FOR THE third year running, NFU Scotland's 'Membership Flame' award to recognise outstanding efforts in recruitment and retention of members has gone to its Perth team of Margaret Hebbourn, Katy Neill, and Marc Robb.

The team look after the interests of more than 500 members across four branches – Perth, Crieff, Blairgowrie and Highland Perthshire – and finished 2020 having recruited 32 new members, on top of the 64 recruited in the previous two years.

NFUS chief executive, Scott Walker, said: “To win the Flame once is an achievement, and to win it three years in a row is absolutely outstanding. The last year has been particularly challenging time for all our local offices and regional managers with Covid-19 restrictions impacting on face-to-face contact, usually such an important element in getting new members to sign up.

“But this has not stopped the Perth team, all of whom have adapted to the restrictions and had another great year. They have embraced the virtual world and held online meetings throughout the year, though I know that they hope we can get back normality this year and bring people together in person rather than on screen.”

East Central regional manager, Kate Maitland, added: “What a fantastic achievement to win the NFUS Flame Award for the third year in a row, especially in what was a particularly challenging year. Margaret, Katy, and Marc have not only retained their membership, but gone on to recruit 32 new members while continuing to adapt to the new virtual world, holding a number of online meetings, including a virtual farm walk hosted by the Houstoun family and Glenkilrie Larder.”

It was also noted that the union’s unique local secretary network – which works on behalf of both NFUS and NFU Mutual – has continued to provide an excellent service to members around Scotland, while there have been some notable departures from its ranks. The union has said goodbye to Duncan Low from the Thainstone office; Elizabeth Drever from Papa Westray; and Michael Coutts and Scott Lang from Castle Douglas, who are retiring this month after a combined 66 years in service on behalf of the Union.

But their have also been new arrivals – Nicola Tait (Kirkwall); Linda Blackwood (Ayr); Craig McLeod (Stornoway); Stephen Hepburn (Thainstone); Lynn Dandie (Ingliston) and Marcus Mackle (Bearsden) all joined the group secretary network.