Helping it Happen Award winners announced

Winners and runners up in helping it happen Awards - group photo
Norette Ferns

Businesses and projects across rural Scotland have been recognised at this year's Helping it Happen Awards, including a squirrel conservation project and a food hub.

The third Helping it Happen Award gala was held recently at the Sheraton Hotel in Edinburgh, hosted by Scottish Land & Estates which runs the awards. Compering the evening was presenter of BBC's Landward programme Anne Lundon.

Finalists were previously shortlisted for each of the nine awards by an independent judging panel, and the winners were revealed and presented with their trophies at the gala evening.

The Helping it Happen Awards has enjoyed growing recognition in its aim to champion rural business and entrepreneurship, highlighting the contribution of farms, estates and land-based businesses to their local communities throughout rural Scotland. Wide support from the rural sector and continued sponsorship from The MacRobert Trust demonstrate a national enthusiasm to showcase the social, environmental and economic benefits brought by rural entrepreneurship.

The 2019 winners are:

  • Tourism Award, sponsored by GLM: The Scourie Hotel, Lairg for investing in a complete coastal tourism experience to benefit visitors and the environment
  • Rural Business Award, sponsored by Turcan Connell: Ogilvy Spirits, Hatton of Ogilvy Farm, Forfar for supporting local businesses and rural education throughout their impressive business developments
  • Rural Housing Award, sponsored by Velux: Inverbroom Estate, Garve for dedication to sympathetic period restorations and providing housing for local families
  • Education Award, sponsored by Lycetts: Dumfries House, Ayrshire for their outdoor training and learning experiences that promote life skills and personal development
  • The MacRobert Trust Award for Working with Communities: The Ayrshire Food Hub for their inspiring outreach work teaching valuable skills to local youngsters
  • Conservation Award, sponsored by Anderson Strathern: Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels for the Developing Community Action initiative to involve local communities in their vital conservation work
  • The Iver Salvesen Green Business Award: Lochrosque and Kinlochewe Estates, Wester Ross for creating multiple green energy sources throughout a diverse estate business
  • Innovation in Farming Award, sponsored by Douglas Home & Co: Joint winners are Sweethope Farm, for their long-term dedication to research and improving farming methods; and Durie Farms, Leven for persistent work to challenge and improve arable farming practises
  • Enhancing our Environment Award, sponsored by Scottish Natural Heritage: Lochrosque and Kinlochewe Estates, Wester Ross for their sympathetic approach to managing diverse habitats to benefit both land and wildlife

Scottish Land & Estates Executive Director, Sarah-Jane Laing, congratulated all the winners, finalists and entrants and commented:

"We are delighted with the progress and momentum the Awards have gained in their third year. Entries have been consistently strong and inspiring across the board, and choosing our category winners has been a challenge for the judges. The very highest standards of practice, the latest technologies and embracing the global call for all industries to prioritise environmental enhancement, conservation and sustainability are key challenges facing rural enterprises.

"Helping It Happen highlights how Scotland’s diverse rural businesses are succeeding in meeting these demands and deserve continued recognition as contributors to the national economy and to the standard of living in rural communities."

The 2019 Winner of the Rural Business Award, Caroline Jarron of Ogilvy Spirits commented:

"This is a really significant award for us, and indeed such a significant campaign for Scottish rural enterprise as a whole. We are a relatively young business and have taken great care to develop every step with the most modern and most environmentally friendly methods possible.

"Creating a field-to-bottle business in rural Scotland has presented logistical challenges but we have been lucky with regional funding assistance and support from local landowners to get to where we are today. The local community and local trades have been the vehicles for growing the business, particularly our new visitor centre, and we strongly believe these should be the key to any rural enterprise. Happily, this wonderful award from Helping It Happen affirms we are on the right track. Now to keep going…"

Special award for Rural Youth Project

For their work inspiring and developing the next generation of rural leaders, the Rural Youth Project team were awarded with a special prize.

Alan Laidlaw, CEO Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland and Helping it Happen National Awards Judge, said:

“Even in its infancy, the Rural Youth Project has demonstrated an ability to energise a demographic that rural communities have traditionally struggled to engage with – our young people. Although their application didn’t specifically fit the existing award categories, it was clear the work that the Rural Youth Project is doing to develop and empower the next generation couldn’t go un-noticed."

Rural Youth Project Co-Founder and Director, Rebecca Dawes, said that the Helping It Happen awards play an important role in recognising business and community organisations that make real and significant contributions across rural Scotland. 

​Ms Dawes said:

"It was incredibly inspiring to be surrounded by businesses and community groups with the same purpose and passion to ensure Scotland’s rural places thrive. Our mission is for the betterment of rural young people’s lives and it’s amazing for the team to have our dedication and hard work recognised by Scottish Land and Estates’ Awards."

It was a successful night for the project all-round with Rural Youth Project delegate, Anne Kelso, accepting an award on behalf of Ayrshire Food Hub and project partner GrowBiz also presented with a Highly Commended Award on the on the night.

Helping It Happen will open for nominations for its 2020 National Awards in the spring.