Feb 17 2012 by Kaiya Marjoribanks, Stirling Observer Friday
CALLANDER craftsman Paul Millard has secured an order to supply a safari park with its latest attraction – two 18 foot yurts.
Paul, owner of Red Kite Yurts will deliver the Central Asian trellised tents to Blair Drummond Safari Park later this month.
They will provide a place for children to host birthday celebrations and storytelling sessions.
Paul said: “I’m delighted to be able to provide a local company with two of my yurts.
“The owner of the park had visited West Moss-side Farm in Thornhill last year and really liked the look and atmosphere of the yurts we had built for the owner Kate Sankey’s new self-catering tourism enterprise.
“It takes six weeks to make each tent and they’ll both be ready to hand over to the park in time for the start of the 2012 season.
“Over the past few years there’s been a renewed interest in yurts.
“Having been helped by Business Gateway many years ago, I went back to them last year for advice on how to manage the increased interest without losing the love of what I do.
“Through help to devise a strategic plan, my adviser has provided me with a renewed focus and helped me to secure a grant to re-develop my business website.
“She also introduced me to Interface, an organisation that matches businesses with academics. As a result I am now working with Napier University, looking at ways to strengthen my larger yurts, which are used for corporate events and make spectacular wedding venues.”
Paul also runs monthly yurt building workshops, with the next event taking place tomorrow (Saturday).
He said: “The workshops, which run throughout the year, are very popular. Education plays a huge role in the event.
“People learn how to build a yurt using locally sourced materials: timber is harvested from the estate where we live and work and from Loch Tay, the canvass covering is supplied from Dundee.
“The participants learn to steam-bend the wood and assemble the yurt and, at the same time, learn about the culture and history of nomadic Central Asia.
“I’ve visited Kyrgyzstan on two occasions to study the traditional building techniques. There are wonderful stories to tell from the region and I feel privileged to be able to pass them on to the people who attend my workshops.”
To find out more about the yurt building workshops visit www.redkiteyurts.com
Caroline Brown from Business Gateway Stirling said: “Paul set up Red Kite Yurts eight years ago after people wanted to hire and buy the yurts he had made as a hobby. Since then his business has steadily grown but he came to a crossroads last year and needed our support to help him decide which direction to take his business.
“Through one-to-one support and access to a grant he has been able to revitalise his website, which generates most of his business, and update his marketing strategy.
“We have also helped him look at potential ways to diversify, including the possibility of illustrating and publishing a story written by Paul called ‘Marco the Silk Road Monkey’ and possibly using yurts as temporary accommodation following a disaster.”
For more information on Business Gateway visit www.yourbusinessgateway.co.uk or call (01786) 463416.