2023 Inspiring Aberdeenshire winners announced

The Inspiring Aberdeenshire Awards recognise the work of residents and groups across the region.The Inspiring Aberdeenshire Awards recognise the work of residents and groups across the region.
The Inspiring Aberdeenshire Awards recognise the work of residents and groups across the region.

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The winners of Inspiring Aberdeenshire 2023 have been announced.

For the first time since 2019, the awards were handed out in person at a ceremony at Meldrum House. In recent years the awards have been online. Councillors, guests, finalists and their families joined sponsors at the event, during which the winners in all eight categories were revealed, and awards handed out.

The council-run awards celebrate a range of heroes across Aberdeenshire. Now in their 11th year, residents and groups are rewarded for their work, which often get little or no other recognition.

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Speaking at the event, Provost of Aberdeenshire Cllr Judy Whyte said: “I have been involved with Inspiring Aberdeenshire for a few years now, first as a councillor watching the event, then as Provost co-hosting online.

"Now, to be back together in the room celebrating our finalists was special and I hope that all of the finalists felt the same. This night was for them, to celebrate all of their work. We all owe them so much gratitude, they are the people who make Aberdeenshire special.”

Keep an eye on the Inspiring Aberdeenshire Facebook page for detail of when the next round of nominations will open. www.facebook.com/inspiringaberdeenshire

2023 winners

Aberdeenshire’s Future – Aby Catto, Turriff

There is probably not time to list all the amazing things Aby Catto has done in her six years at Turriff Academy.

Known to all as a kind, thoughtful and caring individual, she is empowered by helping others achieve success. She is a true campaigner for the underdog and motivates even the least confident to have a go. Her 'can do' approach to life is a breath of fresh air and even when she is facing her own challenges, she always looks to make life better for others.

She was Turriff United Youth U16’s Girls Team captain and Player of the year 22/23, she volunteers in the community, she supported after school clubs, particularly, hockey, girls football and led several training sessions. Aby also supported the enhanced transition for some of the most vulnerable kids moving from P7 to S1, organised charity events and was house captain.

Now that Aby moves away from the academy, her future looks incredibly bright, but it is fair to say that she will be missed by everyone in the school and beyond.

Inspirational Volunteer – Angie Mutch, Stonehaven

These awards show us that many amazing people volunteer and give up their own time to support their communities, and Angie is an example of how one person can use their voice to advocate for others.

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She is a public representative within the Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership and has spent five years providing advice and feedback, advocating for community views, communicating with communities and making sure the voice of the people of Aberdeenshire is heard. Her voluntary roles require hard work and dedication, and she invests a huge amount of her own time so she can provide an informed and valuable contribution across her roles.

The courage and determination shown in her commitment to this work whilst coping with her own personal challenging circumstances is an inspiration. She brings her lived experience to the partnership and is invaluable to making sure services are shaped and delivered to meet the needs of users and the unpaid carers that support them.

Angie is one of those people who makes the people she meets want to be better, a true inspiration.

Heart of Aberdeenshire Caring Award – Kaydin Simpson, Peterhead

Kaydin is a pupil at Dales Park Primary in Peterhead. Last Christmas he saw an advert which highlighted that there were children that would not get presents at Christmas time. This was enough to make the kind-hearted Kaydin want to use his pocket money to buy presents for these children. When his dad posted on Facebook, the local community was inspired by Kaydin and they also stepped up.

He started a local movement which resulted in donations of Christmas presents and money for vulnerable children which began to pour into the school and to his family. A GoFundMe page was created and he worked with the Bare Necessities charity to help collect donations and deliver them. His thoughtfulness and generosity touched so many, and this in turn helped a local charity make Christmas a bit more special for so many vulnerable families.

The Cultural Award – Jackie Ross of Doric Books, Lumphanan

Doric Books is a community interest company publishing books solely in Doric. So far, they have produced six picture books aimed at children which can be found in over thirty shops across the North-east, as well as on their website. They also carry out community engagement activities including Doric Rhyme Time for Bairns, Doric Blethers in Care Homes and Community Groups, Doric Story Telling and workshops in schools. They have given numerous talks to Rotary Clubs, WRIs etc and recently, a story telling session to the Buchan Heritage Society. Their aim is to promote and increase the uptake of the Doric in speaking, writing and reading.

