The Edinburgh Evening News Hot 30 – a list of people who have made a difference in 2021

Every year, we at the Evening News choose our Hot 30 – a list of 30 people who have made a difference in the previous year.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 31st December 2021, 6:00 am

And this year we were spoiled for choice. Here are the 30 groups or individuals who have shaped politics, sport and culture in 2021.

1 - The staff of NHS Lothian - Health

Over the last two years, no one has been able to escape the Covid-19 pandemic and the difficulties that came along with it.

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We reveal the faces from the worlds of politics, sport, music, business and charities who have shone throughout 2021

While most of us were able to keep safe in our homes during the lockdowns, NHS heroes were risking their lives everyday to care for us.

And as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly, once again putting the NHS on the brink, the one thing we know we can rely on is the courage and dedication of our frontline health service and social care staff.

In the face of gruelling shifts and heartbreaking sights, the staff at NHS Lothian have always been on hand to care for us in our times of need.

Their spirit and tireless work - typified by senior charge nurse Therese Duggan and her colleagues on Ward 105 at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary - has seen us through the worst public health crisis the NHS has ever faced.

2 - Olivia Strong - Fundraising

The keen runner challenged everyone she knew to run five kilometres, donate £5 to the NHS and challenge five friends to do the same. Her challenge received donations of more than £7 million.

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3 - Josh Taylor - Sports

As Britain’s first undisputed world boxing champion in the modern, four-belt era, the 31-year-old from Prestonpans has secured his place in history although he was ignored by the formerly neutral BBC’s Sport Personality Awards to which he angrily criticised.

4 - Carina Contini - Food & Drink

Carina, alongside her husband Victor, runs three of the city’s top restaurants and is a champion of local businesses and entrepreneurs.

5 - Mark Bonnar - Actor

We all needed distraction and entertainment more than ever this year and one man was at the centre of so many of the best bits of TV during 21.

Leither Mark Bonnar will be known to many of you through his star turns in Guilt, Shetland and more .

6 - Carol Grigor - Philanthropist

The American former concert pianist is set to change the face of Edinburgh. It is thanks to her £80 million that we are about to get our first new, purpose built concert hall in years.

7 - Charlie Cumming - Green champion

The power behind plans to plant a million trees across the Capital is Charlie Cumming, the chief executive of Edinburgh and Lothian Greenspace Trust, who is working to make our Capital city a greener place to live. He is also working at Mavisbank House, Loanhead.

8 - Polly Swann - Health

Swapping her time between being a world champion rower and a doctor working on the frontline at St John’s Hospital in Livingston, Polly is perhaps the closest that we have to a real life superhero.

9 - Catherine Heymans - Stargazer

The first woman to hold the august title of Astronomer Royal for Scotland, Catherine - a professor in astrophysics at the University of Edinburgh - is adept at explaining the mysteries of the universe. Her work with school children has done much to inspire a career in science.

10 - Josh Kerr - Olympian

Josh reminded us of the glory days of British men’s middle distance running by taking a dramatic bronze in the 1,500m at the Tokyo Olympics. He is now aged 24.

11 - Edinburgh’s Girl Guides - Changing history

The Edinburgh Girl are raising funds to build a statue of Dr Elsie Inglis - the heroic WW1 doctor from Edinburgh who died in action in 1917 - to celebrate one of the Capital’s amazing female icons of any age.

12 - Jason Connery - Film

The Bond legend’s son has returned to his father’s home city to establish a film studio in Leith. The ‘Big Blue Shed at the Port of Leith has already played host to Marvel and Amazon Prime series.

13 - Craig Gordon - Hearts

The Hearts and Scotland goalie has established himself as one of the city’s sporting greats with a return to the kind of form that once made him one of the hottest properties in British football. Sensational is one word regularly used to describe the Jambos captain.

14 - Joelle Murray - Hibs

The club captain is doing more than most to take Hibs Women from strength to strength as they show their determination to challenge their west coast rivals – and those from Tynecastle.

15 -Tom Bruce (Oak Tom) - Fundraiser

Tom Bruce, better known to many as Oak Tom, was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in 2017. He aimed to raise £60,000 for the charity before his birthday in April. Sadly, he passed last month but his family have vowed to continue fundraising in his name.

16 - Phoebe Waller Bridge - Actor

Fleabag star Phoebe Waller Bridge has thrown herself into her new role championing the Fringe. As the inaugural president, she has worked tirelessly to advocate for the festival.

17 - Linda Bauld - Health

Edinburgh-born Prof Bauld has been in constant demand for her calm and clear analysis of each twist and turn in the pandemic. The chief social policy advisor to the Scottish Government, she was appointed an OBE in 2021 for guiding public health response to Covid-19 pandemic.

18 - Frank Ross - Shopping champion

The £1bn St James Centre redevelopment was almost thrown out by councillors. The Lord Provost’s support was crucial to making it happen.

19 - The Edinburgh Sketcher - Artist

When lockdown hit, you might wonder how an artist could help the city to weather the storm. Step forward Mark Kirkham, aka The Edinburgh Sketcher, who used his skills to sketch pictures of many of the city’s best loved places, reminding us how much we love our favourite city.

20 - David Tennant - Actor

Bathgate-born David makes our list by brightening up the year by popping up in various places across the city filming his new hit series Good Omens, in which he plays the demon Crowley

21 - Nina Nesbitt - Music

The former Balerno High School pupil continues to make waves in the pop music industry, and was most recently awarded the “ Women in Music" gong at the Scottish Music Awards in recognition of her efforts to make the music scene a more inclusive space for women.

22 - Irvine Welsh - Author

A spectacular return to form this year for the Muirhouse raised Trainspotting author who made his TV debut with his critically acclaimed BritBox series Crime, which was set in Edinburgh.

23 - Kevin Nisbet - Hibs

Became the first Hibs player in 47 years to play for Scotland in a major finals after coming off the bench in the Euro 2020 opener against Czech Republic.

The 24-year-old striker was following in the footsteps of John Blackley, one of Turnbull’s Tornadoes.

24 - Alison Morrison - carer

Her endless compassion and never-say-die determination make Alison the epitome of a caregiver. As well as working professionally, she also provides support for family and friends.

25 - Sue Webber - Straight-talking politician

From weed-strewn pavements to overflowing bins, badly through road changes to care homes under threat, Sue has been a highly effective voice in holding the city council to account and was elected an MSP in May

26 - Catherine Franks - coffee roaster

The East Lothian entrepreneur is putting environmental sustainability at the heart of her Steampunk Coffee Roasters and Cafe in North Berwick.

27 - Jenni Fagan - Author

Livingston-born Jenni Fagan, who was raised in the Scottish care system, is no stranger to plaudits. With the publication of debut novel The Panopticon she was listed by Granta as one of the 2013 Granta Best of Young British Novelists, while the New York Times hailed her work.

28- Hal Osler - Women’s safety

The councillor for Inverleith has been an effective campaigner for women’s safety in the city following the nationwide outcry which followed the murder of Sarah Everard in London.

29 - The Snuts - Music

Whitburn rockers The Snuts broke through commercially during the pandemic to become the first Scottish band in 14 years to get to number one with their debut album, W.L.One of the most exciting young acts in the UK today, the band look set to be on an upward curve .

30 - Gerry Mallon - Hearts advisor

With a first class honours degree in economics from Cambridge University and chief executive of Tesco bank, Gerry Mallon is the kind of fan every club wants to get involved in their club.