The outstanding achievements of dozens of Garioch residents was recognised last night at an inaugural civic pride awards ceremony.
Inverurie Town Hall was transformed into a glittering backdrop for the first Pride of Inverurie Awards, which saw 24 finalists up for the eight new accolades.
The winners were announced at the prestigious event after guests watched a short video about all the finalists with the category sponsors taking the deciding vote on who they thought should win the main honours.
The initiative is designed to recognise the very best of the town and surrounding area.
Awards were given to Willie Lippe who scooped best businessman, Judy Whyte for best businesswoman, Tammy Wilson for sports personality, Laird Parker for unsung hero, Finley Cousins for young achiever, Graham Watson for community champion, Barra Berries for tourism hot spot and the lifetime achievement award went to Thomas J Tait.
Last night Trevor Hart, who is chairman of Inverurie Events, said: “We had a great response for nominations, especially for the young achiever. It is so good to see so many young people helping in their community and volunteering their time. They are vital for our future.”
Inverurie became a Business Improvement District (Bid) in June following an overwhelming vote by businesses. The Pride of Inverurie Awards has been part of its Bid business plan from the outset.
And as Mr Hart explained: “By getting the Bid, the town has received a huge boost.
“The Pride of Inverurie Awards have created a real buzz around the town and the surrounding area. I think it proves Inverurie people are hugely loyal to our town.”
Pride of Inverurie Awards winners and sponsors
Lifetime Achievement Award sponsored by Inverurie Business Association
The nomination of Thomas J Tait OBE came as no surprise. After taking over the family paper mill at just 21, he steered the business from strength to strength. Following his retirement in 2002 after 32 years at the helm, he has since started up Highland Forest Products and Puffin Pellets to fill his time.
The Young Achiever sponsored by The Press and Journal
Finley Cousins swims for Garioch ASC and, at the age of 14, has broken North District Records in his age category for 50m breaststroke and is currently ranked third in Britain for his age group. He has recently been picked to train with the Scottish youth development squad in Stirling.
Unsung Hero sponsored by Fireworx Scotland
Laird Parker is currently the President of the Garioch rugby club where he has played and volunteered, promoted and acted as fundraiser in every role for the last 15 years. He is a Trust member for Garioch Sports Centre.
The Community Champion sponsored by Tesco
Graham Watson was nominated for his outstanding contributions to various charities in Inverurie. He raised thousands of pounds through a darts exhibition, a ceilidh, a “dress to work in pink” day, quiz nights, bingo nights, Burns suppers, cycling challenges and swimming galas raising of £80,000.
Sports Personality Award sponsored by The Garioch Sports Trust
Tammy Wilson has achieved incredible personal success in her own running career due to her hard work and determination, as well as giveing up her own time to coach hundreds of runners through her Jog Scotland Kintore group.
Tourist Hotspot sponsored by Bancon Homes
Barra Berries was nominated as “the perfect place to showcase Aberdeenshire”, because they bring the community together during the summer with their gorgeous farm shop, giving the opportunity for locals and tourists to visit and enjoy the Aberdeenshire views.
Businesswoman Award sponsored by Elevator
Judy Whyte is a councillor and a respected businesswoman. She was nominated for going “beyond the call of duty, always offering an ear and shoulder to many of her business friends in times of trouble”. A proactive member of the business association, she was instrumental in the setup of Inverurie 4 You – the retailers association.
Businessman Award sponsored by Johnston Carmichael
Willie Lippe has been hailed a “pillar of the business community” for many years. His nominators said he was “proactive” and always willing to “help and encourage” any businesses within the town centre. They added: “He is extremely approachable and is a huge credit to our town.”