A host of finalists from across the region will be hoping for success at this year's Inspiring Aberdeenshire being hosted this Friday.
Now in its sixth year, the evening celebrates all that is great about Aberdeenshire, with awards for community spirit, courage and care, among others.
The categories were refreshed for the 2018 ceremony and the change would appear to have paid off, with more nominations this year than ever before.
Inspiring Aberdeenshire is the annual awards event, run by Aberdeenshire Council, to recognise people within North-east communities who go above and beyond. It celebrates true local heroes, often the unsung champions of their town or community.
Provost Bill Howatson said: “My most sincere congratulations to all of our finalists. It would be no exaggeration to describe Inspiring Aberdeenshire as among the biggest civic events in our calendar. It gives me great pride to spend time in the same room as some of the most inspirational people from across our area.
“One of the big strengths of Inspiring Aberdeenshire is that it recognises unsung heroes. Many of our finalist tend to hide their achievements and strengths away, and Inspiring helps us bring them out into the light. These are stories to make the whole of Aberdeenshire proud and I am very much looking forward to the awards night itself.”
The categories and the finalists are as follows:
Beautiful Aberdeenshire Environmental Award
Aimee Bainbridge (Newtonhill Primary School) - Aimee has gone above and beyond her teaching role to drive forward environmental awareness among pupils, staff and parents at the school in a range of areas within her community to ensure future generations.
Belinda Rowlands (The Seed Box, near Aboyne) - Belinda has been shortlisted for the inspirational and enthusiastic work she does through the Seed Box to improve lives and support the environment.
Braemar Community Garden (Braemar) - The community garden has turned a patch of land into a sociable growing space for all groups in the area, to help educate about growing food and healthy eating/exercise, develop new skills, and provide low cost local produce.
Community Spirit Award
Invercairn Gala (near Fraserburgh) - Now in its 20th year, the gala group has held one of the most successful galas in Aberdeenshire and it has brought passionate and enthusiastic individuals together to improve their community and keep the spirit alive and well.
The Hut Youth Project (Tarves) - The Hut project is a group of young people who have transformed an old hut in the grounds of Tarves Primary School into the centre of their community efforts - organising litter picks, leaflet-drops for the community council, food bank collections and car washes, in turn making them role models for others in their community.
Theresa Ritchie (Peterhead) - Theresa was nominated for being someone who really stands out in the Peterhead community, having clocked thousands of hours of volunteering, championing local causes and making a real and tangible difference to people’s lives.
The Cultural Award
Roger Goodyear (Banff) - Roger works tirelessly to keep the heritage and culture of Portsoy and Banffshire alive, through the incredibly popular Portsoy Boat Festival and other community initiatives. His tireless determination, drive and enthusiasm are infectious and bring huge benefits to the area.
Peterhead Scottish Week (Peterhead) - The committee who organise Peterhead Scottish Week have been shortlisted for their tireless work to organise all the many and varied strands which make the whole event such a success. They are keeping alive a long-standing tradition but at the same time modernising the event and ensuring it remains relevant.
The Gaitherin’ (Turriff) - The Gaitherin’ is a Scottish music-based week held in the school holidays for pupils across central Aberdeenshire, to promote traditional music, drama and dance weeks, concerts and workshops. At the heart of their work is an ambition to encourage young people to develop new skills.
Aberdeenshire’s Future Award
Jenna Warrender (Banff) - Jenna has used her own personal experiences to help other people in a way that is both admirable and inspirational. She is from a care-experienced background and has mobilised that to make herself the voice of young people in her community. Jenna really is a ‘go-to’ person for anyone in trouble or needing some advice, and she is a fantastic inspiration.
Kira Cooper (Alford) - The list of volunteering work done by Kira is astonishing, from the Guides to the Student Council to being a Violence Prevention ambassador to helping at the Lynx Ice Arena and Half-Penny Farm.
Layanna Wright (Alford) - From the day Layanna started at Alford Academy she made an instant impression thanks to her positivity, selflessness and enthusiasm. She has been involved with many fundraising events, from coffee mornings to Children in Need events and even single-handedly organised a Christmas Fayre.
Heart of Aberdeenshire Caring Award
SensationALL (Westhill) - SensationALL was created to provide a safe and well-equipped space to help children and adults with multiple support needs, and they believe that individuals with MSN and their families should ALL have access to appropriate specialist services, without restrictions on age, location or diagnosis.
Kelly Sinclair (Inverurie) - The nomination form sums up Kelly perfectly. It says: “I saw this award and thought of Kelly, she is the most caring person I know and has given her all as a youth worker in Inverurie for almost 15 years.”
Spikin Autism (Alford) - This group was established to better support the needs of young families whose children are on the autistic spectrum through Alford Library, providing a safe space and working to ensure that the needs of the children are being met. It is a great example of Aberdeenshire staff working together to support, learn and improve services for everyone.
Inspirational Volunteer Award
Morag Lightning (Turriff) - Morag served her country in the RAF for more than 20 years, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since then she has thrown herself into the community in which she grew up, supporting the Friends of Turriff Cemetery, the RAF association, is active on the community council, and the community singers.
Alison Beaton (Monymusk) - Over the years, Alison has been close to every community fundraising effort, from Christmas fayres to duck races, the playpark upgrade and the campaign for the village’s Christmas lights.
Red Brick Theatre Group (Peterhead) - The volunteers at Red Brick have been a fundamental part of this group and give their all to help provide young people with the opportunity to improve their own self confidence and self-esteem. Parents say that it is their children’s “favourite place to be” which couldn’t happen without the selfless people involved.
Local Hero Courage Award
Phyllis Gordon (Inverurie)- Phyllis leads, motivates, and inspires, all with the aim of creating a more inclusive community. She works to support the Dementia Friendly Aberdeenshire Project, to enable people with dementia to experience fewer barriers and remain better connected in their community and does this all despite her own lived experiences.
Jenna Warrender (Banff) - This is Jenna’s second nomination and the work she does, having come from a background of care, takes strength, courage and determination. Her enthusiasm and passion for helping other young people in her Banff community and giving them a voice is essential and admirable and her courage shows in everything she puts her mind to.
Marianne Stenhouse (Stonehaven) - Marianne was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer last August, but in the face of her illness she has blogged about the experience and tried to raise awareness across Aberdeenshire and beyond. Hers is a story of a battle and also of inspiration which has touched many followers globally.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Robert Rennie (Portlethen) - Robert has been nominated for inspirational voluntary work with groups which include the RNLI, Aberdeen coastguard, and the Sandpiper Wildcat Trust. He has a real passion for saving lives, something he has done countless times, inspiring many along the way.
John and Rita Strang (Kincardine O’Neil) - John and Rita, who are both in their 80s, have just retired after devoting their lives to the community in which they live on Deeside. Through the running of the village petrol station and a haulage business, they have repeatedly gone over and above for the residents and for their customers. There are so many tales of this couple doing everything in their power to help village residents and have contributed significantly to village life, and it seems that retirement is unlikely to slow them down.
Margaret Gray (Inverbervie) - Margaret has been involved with the scouting movement in the Inverbervie area for more than 40 years. She has supported the Beavers, Cubs and Scouts, as well as acting as Treasurer for the group. Alongside this she is a church elder and takes an active role in the church within her community. She runs bikeability training at Bervie School, works at the local library and has assisted with the running of toddler Storytime sessions. She is a Community Councillor and recently helped establish a Heritage Group, actively working to establish a museum within the library. She has given a lifetime of volunteering, for which Inverbervie is immensely grateful.