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Inspiring Aberdeenshire Awards prepare for virtual ceremony

By Kirsty Brown

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It was feared that the annual Inspiring Aberdeenshire Awards would not be able to go ahead this year, but the organisers have come up with a virtual alternative to the usual evening of celebration.

One of the biggest events in Aberdeenshire Council's calendar, the awards celebrate the achievements of people across Aberdeenshire who go the extra mile for their communities.

Finalists and past winners include individuals and groups of all ages and from a variety of backgrounds.

This year there are eight awards which will be presented at this year's virtual ceremony on Tuesday October 27; these are Aberdeenshire's Future, Inspirational Volunteer, Heart Of Aberdeenshire, Cultural , Beautiful Aberdeenshire, Local Hero, Community Spirit and Lifetime Achievement awards.

The Aberdeenshire's Future award celebrates the great achievement of young people in our communities, and this year's finalists are Isabelle Curno, brothers Ollie and Harry Ferguson and Thomas Truby.

10 year old Isabelle from Maud has raised almost £3000 towards cancer research after losing her grandfather to the disease, as well as keenly supporting a number of other causes including the local Baby Bank and fundraising to secure additional equipment for Maud Primary School.

Brothers Ollie and Harry from Turriff are world record holders and self-proclaimed adventurers who - through sharing their experiences online, in their book 50 Marvellous Adventures and in a regular column in the Turriff Advertiser - are keen to encourage other young people to lead active lifestyles exploring the natural world.

Torphins' Thomas Truby started The Rubbish Club, which now reaches more than 2,600 people online, and is passionate about mobilising other young people to take action and do their bit for the environment, including recycling andlitter picking.

Finalists in the Aberdeenshire's Future category Harry (left) and Ollie Ferguson.
Finalists in the Aberdeenshire's Future category Harry (left) and Ollie Ferguson.

The Inspirational Volunteer award celebrates an individual or group who have had a great impact on the lives of others through a volunteering role, and the finalists for this category this year are the committee of Relay For Life Peterhead, Fiona Winstanley and Sarah Robinson.

Since its inception in 2001 the Relay For Life in Peterhead has raised a staggering £2,000,000 for Cancer Research UK and without the committee - all of whom are volunteers - this 24 hour event would not be able to take place and this money may never have been raised.

Balmedie Beach volunteer Fiona has been at the heart of making the beach accessible for everyone, and in 2018 she became co-ordinator of the wheelchair project, which has now successfully secured five chairs and special support equipment to ensure families who may not otherwise have access to the beach don't have to miss out.

The categories third finalist, Sarah, volunteers her time to a variety of groups including Bennachie Community Council, Insch Beaver Scouts and school PTA as well as well as projects like the One Year No New Clothes campaign and community Christmas dinners.

The Heart Of Aberdeenshire Award celebrates those who have gone above and beyond in a caring role, and this year's finalists are Paula Massie, Claire Bruce and Portlethen Home Care Team.

Foster carer Paula has continued to selflessly provide a caring environment for her foster son during illness and the recovery period following a recent double lung transplant, ensuring that her health has never impacted his welbeing or keeping his welfare as her top priority.

After being told that she may never have children, both of Claire's daughters have been diagnosed with cancer and despite spending every day in hospital at her six year old daughter's bedside her smile has been unwavering.

A team of 10, Portlethen Home Care Team goes above and beyond every day in providing an exceptional standard of care in Portlethen, Newtonhill and Muchalls, giving valuable support to users and their families even in the most challenging of circumstances.

The Cultural Award celebrates those who dedicate themselves to promoting the heritage and culture of the north-east, and the finalists for this category are Chris Reid, Rhona Mitchell and Iona Fyfe.

Over the last 36 years Chris has been a dedicated leader with the Fraserburgh Heritage Society and she holds a number of responsibilities with the ever growing group, including recruiting volunteers, staffing and curation.

In 1983 Rhona set up Mitchell School of Drama in Inverurie and she has worked with many people over the years to promote and encourage Aberdeenshire talent as well as local culture.

Singer Iona has been keeping north east culture and music alive across the world with her passion for Doric songs and stories, and she primarily performs ballads and folk songs from across Aberdeenshire.

Singer Iona Fyfe is a finalist for the Cultural Award.
Singer Iona Fyfe is a finalist for the Cultural Award.

The Beautiful Aberdeenshire award celebrates those who have an environmental impact in their local area, and Edenholme Care Home, Marion Montgomery and David Culshaw have been announced as finalists.

Working alongside Aberdeenshire Council's waste reduction team, Edenholme Care Home in Stonehaven have been running various eco initiatives including a clothing back, setting up a recycling point and turning their garden into vegetable patches which the residents maintain.

Around a year ago Marion set up Paws On Plastic which aims to encourage dog walkers to pick up and appropriately dispose of a few pieces of plastic every time they are out for a walk, and the project's Facebook page has attracted the attention of more than 10,000 followers from around the world.

Former Banchory Academy teacher David inspired the launch of the Banchory Paths Association, and can be seen out in all weathers drumming up support to maintain and run the vastly improved path network as well as getting stuck in himself.

The Local Hero award recognises somebody who has displayed incredible courage, and the finalists are Paula Massie, Paul Cheyne and sisters Eilidh and Isla Noble.

Also shortlisted in the Heart Of Aberdeenshire category, foster carer Paula's story has touched many.

Last August Paul was at Balmedie Beach with his family when he became aware of a nine year old boy who had got into difficulty in the water, and without a second thought Paul swam out and pulled him onto shore.

Teen sisters Eilidh and Isla heard cries for help when they were on the beach in Fraserburgh last year, and they swam out to rescue a man and his son using their lilo and were able to pull them back to safety and call the Coastguard.

The Community Spirit award celebrates those who have had a positive impact in their community, and this year's finalists are Pieter Voor De Poorte, Connor McCarthy and Rosehearty Harbour Inshore Fisherman's Association.

Since moving to Catterline 15 years ago Peter has become well established in the community but most notably he has impacted the local community through his dedication to the Catterline Braes Action Group.

Kemnay Academy S6 pupil Connor McCarthy has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair and electronic communication device, and has dedicated himself to working with Riding For The Disabled and as well as fundraising he has also appeared in the school newsletter and given presentations on equality.

Rosehearty Harbour Inshore Fishermen’s Association was set up in 2018 and has so far raised over £100,000 towards the community desired improvements to the harbour area with the aim of protecting and promoting the livelihoods of inshore fishermen.

The final award is the Lifetime Achievement award, which celebrates an individual who has dedicated their life to promoting life here in Aberdeenshire, and the finalists in this category are Brian McCann, Gordon Laird and Sandy Mack.

For more than 20 years Brian has been volunteering with the Children's Panel and he does everything he can to ensure that young people get the best possible chance in life, and in his nomination he is described as an: "exceptional volunteer with an exceptional heart".

Described as "the rock of stability" for Fraserburgh United Football Club for almost 30 years, Gordon has navigated many changes and challenges in his time as chairman, as well as helping out as treasurer, secretary, groundskeeper and fundraiser.

A youth worker for more than 25 years, Sandy Mack is a valued and trusted community worker with an infectious enthusiasm who has led local, regional and national groupsand who's nomination states: "has never lost sight of what matters to young people".

The ceremony can be watched on Tuesday at 6pm here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=wg4OJPehDgE

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