The village of Cambusbarron, Stirling remembered today all those that fell during the Great War.
For my generation World War 1 feels such a long time ago, with World War 2 feeling closer to our time as that war is more associated with being around the birth of our parents and the stories they could pass on to us.
Unless you go deep into studying the history of WW1 I don't think we truly can appreciate the atrocities that our grandfathers and great grandfathers went through in that conflict.
Like many millions throughout the world, today my family and I took time to remember and pay our respects to the millions that fell and who sacrificed to allow many future generations hope and opportunity.
A massive thank you to all our team plus friends, family, suppliers, delivery drivers and our postman who all donated towards the Macmillan Cancer Support Coffee morning recently held at our Stirling Electrical/Alarms office.
Later this week myself and fellow electrical colleagues will attend the Scottish Parliament.
On Thursday 25th October just after First Ministers Questions a debate brought forward by MSP Jamie Halcro Johnstone will take place to support the Regulation of Electricians as a Profession.
I have mentioned on this blog previously about an ongoing campaign by electrical trade association SELECT to bring legal status to electricians as a 'Profession' - similarly like Gas engineers, essentially making it mandatory that those that carry out electrical work in Scotland be fully trained and have up to date qualifications to carry out such work.
Currently anyone with no training or qualifications can carry out electrical work and legally at the moment there is nothing stopping them carry out such work, if this work is carried out by someone with no formal electrical training or past qualifications that have no or little relevance to the latest electrical regulations then the work could cause harm to property and put lives at risk. Presently the homeowner or business property owner has no mandatory regulated formal way of checking the qualifications of the person carrying out the work.
The parliament Motion calls for support in regulating the electrical industry where only those with up to date and ongoing electrical training and qualifications can carry out electrical work within Scotland and for a mandatory regulated register of qualified electricians/companies. Failure to do so and still carry out electrical work would then be illegal - similar to Gas work.
The campaign by the hard working group at SELECT has gathered pace and now has the support of other electrical organisations and trade unions and will now have a voice at this parliament debate.
I have today written to my local MSP highlighting this campaign and parliament debate and will update with more news later in the week after the debate on Thursday.
In the meantime if anyone has any questions or queries about why the Regulation of Electricians as a Profession is important please ask in the comment section below or in a reply to my social media posts.
90 days ago as part of one of my 'Fun' goals to achieve in this quarter I said I wanted to have a go at Ice Skating.
Not once before had I tried it in my life.
Today I hit my target.
But after the first 10 minutes on the ice I was tapping out.
I couldn't move forward, I couldn't move away from holding onto the side.
I was finished.
After standing at the side for a few minutes and after a good few deep breaths I quickly threw that 'finished' story out of my head.
Back on the ice, I was re-focussed.
What I hadn't realised before was that I had about a hundred teachers all around me.
I stood and watched, I took in how they moved on the ice, how they balanced.
I stood and watched how they flicked their feet and the motions they made.
Ok, lets go again then I said to myself.
Slowly and uneasily...I managed to move forward and I moved away from the side.
Around and around the rink I went.
I stopped at times, I rested, I looked at others again to learn more.
I was now moving faster, I was feeling more comfortable - it also helped that I had tightened my boots.
Around and around the rink I went......thud.
The more comfortable I felt with the level I was at the faster I pushed myself.
But this created a new challenge - it was now time to fall down.
As my confidence grew, I wanted to expand, I wanted to move faster, I wanted to be more graceful.
But that brings with it new challenges.
Thud, Thud, Thud....it's bloody sore falling on hard ice, that's something else I've learned as well today.
90 minutes later, sweating (how can that be in an ice rink) I was skating and still falling over but where I had came from to where I was now in the space of 90 minutes was massive.
From, wanting to quit after 10 minutes, to simply changing the story in my head that ice skating was too difficult and I couldnt do it, to watching and learning from others around me.
From falling down, bruised and sore, I got back up and tried and tried again.
Dancing on Ice is a long way off, infact skating for more than 2 minutes without falling on my arse will still take many more hours to achieve.
But funny how the above is just like all the things we achieve in life.
From fear and dread to begin with, to taking small steps, making mistakes and learning from those mistakes to eventual improvement and success as long as we persevere and put in the hard work.
I dread to think what my next 90 day 'fun' goal will be.
