Winners display the Spirit of Scotland
HE MIGHT not yet be a household name, but cellist Peter Gregson, a pioneer in electronic contemporary music, set the tone for a night of surprise winners at the Spirit of Scotland Awards.
"I would like to speak to you about refunds," he told the audience, accepting the Glenfiddich-sponsored trophy for music, having seen off rising stars Glasvegas, and modern folk trio Lau. "I actually voted for KT Tunstall."
The "jamboy" Fraser Doherty, 19, whose products are flying off the shelf, had the same message. "Holy mackerel," he said, after winning the entrepreneur prize against titans of Scottish industry such as Bob Keiller, whose PSN company has created 2,500 jobs world wide.
Round-the-world cyclist Mark Beaumont was visibly stunned to have seen off competition from tennis star Andy Murray and Olympic hero Chris Hoy to win the sport award.
Hoy did not end up empty handed, winning the biggest trophy, the Top Scot award, at the Scotsman-sponsored event which was held at the Prestonfield House Hotel on Thursday night.
The winners in the eight categories were voted for by the public by phone and internet, from a list of nominees selected by a panel of experts.
Scotsman editor Mike Gilson said the awards reflected "gleaming nuggets of good news, the prime examples of excellence" when newspapers had to report on recession, terrorism, and the fear those events brought.
"I reckon most of the inspirational people we recognise here in the Spirit of Scotland awards have appeared in our columns over the last year or so, so I would like to add my own personal thanks to them on behalf of our readers for helping to lift the gloom."
Presenter Kirsty Wark also paid tribute to those "who surpassed themselves in their field."
The environment prize was picked up by energy campaigner Tanya Ewing, inventor of the Ewgeco, tracking the use of electricity, water and gas. The screen prize went to the Atonement star James McAvoy, squeezing out competition from Brian Cox and Tilda Swinton.
"I'm hugely honoured and really surprised to win this award against such excellent company," McAvoy said, as his sister Joy – also an actress, working on a gangster film in Glasgow – accepted the trophy on his behalf. "I'd like to say he's just the best person in the world," she said.
John Sinclair, of Craigie's Farm Deli and Cafe in South Queensferry, won the award for food. He spoke of his love affair with local produce and revelled in the chance "to tell you all about my favourite tipple, Glenfiddich".
There was laughter as graphic novelist Mark Millar, winner of the writing prize, whose comic book series Wanted became a Hollywood film, thanked stars Angelina Jolie and McAvoy for coming on board a "quality drama".
Asked how he came ahead of AL Kennedy and other writers, he said: "It is probably just a fashion." But he also said he had a big internet fan base, and a "gigantic family back in the west of Scotland".
Mr Gregson, who is based in London but is touring Scotland and the US next year, said he had e-mailed all his friends to rally support.
"In my line of work, winning something like this is a huge opportunity," he said. "Looking them up on YouTube, I'm the only one who hasn't had a couple of million hits on my video."
• The awards are broadcast on STV tomorrow, St Andrew's Day.
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