Eligibles 2014: Top 25 women

Katherine Grainger, Olympic rower. Picture: Greg Macvean
Katherine Grainger, Olympic rower. Picture: Greg Macvean
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With the romance of Valentine’s Day in the air, it’s time to take your pick of Scotland’s suavest, fittest men and our most enterprising, alluring women – all of whom can surely want for nothing, except a significant other, writes Ruth Walker

View the top 25 men here>>>

1 Katherine Grainger, 38

Olympic rower

A London 2012 Olympic gold medal-winning rower, Grainger, right, was shortlisted for last year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year, but the 6ft tall blonde Aberdonian is far more than that. As well as being the UK’s most successful woman rower of all time, the 38-year-old managed to combine being an elite athlete who won three Olympic silver medals and six world championships with a career as an academic. Dr Grainger, as the former Bearsden Academy pupil became when she was recently awarded a PhD in the sentencing of homicide at King’s College, University of London, graduated in law from Edinburgh University then achieved an MPhil in medical law and medical ethics from Glasgow University. She is now a popular after-dinner and motivational speaker. She’s also famous for saying: “David Beckham? Well, you would, wouldn’t you?”

2 Pollyanna McIntosh, 34


A statuesque former Pirelli model and now hardworking actress, McIntosh has been seen in productions as varied as big-screen, big-budget movies Filth and Burke & Hare, children’s TV series MI High and political satire Bob Servant Independent. A sultry beauty, she is unafraid of poking fun at herself and was most recently seen wrapped in Sellotape on the cover of the Women In Horror 2014 calendar. Born in the Highlands and raised in Colombia, Portugal and Scotland, she now lives between Los Angeles and London, but you can see her in two Scottish films coming out this year: White Settlers and Let Us Prey. Our girl is also passionate about working with disadvantaged and incarcerated youth, she can turn her hand to jewellery design and is currently writing a screenplay and TV comedy. And learning to play the ukelele.

3 Amy Irving, 29

Make-up artist

A trained lawyer, Irving now works in world development with Scottish-based medical charities, setting up maternal health clinics and providing medical treatment across east Africa. She isn’t just making the world a better place; she’s also working her magic on the people filling it. As brand manager for Japonesque make-up tools, she does the make-up on Modern Family, Glee, True Blood and for ITV in Los Angeles with the likes of Ross King. When she’s not Stateside on set, she’s at home in London, but you’d better be quick as she’s off to Australia and the Middle East to introduce the brand there.

4 Hayley Scanlan, 29

Fashion designer

The Dundonian learned the craft of dressmaking at the feet of her beloved grandmother, and has grown up to become one of Scotland’s most talented, hardworking designers. Her pieces are coveted by the likes of Erin O’Connor, Jessie J and Marina Diamandis, and she was named Young Designer of the Year at the 2012 Scottish Fashion Awards. Incredibly, she manages to combine a successful growing business – she was hand-picked to be stocked in Topshop and Debenhams last year – with raising her twin boys.

5 Fiona Richmond, 42

2014 project manager, Scotland Food & Drink

Bubbly, energetic, vivacious, Richmond is passionate and dedicated in everything she does. A power player in the food industry, she works globally promoting all that is delicious about Scottish produce. This year, her job will involve her delivering quality food and drink at the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup.

6 Eve Muirhead, 23

Olympic curler

Currently world champion, Muirhead is a remarkable young athlete who skipped the GB curling team at the Vancouver Olympics at the tender age of 19. She represents and excels in all things Scottish; she is a world-class curler, champion piper and a scratch golfer. Her work ethic, talent and passion to succeed set her apart from even her sporting peers. She was invited by the International Olympic Committee to be an Athlete Role Model at the first Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012, while March 2013 saw Team Muirhead win the World Championships – ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, where she is favourite to take gold.

7 Sheridan ‘Betty’ Scott, 27

Blogger and events maven

Breaker of hearts and Gina heels, girl-about-town Scott is an eye-catching chick, with her trademark orange tresses and cat-eye glasses. A champion of fresh young fashion talent within Scotland, her wardrobe is a thing of beauty but she has a down-to-earth attitude and a fiery drive. One to be reckoned with.