My new podcast is now available where I will discuss business, fitness and family.
Hopefully I will provide some words of wisdom along the way.
The podcast is available to listen and subscribe to on a host of popular platforms including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Full details are on my new podcast page.
It is Scottish Apprenticeship week and at Stirling Electrical Services we are pleased to offer our support and commitment to employing and training apprentices.
Every one of our existing skilled team members are either currently an electrical apprentice or our qualified electricians including myself have all progressed to full electrician status via the recognised electrical apprenticeship scheme in Scotland organised by SECTT.
The value of apprenticeships should never be underestimated and in my opinion apprenticeships should be more widely encouraged within secondary education.
Each one of our electrical apprentices have to train for at least 4 years combining college theory and practical learning work as well as gaining on-site experience working alongside our qualified electricians.
I fully support the drive this week to increase awareness highlighting the important role that apprentices can play within businesses and the long term benefits they can bring.
Right from the very beginning of Stirling Electrical Services in 1996 I have always been keen to employ apprentices within the business.
So during this important Scottish Apprenticeship Week I am pleased that we have made a double Apprentice commitment.
Firstly we have this week employed a 3rd year electrical apprentice who unfortunately was made redundant at his previous company in late 2017.
Qualifying as an electrician after 4 years of apprentice training can set people on the road to a rewarding career and with 3 years apprenticeship training under his belt it was important to take this apprentice under our wing and help him train and study over the coming months to allow him to prepare for his final electrical exam.
Secondly we are also committing to employing a new 1st year electrical apprentice during the Autumn college intake with a commitment to employ them for the duration of their 4 year apprenticeship training. We will announce more details around May this year regarding how people can apply.
Apprenticeships are crucial for the electrical industry, fast track electrical training courses are a waste of space and I would argue even dangerous for the electrical industry.
For those that are considering an apprenticeship especially in the skilled trades then don't let anyone including school careers advice put you off from becoming an apprentice. If you turn up with an attitude to put in the hard work and commit to learning your trade then an apprenticeship can be a worthwhile long-term career move.
It should be rather embarrassing for an electrical business to be plunged into darkness but like tens of thousands of other businesses across Scotland we have been closed and left in the dark for the past few days due to the heavy snow.
With snow falling and the unprecedented red weather snow warning looming we took the decision to close last Wednesday at 14.30 and as the snow continued to fall and aided by the windy conditions the roads deteriorated quickly so for safety reasons travelling was a no go meaning we were also closed on Thursday and Friday.
I can't remember another time in nearly 25 years of business that we have had to totally close for a full working day but the safety and wellbeing of our team members comes first.
Some of our team have been out and about this weekend clearing snow from our office car park and we plan to flick the ON switch on Monday and have our services operate near to normal as possible.
We had to cancel many jobs last week and will review our job schedule over the coming days and look to reschedule those cancelled jobs as soon as we can.
It has been a frustrating past few days for us all whether in business or parents having to make alternative plans due to schools being closed and I ask that our customers show us a little patience over the coming week as we look to turn the lights back up to full brightness as soon as possible.
Below some photos of our office snow clearing work.
A brave and inspirational watch as Stephen Fry describes in his own unique way his battle against prostate cancer.
A message for us all not to ignore any signs and also for regular check ups.
Encouraged to hear that his recovery is going well.
Video from www.stephenfry.com
More information at Prostate Cancer UK
This past week has seen an upsurge in calls for tighter regulations over electrical white goods after a recent study suggested faulty appliances could "cause 60 fires a week".
The issue has even been on the agenda of our local Stirling MP Stephen Kerr who, in his latest Stirling Observer newspaper column(see below), said he has been involved in looking into this matter at UK Government level.
MP Kerr's involvement and the awareness within the news media recently should be welcomed as the lessons learned after the terrible tragedy at Grenfell must be acted upon quickly.
I have been involved in the electrical industry for 25 years and while tighter regulations may indeed have to be introduced into the manufacture and warranty procedure of white goods, the lack of regulation is more widespread than just white goods - the whole electrical installation industry needs to be more tightly controlled and regulated.
You may be surprised to find that there is currently no legislation in place to prevent an individual with no electrical skills or qualifications whatsoever from placing an advert in the local newspaper advertising as an electrician, willing to undertake electrical work in homes and business premises.
