2016 Winners

The winners of the 2016 Scottish Rural Awards were a diverse group, with one key factor in common – the positive impact they make within their local communities. Click here to browse our brochure and read their success stories. 

 

RURAL HERO

Toby & Mary Fichtner-Irvine

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Toby and Mary are key figures on the Isle of Muck. Having worked hard to uphold the island’s unique cultural experience, Toby and Mary have overseen the development of a tourism industry that has opened up to visitors – not only to their shooting estate, but to the island as a whole. The couple have created an excellent model for other rural communities to aspire to, with their resoundingly positive impact making waves not jut around the island, but across the country.

 

EDUCATION

2016 Winner

The Royal Highland Education Trust

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Established in 1999, The Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET) is the educational charity of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS). RHET takes the classroom to the countryside, providing free resources, farm visits and classroom speakers which allow children to learn more about Scottish farming, food and the countryside. Striving to provide the opportunity for every child in Scotland to learn about these subjects, RHET aims to ensure that Scotland is the best-informed European nation in this Field. RHET currently connects with around one in eight Scottish school children through 12 countryside initiatives.

 

2016 Runner Up

An Lanntair

An Lanntair, in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, is a creative and educational hub for all Western Isles communities

An Lanntair is a multi-arts venue in Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis, which encompasses a contemporary art gallery, theatre, cinema, dance studio, concert hall, studio and space for poetry and literature events. Each space showcases the arts in multiple forms, creating educational opportunities that people of all ages and abilities can engage with.

 

2016 Highly Commended

Making The Most Of Moorlands

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This educational community project run by by The Langholm Initiative works to engage people with the natural environment. Over the past six years this Dumfriesshire project has ran over 450 activities, including guided walks, stream dipping, moorland art, wild food forges and even a moorland musical.

 

CONSERVATION AND THE ENVIRONMENT

2016 Winner

Communities Along The Carron Association (CATCA)

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Communities Along The Carron Association (CATCA) is a group of local volunteers committed to the regeneration of the River Carron, its communities and the adjacent land by Falkirk. The collective effort of over 3,500 people has resulted in the River Carron being cleared of over 100 tons of log jams, 70 tons of fly-tipped items and 2,000 bags of litter. CATCA works with councils, agencies and other groups to improve water and wildlife habitat of the Carron, develop a path network and promote education and heritage projects. The group secured Local Nature Reserve Status for the Carron Dams site in 2013, and has helped to win funding for over £1million of path network improvements.

2016 Runner Up

Belhaven Hill School’s Conservation Club

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Belhaven Hill School’s Conservation Club aims to excite and inspire a generation of young people in Dunbar, East Lothian, to enjoy and understand the natural environment around them, by channeling the pupils’ natural enthusiasm for fresh air, wild woods and windswept beaches into positive and creative conservation projects.

2016 Highly Commended

The Borders Forest Trust

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Established in 1996 to help restore native woodland to southern Scotland, The Borders Forest Trust’s ethos is that people and woodlands belong together. The local community is very much the heart of the conservation and restoration work that is carried out – so much so that the Borders Forest Trust has created the banner of ‘woodlands culture’ to describe its day-to-day work.

RURAL ENTERPRISE

2016 Winner

Kezie Foods

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A long-established specialist in importing exotic meats, Kezie Foods was founded in 1992 by the Murray family, who saw a gap in the market and so, instead of rearing traditional sheep and cattle, branched out to rear ostriches from the egg. Over 20 years later, Kenzie Foods has expanded further to import exotic meat from around the world, including kangaroo, crocodile, buffalo and wild boar. Despite sourcing products from South Africa, the company has continued to champion the importance of Scottish farming, working in partnership with smaller British farms to supply meats including Wagyu beef and alpaca, as well as working closely with neighbouring estates to buy game and offering a route to the market. Kezie Foods also go that extra mile for the environment by ensuring all packaging is 100 per cent recyclable.

2016 Runner Up

Salar Smokehouse

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Founded in 1987 on South Uist, the original owner of Salar Smokehouse designed and built his own unique kilns upon which to oak-smoke the company’s signature Salar Flaky Smoked Salmon. Today, current owner Iain MacRury’s determination to save the smokehouse from closure has seen the brand relaunched, with the on-site shop also providing a centralised community hub for other Hebridean businesses to showcase their products.

2016 Highly Commended

We Hae Meat

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We Hae Meat is owned and managed by Alex and Carlyn Paton who, in 2007, bought a small butcher stop on Girvan’s high street. Starting out with no experience in the trade, the couple have grown the business to secure a national deal and long-standing partnership with Asda.

BUSINESS DIVERSIFICATION

2016 Winner

Arbikie Highland Estate

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Run by brothers Iain, John and David Stirling, Arbikie Highland Estate produces single-estate, small batch Arbikie Vodka, Kirsty’s Gin and Arbikie Chilli Vodka. There is total traceability on all Arbikie products, with everything grown, distilled and bottled on the estate. Kirsty’s Gin has further helped to diversify the business. Named after Kirsty Black, Arbikie’s Master Distiller, the gin is made from Arbikie’s original potato vodka and is infused with botanicals including kelp, carline thistle and blueberry- a unique gin with excellent local provenances, made so successful by the innovation of the brothers behind its production, who have helped to put Angus on the map by creating a brand that appeals to the discerning drinker.

