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Aberdeenshire community groups scoop national awards


By David Porter

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Two Aberdeenshire businesses have been named as winners in the national Helping It Happen Awards 2020.

Fasque Forestry in Fettercairn, has been crowned winner of the Rural Business Award and Dunecht Estates Volunteers - Help for the Vulnerable scheme, has won the North East Community Champion of the Year Award.

Now in its fourth year, the Helping It Happen Awards have become firmly established in recognising the role of estates, farms and businesses who are helping rural Scotland thrive.

The awards are organised by rural business organisation, Scottish Land and Estates.

Dunecht Estate was awarded the north-east community champion title for their volunteer scheme.
Dunecht Estate was awarded the north-east community champion title for their volunteer scheme.

Dunecht Estates Volunteers - Help for the Vulnerable scheme, has won the North East Community Champion of the Year Award.

The judges felt Dunecht are the perfect example of what estates are all about and that this is simple, effective community engagement, helping local people.

They fought off competition from fellow Aberdeen finalists Finzean Estate Partnership in Banchory and North East Food Hub based in Ellon.

The Help the Vulnerable scheme was set up at the start of lockdown to provide essential support to estate pensioners, tenants and those within the wider local community of Dunecht who were self-isolating or fell within the ‘at risk’ groups.

Support included collecting and delivering shopping, picking up prescriptions and help with pets.

Telephone support was also provided to individuals at risk of loneliness due to self-isolating or shielding.

The team of 33 volunteers included estate staff, their families and five estate retirees.

The scheme was a vital lifeline to many vulnerable individuals and strengthened community spirit at a very difficult time.

Fasque Forestry in Fettercairn were crowned winner of the Rural Business Award, sponsored by Velux.

The independent judging panel said the business has taken an innovative, holistic and a diversified approach which has resulted in job creation with further ambition for growth.

They fought off competition from finalists Borderlink Broadband in the Scottish Borders and Craigies Farm just outside Edinburgh.

Fasque Forestry was established when old commercial woodlands on the estate were falling into disrepair and there was evidence of an emerging growth in the timber market.

Fasque, instead of hiring contractors, decided to do the job of planning, harvesting and restocking all in-house and invested in state-of-the-art machinery to do so.

Local businesses are invited to use all timber produced on and harvested from the estate in the sawmill.

Sarah-Jane Laing, chief executive of Scottish Land and Estates, said: “I want to offer my congratulations to our winners from Aberdeenshire.

"The judges had a really tough time deciding who to crown for each category but these entries really stood out.

"They have made a considerable contribution to their local communities, the environment and the rural economy across Aberdeenshire.

UK Government Minister for Scotland and MP for Banff and Buchan David Duguid who presented the awards said:“I was delighted to address the first virtual Helping it Happen Awards and congratulate all the finalists.

“Scottish Land and Estates serves 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.”

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.

The 2020 winners are:

Conservation Award - Borders Bird Box for their innovative and effective conservation concept which has clearly made a difference already.

Enhancing our Environment - 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 - Fasque Forestry for their innovative, holistic and diversified approach which has resulted in job creation and further ambition for growth.

Innovation in Farming - Peelham Farm for constantly innovating, with a strong commitment to sustainable self-reliance and biodiversity.

Education Award - 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.

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

Community Champion of the Year - 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 and keeping spirits up during lockdown; 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.



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