Aberdeenshire businesses win big at the Scottish Rural Awards

Mackie's of Scotland were the winners of the Rural Employer category. (Photo: Angus Blackburn)
Mackie's of Scotland were the winners of the Rural Employer category. (Photo: Angus Blackburn)

Aberdeenshire businesses are celebrating the following award wins at the 2018 Scottish Rural Awards.

Mackie’s of Scotland, based in Rothienorman, won the Rural Employer category, with judges praising the food manufacturer’s family atmosphere and dedication to social responsibility in the workplace.

The Royal Northern Countryside Initiative won the award in the Education category (Photo: Angus Blackburn)

The Royal Northern Countryside Initiative won the award in the Education category (Photo: Angus Blackburn)

The Royal Northern Countryside Initiative, based in Aberdeen, also won first prize in the Education category, with Laurencekirk-based Ringlink landing runner-up spot in the same category.

The judges felt that the Royal Northern Countryside Initiative was an important Scottish business, offering a multitude of free services without any aid from national level financial backing.

They were also impressed by the growth of runner-up Ringlink, which has progressed from a company focusing entirely on agriculture into a diverse business which now includes innovative training services.

Finalists from the Aberdeenshire area included Peterhead farming enterprise Alan C Watson (Agriculture category); Glen Tanar Estate, by Aboyne (Business Diversification category); glamping enterprise Down On The Farm, by Rosehearty (Business Diversification, Rural Enterprise and Innovation categories); and Tor Na Coille Hotel in Aberdeen (Rural Hospitality category).

The Scottish Rural Awards are the ultimate benchmark of success in Scotland’s countryside, highlighting the enterprise, skill and innovation of those who live and work in rural areas.

The awards evening, held at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, was the culmination of a fourth year of partnership between Scottish Field and the Scottish Countryside Alliance to host the awards, in association with the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS).

The awards were backed by category sponsors including Barclays, Chiene + Tait and HW Energy.

Broadcaster Dougie Vipond took to the stage as compere for the evening, hosting over 400 guests and presenting three awards in each of the 13 open categories – a highly commended, runner-up and overall winner.

More than 200 entries were received for the 2018 awards.

Businesses were able to self-nominate, or be nominated by someone else – friends, family, customers or members of the public.

Those who have made special contributions to the Scottish countryside were also honoured with two separate accolades – the Rural Hero Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Rural Hero award was collectively presented to the team behind ‘Are Ewe Okay?’ a mental health campaign aimed at young farmers, while the Lifetime Achievement accolade was awarded to Douglas Watson, senior project manager with the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society.

Richard Bath, editor of Scottish Field, said: “More than ever before, Scotland’s rural communities are displaying a quite remarkable amount of energy, innovation and imagination as they diversify existing businesses and create new and exciting opportunities from scratch.

“As a magazine we are constantly writing about the rural entrepreneurs who are bringing wealth and jobs to the countryside, so it’s exciting for us to be able to honour the men and women who are doing so much to make the economy of rural Scotland a true success story.”

Jamie Stewart, director of the Scottish Countryside Alliance, added: ‘Land-based businesses contribute over £2billion to the Scottish economy.

“Despite the multiple challenges they face, they are hugely valuable brand ambassadors for Scotland, and many provide vital support to their local communities.

“These awards give Scotland a chance to recognise the resilience, innovation and contribution that rurally-based people and businesses make to its success.”