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December 17, 2008

Barra community scoop top award

Earlier this year, Barra were nominated as one of the four Scottish finalists in the Calor Gas Community of the Year Award along with Port William, Boat of Garten and Callander. At a glittering award ceremony at the Guildhall in London, not only were Barra announced as Scottish Community of the Year, but they managed to beat off stiff competition from England, Wales and Northern Ireland to be crowned the overall UK winner

The community of Barra is celebrating after taking home three prizes at the Calor Village of the Year Awards 2008 in London. Barra already knew they’d won the Scottish islands regional prize, but they were delighted to also win the overall Scottish prize and then the overall UK Calor Village of the Year Award.

As a regional winner Barra won £1000 and a further £3000 for winning the Scottish prize. As UK winner the community will receive a commissioned piece of mosaic artwork by Plymouth-based artist Sarah McCormack.

In a news flash email sent out yesterday afternoon, Guth Bharraidh said, “The whole community are delighted to have won such an award and it is testament to all the hard work that the locals put into their community life.”

The regional Scottish winners – Boat of Garten, Callander, Port William and Barra – had been announced earlier in the year. Judges then visited each of the communities to decide on the overall Scottish winner.

The Rural Gateway was delighted to be supporting the awards in 2008, along with the Association of Scottish Community Councils. Rural Gateway editor Norette Ferns was on the Scottish judging panel. She said, “It was a real privilege to be involved in the awards, to hear from the shortlisted communities at the regional judging and then to visit the inspiring regional winners.

“All of the regional winners were really excellent, but the way the community worked together to address challenges and embrace opportunities clinched it for Barra. We heard from a range of groups when the judges visited, including members of the Youth Council, a local food initiative, the Heritage Centre and the Disability Sports Group to name but a few. A community owned care home and renewable energy projects also impressed me.

“The winner of the overall UK award was kept secret and I was delighted when Barra took the prize. Having seen the community in action on our visit it was great to see the community take home such a prestigious award. I’m not sure how they got the plaque home on the plane though as it was incredibly heavy!”

The Awards were held at the stunning Guildhall in London. Barra beat off competition from Levington in England, Belleek in Northern Island and Froncysyllte in Wales to become the overall UK winner. Representatives from all the regional winning communities were at the awards to pick up their prizes. Bill Turnbull, UK judge and BBC Breakfast presenter, presided over the ceremony.

Calor Gas will be launching a grant scheme in the new year, so watch out for information on this, and how your village get involved in next year’s awards here. We’ll also be bringing you photos from the awards, the judges’ visits and more from the awards soon.