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Promoting Shetland in London

by Amy Watton -

Did you know that you can leave Shetland first thing in the morning and be in London by lunch time? Great, right?

A few weeks ago, equipped with our Shetland postcards, the Promote Shetland team embarked on the 598-mile journey to London, where we had been invited to a couple of particularly special events.

Event number one: Goldsboro Books, 17 Cecil Court. Located a stone’s throw from one of London’s most iconic locations – Covent Garden – it was the first stop on our London tour. Ann Cleeves was launching her final novel in the Shetland series, and she had invited us along. Oh, did we mention that we made it to London from Shetland by lunch time?

Once through the doors of this beautiful bookshop, we were greeted by the lovely Marian from the Taste of Shetland, alongside one tub of Salted cod, a packet of dill-salted lamb and several hundred bannocks. She clearly had been busy preparing an array of appetisers for the guests that would promote Shetland’s finest produce.

You might be thinking that one may have food, but surely this should be washed down with a dram? Just as well our friends at Shetland Reel had thought ahead – they brought with them a gin, distilled especially for this big occasion, and they had named it ‘Wild Fire’. Very fitting we thought.

Many of you are no doubt aware of the impact Ann Cleeves has had on the marketing of Shetland. Ann has never shied away from expressing how much Shetland - the landscape, people and culture - have inspired her writing. At the age of 19, Ann found herself living in Fair Isle, and it was here her very own Shetland story began, and where great Shetlanders read Ann their own stories that inspired her novels.

The event was a fine tribute to a woman who used Shetland as the backdrop to the action in her books. Various guests were invited to honour the work of Ann and thank her for her participation in placing Shetland in the spotlight. How is this for an astonishing statistic: since the Shetland Series began in 2014, Shetland has witnessed a 42% rise in visitors to the island. We think that says it all.

Day two in London was gearing up to be just as exciting as day one – we had been invited to another very special launch. Our second event was to be hosted by Scotland House London, Scotland’s latest innovation and investment hub in the capital. The objective of Scotland House is to help ambitious Scottish companies take advantage of business opportunities in London, as well as providing a base where they can meet customers, target new markets, and showcase their products and services.

A key aspect of Scotland House focuses on showcasing products and services from some of Scotland’s most ambitious businesses. As an ambitious organisation ourselves, a member of Scotland House and with a range of fantastic products, we had been invited along to celebrate the launch of their new product wall.

The event was a showcase of products from far-flung corners of Scotland, but it was also an opportunity to meet other likeminded businesses and individuals, who are passionate about where they are from and the products they produce.

We were delighted to see some of Shetland’s finest goods on the wall, with displays featuring The Shetland Tweed Company, The Shetland Soap Company, The Shetland Distillery and Mati Ventrillon. It was also great to see other brands such as Essence of Harris, Isle of Harris Gin, MacGregor and MacDuff and Just Slate proudly displaying their products.

We would like to thank Scotland House and Visit Scotland for putting on such a fantastic event, providing such delicious food and even better company.

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