8 Eunice Olumide, 26


A woman who loves life and lives it to the max, Olumide, right, was the first black girl to be nominated Model of the Year at the Scottish Fashion Awards. She was spotted at the age of 15 while shopping in Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street, and her glittering career has since seen her work with Gok Wan, Myleene Klass, Christopher Kane and Henry Holland. Now developing into acting and presenting work, she is also designing a collection of clothing inspired by her Afro-Scottish roots. Last year she became an ambassador for the Breakthrough Breast Cancer charity.

9 Keara Murphy, 46


A regular on the stand-up circuit throughout the UK, Glasgow-born Murphy is now a familiar comedic voice on BBC radio with a number of shows in development. She also promotes events in Edinburgh and is planning her debut at Los Angeles’s Comedy Store in 2014. A funny woman with serious intent, she’s also a fan of football. Well, nobody’s perfect.

10 Eilidh Marks, 27

Fundraising officer, Mary’s Meals

Friends describe her as a thoughtful young woman with a passion for art, music and everything else that makes the world a more beautiful place. Her work with the global charity means she helps feed more than 842,000 hungry children every school day, and she uses her people skills and creative talents to maximise support for education as a way out of poverty in the developing world. In her spare time, she runs, plays guitar and bakes. And she can always be persuaded to re-watch something by Quentin Tarantino.

11 Morna Young, 30

Actress, playwright, writer, musician

Born in Burghead in the north-east of Scotland, this passionate redhead now lives in Glasgow. Her work includes recording the Speyside Sessions album with Kevin McKidd and being one of the lead vocalists on The Fishwives Choir charity single, while her heartbreaking new play Lost At Sea will be on stages later this year.

12 Tara Nowy, 23


With a modelling career that has taken her all over Scotland as well as Dubai, Nowy is a born traveller. Having been brought up on the road (she is the daughter of Marillion’s Fish), it is perhaps unsurprising that she is also a passionate music lover, and there isn’t a minute in the day when she doesn’t have something blasting through speakers. She also tries to catch as many live gigs as she can, but she is more drawn to the management side of the industry, saying a singing voice wasn’t handed down in the genes. Cooking was, however, and she’s a self-confessed feeder, “inviting lots of people over and feeding them until they fall into a food coma, then topping that off with some ridiculous cake”. But she is already looking beyond modelling, and would love to make a career in writing.

13 Emily Gilmour, 28


Born and brought up in Edinburgh, for the past couple of years Gilmour has lived in London, working as a governmental lawyer. Sporty (she has completed Tough Mudder and the Men’s Health Rat Race), sociable and bright, she’s as at home rock climbing or visiting art galleries. She’s also a talented baker and always makes her friends’ birthday cakes, each one decorated individually. How about an Eligibles cake, Emily?

14 Lindsay Brown, 37

Marketing manager, VisitScotland

Not just a pretty face, Brown is known as ‘Can You Keep Up’ Barbie, a woman who speaks Italian and French fluently and has taught herself a little Spanish. Just for fun. She’s been scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef, climbed the Inca Trail in Machu Picchu and cycled the Death Road in Bolivia, loves Scottish dancing and also manages to find time to be a great auntie to her nieces and nephews.

15 SaraJane Lynch, 27

Founder, Tru Beauty

Making serious waves in the beauty world with her range of products made for high-maintenance skin, Lynch has launched into Fenwick department stores to great acclaim. Having studied at Mary Reid and Napier’s, this home-grown beauty guru is a lover of fashion, hair and beauty trends, and any suitor would do well knowing the difference between Tom Ford and a Ford Focus. Her job takes her up and down the M6 weekly for meetings with glossy magazines and to train her skincare advisors on the latest developments, but she loves nothing more than heading back to Edinburgh to spend an evening with her six-year-old daughter Lily-Mae.

16 Clare Robertson, 30

Designer, Strathberry

A skilled designer, Stewart had always been struck by how many modern brands buy their tweed from overseas when the very best is made right here in Scotland. So last year she launched Strathberry, which teams beautiful Scottish tweed with English bridle leather in luxury handbags, golf bags and other accessories. Still less than a year old, they have already been seen on the arms of the likes of Andy Garcia and Ashley Jensen, and the brand won the Most Stylish Retailer gong at the Scottish Style Awards.

