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28 June 2016
Another National Award

David Smith (Chair) and Simon Harry (Education and Outreach Coordinator) receive award from John Kissock, OBE.

Evanton Community Wood has won the healthy lifestyles category in this year’s Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards. Last year the community wood won the education award in conjunction with Dingwall Academy; this year it won the award for its work in promoting health and wellbeing in the woodland environment.

The award and £1000 cheque were presented by John Kissock OBE, former chair of the Scottish Forestry Trust, to Simon Harry, education coordinator and David Smith, chairman, at an event at the Royal Highland Show last week (24th June).

Projects run by Evanton Community Wood - and using the log cabin and new pond area - over the past 12 months have involved adult literacy, dementia and mental health groups, in addition to the ongoing education programme. These have demonstrated the positive impact woodlands can play in people’s health. Partner organisations have included NHS Highland, Highlife Highland, Criminal Justice, Forestry Commission Scotland, Froglife and various community groups.

The judges said: 'The Evanton group has achieved a huge amount in the four years since they acquired ownership of Evanton Wood. The stability provided by an initial 5 year HLF grant award has enabled the group to appoint a part time Education and Outreach Officer with a strong skill set and well established network links and this has undoubtedly made a significant contribution to getting the present range of training, education and healthy living programmes up and running in a way that is professional and well managed. 

The enthusiasm, commitment and knowledge of Board members and local volunteers is also an important component of the group’s success, providing back-up and support for the E&O Officer and an additional source of knowledge, skills and network links.

The group will be reaching a critical point in its development next year as the HLF grant comes to an end and it will be a challenge for the Board to build a financial structure that allows them to maintain long term stability of employment and activities.  On the basis of performance to date we have little doubt that the Board will be successful in addressing this challenge and in due course it could be instructive for groups elsewhere in Scotland to learn from Evanton’s approach.

The judges recommend that Evanton should be declared the winner of the Healthy Lifestyles category in this year’s SFWA community awards'.

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