On Wednesday night of this week I was one of around 100+ invited guests at the annual John Byrne awards to witness Cat Macdonald and Leanne Bell from Gillespie's being declared the winners for 2012. I felt so proud!
The John Byrne award offers S6 students a stimulus, and then challenges them
to communicate the values it inspires in them through a painting, a
poem, a play - or any other creative medium of their choosing. This
year’s stimulus was The Proclaimers’ song, ‘Letter from America’. In the
year of the US election, this stimulus was intended to encourage the
students to reflect on the relationship between Scotland and America,
encompassing historical themes of displacement and present challenges to
This is the third year of this competition and Gillespies have enjoyed success each year having been
commended for their entries in both 2011 and 2010, so it was fantasic to
go one better this year. Their winning entry was comprised of a painting by Leanne which depicted a range of characters from various sectors of our diverse Scottish society. Cat complemented this by writing a futuristic political play which, skilfully and insighfully for one so young, weaved these characters together in a way that brought out some of the social injustices and inequalities that occur in Scotland.
Of the winning prize of £7000, £5000 will be used for a community based project (to be decided by Cat and Leanne) and the remaining £2000 will be used by both girls to further their own education.
An added bonus on the night for me was seeing Liberton High School (my previous school) doing so well. Liberton, represented by by Catriona Carter, Kellie Hunter and Laura Fox, was the only school with two entries in the final 8 teams.