TRIBUTES have been paid to a “fearless and peerless” campaigner who helped found the Zero Tolerance movement against domestic violence and played a key role in Scotland’s drive towards minimum pricing for alcohol.
Dr Evelyn Gillan, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, died in Edinburgh’s Marie Curie Hospice on Tuesday surrounded by her family, after battling cancer.
Broadcaster Lesley Riddoch will conduct a celebration of Ms Gillan’s life at the Mansfield Traquair Centre on Tuesday at 10am, along with Ms Gillan’s partner Tom and the family.
In a blog, Ms Riddoch paid tribute to “the wonderful, feisty and radiant Evelyn Gillan”.
And she highlighted a newspaper advert which had appeared a few days earlier, headed simply “Dear Evelyn” and signed by friends and organisations to which she was close, to “let you know how we feel about you”. Signatories included comedian Elaine C Smith, author Irvine Welsh, Labour MSP Malcolm Chisholm and Edinburgh Women for Independence.
The adverts described Ms Gillan as “fearless and peerless, living your politics with style, compassion and dignity with a dollop of laughter thrown in”; “self-effacing, loving and supportive, nifty on the dancefloor too”; “visionary, staunch, breathtaking”, “political, caring, charismatic, intelligent, conscientious, a loyal friend” and “truly inspiring and dedicated – beloved by so many”.
In 1992, Ms Gillan was one of the founders of the Edinburgh-based Zero Tolerance campaign, designed to move the issue of violence against women and children further up the public and political agenda.
Within two years, the campaign spread across the country and soon posters first seen in Edinburgh were appearing in Australia and the US.
As chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, she played a key role in the campaign for minimum pricing as a way to tackle Scotland’s drink problem.
A statement from Alcohol Focus said staff were deeply saddened to announce her death – calling her leadership “inspirational” and saying she was “one in a million”.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “Sad to hear of Evelyn Gillan’s passing. I admired her passion for the causes she believed in & valued her advice on alcohol minimum pricing.”