Southern pride: team effort from across the region to make first South of Scotland Thistle Awards a glittering success


Local suppliers pulling out all the stops to honour and celebrate their area’s tourism and hospitality stars

The South of Scotland’s first ever dedicated regional Thistle Awards celebrating the best in tourism and hospitality are only days away and businesses from across the region are going the extra mile to ensure the awards event on 5 October 2023 is a roaring success.

From locally-sourced flowers, food and entertainment to South of Scotland-based audio-visual and creative support, photography and trophy production, the ceremony at the family-run Cairndale Hotel & Leisure Club in Dumfries will be a true “celebration of the South of Scotland, by the South of Scotland”, according to David Hope-Jones OBE, Chief Executive of the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA), which is organising the event.

The Scottish Thistle Awards celebrate the very best of the tourism and events industry, helping to shine the spotlight on this vital part of the local economy.

In the South of Scotland’s inaugural event, in association with headline sponsors Caledonia Park Designer Outletshortlisted finalists are in contention across thirteen separate categories, including Innovation in Tourism, Tourism and Hospitality Employer of the Year and Climate Action Award. Other sponsors of the occasion are The Borders Distillery, Fishers, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association and Johnstons of Elgin.

Guests attending the evening event on Thursday (5 October) will be treated to musical entertainment from local piper Gregor Grierson, as well as a specially arranged set by Dumfries & Galloway-based folk and Americana-influenced band Smith & McClennan, featuring former BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year, Emily Smith with husband and multi-instrumentalist Jamie McClennan.

The menu for the celebration includes fillet of Scottish beef with an Annandale Whisky sauce and salmon from Lockerbie’s The Barony Smokehouse served with oatcakes from Irvings Bakery in Castle Douglas, as well as a seasonal pumpkin soup spiced with Galloway chillies.

Holmes Glass in Selkirk, where father and son team Peter and Andrew Holmes have been making this years glass winners trophy awards to be presented to winners at the first ever South of Scotland Thistle Awards taking place on the 5th October 2023.

Beautiful glass trophies featuring the key colours of the main partners behind the Thistle Awards – navy and yellow for the South of Scotland, purple for VisitScotland and light blue for South of Scotland Enterprise – have been expertly designed and produced in Selkirk by the Holmes Glass father-and-son team Peter and Andrew Holmes.

Sound and visual on the night will be orchestrated by Dumfries’s SW Audio, with photography by Borders-based Phil Wilkinson Photography & Video and bespoke flowers by Eden of Dumfries.

Design work for the event was by Alix Lunn of Selkirk-based Lunncreative.

David Hope-Jones OBE, Chief Executive of the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) said: “Excitement is building right across the South of Scotland ahead of our first ever Thistle Awards, which looks set to be the ‘hot ticket’ event of the season. It’s wonderful to see so many fantastic local specialist suppliers coming together to help us deliver an unforgettable occasion honouring the leading lights of tourism and hospitality in our region – it truly is a celebration of the South of Scotland, by the South of Scotland.

The South of Scotland Thistle Awards caps what’s been a tremendous year for the region – not only did the South of Scotland achieve the highly-coveted accolade of being named ‘Best in Travel’ by Lonely Planet, but we also welcomed the world to discover the Home of the Bike thanks to our new Kirkpatrick Coast to Coast and, of course, the UCI Cycling World Championships in Dumfries and at Glentress Forest.

“All of us at the SSDA very much look forward to welcoming all the Thistle Awards finalists and guests to Thursday’s ceremony at the Cairndale, and to giving the winners a splendid send-off before they fly the South of Scotland flag at the national Scottish Thistle Awards finals in December.”

Professor Russel Griggs, Chair of South of Scotland Enterprise, said: “The tourism sector is one of the most significant in the South of Scotland, worth over £600million and supporting thousands of jobs, and it is therefore appropriate that we come together to celebrate the best of tourism and hospitality through the first South of Scotland Thistle Awards.

“I am delighted to see the Awards utilise a range of local suppliers to put on the event, from the food and drink offered on the night to the creation of the 13 awards for each category being contested.

“This year has been a fantastic one for tourism and hospitality in the South, and I am confident that the 13 winners who go forward to the Scottish Thistle Awards in December will showcase on a national stage the excellent offering we have in our region.”

VisitScotland Destination Development Director Gordon Smith said: “The Scottish Thistle Awards champion the very best of Scotland’s tourism and events industry, helping to shine a spotlight on the positive impact it brings to our country. It is fantastic to see the quality of finalists in the first ever South of Scotland Thistle Awards and the involvement from all aspects of the industry in coming together to create what is set to be a memorable celebration. I would like to extend my best wishes to the regional finalists and the winners as they go forward to the National Final in December.”

Peter Holmes of Holmes Glass, which designed and produced the trophies for the South of Scotland Thistle Awards, said: “In our own small way we are delighted to be involved and support the SSDA by producing the awards for the South of Scotland Thistle Awards. It’s great to see lots of activity in the South of Scotland and people from across the region being recognised for all they do.”


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