While the world is celebrating the life and poetry of Scotland’s national bard this week, at Burns Nights across the globe, a charity will mark the day in a different way: by announcing its Scot of the Year.
The past 12 months have been awash with the “tartan spirit”: Scots brought home 14 medals in the Olympics and 11 in the Paralympics. Andy Murray became the only man to win the Olympic singles gold and the US Open in the same year, while cyclist Chris Hoy became the most successful Olympian ever.
Scottish politicians secured the right for a referendum to be held on their nation’s independence, while the daughter of a Scot wrote the best-selling book in British history – Fifty Shades of Grey.
Willie Docherty, CEO of ScotsCare, the charity which is organising the award, chosen by public vote, said it would ensure “Scots get the recognition for continually punching above their weight”. Martha Payne, 10, who raised more than £100,000 to help schools in Malawi from her blog about her school dinners, is in the top position.
The Independent on Sunday asked some of Scotland’s highest-profile stars who they would vote the best Scot of 2012. They didn’t hold back.
Olympic gold-medal winner
Britain’s most successful female rower. The Glasgow-born athlete also has silver medals from the Sydney, Athens and Beijing Olympics, and six world championship titles in her collection. Her Scot of the Year is singer Emeli Sandé, who received the Brit Awards Critics’ Choice Award last year and wowed crowds at the Games. “Listening to her at the opening and closing ceremonies at the Olympics was absolutely amazing. Definitely a gold medal voice,” Grainger said.
The Mercury award-nominated Scottish indie rock band met at Edinburgh College of Art and now live in London. They said their Scot of the Year was electronic music producer Hudson Mohawke (real name: Ross Birchard), who is signed to Warp records and Kanye West’s record label. “[We] love the TNGHT EP and we think he will do great things in hip-hop this year,” the band said.
Scotland’s First Minister
Born in Linlithgow, West Lothian, Salmond is head of the Scottish National Party and the longest-serving First Minister. His Scot of the Year is the late Khalil Dale, the British Red Cross worker from Dumfries who was abducted and murdered in Pakistan last year. “A true Scot with true compassionate values, he dedicated 30 years of his life to helping others. Fittingly, he has been nominated for the annual Robert Burns Humanitarian Award to be announced next weekend,” Mr Salmond said.
The Ayrshire-born writer has written more than a dozen books; her science-fiction Doctor Who novel was published last year. Her Scot of the Year is tennis star Andy Murray, who won the Olympic gold medal and the US Open last year. “Sorry to be so boring, but it has to be [him].I think it’s ridiculous to demand that our top athletes are tame, smiling creatures. He’s brilliant at what he does; he doesn’t need to be bloody Katherine Jenkins as well,” said Colgan.
Chair of Bafta in Scotland and director of Glasgow’s Synchronicity Films
The award-winning film-maker’s Scot of the Year is the actress Karen Gillan, who left Doctor Who last year. “She’s one of the UK’s coolest, brightest stars. Last year Karen gave us one of the best, most heartbreaking Doctor Who exits of all time, and also scooped best female drama performance for her role as Amy Pond – and deservedly so. She’s destined for great things,” Ms Mundell said.
Sir Menzies Campbell
MP for North East Fife
The former leader of the Liberal Democrats is also a former Olympic athlete and barrister. His Scot of the Year is rower Katherine Grainger, who took gold at the 2012 Olympics. “It took enormous commitment and determination after three successive silver medals to put herself on the line once more in London. Scots of all ages could not have a better role model,” said Sir Menzies.
Labour MP for Glasgow East
Curran, the shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, has been working in the Scottish government since 1999. Her Scot of the Year is fellow MP Anne Begg, the first wheelchair user elected to the House of Commons, and chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee. “Anne is an outstanding role model for MPs. She is dedicated, forensically intelligent and, in my view, far too modest. Anne is the unsung heroine of Parliament when it comes to welfare reform in Britain and deserves credit for all the hours she puts in to holding this Tory-led Government to account,” Ms Curran said.
Novelist, playwright and writer
Welsh was born in Leith and shot to fame when his novel Trainspotting was published. His Scot of the Year is musician and producer Calvin Harris. “[His album] 18 Months was massively successful; it’s already like an old-school greatest hits album. More importantly, 2012 was a huge year for dance music as it really took over America. Calvin Harris and others constantly toured and thus promoted the genre. No other Scottish artist had his reach in 2012,” said Welsh.
Geoff Ellis organises Scotland’s largest music festival, T in the Park. His Scot of the Year is cyclist Sir Chris Hoy. “He’s Scotland’s highest achieving sports person and the most successful British Olympian ever. He’s inspired a whole generation worldwide through a combination of phenomenal hard work and dedication. Chris, and his fellow Olympians, have elevated sport stars to superstar status,” said Mr Ellis.
The Glasgow-born star has been in the entertainment industry for more than 50 years. Her Scot of the Year is the actor Alan Cumming, who performed every character in an adaptation of Macbeth last year. “Alan is a great ambassador for Scottish arts. He is so multi-talented – a serious actor and great writer but always with a wry Scottish humour and twinkle in his eye,” Lulu said.
Article Sarah Morrison/Margi Murphy – The Independent