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Dumfries & Galloway Life 2011 People of the Year Awards - the winners



 Volunteer of the Year & OVERALL WINNER - Jennefer Tobin

The judges were unanimous in declaring Jennefer Tobin the overall winner in our second People of the Year awards, describing her as “outstanding” and a “worthy Champion of Champions.”

The winner of the Volunteer of the Year award, Jennefer’s work in setting up Southwest Scotland RnR – to provide adventure holidays for injured service personnel, designed to help them recover from their injuries and experiences – won high praise from the judging panel.

Brigadier’s daughter Jennefer brings groups of 10 soldiers and marines at a time to her own home, The End House, in the coastal village of Carsethorn, where they are made welcome, eat and drink well, and enjoy activities including clay pigeon shooting and water sports.

Chairman of the judging panel, Dame Barbara Kelly, said: “I am filled with admiration at the contribution Jennefer has made in helping and supporting our injured service personnel, as they strive to patch together their future lives.“Her compassion, generosity and determination to make a difference by welcoming them into her home and into the community is an inspiration to all. Her award is richly deserved.”

Judge Tricia Hunter added: “It was, without doubt, that Jennefer was the overall winner, not only from the large number of nominations received from such a variety of people, but the personal comments they all made about what she has accomplished in such a short period of time. Jennefer is clearly making a huge difference in providing an adventure holiday for injured service personnel. She has successfully set it up and involved the local community in many different ways and the satisfaction for all is impressive, humbling and absolutely worthwhile.”

Jennefer was first inspired to do something for injured soliders and marines when she heard an interview with Colonel Stuart Tootal, who was commander of 3 PARA Battle Group, the first British unit sent to Helmand province in Afghanistan in 2006.

While some hoped the peace support mission would be completed without a shot being fired, the reality was very different. Over 479,000 rounds of ammunition were fired during 3 PARA’s six month tour of duty – 15 of the Battle Group were killed and a further 46 wounded in action.

Jennefer said: “When I heard him speak I understood just what a really bad time they’d had. When they were sent in they weren’t expecting a fight and were not prepared for the level of combat they met.I thought these boys need a holiday. I looked around – I have space here and this whole area is a wonderful playground with all kinds of outdoor activities on offer.”

Jennefer approached everyone she thought might be able to help, and her late father’s regiment, the 2nd Punjab, gave a generous donation to start with. Southwest RnR is now a charity and Jennefer has built up a team of hard working and dedicated supporters who organise activities, cook and bake, and raise funds.

Since 2009, around 250 injured service personnel have visited Carsethorn. This year, despite a devastating fire at The End House in February, Jennefer was able to get the house ready to welcome her first group of marines in May.

One of those who gives up her time to come up to Dumfries & Galloway to cook, clean and look after the wounded soldiers is world-renowned milliner, Elizabeth Parker.

York-based Elizabeth crafts amazing hats for celebrity clients and her creations have appeared in magazines like Vogue. But she began helping Jennefer out 18 months ago and this year spent as much as two weeks a month at Carsethorn between May and September, putting hat clients on hold.

She said: “What Jennefer does for the wounded is simply stunning. Such a woman with such a heart I have never met before.”



 Voluntary group/ Charity of the Year - Solway Sound

Awarding the title of Voluntary Group/Charity of the Year to Solway Sound, the region’s Talking Newspaper for the Blind, judges praised its work as “really admirable”.

Solway Sound, which celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012, brings local news, from Langholm to Stranraer, sourced from newspapers and Dumfries & Galloway Life to up to 200 people every week, on tape or CD. Set up and run entirely by volunteers, this free service involves more than 100 people giving their time as editors, readers, technicians and distributors.

It is a reliable and valued service for people who would otherwise miss out on the region’s news.

Praising the service, the judges said: “It has existed for such a long time; and the volunteers have had to deal with all sorts of changes in technology over the years.For 30 years they have taken on board what disabled people need and want.”



 Community Champion - Bert Rae

Bert Rae’s long term commitment to helping his community helped earn him the Community Champion award.

Accordion player Bert, from Kirkcudbright, has been entertaining people and raising money for charity in the Stewartry district and beyond for more than 60 years.

He has raised thousands of pounds for good causes and was also chairman of Kirkcudbright’s Summer Festivities for many years. He has continued with his fundraising in recent times, despite failing health.

The judges said of Bert: “He is a remarkable man. Despite his failing health he continues to do all that entertaining for people; he is such a character.”

Bert currently spends a number of days a week at Dumfries & Galloway Royal Infirmary on dialysis, but often comes home and goes out entertaining. He also has a monthly ceilidh at the Arden House Hotel in Kirkcudbright, with all the proceeds going to charity.



 Environmental Champion - Moffat CAN

From Scotland’s first aquaponics greenhouse, to a doorstep collection service and a community market garden, Moffat CAN is spearheading a green approach to living in Dumfries & Galloway.

