The owners of a Moray estate have been recognised with an award for their outstanding work in boosting the local community and its economy.
Angus Gordon Lennox and his wife Zara, who own the Gordon Castle Estate at Fochabers, have received Scottish Land & Estates’ Highland region’s ‘Helping It Happen’ award.
The award was presented at the Moy Game Fair to Dave Duncan, Gordon Castle Estate Factor, by Fergus Ewing MSP, Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity.
The accolade recognises the modernisation of the estate – which has been in the family since the 15th Century - since Angus and Zara took over in 2008, with an array of new business opportunities created and increased engagement with local people over that period.
The number of employees working at the estate has also grown significantly, with 65 staff, both part and full-time, now employed – up from less than 15 staff in 2008.
Their plan included the £1.2million restoration of the walled garden, which is one of the many assets to attract visitors to the estate from across the UK, Europe and beyond. Together with the building of a highly acclaimed restaurant and shop, more than 75,000 people have visited since the project was completed.
The estate has also launched a Gordon Castle Scotland brand, producing and selling unique products all of which contain something from or are inspired by the walled garden or estate. The products are already exporting to Denmark, Switzerland, France and Belgium and it is hoped they will sell globally as the brand develops even further.
A new Highland Games and Country Fair was also initiated in 2011. It attracted over 4,000 visitors in its first year and has grown every year since. Now a highlight for the area, it attracted 10,000 visitors in 2016 from over 14 different countries.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said:“The ‘Helping it Happen’ award recognises excellence in estates across Scotland and the Gordon Castle Estate is a very worthy recipient. The Gordon Lennoxes have transformed the business over the past eight years, increasing employment opportunities locally and providing a unique visitor experience for those who come to Gordon Castle. I congratulate them and wish them every success in continuing to innovate and adapt.”
Angus Gordon Lennox, owner of Gordon Castle Estate, said:“To gain recognition through this Helping It Happen award is wonderful, and I am delighted to see such a fruitful partnership between rural estates and the community being highlighted. We are very honoured to receive this award.
“Farming and world class fishing was already part of the estate when we took over but the challenge was to create new opportunities and ensure the estate was at the heart of the community and well-placed for the next generation and beyond.
“There has been extensive refurbishment and renovation of the exclusive use castle and other properties including holiday cottages, and our activities have not only sustained new employment prospects but also ensured there is an income stream to maintain the castle. The castle attracts many sporting and corporate guests, who are also important for boosting the tourism in the local area. We also have a great two way relationship with the renowned local whisky distilleries, our guests visiting them, and their customers often using our facilities. Our next enterprise is to build a bespoke conference, event and wedding venue.
“Fishing brings thousands of visitors to the area, with more than 6,000 “rod days” on the river Spey, and alongside our fishing tourists we assist our local angling associations by providing fishing ‘at cost’. All of this has spin-off benefits for other local businesses and we are delighted to work with them to ensure landowners and the community can form prosperous partnerships.”
Gordon Robertson, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates’ Highland Region, said:“Helping It Happen is an initiative to showcase the outstanding work that estates across Scotland do to help their local communities, day in, day out. There can be little doubt that Angus and Zara are worthy recipients for this award.
“Gordon Castle has been transformed since they took the helm and there is a real sense of vitality around the estate. They have created opportunities for many local people and are working hand-in-hand with the community to ensure the estate can be a positive asset for all. Landowners are custodians and there can be few more positive than Angus and Zara.”