Guide Dogs partner with Beano to create better understanding of the impact of sight loss

Guide Dogs has partnered with Beano to create a bespoke story available in this week’s issue of the Beano comic. The partnership hopes to raise awareness of children and young people with visual impairments as well as the services Guide Dogs offer to help people with sight loss have the confidence and support they need to live their lives to the fullest. Alongside the bespoke comic strip, the collaboration sees the very first audio comic strip story created especially for people with visual impairments, making ‘BEANO Presents – A Buddy for Life’ fully accessible for everyone to enjoy.

Available digitally and in print from 1st May, the special Guide Dogs comic strip story sees Beano’s beloved character Erbert, announce his recent sight loss diagnosis to his friends for the very first time, after meeting a guide dog owner at the Bash Street School. The iconic characters subsequently take a trip to the Guide Dogs National Centre, to find out more about the support the charity provides to adults and children with sight loss.

To make the comic strip story even more special, buddy dog owner Alex McQueen age 7 along with his buddy dog Chance and guide dog owner Hester Poole aged 16 with her guide dog Pickle, have been ‘Beanofied’ and appear as their very own characters in the bespoke comic strip story pullout.  Both Alex and Hester have been supported by Guide Dogs over the years so they can live actively and independently

Each year, over 1,400 families are told that their child is losing their sight which can be a challenging and isolating time. With four in five (83%) adults with sight loss admitting they were bullied as children, Guide Dogs has partnered with Beano to raise awareness of the impact sight loss can have on a child or young person. The bespoke comic strip story hopes to help encourage young people to be more accepting and kind to those with visual impairments.

Alex’s mother, Lindsey McQueen said, “For Alex and Chance to be turned into comic characters in Beano is extremely exciting for him and all the family. Not just because he will be appearing in the comic, but because he is excited to show off Chance to the world. Guide Dogs has been supporting Alex since he was four years old and changed his life when Chance the buddy dog came home in 2022. They have a special bond that has helped both practically with Alex’s visual impairment but also with his confidence and given him a best friend.”

Since 2012, Guide Dogs has run the Buddy Dog service, matching children who are blind or partially sighted with dogs to help them develop their self-confidence, make friends and positively impact their wellbeing. Buddy dogs are dogs that are deemed to be more suited to living with a young person and their family than working as guide dogs and their presence can bring about transformative positive effects.

Beano and Guide Dogs’ collaboration sees the first audio comic strip story created especially for people with visual impairments. ‘BEANO Presents – A Buddy for Life’ will be available as a comic strip story, an audio comic story and as an adaptable digital comic story with a dyslexia-friendly typeface to make it fully accessible to all. The comic strip story will also be available to download as a panel-by-panel pdf, a more adaptable option for readers using digital devices allowing for screen magnification and larger fonts.

For Craig Graham, Editorial Director at Beano Studios, the partnership has been extremely meaningful as someone on their own journey with sight loss.

Craig said, “At Beano, it’s important to us to reflect kids’ experiences and help them navigate life with the fun and mischief that all kids should get to enjoy. ‘BEANO Presents – A Buddy for Life’ has given us the opportunity to talk at length about sight loss, which has been a particularly special project for me as someone who has a visual impairment. We hope that this special Guide Dogs comic story brings joy to kids, whilst also helping them understand more about sight loss, how to be there for their friends and highlights the services available to kids and young people that Guide Dogs offer.”

Alex Pepper, Head of Accessibility at Guide Dogs, said, “Our partnership with Beano will help children learn more about visual impairments and the various services Guide Dogs offers in a fun yet educational way. With Erbert opening up about his visual impairment to the Bash Street Kids for the very first time, we hope to encourage people to feel more comfortable sharing their sight loss experience.

“We aim to raise awareness of sight loss through our fully accessible bespoke comic strip story, which includes a first-of-its-kind audio version that enables everyone to enjoy and access the content across multiple formats. We hope to normalise these conversations so young people can better understand how to be inclusive and supportive of everyone.”

The special comic strip story is available as an insert in Beano issue out 1st May. To listen to Beano’s first audio-comic strip story and find out more information about Guide Dog user Hester and buddy dog owner Alex, visit

Resilience and ingenuity celebrated at The Courier Food and Drink Awards

The best culinary businesses from across Tayside and Fife were celebrated this week at the fourth Courier Food and Drink Awards, held at The Old Course Hotel in St Andrews.

Boasting more entries than ever before, the awards shine a light on the businesses and people around Courier Country making a difference in an industry crucial to the local economy.

In his welcome on the night, editor of The Courier, David Clegg, said: “The submissions paint a picture of an industry that continues to show resilience and ingenuity in the face of myriad challenges.

“The food and drink sector is at the heart of our local economy, using natural resources of our fertile farmlands, rivers and coastline to create considerable value and provide job opportunities for thousands of workers.

“It has been said that food and drink is Courier Country’s equivalent of the north-east oil and gas economy and its significance to this region really is difficult to overstate.”