17 Joy Dunlop, 29

Singer, dancer

Making a name for herself on the international folk scene, Dunlop has performed at major festivals such as Celtic Connections and Celtic Colours, as well as touring in her own right throughout the UK, Europe, Canada and New Zealand. Her debut album won the Scots New Music Awards Roots Recording of the Year and she was nominated Gaelic Singer of the Year in 2010 and 2011. A fluent Gaelic speaker, she presents shows on BBC Alba and, if we’re being shallow (which we’re not, obvs), she’s a size eight and stands 6ft 1in tall.

18 Keira Lucchesi, 24


What started at the age of five, as a way to help her let off steam, has become a career for Lucchesi, who got the call from River City when she was just 19 to play its resident drug addict Stella Walker (she has since also explored the joys of infertility and adultery in the never-dull drama). A devotee of all things Shakespearean, she takes an annual trip to Stratford Upon Avon and has a tattooed quote from A Midsummer Night’s Dream (“We are such stuff that dreams are made of”) on her thigh. She teaches drama to school children during the summer holidays.

19 Claire Valentine, 42

Business development manager, Galliford Try construction

Claire has a penchant for the good things in life, and has already been invited for tea and scones with the Queen (she informs us HM is rather short). Intelligent, determined and ambitious, she has an uncanny ability to easily build relationships – which is no bad thing considering she works in an industry awash with testosterone.

20 Tammy Koslowski, 25

Owner, DIY Nails

Nail queen, lover of dogs, drag queens and gingerbread, Koslowski makes products that are stocked in Urban Outfitters, and her star continues to rise. Her sweet nature and even sweeter pooch, Betty, mean she’s unlikely to be single for much longer.

21 Nalini Chetty, 31


Edinburgh-born Chetty is best known for playing Zinnie Hassoun in the BBC Scotland drama River City, but she has considerable theatre accolades to her name and, most recently, she wrote the play Finding Noor, which debuted at Glasgow’s Citizen’s Theatre in 2012. The tale was inspired by the life of Indian princess Noor Inayat Khan, a Sufi who wrote Buddhist fables for children, and who also spied for the British Empire and was the first female operator in Nazi-occupied France.

22 Gail Ritchie, 28

Entrepreneur, Ardmay House International Summer School

An award-winning travel entrepreneur, Ritchie has seen her business grow by 150 per cent since its launch in 2011, and it has been chosen as one of the top ten summer camps in the UK – the only one in Scotland. She spends much of the year travelling around the world, promoting Scotland as a travel destination. Also a talented singer, she has performed at the Wickerman festival, the Mobo awards, the Monaco Grand Prix, the Cannes Film Festival and at the birthday party of Prince Albert of Monaco.

23 Antonia Lee-Bapty, 35

Marketing manager, EuansGuide.com

A balanced mix of super-geeky, sporty and social butterfly, Lee-Bapty is the doyenne of random adventures, whether flying to Orkney for lunch or having a go at bobsleighing. After founding and running her own business for more than five years, she’s now helping to establish EuansGuide.com, a website that features disabled access reviews by disabled people, and which has been endorsed by Stephen Hawking.

24 Karen Kelly, 41

Television director

Widely recognised as one of Scotland’s strongest creative talents, Kelly is an award-winning documentary filmmaker – in December her latest series Teen Canteen went out on BBC2 to widespread critical acclaim. She has directed episodes of River City and EastEnders and is currently developing her first feature, a tragic tale of forbidden love set in the north-east of Scotland.

25 Jayne Thomson, 26

Event designer, Murrayfield Stadium

The life of the party, Thomson is always up for a dance, an adventure, and will always stand with her friends in the rain and cold to watch the rugby. But she’s no stranger to the high life, and one of her most recent jaunts started with afternoon tea, moved on to evening cocktails and ended with a night of bowling, complete with prosecco. But her true focus is working like crazy to ensure events at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium go without a hitch. n