Press Release

Helping it Happen Awards celebrates the best of rural Scotland

By 4th October 2018 No Comments

Last night saw more than 200 business owners and industry leaders from across the rural sector join together at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh for an inspiring evening celebrating rural success at the second annual Helping It Happen Awards. The sell-out event, hosted by member organisation Scottish Land & Estates and sponsored by The MacRobert Trust, shone a light on the passionate work carried out by farms, estates and land-based businesses to help their local communities thrive.

The Helping It Happen Awards were created in 2017 by Scottish Land & Estates with the purpose of recognising the contribution of farm, estate and land-based businesses to their local communities, and the wider social, environmental and economic benefits to Scotland as a whole.

The event was compered by George McNeill, one of Scotland’s finest sprinters, and attendees at the dinner also played their part by raising money for charity partners RSABI and My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.

Winners were announced across nine diverse categories, outlining the important role rural businesses play throughout Scotland. Ahead of the Helping It Happen Awards ceremony, a shortlist of three finalists for each category had been announced, and the winners were revealed and presented with beautiful, hand-made glass sculptures at the gala evening.

Scottish Land & Estates Executive Director, Sarah-Jane Laing, congratulated all the winners, finalists and entrants and commented:

“We are absolutely thrilled with the volume and calibre of entries submitted for the Helping It Happen Awards this year. To have such strong support and endorsement for the campaign in its second year is inspiring.

“The 2018 winners have demonstrated that the rural sector is thriving with passionate, innovative forward-looking rural businesses who are providing economic, social and environmental benefits to the countryside. Their contribution to the Scottish economy and the benefits they provide to local communities are obvious, and we are proud to recognise them at our Awards.”

The 2018 Winner of the Rural Business Award, Graham Bichan of Orkney Ice Cream commented:

“This is our first year being nominated in the Helping It Happen Awards and we are absolutely delighted with our win. Our small family business has grown and diversified over many decades and we are constantly working to modernise and develop every facet to keep up with trends and industry demand, as well as keeping an eye on the future and how we can best serve our customers, the community and the environment through our production methods and business model. This recognition of our progressive approach and our achievements to date means a lot and we will continue to wholeheartedly support Helping It Happen and its work to champion rural businesses throughout Scotland.”

Helping It Happen will open for nominations for its 2019 National Awards in the spring.

The Helping It Happen Awards categories and 2018 winners are:

Tourism Award, sponsored by Gift of Grouse: Dunvegan Castle and Gardens, Isle of Skye, for restoration and development work.

Helping it Happen Awards Tourism Category

Tim Baynes from Gift of Grouse, Hugh MacLeod from Dunvegan Castle and Gardens, George McNeill, David Johnstone

Rural Business Award, sponsored by Turcan Connell: Orkney Ice Cream, Kirkwall, for continued development of all aspects of the business.

Helping it Happen Awards Rural Business Category

Niall Stringer from Turcan Connell on the left, Graham Bichan from Orkney Ice Cream, George McNeill, David Johnstone








Rural Housing Award, sponsored by Clarendon: Annandale Estates, Lockerbie, for Raehills Farm housing development.

Helping it Happen Awards Rural Housing Category

David Johnstone from Annandale Estates with judge Julia Latto from Scottish Enterprise, who presented the Award, and guest speaker former sprinter George McNeill

Education Award, sponsored by Lycetts: Hirsel Estate, Coldstream, for their field to fork schools project.

Helping It Happen Awards Education Category

Karen Brown & Sally Fleming from the Hirsel Estate, William Barnes from Lycetts in the middle, George McNeill, David Johnstone








The MacRobert Trust Award for Working with Communities: Angus Glens and Grampian Moorland Groups for their Game for Giving initiative.

Helping It Happen Awards Working with Communities

Jon Strickland, Lianne MacLennan, Danny Lawson, George McNeill, David Johnstone

Conservation Award, sponsored by Anderson Strathern: Drimnin Estate for their diverse conservation schemes.

Helping It Happen Awards Conservation

Robin Beattie from Anderson Strathern on the left, Derek Lewis, Drimnin Estate, George McNeill, David Johnstone









The Iver Salvesen Green Business Award: Stracathro Estates, Laurencekirk, for commitment to renewable energy schemes.

Image: The Iver Salvesen Green Business Award (l-r): Wendy Salvesen, Oscar Salvesen, Hugh Campbell Adamson from Stracathro Estates, George McNeill, David Johnstone

Innovation in Farming Award, sponsored by Douglas Home & Co: Mossgiel Farm Organic Dairy, Mauchline, for continued innovation of sustainable, organic practices.

Image: Innovation in Farming Award – (l-r) Sheryl Macaulay from sponsor Douglas Home, Bryce Cunningham of Mossgiel Farm, George McNeill, guest speaker and David Johnstone, Chairman of Scottish Land and Estates

Enhancing our Environment Award, sponsored by Bell Ingram: Philiphaugh Estate & Tweed Forum, Selkirk, for peatland restoration work.

Image: Enhancing our Environment (l-r) Mark Mitchell from Bell Ingram, Brian Robeson & Hugh Chalmers from Tweed Forum & George McNeill, David Johnstone

Notes to editors:

  • The Helping It Happen Awards are run by Scottish Land & Estates The Awards were founded in 2017.
  • The Helping It Happen campaign aims to highlight how landowners and rural businesses across Scotland play a key role in enabling and supporting success in rural areas. This campaign provides case studies covering a diverse range of sectors, including examples such as providing affordable rural housing, the development of renewable energy schemes and partnerships with local schools to deliver rural skills qualifications. For more information, visit
  • The members of Helping It Happen Awards judging panel are: Simon Power (Estate Manager, MacRobert Trust); Nina Clancy (Chief Executive, RSABI); Alan Laidlaw (Chief Executive, RHASS); David Whiteford (Chair, North Highland Initiative); Lucy Beattie (Owner, Leckmelm Estate); and Julia Latto (Project Manager in the Rural Operations Team, Scottish Enterprise).
  • The MacRobert Trust performs three roles: it is a dynamic charity, it is the owner of an historic legacy and it is a forward-thinking landlord with a large and vibrant estate to manage. The duties of the Trust are set within a modern context but with the philosophy of its benefactor, Lady MacRobert, at the heart of every decision made. Lady MacRobert’s legacy lives on through the continuing connection with the military, with the countryside and farming, and in the commitment to charitable work, in particular assistance to young people to help them achieve their potential no matter what disadvantages they may face. For more information, visit

  • Scottish Land & Estates is a membership organisation for landowners, rural businesses and rural professionals. Scottish Land & Estates promotes the wide range of benefits land-based businesses provide: tourist attractions, leisure facilities and landscapes enjoyed by the public, as well as, housing, employment, tourism & enterprise and farming opportunities. For more information, visit

  • The Helping It Happen Awards and Scottish Land & Estates welcome approaches from journalists. Please contact 07843021813 for further information.


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