More than 500 of the Capital’s finest citizens are to be honoured when Edinburgh Lord Provost Donald Wilson throws his first ever Garden Party this summer.
And much like the Queen’s rather larger do in the nearby Palace of Holyroodhouse, the great and the good of the city will be invited.
However the royalty-free soiree won’t be a case of “anything she can do I can do better”, and will also be a celebration of everyone from volunteers and community council representatives to Olympic and Paralympic athletes from London 2012.
Among those invited to Lauriston Castle to quaff Champagne and eat crust-free sarnies are celebrated artist Dame Elizabeth Blackadder, 81, who recently became the sixth person to be honoured with the prestigious Edinburgh Award. Crime writer Ian Rankin, 53, Harry Potter creator JK Rowling, 47, Olympic legend Sir Chris Hoy, 37, and God particle finder Professor Peter Higgs, 84, are also on the “big list” for the swanky August 31 bash. Guests can look forward to enjoying afternoon tea and musical entertainment courtesy of a string quartet and pipe band.
The bill for the afternoon jamboree, understood to be £30,000, is to be picked up city-based bank Virgin Money, which also sponsors the Hogmanay Fireworks Concert.
Mr Wilson said: “I want to recognise and reward those who have made and continue to make a positive contribution to our great Capital city – particularly the unsung heroes who give up their time tirelessly for others and for the good of their local community. Lauriston Castle is such a fantastic venue and one of Edinburgh’s best kept secrets. Its beautiful gardens with their stunning views over the Forth lend themselves perfectly to an event such as this.
“I’m sure they will look splendid on the day. I am extremely grateful to Jayne-Anne Gadhia and everyone at Virgin Money for the tremendous support and their ongoing commitment to their home city.”
One city volunteer who has been asked to attend is Willy Barr, of Leith’s Citadel Youth Centre. Despite welcoming the invite, he feels that “more support money would have been a better reward” for charities.
He said: “It’s nice to know that we are recognised for the work we do and the service we provide – however I’d much rather they increased our grant money rather than asking us round for a sandwich.”
Jayne-Anne Gadhia, chief executive at Virgin Money, said: “It is important to recognise the people that help knit the community together and make Edinburgh such a great place to live and work. Lauriston Castle will provide the perfect setting.”