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15th November 2013


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Bunnahabhain Islay single malt Scotch whisky has announced the winner of its UK design competition in partnership with The Fishermen’s Mission, a charity which cares for the families of fishermen lost or injured at sea.

The announcement comes at the start of the most perilous time of the year for commercial fishing, which is commonly recognised as one of the most dangerous occupations in the world.

The Tales of the Sea challenge was set up to nurture emerging design talent while also raising funds to help The Fishermen’s Mission, the only charity which provides emergency support alongside practical and emotional care to help fishermen and their families.

Topping hundreds of entrants, winner Mathilda Holmqvist will see her label produced on a limited-release Bunnahabhain expression which will be launched during the Feis Ile 2014 in support of the charity, with a percentage of the proceeds donated to the Mission. Watch the video below:

Over 13,000 men and women are employed in the UK's toughest and most dangerous peacetime occupation – inshore and deep sea commercial fishing. They face fatal injury on a daily basis and are 115 times more likely to suffer a fatal accident than the rest of the nation’s workforce.

The competition, which launched in April, was open to amateur and professional designers who were asked to design a contemporary label based on the return of the brand’s iconic travelling Helmsman to the safety of Bunnahabhain Distillery.

Tales of the Sea drew a high calibre of entries from across the UK including submissions from Glasgow School of Art, Leeds College of Art and Edinburgh College of Art. The judging panel included:

  • Alison Godfrey, Director of Fundraising, The Fishermen’s Mission
  • Ann Cleeves, crime author
  • Brian Ferguson, Arts Correspondent, The Scotsman / Scotland on Sunday
  • Rob Alderson, Editor, It’s Nice That
  • Michelle Lansdowne, Senior Brand Manager, Burn Stewart Distillers
  • Kirstie McCallum, Global Brands Ambassador, Burn Stewart Distillers
  • Zoe Patterson, Programme Director of Graphic Design and Director of Undergraduate, Design School, Edinburgh College of Art
  • Malcom Stewart, Creative Director, Tayburn

Alison Godfrey , Director of Fundraising for the Fishermen’s Mission, said: 

“We are thrilled to be part of this project with Bunnahabhain. Their enthusiasm and commitment to helping promote and support our work has been wonderful.  The image selected is an exceptional depiction of some of the realities of fishing; being exposed to the elements of the sea and the weather and the physical efforts still involved in being a fisherman are well represented.” 

Fishing remains the most dangerous peacetime occupation in the UK.  In the past week, for example, five fishermen were rescued from their sinking boat off the Cornwall coast in the early hours of the morning and taken to The Fishermen’s Mission Newlyn centre to be cared for; just a few days later, a fisherman lost his life in North Shields. 

Alison continues: 

“As well as working with active fishermen, we also support retired fishermen and their families.  This is a significant part of our work which is sometimes sad and often difficult, but absolutely vital.  Our thanks go to our friends, such as those at Bunnahabhain, for their help.”

Winner, Mathilda Holmqvist, who grew up in rural Sweden, said:

“I am fascinated by storytelling and love how images can help convey stories in a more personal way.  I am interested in the direct relationship that illustration has with the viewer, how an image can offer inspiration, comfort, joy or even an element of surprise and how it communicates an idea in a different way than words alone.”

Judge Michelle Lansdowne of Burn Stewart said: 

“After careful deliberation from the judges, the winning design was chosen for its atmospheric representation of the Helmsman returning home to the shelter of Bunnahabhain and the clear message it portrayed of the challenges faced by fishermen.

“Islay’s link with the fishing industry dates back centuries and we are thrilled to be able to support The Fishermen’s Mission. To drive awareness of the project and encourage support for the charity we have asked Mathilda to attend the Islay Whisky Festival next year to talk through her design with the hundreds of international visitors that annually attend and to sign individual bottles, which will make this special edition even more exceptional.”

Mathilda recently visited Scotland to take part in the production of the label at Tayburn design studios in Edinburgh, followed by a trip to Islay to visit Bunnahabhain Distillery.