Scottish Land & Estates’ ‘Helping It Happen’ winners announced

The winners of Scottish Land & Estates’ Helping It Happen Awards 2022 have been revealed.

At the first in-person awards ceremony since 2019, nine of Scotland’s most innovative, forward-thinking rural businesses were crowned champions in their respective fields.

Whether through providing affordable rural housing, supporting local businesses, or working with schools to bolster rural skills, the winning businesses, estates and individuals were recognised for their enduring commitment to bettering local and national economies. In short, they are helping rural Scotland thrive.

The black tie event, supported by headline sponsor NatureScot, was held on 5 October at The Sheraton Grand, Edinburgh, and was hosted by none other than Bruce Aitchison, the well-kent and much-admired speaker, rugby raconteur, and creator of the Happiness is Egg Shaped brand.

Bruce Aitchison, compère for the 2022 Helping It Happen Awards. Credit: [Ian Georgeson]


This year’s judging panel featured experienced rural business owners, chief executives and project managers, including: Alan Laidlaw, chief executive of the RHASS (Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland); Julia Latto, project manager in the Rural Operations Team at Scottish Enterprise; Lucy Beattie, owner of Leckmelm Estate; and Claudia Rowse, deputy director of Green Economy at NatureScot. Finalists were previously shortlisted for each of the nine awards, and the winners were presented with their trophies at the gala dinner.

The judges were delighted at the number of entries to this year’s SLE Helping It Happen Awards. [Credit: Ian Georgeson]


The 2022 winners are:

Tourism & Visitor Management Award: The Fairy Pools Car Park and Off-Grid Toilets Development, Isle Of Skye. Finding a solution to the huge increase in visitor numbers to one of Scotland’s most popular rural destinations. (Sponsored by GLM)

Rural Business Award: SkyeSkyns. The sole remaining commercial woolskin tannery in Scotland producing handcrafted sheep skins, leather and woollen goods. (Sponsored by Shepherd & Wedderburn)

Rural Housing Award, Stracathro Estates. The building of eleven houses all for let to young, local, working families at affordable rents of around 40 per cent less than open market. (Sponsored by Velux)

Education Award: The Be Your Best Self personal development programme. A programme designed and delivered for women in agriculture which forms part of the Scottish Government’s vision to make Scottish agriculture a fairer, more inclusive industry. (Sponsored by Bell Ingram)

Working with Communities Award: Countryside Learning Scotland, ADHD Rural Connect. A countryside education charity formed in 2003 which provides countryside education, awareness, training, and career opportunities. (Sponsored by The MacRobert Trust)

Conservation Award: The South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project. A collaborative project between land managers and conservationists working to increase the breeding population and range of golden eagles in southern Scotland. (Sponsored by Anderson Strathern)

The Iver Salvesen Award for Combatting Climate Change: Caledonian Climate Partners. An environmental service and consultancy firm working with landholders, communities and businesses to revitalise Scotland’s peatlands. (Sponsored by Murray Beith Murray)

Innovation in Farming Award: FastBreeders. A collaborative project involving four pasture dairy farms, using data to enable precise genomic selection decisions to maximise the health and efficiency of crossbred dairy cows. (Sponsored by Douglas Home & Co).

Enhancing our Environment through Land Management Award: The Mountains and The People (TMTP). The largest and most complex upland path project ever undertaken in the UK. The £5.6m scheme created and rebuilt footpaths on some of the Highlands’ most iconic hills, across Scotland’s two national parks. (Sponsored by NatureScot).

The nine category trophies. [Credit: Ian Georgeson]


As ever, Scottish Land & Estates received an extraordinary number of entries into all nine categories, demonstrating once again the sheer breadth of talent in Scotland’s rural industries. This, of course, made judging exceedingly difficult, and so a number of entries were highlighted on the night as worthy of special mention. These included:

No Mow May, Elgin Academy; Wilson’s Farm & Kitchen; Wildflower Roundabouts; and Joe Gibbs, Belladrum Estate.

Following last year’s awards ceremony (which was held virtually due to Covid restrictions) executive director of Scottish Land & Estates, Sarah-Jane Laing, was delighted to welcome back an in-person audience:

“We are delighted that our first in-person awards ceremony since 2019 has seen such an array of wonderful businesses, each doing great things for rural Scotland,” she said. “Entries were consistently strong and inspiring and judging once again very challenging. The highest standards, the latest technology and embracing the expectation to prioritise environmental sustainability are key challenges facing rural enterprises and I take delight in seeing many succeed in meeting these demands.

“Having the chance to celebrate with our winners in person this year has been incredibly rewarding,’ she continued. ‘Our rural communities are fortunate to have so many champions and contributors.”

Executive director of Scottish Land & Estates, Sarah-Jane Laing [Credit: Ian Georgeson]


Commenting on the night about being crowned champion of the Working With Communities category, Ian Robertson, chief executive of Countryside Learning Scotland, said: “It feels fantastic. It was the first award we’ve had as a young organisation and it’s for a very important product of our Pathways to Rural Work Project, which is about getting young people in Scotland into rural careers.

“This one specifically is for ADHD youngsters and we’re trying to engage as many businesses as possible to accept young people and to get these young people working in the rural environment. Some of the traits of ADHD lend themselves tremendously to rural jobs. We have to sell that to our businesses and make them aware of how easy it is to employ these people.”

Dougie Baird, chief executive at the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland, added: “We are delighted that two of our most recent collaborative projects, and all those who have been essential to their success, have been recognised by Scottish Land & Estates.

“To win in these two categories highlights the positive work we do developing, building, and fixing upland and lowland paths, path networks, habitats, and trailhead facilities in popular, remote, and fragile places; supporting outdoors enthusiasts, land managers, and local communities.”

SLE’s awards also supported two charities the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, which raises funds to aid research into the causes of MND and investigate potential cures, and RSABI, which aims to provide emotional, practical and financial support to individuals and their families across the agricultural sector.

To view the full list of finalists, please visit Scottish Land & Estates’ ‘Helping It Happen’ website.
Tel: 0131 653 5400; E: 

And the winners are… [Credit: Ian Georgeson]