Graham Rooney of Platform 1864 named Tourism & Hospitality Hero at Thistle Awards

The Caterer – Jungmin Seo

Graham Rooney was crowned Tourism & Hospitality Hero at the Thistle Awards held in Edinburgh on 9 February.

The 42-year-old owner of the bar and restaurant Platform 1864 in Tain in the Scottish Highlands was commended for his determination to save the business post-Covid and for his ability to create a strong sense of community during a tumultuous time.

Before his national victory, he received the same award on a regional level at the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards held in Inverness last November.

Rooney trained as a chef and started working full time from age 15 under John Wynne of the Morangie Hotel in Tain.

For a while, Rooney had his eyes set on Tain’s derelict train station. After he was approached by Susannah Stone of Highland Fine Cheeses to a Civic Trust Meeting discussing the future of the station, Rooney received the green light to build Platform 1864.

Rooney invited local contractors to transform the space into a bar and restaurant, which has been described as a “pillar of the community” since it first opened in November 2015.

During the pandemic, Rooney founded his own ‘Deliverooney’ business using his refrigerated van. He worked 16-hour days every day to deliver hot meals across the Highlands to elderly and vulnerable communities.