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The Highlands and Islands have gained their own regional food ambassadors, in a new programme placing food and drink at the heart of the recovery of Scotland’s tourism.
Each of the 25 ambassadors, appointed by Scotland Food and Drink, will represent a different part of Scotland’s diverse food landscape, and ‘play a key part in raising Scotland’s profile as a global food tourism destination’, the trade body said.
‘The ambassadors will provide a much-needed boost to their regions during what has been an acutely challenging time for Scotland’s food and drink and tourism sectors, and bring producers, suppliers and hospitality businesses much closer together to grow local economies.
‘Bringing Scotland’s destinations and food and drink to life through storytelling will be central to the role of the ambassadors in the lead up to Scotland’s Year of Stories themed year for 2022.
‘Each of them will be shining a light on our regions as food destinations of choice, with their own unique provenance, people and stories which in turn create the quality, authentic food and destination experience which today’s visitors are looking for.’
Argyll and the Isles will be represented by Emma Clark, director for Argyll and the Isles Tourism Cooperative, who owns and runs Glenegedale House on Islay with her husband Graeme.
Ayrshire and Arran is covered by Aisla Currie, who farms at Bellevue Farm with her husband and sons on Arran, while Sam Faircliff, managing director of Cairngorms Brewery in Aviemore, stands for the Highlands.
The Outer Hebrides ambassador is chef Chris Loye, who opened a restaurant with his partner Nicola on Harris this year called Flavour, and Stirling and Forth Valley is represented by Sarah Heward, founder and co-owner of The Real Food Café in Tyndrum.
In 2005 Sarah gave up her job as managing director of wine bar and merchants, Corney and Barrow in the City of London, and quit the rat-race to pursue her dream of opening her own business.
She opened The Real Food Café, transforming a derelict Little Chef into an award-winning roadside diner.
Famous for its fish and chips and home baking, the café serves more than 250,000 customers per year.
She currently chairs the Tyndrum Infrastructure Group, whose goal is to improve rural infrastructure in Tyndrum and beyond.
Sarah said: ‘With over 200 applicants for the 25 ambassador places, I am absolutely delighted to have been selected to represent Stirling and Forth Valley.
‘I am really looking forward to helping promote Scotland’s food and drink tourism scene to a global audience.’
Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon MSP said: ‘The 25 ambassadors, who all work in and share a passion for the industry, puts every region in Scotland on the map, showcasing to visitors and tourists alike the exceptional and varied food tourism experiences available across the country.
‘Their work and expertise, against the backdrop of major challenges to the sector from Brexit and the pandemic, will raise Scotland’s profile as a food tourism destination and help rebuild our food, hospitality and tourism industry.’
Fiona Richmond, head of regional food at Scotland Food and Drink, added: ‘From chefs and caterers, producers and independent retailers to agritourism operators, food writers, whisky experts and more, the Regional Food Tourism Ambassadors will champion every region across Scotland.
‘Over the next two years they will be the face of food tourism, working with their local communities and regional food groups and using their voice to promote Scotland as a destination for fantastic food tourism experiences and we look forward to seeing what we can achieve together.’
Caption: Sarah Heward, founder and co-owner of The Real Food Café in Tyndrum, has been appointed as one of Scotland Food & Drink’s 25 Regional Tourism Ambassadors.