The group’s efforts have earned it the title of Environmental Champion, with the judges praising its innovative work and employment of young people.

One of the judges commented: “I was blown away by this one. I think it is amazing.”

Moffat CAN has spent 2010 and 2011 creating a Green Living Centre in a derelict church in the upper Annandale town, after acquiring it from the council. Designed to be carbon neutral, the building produces its own power through solar panels, a ground source heat pump, solar thermal panels and a heat recovery ventilation system.

The charity has employed 21 young or long-term unemployed people and is about to add a food waste collection in Moffat to its services.



 Business person of the Year - Jacquie Brown

A real determination to succeed was one of the factors which helped Jacquie Brown scoop the Business Person of the Year award.At the helm of her business, Jacquies Beauty, in the centre of Dumfries for over 30 years, she also impressed the judges with how she has continued to develop and improve her business.Focusing on treatments which enhance the wellbeing of her clients, Jacquie has attracted a loyal customer base with innovative treatments, which include new packages for men and teenagers, and relaxed customer service.This year saw Jacquies scoop the prestigious title of Salon of the Year at the Scottish Hair and Beauty Awards – at her first year of entering.The judging panel was also impressed with the way Jacquie is giving back to the community, both through her work with Dumfries & Galloway Chamber of Commerce and as a business mentor.



 Retailer of the Year - Clint Burgess

No-one can doubt the passion Clint Burgess has for the produce he sells in his shop, Thistle ‘B’ Scrumptious, in Castle Douglas.

Clint and his partner, Helen Cronie, opened their King Street deli in July 2010, aiming to create a ‘one-stop shop’ for the best produce available in Dumfries & Galloway and Scotland as a whole.

In declaring Clint the winner of the Retailer of the Year award, the judges praised his passion and enthusiasm for sourcing and selling local produce, his work with the region’s producers and in helping customers.

Recently awarded Four Star Tourist Shop status by Visit Scotland, Thistle ‘B’ Scrumptious has become a foodie haven for locals and tourists alike. A former chef, Clint also specialises in takeaway lunches – making his own breads, soups, baguettes and salad boxes – plus coffees, teas and hot chocolates; and stocks a small range of locally produced gifts and art.



 Artist of the Year - Alex Rigg

Described by the judges as “extraordinary”, Alex Rigg’s original and energetic creativity has made a significant impact around the region in recent years.

Highly respected nationally and internationally, his work with fellow artist Trevor Leat on fire sculptures brings drama and excitement to events including Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and the Wickerman Festival at Dundrennan.

Leatrigg’s dramatic Tam O’Shanter sculpture, anchored on the Nith and set alight, produced an unforgettable finale for the Burns Light celebrations in Dumfries in January 2009.

In another fascinating collaboration, Alex toured communities in the region this summer with the Tide Machine, a colourful spectacle bringing together physical theatre, dance, sculpture, design and mechanical kinetics.

Alex, who lives in Moniaive, continues to work with his companies Transfigured and Oceanallover, pushing the boundaries of art and bringing new audiences to original live events. A quieter approach to Alex’s art comes through the impressive timber ‘buildings’ he constructs largely from native wood, some of which have popped up as interpretation shelters at locations such as Garrochar Wildlife Ponds near Creetown and on Galloway’s Red Kite Trail.



 Tourism Champion - Galloway Activity Centre

From humble beginnings operating from a caravan on the shores of Loch Ken, Galloway Activity Centre has grown and flourished over the past 20 years.

Set up as Galloway Sailing Centre in a safe and scenic, west-facing bay, by the parents of current principal Richard Hermon, the centre is now a well respected and popular multi-activity centre bringing visitors into the Glenkens all year round.

While still offering a comprehensive choice of water sports, including canoeing, windsurfing and sailing, visitors can also choose from a variety of dry land activities such as climbing, mountain biking and archery.

Galloway Activity Centre is very much part of the community and is involved with several outside groups, including the South West Scotland Sailing Association, the Five Castles Regatta secondary school sailing event, and Paddlers For Life Scotland SW dragon boat charity.

In declaring the centre the outright category winner, the judges commented on the great visitor feedback it receives.



 Culture Champion of the Year - Thomas Tosh, Thornhill

The work carried out by Paul O’Keeffe and David Cripps of Thomas Tosh in showcasing artistic talent in Nithsdale and the wider region has earned them the title of Culture Champion for 2011.

The sheer variety of music, literature and fine art given a chance to shine at the popular gallery, café and shop in Thornhill has ensured its place at the forefront of artistic activity in Dumfries & Galloway.

A much-loved meeting place for residents of the town and the surrounding area, the café offers high quality home cooking and baking while the shop brings together a wealth of tasteful gifts, books, cards, toiletries and interior design ideas.

Named after a character created by the late Thornhill writer Joseph Laing Waugh, Thomas Tosh has established a good reputation for involvement in community events, supporting a variety of groups and initiatives.All this coupled with a comprehensive events calendar, taking in everything from poetry readings to musical evenings and craft exhibitions, was praised highly by the judging panel.



