Groups across East Lothian helping communities become more climate and nature friendly were recognised at the Beautiful Scotland celebration and awards evening at the weekend.
Hosted by environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful, the annual Beautiful Scotland awards – held in person for the first time since 2019 – took place at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh on Friday 8 September.
Forty-five groups from all over Scotland were presented with awards and Certificates of Recognition for their efforts to improve, enhance and protect biodiversity and the places they care for and work and live in.
North Berwick in Bloom, alongside Moray group Forres in Bloom, were joint winners of the prestigious Rosebowl. They also won the Coastal Town Award, the VisitScotland Award for Tourism and, taking part in the judged category, also received a Gold.
Blooming Haddington won the Haddington 700 Award for the Siege of Haddington Commemoration Garden, a collaborative project between the group and the Siege of Haddington Research Group. Taking part in the judged category, they also received a Gold certificate
East Lothian Council also won the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society Award.
Aberlady in Bloom and Dunbar in Bloom took part in the non-judged category and both received Certificates of Recognition.
Provost John McMillan said: “We are very proud of the hard-working volunteers who, over many years, have made such a significant contribution to the appearance of local communities. Recognition at the Beautiful Scotland awards is greatly deserved, reflecting both their dedication and creativity. It is also wonderful to see the efforts of council staff recognised and I thank them for their successful partnering with local groups in delivering such beautifully colourful displays.”
Judging visits took place during early August, with a team of Keep Scotland Beautiful volunteer judges considering groups’ efforts across three pillars: horticultural achievement, environmental responsibility and community participation.
This year there were a total of 24 awards available including, for 2023 only, a Health and Wellbeing award, supported by the Scottish Association for Mental Health, to celebrate this year’s theme.
As well as the multiple awards available, there are also four categories of medal certificate available to all judged entrants meeting the required criteria. All 45 entrants received a certificate, with nine winning Gold, six winning a Silver Gilt, two winning Silver and the 24 non-judged groups and our four Scottish UK finalists receiving Certificates of Recognition.
A non-judged category was introduced in 2021 for groups who wanted access to the support, resources and recognition available through the initiative but did not yet feel ready to participate in a judged category. At the ceremony, these groups were presented with a Certificate of Recognition, as were the four groups representing Scotland in the UK RHS Britain in Bloom finals later this year.
Juliette Camburn, Senior Officer, Community Initiatives at Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: “I’d like to wish a huge congratulations to the four groups in East Lothian who were honoured at this year’s Beautiful Scotland awards night. Being together in person to celebrate the collective efforts to improve our local communities, after such a long absence, has been fantastic.
“We’re facing climate and nature crises in Scotland, and everyone must play their part to halt biodiversity loss and to protect and enhance nature. The efforts of our groups, and all involved in their communities, is truly inspiring, ensuring their local areas are not only protected but improved for future generations.
“Every group thoroughly deserves their awards and recognition, and their collective effort is immensely appreciated.”
Lewis Normand, President of The Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society, said: “As Scotland’s national horticulture and gardening charity, The Caley is always keen to support the Beautiful Scotland Awards and the work of Keep Scotland Beautiful in general.
“Our long tradition of engaging with local, regional and national campaigns that further horticulture and gardening at all levels, is something we take very seriously indeed.
“It is great to see so many groups and individuals addressing issues of the environment, ecology and sustainability in their projects; both beautifying and improving our outdoor spaces for people and wildlife alike.
“As part of our aim to entwine sustainability and environmentally sound practices in everything we do, we look for these qualities in projects which we endorse. The RCHS Award recognises both excellent horticulture and gardening as well as a sound environmental approach to that work. We congratulate East Lothian Council on receiving the RCHS Award for 2023 and look forward to this excellent work continuing.”
VisitScotland Director of Industry and Destination Development Rob Dickson said: “Congratulations to North Berwick on receiving the VisitScotland Award for Tourism. The Beautiful Scotland Awards are a sign of the high-quality visitors can experience. East Lothian is renowned for its spectacular scenery, dramatic coastline and picturesque towns and villages.
“Our communities, along with our natural and cultural heritage are what makes Scotland so unique and it is testament to the hard work of volunteer groups that they are greatly valued by residents and visitors alike.”
Keep Scotland Beautiful operates Beautiful Scotland in association with the Royal Horticultural Society. If you’re interested in joining the Beautiful Scotland family in 2024, find more information here: www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/beautifulscotland