People standing in front of house

Scotland’s rural businesses take centre stage for their climate action at national Helping it Happen Awards

Press Release

Eleven businesses and community groups from across rural Scotland have won national Helping it Happen Awards tonight (27 October 2021) at a live virtual ceremony, for their work on combatting climate change, habitat restoration and providing training and jobs.

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

The 2021 winners (full details of each winner can be read at the bottom of the page)

Rural Business Award, sponsored by Shepherd + Wedderburn

Jas P Wilson, Dalbeattie, Dumfries & Galloway

 

Tourism & Visitor Management Award, sponsored by GLM

Rothiemurchus Estate, near Aviemore

 

Education Award, sponsored by Bell Ingram

Ringlink Scotland Ltd, Laurencekirk, Aberdeenshire

 

Conservation Award category sponsored by Anderson Strathern

Rottal Estates, Kirriemuir, Angus

 

Business Resilience Award, sponsored by Barclays

Midton, Lochgilphead, Argyll

 

Rural Housing Award, sponsored by Velux - Joint winners

Communities Housing Trust, near Aviemore and

Hudson Hirsel, Coldstream, Scottish Borders

 

Innovation in Farming Award, sponsored by Douglas Home & Co

The Ethical Dairy, at Rainton Farm, Castle Douglas, Dumfries & Galloway

 

Iver Salvesen Award for Combatting Climate Change, sponsored by Murray Beith Murray

Balbeg Country Holidays, Balbeg Estate, Maybole, South Ayrshire

 

Enhancing our Environment through Land Management Award, sponsored by NatureScot

Pat Wilson Farms Lochrosque, Wester Ross, Highland

 

Working with Communities Award, sponsored by The MacRobert Trust

Scourie Community Development Company, Sutherland, Highland

 

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

“I want to offer my congratulations to all the winners. The independent judging panel 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, and their environmental impact is always at the forefront of their minds. 

“The Helping It Happen Awards quite rightly celebrate those farms, organisations and estates going the extra mile to make a positive contribution to their local community and wider Scotland whether that’s through climate action, providing jobs and training or building affordable housing.  This contribution is crucial to ensure that Scotland has a successful green recovery from the Covid pandemic.”

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

“GLM is delighted to once again be the headline sponsor of these awards as the unusual and challenging times continue, 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 by the variety of business across Scotland. Huge congratulations to all of the award winners and finalists.”

The independent judging panel comprised:

Ian McKee, Managing Director, GLM

Graeme McNaughton, Director - Agriculture and Landed Estates, Scotland, Barclays

Simon Power, Estate Manager, The MacRobert Trust

Nina Clancy, Chief Executive, RSABI

Alan Laidlaw, Chief Executive, RHASS

Julia Latto, Project Manager, Rural Operations Team, Scottish Enterprise

Lucy Beattie, Owner, Leckmelm Estate

Picture courtesy of The Communities Housing Trust. Pictured are Iain Cornfoot & Justine Stewart.

Further details about the winners:

Rural Business Award, sponsored by Shepherd + Wedderburn

Jas P Wilson, Dalbeattie, Dumfries & Galloway

Jas P Wilson has developed into the UK’s leading national supplier of forestry equipment and machinery. They employ 85 staff and provide invaluable apprenticeship opportunities in engineering and administration for young people through their dedicated training centre. Their strong team of skilled designers, engineers, service and sales staff operate from an ever-expanding 20,000 square metre base in Dalbeattie, home to their workshops, design studios, offices and dedicated training centre. Working with Scottish Enterprise, they broke new ground in exports including in Scandinavian markets. They also streamlined their processes and thought more innovatively about business including implementing strategies to empower staff and ensure a succession plan is in place.

Tourism & Visitor Management Award, sponsored by GLM

Rothiemurchus Estate, near Aviemore

Rothiemurchus offers a wide choice of appropriate activities which  help over 400,000 visitors a year (2018) to care for an outstanding natural environment sustainably, most of which has nature conservation designations - Natura 2000 Areas.  Visitors may choose simply to walk or cycle through the ancient forest on the network of maintained paths, relaxing and renewing by taking in the spectacular scenery and wildlife. They can also enjoy the many exciting outdoor activities on offer which have been carefully chosen and designed to be appropriate to this special environment; from clay shooting, quad bike trekking, aerial adventure courses. fishing, specialist wildlife photography, Highland pony rides, river tubing, to bike hire, archery, float rafting, and canoeing.  The long established farm shop, craft and gift shops offer produce from the Rothiemurchus farm as well as outstanding Scottish produce, different gifts and design led Scottish craftwork. The estate also offers a wide range of hospitality with a popular large take away or ‘eat in’ barn, dedicated facilities for private groups and has developed luxury self-catering properties using remote converted traditional buildings.

Education Award, sponsored by Bell Ingram

Ringlink Scotland Ltd, Laurencekirk, Aberdeenshire

Ringlink Scotland is the UK’s largest business ring with a membership in excess of 2900. As a co-operative, the business is owned by its members and revolves around the supply and demand of goods and services between its members. Established in 1988 the Ring has seen significant growth progressing from a company focusing entirely on agriculture into a diverse business which now includes haulage, construction, and forestry together with a variety of other business activities. It is part of the Land-Based Pre-Apprenticeship Programme and has recently taken on 29 young trainees. Ringlink has shown that a pre-pandemic programme can be delivered during a pandemic. Over two years the pilot has included 80 young pre-apprentices with a further 60 participants planned for 2021.

