Finalists announced for national Helping it Happen Awards 2021

Press Release

The finalists for the Helping it Happen Awards 2021 have been announced, with nominations for those who have contributed to Scotland’s rural economy, enhanced the environment or made a success of their business despite the pandemic.

Now in its fifth year, the Helping it Happen Awards, sponsored by GLM, 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.

This year, there are ten award categories including a new ‘Business Resilience Award’.

A full list of the award categories and finalists from across Scotland is below.

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

“After another difficult year for many businesses and individuals, the entries in the Helping it Happen Awards have shown how resilient, resourceful and passionate individuals, rural businesses and organisations are in order to make a positive contribution to society. With 31 nominations being shortlisted as finalists, it’s clear that Scotland is home to people and organisations which benefit those in their area and beyond by providing jobs, high quality homes or helping Scotland meet its environmental goals.

“This year’s entries have provided us with so many inspiring stories and we are pleased that the Helping it Happen Awards are firmly established as a way of recognising how Scotland’s diverse people and businesses are making a vital contribution.”

The winners will be announced in a free live virtual ceremony on 27 October 2021 at 7pm, which anyone is welcome to tune in to. Please register for free to receive the link to the ceremony.




swRural 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.

Macleod Construction, Lochgilphead, Argyll

MacLeod Construction Ltd, specialise in timber frame construction and has specialised in rural housing projects for over 45 years. They are leading experts in timber frame manufacturing. Macleod Construction work with communities to design and build high quality housing in rural areas. Fundamental to their approach to rural housing projects is a community focus. They prioritise a local workforce to ensure that they don’t just build houses for rural communities, they create jobs, increase skills and support developing the communities they work with. Their timber kits are prefabricated both on and off site allowing for quick and efficient installation. Assembly line production is used in their main factory in Lochgilphead which not only increases productivity and quality, it also reduces cost and waste.

seidear, The Wee Scottish Cider Company with Kingcausie Estate, Deeside, Aberdeenshire

The Wee Scottish Cider Company, based at Kingcausie Estate and in cooperation with several other estates, has created a new, natural Scottish drink crafted from old apple varieties grown in historic walled gardens of the Northeast of Scotland, from Haddo, Cluny, Gordon’s, Fraser, Ellon, Craigievar, Falkland and private orchards. ‘Seidear’ is made using the same method that is used for Champagne. This cider is the perfect treat for the renowned Scottish wedding and a new drink to sell for local shops and restaurants. The purchase of apples from several estates for cider has been an important small step towards reviving Scotland’s apple growing industry, supporting the apple producers’ initiative. The Wee Scottish Cider Company was founded during and despite the pandemic. This enterprise would have been impossible without the great support from Kingcausie and other estates.


glmTourism & Visitor Management Award, sponsored by GLM

Delgatie Castle Trust, Turriff, Aberdeenshire

Delgatie Castle is a small charitable trust that is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the Castle and Estate. A small team of volunteers and staff run the estate. The Castle is open as a visitor attraction with an award-winning tearoom serving home bakes and lunches and self-catering accommodation both in the Castle and the grounds. The Estate is open all year round (except for a two week break over Christmas). The Castle hosts weddings and small events. During the pandemic, the Castle diversified and started offering take away afternoon tea and home bakes. This has proved so popular they are continuing with this. This year they plan to open their popular Santa’s Grotto once again with an online booking system which was developed during the pandemic.

Discover Scottish Gardens, Scotland-wide

Discover Scottish Gardens (DSG) is a not-for-profit organisation run by a team of dedicated garden owners with the sole objective of promoting Scotland’s amazing array of rural parks and gardens that are open to the public. With only two part time staff and the volunteer board members, DSG punches far above its weight with regards reach and influence. This network of over 400 garden related businesses enjoys a range of benefits, such as increased profile, participation in four national festivals celebrating Scottish seasonal gardens, joint funding opportunities and a collective voice representing Scottish garden tourism at a national level. During the pandemic, they created  virtual garden events allowing the public to continue enjoying Scottish gardens, despite the lockdowns.

