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Top rural award for Reay Forest Estate

By SPP Reporter

Katrina Barchlay, RHET manager at the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (education category sponsor) with Neil Macdonald, Reay Forest Estate, and awards host Fred MacAulay.
Katrina Barchlay, RHET manager at the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (education category sponsor) with Neil Macdonald, Reay Forest Estate, and awards host Fred MacAulay.

A SUTHERLAND estate is celebrating following an award win at the 2017 Scottish Rural Awards last week.

The Reay Forest Estate, near Lairg, was awarded a highly commended in the education category, with the judging panel praising the estate’s diverse range of apprenticeships.

The overall winner in the education category was North Highland College UHI’s gamekeeping department, with community learning organisation Peebles CAN in the Scottish Borders taking away the runner up award in the category.

Clachtoll Holidays, Lochinver, was also a finalist in the rural enterprise 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.

Last week’s event, held at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, is the culmination of a third 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).

Comedian Fred MacAulay took to the stage as compere for the evening, hosting more than 400 guests and presenting three awards in each of the 11 open categories – winner, runner-up and highly commended.

Nominations for the 2017 Scottish Rural Awards officially launched at the Scottish Parliament in September 2016, with more than 200 entries received. Businesses were able to self-nominate, or be nominated by someone else – a friend, family member, customer or member of the public.

Finalists in each of the open categories, which encompass every aspect of rural life, from agriculture and food production, to conservation, education and tourism, were announced in December 2016.

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

The Rural Hero award was collectively presented to the crew of Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance for their vital life-saving work carried out across the country, while the Lifetime Achievement accolade was awarded to Sam Morshead, for his services to racing and to charity.

Richard Bath, editor of Scottish Field, commented: "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."

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