Edinburgh's top 30 people of the year revealed
WHO has contributed most to life in Edinburgh over the course of the last year?
It’s an impossible question to answer definitely of course. How do you compare the selfless work of a charity volunteer with the skills of a master chef? Where do you fit in the sports men and women who did so much to make 2016 a memorable year for all the right reasons?
Everyone will have their own ideas about what makes Edinburgh tick and who have been the key movers and
shakers. Any list like this is by its nature subjective. We have tried to celebrate excellence across a wide range, highlighting
people who have brought a sparkle to the Capital in different ways.
We hope you enjoy reading our list and please let us know what you think.
1 LISA STEPHENSON
High-flying businesswoman Lisa Stephenson has raised more than £820,000 for Maggie’s since her shock diagnosis with myeloma in 2011.
The mother-of-two has endured a stem cell transplant, experimental drugs and a gruelling chemotherapy regime but nothing has stopped her from leading an extraordinary fundraising campaign for the charity centre at the Western General Hospital.
From glamorous high teas to charity challenges, the 47-year-old has spearheaded dozens of events while inspiring her many friends and admirers to do their bit.
Her dedication inspired our Buy a Brick appeal to raise money to extend the Edinburgh Maggie’s Centre so that it can see an additional 5000 people per year.
Lisa, of Ravelston, describes Maggie’s as her “safe haven” and insists she will stop at nothing to ensure the £1.2m extension is built next year.
Donations have poured in since the campaign launched in November, and a major donation from Morrison’s Foundation pushed funds beyond the halfway mark of £700,000.
Lisa said: “Maggie’s has been there for 20 years, and we are building this extension for the future. It will be there for everybody who needs to use it.”
2 JOSH LITTLEJOHN
The award of an MBE topped off an incredible year for the 30-year-old social entrepreneur who brought Leo DiCaprio to the city and announced plans to build a village for the homeless.
3 DAVID GRAY
The moment that thumping header flew into the Rangers net like a bullet in the 91st minute at Hampden sealed his position in the city’s sporting folklore forever. The fact that he is a local lad and club captain only added to the fairytale. It is a long way from where it all started at Loanhead Boys Club.
4 THE MURRAY BROTHERS
Not just one world number one, but two in the family. The whole nation is proud – but none more so than the coaches at Craiglockhart who could hardly imagine that one day their former proteges would so dominate the sport. Just champion.
5 ROBERT AITKEN
We all want to help when we see people begging on Princes Street. This 24-year-old did. He spent a £70 of his wages from McDonald’s treating homeless people to burgers and fries.
6 MARIA LYLE
Aged 14, she set a world record in the 200m sprint, which she has since broken several times. In the summer, at the age of 16, the Dunbar Grammar student picked up three Paralympic medals.
7 ANNE BUDGE
With the long-awaited stadium redevelopment finally underway and the Jambos challenging on the pitch for a place in Europe, she has presided over a return of the good times to Tynecastle. It all seemed so unlikely for Hearts just a few short years ago.
8 DANNY BOYLE
He has finally brought Trainspotting back to Edinburgh 20 years after Ewan McGregor and co shattered so many people’s illusions about the city with the film adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel. We can’t wait to see the results of all the filming across the Capital in recent months.
9 BETH BERRY
A passionate foodie who destroys the myth that Scottish cuisine is all “stewed tea and shortbread”. Her Stockbridge Market is a perfect showcase for artisan food makers.
10 NOOR GAMMOH
Some of the world’s most cutting edge research on brain tumour treatment is being carried out at Edinburgh University by a team led by this 33-year-old.
11 CALLUM SKINNER
We wondered who could ever fill the Olympic-size boots of Chris Hoy. Now we know – and the city has a new sporting hero in the shape of the unassuming gold and silver medal winning cyclist from Bruntsfield. Who can forget his heroics in the velodrome in Rio?
12 CAITLYN VANBECK
The bookies favourite might not have won X-Factor but in wowing the judges with her perfect rendition of Kelly Clarkson’s Piece by Piece she proved that she oozes star quality. 2017 is set to be a big year for the talented Tranent teenager.
