VOLUNTEERS’ efforts to rid the banks of the River Tyne of a dangerous plant – and a company’s work during lockdown – have been recognised at a national awards ceremony.

East Lothian Countryside Volunteers and Forth Resource Management were among the winners at the Helping It Happen Awards.

Now in their fourth year, the awards, which took place last Wednesday, recognise the role of individuals, estates, farms and rural businesses that are helping rural Scotland thrive.

East Lothian Countryside Volunteers have been working with landowners to rid the Tyne and its tributaries of giant hogweed.

A spokesman for the awards congratulated the group on scooping the Enhancing our Environment Award.

He said: “The independent judging panel thought this was a brilliant initiative that really considers the longer-term impact of invasive species and is a great example of landowners and volunteers working together to enhance the environment.”

The long-term project aims to ensure that no giant hogweed plants flower on the 48 miles of the River Tyne in East Lothian to reduce further seed being added to the soil.

Meanwhile, Forth Resource Management (FRM), which was founded in East Fenton, was awarded the South East Community Champion of the Year Award.

When local councils stopped garden waste collections during the coronavirus lockdown, FRM stepped in to provide a collection service, promoting the use of its compost through a ‘Keep Scotland Growing’ campaign, which included raised bed kits complete with compost and free seed potatoes to households.

The awards spokesman added: “The judges said the business really stepped up during lockdown, making themselves accessible to a wide range of people, while promoting recycling.”

Sarah-Jane Laing, chief executive of Scottish Land & Estates, based in Musselburgh, congratulated the East Lothian winners.

She said: “The judges had a really tough time deciding who to crown for each category but these entries really stood out. They have made a considerable contribution to local communities, the environment and the rural economy across East Lothian.”