AN AYRSHIRE nature group has picked up a top prize at the 2023 Scotland Loves Local Awards.

The Dalrymple, Skeldon and Hollybush Steering Group were awarded the Climate and Net Zero Award for their work on creating an environment-enhancing wetland reserve.

The awards were hosted by STV weather presenter Sean Batty at V&A Dundee on Tuesday, November 28.

Judges heard how fields on the edge of Dalrymple had been transformed into a mosaic of wetland woodland, meadow and ponds - enhancing biodiversity and creating a recreational and educational asset.

The group's nomination stated: “The activity has made an important contribution to addressing climate change impacts, land use and the biodiversity crisis. 

“This project has had a truly transformative effect. It has created an attractive place for leisure and recreation which meets the needs of users, supporting biodiversity and accessibility.

"It has helped to restore civic pride in this community which has always had a strong sense of identity.

“In empowering local community groups, it has given them a stake in the decision-making process and as a result, many new volunteers have come forward to work on this and future projects.”

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And, in a double for Ayrshire, Gauchalland East Community Gardens in Galston was a runner-up in the same category.

The community gardens have been created by the local tenants and residents association, bridging an unused piece of land back to life.

And they have proven to be a great asset in tackling social isolation and improving mental wellbeing by bringing people together.

Gauchalland East Community Gardens grow their own fruit and veg within the community gardens which provides its members with adult education opportunities as well as the chance to share skills. 

Their nomination added: “This community initiative also provides a community larder which sells fruit and vegetables that are grown within the gardens as well as offering a range of products at a reduced rate than the supermarkets.

"Profits from the community shop are used to fund the gardens as well as other community initiatives.”

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

Sean Batty, who recently championed the power of choosing local by highlighting the work at CentreStage in Kilmarnock for Scotland Loves Local, 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.”

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STP's 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.”

For more information about the awards and the wider Scotland Loves Local campaign, go to and follow #ScotlandLovesLocal on social media.