THEY are the Capital’s inspirational residents who have worked tirelessly in the background to help others in their community without the recognition they deserve.
Now, after eight weeks of poring over hundreds of entries, the Evening News is delighted to reveal our finalists for the 2019 Local Hero Awards.
These extraordinary people from across Edinburgh and the Lothians are the unsung heroes of their local communities, often going above and beyond the call of duty.
Judges included Jim Kerr, managing director of the event’s main sponsor, Farmer Autocare, Gaynor Marshall, communications director at Lothian transport, Evening News editor Euan McGrory and Allison Barr, founder of the awards’ charity partner Jak’s Den.
This year has seen the introduction of two new awards in the Music and Arts and Junior Local hero categories.
Winners will be announced on Friday, June 21 at Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel.
Carer of the Year
Mum Susan Wilson has been a full-time carer for son Riley, born with Downs Syndrome, since 2016. Riley spent the first year of his life in Queen Elizabeth University Hospital where he underwent various heart operations, however Susan was still able to make time to go to work and care for her three other children.
She has also consistently fundraised for Downs Syndrome Scotland and Ronald Mcdonald House Charities – where the family stayed while Riley was hospitalised in Glasgow.
Care support assistant Zoe Davenport ran the entirety of the Great Glen Way in the Highlands last year to raise money for the Broomhill Day Centre, which caters for the elderly and those living with disabilities.
Zoe, who began working at Broomhill in March, raised more than £1,500 as part of the challenge, with the funds raised going towards trips, entertainment and games for those who attend the centre.
Bravery Award - Sponsored by Capital Cars
Amy Pollock, 28, and brother Jordan, 24, reacted quickly in a terrifying situation when their mother suffered a cardiac arrest just 24 hours after the death of their grandfather. The pair administered lifesaving CPR treatment until emergency crews arrived, saving her life before accompanying her to the hospital after paramedics rushed to the scene.
Hibs fan Darren Thomson became a worldwide sensation in March 2019 when he shocked nurses by uttering his first words in four months following a stroke to let them know his feelings on local rivals Hearts. Darren has been confined to a wheelchair since doctors found a blood clot in his brain, but he has shown incredible resilience and is on a mission to walk again before his dad’s wedding.
Robert Baldock was left without speech and limited mobility after suffering a stroke in 2017, but that has not stopped him from tirelessly and successfully campaigning for a specialised stroke treatment called thrombectomy to be available to everyone who needs it.
The 53-year-old has met the health secretary twice and has since given presentations to a selection of MSPs at the Scottish Parliament as part of the campaign.
Community Champion - Sponsored by Lothian
Andrew Cormie has invested his money and time in creating “Annie’s Sensory Garden” which will benefit patients and families visiting the Marie Curie Hospice. The project is inspired by wife Anne, who tragically passed away after a ten-year battle with breast cancer.
Archie Lowe has made a significant difference to the lives of those looking for work across the city after establishing the Grassroots organisation, helping to provide high-quality, free interview clothing to men living in Edinburgh who are unemployed.
June Horne founded the community recycling project Sweet Dignity after realising many of the people using the food bank she volunteered at in Midlothian were also unable to afford clothes or shoes, giving families the chance to access basic clothing.
Karen Rogers inspired a small group of volunteers to come together and improve Pumpherston as leader of the local Community Council, helping establish the village’s first gala day, among other improvements.
Fundraiser of the Year - Sponsored by Install Solar
Keith Armour organised his first charity sci-fi convention in 2016 to raise money for Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (Chas) and the event has gone from strength to strength ever since, raising more than £260,000 for the charity and pulling in big-names including Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi and Star Wars actor Warwick Davis.
Lisa Fleming has worked tirelessly to raise funds for research into incurable secondary breast cancer after being diagnosed with the condition in May 2017. Last year, she set up the charity Make 2nds Count which has raised in the region of £175,000 to be donated to a team at The Western General Hospital, all while undergoing constant treatment including chemotherapy and surgeries.
