TOURISTS flocking to Urquhart Castle to see if they can catch a glimpse of the monster said to dwell in the adjacent Loch Ness might wish to know about a great way to support budding local entrepreneurs.

Forget Nessie and concentrate on the excellent products created by local school pupils which are now on sale in the Castle.

Chocolates, a children’s book and scented candles are some of the products designed by young entrepreneurs from local schools and social enterprises who have won the opportunity for their products to be stocked at Urquhart Castle until March 2019.

The products include a map, tea towel and cotton bag from Kilchuimen Academy; ‘Braw Chocolates’ from Dornoch Academy; Kinlochleven children’s book from Kinlochleven High School; and Highland scented candles from Made in Tain.

The products, which are locally-produced in the Highlands, range in price from £3.50 to £35 and all profit from the products sold will either be reinvested into the social enterprise or donated to a charity of the school pupils’ choice.

This is the outcome of the ‘Meet the Buyer’ project launched by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and Social Enterprise Academy to inspire young entrepreneurs as part of the Year of Young People 2018.

Local schools and social enterprises which work with young people aged 8-26 were invited to speak with retail buyers and deliver a pitch to a panel of experts to have their product stocked at Urquhart Castle. The teams were asked to choose a Gaelic name for their product and the pitches could be delivered bilingually in English and Gaelic.

This also forms part of HES’s Gaelic Language Plan 2018-2023 which aims to engage visitors with Gaelic language and culture. Through this plan, HES aims to acknowledge and promote Gaelic language and culture as an important and valuable part of Scotland’s historic environment.

Alex Paterson, chief executive of HES, said: “It’s been fantastic to see so many young people engage with this new project. The incredible talent of the young people here in the Highlands is evident in the wide range of quality products that have been created, which we are sure will be of huge interest to visitors to Urquhart Castle. Urquhart Castle is one of most-visited historic attractions in Scotland, and we’re delighted to give local schools and social enterprises this platform to show off their talent.

“We hope to have inspired a young generation of entrepreneurs and helped prepare them with key skills for their future careers.”

Natasha Troitino, Head of Retail at HES, said: “We were extremely impressed with the level of professionalism demonstrated by the young people who took part. ”

Emily Mnyayi, Head of Education at the Social Enterprise Academy, said: “This project has given pupils a platform to speak up about the issues that matter to them. We’re thrilled to see Urquhart Castle promoting social enterprise products that are empowering young people in the Highlands to take action and make a difference in their communities.”