The Scottish Highlands and Islands Rural Economy Awards - the SHIREs – are back and this year we went virtual!!
The SHIREs celebrate Scotland's modern rural economy, from the traditional to the innovative, and from land and trees to the sea.
Modern rural Scotland is a vibrant place with the potential to drive the country's economy forward. With vast pools of talent, natural resources, history, and uniqueness that adds value to all that it produces, it is the heart of Scotland.
With 20% of the population living in rural areas and many of those working for small, local businesses it's clear that it deserves greater recognition – and that's what the SHIREs are all about.
Covering a wide area from Moray in the east to the Outer Hebrides, and from Shetland and Orkney down through Caithness and all the way to Argyll, the SHIREs will showcase the best our rural economy has to offer.
This year the SHIREs took place on Thursday 18th November 2021 on the Harper Macleod virtual event platform.
The SHIREs Conference is an event for everyone who is 'Proud to be Rural' and proud to be part of modern rural Scotland - a vibrant place with the potential to drive the country's economy forward.
The Conference will be of interest to anyone with a stake in our rural economy, and the initiatives which are helping to drive it forward as a recognisable, distinct and hugely important part of the overall Scottish economy.
In the past, 'Rural' was shorthand for agriculture, fishing and forestry which was the traditional definition of a 'rural enterprise'. However, the truth is that it's all of these and much, much more.
Traditional rural, while still hugely important, is only part of the modern rural economy and the need for that entire economy to be recognised has never been clearer as it represents almost of one third of Scotland's entire economy – the same as Glasgow and Edinburgh combined.
With vast pools of talent, natural resources, history and a uniqueness which adds value to all that it produces, the Highlands and Islands rural economy is special, and we need to let everyone know.
The 20% of the population living in rural areas, many of whom work for small, local businesses deserve greater recognition – and that's what the SHIRE conference is all about.
The conference will bring together those involved in all areas of the rural economy with leading figures representing the industries and organisations which are playing a key role in driving the Highlands, Islands & Moray forward.
As well as being a handy anagram, the word 'SHIRE' also gives a nod to the traditional rural economy – the roots of the modern rural economy.
A shire is a historic term for a county and many of the areas of the modern Highlands and Islands and Moray have at one time of another had 'shire' in their names – from Elginshire to Inverness-shire and many more.
It's also, of course, the name given to one of the breeds of draught horse which was used for heavy work in the traditional rural economy.