The Countryside Alliance Awards have been taking the country by storm for over a decade, and as we...Read more
The National Museum of Scotland played host to the Scottish Countryside Alliance Awards on Thursday 2 February which saw the best of the best of Scottish rural businesses come together to be recognised at the Scottish Champions Reception.
Nearly 5000 people from Scotland voted in the Awards to tell us who their favourite rural businesses were from our list of finalists. This only goes to show how the people of Scotland have taken the Awards to their hearts and want to support excellent local businesses.
The Awards celebrate our rural communities and the role that rural businesses play in keeping them together. Our winners' promotion and defence of Scottish produce, skills and rural life deserves all the credit it gets. The Countryside Alliance is proud to be honouring a group of people who are passionate about their countryside and providing quality goods, services and employment to rural communities and beyond.
Scottish Director, Jake Swindells said: "The Scottish Countryside Alliance Awards celebrate and honour those rural businesses in Scotland who go the extra mile and recognise the contribution they make to their communities. I am sure Scotland has every chance of bringing back the UK title in May as the Scottish Champions are strong contenders and represent the best of the best."
Meet the winners who will be going on to represent Scotland at the House of Lords in May at the UK Champions Reception.
The Local Food Award celebrates those who are playing an integral role in supporting the rural economy. It commends those that champion local produce and help to enhance their local community.
Winner – Loch Leven Larder, Kinross
The winner of this category is an enterprise where the field-to-fork concept remains central to everything they do. The idea behind this business stemmed from their love of all things local and wanting their produce to be enjoyed locally too. The seeds were sown and the more they got to know other local producers, the more important it was to them to champion and celebrate the fantastic produce that they are lucky enough to have on their doorstep. And from this, Loch Leven Larder was born.
Highly Commended - Highlanders Bakehouse, Crathie
This is an enterprise which has captured the hearts of locals and tourists alike. A passion project for the couple who run it, this superb artisan bakery is dedicated to honest local produce and supporting other local businesses and, as an extra bonus, is surrounded by amazing landscapes. Offering craft coffee and soul-warming food, and is something not to be missed. With the bread, cakes, pastries and the famous butties all made in-house from superb local produce, nothing is ever too much trouble for this hard-working couple.
The Butcher Award celebrates butchers who are providing that key link between local people and the farms and fields that surround them. It commends those who have high regard for animal welfare and put their community on the map through the quality local produce they sell.
Winner – Hunters of Kinross, Kinross
Hunters of Kinross is a fantastic butcher's shop which makes a simple promise: 'All of our meat, without exception, is born, bred and reared in Scotland from quality assured farms'. What more could you ask for? With expertise in cutting and dressing, it is no surprise that one of their specialities is venison, sourced wild from the Perthshire hills. Iain is also keen to share his skills and knowledge by giving demonstrations at shows and fairs, having previously taken his skills all the way to Australia where he produced Scottish black pudding and haggis for the residents of Melbourne.
Highly Commended – D Gilmour, Kingussie
This is a business whose motto is 'from farm gate to plate', who pride themselves on sourcing locally, giving good customer service and sharing their knowledge and passion for butchery. With a commitment to sourcing all their meat from the highlands of Scotland, you only have to travel a few miles from the shop to find the local farms where the produce is reared to D Gilmour's exacting standards. Nothing is too much trouble for this business and the high level of service and number of nominations show just how much this business is valued by the local community.
The Pub Award celebrates those who are motivated by a sense of community and maintain that 'classic' pub feel. It commends those who are at the heart of the community and help to put the local area on the map by reflecting its specific county or region.
Winner - The Buccleuch Arms, Melrose
The Buccleuch Arms is a business that has community and service running through its pump lines. Customers have said that it is the little things that set it apart from the others which is why this pub does not disappoint. From great local food with a field-to-fork ethos to working with first-class local suppliers, this pub puts local food at the heart of its offering... but it doesn't stop there. Coupled with a strong ethos to support its local community, this pub is central to the borders community and has hosted many weary travellers from all walks of life.
Highly Commended – Station Yard, Dunbar
This is a pub and microbrewery which is a popular local hub and a champion of Scottish-produced drinks. Described as one of the best station pubs ever with an old school feel, it has an incredible range of craft beers. The artisan gins stood out to a couple of the judges who were keen to test them… but in all seriousness, the celebration of Scottish-produced drinks is one to be applauded. From quiz nights to folk nights, Station Yard is a hub of the community. Part of the Winton Brewery, they are hugely proud of their East Lothian roots, born in Pencaitland, brewed on Haddington, and drunk in Dunbar…
The Rural Enterprise Award celebrates the imagination and ingenuity of individuals in the countryside supporting the rural economy. It commends those who have made a real contribution to the community through jobs and services and helped to enhance the local area.
Winner – Hoggs of Fife, Fife
Hoggs of Fife is a well-established local business that has designed, produced and showcased functional clothing since 1888. Based in Fife, Scotland, they have produced high quality clothing for those who have shaped the Scottish countryside, such as farmers and gamekeepers. Hoggs have taken pride in their family-run business, employing locally and keeping true to their roots in the Kingdom of Fife. They are continually seeking ways in which to innovate and improve their reach. Protecting their traditional values whilst ensuring that their ideas and designs are contemporary and practical. Hoggs are very well known and respected throughout Fife and the rest of Scotland, and thoroughly deserve this recognition.
Highly Commended - Walled Garden at Gordon Castle, Morayshire
This is an enterprise which has been described as one of Scotland's best kept secrets. It has been a feat of marvel to not only restore one of the oldest and largest kitchen gardens with a modern design, but to create its very own community in the middle of nowhere is nothing more than miraculous. There is a café where you can try the freshly picked produce, a shop which features the plants they grow and workshops they have created for the local community. It is somewhere that the whole family can enjoy. From film nights in the garden and mini festivals to local flowers from the farm, the list is endless. The crowning glory of this enterprise? Making the garden as beautiful as it is productive.
Village Shop and Post Office
The Village Shop and Post Office Award celebrates the important role village shops play in rural communities. It commends those who go above and beyond the call of duty and are the hub of their community.
Winner - Humbie Hub, East Lothian
This is a village shop where the community is at its heart. Having risen like a phoenix from the flames, its owners recognise the importance of having a local shop and saw an opportunity to create a vibrant community hub for the local area. For locals and travellers alike, this business not only provides essential services, but is a centre of activity, and provides much-needed community space. From a shop which sells everyday groceries and a café which is an essential meeting place for all, to the Tech Shed providing small businesses with a home, therapy room and a venue for art, music and talks, Humbie Hub has it all. They also pitch in and do their bit for the environment, having installed solar panels on the roof and a wood-fired boiler to provide all the heat and hot water they need.
Highly Commended - Dow's Deli, Aberfeldy
Dow's Deli is a business which has evolved over the years but have never wavered in serving its local community. This business is not only a recognisable part of the community and is known for providing excellent service and great food, but it was also part of a group of local businesses that delivered 40,000 meals to housebound pensioners during the pandemic in the highlands of Perthshire. The dedication to their local community shone through but it does not end there. They have supported the local football club, contributed to raffles and run their own food delivery service.