Albert Bartlett, The Black Isle Brewing Co and The Borders Forest Trust were among companies from across Scotland whose success has been celebrated at the Scottish Rural Awards & Gala Dinner.

The event, held at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, is the culmination of a second year of partnership between Scottish Field and the Scottish Countryside Alliance (SCA) to host the awards, which celebrate the innovation, dedication and enterprise of those living and working in rural Scotland.

Comedian Fred MacAulay took to the stage as compere on Thursday evening, entertaining the audience of 400, including representatives from award sponsors Aldi and the Bank of Scotland and high-profile finalists such as Marine Harvest, The National Trust for Scotland, Crieff Hydro and NB Gin.

More than 200 nominations have been received since the awards opened to the public last September, with support for companies spanning from Outer Hebrides to the Borders, and Shetland to Fife.

Judging took place at the end of January to select a winner, runner-up and highly commended in each of 10 award categories that encompass every aspect of rural life, from aquaculture to agriculture, tourism and food and drink.

Those who have made special contributions to the Scottish countryside were also with two separate accolades – the Rural Hero Award, which went to Toby and Mary Fichtner-Irvine, who have played key roles in developing the Isle of Muck and the Lifetime Achievement accolade was presented to chef and businesswoman Shirley Spear of The Three Chimneys in Dunvegan, Skye.

Jamie Stewart, director of the SCA, said: “The Scottish Countryside Alliance is thrilled to deliver the Scottish Rural Awards in partnership with the Scottish Field Magazine. It is the only awards to truly recognise the innovation and dedication of those who live and work in rural Scotland. The Countryside Alliance is the leading voice of rural Britain, and our Awards complement our wide ranging support and promotion of rural life. We had long felt the “doom and gloom” tales of rural decline about dwindling services, a collapsing farming sector and the death of village life did not accurately reflect the spirit of rural people and their desire to protect our landscapes, heritage and communities for future generations.  If the quality of the nominations for the 2016 awards reflects rural Scotland we certainly have a very bright future.”

Richard Bath, Scottish Field’s editor and a Scottish Rural Awards judge, added: “Showing our readers the joys of the Scottish countryside is one of the main aims of Scottish Field, so our partnership in the awards is a perfect fit. I was amazed by the quality and attention to detail showed by the nominees across each category.”

The winners in each category are as follows:

EDUCATION (sponsored by Strathallan School)

Winner: The Royal Highland Education Trust (Edinburgh)

Runner Up: An Lanntair (Stornoway, Isle of Lewis)

Highly Commended: Making the Most of Moorlands Project (Langholm, Dumfriesshire)

Finalists: Dig It! 2015, Elgin Youth Development Group, Food For Life Scotland

CONSERVATION AND THE ENVIRONMENT (sponsored by the University of Stirling Management School)

Winner: Communities Along The Carron (Camelon, Falkirk)

Runner Up: Belhaven Hill School Conservation Club (Dunbar, East Lothian)

Highly Commended: The Borders Forest Trust (Ancrum, Jedburgh)

Finalists: Lochaber Geopark, The National Trust For Scotland

RURAL ENTERPRISE (sponsored by Kilgraston School)

Winner: Kezie Foods (Duns, Berwickshire)

Runner Up: Salar Smokehouse (Loch Carnan, South Uist)

Highly Commended: We Hae Meat (Girvan, Ayrshire)

Finalists: Hebridean Isles Trading Company, Denfind Stone, Enterprising Eastern Perthshire, Clare Brownlow Pheasant Feather Art, Knockando Woolmill, Gordon Castle

BUSINESS DIVERSIFICATION (sponsored by Clarendon Planning & Development)

Winner: Arbikie Highland Estate (Inverkeilor, Arbroath)

Runner Up: Rock Machinery (Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire)

Highly Commended: Gordon Castle (Fochabers, Moray)

Finalists: Hebridean Isles Trading Company, We Hae Meat, The Enchanted Forest, Laggan Outdoor

AQUACULTURE (sponsored by Fish Farmer Magazine)

Winner: Firth of Forth Lobster Hatchery (North Berwick, East Lothian)

Runner Up: Scot-Hatch (Achnasheen, Ross-shire)

Highly Commended: The Loch Ryan Oyster Fishery Co. Ltd (Stranraer, Wigtownshire)

Finalists: Wester Ross Salmon, Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre, Cooke Aquaculture, Marine Harvest, The Scottish Salmon Company, Seafood Shetland, FAI Ardtoe

RURAL TOURISM & HOSPITALITY (sponsored by HW Energy)

Winner: The Enchanted Forest (Pitlochry, Perthshire)

Runner Up: The Storehouse (Foulis Ferry, Dingwall)

Highly Commended: Craigatin House & Courtyard (Pitlochry, Perthshire)

Finalists: Laggan Outdoor, The Three Chimneys, Crieff Hydro, Auchrannie Resort, Glenegedale House

BUSINESS START UP (sponsored by Gillespie MacAndrew)

Winner: Uan Wool (Kirriemuir, Angus)

Runner Up: Scotsburn Croft (Invergordon, Easter Ross)

Highly Commended: Phabulous Pheasant (Penicuik, Midlothian)

Finalists: Rannoch Studio, The Damn Fine Cheese Company, Finhunter UK

AGRICULTURE (sponsored by the Bank of Scotland)

Winner: Peelham Farm (Foulden, Berwickshire)

Runner Up: Albert Bartlett (Airdrie, North Lanarkshire)

Highly Commended: Simon and Ashley Hogg, Kersmains Farm (Kelso, Scottish Borders)

Finalists: Air An Lot (On The Croft), Knockraich Farm, Carmichael Estate

ARTISAN FOOD (sponsored by the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland)

Winner: Iain R. Spink’s Original Smokies from Arbroath (Arbroath, Angus)

Runner Up: Golspie Mill (Golspie, Sutherland)

Highly Commended: Galloway Chillies (Wigtown, Dumfriesshire)

Finalists: Balgove Larder, Macsween, Saladworx, Highland Crackers, Inverawe Smokehouse

ARTISAN DRINK (sponsored by Aldi)

Winner: Arbikie Highland Estate (Inverkeilor, Arbroath)

Runner Up: The Black Isle Brewing Co. (Munlochy, Inverness-shire)

Highly Commended: Summerhouse Drinks (Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire)

Finalists: The Gin Bothy, Cuddybridge Apple Juice, NB Gin, Isle of Arran Brewery

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