Two first-year business students at Strathclyde are helping to bring Scotland's national poet to a new generation in a venture which provides imaginative teaching materials for primary schools.
Craig Johnstone and Scott Francis are part of the eight-strong team behind Giglets Ltd, which was founded when they were all at school together but which has continued to gather strength since they continued their education elsewhere.
Their first product, released in time for Burns' Night, is a CD and illustrated book package entitled Tam O'Haggis. It is based on the tale of Tam O'Shanter, one of Robert Burns' most famous poems, and while it retains much of the language and spirit of the original, it is presented in a way which is accessible to today's young children.
Giglets was established as a Young Enterprise company in Burns' Ayrshire heartland when the partners, now all aged 18, were pupils at Loudoun Academy in Galston. They kept the company going after leaving school, when they went to various universities and colleges around Scotland and their work has paid off in the shape of Tam O'Haggis. The book and read-along CD evoke the drama and mystery of the ghoulish horseback ride described in the Burns poem- but the hero is a haggis wearing a tartan tammy rather than a tipsy farmer.
The story was written by Louise Bennett and Fiona Morton and illustrated by Tom Brodie-Browne and Kayleigh Wright. Craig and Francis work in the engine room of Giglets, as Managing Director and Sales Director respectively.
Craig is studying International Business at Strathclyde's Business School and Scott is taking International Business with Modern Languages.
Craig said: "We thought there was a gap in people learning about their own country's history and heritage, so we decided to develop a way in which this could be given to children and came up with Tam O'Haggis.
"We wanted to produce something which could help children as young as five or six to understand Tam O'Shanter and give them an introduction to Robert Burns.
"We're really pleased about how the book has taken off and can help to promote Burns."
The book and CD are being stocked in several major bookstores and copies have been supplied to some local authorities for use in schools. Giglets is currently in negotiations with other councils around Scotland.
The company was also nominated in this year's Ayrshire Business Awards and shortlisted for the HSBC Unipreneurs Awards 2008.
25 January 2008