The law (in Scotland) currently allows anyone to carry out most electrical work, with no mandatory formal checks to confirm that the individual has been trained and is qualified to the latest regulations.
A recent survey found that up to 2000 unqualified electrical businesses are potentially putting the safety of the Scottish public at risk - that figure is staggering and could be quite literally 'shocking'.
View the video and visit the link to read and watch the disbelief as members of the Scottish public who thought electricians were currently regulated were told that no such thing is in place.
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There are a few non-mandatory trade organisations databases including a building standards database in Scotland available for consumers to check if electricians are registered - these databases list the electrical individuals and companies who have up to date qualifications and are already committed to upholding the safety and carrying out work in accordance with the latest electrical regulations. More info for the public at SELECT website as well as at the Electrical Safety Council.
There is some hope though as Scotland's largest electrical trade organisation SELECT are determined to address the issue and improve public safety and have started a movement to regulate the electrical industry in Scotland. By making the job of an electrician a 'Profession' it would become an offence to carry out electrical work in Scotland when not qualified to do so. Did you know that a door steward in a night club has more legal and mandatory checks carried out on them than an electrician?
To give some context to the idea of regulation that affects the electrical industry, in December 2015 it became mandatory in Scotland for Private Rented Landlords to have electrical wiring testing carried out every 5 years and a short time before that date new fire safety regulations were introduced increasing the number of smoke/heat detectors installed within properties rented to private occupiers.
For the past few years at Stirling Electrical Services and at other qualified electricians in the Stirling area, we have been into many hundreds of private rented properties and because of the mandatory testing, landlords (including myself) have been 'forced' to increase the safety of the electrical installations with many life saving devices such as smoke alarms and RCD switches being introduced.
I say 'forced' because unless the mandatory testing regulation was in place then a large percentage of the rented properties would still have life-risking and fire-causing electrical problems present.
Having mandatory regulation works - the vast majority will adhere to it meaning safety to all will increase - and those that don't adhere to the rules should be punished.
Over the past year or so SELECT have been in discussion with the Scottish Government and as part of their campaign have submitted a report and evidence to support the idea of regulating Electricians.
An idea that would bring electricians and electrical work in line with gas engineers and gas work where tighter regulations already apply.
Listen below to a 2017 BBC Interview with SELECT MD Newell McGuinness about the campaign.
I have said for many years that to get a light or socket to work is relatively easy with a little knowledge, but to make sure the work involved (and the end result) is SAFE to YOU and YOUR PROPERTY is an entirely different scenario - and that is why only qualified electricians with up to date training and qualifications should be allowed to carry out electrical work in homes and businesses throughout Scotland.
If they do not have up to date electrical qualifications then it is time to stop - the kitchen fitter, plumber, joiner, man at the pub and even electricians who were qualified many many years ago but have no up to date training from carrying out most electrical work. For safety reasons electrical regulations change and are updated every few years and without up to date training and qualifications you cannot carry out electrical work to the current safety standards.
A regulated industry would also raise the standard of those electricians currently qualified as it would mean we would always be kept on our toes knowing we had to maintain our standards to remain on the mandatory register of electricians.
It is time for the electrical industry to be regulated as an equal to gas and while the current movement to increasing the safety of white goods should be welcomed I would like to make our local politicians aware of our current electrical industry situation.
As SELECT continue to have discussions with Scottish Government officials it would be reassuring to know that our own MSP Bruce Crawford is aware of the situation and I would also hope our Stirling MP Stephen Kerr would offer his support where he can - they, you and I all have homes and work in or visit business premises and it would be good to know that the person you ask to come into your property to carry out electrical work involving 230 and 400 dangerous volts of electricity is qualified and competent to do so - and that they have been audited by an official register before they come into your property.
It's time we stopped taking chances with electricity - the mandatory regulations in rented properties brought in so far have made a big difference so it's about time we went all the way and made sure the people carrying out all electrical work are trained and qualified to do so - surely life and fire safety are not worth taking a 'chance' on.
What are your thoughts on the plans to regulate the electrical industry - did you just presume the person who you let into your property to carry out electrical work was qualified, did you carry out competency checks on them beforehand ? Post your thoughts in the comments below.
Follow the campaigns latest news - https://twitter.com/regulate_SELECT
The images below are all real examples of dangerous electrical work or faults we have encountered in recent months.
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