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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 15/01/2020

The Regional Rising Star award in the Scottish Thistle Awards, sponsored by HIT Scotland, celebrates young people working within the tourism industry in Scotland who show real promise as a rising star with a passion for their future and the future of the industry.

At the Scottish Thistle Award regional finals in November, three young individuals were recognised for their ambition and success within the tourism industry. This week, we’re celebrating Craig MacDonald, Natalie McLachlan and Joseph Sellors.

Craig MacDonald received the Regional Rising Star award at the Central, Fife & Tayside Regional Final of the Scottish Thistle Awards.

21-year-old Craig is Managing Director of Wee Heroes Laser Tag and the Transcend Escape Rooms in Falkirk. His business was recently crowned Best Leisure Business in Falkirk, he is Falkirk’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year and Vice Chairman of Visit Falkirk Partnership, where he takes a key role in the review and implementation of the Falkirk Area Tourism Strategy. This is the second successive year that Craig has received the Regional Rising Star award for the Central, Fife & Tayside region and is set to expand his business ventures to Edinburgh in 2020. He was praised by the judges for his collaboration and influential work within the region 

Craig MacDonald poses for a photograph with his award with presenter Jennifer Reoch and presenter of this award either side.

Craig MacDonald winning the Regional Rising Star award at the Scottish Thistle Awards Central, Fife & Tayside Regional Final. 


I am delighted to win this award for the second year, it is a testament to my teams continued dedication and hard work. I would like to thank my family, friends and loyal customers for their support. The Thistle Awards really are a money can’t buy experience. The scholarship from HIT Scotland allows me the opportunity to learn from the best in the business and further my career.

Craig MacDonald, Managing Director of Wee Heroes Laser Tag and the Transcend Escape Rooms

Natalie McLachlan, owner of The Four Sisters Boatel in Edinburgh, was crowned Regional Rising Star for the Lothian & Borders. Natalie runs The Four Sisters Boatel offering 4-star self-catering accommodation on the city’s Scottish Union Canal. By encouraging tourism, regeneration and creating a unique space in Edinburgh, Natalie is determined to make the canal a diverse and dynamic place to live, work, invest and visit. And as a young, female business owner, she is passionate about encouraging more women to work on the canal and hopes to encourage independent commercial businesses to work alongside her.

Natalie McLachlan holding her award poses for a photo on stage flanked either side by award presenter and awards night presenter.

Natalie winning the Regional Rising Star award at the Lothian & Borders Scottish Thistle Awards Regional Final. 

I am honoured to have my hard work recognised by VisitScotland. Offering unique, 4-star, luxury accommodation, The Four Sisters Boatel is part of the dynamic and sustainable regeneration of the Edinburgh Union canal. It is the perfect way for visitors to experience and explore the upcoming Year of Coasts and Waters.

Natalie McLachlan, owner of The Four Sisters Boatel.

Monument Manager at Dumbarton Castle, Joseph Sellors, received the Regional Rising Star award for the west. He has worked for Historic Environment Scotland since 2015, being promoted to the position at Dumbarton Castle in 2017, where he has been responsible for creating an exceptional service for all visitors. Joseph earned praise from the judges for leading a well-managed volunteer programme and demonstrating strong leadership skills.

Joseph Sellors stands on stage after being presented with his award and poses for a photograph with awards' presenter and award giver.

Joseph winning the Regional Rising Star award at the Scottish Thistle Awards Regional Final in the west.

I am delighted to have won the Regional Rising Star award. I thoroughly enjoy my role at Dumbarton Castle and am passionate about Scottish tourism so to be recognised by my peers is very pleasing. I’m extremely grateful for all of the support I receive from my colleagues at Historic Environment Scotland.

Joseph Sellors, Monument Manager at Dumbarton Castle.

For more information on the Scottish Thistle Awards, visit

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