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Change at helm of Nairn's Green Hive as new CEO steps in

By Federica Stefani

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Green Hive's new CEO Matthew Withey.
Green Hive's new CEO Matthew Withey.

The new CEO of a community-focused social enterprise in Nairn is "thrilled" to join the team in what is expected to be a pivotal year for the organisation.

Taking over from Neil Mapes, Matthew Withey (55) will lead the team based at Seaman's Hall.

Originally from Glasgow, Mr Withey moved to the Highlands seven years ago – and has been a Nairn resident for the past two years.

He formerly worked with the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore and since moving to Nairn he got involved in some activities organised by Green Hive.

He said: "I have been working mainly in heritage in the past 30 years, but more recently I have been involved more in fundraising activities. Since the pandemic I have been working mostly as a freelancer.

"I have always been impressed by the activities that Green Hive run and its ethos as an organisation – so I seized the opportunity when I saw this position opening up, and I was thrilled to get it.

"I love working on environmental projects and supporting the community through it, I liked the circularity of it."

Andrew and Andy at Green Hive workshop.
Andrew and Andy at Green Hive workshop.

The organisation has four members of staff and around 100 volunteers.

"Last year we secured major funding which will support the recruitment of various specialist staff. This is really going to take us to a new level in terms of how we operate as a business.

"It will have a knock-on effect on staff that we already employ freeing up their time to focus on their areas of expertise."

The new roles include a new specialist fundraiser, a volunteer co-ordinator, an organisational administrator and a sales and marketing specialist – with applications expected to open in late March.

It comes as the organisation is set to boost its recycled plastics production thanks to a new one-of-a-kind in the Highlands piece of machinery.

Bench made by Green Hive.
Bench made by Green Hive.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has provided a grant of almost £4500, towards a new plastics hot press machine. It’s believed to be the first of this particular size and kind in the Highlands, and enables Green Hive to increase the variety of recycled plastic items which can be made at its workshop.

The machine transforms a variety of plastics to sheets of colour-matched welded rods. These can then be sold to other manufacturers, or used in the Green Hive workshop. They have a broad range of uses from signage, to worktops, and Green Hive builds bespoke outdoor furniture.

As well as increasing their trading figures, every sheet pressed diverts 25 kilos of waste from landfill.

Mr Whithey said: “We’ve had great success with our upcycled products and this machine will be a game-changer for the workshop in delivering bigger projects in-house.

“We take many end-of-life plastics and transform them into unique, functional products built to last. Clocks, coasters, craft tiles, bird boxes, and bespoke outdoor furniture, are all crafted and all hand-finished by project volunteers.

“This project will support volunteers to gain confidence and new skills such as: operating tools and machinery, product development and recycling waste plastic into design items for retail.”

HIE’s development manager Gabbi Heaton-Armstrong said: “The investment in this project will expand volunteering opportunities for local people, the workshop will be able to tackle more complex orders supporting their financial sustainability, and their work reuses and reduces waste. Green Hive is moving into new and exciting territory for a Scottish community enterprise.”

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