling. They are in complete control of their movements in the air.”

Ruth Foster, Co-director of Dirty Feet Dance Company


“The system we use gives them the opportunity to stretch out and discover their movement for themselves.

“From my point of view it’s an incredible thing to be part of – what I can see them get from it is fantastic. They all have such great characters and a real ‘do it’ attitude. They are very determined to show what they can do. I think people will be surprised by what they’ll see.”

Marie Williamson, aerial instructor and performer at All or Nothing


This is one of a series of workshops taking place as part of the Paisley Halloween Festival pairing professional performance companies with local community groups to give them the opportunity to learn new skills and be involved in the town’s major events programme.

If you’re coming to Paisley for the Halloween Festival, be sure to catch this sensational performance from everyone at Dirty Feet!

Roll up, roll up! The Dark Circus is coming!

Last week was Volunteer’s Week – celebrating the work of volunteers across the UK and the valuable contributions they make.

While the week of celebrations may be over, volunteers continue their hard work all year round. So, we’ll continue to shine a spotlight on some of our fantastic events volunteers and members of Renfrewshire’s Youth Events Panel, along with the amazing work they have been doing at local events, on projects and more.

Meet Keith Orr, who has volunteered as a creative mentor in Renfrewshire.

Why did you decide to volunteer as a creative mentor?

While at a course at Invest Renfrewshire, I was asked if I wanted to come along to the youth events panel meeting and see if it was something I would be interested in. When I went along to the meeting the room was just filled with energy and excitement, which made it hard to not become excited too.

After the meeting I decided being involved in helping teach the young people what I know about photography and film making was something I wanted to do.


What are the positive aspects on volunteering?

Being part of a group was really good for me on a personal level. Its always nice to feel like you’re worth and can make a difference, especially if you don’t often feel like you do. It helped me with my anxiety as I don’t do well in groups and can be quite quiet in them and this pushed me to speak up more.

On a selfless level, seeing some of the young people gaining confidence in photography was really nice to see. Also seeing all the fun everyone was having while we were making our short film was awesome.

It was just a positive experience all round. I learned something from the young people and I hope they learned something from me.


What would you say to encourage other people  to volunteer?

If you don’t have much going on in your life, feel like you don’t have anything to contribute to the world, I say you should just get out there and try volunteering. It will help build confidence in yourself and abilities – and you may even make some new friends along the way.

There is always something you can do to make the world a better place to live in, you just have to go do it.


Would you like to volunteer as part of Renfrewshire’s Youth Events Panel? To find out more contact:

Watch the amazing mental health awareness film by young volunteers in Renfrewshire

We are getting involved in everything from the technical side and working with aerial artists to creating large props and helping with special effects. I am really looking forward to seeing how everything will work together.

Kate McBurnie, 15 years old
Paisley 2018 Halloween Youth Panel

It’s Volunteer’s Week – celebrating the work of volunteers across the UK and the valuable contributions they make.

As part of the week’s activities, we’ll be shining a spotlight on some of our events volunteers and members of Renfrewshire’s Youth Events Panel – and the amazing work they have been doing at local events, projects and more.

Meet Shannon Baxter, who is a member of Renfrewshire’s Youth Events Panel.

“The reason I decided to join the Youth Events Panel and volunteer with the events team was because I wanted to put my opinions and ideas forward to help to plan events across Renfrewshire.

The positive aspects of being on the Youth Events Panel are the opportunities and the events that its allowed me to be involved in, creating for the Halloween festival and our stop-motion film ‘Behind the Mask’.

The one thing that I would say to encourage other young people to come along is, if you want to put your opinion and ideas forward on planning events in Renfrewshire, then the Youth Events Panel is the place for you.”


Would you like to volunteer as part of Renfrewshire’s Youth Events Panel? To find out more contact:

Watch the amazing mental health awareness film by young volunteers in Renfrewshire

We are getting involved in everything from the technical side and working with aerial artists to creating large props and helping with special effects. I am really looking forward to seeing how everything will work together.

Kate McBurnie, 15 years old
Paisley 2018 Halloween Youth Panel