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An awards ceremony designed to highlight the efforts of Kintyre citizens who go above and beyond proved to be a sparkling celebration of community spirit.
Created and organised by businesswoman Cheryl Lang, the first Spirit of Campbeltown Awards ceremony was held at Campbeltown Town Hall last Saturday evening.
Finalists in 14 categories were invited to the event where the winners were presented with bespoke prizes – specially-labelled bottles of whisky courtesy of the event’s main sponsor, Springbank Distillery, for the adults, and vouchers from Campbeltown Picture House and sweets from McKellars Confectionary for the children.
All winners and finalists were also presented with commemorative medals made by Campbeltown Pottery.
With the dress code described as ‘bright and colourful’, the event signalled the light at the end of the tunnel for many, as the community begins to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic.
For successive weeks in June, July and early August, members of the public nominated people in each of the categories, many times, for acts carried out during the pandemic.
After the entries were judged by Cheryl, John Armour and Courier reporter Hannah O’Hanlon, the finalists were announced in mid-August.
Over several weeks, members of the public then voted for as many finalists as they wished, which eventually revealed the worthy winners as follows:
- Young Person of the Year (all nominees were chosen as winners): Mia McConnachie; Blaze Mathieson; Castlehill pupils Emma Johnston, Abigail McAllister, Jessica McGeachy, Adele McGeachy and Jade McCallum; Lucy McNair; Emelie Willis; Cooper Scally; and Aida McSporran, for various fundraising activities and/or brightening their families’ lives.
- Helping Hand Award: Phil Edwards at Youth Impact, for being there for young people no matter what, giving up his own time to support them and offer them a listening ear.
- Educator of the Year: primary school teacher Fiona Watson, for organising timetables and rotas for the key worker hub while teaching online classes during the first lockdown and supporting all volunteers.
- Role Model of the Year: Beckie Shields, for her hard work at Shopper-Aide while working towards her own personal goals.
- Key Worker of the Year: Marie MacLean from Argyll and Bute Women’s Aid, for overcoming challenges to continue supporting vulnerable women and children throughout the pandemic.
- Volunteer of the Year: Danny Byrne, for tremendous commitment to Shopper-Aide, volunteering five days a week, always with a smile on his face.
- Random Act of Kindness: Caroline and Michael Stanford, for kindness and compassion in fostering a dog found on a hill, and caring for her until she passed away shortly afterwards.
- Sports Club of the Year: SG Taekwon-Do UK Highlands, for giving children and adults the opportunity to take part in a new sport in Kintyre.
- Service with a Smile: Donna Graham at the Co-op, for remaining cheerful while going above and beyond to ensure customers received groceries and thoughtfully engaging with the community.
- Sports Person of the Year: David Brown, for completing his personal challenge of running five kilometres every day of 2020 and donating 30p of his own money for every kilometre completed to a different charity each month.
- Community Group of the Year: Shopper-Aide, for going the extra mile to keep Kintyre’s elderly citizens entertained and stocked up with supplies, with increased demand and challenges during lockdowns.
- Small Business of the Year: The Kintyre Larder, for going above and beyond to meet customers’ needs including sourcing specific items and delivering orders.
- Tradesman of the Year: Bobby Greenlees, for doing all work quickly, politely and tidily, a ‘true gentleman’.
- Exceptional Achievement Award: Stuart McLellan, for spearheading the three-year campaign which led to the construction of the £270,000 Robert Black Memorial Helipad which officially opened in June.
- Heart of the Community Award: Helen Gilchrist, for bringing the community together and dedicating a lot of her own time putting together weekly online quizzes and raising money for charity.
There was one additional award that was a surprise to Cheryl on the night, despite her meticulous planning; her friends wanted to reward her exceptional contribution to the community, organising the awards, by gifting her a sweetie bouquet, cinema tickets, a candle and a hamper.
‘Thank you to everyone who took part and made the night such a success,’ Cheryl said. ‘I am looking forward to next year’s awards already!’
John, who compered the awards, said he was ‘delighted and very proud’ to do so.
‘It was wonderful to see so many people come together to celebrate those who have contributed so much to Campbeltown and Kintyre over the last 18 months,’ he said.
‘Every nominee and winner thoroughly deserved the recognition for their wonderful contributions to our community but special mention must go to Cheryl for coming up with the idea for the awards and pulling everything together to make it such a special night.
‘It is a night that will live long in the memory of all who attended.’
Hannah, who presented the awards alongside Cheryl, added: ‘It was an honour to have played a role in the first awards and truly heart-warming to join in the celebration of such amazing community spirit.
‘All the finalists and winners were very deserving, as was Cheryl of her gifts as she put an incredible amount of work into planning the event.’
During the evening, the audience was treated to a range of entertainment thanks to the following talented Campbeltown artists: piper William McLean, who welcomed people to the venue; Rona Campbell, who sang Somewhere Over The Rainbow; Emma Johnston, Abigail McAllister and Jessica McGeachy of James McCorkindale’s School of Dancing, who performed the Highland Fling; Charles Martin, who performed This Is Scotland, one of his own compositions; and Gary Anderson, who sang From Now On from The Greatest Showman.
Those who didn’t have to rush home toasted their achievements with a drink or two from the bar which was open until 11pm.