Success at Rural Awards

The winners of last week's Rural Awards ceremony held in Dumfries.
The winners of last week's Rural Awards ceremony held in Dumfries.

The fourth D&G LEADER Rural Awards took place recently at the Easterbrook Hall.

The event was hailed a great success by the 130 participants who travelled from across the region to participate.

Frank Strang, head of Food and Drink & Rural Communities for the Scottish government, provided the keynote speech.

A new 58-page good practice guide was also launched at the event. Free copies are available from the LEADER office. The guide represents the 15 shortlisted projects celebrated at the awards. Independent expert judges from outwith the region made visits during the summer to all shortlisted projects and announced on the night the project which they felt deserved special recognition.

Jim McFarlane, of Scottish Enterprise, was first to announce the project he had chosen for special recognition in the Wealthier and Fairer Scotland category which recognised projects that had in some way contributed towards the development of a diverse and dynamic business base within the region. St Ninian’s Hall Development Plan was the winner in this category. 

Helen O’Sullivan, of IRD Duhallow, County Cork, was impressed by the high level of entries in her category, Smarter Scotland. Helen was looking at projects which encouraged the promotion of a learning and skilful region or those projects which added value to local products in a significant way. The award was won by Savour the Flavours II.

The Healthier Scotland category was being judged by Amanda Bryan of Aigas Associates. Amanda was looking at the contribution shortlisted projects made towards creating opportunities to improve health within rural communities and projects which helped to establish or strengthen links between communities and the land around them. The project chosen for special recognition was Making the Most of the Moorland.

The Safer and Stronger category judge was David Cameron of Community Land Scotland. David was looking at projects which encouraged better links between generations or projects which fostered positive inter-cultural relationships and projects which clearly demonstrated a strengthening of community spirit and civic pride in rural communities. After careful consideration, Dundrennan Jubilee Garden was awarded special recognition in this category. 

Selecting from shortlisted projects in the Greener Scotland category was the Jill Armstrong of Yorkshire Dales LEADER Local Action Group. Projects in this category were assessed on how they contributed towards the safeguarding, improvement and promotion of habitats for wildlife or which demonstrated and promoted a greener lifestyle in some way at community level. Making the Most of the Coast was chosen to best represent this category and received special recognition from the judge.

Dumfries and Galloway LEADER also praised the hard work of individuals within communities by recognising six Rural Community Champions. They were presented with their awards by council leader Ronne Nicholson. The Rural Community Champions are: Alice Campbell, Ann Botel, Cathy Agnew, Jerry Slater and Larry Lamont, Joe Miller, Ron Forster.