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Dedicated community champion named as Scotland’s High Street Hero

Scotland Loves Local Awards: Decades of dedication celebrated after judges hear how volunteer’s actions have ensured critical support for neighbours in need

Remarkable work to help vulnerable people through the cost of living crisis has seen a community stalwart crowned 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.

And his lifetime of devotion was recognised as he was honoured at the 2023 Scotland Loves Local Awards, hosted by television presenter Sean Batty at V&A Dundee last night (Tues).

Organised by Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP), the awards reward the remarkable work taking place to improve communities, from tackling the climate emergency and encouraging enterprise to transforming streets and creating great places to live.

Gordon, a veteran Moray 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.

Scotland Loves Local Awards. Held at V&A Dundee. Gordon McDonald of Buckie Action Group was named as the nation’s High Street Hero. Tuesday November 28th 2023. Picture: Jamie Simpson / Scotland’s Towns Partnership For media enquiries please contact: Chris Story, Message Matters (07375 065728 / chris@messagematters.co.uk)

Other recipients included Energise Galashiels, which took the creative community award for its impressive work to boost the Borders town by installing a series of striking sculptures and murals.

The Streets and Spaces accolade went to the team behind the creation of the Craigie Street Pocket Park in Dundee, a project credited with increasing safety, tackling social isolation and adding colour to the area.

Sean Batty 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 www.lovelocal.scot and follow #ScotlandLovesLocal on social media.

The Scotland Loves Local Awards were staged ahead of the Scotland’s Towns Conference being held at the Apex Hotel in Dundee today (Weds Nov 29).

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: Lokali.shop, 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