THREE tourism and hospitality businesses from Dumfries and Galloway enjoyed success at the Scottish Thistle Awards.
It was a particularly proud night for Wilma and David Finlay, of The Ethical Dairy at Rainton Farm, who received the prestigious Silver Thistle Award in recognition of their work launching and building up the Cream o’ Galloway ice cream brand and centre that they recently retired from and sold.
They were praised for their groundbreaking work in adopting the principles of responsible tourism, bringing benefits to the wider community and visitor economy – pictured above.
On presenting their award, VisitScotland Chair Lord Thurso said: “Congratulations to Wilma and David Finlay on receiving this year’s Silver Thistle Award. This is a well-deserved award that recognises the outstanding contribution they have made to tourism in Scotland.
“Described as pioneers in their industry, they have demonstrated the principles of responsible tourism throughout their career and continue to inspire and encourage others to follow in their footsteps.
“They have not only made a huge impact on their local community in Dumfries and Galloway, but their pioneering work has had a lasting effect on farming, agritourism and responsible tourism in Scotland as a whole.”
It was also a great night for Melanie Allen, of the Nithbank Estate at Thornhill, who was crowned Scotland’s Tourism Individual of the Year for the positive impact she has made on the visitor experience at a regional and national level.
Melanie was described by judges as an influential leader and ambassador.
She said: “I am absolutely honoured and delighted to be recognised as Tourism Individual of the Year at the Scottish National Thistle Awards particularly being alongside so many talented finalists. Winning this prestigious award is such a wonderful accolade that I dedicate to all the inspiring people I have had the pleasure to work with. I hope the passion and ambition I have for destination Scotland continues to be contagious with both businesses, community and visitors.”
And it didn’t stop there for Melanie, who also won the Best B&B or Guest House Experience for Nithbank, which she runs with husband John.
The historic country house was praised by judges for its focus on local first and responsible tourism.
The Allens said they were honoured and delighted at the accolade, adding: “The Thistle Awards are the pinnacle of success for tourism in Scotland.
“The great tourism product we are able offer is only made possible through working with some amazing local businesses and our wider community – it is definitely a collaborative effort that goes towards creating unique memorable moments for guests here at Nithbank.”
Meanwhile, Arden Holiday Cottage in Irongray was named Scotland’s Best Self Catering Accommodation Experience.
Owner Hester Binge said: “Arden Holiday Cottage are absolutely delighted to receive this prestigious award. “We are just one of many self-catering cottages who go that extra mile to ensure the experiences we offer are memorable and unique.
“Our Escape Room is based on local folklore which celebrates the rich tapestry of Dumfries and Galloway encouraging guests to explore all our beautiful region has to offer. This award means we can highlight Dumfries and Galloway and bring more guests to our often-overlooked region benefitting all tourism providers.”
Congratulating them all, David Hope-Jones, from the South of Scotland Destination Alliance, described the night as “a huge achievement for the South”.