Nominations for the 2017 Scottish Rural Awards have officially launched at the Scottish Parliament.
Marking the opening of nominations at a reception at Holyrood yesterday (Thursday 8 September), Rachael Hamilton MSP, Scottish Conservative Spokesperson for Tourism and Small Business, hailed the Scottish Rural Awards as a great boost to Scottish rural enterprise.
Addressing MSPs on their first week back in Parliament after the summer recess, Rachael Hamilton said: “I am honoured to be hosting tonight's Parliamentary reception on behalf of the Scottish Countryside Alliance and the Scottish Field to mark the launch of the Scottish Rural Awards 2017. It is with delight that we encourage the opportunity to acknowledge creative and innovative people, business, ideas and achievements.
"These awards reflect the hard work, passion and tremendous efforts of those from agriculture to tourism - and food and drink to education and I look forward to working together with the Scottish Countryside Alliance to help further rural progress. ”
Shirley Spear OBE, Chair of the Scottish Food Commission and founder of The Three Chimneys restaurant at Colbost on Skye, joined the judging panel for 2017 after winning the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2016 Scottish Rural Awards.
Shirley said: “I was thrilled to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award in March this year and deeply value recognition from my peers in the world of rural business. I have championed the cause of support for rural enterprise for the past 3 decades. We have very specific challenges in rural areas and in order to succeed in business, we often have to surmount these in very positive and proactive ways. This is why I was keen to support the 2017 Awards and help as a judge, knowing how important it is to recognise the contribution they make towards the Scottish economy and our whole way-of-life.”
The awards comprise a set of 12 categories backed by sponsors including Aldi, the Bank of Scotland and the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland.
Founded by the Scottish Countryside Alliance and the Scottish Field, the Scottish Rural Awards are the only awards to wholly champion businesses in Scotland's countryside.
Jamie Stewart, Director of the Scottish Countryside Alliance, said yesterday: The Scottish Rural Awards offer the opportunity to showcase rural businesses and to acknowledge the efforts of thousands of unsung heroes as they operate, often in trying circumstances. More often than not, these enterprises are viewed as the lynchpin for their communities, offering much more than a simple retail service. A true reflection of the spirit of rural people and their desire to protect our landscapes, heritage and communities for future generations.
"Privately funded initiatives such as the Scottish Rural Awards are so important and why we are so grateful to our sponsors and nominees. With their support we are able to highlight some of rural Scotland’s undoubted talent to the widest opportunity.
Last year's awards drew over 200 nominees from across the country, including the National Trust For Scotland, Crieff Hydro, The Three Chimneys, NB Gin and Marine Harvest. Previous award winners have included Albert Bartlett, Arbikie Vodka, GordonCastle and the Borders Forest Trust.
Nomination forms and criteria are available to download from the Scottish Rural Awards website - www.scottishruralwards.org - until the closing date of Friday 14th October.
Finalists will be announced at the end of November, with winners revealed at the Scottish Rural Awards gala dinner, which is set to take place on Thursday 16 March 2017 at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh.