Nominations are now open for the Inspirational Young Person Award run by rural insurer NFU Mutual, which aims to celebrate a budding Scottish food and drink star.

The award, which is run in partnership with Scotland Food & Drink, is now entering its sixth year.

It aims to uncover and reward talented 16 to 26-year-olds who own, work or study in the food and drink industry.

Nominations officially opened today (Tuesday, March 26) and will close Friday, July 12.

First, second and third-place winners will be awarded cash prizes of £500, £300 and £200 respectively, and will be announced this September.

NFU Mutual regional manager for Scotland, Martin Malone, said the importance of young people to Scotland’s food and drink sector cannot be overstated.

“The entries and winners over the past five years illustrates just how wide a contribution they make and how valuable they are to business success,” he said.

“As with many industries in the current climate, the food and drink sector has faced some very challenging times, and this year’s judging will consider how young people have responded to that.

“We love shining a light on the wealth of talent we have here in Scotland, and the Inspirational Young Person Award is the perfect opportunity to do that.”

Inspirational Young Person

This year, chief executive at Scotland Food & Drink, Iain Baxter, will sit on the competition’s judging panel for the first time.

“I’m excited for my first stint on the judging panel, keen to unearth the diverse talent, both culinary and business-oriented, within the younger generation of our industry,” he said.

“Scotland boasts a proud reputation globally for its food, drink, and hospitality. It’s imperative that we support the future of our sector, with initiatives like this offering invaluable recognition and encouragement to young individuals making strides in Scottish food and drink.”

Last year, Sophie Mackenzie from West Lothian won the competition, following her “outstanding dedication to service, standards and excellent feedback from patrons at The Watchman Hotel in Gullane, East Lothian”, NFU Mutual said.

The 19-year-old took on the role of general assistant upon the hotel’s opening in 2021, when she was aged 18, in her first-ever job role.

Her work following that appointment led to her promotion to hotel supervisor in March 2022.

After winning the award, Mackenzie said: “I feel really proud of myself for achieving this accolade and in my first job.

“I get a real buzz working at The Watchman and seeing the delight our customers get from enjoying our food and facilities.”