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The businesses driving rural Scotland will be celebrated at the virtual SHIREs Awards


By Calum MacLeod

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Rural Star Award winner Iain MacRury from Salar Smokehouse with Harper Macleod partner Graeme Nisbet at the 2019 SHIREs Awards. Picture: Callum Mackay.
Rural Star Award winner Iain MacRury from Salar Smokehouse with Harper Macleod partner Graeme Nisbet at the 2019 SHIREs Awards. Picture: Callum Mackay.

The 2021 Scottish Highlands and Islands Rural Economy Awards and Conference – the SHIREs – have been launched to celebrate the strength, diversity and resilience our modern rural economy through thick and thin.

Organised by leading law firm Harper Macleod and Highland News & Media, this year’s SHIREs will be held virtually on the afternoon and evening of Thursday, November 18.

The events will be about the businesses driving the economy, and also about the people and communities who make modern rural Scotland thrive.

From Argyll and the Islands to Shetland and from the Outer Hebrides to Moray, the SHIREs Awards will welcome entries from individuals, businesses and other organisations operating in the region.

The awards will be divided into 10 categories:

Rural Covid Resilience Award – Recognises changes made by businesses during the pandemic

Rural Taste Award – Food or drink business of the year

Rural Entrepreneur Award – Entrepreneur or start-up business of the year

Rural Natural Capital Award – Decarbonisation/Nature-based solutions project or business of the year

Rural Blue Award – “Blue economy” enterprise of the year

Rural Creative Award – Arts, crafts, textiles or creative business of the year

Rural Digitisation Award – Digital business or project of the year

Rural Charity Award – Charity or community enterprise of the year

Rural Community Award – Community development and empowerment project of the year

Rural Star Award – Judges’ award for outstanding rural economy merit

Graeme Nisbet, partner and head of rural at Harper Macleod, said: “We are delighted to help launch this year’s SHIREs, which will add to the positivity around modern rural Scotland and the opportunities that are presenting themselves as we transition to a more sustainable, greener and hopefully fairer economy.

“The awards will also celebrate the very best of what is going on now. We may not always realise that we are part of something bigger, but the awards are all about being inspired and generating a sense of pride in being part of a bigger community.”

Your HNM newspaper will give more detail on the individual categories in the coming weeks, and you can find more details on the awards and conference at www.hnmedia.com/the-shires-conference-awards/

The awards ceremony will take place on the evening, following the SHIREs Conference that afternoon.

This year’s conference theme – Our land, our lives, our legacy – will see a focus on creating sustainable businesses and communities as the world moves towards a more sustainable future and will include speakers from government, communities, businesses and the next generation.

Graeme added: “Working with businesses, organisations, communities and individuals in the modern rural economy, and helping them make the most of our immense natural capital is a big part of what Harper Macleod is about. “

“Across every business sector and walk of life, there are shared values and goals and the SHIREs will allow people to come together and discuss the important issues which affect us all.”


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