Scottish Rural Awards celebrate the best of rural entrepreneurship

Agriculture winner Peelham Farm
Agriculture winner Peelham Farm

Albert Bartlett, The Black Isle Brewing Co and The Borders Forest Trust were among companies from across Scotland whose success was celebrated on Thursday 31 March at the Scottish Rural Awards & Gala Dinner.

The event, held at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, is the culmination of a second year of partnership between Scottish Field and the Scottish Countryside Alliance (SCA) to host the awards, which celebrate the innovation, dedication and enterprise of those living and working in rural Scotland.

Comedian Fred MacAulay took to the stage as compere for the evening, entertaining the audience of 400, including representatives from award sponsors Aldi and the Bank of Scotland and high-profile finalists such as Marine Harvest, The National Trust for Scotland, Crieff Hydro and NB Gin.

More than 200 nominations have been received since the awards opened to the public last September, with support for companies spanning from Outer Hebrides to the Borders, and Shetland to Fife.

Judging took place at the end of January to select a winner, runner-up and highly commended in each of 10 award categories that encompass every aspect of rural life, from aquaculture to agriculture, tourism and food and drink.

Those who have made special contributions to the Scottish countryside were also with two separate accolades - the Rural Hero Award, which went to Toby and Mary Fichtner-Irvine, who have played key roles in developing the Isle of Muck and the Lifetime Achievement accolade was presented to chef and businesswoman Shirley Spear of The Three Chimneys in Dunvegan, Skye.

Jamie Stewart, director of the SCA, said: "The Scottish Countryside Alliance is thrilled to deliver the Scottish Rural Awards in partnership with the Scottish Field Magazine.

"It is the only awards to truly recognise the innovation and dedication of those who live and work in rural Scotland.

"We had long felt the "doom and gloom" tales of rural decline about dwindling services, a collapsing farming sector and the death of village life did not accurately reflect the spirit of rural people and their desire to protect our landscapes, heritage and communities for future generations.

"If the quality of the nominations for the 2016 awards reflects rural Scotland we certainly have a very bright future."

And Richard Bath, Scottish Field's editor and a Scottish Rural Awards judge, added: "Showing our readers the joys of the Scottish countryside is one of the main aims of Scottish Field, so our partnership in the awards is a perfect fit.

"I was amazed by the quality and attention to detail showed by the nominees across each category."