The ones to watch in 2015

Saskia Eng, performing at Edinburgh's Got Talent in 2013, is one to watch this year. Pic: Ian Rutherford
Saskia Eng, performing at Edinburgh's Got Talent in 2013, is one to watch this year. Pic: Ian Rutherford
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We get out our crystal ball to spot the contenders likely to make their mark in sport, politics, entertainment and city life this year

THE dawning of a new year – for most of us that means time to reflect on the year gone by and how to make the next one even better.

But for some, 2015 is already looking like a year full of ­promise.

A few might already have tasted some success. For them, this new year brings fresh challenges which will surely keep their names at the top of the pile.

Others are on the brink of breaking through to become the new generation of well- known faces and names who will dominate city life.

So who are the ones to watch this year?


Chris Dean (rugby)

Rugby player Chris Dean is a 20-year-old centre who debuted for Edinburgh in a pre-season friendly against Leicester Tigers but had to retire hurt with an ankle injury.

Since then he has been turning out at club level with Edinburgh Accies and impressing with pace off the mark and keen running angles as he patiently awaits his chance to represent the Capital pro team competitively. Chris, capped by Scotland sevens’ team and also the under-20s, looks set to make a major breakthrough at Edinburgh in 2015 which could open the door to full international honours in the future.

Lewis Allan (Hibs)

Lewis Allan simply refused to give up when told he hadn’t quite done enough to earn himself a contract with Hibs despite having been with the Easter Road club since the age of eight.

The 6ft 2in striker continued to travel from his home in Melrose to train, unpaid, at East Mains, often taking the bus home when his parents were unable to give him a lift. His perseverance paid off, he was named the East of Scotland League’s player of the season before clinching a two-year deal and has since featured regularly in Alan Stubbs’ first- team squad, making his debut against Falkirk in early December. 2015 will see further first-team opportunities for the youngster.

Grant Forrest (golf)

Two years after Scotland suffered the embarrassment of failing to provide a single Walker Cup representative, the 21-year-old Craigielaw player should be a strong contender to ensure that doesn’t happen again at Royal Lytham in September.

The home of golf’s second-highest ranked amateur – at world No 26, he’s only got Blairgowrie’s Bradley Neil above him – Forrest won the St Andrews Links Trophy and also played on a winning Palmer Cup team in 2014. In addition, the University of San Diego scholar was named as West Coast Conference Golfer of the Year and has all the credentials to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Colin Montgomerie and Stephen Gallacher by facing the Americans in the amateur game’s showpiece team event.

Rhona Auckland (athletics)

Edinburgh University distance runner Rhona Auckland was not considered good enough to represent Scotland in the 2014 Commonwealth Games 10,000 metres last July.

Yet only a few months later the 21-year-old medical sciences student could emerge as one of Scotland’s leading hopes for a place in the 2015 World Championships in Beijing in August – if she can reproduce the sort of form she showed in winning the European Under-23 Cross Country title in Samokov, ­Bulgaria.

She has earned a place in the British team for the Great Edinburgh Cross in Holyrood Park on January 10 and she will then go on to contest the British Trials in February, ­hoping to win a place in the ­British team for the World Cross Championships in March, which will also be in Guiyang, China.


Rachel Flynn

SHE’s the wee panto star who has a whopping great voice – and it seems likely that it’s one we’ll hear more and more of in 2015.

Edinburgh’s Rachel Flynn is currently appearing as Cinderella with John Barrowman at the SECC in Glasgow, her first ever panto. But already Rachel, who has appeared in the past with local theatre group The Bohemians and recently graduated from the London School of Musical Theatre, has made a massive impact. Many are now tipping her as a future star of musical theatre.

Greg Esplin

More than two decades have passed since Irvine Welsh’s novel Trainspotting hit the shelves, and still the gritty story of drugs, petty crime and housing estate radges is going strong.

Next year London audiences will be given a fresh taste of the story, when Edinburgh-based producer, director and actor Greg Esplin’s In Your Face Theatre take their interpretation of the story to the fringes of the West End. Queen Margaret University drama graduate Greg, 22, secured a month-long run at the King’s Head Theatre in Islington following success at the 2014 Fringe.

Danny Page

Actor and film-maker Danny Page, 22, had a great 2014 – topped with the launch of his short film Eleven. He followed that by scooping best actor title in a short film award at the Golden Door International Film Festival in New Jersey in summer. Now he’s hoping Eleven, a brutal examination of child sex abuse which he not only wrote, starred in but also co-directed and co-produced, can evolve into a full scale ­feature movie.

