'Inspirational' charity founder named Edinburgh's Local Hero 2019 in glittering ceremony

IT WAS the spectacular night Edinburgh came out in force to celebrate those whose dedication to making their communities a better place to live has gone unnoticed for too long.

Saturday, 22nd June 2019, 2:20 am

Hundreds gathered from across the Capital and beyond as some of Edinburgh and the Lothians' most worthy residents were honoured at the Edinburgh Evening News Local Hero Awards.

The glittering ceremony, sponsored by Farmer Autocare, shone a light on those in the city who have flown under the radar while improving the lives of others.

And it was a night to remember for Lisa Fleming as she marked an emotional journey since being diagnosed with incurable secondary breast cancer in 2017 by winning the overall Local Hero award following her inspiring decision to found a charity aimed at funding research into the condition.

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The award winners at the 2019 Local Heroes ceremony.

Lisa, 35, established the Make 2nds Count organisation in 2018 and has already seen the charity raise more than £175,000 to be donated to a team at the Western General Hospital who work to find a cure for the disease - all while undergoing constant chemotherapy and hormone treatment.

In his opening address, Euan McGrory, deputy editor of the Edinburgh Evening News welcomed guests to a “very special evening,” before handing over to host and Forth One presenter Arlene Stuart.

He said: “What makes Edinburgh special is the people and those of you here tonight are some of the bravest and most selfless.”

“Thank you for all you do for this city.”

Lisa Fleming won the overall Local Hero Award after establishing the Make 2nds Count charity, helping to fund research into incurable breast cancer.

Musical group Sing in the City then got the evening’s entertainment off to a rocking start at the Kimpton Hotel with a rousing medley of songs in tribute to our nominees.

The 2019 ceremony featured two new awards among 14 handed out on the night and the evening kicked off with great excitement after a three-way tie was revealed in the running for our first prize.

The Junior Local Hero award - sponsored by Farmer Autocare - was split between inspirational youngsters Alix Renwick, Rae Blair and Reese Black, with judges unable to separate their tremendous efforts.

Woodburn Primary School pupil Alix was hailed for her campaign to end isolation among classmates by raising money to have ‘friendship benches’ installed in her school playground.

Meanwhile, four-year-old Rae was described as a ‘superstar’ for challenging herself to do the Kids’ Kilometre at the Edinburgh Marathon Festival in May as a way of raising money to bring great-grandad Billy Kay home from hospital after he suffered a serious stroke in December last year.

And nine-year-old Reese, from Winchburgh, shared the award for organising a craft fair at his local community centre, raising over £300 for the charity Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Scotland after being inspired by stepdad Graeme Black, who lives with the condition.

Siblings Amy and Jordan Pollock were honoured with the Bravery Award for their courage in a critical situation after performing lifesaving CPR treatment on their father following a cardiac arrest.

The pair’s quick thinking was enough to net the award, sponsored by Capital Cars, with judges admitting they were impressed by their boundless dedication.

Mum Susan Wilson, 43, captured the Carer of the Year award for her tireless work in caring for son Riley, who was born with Down Syndrome, while continuing to fundraise for the Down Syndrome Scotland and Ronald McDonald House Charities.

And Maria Barnett picked up the Volunteer of the Year award, sponsored by City Cabs, after judges recognised her work in providing vital home care services to those with children under the age of five who live with physical or learning disabilities.

Meanwhile, Linda Bain was hailed for her work in ensuring youngsters with reduced mobility can be confident and independent in her role in the Additional Support for Learning Service with the Teacher of the Year award, sponsored by Forth One.

June Horne was celebrated for her work in opening the Sweet Dignity community recycling facility in Midlothian with the Community Champion award, sponsored by Lothian, while there was a special commendation for Grassroots founder Archie Lowe after the 54-year-old received nominations in the Community Champion and Volunteer of the Year categories thanks to his work in launching the organisation to provide free, high-quality interview clothing to men in Edinburgh looking for work.

Long-distance athlete Steve Waterston, 46, scooped the Sporting Hero prize after complete the Loch Ness marathon just eight months after recovering from a life-threatening illness - despite having run with a long cane since suffering significant sight loss in 2003.

Keeping active also helped our Health Champions Sandra Bagnall and Catriona Scott in picking up their award, sponsored by House of Hearing, after they inspired dozens of pupils and teachers at Broughton Primary to improve their wellbeing by leading the Edinburgh Marathon programme at the school.

Several of the judges praised the hugely innovative work of many of our award winners and few stood out quite as much as Fundraiser of the Year Keith Armour. The 42-year-old organised his first charity sci-fi convention in 2016 to raise money for Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (Chas) and the event has continued to grow ever since, raising more than £260,000 for the charity and netting him the award - sponsored by Install Solar.

Campaigner Heather Nicol, 17, was named our Inspirational Young Adult after enacting change on a national level through her drive for the groundbreaking ‘Heather’s Law’. Judges felt the new piece of legislation - which would give children and young people the right to be able to refuse to see a parent convicted of domestic abuse and has been welcomed by domestic violence and women’s organisations across Scotland - made her more than deserving of the award, sponsored by Amazon.

In our second inaugural prize of the evening, Kirsty Baird became the first person to win the Music and Arts Award after overseeing the growth of the Sing in the City project to 16 choirs across the Capital and raising more than £100,000 for the communities in which the group operates.

Lesley and Elaine Greer proved community spirit was alive and well as they scooped the Neighbour of the Year prize, sponsored by Sidey, after being described as “an amazing support” by other local residents, while devoted foster parents Jimmy and Linda Bevis were awarded Parents or Guardians of the Year, sponsored by Cala Homes, after giving a home to more than 140 children in the Capital over a 35-year period.

Full list of winners:

Junior Local Hero Award - Alix Renwick, Rae Blair and Reese Black (Shared)

Bravery Award - Amy and Jordan Pollock

Carer of the Year - Susan Wilson

Community Champion - June Horne

Fundraiser of the Year - Keith Armour

Health Champion - Sandra Bagnall and Catriona Scott

Inspirational Young Adult - Heather Nicol

Music and Arts Award - Kirsty Baird

Neighbour of the Year - Lesley and Elaine Greer

Parent or Guardian of the Year - Linda and Jimmy Bevis

Sporting Hero - Steve Waterston

Teacher of the Year - Linda Bain

Volunteer of the Year - Maria Barnett

The Local Hero Award 2019 - Lisa Fleming