2016 Runner Up

Rock Machinery

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Rock Machinery is a family-run company which designs, imports and retails a range of machinery used predominately in rural communities. Based on a dairy farm of 100 acres in Lanarkshire, owner Ian Kirby spotted a gap in the market to begin developing a new agricultural machinery based on feedback from Scottish farmers.

2016 Highly Commended

Gordon Castle

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The spiritual home of Clan Gordon, the 15th-century Gordon Castle by Fochabers, Moray, has undergone a highly successful diversification programme in recent years. A highlight is the eight-acre Walled Garden, which supplies all the ingredients for Gordon Castle’s branded products, including gin, cider, jam, tea and bath and beauty products.

RURAL TOURISM & HOSPITALITY

2016 Winner

The Enchanted Forest

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The Enchanted Forest is a dazzling audiovisual display which takes over Faskally Wood, near Pitlochry, between September and October each year. Using forest as a natural backdrop, creative visuals and innovative design are set against original music to create an unforgettable lighting show. The Enchanted Forest received a total of 46 nominations from members of the public for the Rural Tourism & Hospitality category, all of  whom praised the display and resounding impact it had on tourism in Pitlochry. More than 62,000 tickets were sold for the 2015 show, bringing a financial benefit of between £2.5 and £3million to Highland Perthshire. The Enchanted Forest also offers an annual total of £10,000 in funding to local clubs and groups, including Pitlochry in Bloom and Breadalbane Canoe Club.

2016 Runner Up

The Storehouse at Foulis Ferry

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The Storehouse at Foulis Ferry is a self-service restaurant and farm shop on the shore of Cromarty Firth, run by Quintin and Michelle Stevens, who go that extra mile not only for visiting tourists but for the local community. From office lunches for local businesses to a picnic service, Quintin and Michelle have diversified their business to the benefit of the community as a whole.

2016 Highly Commended

Craigatin House

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Owners Martin and Andrea have combined exemplary customer service with extensive community work to create a first-class business model for Craigatin House. Martin is chairman of the Pitlochry Partnership, a trustee of the Enchanted Forest Charitable Trust, and a director of the Pitlochry Lighting Committee, while Andrea works with Pitlochry in Bloom.

BUSINESS START UP

2016 Winner

Uan Wool

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Spurred into action by her son’s sleeping troubles due to asthma, sheep farmer Julie Hermitage created Uan Wool to explore natural solutions for allergy sufferers. Uan Wool’s range of wool pillows and cushions, launched at the Royal Highland Show in 2015, are made on the farm at Glenisla, by Kirriemuir, by a team of local employees, designed and tested with support of the University of Dundee’s Design in Action project. Uan Wool not only provides its customers with product traceability, but it contributes to the wider sustainability of Scottish wool manufacturing and production. Uan Wool’s range has the capacity to provide sleep and health benefits to thousands of allergy sufferers as the business continues to grow.

2016 Runner Up

Scotsburn Croft

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Scotsburn Croft was founded in Invergordon by Claire Ferguson, who initially started making a range of handmade accessories, ceramics and home furnishings as gifts for her friends during her time off from working as an offshore production chemist. The brand has since grown to encompass over 30 different products.

2016 Highly Recommended

Phabulous Pheasant

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Phabulous Pheasant is a business venture of Fiona Jackson and Alison McManus, who started the company in April 2015. Alison and Fiona, who both come from country and gamekeeping backgrounds, use their knowledge and appreciation of wildlife and birds to create beautiful accessories from discarded feathers.

AGRICULTURE

2016 Winner

Peelham Farm

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Peelham is an organic mixed farm in Berwickshire with an on-site butchery, producing free-range pork, grass-fed lamb, mutton, beef and ruby veal. The farm is overseen by business partners Amanda Cayley and Chris and Denise Walton, who have been in partnership at Peelham since 1990. Supporting and promoting Tamworth pigs, a rare breed of the animal, has always been a primary concern at Peelham Farm, with all partners dedicated members of the Rare Breed Survival Trust. Peelham has brought a creative vision to farming, which has included going organic, increasing the farms’s pig numbers, building an on-site butcher and, more recently, the creation of Peelham Farm’s own charcuterie and prosciutto-curing facilities.

2016 Runner Up

Albert Bartlett

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Established in 1948, Albert Bartlett today supplies the UK with over 450,000 tonnes of fresh potatoes each year, making up 25 per cent of the total market. The company’s produce is generated by a dedicated group of 96 farmers who are committed to natural agricultural practices with minimum interference.

2016 Highly Commended

Kersmains Farm

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Since taking over the running of Kersmains Farm by Kelso in 2009, husband-and-wife team Simon and Ashley Hogg have not only grown, and helped to revive, Golden Promise barley for whisky production, but have diversified their farm with the development of a successful self-catering cottage, B&B and horse livery.