Rothiemurchus Estate, near Aviemore

Situated at the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, Rothiemurchus presents a unique blend of stunning landscapes, exciting outdoor activities, and locally sourced Scottish crafts and foods. Visitors may choose simply to walk or cycle around our carefully maintained paths, taking in the spectacular scenery. They can also take part in some of the many outdoor activities on offer; from clay shooting, fishing, quad bike trekking, pony hacking and off-road driving, to archery, wildlife watching and canoeing. Additionally, Rothiemurchus is home to self-catering properties to rent and enticing farm and gift shops brimming with Scottish crafts and locally sourced produce.


biEducation Award, sponsored by Bell Ingram

Bell's Brae Primary School, Lerwick, Shetland

Bell’s Brae Primary School pupils who are currently involved in a “Living Things” project planted around 70 trees at Holmsgarth Road in Lerwick. Working with the children directly allowed pupils to see first-hand the work and commitment that goes into rewilding. The planting of the trees tied in well with the children's school project and acted as an enhanced practical educational activity, getting the kids out of the classroom and into the fresh air. By simply getting the children involved on a practical level, it is easier for them to understand the benefits that are brought by flourishing plants and trees. Children are more likely to remember participating in tree planting than they are to remember reading about the theory from a textbook. Most of the species planted are hardy and include native varieties that thrive in the Shetland climate, creating an attractive wooded habitat on the town’s outskirts, which will encourage pollinating bees and insects. The trees have been donated by the Lerwick Port Authority  and provided by the Shetland Amenity Trust and its woodlands team provided advice and support for the planting as part of their conservation and cultivation programme in the islands.

Fresh Start – The Prince's Foundation at Dumfries House, Cumnock, Ayrshire

Fresh Start, a nature-based learning programme by The Prince’s Foundation, which promotes nature-based learning and aims to address issues faced by pupils amid the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, has seen pupils from schools in East Ayrshire — Loudoun Academy, Doon Academy, and Robert Burns Academy — all benefit from open-air learning from specialist tutors in farming, STEM, rural skills, agriculture, field to fork and outdoor activities.

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.


asConservation Award, sponsored by Anderson Strathern

Cairngorms Capercaillie Project, Cairngorms National Park

The Cairngorms Capercaillie Project is a partnership project, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and led by the Cairngorms National Park Authority. A diverse range of highly committed partners from private estates, volunteer groups, businesses, public agencies and charities are all working together through the project with a shared endeavour to overcome challenges and create new solutions to help secure a long-term future for capercaillie in the UK. It's possible that there are now less than 1,000 capercaillie left in the UK. Almost all of them live in the Cairngorms National Park. Action in the National Park is therefore critical to prevent extinction in the UK and build a long-term future for the species.

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.

Martin Gardner - Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh International Conifer Conservation Project

The Botanic Gardens ICCP is a world leading conservation programme, dedicated to safeguarding globally threatened conifers. Under the leadership of the Botanic’s Martin Gardner, who was awarded an MBE in 2013 for his conservation work, the ICCP has worked in over 50 countries to inventory, protect, and restore threatened conifer habitats. Martin has also been a great mentor for students, both nationally and internationally. The ICCP has established a network of safe sites across Scotland and beyond, growing thousands of rare and beautiful trees - all of which are species in danger of extinction. In addition to making a critical contribution to the survival of these species, the sites enhance the landscape, inspire and educate the public, and generate data for scientific research.


bBusiness Resilience Award, sponsored by Barclays

Ferry Fish, Carsluith, Creetown, Dumfries & Galloway

Before Covid, Ferry Fish sold fresh, locally sourced fish, game and other meat products from their four vans and at a weekly stand at Castle Douglas, but these services had to change in order to still operate safely during a global pandemic and safeguard jobs. They ensured that they still met their customers’ needs, offering a doorstep delivery service to those who were vulnerable and unable to get to the shops, they became very much a life line for the rural community. This small rural business took a gamble and showed innovation and resilience by developing a new website and app which now operates a complete contact-free, free home delivery service which has gone from strength to strength to service towns and rural villages across Dumfries & Galloway and also South Ayrshire. Despite Covid they had shown that with hard work and a change in mid set can bring results during hard times.

