IT was an afternoon of high spirits and high emotion as the Usher Hall hosted the annual Radio Forth Awards ceremony.
Charity fundraisers took to the stage with community heroes and stars of the sporting and entertainment worlds today as the glittering event was staged for the 14th time.
Hue and Cry, Britain’s Got Talent star Calum Scott and the cast of Edinburgh’s Christmas cabaret show La Clique were among the surprise performers who thrilled the 1800-strong crowd.
Among the highlights was the Cash for Kids Award, which went to three-year-old Daniel Cornett, who was born with End Stage Kidney Renal Failure, and his family for their efforts to raise £136,0000 for Kidney Research UK.
The hushed audience heard how Daniel, from Cairneyhill, has been on dialysis since he was just 10 months old and is due to get a transplant in December.
Daniel’s mum, Louise, said: “Most of us here would never experience what Daniel goes through every day throughout the whole of our lives. We are very, very proud of him.”
Fiona Mitchell, who has looked after dementia and Alzheimer’s sufferers at the Harlawhill Daycare Centre in East Lothian for the past 25 years, was named Local Hero of the Year.
Ms Mitchell said: “We have this motto: ‘Never see the illness, see the person.’ Age is just a number. You can still be in your 90s and having fun. That’s what Harlawhill is all about.”
Claire Watson, from Fife, was named Charity Volunteer of the Year for her efforts on behalf of sufferers of endometriosis, a condition affecting one in 10 women in the UK. Karen Hinton, from Loanhead Primary in Midlothian, was named Best Teacher.
The Cottage Family Centre in Kirkcaldy, which helps families and individuals dealing with situations like poverty, unemployment and housing, claimed the Forth Community Venture Award.
Scottish rugby legend Doddie Weir was given a special “services to sport” honour in his home city, just months after revealing he is battling motor neurone disease.
Fellow internationalist Scott Hastings made the presentation to the 47-year-old, who has set up his own charitable trust to help with research into MND and support others with the disease.
Weir, who earned 61 caps and was part of the Five Nations-winning squad in 1999, announced his diagnosis in June to help raise awareness of the degenerative condition.
He is the latest sporting star to be struck down by MND, which leads to paralysis and difficulties with speech, swallowing and breathing. Other sufferers include former Rangers footballer Fernando Ricksen. Former Labour adviser Gordon Aikman, who launched the Gordon’s Fightback campaign when he was diagnosed, died in February, aged 31.
MND is a rapidly progressing terminal illness, which stops signals from the brain reaching the muscles. There is currently no cure or effective treatment for MND and the average life expectancy from diagnosis is just 14 months.
There are more than 450 people in Scotland living with MND and on average more than 160 new cases of MND are diagnosed each year.
Born in Edinburgh in 1970, Weir started playing rugby for Stewart’s Melville before joining Melrose, in the Borders, where he still lives. He first noticed symptoms of MND after he gradually lost power in his left hand after trapping it in a door.
Weir, who thought he was attending the awards ceremony as a guest, was given a standing ovation from the audience at the ceremony.
He said: “It was a total surprise, but it was lovely. It really just adds to all the support that I’ve received since telling everyone what condition I’ve got. It’s been unbelievable and inspiring. It’s just been one emotional event after the other at the moment.
“I’m just a normal Borders rugby boy, but this has reached a lot of people. It’s been quite overwhelming. A lot of it has been difficult to take on, but it’s what has to be done.
“Life’s not that bad at the moment. I’ve been given this card, but I’m still able to do things. I’ve got a bit of time, but I don’t know how much time as I’ve not had a timetable given to me. I’m able to do a lot of things with family and friends at the moment, as well as spread the word about MND.”
Other winners included The Kelpies, Andy Scott’s horse head sculptures, in Falkirk, which were named best visitor attraction. The Mercat Bar in the Haymarket area picked up the Best Bar award.
Among the other performers at the event was one of Scotland’s newest singing stars, Edinburgh-born Callum Beattie, who collected the Rising Star Award, and comic Lucy Porter, the Fringe Award Winner.
Cathy Kirk, commercial director of Bauer Media, owners and operators of Radio Forth, said: “The Forth Awards get better every single year – our 14th annual show had an incredibly varied mix of legends and newcomers and that showed in the incredible atmosphere in the Usher Hall today.
“As a station, Radio Forth positions itself at the core of the community, so it’s with real pride that today we can reward people who give so much of themselves to their inspirational causes.
“Our local heroes are the real stars of the Forth Awards.”