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Inspiring Aberdeenshire 2021 - award finalists

On this page you can view the 2021 finalists for the Inspiring Aberdeenshire award and find out about their achievements and successes.

The award is composed of the following categories:

Aberdeenshire’s Future award

View the finalists for Aberdeenshire's Future award:

Blythe Primrose (Stonehaven)

Blythe has been the volunteer Youth Board Representative for The Haven, in Stonehaven, since 2018. Her role is to be the "eyes, ears and voice" for the youth in the community. During the pandemic, Blythe went above and beyond the call of duty volunteering. The Haven transformed their yoga studio into a community food larder and Blythe was the first in donating and helping young people access what they needed. She organised a Scare Hunger food drive with Mackie Academy late last year and was instrumental in The Haven’s crowd-funding success, raising more than £31,000 pounds. She is known for her quietly confident leadership. Blythe really is an incredible role model.

Aiden Clark and Rachel Green (Portlethen)

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.

Sasha Brydon

Sasha became a member of his local youth forum at the age of 12 as well as being involved in several local projects promoting young people’s rights both in and out of school. At 14 he was elected to the Aberdeenshire Youth Council, and for the next 5 years was involved in numerous youth projects both locally, regionally and nationally. Add to that his election as a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament. Sasha has been passionate about projects around about mental health, child poverty, LGBTQI+ and others. All this has been possible due to Sasha’s compassion and commitment to making things better for young people. He has been instrumental in strengthening the youth voice throughout Aberdeenshire.

Inspirational Volunteer award

View the finalists for the Inspirational Volunteer award:

Mairi Eddie (Johnshaven)

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.

Heather Cook (Westhill)

Heather’s work is a catalogue of selfless community volunteering spanning 20 years. It started with swim coaching at the Westhill swim club, progressed into setting up an after-school athletics club for primary kids, starting a local 'Jog Scotland' group, re-establishing the local Duke of Edinburgh scheme which she ran long after her own children had left school, becoming a carer and organising the local Senior Citizens club (which might have come to an end otherwise). Recently, she hasn’t slowed down - she is currently working on plans for a proposed Westhill 'Orbital Path', giving people a chance to enjoy and explore Westhill. People of all ages and backgrounds have benefited, in some way or another, from Heather's selfless volunteering, and she is a real community star.

Paige Brodie (Kemnay)

During the first COVID-19 lockdown, Paige helped out local group ‘Lend a hand Kemnay’, going shopping and providing prescriptions to those who were shielding. She also walked dogs, supported in the local foodbank and contributed a significant amount to the school community. Her daily staff vs pupils challenges involved over 150 people, all getting engaged in daily physical challenges which supported connection and positive mental health. She also fundraises and sets community challenges for Comic Relief. That is just a small glimpse into what Paige does on a regular basis. She is a selfless young person, working to contribute to the greater good of her school and local community. Her efforts to motivate, inspire and encourage others are a shining light in difficult times.

Heart of Aberdeenshire Caring award

View the finalists for the Heart of Aberdeenshire Caring award:

Tina Rutlidge

Tina does, in a quiet local way, the sort of thing we all hope someone will do for us in our old age. She provides vital care for her neighbour, sometimes visiting him up to 5 times a day to make meals, do washing, and being there for him as a friend. She is a lifeline for him and does it all despite her own significant health challenges. Tina goes above and beyond every single day, delivering local care at the point of need to help someone she cares about. The world needs more people like you Tina.

Huntly Homecare Team (Huntly)

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

View the finalists for the Cultural award:

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.

Garioch Heritage Society (Inverurie)

Since 1987, the Garioch Heritage Society has been championing the history and culture of the Garioch area from its earliest times. The centre tells the story of life and culture in the Garioch area, from the early 20th century to the present day. It sits in the renovated Inverurie Loco Works which had closed its gates for the last time in 1969, but has since enjoyed a new lease of life as a home for the centre's collections. This keeps the memory of the Loco Works alive and the Society has recently been successful in obtaining a substantial grant from the Scottish Land Fund so the building can be purchased outright. This ability to preserve and manage an iconic building supports the preservation and future of the culture of Inverurie and Garioch.

Jill McWilliam – Doric Future (Peterhead)

Jill McWilliam has had a lifelong passion about Doric heritage and has been involved with various groups and organisations interested in promoting the Doric culture of the North-east of Scotland. As a local farmer's daughter, she wanted to promote the traditions and culture she has feared might be lost forever with the passing of time. She launched Doric Future, an online platform ‘preserving the past, informing the future' offering access to her own library of video films made over 20 years to capture the individual stories of a wide range of subjects reflecting on their own unique past. What originally began as a humble vision to capture and preserve Doric, has become a dedicated life’s work to present a contemporary approach to our culture today for all ages and backgrounds, to inspire folk from all over the world.

Beautiful Aberdeenshire Environmental award

View the finalists for the Beautiful Aberdeenshire Environmental award:

Dee Catchment Partnership (Torphins)

The Dee Catchment Partnership has been at the heart of efforts to restore the path of a burn which feeds into the River Dee, and in turn restore local wildlife and prevent flooding. Some 250 years ago, the Beltie Burn from Torphins was straightened to make way for the Deeside railway, but in turn these man-made changes brought about major flooding issues for communities for many years, as well as all but wiping out some local habitats. The partnership set out to restore a 2km stretch of the Beltie to its original route, markedly improving the flooding issues almost instantly. Nature has made its way back too - the site is already home to kingfishers, dippers, herons, badgers, otters. Even salmon, which weren’t expected in the re-routed burn until 2022 at the earliest, were spotted spawning before the last of the diggers had even left the site. All thanks to the efforts of these dedicated indivduals.

