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Sign up for a free place as the virtual SHIREs Conference puts our rural economy in the spotlight

  • Free virtual event open to all – still time to sign up!
  • Keynote address by Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Mairi Gougeon
  • SHIREs Awards follow on the evening of 18 November

There is just one week to go until the second Scottish Highlands and Islands Rural Economy Conference - the SHIREs Conference – which takes place virtually on 18 November.


The global focus has been Glasgow for the past fortnight, with COP26 dominating the big picture. Now the focus turns to Scotland’s modern rural economy, which is at the heart of creating a sustainable economy for the country’s future.

The theme of the SHIREs 2021 is “Our Land, Our Lives, Our Legacy” and the Conference, which will be chaired by broadcaster Nicky Marr and Harper Macleod’s own Chris Kerr, will focus on the enterprises, businesses and communities who will deliver that future.

Organised by Harper Macleod in association with Highland News & Media, the SHIREs conference is free to attend for anyone who wants to find out more, and be part of the exciting developments taking place in rural Scotland.

The SHIREs features an array of fascinating speakers including:

  • Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs
  • Mairi Spowage, Director of Fraser of Allander Institute
  • Jamie McGowan, Director of Essence of Harris
  • Sandra Holmes, HIE’s Head of Community Assets
  • Mat Roberts, Director of Kerry Roberts
  • Dennis Overton, Chair of AquaScot Trust
  • Kirsten Logue, Community Development Specialist at South of Scotland Enterprise
  • Peter Graham, Director of Peter Graham & Associates
  • Cameron Carroll, Founder of Red Beard Productions
  • Jack Smith, Founder of Cairngorm Gin
  • Reina Edmiston of Reina Edmiston Art
  • Sophie Beveridge, Founder of Post-tatoes

The SHIREs conference will run online from 11.15am to 3.45pm. Attendance is free and anyone wishing to attend should register here.

Register your place at the SHIREs

Chris Kerr, Partner and head of Highlands, Islands & Moray at Harper Macleod, said: "“We are thrilled to have attracted such a great line-up of speakers and to be able to deliver this free event to everyone who has an interest in the future direction of our rural economy.

“We all know that during the pandemic the rural economy has faced particular challenges. The SHIREs will examine the current landscape and allow us to share ideas about building on what has already been achieved to create a thriving future.

SHIREs Awards 2021

You can also still register to attend the SHIREs Awards, which take place on the evening of the conference.

Visit the website to find out more