We take a look back at 11 great Scottish men and women throughout history.
General Charles Gordon (1833 - 85)
During the second Opium War General Charles Gordon successfully defended Shaghai against the Taiping rebels, leading his troops into battle armed only with a walking stick.
He gained a reputation for being incorruptible when he put down a mutiny sparked by his refusal to allow looting, and turned down a bribe from the Chinese emperor.
He was later made Governor of Sudan, and in 1884 was ordered to conduct the evacuation of Europeans from Khartoum, which was under threat of attack from rebels led by the al-Mahdi.
Having managed to get over 2,000 women, children and wounded out of the city, Gordon then held Khatroum against huge odds until 26 January 1885, when he and his troops were overwhelmed and massacred. A British relief force, which had been delayed by political wrangling in London, arrived three days later.
Gordon was hailed a hero and became even better known as Gordon of Khartoum.
Sir William MacEwan (1848 - 1924)
A pioneering surgeon, born in Rothsay, William MacEwan studied surgery at the University of Glasgow under Sir Joseph Lister, and further developed Lister’s techniques of antiseptics and sterilisation while working at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary.
Once able to work in a perfectly sterile environment, MacEwan was free to attempt more difficult surgery, in particular on the brain and spine. In 1876 he became the first surgeon to operate on a brain abscess and followed this by removing a brain tumour in 1878.
His other interest was in bone growth and in 1879 he performed the first ever bone graft.
Jane Waterson (1843 - 1932)
Born in Inverness, Jane Waterson was the first woman doctor in South Africa.
She became a missionary and after observing first hand the problems faced by African women she returned to Britain for medical training before establishing her own practice in Cape Toen in 1883.
In 1888 she became the first woman to acquire the certificate in psychological medicine of the medico-psychological Association of Great Britain.
In Cape Town, she opened a free dispensary, started the first maternity service in Cape Peninsula and provided medical and psychological support for refugees during Boae War.
Robert Fortune (1813 - 80)
Robert Fortune was a botanist who was responsible for founding India’s tea industry.
Born in Blackaddar he began his career at Edinburgh’s Botanical Gardens. In 1843, following the Treaty of Nanking, which ended the First Opium War, he went out to China on behalf of the Society and sent back many new and exotic plants to Britain.
In 1843 he entered the employment of the East India Company and disguised as a Chinese courtier from ‘a distant province’ he began to smuggle out tea from China to Darjeeling in India. He shipped out some 20,000 seedlings and in this way established the Indian tea industry, breaking China’s monopoly.
He was also responsible for bringing many plants to Britain, including camellia, jasmine and japonica.
Vicki Nelson (1962)
Vicki Nelson - Dunbar, tennis player, born in 1962. She took part in the longest women’s tennis match in history, which lasted six hours and 31 minutes, during the ‘Ginnys of Richmond’ tournament in Virginia in 1984. Her opponent was Jean Hepner, and although the match only went to two sets, the second set tie break, won 13-11 by Nelson-Dunbar, included a rally of 643 strokes lasting 29 minutes.
Sir Andrew Balfour (1630 - 94)
Sir Andrew Balfour, born in Fife, was the son of Sir Michael Balfour.
After studying medicine in St. Andrews and France he eventually settled in Edinburgh and was the first doctor in Scotland to practise dissection of the body.
He set up Scotland’s first publicly funded hospital in 1671, which later formed the basis of Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden.
Donald Cameron (1939)
Cameron developed the Bristol Belle, Europe’s first modern hot air balloon which made its debut flight in 1967.
He was the first man to cross the Sahara and the alps by hot air balloon, as well as the first to fly from Britain to Russia.
Robert Smith (1722 - 77)
Architect born in Dalkeith, Smith designed and built three of America’s most iconic buildings: Princeton University’s Nassau Hall, the largest stone building in American on its completion in 1756, Carpenter’s Hall, in Philadelphia, home of America’s oldest trade guild,. and site of the first Continental Congress of the United Colonies of North America, from 5 September to 26 October 1774, and Philadelphia’s eye-catching Christ Church steeple. He also built Benjamin Franklin’s house in Philadelphia.
Harold Ross (1892 - 1951)
Journalist and founder in 1925, of one of America’s most influential magazines, the New Yorker.
Ross was the son of Scots-Irish immigrant George Ross.
Sir Hugh Munro (1856 - 1919)
Sir Hugh Munro made a list of all the mountains in Scotland over the height of 3,000 ft (914m). Such mountains are now known as the Munros.
Andrew Greig Barr (1872 - 1903)
Andrew Greig Barr, inventor of Scotland’s other national drink, Irn bru was born in Falkirk.
Andrew’s father Robert was a cork cutte, supplying the town’s bottling trade, who moved into producing fizzy water and lemonade when the cork trade declined.
In 887 Robert’s eldest son, also Robert, set up a branch of the fizzy drinks business in Glasgow, and was such a success that Robert Jr persuaded his brother Andrew to leave his bank job and come and help him run the company.
In 1901 Andrew introduced his legendary Iron Brew, made from his own secret recipe, and A.G Barr and Co.ltd took off.
Andrew did not live to see his company grow into Britain’s biggest manufacturer of soft drinks. He died of pneumonia in 1903 aged just 31.