Bar of the Year (sponsored by Diageo) went to Dundee’s The Barrelman which was praised by judges for supporting local, creating a real community vibe and engaging with charities. Thomas and Jacqueline Fox, the people behind the venue, also picked up the Entrepreneur of the Year award (sponsored by ALTAR Group).

Wasted Degrees Brewing took Brewer of the Year (sponsored by School of Business, Dundee University). As well as producing great beer, judges were impressed with the Blair Atholl company’s environmental consciousness and their ambition in branching into the European market.

Thomas Tsappis of Killiecrankie House was awarded Chef of the Year for showing ‘amazing creativity in menu development and the very best use of seasonal, local and sustainable ingredients’.

The Community Champion award (sponsored by Apex Hotels) was given to Broughty Ferry’s Braw Tea café, a social enterprise supporting disadvantaged women from all walks of life through training, work and friendship.

In the Craft Distiller of the Year category (sponsored by DP&L Group), The Kingsbarns Company of Distillers impressed judges by their growth over recent years and international recognition for their products.

Independent Café of the Year (sponsored by The Rookery) went to Sweetpea Café for its ‘great vibe and inventive menu’.

Producer of the Year (sponsored by Swilcan Loft) was given to Angus Soft Fruits with judges commenting on the quality of the product and commitment to the environment. The company were also highly commended in the sustainability category.

After taking the newcomer award in 2022, Auchtermuchty’s Boar’s Head won Restaurant of the Year for 2024 (sponsored by Barnetts Toyota). Judges were impressed with the ‘commitment to provenance, using the best locally sourced ingredients to provide an affordable fine dining experience’.

Rising Star of the Year (sponsored by Malmaison) was a public vote, with the award going to Ethan O’Hare from Carnoustie’s WeeCOOK, who was highly commended in the 2022 awards.

Street Vendor of the Year went to Choola, a husband and wife team bringing the flavours of Nepal to Fife from their street food van.

Based out of Craigencalt Farm by Kinghorn Loch Greenheart Growers took the Sustainability Award (sponsored by InvestFife). The market garden project provides positive social outcomes for the community, supplying fresh, organically grown produce to cafes and restaurants as well as veg boxes to locals.

A special awards winners supplement will be published in The Courier on Monday April 1st.

Record breaking year for Scottish Golf Tourism Week

Golf industry event Scottish Golf Tourism Week concluded last night in Inverness with predictions that this year’s meeting of suppliers and tour operators would bring golf tourists to the home of golf from more countries than ever before.

Brought to the Highlands in partnership with The Press and Journal, 90 tour operators representing a record 40 countries spent the week visiting courses around Scotland and taking part in over 3,500 face-to-face appointments planning itineraries for visiting golfers in 2024 and 2025.

Organised by DC Thomson and supported by The Highland Council, Visit Inverness Loch Ness, Highland and Islands Enterprise and VisitScotland, deals done during the week bring an estimated 50,000 golf tourists to Scotland each year, hugely benefitting local economies.

The six-day annual event has been taking place in St Andrews since 2016 and relocated to Inverness for the first time this year, centred at the city’s Kingsmills Hotel in association with Good Highland Food. The decision to move the event from its Fife home was taken to make it easier for north east suppliers, particularly small and medium-sized businesses, to access global buyers.

Next year, the event will continue to showcase more of Scotland’s golf regions and support local businesses and communities with 2025’s host city announced as Aberdeen, maintaining the partnership with The P&J.

The week culminated last night (March 21st) with the prestigious Scottish Golf Tourism Awards, held at the at the Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre in Inverness. Presented in association with Luxe Scot, the awards saw St Andrews’ Connoisseur Golf picking up Best Tour Operator for a second year running.

A total of 15 awards were handed out at a gala dinner attended by over 500 people to celebrate the clubs, hotels and experiences that have helped shape Scotland’s reputation as a world-class golfing destination.

Golf clubs across the north east did particularly well with the Royal Dornoch Golf Club winning the award for best course in the over £250 category, Cruden Bay Golf Club near Peterhead winning the £150-£250 category and Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Links on the Black Isle winning the under £100 group.

A high point of the night was a standing ovation for Gary Wilkinson, former Chairman of the Scottish Inbound Golf Tour Operators Association who received a special recognition award for his unwavering contributions to the golf industry.

Andy Williams, chief revenue officer at DC Thomson, organisers of the event said: “It has been very motivating to see the positivity and optimism this week as Scotland’s golf industry has been proudly showing off to the world what makes this country, that is arguably the home of golf, so special.

“We organise Scottish Golf Tourism Week as it really makes a difference to local suppliers. The average benefit for each business taking part is projected to be in excess of £215,000 in the three years following the event which is just extraordinary. The economic benefits go beyond that, and it’s estimated that Scottish Golf Tourism Week contributes an estimated £3 million to the local economy, highlighting the vital role that golf tourism plays in supporting businesses and community development across Scotland.

