And the Scottish Rural Oscars go to………..
Scotland’s Champions in the 2012 Countryside Alliance Awards (aka the Rural Oscars) were announced at a Holyrood reception on 5th February. Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism Fergus Ewing MSP handed out the coveted awards to five inspiring Scottish businesses. The winners now go forward to the UK & Ireland final, to be held at the House of Lords next month.
The Awards are the Countryside Alliance’s annual celebration of rural produce, skills, enterprise and heritage through our small hard-working businesses. Finalists from across the country were in Edinburgh for the reception, sponsored by Angus MacDonald MSP, to celebrate reaching the final and to hear if they had triumphed. These are the eighth annual Awards which have quickly become the rural business award to win. The lucky winners, who have emerged from a fiercely competitive Scottish final, now go on to represent Scotland at the UK & Ireland finals at Parliament in Westminster on 13th March.
Fergus Ewing MSP told the reception that the Government is prioritising the rural economy and that its growth is key to Scotland’s future. He also paid tribute to the unsung heroes and heroines of rural business and the contribution they make to our communities.
Scottish Countryside Alliance Director Jamie Stewart announced the winners as follows:
On paper this should be one of the easiest categories, shouldn’t it? We can all judge good local food with some authority can’t we? Well what happens when you have four of the finest local retail outlets in Scotland going head to head for an award... a lot of head scratching and comparing, but it isn’t simply like for like. Did they all meet the criteria, yes and then some… I have to say that in the end it came down to the glowing reports from both the customer nominations and the judges who visited and experienced the service first hand.
Hopetoun Farm Shop offers some of Scotland's finest foods including fresh local produce from the surrounding Hopetoun estate plus a wide range of produce from selected award winning Scottish suppliers. Hopetoun is also an excellent educational resource for lifelong learning offering a range of activity based workshops suitable for a wide variety of groups from nursery, primary and secondary schools to students of further education, special interest groups and the general public. All in all, a visit to Hopetoun Farm Shop is a very enjoyable experience.
Highly Commended: Loch Leven's Larder, Channel Farm, Milnathort, Kinross, KY13 9HD www.lochlevenslarder.com 01592 841000
Village Shop/ Post Office Award,Applecross Village Stores & Post Office, Carn Raineach, Camustiel, Strathcarron, Highland 01520 744491
The winners of the Village Shop-Post Office category showed a great desire to breathe life back into a community that had all but given up on itself.
The owners have shown a commitment to the community and are doing so much more than simply serving newspapers and food or handling post. Prescriptions, cooking fuel and sometimes even children are delivered to all manner of people in all manner of places… However, the defining difference was the sheer nature of the efforts involved in operating a business under such challenging conditions.
Prior to the shop opening, locals were forced to travel forty minutes through the Bealach na ba, nearly 675 meters up and over Scottish mountains or face an hour’s journey around a rugged and windswept coastal road just to get the basic amenities. In the conversion of a their garage and an attitude of never being closed or turning anyone away from the door Alistair and Seonag Brown have gone a long way to reinvigorate this isolated community’s spirits.
Enterprise Award - The Village at Machrihanish, Machrihanish, Campbeltown, Argyll, PA28 6PT http://machrihanishdunes.com/ 0800 151 3701
If you Google “enterprise” you get many definitions other than the starship and Captain Kirk. You might find Scottish enterprise and read an explanation or definition something like “identify and exploit opportunities for economic growth, build a globally competitive product or service and stimulate economic growth”.
Owner winners, Southworth Developments seemed to have read the handbook from cover to cover. Essentially our winners have created a world class golf course shaped from a landscape designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), no mean feat in itself.
Consider further the tens of millions of financial investment into not one but two localised economies, the renovation of two derelict hotels and the further building of accommodation and the employment of over 100 local people to services the sporting enterprise. The vision of our winners has breathed life back into an area of Scotland that has traditionally relied upon fishing and farming, two areas that have declined in the recent past.
Building links with similar enterprises throughout Scotland, Europe and the wider world will surely see the brand and service grow year or year.
Highly Commended: The Lodge, Strichen House, Strichen, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, AB43 6TN www.strichenpark.co.uk 01771 637029
Butcher Award - A & G Collie, St Bryde's Road, Kemnay, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, AB51 5RD 01467 642 207
The winner of the butcher’s category not only deserves the accolade for their fine produce and service but for sheer determination to succeed even in the face of adversity.
A & G Collie have survived successive years of disasters in the form of a fire which burnt out the shop (no problem we’ll operate from a portacabin in the car park) and a burglar who stole Christmas lunch from most of Kemnay. Working tirelessly they sourced replacements and supplied every customer’s order in time for Christmas. Without tempting fate, I don’t think anything or anyone could stop this couple servicing their community.
Highly Commended: S & M Mckenzie & Sons Butchers, Lochcarron, Strathcarron, Highland, IV54 8YA 01520 722 229
Start-up Award - Formartines, Tarves, Ellon, Aberdeenshire, AB41 7LD www.formartines.com 01651 851 123
The winner of this category has certainly achieved the criteria and much, much more. The owners had a vision and enthusiasm that was hard to match. The judges were impressed with the detailed application and were even more so during the site visit. The attention to detail in creating a place where locals and visitors alike can explore the relative solitude of the North East countryside, practice an age old trade and enjoy the delights of local fare and produce; combined with the sensitive nature of the design and construction of a building that sits in harmony within its environment has to be experienced to be believed. John and Rebecca Cooper with Formartines Visitor Centre are worthy winners.
Photos to follow!