Girls make it loud at Forth

SCOTTISH chart legends Deacon Blue were given a standing ovation by a packed crowd as they rounded off a star-studded Radio Forth Awards at the Assembly Rooms.

The group joined Girls Aloud, singer Katie Melua, rugby legend Scott Hastings and Scots comedian Andy Gray at the event, the main aim of which is to honour the achievements of the "ordinary" people who have made an extraordinary difference to their communities.

And there was a huge cheer for Stephanie Wint as she won the Radio Forth Help A Child Appeal award for her fundraising work, which has contributed thousands of pounds towards helping children in the Lothians.

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Stephanie, 50, of Dumbiedykes, has been raising money for the appeal for the last three and half years.

"When I moved to Edinburgh I started listening to Radio Forth, and when I heard about the appeal I just wanted to help out," she said. "I like fundraising, and helping good causes, and so it just felt natural to get involved in this.

"I do lots of fundraisers, but it is the Christmas ones I am best known for, as I go round bingo halls dressed as Lady Santa."

Listeners to the station were able to vote for the Forth One Best Place to Work Award, in association with the Edinburgh Evening News, which was won by Leith-based website optimisation company, Bigmouthmedia.

Evening News Editor John McLellan presented the award to head of business development Simon Heyes and development manager Michelle Harvey.

"It is fantastic to win this award, and we are a bit gobsmacked to tell the truth," said Simon.

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"We do try and make the business a good place to work and we've organised a few parties for the staff. We had a big screen up in the office during the World Cup as well."

Now in their fourth year, the annual awards were hosted by Forth presenters Grant Stott and Arlene Stuart.

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Guests treated to a stunning performance by Katie Melua, who received the FORTH2 Best Performance Award and treated the crowd to an exclusive preview of her new single, Shy Boy. Girls Aloud also performed after listeners voted them Forth One Best Artist Award.

The group got off to a rocky start as they sang an apparently unrehearsed version of the classic Jump, with a few of the Girls struggling to find the right key. But after apologising to the crowd - "we don't normally play that song for people sitting down at tables" - they got the crowd on their feet as they gyrated around to their new single, Something Kinda Ooooh.

Other community heroes who received awards included Best Teacher winner, Karen Watson, of Preston Lodge High in Tranent, who admitted to being a bit surprised to win as she has been on maternity leave for nine months.

"I am really thrilled, and I suppose it shows I have built up a good relationship with the pupils at the school," said the 29-year-old. "They are really good kids and I'm so pleased they voted for me."

The crowd were also treated to a stirring performance by Surrey singer/songwriter Lucie Silvas, who is best known for her hit Breathe In. She was given a great reception as she performed tracks from her forthcoming album The Same Side.

After a performance by former X-Factor winners G4, the Radio Forth Contribution to Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife Award was won by the Tranent Belters.

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The fundraising group has over the last 40 years raised more than 100,000 to help various good causes in the Lothians, and vice-chairman Dougie Robertson and member David Whitson were delighted to receive the award.

"This is immense, just fantastic," said Dougie. "We have 25 members and they all work towards helping as many people as possible. We have done sponsored marathons, abseiling, discos, swims, everything and anything, and it is a really good feeling to get this recognition."

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Hearts captain Steven Pressley stepped up on stage to thunderous applause to collect the Forth2 Contribution to Sport Award, in a year which has seen him take a leading role as captain of Hearts and the club's most capped Scotland player.

And after beating team-mate Craig Gordon, he was gracious as always in his acceptance.

"Obviously, I'm delighted to pick up this award, and it is a great honour, but football is very much a team sport and when individuals are recognised it is because the team is doing well," he said.

Pressley was also applauded for his leadership at Hearts through the recent troubles at Tynecastle, and his short press statement.

"It certainly didn't seem short at the time," he said. "It was a statement which as players we felt we had to make, and now we hope that over the next few weeks things can be resolved." Other awards included the Best Local Pub Award, presented to the Prestoungrange Gothenburg in Prestonpans, and the award for listeners' favourite visitor attraction, won by Callendar House in Falkirk.

But the biggest reception of the evening came at the end for Deacon Blue, who received the FORTH2 Music Recognition Award, in honour of their contribution to the music industry over a career spanning 21 years.

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Lead singer Ricky Ross said the group, who start a new UK tour on Friday, were all delighted.

"It is great and we are very honoured that people are still listening to us," he said.

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They then had the audience clapping, cheering and singing along to hits such as Wages Day and Dignity, before departing to a standing ovation. Radio Forth managing director Adam Findlay paid tribute to all the winners.

He said: "It's a privilege to be able to honour the likes of Deacon Blue, Katie Melua and Girls Aloud, but closer to home it is as much of an honour to acknowledge the contributions of local people."

Roll of honour

The full list of winners at last night's awards ceremony:

• Radio Forth Best Artist Award with Belhaven Best: Girls Aloud

• Forth One Best Place to Work Award with the Edinburgh Evening News: Bigmouthmedia, Leith.

• Forth One Fringe Award with Charlie Miller Hairdressing: Lucy Porter

• Forth One Best Teacher Award with Smarter Scotland: Karen Watson

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• Forth One to Watch Award with McGrigors Solicitors: Undercurrent

• Radio Forth Help A Child Appeal Award with St James Shopping: Stephanie Wint

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• FORTH2 Music Recognition Award with the Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa Edinburgh: Deacon Blue

• FORTH2 Best Performance Award with Heritage Portfolio: Katie Melua

• FORTH2 Contribution to Sports Award with Westwoods Health Club at Fettes: Steven Pressley

• FORTH2 Best Local Pub or Club Award with The Branding Company: Prestoungrange Gothenburg, Prestonpans

• FORTH2 Favourite Visitor Attraction Award with Continental Airlines: Callendar House

• Radio Forth Contribution to Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife Award with Signatures 4 U: Tranent Belters

• The Tom Wilson Music Award: Barrie Wilkins