“DC Thomson’s purpose is to champion the communities we serve. A growing and innovating Scottish golf sector will create jobs and opportunities in our communities and the more people playing the sport the more opportunity for our local news titles and brands like bunkered to power them on that journey.” 

M&S Food joins forces with Taste of Grampian to champion local suppliers in North East

Marks and Spencer has announced that it is to partner with Aberdeen’s Taste of Grampian, taking title sponsorship position of the food and drink event when it returns to P&J Live for a third time on June 1st. 

The ‘north-east of Scotland’s favourite indoor foodie experience’ is an annual one-day consumer event organised by DC Thomson events, which has attracted more than 10,000 people through its doors in previous years. 

Celebrity chef, author and TV personality Nadiya Hussain MBE, who rose to fame after winning the sixth series of BBC’s The Great British Bake Off in 2015, will headline Taste of Grampian for 2024, alongside a strong line-up of Scottish and local chefs, with fantastic tasting experiences. A host of crafters and food and drink producers will be selling their products and sharing their brand stories, too. 

The event – held in partnership with ANM Group – gives attendees the chance to sample and buy the flavours of the region with produce, street vendors, artisan delicacies, fresh food, baking and drinks – all under one roof. 

Expanding on its existing presence at the Royal Highland Show, M&S Food will be showcasing its links to local suppliers, food quality and animal welfare. 

Sharry Cramond, M&S Food marketing director, said: “Taste of Grampian and M&S make a wonderful partnership because so many of our long-standing suppliers are based here – whether it’s slow-baked crumbly shortbread from Aberlour, great quality mackerel from Fraserburgh, velvety soft smoked salmon from Buckie or our exclusive blend of porridge oats from Banff. 

“We know how passionate our customers across the whole UK are about food from Grampian and M&S is proud of the support we provide to suppliers of all sizes across the region. 

“So we can’t wait to come to Taste of Grampian and showcase food from our north-east producers that are already championing great quality, value and innovation.” 

Beano Hunts for Britain’s Funniest School Children

Comic celebrates the Bash Street Kids’ 70th anniversary with the launch of ‘Britain’s Funniest Class’ competition

The nation’s longest running comic, Beano is on the hunt for Britain’s funniest primary school class.

The children’s comic is calling on schools and teachers across the country to enter ‘Britain’s Funniest Class’ competition, by submitting their best jokes and gags.

The most side-splitting jokes will be put to a public vote to decide the winning class and one class will be crowned winner and immortalised in a special edition of the comic.

The launch of the competition marks the 70th anniversary of The Bash Street Kids, which has led the charge on classroom comedy for the last seven decades.

The comic strip’s characters, which include the likes of Plug, Harsha, and Scotty, have been showcasing the Great British classroom and embracing a perfectly imperfect childhood from the very beginning.

The initiative, now in its sixth year championing the comedians of the future, aims to encourage confidence and wellbeing in the classroom. Beano has partnered with charity, Place2Be to launch the competition and bring fun, free, resources to the classroom to tackle the growing issue of children’s mental health.

The real-life school children crowned Britain’s Funniest Class will be captured by Beano illustrators for inclusion in a special edition of Beano.

It will be the very first time in the comic’s history that a whole class of real-life children will be immortalised in the pages of a Bash Street Kids story.

Originally called ‘When the Bell Rings’ The Bash Street Kids was inspired by a Dundee school which was next to the offices of DC Thompson. 70 years on, the characters continue to reflect the individuality and hilarity of British children, making them a great source of inspiration for Britain’s Funniest Class, which this year has the theme ‘Express Yourself’.

Mike Stirling, Director of Mischief at Beano said: “We are absolutely thrilled to launch our biggest ever Britain’s Funniest Class competition, whilst also celebrating our very own funniest class – The Bash Street Kids.

The characters of class 2B, with all of their unique super-powers and flaws remind adults and children alike that it’s great to be different. We hope that the Bash Street Kids inspire this year’s entrants to express themselves and we can’t wait to see all the incredible and hilarious jokes from classrooms across the UK.”

Michelle Bates, Headteacher at Greasley Beauvale Primary School, winners of last year’s Britain’s Funniest Class encourages teachers across the UK to enter the competition. She said: ”The classroom and the school flourished when we rallied together as a team for the common goal of laughter. It was wonderful to see the classroom grow in confidence and creativity.”​

Catherine Roche, Chief Executive of Place2Be said: “We are really excited to join forces with the team at Beano to find Britain’s Funniest Class, and get children laughing in every town in the UK. We know that having fun and laughter in the classroom encourages self-expression, confidence and can boost wellbeing so we’re proud to be part of this year’s initiative. ”

The comic is also on the hunt to discover Britain’s Funniest Teacher for the first time,  celebrating educators and the crucial role they play. The competitions launch during Children’s Mental Health Week.

The Bash Street Kids anniversary edition of Beano is now on sale. A special serialisation has been created and features the fictional class calling for real kids to send in their joke submissions.​

Britain’s Funniest Class entries are open here:

The winner of Beano’s Funniest Class will be revealed on 22nd May 2024