Selfless pensioner Tom Gilzean is known for his tartan trousers and started fundraising after the death of his wife Anne in 2000. The 98-year-old suffered a broken hip after taking a tumble at home in November 2018, but he has refused to let that setback stop him from his fundraising activities.
Health Champion - Sponsored by House of Hearing
Sandra Bagnall and Catriona Scott decided to take the lead in the Edinburgh Marathon Festival initiative at Broughton Primary, inspiring dozens of young people, their teachers and their parents to get active by joining in the marathon events.
Their campaign has received support from star athletes including Laura Muir and Liz McColgan.
Martin Murphy set up his business, “The Football Barber”, as a way to help men suffering with dementia reconnect with their past while getting their haircut. By using “memory boxes” filled with old football memorabilia, Martin, 30, hopes to put his clients at ease and encourage them to open up and reminisce about their favourite teams. The initiative was launched after Martin was dissatisfied with a generic approach to outreach for male dementia patients.
Robert Baldock receives his second nomination for his work in campaigning for specialised stroke treatment to be offered to patients after suffering a life-threatening attack of the condition in 2017.
Inspirational Young Adult - Sponsored by Amazon
Heather Nicol has campaigned for Heather’s Law, which would give young people the right to refuse to see a parent convicted of domestic abuse. The law was welcomed by domestic violence and women’s organisations across Scotland.
Hector Skipworth is the second youngest competitor at this year’s Marathon des Sables at the age of only 17. He has raised more than £2,200 for the charity Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis following mum Harriet’s diagnosis.
Holly Hastings, daughter of Scottish rugby legend Gavin, ran the London Marathon for the second year in a row in aid of The Cure Parkinson’s Trust for her mother Diane who has lived with Parkinson’s for 16 years.
Dedicated volunteer Jaime Sutherland is set to abseil down the Forth Rail Bridge to raise money for Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland in memory of her father, who sadly passed away when she was just three.
Parent/Guardian of the Year - Sponsored by Cala Homes
Dawn Bryson, whose son Josh Manson picked up the Inspirational Young Adult award in 2017, has been nominated for her tireless efforts in bringing up three children, helping to fundraise for their activities and caring for her father after he suffered a stroke, Dawn has also kept down a full time job and is in her final year of studying at the Open University.
Devoted grandmother Jacqueline Selkirk has brought up her grandson since the heartbreaking loss of her daughter four years ago, becoming his rock through a traumatic experience. Jacqueline has ensured he never misses out on enjoying life, getting up every Sunday morning for football training and taking him to watch his beloved Hibs on a weekly basis.
Jimmy and Linda Bevis have been foster carers for more than 35 years, giving their love to around 140 children in need of a home in the Capital in that time. The “strong and kind-hearted” mum also brought up her own children in that time and looked after her other siblings after they lost their mother when she was just a teenager.
Neighbour of the Year - Sponsored by Sidey
Lesley and Elaine Greer were nominated for welcoming new neighbour Seth to their community after the youngster moved to a more remote area with his parents.
The couple have been described as an “amazing support” to their neighbours, helping to babysit, passing food round when needed and ensuring everyone feels part of the community when they move there. The couple have been called “incredible women” and “genuine friends” to all of those who live in the area.
Keith and Carol Ann Reid after looking out for a single mum of two who moved into their cul-de-sac in the Capital five years ago. As well as helping out with babysitting duties, they have been called the “grandparents” of the street, frequently lending a hand to anyone in need of tools, jump-starting their cars and generously checking in on neighbours when they are down. Neighbours added they were always there to cheer others up and never expect thanks in return for their actions.
Music and Arts Award
Rapper Jordan Butler beat homelessness and drug addiction as a teenager to found the Heavy Sound project, which seeks to use music to engage young people aged between 12 and 18, many with poor school attendance records, to improve their health and wellbeing.
