Having received 21% of nearly 5,000 votes, Kirkwall faced off stiff competition from our own high street, which received 18% of the vote. East Dunbartonshire town, Milgavnie, came in a close third with 15% of votes cast.
The national competition for Scotland’s Most Beautiful High Street is run by two of Scotland’s most well known organisations for place and the environment - Scotland’s Towns Partnership, the national body for towns in Scotland, and Keep Scotland Beautiful, the environmental charity which campaigns to keep Scotland green, clean and sustainable.
The online vote took place over a four week period through the Scotland’s Towns Partnership website.
The other shortlisted towns included: Ayr, Innerleithen, Linlithgow, Lanark, and Rothesay.
Emma Miller, Project Manager for Living Lerwick, who submitted the Lerwick nomination said "If we had to come second to anyone, then I think it's only right that it was our next door neighbour! We are delighted to have done so well in the competition and have our Street acknowledged as beautiful by 18% of the voting public. The business owners work hard to provide a variety of goods and services to us and make such a great effort, particularly at this time of year, to create exceptional window displays. There's been a lot of change on the Street in the past few years and I've had lots of feedback recently that the area is looking really good. I'd wholeheartedly agree and thank all those who take time and effort to make it so."
Phil Prentice, Chief Officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership, said:
“This competition is all about recognising the work and effort of local people to make their high streets the best they can be. It’s not just an award for a high street, it’s an award for the people who occupy it. I’ve seen first hand just some of the innovation and forward thinking used in Kirkwall and it is a real demonstration of what can be achieved with creativity and determination.
“I want to warmly congratulate Kirkwall, and all of the worthy towns who were shortlisted. It’s no secret that our high streets have been under pressure for the past few years, but this competition gives us hope for the future. When people come together and take ownership of their places, great things can happen and big challenges can be overcome.”
Katie Murray, Communities and Place Manager at Keep Scotland Beautiful, commented:
"I would like to offer my congratulations to Kirkwall for being selected as Scotland's most beautiful high street. This is a fantastic example of how, by working in partnership, significant improvements can be brought forward to improve the town centre experience for residents and visitors alike.
"Every participant in the competition deserves recognition for the benefits that they are delivering across Scotland - helping everyone to enjoy cleaner, greener and more beautiful communities."