It's time for business and communities who work in Gaelic or who use the language on a day to day basis to throw their hats in the ring for the Gleus (Gaelic Community of the Year) and Gnìomh (Gaelic Business of the Year) competitions 2012.
As well as the status that comes with the awards, there are useful prizes too: £3,000, £1,500 and £500 in each competition for first, second and third places respectively.
The competitions are managed by Comunn na Gàidhlig (CnaG) as part of their development contract with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
This is the third year the competitions have been run and applications are now being sought, with a closing date of the end of May 2012.
According to Comunn na Gàidhlig Chief Executive Donald MacNeill, the competition is open to large and small groups - it's action and not size that matters: "For the Gaelic Business of the Year, we're looking for companies who really do recognise the value of Gaelic, and who use it on a daily basis. There is no requirement for them to be working in the so-called 'Gaelic world'. Last year the 'Fàs Mòr' nursery in Sleat won the first prize, the year before it went to the 'Park Community Co-operative' in Lewis. In both instances, what the judges liked was the high profile they gave the language on signage, websites and so on, as well as the way in which it was a core part of their business. At the other end of the scale the Eriskay Co-operative shop won the third prize last year, simply because they could demonstrate the way in which they were using Gaelic in a clear and natural way among staff and customers.
"To a degree, the same thing is true for the Community of the Year. We're looking for communities that can demonstrate that they really do value Gaelic and are using it as a means to revitalise community life. We're particularly keen to see evidence of Gaelic being used by, or for, young people. Last year, South Uist and Eriskay won first prize. The judges were pleased to hear about ways events were being boosted through the use of Gaelic, as well as seeing evidence that it was still a strong, daily language. The year before, Staffin on Skye won the award because of what they were able to demonstrate about the language being used between different generations in the area."
A slight change is being made to the Gleus (Community) competition in 2012. Previously there was no specific consideration of the advances or new initiatives in Gaelic use in bidding communities. This meant that established Gaelic communities had an advantage over others, perhaps on the mainland. Now particular information will be needed on Gaelic development efforts in the previous 12 months.
Donald MacNeill continued: "While we were considering last year's Gleus applications, we realised that the majority of communities which had submitted bids were from the traditional Gaelic heartland areas, and that perhaps they had an advantage simply because of the number of speakers, or their local heritage. Whilst we welcome that, we also wanted to add something to the competition that would give an opportunity or recognition to other communities where they may not have as many Gaelic speakers, but where they are doing their best for the language."
The competitions are open to any company or community in the HIE area. The winners will be announced, and prizes awarded towards the end of August.
Neil Ross, Head of Community Growth at Highlands and Islands Enterprise said they were pleased to continue supporting the awards: "It is clear that Gaelic is embedded at the very heart of some of our communities, and that because of this it plays a completely normal role in local businesses in these areas. We are pleased to be able to help recognise these communities and businesses, where they are making progress, and developing their activities through the language."
More information on the competitions, and the application packs, can be found on the CnaG website (www.cnag.org.uk) or by getting in touch with the CnaG offices in Stornoway (01851 701802) or Inverness (01463 234138).
Notes to Editors
Comunn na Gàidhlig was established in 1984 to co-ordinate the development of Gaelic, and is a charity and Company Limited by Guarantee. Today it focuses on the delivery of two service contracts for aspects of Gaelic development, for Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Bòrd na Gàidhlig.
This is carried out through working with communities, companies and at a political level. CnaG has offices in Inverness, Stornoway and Glasgow and additional staff based in Uist, Skye, Islay, Edinburgh and Lochaber.
For more information on this press release please contact: Donald MacNeill, Chief Executive, 01463 234138.