THE British Olympic curling team last night crowned a memorable year by picking up the Scotsman of the Year Award at a lavish ceremony attended by stars from the world of sport, the arts and business.
Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance won the Ambassador of the Year prize for his achievements over America’s golfers at the Belfry whilst best selling artist Jack Vettriano took top prize in the Arts category.
The St Andrew’s Day Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Awards, presented in association with The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday, were held at the Corn Exchange in Edinburgh to recognise the achievements of individuals who have inspired the nation through their contribution to cultural life.
Readers of the two papers were able to vote online for their choice of winner in each of the seven categories.
Gavin Hastings, one of the judges, said: "The Olympic curling team have been wonderful ambassadors for their country since the success which had the nation glued to their televisions right to the end, and I can think of no more worthy winners.
"Sam’s achievement was fantastic and I was there when he did it. Aside from overcoming the Americans he showed a great deal of compassion, humility and graciousness in victory and did not go over the top. He is a wonderful ambassador for this country and thoroughly deserves this award."
For Jack Vettriano, last night’s St Andrew’s Day Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Award for his contribution to the arts was particularly special.
His work has been widely ignored, and dismissed - despite the fact that Vettriano, a former miner from Leven, Fife, remains the best selling artist in Britain.
Vettriano last night beat off competition from Lynne Ramsey, whose acclaimed adaptation of Alan Warner’s novel Morvern Callar opened this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival, to take the Spirit of Scotland award.
Other winners included Shirley Spear, the chef and owner of the award-winning restaurant, The Three Chimneys, on the Isle of Skye, and the Olympic cyclist Chris Hoy.
Professor Malcolm Atkinson, Director of the National e-Science Centre, won the Innovator award for his work on the Grid - hailed as the 21st-century successor to the internet.
Susan Rice, chief executive Lloyds TSB Scotland and the first woman to head a UK clearing bank, won the Business award.
Colin MacIntyre, from The Mull Historical Society, won the award for Creative Talent after the Scottish band’s explosion onto the international pop scene.
The aim of the awards was to give readers the chance to vote for those Scots they feel have made their mark nationally or internationally over the past year. Elizabeth Lafferty, spokeswoman for Glenfiddich, said the awards proved the depth of Scottish talent across a variety of fields.
"Scotland has so much to be proud of and our congratulations go to the winners, who showcased the incredible wealth of talent that exists across Scotland today in so many fields. This year acts as a double celebration, marking our patron saint’s day in style."
The inaugural Scotsman of the Year Award went to Grand Prix hero Sir Jackie Stewart, who is currently recovering from an operation to remove a cancerous growth, and his wife Helen. Readers have also previously voted the Harry Potter author JK Rowling for the overall Top Scot award, which has since been replaced.
JACK VETTRIANO: The miner’s son from Leven in Fife remains the best selling artist in Britain, with more than 500,000 posters of his work sold, but has never won favour with the Scottish establishment. His painting, The Singing Butler is the best-selling fine-art print in the UK; the licensing agreement for this image alone is worth 250,000 a year. Fans of his film noir-inspired work include Jack Nicholson, Terence Conran, Robbie Coltrane and Gary Rhodes, but Vettriano has never found a place in any public institution outside of the Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery. Sandy Moffat, head of drawing and painting at Glasgow School of Art, once said of Vettriano : "He can’t paint, he just colours in."
Scotsman of the Year
BRITISH CURLING TEAM: Rhona Martin, Scotland’s most successful curling skip, became a household name along with her team Janice Rankin, Fiona MacDonald, Debbie Knox and reserve Maggie Morton when they won gold at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, in February.
SUSAN RICE: When appointed chief executive of Lloyds TSB Scotland in August 2000, the mother-of-three became the first female head of a UK clearing bank. She is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers and chairs the board of the Edinburgh International Book Festival. She is married to C Duncan Rice, the principal of Aberdeen University.
SHIRLEY SPEAR: The chef and owner of The Three Chimneys, in north-west Skye, which has scooped numerous awards in the catering industry, including the Macallan Taste of Scotland Excellence Award and the Scottish Thistle Award for Individual Excellence. It was named 28th best in a list of the world’s 50 top restaurants by the influential magazine Restaurant.
CHRIS HOY: The cyclist whose gold medals at last month’s World Track Cycling Championships in Copenhagen followed Olympic silver in Sydney in 2000. Since then, the 26-year-old former BMX racer from Edinburgh has developed and improved at becoming the best in his chosen sport, which demands explosive power, stamina and fearlessness.
COLIN MACINTYRE: The singer-songwriter in the acclaimed band The Mull Historical Society, which he formed together with his friend and bassist, Alan Malloy, in 2000. A six-album deal followed their debut single Barcode Bypass which was named debut single of the year by NME. They have toured the UK, Europe and the United States and have a second album due out early next year.
PROFESSOR MALCOLM ATKINSON: The director of the National e-Science Centre who has won plaudits for his work on the Grid which has been hailed as the 21st successor to the internet. Began working with computers back in 1966.
SAM TORRANCE: The former successful Ryder Cup team player who secured a European victory with a famous putt at The Belfry in 1985. He stepped up to captain the European side to victory over the US at the same venue this year. The 48-year-old, married to actress Suzanne Danielle, has played in the competition eight times.