Celebrating rural life at its best

Walter Murray from Kezie Foods was presented with the business diversification award by Lord Matt Sinclair.
Walter Murray from Kezie Foods was presented with the business diversification award by Lord Matt Sinclair.

The Scottish Rural Awards were announced last week - four of the 12 awards coming to the Scottish Borders.

Flying the flag for the region were: Connect Berwickshire Youth Project who won the education award; Kezie Foods, Duns, were the business diversification winners; Tweed Valley Trees took the business start up award; and the lifetime achievement award went to the Duke of Buccleuch Hunt joint master Trevor Adams. East Lothian was represented by Thistly Cross Cider who won the artisan drink award.

Daniel Sherry of Thistly Cross Cider was presented with the artisan drink award by Jenny Hjul.

Daniel Sherry of Thistly Cross Cider was presented with the artisan drink award by Jenny Hjul.

The Scottish Countryside Alliance Awards or Rural ‘Oscars’ have been the ultimate benchmark of excellence in the countryside and this year, the awards have been extended to 12 categories, Scottish Field partnering the Scottish Countryside Alliance in sponsoring the awards.

Over 200 unique nominations were received spanning the Outer Hebrides to the Borders, encompassing every aspect of rural life from aquaculture to artisan food producers and the winners were presented with their awards at a gala dinner at Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh, last week.

During the Gala Dinner, a charity auction was held to raise money for the Scottish Countryside Alliance’s Routes to Rural Employment (R2RE) initiative - a government-backed scheme which builds employment links for young people in rural communities.

Charlie Shentall, development manager at the Scottish Countryside Alliance, said: “Routes to Rural Employment promotes employment for young people across the Scottish countryside, creating and nurturing vital links from primary education through to employment.”

Steve Wright presented with the education award by Tessa Howard-Vyse.

Steve Wright presented with the education award by Tessa Howard-Vyse.

Richard Bath, Scottish Field’s editor, said: “Showing our readers the joys of the Scottish countryside is one of the main aims of Scottish Field, so our sponsorship of the Rural Tourism award is a perfect fit. I was amazed by the quality and attention to detail showed by the nominees across each hard-fought category.”

Connect Berwickshire Youth Project won the education award for the boat project they worked on with Berwickshire Marine Trust and Drysdale, vegetable growers and processors. Members of the marine trust worked with six school leavers under the supervision of Connect, getting them ready for work and teaching them boat building skills while refurbishing an old fishing boat. Drysdales helped fund the project and when it was completed they employed the youngsters at their Cockburnspath premises.

For the past 20 years Kezie Foods, who won the business diversification award, has sourced the finest meats and seafood from around the world and from their small farm near Duns, made it easy for their customers to enjoy eating them at their own dinner table whenever they want - be it crocodile, kangaroo or ostrich - just as they are enjoyed from Africa to Australia every day.

Thistly Cross Cider won the artisan drinks award. Based at Dunbar the company was formed by farmer, Ian Rennie, and artist-turned-cidermaker, Peter Stuart, in 2008 and they now supply many of the major supermarkets.

“As a proud rural Scottish company, we’re thrilled to have won top Artisan Drink at the Scottish Rural Awards!!” said their Facebook entry. “We’d particularly like to thank all the apples who have selflessly given their goodness to make Thistly Cross Cider!”

Business start up winners, Tweed Valley Trees are a specialist fruit tree nursery offering a wide selection of heritage and modern varieties of apple, pear and plum. They graft and grow all their trees at their nursery near Melrose and despatch to customers throughout the UK.

Trevor Adams, who was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the gala dinner has been joint-masters of the Duke of Buccleuch’s Foxhounds for the past 25 year and stood down last month. In the consultation period leading to the drafting of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Bill, Trevor was the leading spokesman for foxhunting in Scotland and the architect of the MFHA Scottish Protocol that all Scottish packs now adhere to.