13 NORMAN SPRINGFORD
The Apex Hotel owner has arguably done more than anyone to put Edinburgh on the musical map by continuing to bankroll ambitious plans to turn the Ross Bandstand into a world class venue.
14 FRED BERKMILLER
Dishes such as horse meat haggis – trust us, it tastes far better than it sounds – make the owner of L’escargot bleu, L’escargot blanc and bar à vin one of Scotland’s true food pioneers. The Frenchman does great things with Scottish produce.
15 NICOLA STURGEON
The First Minister continues to impress as one of Britain’s most assured political performers in tumultous times. Whether she has moved the nation any closer to independence is still to be seen, but she is one of the main reasons her party continues to defy gravity at the polls.
16 JOELLE MURRAY
Hibs Ladies made it a double celebration on Leith by picking up the Scottish Cup too. The Scottish international midfielder and club captain is one of the major influences on the team.
17 SHONA McCARTHY
Can the world’s biggest arts festival keep going from strength to strength?
With increased ticket sales in her first year, the new Fringe chief executive has shown that its future is in safe hands.
18 NICK STEWART
The manager of Sneaky Pete’s was one of the key figures in persuading the city’s licensing board to ease some of the UK’s strictest rules governing live music venues. The agreement after years of lobbying has been hailed as a major step forward for the Capital’s music scene.
19 PAMELA NEILSON
Kai Laidlaw’s mum has raised £20,000 to help other parents of young cancer sufferers following the tragic death of her beautiful three-year-old son from leukaemia. Kai’s Room will be a drop-in centre near the new Sick Kids hospital at Little France.
20 FERGUS LINEHAN
Staging the Deep Time light spectacular on Castle Rock, persuading Alan Cumming to take up residence in the Hub. Has the International Festival ever been more fun, as under this director?
17-year-old Molly McDermott – who performs as Momac – is tipped for big things after winning the prestigious UK Songwriting Competition.
22 PAUL ROSS and NICK FULTON
Duck doughnut served with Irn Bru chilli jam? Deep-fried Mars Bar in tempura batter with home-made shortbread ice cream? Their cheeky take on classic dishes and “general flumgummerie” have made the former Edinburgh school pals darlings of the London foodie scene. Their urban chic Dram & Smoke pop-up restaurant at the Biscuit factory in Leith was one of the highlights of the summer. Everyone is desperate to see what they will serve up for their home town fans this year.
23 RUTH DAVIDSON
A Tory leader popular in Scotland? You wouldn’t have believed it a couple of years ago, but the Edinburgh Central MSP is immensely likeable. And she led her party to a record number of Holyrood seats and was crowned Scottish Politician of the Year.
24 CAROL COLBURN GRIGOR
The US philanthropist and former concert pianist is funding the new concert hall at the St James Quarter and the Royal High music school bid.
25 GERRY FARRELL
The man who created some of our favourite Irn Bru ads has turned his sights on litter in Leith. His Leithers Don’t Litter campaign has spurred many into action to keep the streets clean.
26 SALLY CONWAY
It took guts, tenacity and skill for the 29-year-old to seal glory in a heart-stopping content in Rio. Her bronze was the first Olympic judo medal ever won by a Scottish athlete cuing the mother of all celebrations at her training headquarters at Ratho.
27 STEVE REILLY
What’s not to love about a boss who bans working at weekends? Steve’s firm Leith-based Vistabee, one of Europe’s largest property video production specialists, has been recognised as one of the best places to work in Scotland.
28 JUSTIN KENRICK
One of the driving forces behind the first urban land buy-out in Scotland which aims to turn Portobello’s redundant Bellfield Church into a thriving new community centre.
29 JOHN RICHARDSON
Through Ripping Records on South Bridge he brought “indie” music into the bedrooms of thousands of teenagers. The indie kids might now have kids of their own, but John’s decision to close the doors on his South Bridge store prompted an outpouring of love.
30 MIKE AIKMAN and JASON SCOTT
The boys behind Queen Street’s “hidden” cocktail bar have not just created one of the best bars in the city, they have turned Bramble into a tourist attraction in its own right after being recognised as one of the best 50 bars in the world for the second year in a row, the only Scottish entry on the list.