Jackie is a retired teacher who has taken her passion to the Doric Books world, and she dedicated her time to raising the profile of Doric in schools and in communities. Thanks to Jackie, this group continues to help children and young people retain an important connection to their linguistic heritage.

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Beautiful Aberdeenshire Environmental Award – Friends of the Den, Turriff

Friends of the Den have been working with the Council to establish a large biodiversity area within the Den area in Turriff.

They have involved the local Primary School pupils, local youth organisations and other voluntary groups to introduce native wildflowers to enhance several biodiversity areas, turning them into beautiful areas of colour. They have also planted many new trees, and joined the Queen’s Green Canopy by planting new fruit trees in her memory.

Friends of the Den have welcomed hundreds of volunteers, who are all keen to improve not only the look of the area, but also to provide a biodiversity area for local wildlife, including bees. Not only do they source plants, wildflower plugs, bulbs, trees etc, they also teach and encourage the younger generations to take pride in their community.

Local Hero Courage Award – Tyrone Devlin, Mintlaw

Tyrone is a very inspirational young man who has overcome all sorts of difficulties and adversities throughout his life.

He was described by the nominator as “one of the most kind and caring young people I have ever come across”. Fiercely loyal to all his peers and to staff across the school and looks out for everyone emotionally. He helps out in his community, putting up decorations in the care home at Christmas or creating an enterprise project, and gets stuck in helping the school janitors with whatever the school day throws at them. All of this in spite of the great challenges and setbacks he has encountered throughout his life. He understands his life journey and sees it as his strength. It is the way he has worked selflessly for others in the face of some significant adversity that make him a hero.

This win gives Tyrone the recognition he truly deserves for being such an inspirational young man.

Community Spirit Award JOINT WINNERS – The Gordon Schools Care Group, Huntly and Jane Craigie, Huntly

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This group is in their second year of working closely and making links with the local community. It was set up to give a voice to Care Experienced Young People.

The Care Group have worked very closely with Deveron Projects in Huntly and attended the local care home in Huntly to sing carols at Christmas time, taking time to speak to the residents and learn about their time in Huntly and Aberdeenshire.

It is their exhibitions for which they may be most known. They work to organise, create and present photography, film and sound exhibitions that have contained content from all around Aberdeenshire the natural beauty the area offers. The most recent exhibition was presented in the John Swan Atrium at School and was well attended by the public, family and friends. This exhibition contained images, video and sounds from Slains Castle, local beaches and even recordings of them speaking. The Care Group continue to work closely with the community and have plans to create another exhibition in future and hope to showcase from an even bigger scale.

Jane lives in rural Aberdeenshire and was concerned about the loss of young people from our local rural communities. She started the Rural Youth Project in 2018 to encourage young people aged 18-30 to build their leadership, activism and enterprise skills, with the aim of encouraging them to move back to, move to, or remain in rural areas.

Fuelled by knowing that when young people leave rural areas, the ideas, energy and services also start to go, the project has supported many young people and including local communities to listen and involve their young people. Jane including an Ideas Hack in Huntly last year. This involved the local Huntly Development Trust, Gordon Schools, Deveron Projects and the local youth development officer. As a result of this activity, the James Hutton Institute plans to focus on Huntly as one of five areas in Scotland that will be a 'Living Lab' for 3-years of in-depth research into community challenges, activities and dynamics.

Jane has supported and connected with well over 1,000 young people and invested her own time and money into the initiative.

Inspiring Aberdeenshire Lifetime Achievement Award - Craig Trail, Fraserburgh

Craig is an exceptionally selfless and ambitious person, who has been the driving force behind the advancement and expansion of Fraserburgh Sea Cadets over the last 12 years. He was a sea cadet himself as a child and returned as a volunteer in 2009.

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He has propelled the Cadets from temporary closure to a band of 50, a committee of six and a volunteer base of more than 20. They were operating from a single run-down building and now own a harbour-based station and a new headquarters. An impressive series of achievements in only nine years.

Craig does all of what he does for the benefit of the cadets. He is motivated by the young people, the staff, the committee and the volunteers. He does it to see the joy on everyone’s face.

For the time and effort he puts into the unit, the community is unendingly grateful.