Kula Coffee Hut on Duffus Estate near Elgin, Moray

Kula Coffee is a purposely designed shepherds hut on Duffus Estate, offering high quality barista coffee, speciality tea and home baking at Duffus Castle. After the shock of closing their holiday accommodation in March 2020, the Estate quickly recognised the increase in visitors to the castle and knew we had to capitalise on this. Every aspect of this project has been thought about to ensure it is sustainable and low impact as well as Covid compliant. They are also focussed on supporting other local businesses whilst offering customers the best take-away experience - a true brew with a view!

Midton Acrylics, Lochgilphead, Argyll

Midton Acrylics 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 Acrylics 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.


vRural Housing Award, sponsored by Velux

Atholl Estates, Blair Atholl, Perthshire

Atholl Estates is the largest provider of rented housing in Highland Perthshire and as one of the main landowners in the region, Atholl Estates recognises its role to work with the Local Authority, National Park, Housing Associations, Scottish Water and Community Councils to develop a balanced development plan for the area which seeks to address issues around competitively sought-after properties. 284 houses are leased to private families, estate staff and let-farm staff. Recently, the culmination of a six-year collaborative project between Atholl Estates and the Scottish Government through the Rural Affordable Housing Fund saw eight two-bedroom cottages designed to be highly energy efficient and low maintenance. Heating in the new homes is supplied via ‘smart’ electrical radiators that sense when there is spare energy on the national grid which can be used at a low tariff. While low maintenance both inside and out makes the homes durable and easily managed, both for tenants and the estate, over the long term.

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 photo-voltaics, with more to follow suit, and EPCs 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 “startup” 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.

The Richmond Fellowship Scotland, Todhill, Ayrshire

The Richmond Fellowship Scotland is a charity which supports around 2500 people across Scotland with a broad range of needs to live as independently as possible in their own homes and communities. They are the largest provider of social care services in Scotland. The Fellowship has recently built 21 new homes at Todhill, completed in June 2021. With designs influenced by the semi-rural setting and agricultural heritage of Todhill, the one-bedroom apartments provide contemporary living and practical support environments. The personalised support on offer at Todhill includes a dedicated member of The Richmond Fellowship Scotland’s specialist Positive Behaviour Support Team. This means that the homes and services are suitable for people with complex support needs.


dhcInnovation in Farming Award, sponsored by Douglas Home & Co

Finlay’s Cream of Galloway Farm/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.

Hugh Grierson Organic, Newmiln Farm, Perth

Hugh Grierson Organic is a traditional family farm and they pride themselves on the way in which they run the farm and the produce that comes from these traditional techniques. The business has grown to incorporate two main farm sites, Newmiln Farm and Balgowan. The farms first received organic status in 2002 and has moved into new areas of production that complement the meat products - organic potato crops, organic egg production and organic table chicken. The farm runs with no artificial fertilisers or routines medication of the animals, so they farm using only what is naturally available and almost everything that the animals on the farm eat is grown onsite. When rearing chickens there are only allowed to be small numbers of them in a shed, and the doors must be opened daily to let them out. This gives them a close sense of a natural life, but it is more labour intensive.

Mossgiel Organic Farm, Mauchline, East Ayrshire

Mossgiel Farm is an organic dairy farm, shop and cafe.  It has recently won a tender to work with East Ayrshire Council to supply all the schools in the area with 100% Organic, 100% waste free milk from 100% Scottish Organic Family Farms and deliver it all in 100% ELECTRIC vans. This is despite the pressure that the pandemic has put on the industry. East Ayrshire Council and Mossgiel Organic Farm may just have created the benchmark in school milk.


