Hebrides Range Taskforce wins accolade

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AT prestigious ceremony in London last week, the Hebrides Range Task Force was recognised for its campaign.

Burson-Marsteller, the PR company working for the Task Force was awarded the Best Public Affairs Campaign at the UK PR Week Awards.

‘Defending Local Jobs in a Remote Community’ won after demonstrating to the judging panel its campaign effectively and successfully communicated that the Hebrides Range was of crucial social and economic importance to the Western Isles. Furthermore, the recommendation to downgrade the Range was flawed economically and technically and, consequently, a threat to the defence of the UK.

The Chair of the Task Force and Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Angus Campbell said, “We are delighted that the Hebrides Range Task Force has received this honour. It is well-deserved recognition for the entire team and the extensive efforts made to ensure the proposals to downgrade the Range were comprehensively rejected by the last Labour Government. We will continue to work hard to secure the long-term future of the Range. In a very short space of time, Burson-Marsteller enabled us to deliver a successful result for our campaign, in the face of hugely challenging circumstances.”

The campaign was led by Rhoda Macdonald, formerly of Upper Bayble, Point, Managing Director, Public Affairs at Burson-Marsteller in London. Rhoda said, “This was a fantastic result against all the odds and, for me, doubly rewarding as it meant so much to the island community that I come from.”

The judging panel recognised the campaign’s prudent strategy, which brought all political parties together in securing the long-term future of the Range. The successful campaign engaged with all relevant government departments and stakeholders as it sought to illustrate the economic, environmental, and technical rationale to why the proposals for the downgrading of the Range should be overturned. The Task Force was successful in securing the future of the Range in September 2009 when the then Secretary of State for Scotland, Jim Murphy and Quentin Davies, Minister of State at MoD announced that QinetiQ’s proposals had been rejected.

The Hebrides Task Force was competing against other notable entries including campaigns for Cancer Research UK, the World Hepatitis Alliance and the Thrombosis Charity. The PR Week Awards are the leading PR industry awards in the UK recognising the foremost campaigns over the past year. Entries are made up of top UK business, charities and non-governmental organisations.

In the Strategic Defence Review announced by the Coalition Government earlier this week, recognition was given to the importance of the range to the economy of the Western Isles.