Community champions honoured at Scotland Loves Local Awards

Community champions honoured at Scotland Loves Local Awards

The tremendous dedication, determination and innovation taking place to support and reimagine communities was celebrated at the Scotland Loves Local Awards.

A team from Message Matters worked alongside our client Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP), the organisation behind the event as well as the wider Scotland Loves Local initiative.

And there has been a great reaction to news about the finalists, with local newspapers the length and breadth of the country helping to celebrate their achievements – with some even making front-page news.

The awards, held at V&A Dundee and hosted by popular STV presenter Sean Batty, recognise everything from tackling the climate emergency and encouraging enterprise to transforming streets and creating great places to live.

We produced a full multi-media package, with a broad suite of press releases supported by a set of videos which fuelled social media coverage – all backed by photography from regular Message Matters collaborator Jamie Simpson.

One of the big headline-grabbers was the community stalwart named as Scotland’s High Street Hero.

Gordon McDonald has dedicated more than 40 years to supporting his friends and neighbours in Buckie, Moray, in all manner of ways.

The veteran former councillor who is chair of Buckie Area Forum, was described by one nominator as “a true hero of Buckie” who “fights for equality for those from all walks of life”.

Recognising the struggles that many were facing due to the rising cost of living in early 2022, he led on identifying an empty High Street building which could be used as a warm bank and social hub for those in need.

He sourced tradespeople and volunteers to transform the site, from which people can now access support, advice, food and fuel vouchers, emergency food or simple company.

The Hub now operates six days a week, with Gordon supporting all of the volunteers involved.

Another nominee said: “There is no-one who has done more for the community.”

Gordon collected his Scotland Loves Local High Street Hero Award from Buckie Area Forum colleague Kevin McKay, alongside Moray Council’s Tracey Rae.

Speaking on stage, Kevin said: “For well over 40 years, Gordon has put the community first. To me, Gordon is a High Street Hero.”

Gordon admitted afterwards that he was “very surprised” to receive the award.

He said: “This award is obviously not for me. It’s for the volunteers and everyone else who has helped me.

“I’ve always been involved in the community. Once you come to Buckie you understand the attraction it has. It draws people in. It’s very much a community.”

Sean’s hosting of the awards follows from his work throughout this year as an ambassador for the wider Scotland Loves Local campaign, encouraging people to choose local in order to build stronger and more sustainable communities which are fit for the future.

He said: “The dedication and drive shown by all of our finalists to deliver for their community is simply amazing. The difference they make – day in, day out –  is incredible.

“Well done to all of the finalists. It was great spending time with them.”

STP Chair, Professor Leigh Sparks, added: “Everyone nominated for a Scotland Loves Local Award is playing their part in creating a better future for their community.

“We should be proud of them all, as we should of all the unsung heroes working every day across the country. Their vision, determination, entrepreneurship and creativity is exactly what we need to create a stronger Scotland with more sustainable places in which to live, work and visit.

“Thanks to all of our supporters and sponsors for making these awards possible.”

STP is the organisation spearheading the Scotland Loves Local campaign, supported by the Scottish Government.

For more information about the awards and the wider Scotland Loves Local campaign, go to and follow #ScotlandLovesLocal on social media.

Scotland Loves Local Awards 2023: Roll of honour

Climate and Net Zero Community, supported by Business Stream and Green Action Trust

  • Winner: Dalrymple, Skeldon and Hollybush Steering Group
  • Runner-up: Gauchalland East Community Gardens, Galston
  • Runner-up: Ibrox Commons, Glasgow


Creative Community, supported by Creative Scotland

  • Winner: Vibrant Gala Project, Galashiels
  • Runner-up: Art Night, Dundee
  • Runner-up: Scene Stirling


Digital, supported by Commsworld and Miconex

  • Winner: Forres Local, Moray Media CIC
  • Runner-up: “Like a Local” campaign, Forth Valley Food and Drink
  • Runner-up:, Inverurie


Enterprising Communities

  • Winner: GALE Centre, Gairloch
  • Runner-up: Include Me 2 Club, Barrhead 
  • Runner-up: The Furniture Project, Stranraer


Judges’ Special Award for supporting the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card (joint winners)

  • Ewan Eccleston and Ivonne Hamilton, Glasgow City Council
  • Kirsty Shand, Moray Council


Place Leader, supported by Message Matters

  • Winner: Diane Brown, Alloa First
  • Runner-up: Ross Grant, Aberdeen Inspired 
  • Runner-up: Dr Michael Gray, Energise Galashiels


Streets and Spaces, supported by Sustrans

  • Winner: Craigie Street Pocket Park, Dundee
  • Runner-up: Gateway to Strathclyde Country Park, Bellshill
  • Runner-up: Inchyra Park, Grangemouth


Town Centre Living

  • Winner: Almondvale Court, Livingston (West Lothian Council and The Wheatley Group)
  • Runner-up: Merchant House, Inverness (Highland Housing Association)
  • Runner-up: Simon Square, Edinburgh (Fraser / Livingstone Architects)


High Street Hero

  • Winner: Gordon McDonald, Buckie Action Group