Aberdeen’s AECC has scooped the first-ever ‘best business event’ category win at the annual Scottish Thistle Awards.

The Granite City venue came top in class in the new award category for hosting the Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK) Conference in March 2017, the largest dementia research conference in the UK.

The AECC received its award at the Thistles – dubbed the ‘Scottish Oscars’ for the tourism industry – in a glittering ceremony at Edinburgh’s EICC, hosted by TV stars Sanjeev Kohli and Jennifer Reoch, last week.

Jane Elsom, Research Projects Manager, Alzheimer’s Research UK commented: “Alzheimer’s Research UK is absolutely delighted to have won this award with the team from the AECC. Our Conference in Aberdeen was a huge success and without the dedication and support of the staff at the AECC we would not have been able to achieve this. The strong links that AECC has with the local community meant we were able to hold a number of events to engage with people, starting conversations and raising awareness of dementia and the incredible research taking place across the UK. We are thrilled that our partnership has been recognised in this way.”

The two-day scientific conference welcomed 454 national delegates contributing to a local economic impact of £461,700.  For the first time, a bespoke public engagement programme was created to run alongside the conference highlighting the local support available to people living with dementia.

The majority of these events were free and held in various locations around the city; these included a ‘Memory and Mind Art Show’ and a ‘Come and Sing’ event, a dementia-friendly wellbeing initiative, attended by elderly local people living with dementia.

The programme created new relationships between a number of key organisations in Aberdeen, strengthening the support systems and provided additional sign posting for those living with dementia.

Steve Daun, Head of Conference, Meeting and Banqueting Sales, who collected the award, said: “Working with Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK) and hosting their annual conference in Aberdeen has allowed us to showcase our creativity and develop our first-ever public engagement programme. Our public engagement strategy is now being used in all relevant future conference bids after the fantastic response and success of the ARUK event.  We are delighted to be noticed at a national level for our work with ARUK and we look forward to developing our public engagement and the legacy that it brings to the local region”

Rebecca Brooks, chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards Industry Panel and VisitScotland Board member, said: “The Scottish Thistle Awards are Scotland’s premier awards for the tourism industry and for 25 wonderful years they have been shining a spotlight on success, innovation and excellence.

“Congratulations to all of our national winners of the 2017/18 Scottish Thistle Awards. We are delighted to celebrate with them during this milestone year. They represent the best of Scottish tourism and epitomise the strength and depth of the sector which continues to innovate and excel in giving visitors a high quality experience.