IT was the spectacular night that Edinburgh paid tribute to those who work selflessly to make the city a better place to live.
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 awards, sponsored by Farmer Autocare, aim to shine a light on those in the Capital whose bravery and hard work has gone unnoticed.
And it was some of the Capital’s most inspirational youngsters who took centre stage for truly heroic achievements.
On a magical evening at the city’s Assembly Rooms, big-hearted schoolboy Joseph Cox became the youngest ever winner of the overall prize. The eleven-year-old joined winners in 13 other categories as hundreds of Edinburgh residents came out to celebrate those who go above and beyond the call of duty in their local communities.
Leith Primary School pupil Joseph impressed the judging panel with his selfless “Socks for the Streets” campaign, helping to provide homeless people with warm clothing.
The judges panel praised his achievement as “incredible”, as Joseph collected his award with a beaming smile.
And it was a night to remember for some of the Capital’s other outstanding young people as they received their awards in front of a huge crowd at the Assembly Rooms.
On Friday, brave teenager Kira Noble was given the all-clear from medical experts in New York after travelling across the Atlantic for lifesaving treatment for neuroblastoma.
The 15-year-old was honoured with the Child of Achievement award after her heroic battle touched thousands across the city and beyond.
Despite battling illness for most of the week after returning home to Craiglockhart on Sunday evening, Kira made it to the awards ceremony and revealed she was “absolutely delighted” to win.
She added: “I really didn’t expect it because I was obviously up against two brilliant other candidates, two boys who were very deserving winners as well, but it was just amazing to get the award.”
After guests were piped into the building, host and comedian JoJo Sutherland welcomed finalists into the hall before singer Megan Grace delivered a stunning performance of three songs paying tribute to those on the awards shortlist.
In his opening speech, deputy editor of the Evening News, Euan McGrory, welcomed guests to a “special night”.
He added: “Some of these individuals will not know just how remarkable they are.
“These are people from this city who did not expect gratitude or thanks for their actions, they simply rolled up their sleeves and got on with it.”
He continued: “In my eyes, they are all winners”
In the Inspirational Young Adult category, Jack Brodie collected the award for his campaigning to raise awareness of the dangers of skin cancer.
Jack, 20, said winning the award was “totally surreal”, adding: “Just going up there was amazing, it has been three or four years of work going around and talking to schools and MSPs about my story, so for it to come full circle like this is brilliant.”
Shannon Strang, also 20, was given the award for Carer of the Year for her dedication in caring for a family member with multiple sclerosis, while model Nicole Gray won the Bravery Award after overcoming life-long illness to achieve her dream of competing in the Miss Galaxy Scotland pageant.
Joanna Lamb was recognised for her charitable efforts with the Fundraiser of the Year award, while George Willis’s efforts at the St Raphael’s care home earned him the Volunteer of the Year prize.
The audience was treated to a stirring performance by students from the Edinburgh Dance Academy before Paul MacGregor scooped the Sporting Hero Award for his work in Tranent.
Hero dad Jamie Kerr scooped the prize for Parent or Guardian of the Year after performing life-saving CPR on infant son Noah after he stopped breathing at just four months old.
After receiving his award, Jamie, 24, said: “I’m overwhelmed with joy and still in shock really. I was up against two other really brilliant, worthy people, so it is really special to win.”
Scottish rugby hero Doddie Weir was given a rousing reception as he took to the stage to collect his Outstanding Achievement Award for his charity work with those battling motor neurone disease (MND).
Weir, who won 61 international caps for Scotland, set up the My Name’s Doddie foundation after being diagnosed with the condition in June 2017, and was described as a “giant on and off the field” by the judges.
Fitness instructor Iain McKendry, who has from cerebral palsy, won the Health Champion Award, while Heather Marshall was crowned Community Champion for her work in Leith.
Stoneyhill Primary School teacher Stefan Thomson was top of the class as he scooped the Teacher of the Year Award and Brenda Baillie proved community spirit in the Capital was alive and well by winning Neighbour of the Year.
This year’s leading charity was Team Jak, set up in memory of inspirational city teenager and former Local hero award winner Jak Trueman following his own experience with cancer.
The charity aims to support children and young people with cancer and related illnesses, their families and friends and those bereaved.
Joseph was then presented with his Local Hero award, admitting he was “amazed” to have won.
The Voice UK star Saskia Eng brought the evening to a spectacular close with a medley of songs as the Capital ended its night of celebration on a high note.
Full list of winners:
Inspirational Young Adult: Jack Brodie
Jack impressed judges thanks to his tireless campaigning to raise awareness of skin cancer in young people since he was diagnosed with malignant melanoma at 16. He has spoken to young people in schools across the country and in front of MSPs at the Scottish Cancer Conference to highlight the dangers associated with the condition.
Bravery Award: Nicole Gray
Nicole, who is from Musselburgh, overcame life-long illness to achieve her dream of competing in the Miss Galaxy Scotland beauty pageant, also volunteering hundreds of hours of her time for charitable causes. Nicole also distributes her “send-a-smile” care packages to those living with mental illness.
Community Champion: Heather Marshall
Heather has continually used her voice to promote the idea that living with mental health problems is not something to be ashamed of, and that it is in fact a whole lot healthier to be honest about it, talk about it, and find ways to cope with it using the help of friends, family and professionals.
Teacher of the Year: Stefan Thomson
Stoneyhill Primary school teacher Stefan has been recognised for his immense patience and ability to tailor lessons for children with additional support needs. The P5 teacher makes sure each child learns to their full ability and is cared for within the school environment.
Health Champion: Iain McKendry
Iain was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 15 months old, however he has not let that stop him from defying the odds by getting on his bike as he took his first “Club McKendry” Spinning class at Danderhall Leisure Centre. Now 24, he leads seven of the classes a week.
Carer of the Year: Shannon Strang
Shannon has been described as ‘one in a million’ by those she cares for. The 20-year-old has cared for her aunt, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, for a number of years, allowing her to live a fulfilling life and has onsistently put others’ needs before her own.
Sporting Hero: Paul MacGregor
Since founding the Tranent and District community sports club 25 years ago, Paul MacGregor’s passion for sports has become legendary throughout the community. Paul has been devoted to getting more people get involved in sport in the area and enjoy being active.
Volunteer of the Year: George Willis
George began volunteering at the St Raphael’s care home shortly after his wife, Agnes, passed away and has given up his own time to improve residents’ wellbeing, doing everything from providing activities to assisting at meal times. As well as incorporating music into everything he does, George has created a sensory garden to give residents an outdoor space.
Fundraiser of the Year: Joanna Lamb
After being diagnosed with osteosarcoma Joanna set up the “Joanna’s Journey” funding page, raising more than £16,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust. She also donated her hair to the Little Princess Trust before undergoing chemotherapy – and even found time to sit and pass four of her five Higher exams.
Neighbour of the Year: Brenda Baillie
Despite being in a wheelchair, Brenda has never let her disability get in the way of working to improve her local area. She hosts annual Halloween and Christmas parties for local children and even gifts an Easter basket filled with goodies to children in her community.
Parent or Guardian of the year: Jamie Kerr
Dad Jamie’s quick reactions were vital when four-month-old son Noah stopped breathing. Noah was born nine weeks premature with tracheoesophageal fistula, but Jamie was able to perform CPR to save the little one’s life.
Child Of Achievement: Kira Noble
“Kira the Machine” and her battle with neuroblastoma captured the hearts of hundreds of people across Edinburgh and beyond after she launched