Inspiring Stonehaven

By bellmannews / August 27, 2021

The winners of Inspiring Aberdeenshire 2021 were revealed last night – and while none of the awards came back to our town, Stonehaven punched above its weight with a number of finalists sharing the excitement and achievement of reaching the final.

The glitzy award ceremony was hosted by BBC Scotland presenter Fiona Stalker and the Provost of Aberdeenshire Cllr Bill Howatson.

For the second year the event was streamed online, allowing more people to watch the awards being handed out, hear from local performers, and get a flavour of the Inspiring work done daily by people in Aberdeenshire.

The awards recognise the hard work and community efforts of people across Aberdeenshire who might otherwise not get any recognition.  This year, an extra category was added to celebrate the way communities have supported each other throughout the pandemic. That also lead to Professor Jason Leitch agreeing to participate and be part of the night, handing out the Covid-19 response award as a special guest.

While the event was live-streamed last night, it is now available on Aberdeenshire Council’s Youtube channel – and it is worth watching to enjoy the presentations about our local entries.

Stonehaven’s award hopefuls

Eagerly awaiting the announcements were:

Blythe Primrose, who was nominated for Aberdeenshire’s Future award. Former Mackie pupil Blythe has been the volunteer Youth Board Representative for The Haven, and was a recent co-winner of the Hannah Dyson Award.

Raj Hamid and his family from the Carron to Mumbai Restaurant were nominated for Community Spirit award – they have prepared and donated countless meals to NHS staff, to the vulnerable and to young people in the community.

Meanwhile The Horizon Group were nominated for the Beautiful Aberdeenshire Environmental award. And our talented stainless steel sculptor Jim Malcolm was nominated for Inspiring Aberdeenshire Lifetime Achievement award.

Speaking as the event wrapped up, Cllr Howatson said: “It never fails to amaze me that year in and year out we hear about astonishing people doing astonishing things. People whose work we are not aware of, but they go the extra mile all over Aberdeenshire to help each other and their communities.

”To mark the COVID efforts this year was especially important, given all we have been through, and I was delighted that Professor Leitch joined us to hand out that award.  It was, yet again, another Inspiring night which will hopefully inspire others.”

Inspiring Aberdeenshire winners

The 2021 winners are: 

Aberdeenshire’s Future – Awarded to a young individual (under 25) who has shown great leadership and helped to inspire and motivate others in support of a local cause. ​

Aidan Clark and Rachel Green

Rachel and Aidan are in sixth year at Portlethen Academy. They jumped at the chance to help set up a gay/straight Alliance group, with the aim of creating a culture of understanding, mutual respect and very visible inclusion throughout the school. They quickly adopted the role of pupil leaders of this group and took it from strength to strength. In everything they do they demonstrate a desire to motivate other around them. They haven’t shied away from the LGBTQI+ issues and have tackled them head on, with a mixed group of pupils as well as staff of all ages. Aiden and Rachel are genuinely inspiring young leaders who are helping take their whole community on this important journey.

Inspirational Volunteer award – Awarded to an individual or group who have gone the extra mile by volunteering for a local initiative that makes a difference to the lives of others or communities.

Mairi Eddie

Mairi Eddie, through her role with the Benholm and Johnshaven Community Council, has hugely contributed to the health and wellbeing of those in the area. She was instrumental in setting up The Community Larder at Johnshaven Village Hall to support people affected physically, financially or emotionally by Covid-19. In the beginning it offered a limited supply of canned and dried food. But Mairi has helped it grow to provide toiletries, cleaning products, activity packs and art and craft materials. She then went further and set up a community library and games swap. What sets Mairi apart is her tireless mission to ensure all those in the community are being helped, while reducing stigma around using the larder. The communities of Benholm and Johnshaven are more cohesive and cared for than ever before thanks to her voluntary work.

Heart of Aberdeenshire Caring award – Awarded to a person who has had a significant positive impact on the life(s) of a vulnerable person(s). Nominees will care for others, either through the course of their employment, for a family member or as a volunteer carer.

Huntly Homecare Team

Huntly has its very own heroes in the Homecare team. Providing homecare to some of the most vulnerable in the community to the absolute highest standards, as well as end of life care, this dedicated group goes above and beyond. They rally around the community in their own time as well, delivering food parcels, raising money for charity, and supporting people throughout the recent gas outages. In their nomination it said “they always think of others before themselves and it is my absolute pleasure to work with such a dedicated, supportive, welcoming and genuinely amazing group of ladies. My Huntly homecare heroes.”

Cultural award – Awarded to an individual or community group who has made an excellent contribution to the promotion of local culture in Aberdeenshire.

Paul Anderson

Paul Anderson has dedicated his career to the promotion of Scottish Fiddle Music, particularly music and culture from the North-east of Scotland. He has taught fiddle all over the world, performed globally and promotes North-east culture and music in everything he does. He composes, teaches and has moved lessons and concerts online during the pandemic. Doric also features in his performances to keep it in the public eye. Aside from this, he is also an accomplished academic, whose research into fiddle music has been vast and his knowledge is second to none. Paul works tirelessly to promote our local fiddle tradition and indeed the culture of the North-east everywhere he goes.

Beautiful Aberdeenshire Environmental award – Awarded to an individual or group who is working hard to help nurture and enhance our area’s natural beauty through environmental initiatives

Crawford Paris

On the face of it, Crawford project manages beach cleans, but his role actually runs so much deeper than that. He is the face of the Turning Back the Plastic Tide campaign, where he puts his heart and soul into raising awareness of plastic pollution in our coastal waters. He is as happy delivering educational events for local school kids, students and businesses as he is litter picking and supporting community volunteers. He mobilises teams to collect plastic from beaches at Balmedie, St Cyrus, and Cairnbulg to name just a few. This one-man operation does everything from inspiring people, educating and getting funding for campaigns. His dedication is evident to everyone who meets him. His real skill is helping people see how we can all help in a small way to make a big difference.