ARTISAN FOOD

2016 Winner

Iain R. Spink

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Beginning his working life in the family business, RR Spink, at the age of 16, Iain learned all aspects of the trade, from buying on the market right through to processing, storage and freezing. Producing Arbroath Smokies was just one of the many skills he gained during those years- and probably the most valuable one. Iain’s exact recreation of the original Arbroath Smokie making process using wooden barrels, hardwood logs and hessian sacking has proven to be a very popular attraction at events including the BBC Good Food Show. Iain has given in-depth consideration to environmental issues, exploring every possible avenue to further minimise damage to the environment whilst crafting this special artisan product.

2016 Runner Up

Golspie Mill

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The only known producer of peasemeal, Golspie Mill is also one of Scotland’s last commercially-run water mills. A fantastic example of artisan produce, Golspie Mill’s innovative approach to production has helped to reinstate and promote a traditional Scottish food which would otherwise have been lost.

2016 Highly Commended

Galloway Chillies

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Founded in 2012 when owner Sheena Horner spotted a gap in her local food market, Galloway Chillies’ achievements have gone from strength to strength over the past four years, including securing a place at the Rural Leaders Programme, a Scottish Enterprise initiative designed to foster promising rural businesses.

ARTISAN DRINK

2016 Winner

Arbikie Highland Estate

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Run by brothers Iain, John and David Stirling, Arbikie Highland Estate produces single-estate, small batch Arbikie Vodka, Kirsty’s Gin and Arbikie Chilli Vodka. Casks are also available to purchase for the first Arbikie whisky, which is expected to be released in the next two years. Recently, Arbikie has been developing Kirsty’s Gin, named after Arbikie’s Master Distiller Kirsty Black. The gin is made from Arbikie’s original potato vodka and is infused with botanicals including kelp, carline thistle and blueberry – a unique gin with excellent local provenances, made so successful by the innovation of the brothers behind its production, who have helped to put Angus on the map by creating a brand that appeals to the discerning drinker.

2016 Runner Up

The Black Isle Brewing Co

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The Black Isle Brewing Co is a true pioneer in brewing, having bought surrounding land to convert to organic farming, the produce of which is used to further develop what is now Scotland’s premier organic beer brand. The brewery has vested interest in charities, with 20p per bottle of The Pollinator Beer donated to The Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Black Isle Bee Gardens.

2016 Highly Commended

Summerhouse Drinks

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Summerhouse Drinks bubbles with ambition and creativity to save consumers from lacklustre, bland beverages. Owner Claire Rennie has restored the historic walled garden on her family’s farm to grow the botanicals for her artisan soft drinks, which includes a Scottish tonic water to rival leading brands such as Schweppes.

AQUACULTURE

2016 Winner

Firth of Forth Lobster Hatchery

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Overfishing, depleted stocks and species extinction threaten what were once thought to be in exhaustible resources of the world’s oceans – and lobsters are no exception. This threatening shortage led Director David Grubb, along with Jane McMinn and Jack Dale, to launch Firth of Forth Lobster Hatchery, based in a container in North Berwick harbour. The project got underway in 2010 with the opening of a microhatchery and education centre, where berried hens release their larvae which is nursed through the juvenile stage and grown to a size where they can be released, a process which allows for a vastly greater chance of survival. In 2014, the company received a substantial grant from the Coastal Community Fund, which has allowed the business to expand their projects further, including the launch of their online retail portal.

2016 Runner Up

Scot-Hatch

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Scot-Hatch produces high-quality diver-caught king scallops and is committed to perfecting the technique of scallop ranching, new to Scotland but commonplace in other parts of the world. Scot-Hatch has worked in collaboration with Norwegian company Scalpro AS since 2010, carrying out considerable research.

2016 Highly Commended

The Loch Ryan Oyster Fishery Co. Ltd

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The Loch Ryan Oyster Fishery Co. Ltd has worked in partnership with the Wallace family, who own the rights to fish the oysters in Loch Ryan, since 1996, with a view to sustainably manage and conserve the loch’s oyster population whilst maintaining an active fishery. Loch Ryan Oysters are sold to restaurants including Gleneagles, Martin Wishart and Loch Fyne.

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

2016 Winner

Shirley Spear

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The Three Chimneys on the Isle of Skye is one of the most remote restaurants in the UK, so Shirley, along with husband Eddie, took a huge gamble giving up a life in Croydon to start up a business. Shirley’s achievement in building an iconic restaurant with rooms is all the more remarkable considering that she had no professional experience in the hospitality industry when she and Eddie started out in 1984. Though former head chef Shirley has now handed over the kitchen to Scott Davies, she is still very much a key figure in the day-to-day running of The Three Chimneys. Shirley’s enthusiasm and passion for promoting Scottish produce and hospitality continues unabated, with her work a key factor in developing Skye as a tourism destination and putting the island on Scotland’s food map.