By Bejay Browne
THE FIRST Kilt hire and Scottish gift centre has opened in Cyprus and in the first few days of business is already taking bookings for next year.
Former soldier John McDonald, 42, opened his Kato Paphos shop just four days ago and has already obtained bookings for kilt hire at seven Paphos weddings due to take place in 2014.
After serving for 24 years in the British army, two years of which were spent at RAF Akrotiri, McDonald decided to move back to the island he says he loves to ‘live the dream’, with wife Deborah and three-year-old daughter Maisie. They are currently living in Tala in Paphos.
The former soldier, originally from Edinburgh told the Sunday Mail: “My sister got married in Cyprus three years ago. It was a nightmare to get hold of kilts. She had to hire them in Scotland and bring them over to Cyprus; it was a difficult process and they also had to pay excess baggage.”
The decorated soldier said this made him think there was a gap in the local market which he could fill.
“I did a lot of research and realised there was nowhere in Cyprus which did kilt hire and yet there are lots of Scottish expats living here and people coming for weddings.”
He noted that he is too young to retire and along with his army pension, any income from the new venture will top up the family’s income.
McDonald says the entire process took one year to come together and he finally opened his shop in Kato Paphos just a few days ago.
“I have five different tartans available, 18 of each of all sizes and lengths. I have 96 altogether as well as the jackets, shirts, brogues, sporrans and kilt pins,” he said.
The items are available to hire or to buy. The cheapest package for a three day kilt hire is 35 euros and the most expensive is around 60 euros.
There are also gift sets available including pocket watches, cufflinks and flasks.
The ex soldier has also been playing the bagpipes in various bands for over twelve years and is available to pay at events in Cyprus. “I’m not a bad piper,” he jested, “I’ve already been booked for a Burns night supper in January, which I’m really looking forward too.”
The Paphos resident has served in numerous countries and conflicts during his stint in the army, including: the Gulf war, Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Bosnia and Afghanistan.
As well as his Paphos based shop, McDonald has a dedicated website – McDonalds Kilts of Cyprus – which enables customers to make enquiries and order products online.
“It’s all very new, but I love living in Cyprus and surprisingly, I’m not missing the army at all,” he said.
John McDonald (m) 99903294 Website: www.mcdonaldskiltsofcyprus.com