Hot on the heels of winning Best Ferry Company at the first Independent Travel Awards, Caledonian MacBrayne has also received the nod for a number of others.
Amongst the nominations is CalMac’s first ever shortlisting for community support in the Corporate Social Responsibility category at the Scottish Business Awards.
With more than 160 years’ history at the heart of the communities it serves, CalMac’s commitment to delivering more than lifeline services is evident in everything from sponsorship of cultural events across the network, to community aid in times of need.
Indeed, earlier this year, whilst western Scotland was in the grip of brutal winter conditions, the company’s MV Finlaggan was storm-bound in Tarbert on the Isle of Harris.
The vessel, of course, can generate its own power and, with all other power out across the island, it opened its gangway to local people for hot food and drinks, showers and to charge mobile devices. The ship’s engineers also helped to rig an emergency generator at a local hotel.
Meanwhile, CalMac has also continued its programme of support to major cultural events, allowing them to thrive. Events like Hebridean Celtic Festival on the Isle of Lewis, Tiree Music Festival and the Royal National Mod in Oban – the latter injecting an estimated cool £3million to the local economy in a single week.
Not content with the big headline gigs, though, CalMac also underpins many, many small events – so important to the villages and areas in which they take place – with tangible help; from transporting the authors to the tiny Colonsay Book Festival, through to offering up performance space on board for the Bute Jazz Festival to whip up public interest; from free hosting of exhibitions in a number of its port offices through to pop-up opportunities on board ships for local businesses and organisations.
Crew on three of the company’s vessels underpinned its environmental commitments this summer, too, by taking part in a national whale, dolphin and porpoise monitoring survey for ORCA – a charity concerned with cetacean conservation around the UK.
As a responsible business, CalMac recently became the first UK ferry operator and first major transport operator in Scotland to gain Living Wage accreditation and it has also become a signatory to the Scottish Business Pledge.
In addition, the operator of the UK’s largest ferry network has also been given a nod for Innovation at the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards.
The nomination acknowledges the work which has been undertaken not only to improve customer experience but, particularly, the launch this year of a brand new website.
Now allowing visitors to the site to access it on all types of mobile devices, it also includes revised and more detailed information on all destinations across the network as well as an interactive map to allow travellers to plan their trips more effectively.
And, rounding off this glittering selection are two shortlistings for the Arts and Business Scotland – in the Placemaking and Entrepreneurship categories.
Both of these focus on the work CalMac does to underpin the cultural diversity of the west coast and also hones in on the company’s own stable of arts-orientated competitions called CalMac Culture, which has brought the islands and Highlands to a new and younger audience.
“To some people we are a ferry company – no more, no less,” said Caledonian MacBrayne’s Managing Director Martin Dorchester. “But that’s just not enough for us. We’re part of the west coast of Scotland, part of the very fabric of island and Highland life, and we want to play a role in making a difference to the things which are important to our communities.
“This is not just lip service – we do this in many, many different ways – from sponsorship to lending professional staff support and expertise; from offering free space on board our ships and in our ports to many organisations and businesses to allow them to capitalise on publicity and profile, through to organising and hosting our annual travel and tourism conference.
“All of these are ways we have genuinely contributed to the communities we serve.”