Conservation Award category sponsored by Anderson Strathern

Rottal Estates, Kirriemuir, Angus

Rottal, owned and manged by Dee Ward, is an upland estate focussing everything they do on improving wildlife, biodiversity and habitats through restoring and re-naturalising rivers including the South Esk, burns, water margins, riparian planting, natural regeneration, native tree planting, wetland improvements, and flood mitigation and water quality improvements. The estate uses renewable energy (hydro & biomass) and also has sheep farming, holiday lets, events, shooting and stalking. Last year they restored 30 hectares of peatland as part of a scheme to restore 300 hectares over the next five years. This work is helping tackle the climate emergency as it will ensure carbon remains stored in the peatland and additional carbon is captured from the improved vegetation.

Business Resilience Award, sponsored by Barclays

Midton, Lochgilphead, Argyll

Midton is a bespoke acrylic manufacturer based on the west coast of Scotland. Like many small businesses they had to adapt and diversify during covid 19 to survive. They developed a range of shields and PPE for the NHS and other businesses. Sustainability is important to the company and working on the basis of a scrappage scheme, they offer customers cashback on the material cost of all shields they produce. Midton then recycle this material and reuse it in their manufacturing process. This diversification is very different from the high-end awards they produce for the likes of the Royal Television Society and Formula one! They had to adjust very quickly to a very changed market place.

Rural Housing Award, sponsored by Velux

Joint winners

Communities Housing Trust, near Aviemore

Communities Housing Trust is a registered charity working with communities to provide affordable housing and amenities in remote and rural places throughout central and northern Scotland. They take a collaborative, partnership approach which was demonstrated in the Old Sawmill project at Rothiemurchus Estate. It’s an excellent example of a win-win collaboration on estate land to secure affordable housing using self-build, within the Cairngorms National Park. The four affordable homes were individual self-build projects and hence differ slightly. One is a panel kit-home, with high wall insulation; some are timber frame, as fuel- and energy-efficient as possible, with triple glazing and air-source heat pumps. One has solar photovoltaics, with more to follow suit, and Energy Performance Certificate ratings on the homes range from B+ to A.

Hudson Hirsel, Coldstream, Scottish Borders

Hudson Hirsel was established by Douglas and Angus Estates in 2010 as an in-house development company to create a conservation style community on the outskirts of the Hirsel Estates in Coldstream. After ten years, this start-up company has become an award-winning housebuilder with a multi-million-pound turnover. Hudson Hirsel employs as many organisations and individuals as possible from the Scottish Borders, thereby ensuring local employment and boosting the local economy. They also build affordable housing and have worked with the local council to deliver a bespoke approach. Hudson Hirsel won a Judges’ Special Award at the Helping it Happen Awards in 2020.

Innovation in Farming Award, sponsored by Douglas Home & Co

The Ethical Dairy, at Rainton Farm, Castle Douglas, Dumfries & Galloway

The Ethical Dairy produces traditional cheeses and luxury ice-cream using organic milk from their herd. This milk is produced using the cow and calf method which involves keeping calves with their mothers to suckle and is based upon treating the animals, land, environment, and workers with respect and compassion. As the first commercial dairy farm in the UK to adopt this model a balance has been struck between ethical considerations and the operation of a financially viable farm. The approach has seen a marked improvement in the cows’ health and contentment. Whilst, also promoting a more sustainable grass-based farming system.

Iver Salvesen Award for Combatting Climate Change, sponsored by Murray Beith Murray

Balbeg Country Holidays, Balbeg Estate, Maybole, South Ayrshire

The business provides self-catering accommodation in five properties, having the ability of sleeping up to 46 guests. To combat climate change the Estate has installed a 27 kw hydro scheme which can power 22 homes, installed a 199kw woodchip biomass boiler to provide heat and hot water to seven residential properties on the Estate, and planted new woodland over 128 acres which is predicted to sequester 12,856 tonnes of CO2 equivalent over the next 55 years.

Enhancing our Environment through Land Management Award, sponsored by NatureScot

Pat Wilson Farms Lochrosque, Wester Ross, Highland

As custodians of the land with a responsibility towards enhancing and protecting the landscape, Lochrosque Estate pioneers land management diversity in Wester Ross. Through the extensive restoration of over 1000ha of degraded peatlands, a broad range of native woodland projects and a willingness to work alongside authoritative bodies to cap sheep densities and reduce deer numbers, Lochrosque Estate is focussed on tackling climate change and eliminating the threat of biodiversity loss. By harnessing the power of carbon finance, a sustainable business model is being developed, rooted in a diverse and wide-reaching array of activities which help to enhance the environment. Pat Wilson Farms Lochrosque won a Helping it Happen Award in 2019 for creating green energy sources.

Working with Communities Award, sponsored by The MacRobert Trust

Scourie Community Development Company, Sutherland, Highland

Scourie Community Development aims to deliver sustainable projects and developments for the benefit of the local community and visitors and thus bring about regeneration. The group has built a sports pavilion used by shinty and football teams and for the summer gala. The local primary school uses it on a regular basis. Many paths in the extensive network have been upgraded as has the pier. Before Covid 19 the development of a new visitor attraction Scourie Rocks was a priority. However since March 2020 all effort has been diverted to ensure that everyone in the community has been supported through a Food Larder being set up in the village shop, providing access to mental health support and funding was sought to provide fuel, food, white goods indeed anything that a family would normally have been able to buy but could not due to their reduction in income. They have also provided seasonal treats, such as a three course Christmas lunch for all 78 pensioners and Easter and Christmas goody boxes for all the children.