Local Hero Courage award – Awarded to an individual who in the face of adversity has shown courage, bravery and dedication to helping to overcome a difficult situation.

Alfie Fraser

Alfie was nominated by an ambulance paramedic who arrived at an accident scene to witness Alfie’s selfless bravery. Back in February 2021, a child seriously injured themselves falling down a steep hill. Alfie, who happened to be nearby, called for help and stayed with the child until her parents arrived. He then went over and above to help the paramedic crew when they arrived, carrying equipment through deep snow in the cold, making several trips and helping the crew get the child into the ambulance. He had no gloves, was wearing just trainers, and yet battled against the elements to get the child to safety. His nominee said that in all her years of being in the service she has never come across such a helpful member of the public and one so young. Getting this critically injured child to hospital was only made possible with Alfie’s help.

Community Spirit award – Awarded to an individual or group who have supported a cause or project which helps to foster a spirited, embracing and vibrant local community.

Young People’s Organising and Campaigning Group (YPOC)

The Young People’s Organising and Campaigning Group – sometimes known as YPOC – are a driven group of care-experienced young people in Aberdeenshire. They are a campaigning group which wants to make things better for other looked-after children and young people. Its latest campaign ‘Coming into Care and moving placements-Getting it right’ was launched last year during lockdown, to educate people about what it’s like coming into care and what they need from those around them in support. The young people used their own experience, thinking about what was and wasn’t helpful for them, and how traumatic this can be for children and young people. They wrote the story, illustrations and wrote the guide too. They are a brave, courageous group of young people who really want to change attitudes so that other care experienced young people get the support they need.

COVID-19 Response award – The Coronavirus pandemic has given rise to remarkable efforts across Aberdeenshire in supporting one another during this time. This award is for an individual, group or community who have shown incredible resilience and amazing efforts in response to Covid-19.

The judges agreed it was too hard to separate the extraordinary work of all of the finalists and agreed to make them ALL winners.

The Larder Portlethen

The Larder Portlethen is run by three volunteers from the community. What started as a small-scale foodbank back in March 2020 has developed into an invaluable community go-to for food, drink, gifts, prescription runs, almost anything. They are an example of a community foodbank who operate to serve the people of the surrounding area in any way they can and show what can be done when a community pulls together in the face of adversity. They have responded to the pandemic in the most selfless way and, as a result, The Larder goes from strength to strength. Local donations and support from larger businesses as well as community donations help them to be there at the point of need. They offer veg boxes, have done a Santa run at Christmas, as well as Christmas food parcels, and gift boxes for young people.

What started as a response to an emergency situation has become a much-needed resource and one which helps support the whole community.

Portsoy Area Action Team

Sharon Short quickly swung into action at the very start of the Covid pandemic and set up Portsoy Area Action Team with a small team around her. Working alongside local shops, every home in Portsoy and surrounding areas was leafletted to inform residents of a telephone ordering and home delivery service. The delivery side was entirely organised and run by this small yet dedicated band of volunteers and continued throughout the first lockdown delivering food and medicines to people.

The group set up a Facebook page, which has been regularly updated with advice and guidance from official sources throughout the pandemic. The page has also been able to respond quickly to people seeking help with a variety of issues or signpost to formal services where appropriate.

The service provided, especially in the early days, was absolutely vital for the community and without their work many vulnerable members of the community would have been unaware of how they could access basic supplies or medicine.

Strengthening our Buchan Response

At the start of the 2020 lockdown, many communities rallied to pull together to ensure that no member of their community was left isolated and in need of help. In Buchan, a number of these groups came together under the banner ‘Strengthening our Buchan Response’ and over the following 12 months organised volunteers far and wide to meet local needs.

As a group they would also work with other services like NHS, Fire, Police, the local Rural Partnership and Aberdeenshire Council, to ensure that links were in place for support as part of keeping communities safe. Some of what they did included setting up Whatsapp groups for volunteers, organising social media campaigns, distributing information leaflets and organising regular Covid Newsletters. They helped secure funding for food supplies, arranged PPE and supported calls for assistance through the Grampian Coronavirus Assistance Hub. It would be impossible to list the many and varied ways their members helped right across Buchan through the pandemic. But one thing is for sure, they have cemented themselves as a lifeline for the whole area.

Inspiring Aberdeenshire Lifetime Achievement award – This award will be presented to an individual who over the course of a number of years has made an outstanding contribution to a local cause, project or initiative, and is a true inspiration to others across Aberdeenshire.

John Anderson

John Anderson has had many roles in his life, from Boys Brigade Officer through to a member of International Rescue travelling the world to help in countries struck by natural disasters. He was station officer at Fraserburgh Fire Station in which time he set up the Blue Light Festival which raises fund for various charities around the area, draws people to the town and gives them an insight into how the various emergency services work. He set up the Fraserburgh Resilience group through his involvement with the Community Council and has raised funds for and installed defibrillators throughout the town. During the winter, if there is heavy snow, he organises volunteers to clear paths for pensioners, get shopping and help where it is needed. If there is a project needing volunteers, John will be there, planting trees being the latest one.

John and his lifetime of work are woven into the fabric of the Fraserburgh community, and he has enriched many lives over the years.

Feature image courtesy of Martin Sim