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.

Stonehaven Horizon Group (Stonehaven)

The Stonehaven Horizon Group was established in 2005. During those 15 years they have made an enormous contribution to Stonehaven, working to "foster civic pride in the town and make Stonehaven a better place to live and work in". Their role has included maintaining the many floral displays around the town, working with the eco-school projects, organising regular community litter picks, planting a community orchard, undertaking a "War on Weeds" campaign and looking after a wildflower garden in the harbour area known as Pat's Patch. They were also instrumental in the Lockdown Painted Pebble project. These are just some examples of what this proactive and dedicated group does to ensure Stonehaven remains a green, colourful and pleasant place to live, work and visit.

Local Hero Courage award

View the finalists for the Local Hero Courage award:

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.

Rev. Dr Kay Gauld (Insch)

Sometimes courage shows its face in our willingness to step up for others, something Kay from Insch has in buckets, being described in her nomination as an “incredible human”.
Since the start of the very first lockdown, Kay was the ‘captain’ of the volunteer ship which has been helping those shielding, those who are struggling with loss of income, those who are living on their own and need someone to talk to and those who are only just managing but need help with putting food in the cupboards. Kay co-ordinated the groups of volunteers to help individuals and families with shopping, dog walking, collecting prescriptions and many contacting them by telephone for a chat in an evening when loneliness is at its worst. She will do anything to support people in their time of need, which takes courage and personal strength. Kay is a gem that the Insch community has been truly blessed to receive.

Amanda Jane Taylor, known as AJ McLovely (Westhill)

Amanda Jane, or AJ as she is known, suffered the worst kinds of loss and struggle around the start of the pandemic. She lost her father, her marriage ended, she lost her home and hit rock bottom. She, with us all, went into lockdown. Depression took hold.
But from the ashes she found courage and strength through music. She began singing live online and realised she had created a space to be open about mental health issues and help others. She set about creating a music page in April 2020. Her fanbase has now hit more than 5,000 worldwide with views and messages into thousands too, with people contacting her to say she has saved their lives. AJ decided to support the local charities of SAMH and Branching Out who help her and released her own single Hold On with proceeds going to the local charities. She is a selfless young lady inside and out and deserves recognition for all she continues to do.

Community Spirit award

View the finalists for the Community Spirit award:

The Buchan Giving Tree (Peterhead)

For 17 years Shona and the Giving Tree team have helped socially-deprived families in the Buchan area. They began by providing toys at Christmas time for families who may have children who would not be getting a present from Santa. This was a year-round effort to gather gifts for all ages. In recent years the Giving Tree has helped families at other times during the year. This can be help with school uniforms, toiletries, clothes and even shoes. In a normal year the group would hand over 2,000 items to local families, but the Covid pandemic has seen the demand almost double. The Giving Tree do their work quietly, unpaid and never seeking attention or praise. But their care and support for some of our most socially-deprived families over nearly 20 years has been phenomenal.

Raj Hamid and family – Carron to Mumbai (Stonehaven)

The way Raj and his family responded to the Covid pandemic has been exceptional and caring. He is the head chef at the Carron to Mumbai in Stonehaven, and he took his talents and his community spirit out to those in need in the pandemic. He and his five daughters have spent countless hours of their time and skill making meals for the community. They have donated food to those who need it - to NHS staff, to the vulnerable and to young people in the community. He has rallied the people of Stonehaven who donated to help support his ongoing efforts to feed people when they need it most. His daughters even delivered food at Christmas to people who may have little else. Raj and his family are excellent role models and providers of the very best sort of community spirit.

Young People’s Organising and Campaigning Group (YPOC) - various locations

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

View the finalists for the COVID-19 Response award:

The Larder Portlethen (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 (Portsoy)

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 (various across Buchan)

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

View the finalists for the Inspiring Aberdeenshire Lifetime Achievement award:

Jim Malcolm (Stonehaven)

Until recently, Jim worked under the radar, and during the process started to put Stonehaven on the map. Little was known about him, other than him being described as the ‘Stonehaven Banksy’.
Jim is a metal artist who has created several sculptures which have pride of place on the seafront, with a nautical theme of fishing boats, a Viking boat and a lighthouse. From humble beginnings, his art is taking on international acclaim and the sculptures are now well known far and wide.
At the start, only those close to him knew he was the creator of the artworks which appeared over a number of years. Some would even leave scrap metal on his doorstep. In what he called his first and last interview after his identity was revealed he said “I’m nae an artist, I am just a guy that sticks metal together”. But I think we can all agree his artistic talent is bringing attention to his community and will be a real catalyst for tourism in the town. It seems Jim is doing more for this community than he even realises.

John Anderson (Fraserburgh)

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.

Sally Sheehan (Collieston)

For more than 30 years, Sally has been a huge asset to the village of Collieston where her work ensures that young and old alike can enjoy where they live.
Sally has been at the heart of securing funding for a whole range of community projects like the pirate ship and play park equipment as well as benches for around the village. Her work has helped repair the pier and walkways as well as extending the Village Hall in conjunction with the Council. This is all done thanks to her roles with the Harbour Heritage Group and the Community Council. Sally is someone who has lived and breathed the community where she lives and holds it dear to her heart and many years have been spent on projects to help others see it the way she sees it.
Her energy and enthusiasm are boundless, and it is regularly said that Collieston wouldn’t be the village it is today without Sally.