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Oban Phoenix Cinema and Cologin Chalets and The Barn Bar are among the Argyll businesses to reach the final in the 2017 Scottish Rural Awards.
The awards are the ultimate benchmark of success in Scotland’s countryside, highlighting the enterprise, skill and innovation of those who live and work in rural areas.
The shortlist spans 10 categories which celebrate all aspects of rural life, from artisan food and tourism, to education, conservation and agriculture.
Shortlisted in the Business Start Up category, which is open to companies trading for less than two years, are Lord of the Isles at Craobh Haven, Craine Communications in Oban, and creative agency Brandfire, based in Campbeltown.
The Wee Isle Dairy, on the Isle of Gigha, has made the finals in both the Business Start Up and Artisan Food categories.
Cologin Chalets and The Barn Bar, by Oban, and The Puffer Bar and Restaurant at Easdale have been shortlisted in the Rural Hospitality category, while the Oban Winter Festival has been shortlisted for a Rural Tourism award.
Joining them is the Oban Phoenix Cinema, which is a finalist in the Rural Enterprise category, and The Farm Stall in Bellochantuy, which has been shortlisted in the Agriculture category.
Now in their third year, the Scottish Rural Awards are partnered by Scottish Field magazine, part of Wyvex Media Ltd, which also owns The Oban Times, and the Scottish Countryside Alliance, and backed by a number of sponsors for 2017, including Aldi, the Bank of Scotland and Subaru.
More than 200 nominations for businesses were made since launching at the beginning of August, spanning locations from the Outer Hebrides to the Borders, and Shetland to Fife. Businesses were able to either self-nominate, or be nominated by someone else – a friend, family member, customer or member of the public.
A winner, runner-up and highly commended in each category will be unveiled at the Scottish Rural Awards and Gala Dinner, which will take place on Thursday March 16, 2017, at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh.
Those who have made special contributions to the Scottish countryside will also be honoured with two separate accolades – the Rural Hero Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Richard Bath, editor of Scottish Field, commented: ‘More than ever before, Scotland’s rural communities are displaying a quite remarkable amount of energy, innovation and imagination as they diversify existing businesses and create new and exciting opportunities from scratch. As a magazine, we are constantly writing about the rural entrepreneurs who are bringing wealth and jobs to the countryside, so it’s exciting for us to be able to honour the men and women who are doing so much to make the economy of rural Scotland a true success story.’
And Jamie Stewart, director of the Scottish Countryside Alliance, added: ‘Land-based businesses contribute over £2billion to the Scottish economy. Despite the multiple challenges they face, they are hugely valuable brand ambassadors for Scotland, and many provide vital support to their local communities. These awards give Scotland a chance to recognise the resilience, innovation and contribution that rurally-based people and businesses make to its success.’
For a full list of Scottish Rural Awards finalists, visit www.scottishruralawards.org.