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Scottish Highlands and Islands Rural Economy (SHIREs) Conference reveals line up

By Calum MacLeod

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Scotland's rural affairs minister Mairi Gougeon will give the keynote address at the SHIREs conference.
Scotland's rural affairs minister Mairi Gougeon will give the keynote address at the SHIREs conference.

A FANTASTIC line-up of speakers has been unveiled for the second Scottish Highlands and Islands Rural Economy (SHIREs) Conference to be held virtually on November 18.

The event will focus on creating sustainable businesses and communities as the world moves towards a more sustainable future.

The SHIREs 2021 – whose theme is “our land, our lives, our legacy” – is a focal point for the diverse modern rural economy across the Highlands, Islands and Moray, and the virtual format will allow attendees from further afield to participate.

Scotland’s rural affairs minister Mairi Gougeon will deliver the keynote speech. She will be joined, virtually, by Mairi Spowage from the Fraser of Allander Institute, who will address the conference on what we are currently seeing in the rural economy, and what needs to happen next.

Other speakers will represent communities, landowners, leading economists, businesses and entrepreneurs, and the next generation of rural Scotland.

Organised by leading law firm Harper Macleod in association with Highland News & Media, it is free to attend for anyone who wants to find out more, and be part of the exciting developments taking place in rural Scotland.

Partner and head of Highlands, Islands and Moray at Harper Macleod, Chris Kerr, who will chair the conference alongside host Nicky Marr, said: “We are thrilled to be holding the SHIREs conference again this year, and in fact making it a bigger and better event than before. As someone who heads a team of advisers working with brilliant organisations and business across the area, we know the big issues and opportunities that face them.

“This year’s theme links in with the real drive to deliver a greener economy following the pandemic, and with the event coming less than a week after COP26 closes in Glasgow the importance of our natural capital in the battle against climate change will be paramount.”

Sustainability will be a key theme for the event, with Mat Roberts of Kerry Roberts Associates examining why sustainability is a key ingredient for all aspects of rural life. He will be followed by Jamie McGowan of Essence of Harris, who will look at how to grow a world-renowned brand from the islands while sustaining the local community.

A fireside chat with Peter Graham and Sir Alastair Gordon-Cumming and William Gordon-Cumming of Altyre Estate will look at estate management, regenerative farming and diversification.

Delegates will also be able to join one of three special breakout sessions on: employee ownership; community ownership; and jobs linked to our natural capital.

The event will close with a panel of young rural entrepreneurs examining what needs to be done to ensure that rural communities and their businesses can attract young people. The SHIREs conference will run online from 11am to 4.30pm. Attendance is free and anyone wishing to attend should register for a place by visiting https://events.harpermacleod.co.uk/

You can also still register an entry in any of the categories at the SHIREs Awards, which take place on the evening of the conference. For more information and to enter, visit www.hnmedia.co.uk/the-shires-conference-awards/

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