 Sports Person of the Year - David Bogie

A great ambassador for Dumfries & Galloway” was how our judges described rally champion David Bogie from Dumfries.

Winning the Scottish Rally Championship for the third consecutive year and adding the British Championship trophy to his collection in September has taken his already impressive career to a new level.

The achievements of the 24-year-old and his Hawick co-driver Kevin Rae in 2011 will go down in history – as David has become the first driver ever to win both titles in the same season and the first Scot to take the British title since 1995.

The judges were particularly impressed by what David has achieved while still so young. Having travelled to rallies as a child with his Dad John, also a successful driver, David was competing himself, in South of Scotland Car Club auto test meetings, by the age of 14 and picked up a class win in his first rally in 2004.

Continuing from strength to strength over the next five years, in 2009, at just 22, he was the youngest driver to win the Scottish Championship since Colin McRae in 1988.



 Sports Team of the Year - Dumfries Cricket Club 1st XI

It’s been an incredible year for cricket in Dumfries & Galloway, largely thanks to the historic achievements of Dumfries Cricket Club’s 1st XI, APD Dumfries.

In winning the Scottish Championship League title for the first time, after a convincing seven wicket win in the decider against West Lothian at Nunholm in August, the team achieved the highest accolade ever for a Dumfries & Galloway cricket club and can now look forward to playing in the Premiership, Scotland’s top league.

The championship win made it a double success for the first XI in 2011 as, earlier the same month, they scooped the SCU Trophy for the first time in the club’s 158-year history.

The team narrowly missed out on a third national victory when they were beaten in the semi-finals of the Scottish Twenty20 in September.

The judges said they were delighted to name Dumfries Cricket Club’s first XI, led by Captain Stuart Corbett-Byers and vice captain Jim Patterson, Sports Team of the Year



 Chef of the Year - Martin Avey

In a closely fought category where our judges were highly impressed with all the finalists, Martin Avey emerged as the winner of the Chef of the Year award.

The head chef and co-owner of Del Amitri in Annan, won high praise from the judging panel for the quality of his food and his commitment to using locally-sourced and seasonal ingredients.

They also commended the effort he has put into creating and developing a fantastic restaurant with such a great reputation in Annan.

With a love of food which began as a youngster, Martin and his wife Lisa opened Del Amitri in Annan High Street in November 2007 and have been wowing food critics, local people and visitors ever since. The restaurant was awarded its first AA Rosette this year – and one of Martin’s dishes graces the cover of the AA Restaurant Guide 2012.



 Food / Drink Producer - John Mellis

Expert beekeeper John Mellis won top marks from all four of our judges to win the Food / Drink Producer award.

John looks after 375 colonies of bees at his honey farm between Auldgirth and Penpont and produces a range of top quality honeys, which are popular locally and have a loyal customer base throughout the UK. The honey is sold through retail outlets and from the farm.

The judges were impressed not only with his own work with the bees and selling honey, but also in his dedication to mentoring and educating others to maintain and protect Scotland’s pollinating bees.

John is well-known for giving enthusiastic presentations about his bees and produce at events all over Dumfries & Galloway, enthralling his audience on the importance of bees for the food chain. He is also highly respected for helping and advising others who want to become beekeepers.



 Food Champion JOINT WINNERS - Wanda Campbell & Scott Carson

Dalbeattie butcher Scott Carson has developed the family butchery business, TH Carson, with great gusto since taking over in 2002.

The judges declared Scott a worthy joint winner of the Food Champion award, impressed with his tremendous success in competitions.

They praised his reputation as a champion haggis maker – he was named Scottish Haggis Champion in 2009 and reserve champion this year – and his passion for promoting Dumfries & Galloway produce far and wide.

The judges described Wanda Campbell as an excellent ambassador for Dumfries & Galloway with her business, Flavours of Galloway.

Wanda specialises in luxury hampers and baskets filled with the finest products available from the region’s many food and drink producers – selling online and at events all over the UK and Ireland.

In naming her joint Food Champion winner, the judges praised Wanda for being so enthusiastic and passionate about what she does.



 SPECIAL WINNER - Ellis Hayes

World Champion Highland dancer Ellis Hayes wowed the judging panel with her many achievements at just 13 years old, and they were proud to declare her the winner of this year’s Special Award.

Newton Stewart teenager Ellis has been dancing since she was four and has had amazing success in her short career, travelling 200-mile round trips to train in Glasgow twice a week.

She currently holds 48 championship titles, including honours from the USA and all over the UK. In August, she won the Scottish Championship at Cowal Highland Gathering and the next day went on to lift the Juvenile World Championship title – the youngest Scottish World Champion for many years.

Judge Tricia Hunter said: “The Special Award was just perfect to acknowledge the hard work and dedication that Ellis has put into her Highland dancing skills.”Dame Barbara Kelly added: “The region can feel very proud of Ellis’s achievements.”