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

Balbeg Country Holidays, Balbeg Estate, Maybole, 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.

The Clyde Climate Forest, Glasgow

Clyde Climate Forest (CCF) is a ten-year project which channels current enthusiasm for tree planting into well-considered tree planting projects across the Glasgow City Region (GCR) for climate and other benefits. CCF is endorsed by the eight GCR Council Leaders and supported with funding from the Woodland Trust and Scottish Forestry. CCF aims to facilitate the planting of 18 million trees in urban and rural parts of region (10 trees/person in GCR). CCF is based on 3 'C's: Canopy- increase tree canopy in urban areas Connectivity- connect existing woodlands Carbon- expand woodland cover by 3% to lock-up carbon emissions.

Forth Resource Management, North Berwick, East Lothian

Forth Resource Management was established to provide a sustainable recycling solution for garden waste generated across Southeast Scotland, that at the time was sent to landfill. They have grown to offer a range of organics recycling services, and peat-free horticultural and biomass products. They care deeply about the world we live in and are committed to become a business with a positive social impact. From beach cleans and charity fundraisers to introducing milk carton recycling in schools, they pledge to give back to the local community and provide educational opportunities to benefit both future generations and the environment. Forth Resource Management were winners in the Helping it Happen Awards last year in the SE Scotland Community Champion of the Year category.


nsEnhancing our Environment through Land Management Award, sponsored by NatureScot

Cardney Estate near Dunkeld, Perth & Kinross

The estate is managed by the owners Lewis and Katriona Cameron and has diversified and transformed from a purely sporting one to now hosting high quality weddings and events, practicing organic farming, planting significant areas of new native woodland, managing ancient woodlands, producing commercial timber, promoting responsible deer management, carrying out sporting days and permitted fishing and encouraging public access where feasible. The estate provides several jobs and supports local businesses. The estate also hosts Birken Tree, the only commercial Scottish producer of Birchwater.

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.

Tweed Forum and Wemyss and March Estate, Scottish Borders

Wemyss and March Estate is determined to lead the way in environmentally focused land management. The estate aims to enhance the natural process of the land, to increase the ecosystem benefits provided. Working with the Tweed Forum, Wemyss and March have undergone extensive works to restore a degrading peatland site at Winterhopeburn. The Estate also has an ambitious tree planting program underway and is implementing re-generative agriculture on its upland livestock units. The most recent project up the Yarrow Valley has seen a 1000m stretch of historically straightened river channel remeandered to reconnect the watercourse to its flood plain, reducing risk of flooding, improving water infiltration while having positive effects on water quality and biodiversity.


mrtWorking with Communities Award, sponsored by The MacRobert Trust

Bunloit Rewilding Limited, Drumnadrochit, Highland

Bunloit Rewilding operates on Bunloit Estate, Inverness-shire and Beldorney Estate, Aberdeenshire. Their purpose is to enable nature recovery and community prosperity through rewilding. While endeavouring to increase carbon sequestration and biodiversity, they want to create green local jobs and generate ethical profits to reinvest into our work and communities. They plan to donate 10% of annual net profits to local communities. Tackling the climate and biodiversity crises requires community involvement. Applying a community centric approach to rewilding, they’ve been engaging local communities by sharing their ideas and plans, requesting feedback, and exploring avenues for community involvement in education, employment and cultural/recreational activities.

Cockenzie House & Gardens, Cockenzie and Port Seton, East Lothian

Too many people use the word 'unique'. But Cockenzie House & Gardens is just that! In one of Scotland's last Jacobite mansions - a disused nursing home- a group of determined locals have created, as the community wanted, 46 studios for small businesses, two self-catering cottages, meeting places, a cafe and a community museum where our area's mining, fishing, agricultural, social is commemorated. Where nothing existed before, 900 people now visit per week to attend an art course, a therapy class, visit the cafe, staycate and or just relax in the beautiful listed gardens.

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.