90 year old great gran & 21 year old student among winners of Scottish Helping It Happen Awards

Press Release

90 year old Margaret Payne who won the nation’s hearts when she scaled the equivalent of Suilven on her stairs, climbing 282 times over 10 weeks and raising £430K for charity, has been named Highland Community Champion of the Year at the national Helping it Happen Awards.

Other winners include those who have helped Scotland’s rural economy, enhanced the environment or supported their communities during the Covid-19 pandemic such as 21 year old music student Conner Pratt who cheered up his community each week by playing the bagpipes.

Now in its fourth year, the Helping It Happen Awards have become firmly established in recognising the role of estates, farms, organisations and individuals who are helping rural Scotland thrive. The awards are organised by rural business organisation, Scottish Land & Estates, and sponsored by GLM.


The 2020 winners are:

Conservation Award sponsored by Anderson Strathern: Borders Bird Box for their innovative and effective conservation concept which has clearly made a difference already.

Enhancing our Environment, sponsored by NatureScot: East Lothian Countryside Volunteers for a brilliant initiative and a great example of landowners and volunteers working together to enhance the environment.

Rural Business Award, sponsored by Velux: Fasque Forestry for their innovative, holistic and diversified approach which has resulted in job creation and further ambition for growth.

Innovation in Farming, sponsored by Douglas Holme & Co: Peelham Farm for constantly innovating, with a strong commitment to sustainable self-reliance and biodiversity.

Education Award, sponsored by Bell Ingram: Duffus Estate for facilitating an outdoor learning initiative to enable opportunities for sustainable education within a rural context.

Iver Salvesen Green Business Award: MiAlgae for their an innovative and creative business which crucially aims to reduce the human impact on our planet.


Community Champion of the Year, sponsored by GLM

Margaret Payne (Highland region) for raising money for local and national causes.

Dunecht Estates Volunteers (North East region) for simple, effective community engagement, helping local people.

Conner Pratt (Central region) for his selfless dedication to his community.

Ayrshire Food Hub (South West region) for their dedicated and passionate work delivering meals to those in need.

Forth Resource Management (South East region) for having a real impact and making themselves accessible to a wide range of people, while promoting recycling.


Judges’ Special Award: Hudson Hirsel for their outstanding work in house building in rural Scotland.


Sarah-Jane Laing, chief executive of Scottish Land & Estates, said:

“I want to offer my congratulations to all the winners. The judges had a really tough time deciding who should be crowned in each category. All the winners have made a considerable contribution in their own way to rural Scotland.

“With everything that has happened in 2020, the Helping It Happen Awards quite rightly celebrate those individuals, organisations and estates going the extra mile to make a positive contribution to society whether that’s by helping their local community, producing high quality food and drink or helping Scotland meet its environmental goals. This contribution is crucial to ensure that Scotland has a successful recovery from the Covid pandemic.”


Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy said:

“Throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, vital work has been undertaken across rural Scotland to adapt and help sustain our rural economy and our communities and this effort cannot be underestimated. Diversity is important to our rural economy, that’s why we’re committed to supporting an inclusive, sustainable and green economic recovery plan to help rural and island communities recover and thrive. In the coming weeks and months we need to continue to work together to reduce the spread of the virus in our communities.

“It’s great that Scottish Land & Estates has moved their Helping it Happen awards online. This gives us the opportunity to be able to recognise all of the businesses and organisations that have demonstrated their commitment to making a difference for our nation, in conservation, environment, innovation, rural business or through supporting their local community.”


UK Government Minister for Scotland David Duguid said:

“I was delighted to address the first virtual Helping it Happen Awards and congratulate all the finalists.

“Scottish Land and Estates serve communities right across Scotland - creating economic opportunities and attracting tourists to our rural areas. This is reflected in the wide range of projects nominated for these awards.

“I commend all the winners which showcase the incredible innovation that underpins the Scottish rural sector.”


Ian McKee, Managing Director of headline sponsor GLM, said:

“GLM are delighted to be the headline sponsor of these awards in what has been an unusual and challenging year particularly for rural Scotland. Telling stories and celebrating all that is going on across rural Scotland is key to motivating and inspiring others to support, visit and encourage the activity. It is a privilege to support these awards and celebrate the extensive innovation, conservation and resilience shown particularly in the last few months through the Covid-19 pandemic. Huge congratulations to all of the award winners and finalists.”


The independent judging panel comprised:

Ian McKee, Managing Director, GLM
Simon Power, Estate Manager, The MacRobert Trust
Nina Clancy, Chief Executive, RSABI
Alan Laidlaw, Chief Executive, RHASS
David Whiteford, Chair, North Highland Initiative
Julia Latto, Project Manager, Rural Operations Team, Scottish Enterprise
Lucy Beattie, Owner, Leckmelm Estate


This year, there are 12 awards in total, with six award categories complemented by community champion awards across five Scottish regions as well as a judges’ special award. A full list of the winners is shown below with full details attached.

The winners were announced via a video premiered on YouTube at noon on 30 September 2020.

Been inspired? To register your interest in entering the Helping it Happen Awards 2021 please email communications@scottishlandandestates.co.uk