THE nation’s Commonwealth Games heroes have dedicated their Spirit of Scotland award to the entire country, in recognition of the support that swept them to medal glory in Glasgow.
The Team Scotland athletes followed in the footsteps of Andy Murray, Sir Chris Hoy and Katherine Grainger when they were honoured at a gala ceremony in Edinburgh last night.
The judges of the annual Glenfiddich awards decided to give the sporting award to all of the athletes who contributed to Scotland’s Glasgow 2014 haul of 53 medals, including 13 golds.
But the sporting stars insisted the honour was a tribute to the whole country in the wake of their record-breaking tally.
They were honoured along with actor James McAvoy, singer-songwriter Paolo Nutini, artist and playwright John Byrne, broadcaster and writer Sally Magnusson, environmental education charity founder Jennie Martin, rising culinary star Jonathan MacDonald and mobile phone technology guru Gavin Dutch, who was presented with an award by The Scotsman editor Ian Stewart.
Judo star Euan Burton said it was “wonderful to even be mentioned in the same breath as some of the other nominees and winners.”
He added: “Although this was awarded to all the Team Scotland medallists, it is really for the whole team, as without everybody supporting each other, we wouldn’t have won half the medals that we did. To me and all the other athletes, Team Scotland was about more than just the athletes. It is really for the whole nation as I think everyone should be really proud of what we did in the summer. In a sport like mine, when you walk out for a fight, it feels good to know you have people behind you and have a whole nation’s worth of support. You genuinely felt you were doing something for the whole country.”
Boxer Josh Taylor added: “I just wish I could go and do it all again 100 times over, I’d never get bored. The atmosphere was just electrifying. Every time a Scottish fighter came out into the boxing ring it felt like the roof was going to lift off, it was unbelievable. You either froze in it or you excelled. I just loved every minuted of it.”
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Stewart Harris, chief executive of SportScotland, told the audience: “Scotland was given a great opportunity to host the Commonwealth Games, for the nation to show itself on the world stage. But it is was a group of athletes who really brought it to life and made it very special for all of us.”
McAvoy was honoured in the screen category days after being named Bafta Scotland’s best film actor for his lead role in Filth, while 2014 saw Nutini headline T in the Park and release his third album. Sally Magnusson, who was honoured for a moving memoir about her mother’s battle with dementia, said: “I am so touched to get this award, as this book has been incredibly special to me.
“It has also been about trying to give a voice to families like mine – thousands and thousands of them across the country, who are looking after people with dementia, but don’t have a voice. I’m really accepting this on behalf of all of them.”
Byrne was honoured after unveiling a landmark exhibition of his work in Edinburgh. The 74-year-old, who beat rising stars Rachel Maclean, Katie Paterson and Kate Gray to the art prize, said: “The award really has come as a great surprise to me. It’s a great honour, especially as there was so much tough
competition.” Alfredo Nutini accepted son Paolo’s award with his wife Linda, saying: “I’d like to thank Paolo for giving Linda and I so many great nights – I’m sure there’s many more to come.”
The awards, now in their 17th year, have been jointly organised by The Scotsman and the family-owned firm William Grant & Sons behind the Speyside whisky brand Glenfiddich since they were launched.
The nominees, chosen by a panel which included correspondents from The Scotsman, were put to a public poll over the last few weeks. However, there was an open vote for the prestigious title of Top Scot, which went to actor Matthew McVarish, who is currently walking 10,000 miles around Europe’s major cities to raise awareness about the sexual abuse of children as an ambassador for the international campaign Stop The Silence.
McVarish, from East Kilbride, who waived his right to anonymity last year to speak about his own experiences as a victim of child abuse, sent a video message from Portugal.
He said: “I’m so honoured and humbled by this whole thing. I’ve met so many passionate campaigners in so many countries where, rather than publicly acknowledge them, they would prefer if they just kept quiet or disappeared.
“The fact that the people of Scotland have voted to recognise anyone trying to raise awareness of child sexual abuse is testament to their character.”
Full list of Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland winners
Art – John Byrne
Food – Jonathan MacDonald (Ox and Finch)
Business – Gavin Dutch (Kotikan)
Environment Jennie Martin (Wild Things)
Screen – James McAvoy
Music – Paolo Nutini
Writing – Sally Magnusson
Sport - Scotland’s Commonwealth Games medallists
Top Scot – Matthew McVarish (Stop The Silence)
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