The former Stewart’s Melville pupil made the film while studying acting in New York. It attracted interest from major Hollywood names and was described by Huffington Post’s Pamela Glasner as a “brilliant expose of a dark, disturbing topic”.

Saskia Eng

She’s been impressing with her singing for so long that it’s easy to forget that talented teen Saskia Eng is still aged just 13 years old. Her YouTube channel is growing all the time – her cover versions of well-known songs and her original material gets thousands of hits with every fresh post.

The Murrayfield youngster is balancing her music career with supporting charities and her education at the City of Edinburgh Music School at Broughton High.


Grant Douglas

The 40-year-old from Corstorphine, is bidding to reinvent tableware – and 2015 might just see the scoop-shaped S’up spoon he helped design go mainstream. Grant – who has cerebral palsy and struggles to eat with normal cutlery – has launched a Kickstarter fund appeal with Glasgow design consultancy 4c. The team hopes to raise £33,000 to put the spoon into mass production and bring it to a dinner table near you.

Norma Prentice

The new Castlebrae High head has arguably the toughest job in Scottish education – turning around a school that nearly closed over exam results and rolls which are among the worst in the country.

Word has it the innovative teacher, previously head at Drummond Community High, is set to bring in some of Scotland’s most prestigious arts bodies in a bid to revive the embattled Craigmillar secondary. Watch this space.

Dr Andrew Murray

He’s become known for his challenging adventures and 2015 will see more of the same for Dr Andrew Murray.

In February he sets off with fellow endurance runner Donnie Campbell on a staggering 550km trek over the sands of the Namib Desert.

And in March he’s shortlisted for five gongs in the National Adventure Awards 2015.

The awards recognise the most daring outdoors men and women – and Dr Murray, an ultra distance runner and GP, is nominated for adventurer of the year among others. Other Edinburgh nominees include Rockall record break challenger Nick Hancock, outdoor film team Hot Aches, and ultra runner Lucja Leonard.

Jamie Scott

The 26-year-old chef can look forward to a bright 2015 after scooping the title MasterChef: The Professionals 2014.

Kirkliston-born Jamie took the title just before Christmas, following a seven-week television contest that had viewers gripped.

Praised by judges Monica Galetti and Marcus Wareing for his skills, Jamie is now preparing for more television appearances, plans to write a book and hopes to establish his own restaurant business.

Mark Adams

Edinburgh International Film Festival’s new artistic director was appointed last month as a replacement for Chris 

The chief film critic of industry magazine Screen International, he takes up the post of artistic director in March – just three months before the ­festival.

While that might not give him enough time to make a major impact on this year’s event, it’s expected he will be under pressure to make a decision on whether the festival should retain its June slot or move back to peak festival time in August.


Sarah Boyack

Like Neil Findlay, her leadership bid fell short, but she did not leave empty-handed – she moved from a local government spokesman role to that of rural affairs, food and environment.

The Scottish Labour Party’s Spring conference in March will give both a chance to sharpen their claws for the political year ahead.

Tommy Sheppard

He’s played it for laughs for long enough, now the boss of The Stand Comedy Club is getting serious.

He announced last month plans to stand as an SNP candidate in what’s seen as the party’s most attainable Westminster seat.

The former Scottish Labour deputy general secretary campaigned loudly for a Yes vote and joined the SNP following the referendum.

Now he is in the running to become SNP candidate for Edinburgh East. He faces competition from others, including SNP councillors Mike Bridgman and Alex Lunn.

Ian Murray

The Edinburgh South MP has had a busy year – he’s also chairman of fans’ group The Foundation of Hearts.

But with a General Election looming, his attention may have to focus much more on securing his political future.

There were just 300 or so votes in it last time around, but the Wester Hailes-raised Edinburgh University graduate has a strong local profile which many political pundits reckon will see him through.

Marco Biagi

A vocal critic of the city’s tram project, it’s likely Edinburgh Central MSP Marco Biagi will have plenty to say when the public inquiry into the fiasco evolves.

The Local Government minister has also been outspoken on a variety of other issues.

He’s been a major supporter of same-sex marriage, championed the need for new affordable housing to be included in future city developments and has also given his backing to cross-party calls for 50/50 legal ­quotas to ensure fair ­representation for women within ­Scottish politics.