Kirsty Baird, musical director of Sing in the City, has overseen the community choir project grow to 16 choirs in Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife with 1000 members. Fundraising for a variety of charities is at the heart of many of Sing in the City’s activities and in the nine years since the organisation was founded, more than £100,000 has been raised.
The Love Music Junior Choir team bring together children across the city, from all sorts of backgrounds, to learn to sing and perform in the Usher Hall, providing a unique experience and opportunity to grow and flourish for everyone involved. The team have been nominated for their enthusiasm in helping to create lasting friendships between members who join the group.
PE teacher John Mowbray has been described as an “inspiration” to children at Craigour Park Primary School after going above and beyond for their health and well being, taking classes before and after school in his own time including a racquet club and running club amongst others. His innovative teaching methods using activities to help children understand science were recently featured on BBC Newsround.
Long-distance athlete Steven Waterston, 46, has run with a long cane since his significant sight loss which resulted from life-saving surgery. After overcoming a first brain haemorrhage in 2003, Steven was diagnosed with congenital condition arteriovenous malformation. A turbulent recovery process which also saw him suffer numerous blood clots, including a clot in his lung and pneumonia, makes the fact that Steven ran the Loch Ness marathon just eight months after his operation even more incredible.
Teacher of the Year - Sponsored by Forth 1
Carol Cameron has been the headteacher at Craigour Park Primary since it’s opening in 2003 following the amalgamation of Moredun Primary and Cameron has consistently shown support and compassion for the school children and their families.
Heather Paterson learned to read Braille after being assigned as a support teacher to a blind pupil at Broxburn Academy four years ago, often staying behind to give extra tuition and support.
Linda Bain is responsible for assessing and promoting movement and mobility for children pretty much from when they are first on their feet till they need to explore university life, encouraging independence and confidence.
Moira Mushet is a support teacher and has helped restore one pupil’s self-esteem, allowing her to return to class after suffering severe mental health setbacks.
Volunteer of the Year - Sponsored by City Cabs
Archie Lowe receives a second nomination after establishing the Grassroots organisation, helping to provide high quality, free interview clothing to men living in Edinburgh who are unemployed.
Maria Barnett has been a star volunteer with Home Link Family support since 2015, helping those with children under the age of five, including those with physical or learning disabilities, by visiting them at home and offering practical and emotional support. She has also volunteered at the Risk Factory, and has recently started to volunteer with Riding for the Disabled.
Richard Roncero started Steps To Hope two years ago, getting up every morning before starting his full-time job to give the homeless on the street hot drinks and food and helping dozens of them get off the street by finding and paying for accommodation until the council are able to house them. He has also helped several of those coming from the streets to get into rehabilitation programmes for drugs and alcohol and collects clothes to distribute to the homeless on cold nights.
Junior Local Hero - Sponsored by Farmer Autocare
Alix Renwick decided to raise money to have “friendship benches” with plenty of room for two to make sure nobody at her primary school felt alone. The Woodburn Primary School pupil, noticed there were some children always on their own in the playground and thought installing benches in the playground could help solve the problem.
Rae Blair challenged herself to do the Kids’ Kilometre at the Edinburgh Marathon Festival in May to raise money for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland to get her grandfather, Billy Kay, out of hospital and back home to his family after he suffered a serious stroke in December last year.
Reese Black from Winchburgh, West Lothian, organised a craft fair at his local community centre, selling a variety of homemade items, helping to raise over £300 for Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Scotland to support stepfather Graeme Black, who lives with hydrocephalus.
The Local Hero Award - Sponsored by Farmer Autocare
This award is the highlight of the night and will be awarded to an individual who the judging panel considers to be Edinburgh’s Local Hero.
The award will go to someone who judges believe stand out above all other nominations.
All finalists from all categories are in with the chance of winning the Local Hero Award.
The Local Hero Award will look to reward someone who has done something truly remarkable.