The last year has given us much to be proud of in Edinburgh. Our city boasts some of the most brilliant minds, universities, colleges and businesses in the world, incredibly talented people and big-hearted citizens who go out of their way to help others. And it has been my privilege to celebrate some shining examples over the last 12 months.
People who have made huge achievements in their careers and volunteers who make a big (but often unsung) difference to their own communities.
As Lord Provost, I’m determined to recognise the achievements of our own and this year the search will soon be on for a nominee for the Edinburgh Award 2019. Please don’t miss this opportunity to see someone you admire receive the city’s pride.
It was certainly with a proud heart that I presented the 2018 accolade to former rugby international Doddie Weir in November. On and off the rugby pitch, Doddie has been an inspiration to many people in the city and he has raised much-needed awareness for MND research. Recognising all that he achieved on behalf of the city was certainly a highlight of my year.
Another was presenting the highest honour the city can bestow, the Freedom of the City, to Airforce Squadron 603 in July and it astonishes me that it has taken so long for us to recognise their bravery. In a year marking the centenary of the First World War Armistice, in my role of Veterans Champion I invited the Squadron to receive the award at the City Chambers before they marched down the Royal Mile to be received by the Queen.
It came just weeks after thousands marched through the city’s streets in commemoration of another important centenary – women’s right to vote.
Then, just last month, I opened a major conference for Edinburgh, Eurocities, which saw mayors from all over the continent, and our twin city Dunedin, meet at the EICC to discuss how all our cities can collaborate and share knowledge in the face of Brexit and beyond. It was humbling that despite the uncertainty 2019 brings, thanks to our incredible people and our position as a capital city, these European mayors believe that Edinburgh is a key player in the Eurocities network and the wider world.
For 25 years now we have hosted one of the world’s best New Year’s Eve celebrations and last night’s events were no exception. I think the festivities, featuring musicians, street performers and partygoers from all corners of Europe and the world, set just the right tone for how we’ll enter 2019.
Our Capital is international and outward looking and we’re proud of our citizens and welcome our visitors. We celebrate our reputation as the Festival Capital of the world – we will always be a beacon of culture.
Happy New Year.
Frank Ross is the Lord Provost of Edinburgh