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Teenager who built up Alness Entertainment Services prepares to close business amidst uncertainty of ongoing coronavirus crisis and fears Scottish Government support won't go far enough

By Ian Duncan

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Director Angus Mitchell of Alness Entertainment Service.
Director Angus Mitchell of Alness Entertainment Service.

AN award-winning entertainment business built up by an Easter Ross teenager looks set to be the latest victim of the coronavirus crisis.

The plight of Alness Entertainment Services director Angus Mitchell (19|) reflects that of many in a sector devastated by the impact of Covid restrictions and has prompted pleas from a Highland business leader ahead of possible fresh support from the Scottish Government.

Invergordon-based Mr Mitchell, who set up the business in January 2019 and supports three jobs, said: "It is with a heavy heart we announce our closure.The decision was made for us by the Scottish Government when they announced the new restrictions this month which have once again hugely affected the events industry with no support."

Failing significant grant support, he said the business will be wound up at the end of May.

It was recognised at the 2021/22 Prestige Awards, picking up an Entertainment Services of the Year Scotland accolade.

It is well known locally for its involvement in weddings and other special days.

He said: "When Covid hit us the first time the support from the Government was there and we invested in bouncy castles which kept us afloat.We were then allowed back to work and as you can imagine business took off once again with people's missed events and everyone being keen to socialise again.

"We then hosted one of our most popular events at the Invergordon Social Club which was a massive family Christmas night out with around 250 attendees – it was a sell-out and was enjoyed by all."

He is now looking at closing his premises, selling all off vehicles and liquidating stock.

He has thanked customers for their "valued support".

David Richardson, Highland development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “It’s no secret that countless businesses across the country have gone through an unimaginably tough time and that those engaged in tourism and hospitality have been particularly hard-hit. Having lived through two false dawns as we emerged from lockdowns, they must now survive omicron."

He said: "At a time when some communities in Ross-shire are struggling to retain their young people and stabilise population decline, we need vibrant businesses as employers and wealth generators more than ever. Angus Mitchell, a young and ambitions entrepreneur, is a fantastic example and he and his kind must be nurtured."

He noted fresh support from the Scottish Government for culture and events and said he was hoping to see further support.

MSP Maree Todd said the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic had caused disruption and uncertainty in the sector "who have already been hit so hard by its impact", adding: "That’s why the Scottish Government’s recent commitment of £19.8m for Scotland’s events sector has been so vital.

“With record case numbers at the moment and rising hospital admissions it is clear we are facing a significant threat from omicron, but the phenomenal success of the vaccine programme offers some hope for better times ahead."

She said her team is keen to support individuals and businesses as they deal with the latest challenges and urged any needing help to get in touch.

His predicament won sympathy from supporters who posted to social media. Some pointed to potential funding for firms which have experienced cancellations.

Julie Clarkson posted: "Such sad times for you all, build a company and changes happen out with your control."

Willie Hay wrote: "Sorry to hear about this, don't give up on your dreams yet."

Jill Gray stated: "So sorry to hear this. Hopefully times will get better and you will shine again."

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