A woman who helped to deliver a major drinks company’s first Speyside distillery in over 30 years has joined the board of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. Laura Sharp, who was part of the project team behind Diageo’s £40m Roseisle Distillery, is one of three new directors to take seats on the board over the past month.

She is joined by Robert Ince, general manager of The Macallan Estate, and Justin Livesey, who heads up the visitor centre team at Glenfiddich. They will work alongside their five fellow directors – who all give their time voluntarily - to ensure the Festival continues to be one of the best events of its kind anywhere in the world.

Their appointments come as it is announced that ticket sales for the 2015 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival will go on sale on February 3. The full programme for the event, which takes place from April 30 to May 4, will be revealed a week earlier on January 29.

Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival chairman James Campbell says, “We are honoured that professionals of such a high calibre have joined the board. They are all very busy in their day jobs, so we really do appreciate and value the time that they are going to commit to delivering the Festival.

“The three new directors each have very different backgrounds, and we are very much looking forward to harnessing that knowledge to help grow and build the Festival, and raise the bar even higher on the visitor experience.”

Laura is now the brand home manager for Cardhu and Cragganmore distillery visitor centres, and is a passionate advocate for the area and the Scotch whisky industry. She has worked with Diageo for 18 years, starting out at Drummuir Castle which is used by the company for hosting customers, international staff and other guests, before joining the heritage visits team.

She was an integral part of the Diageo project team behind the construction of Roseisle Distillery, providing PA support to the project director and team and helping to oversee the official opening of the venture.

Since joining Cardhu she has become heavily involved with the Malt Whisky Trail – the only such trail of its kind in the world – and has vastly increased the number of events staged there as part of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.

Robert’s background is in the luxury hospitality sector, having had spells with the Carnegie Club at Skibo Castle, Cromlix House and The Torridon. He worked in that sector for 14 years before joining the team at The Macallan Estate in 2013 where he now oversees all visitor experiences, including tours, retail and corporate hospitality.

Justin joined Glenfiddich Distillery earlier this year. He started his career as an events manager with Df Concerts in Glasgow, before joining The Lighthouse – Scotland’s Centre for Architecture and Design as a front of house manager. He was a manager in charge of the Teacher Building of the Institute of Engineering & Technology for 10 years before coming to Speyside.

The 2015 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival - and its traditional musical arm the Spirit of Speyside Sessions - takes place from April 30 to May 4. Further information about the event is available at www.spiritofspeyside.com. The full programme of events will be revealed at the end of January, and tickets will go on sale via the website on February 3.

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