The award, for work led by the council’s Town Centre Regeneration Team and KBA on to pioneer the East Ayrshire Gift Card scheme was one of the highlights of an online celebration, which shone a spotlight on the inspirational innovation which has not only seen communities through the worst of the pandemic, but is laying the foundations for a stronger future.
Organised by Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP), the Scotland Loves Local Awards recognised and rewarded remarkable work taking place to transform communities, including tackling the climate emergency and creating amazing art.
And they highlighted the vital need for people across the country to think, choose and spend locally to ensure businesses in their community survive.
Professor Leigh Sparks, Chair of STP, said: “You cannot fail but to be both humbled and energised by the fantastic work that all of our nominees are doing to create a fairer, stronger, more sustainable future where local life is the heartbeat of Scotland.
“They go above and beyond, day in, day out to help create communities which we will all be the better for and deserve this rich recognition. My congratulations go to all of our finalists.”
STV weatherman Sean Batty hosted the awards. He said: “What an honour it has been to host the inaugural Scotland Loves Local awards and celebrate some truly inspirational local heroes. Congratulations to all those shortlisted and our fantastic winners, who each make Scotland a brilliant place to live and work in and are true assets to their communities.”
A judges’ special award was presented to East Ayrshire Council and Kilmarnock Business Association for its trailblazing work on the East Ayrshire Gift Card, supporting local businesses through the worst of the pandemic.
Working as a “closed loop” credit card, the East Ayrshire Gift Card is now accepted and sold in over 180 businesses throughout East Ayrshire. Its flexibility, allowing it to be bought and spent in person or online, helped keep local businesses trading throughout lockdown and enabled many traders to venture into online trading for the first time at no cost to themselves – helping them keep trading during lockdown and bringing them to the attention of new customers throughout the area.
Town Centre Regeneration Officer Tracy Murray liaised with KBA chair Peter Telfer, local traders, partner organisations and Perth based support company Miconex to bring the card to fruition. At the same time the team also introduced the online high street website ShopAppy.com, changing the face of online retail across East Ayrshire and allowing local people to keep supporting local businesses from home.
East Ayrshire Council Leader Douglas Reid, Cabinet Member for Covid Recovery, Strategic Planning, Community Wealth Building and Regeneration said: “We’re all thrilled to see the East Ayrshire Gift Card being recognised at these fantastic awards. The judges rightly praised the card’s success in boosting our local economy. This was very much a team effort. Thanks to their innovative attitude and their enthusiasm for pulling together like-minded organisations to get it up and running, the uses of the card have been extended far beyond that of an ordinary shopping card, and it’s now making a real difference to residents and businesses across our local economy.
“The East Ayrshire Gift Card and ShopAppy.com have both played their part in helping keep online purchases local, keeping money circulating here, extending the range of many of our most successful small businesses, and playing a vital part in our community wealth building agenda.
“It’s a real testament to all the efforts of the creative and strategic teams behind the card that it’s now been recognised as the inspiration behind the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card - now being rolled out across the country - and we hope that with this recognition our card will continue to go from strength to strength.”
The East Ayrshire Gift Card can be bought and spent online at www.eastayrshiregiftcard.co.uk or in person at 186 local outlets. ShopAppy.com is a one stop shop for online retail, with pages for all the major towns and villages in East Ayrshire. To find out more email: firstname.lastname@example.org