FUNDRAISING heroes Lynne McNicoll and Jak Trueman were among those honoured at the annual Radio Forth Awards – where Scottish chart-toppers Travis, American pop sensation Charlie Puth and The Voice winner Steve McCrorie all made surprise appearances.
On an emotional afternoon at the Usher Hall, the audience rose to their feet in recognition of the campaigns they inspired and the hundreds of thousands of pounds their efforts had generated.
Ms McNicoll, founder of children’s cancer charity It’s Good to Give, was surprised with the Cash for Kids Award just weeks before she is due to collect an OBE from Buckingham Palace from the Queen.
She raised more than £650,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust in the space of four years, before setting up her own charity. The 58-year-old, from Craiglockhart, has continued her fundraising efforts with the charity despite herself being diagnosed with the disease earlier this year.
Ms McNicoll hopes work will begin next year on a respite centre the charity, which has raised £1.3 million to date, is planning for the banks of Loch Lomond.
A hush fell over the audience as a video tribute was aired in honour of 15-year-old Jak, from West Calder, who raised £40,000 in the final week of his life before dying of a rare form of blood cancer earlier this year.
He had been documenting his life and treatment on social media for the previous six months.
A charity set up in his name by Jak’s family to help create retreats for children affected by cancer has raised nearly £130,000.
An emotional Ms McNicoll, who set up a charitable trust after her stepson Andrew was killed in a cycling accident, told the audience: “This journey started ten years ago this month.
“It has been the most amazing journey of my life. Volunteering is fantastic, do it if you can, do it for any charity.”
She later told the Evening News: “I began fundraising when I was coming up to my 49th birthday and I just wanted to do something a bit different. I’d only done a sponsored walk around Inverleith Park before. I chose the Teenage Cancer Trust because they weren’t well known. All the other charities seemed to be well known. They were kind of the underdog.”
Ms McNicoll discovered a lump on her breast on Hogmanay and was diagnosed in mid-January. However, after six months of chemotherapy she has been told no further treatment is needed for now.
She added: “I couldn’t go out to celebrate when I heard I had been awarded the OBE in June, as it was only two days after my chemo. I had to celebrate with scrambled egg on toast. But it’ll pretty special when I got to get it in London next month.”
Jak’s mum, Allison Barr, who accepted the Local Hero Award on her son’s behalf with his sister, Aimie, said: “I would never wish this upon anybody, it has just been horrific. But he has inspired so many people and has left us an amazing legacy.”
Speaking backstage, she said: “I was in total shock when I realised Jak had won the award. I was almost lost for words. It was very poignant.
“We’re about to open the first Jak’s Den in Livingston on December 11, but we are actually hoping to raise £3.3m for a really big one.”
Around 2000 music fans and invited guests packed into the Usher Hall, for the 12th annual ceremony, presented by Grant Stott and Arlene Stuart. The appearance by Travis, who won a Forth Icon Award, sparked an all-female stage invasion when they played their hit Why Does It Always Rain On Me?
Other guest appearances included comedy favourites Craig Hill and Stephen K Amos, the latter of whom won the Forth Fringe Award.
The show was rounded off in style by the winner of the Contribution to Music Award, claimed by Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, who had the crowd on their feet with classic Beautiful South and Housemartins hits like Caravan of Love and Perfect 10.
Travis frontman Fran Healy had earlier cut an emotional figure backstage as he paid tribute to Nick Alexander, the merchandise seller gunned down in the Paris terror attack at the Le Bataclan music venue last Friday during an Eagles of Death Metal gig.
Healy said he had been stunned to hear about the death of Alexander, who he revealed had been on several tours with the Glasgow band.
He said: “He was a really beautiful, cool guy. I couldn’t believe it when I heard what had happened. I didn’t believe for a second we would know anyone involved in what happened in Paris, but our guitar tech called me the next day to tell me Nick had got hit.
“We’ve played in that venue. It’s a great gig, one of the best places we’ve played in Paris. It’s a bit like the Barrowlands in Glasgow, where everyone has a great time. It’s just horrific.
“Being in our business, you just think sooner or later these mentals are going to hit a gig . . . in places where people go to gather, to let go, to have fun, enjoy music and smile. It was only a matter of time. It is really, really terrible.”
Healy dismissed suggestions that security should be stepped up at live music venues around the world in a bid to thwart further terror attacks.
He added: “If there are three guys with an automatic weapon, they are going to get in anywhere. I would say no, what’s the point. There are so many venues now. Are you going to do it everywhere?
“There are not that many of them. There is an avalanche of media so you get the impression that it is a bigger problem than it actually is. We’ll still play gigs and hopefully people will go to see them.”
Forth Best Performance Award: Stevie McCrorie
Forth Community Venture Award: Party Animals
Forth Best Bar: The Boozy Cow, Edinburgh
Forth Best Restaurant Award: Rollo, Edinburgh
Forth Best Teacher Award: Paul Fleming, Kinneil Primary, Falkirk
Forth Cash for Kids Award: Lynne McNicoll
Forth Fringe Award: Stephen K Amos
Forth Contribution to Sport Award: Spartans FC
Forth Local Hero Award: Jak Trueman
Forth Icon Award: Travis
Forth Contribution to Music Award: Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott
Forth Best Artist Award: Charlie Puth