15 - 23 February

A celebration of mountain culture

News Release - Wednesday 16 February 2008


The Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture

Fort William Mountain Festival 2008

Organisers of the Fort William Mountain Festival have announced the introduction of Scotland's first annual award for excellence in mountain culture - The Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture.

This prestigious and unique national award, sponsored by Rio Tinto Alcan, has been set up to promote mountain culture within Scotland and beyond. It will celebrate the achievements and accomplishments of one inspiring individual and their outstanding contributions to Scotland's mountains, encompassing sport, theatre, art, photography, film and literature.

Mike Pescod, Chairman of the Highland Mountain Culture Association, organisers of the Fort William Mountain Festival, said: 'Mountains have always inspired artists, sportspeople, conservationists, musicians, photographers and writers. Those people in our mountain community never consciously strive for recognition of their talent and commitment. We feel that this award will not only celebrate their amazing achievements and contributions but will also represent the recognition of their peers.

'With no other award like it The Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture is of great importance to mountain culture in the UK. By awarding one exceptional individual every year we will create a list of ambassadors who will represent the best in Mountain Culture in Scotland and beyond. The believe that the continuing success of the Fort William Mountain Festival, together with an increase in it's significance and importance by the annual presentation of this award, will also be reflected in economic and cultural benefits to the people of Scotland, particularly those that are resident in mountain or rural communities.

The recipient of the inaugural Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture will be announced in late January 2008. The presentation of the award will take place immediately before the 'Modern Face of Everest' talk at the Nevis Centre Festival Theatre, Fort William on Saturday 23 February, the last night of the 2008 Fort William Mountain Festival.

Mick Routledge, from Rio Tinto Alcan, said: 'We are very proud to sponsor the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture. The ethos of this award fits well with Rio Tinto Alcan's business culture and our drive for sustainable operations within this spectacular mountain environment.'

Rio Tinto Alcan's decision to sponsor the award is very appropriate as Scotland celebrates 100 years of hydro power production and aluminium smelting in the Highlands.

Mike Pescod added: 'We are indebted to Rio Tinto Alcan who are sponsoring the award in its inaugural year and their commitment to such a significant award for Scotland's mountain community; and of the Outdoor Capital of the UK.'

A short DVD will be shown at the award ceremony, showing film and still photographic highlights of the recipient's lifetime achievements. These will include testimonials from the recipient's peers.

Edinburgh stained glass artist Emma Butler-Cole Aiken, who has taken holidays in the Outdoor Capital of the UK from childhood and takes much inspiration for her work from the area's landscape, has been commissioned to create the award. Emma has created the piece from fused glass - sections of coloured glass layered on top of one another making a rich colourful and textured, two-dimensional sculpture evocative of the mountains. It has been mounted on a wooden block that will have the names of the recipients engraved upon it. The award will be permanently housed in the Fort William Museum with a smaller replica piece being awarded to each recipient.

The idea for the award has been modelled on 'The Summit of Excellence award' introduced at the Banff Mountain Film Festival in 1987 and awarded to an individual who has made a significant contribution to mountain life in the Canadian Rockies.