Scotland’s high street heroes have been honoured as part of a national drive to encourage local shopping.
More than 1,200 nominations were whittled down and now 24 individuals, and groups from the north and north-east have now been presented with awards and commendations from the Scotland Loves Local campaign.
The initiative was launched earlier this year by Scotland’s Towns Partnership, with the support of the Scottish Government.
It said shopping locally, rather than further afield or online, would help the likes of smaller businesses which would otherwise have struggled financially or even faced closure.
Shop owners, hoteliers, charity campaigners and community advocates are among those who have now been named regional champions at the High Street Heroes Awards.
Many have been recognised for their efforts feeding others who found themselves in difficulty in recent months, including Alness businesswoman Carolyn Wilson.
The owner of Victoriana Florist and Gifts played a key role in distributing more than 100 hot meals every day.
Ian and Rena Watson, of Cullen Bay Hotel, were named regional champions in Moray for similar work.
They said jointly: “We are very fortunate to have been in a position where we were able to help those in the community during the lockdown.
We are very appreciative of all individuals, businesses and organisations who contributed to our endeavours.
“We never sought recognition for what we did. However, to be recognised in this way is very humbling.”
Syed Abdul Hamid, the head chef at Stonehaven restaurant Carron To Mumbai, said he was “privileged” to help serve key workers and the most vulnerable.
Meanwhile Back Community Council on the Western Isles also played a vital role in preventing others from going hungry.
Chairwoman Cathy Macinnes said: “As a community council we are proud of the teamwork and were pleased to be able to do something for the community at such a difficult time.
“We know how proud our people are and it was good to be able to offer a very anonymous way of getting some staple foodstuffs to those who needed them during lockdown and over the following months.”
Others were celebrated for their support of other businesses.
Laura Bruce and Duncan McLean of Kirkwall Business Improvement District, and Emma Miller from Living Lerwick were all named regional champions.
The chief executive of Aberdeen charity We Too was acknowledged for her organisation’s work to help families in difficulty.
Phionna McInnes was left “a bit stunned” by the news of her award, and said: “I feel privileged that I was able to help my community but this could only happen by being empowered by a wonderful team of volunteer ‘ninjas’ who were willing to help, especially as I was within a shielding house with my two children through the initial restrictions.
“I truly believe if all of us could manage just one small act of kindness each, every day, it could help make all the difference to what we are all experiencing this year and make it all just a little bit more bearable for everyone.”
Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said: “This has been a difficult year for all of us, and the only way we will get through is by sticking together, being kind, and offering help where it is needed.
“The fact that these awards received more than 1,200 nominations just shows how much people have appreciated those who have pulled together to help one another.”
And STP chief officer Phil Prentice said: “The dedication with which people have supported those around them during the pandemic has been remarkable.
“We’re delighted to shine a spotlight on the amazing difference that our High Street Heroes have made and thank them for all they have done.”