Aberdeen Lord Provist, George Adam welcomed the Saltire Socety to Aberdeen Town House for a special reception for two Fletcher of Saltoun Award Winners on 7th December. Dame Evelyn Glennie and John Angus MacKay were presented with their awards, by Saltire Convenier Prof. Alan Riach.
Dame Evelyn Glennie
Dame Evelyn Glennie is a virtuoso percussionist. From Aberdeenshire, her first musical interests were sparked by her father who played accordion in a country dance band. Her first instruments were mouth organ and clarinet, a dialectic of popular and classical which marks her musical career. A pupil at Ellon Academy, she was a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland before studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Profoundly deaf since the age of 12, she has performed worldwide with classical orchestras and has also collaborated on musical projects with popular musicians like Bjork and Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett. She also performed live at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics. She has lobbied successfully over the years for more funding for music education for young people and has been awarded many prizes for her work, including Scot of the Year 1982, Scotswoman of the Decade 1990 and Musical America Instrumentalist of the Year 2003. Awarded honorary degrees by more than a dozen British universities, Glennie has been appointed Ambassador of the Royal National Children’s Foundation, supporting vulnerable, disadvantaged young people at state and independent boarding schools throughout Britain.
John Angus Mackay
Through the actions of a small group of individuals, acting in concert, new means have been created to rebuild the Scottish Gaelic language and culture which the powers-that-be had sought so long and so hard to destroy. By the first decade of the twenty-first century, Gaelic was turning the corner. The number of young Gaelic speakers is now on the increase and there is a new vibrancy in the Gaelic music and cultural scene. One man stands out, without whose heroic efforts, a whole range of key Gaelic development initiatives could never have achieved the success they have. The most audacious of these, and against huge odds, was the successful campaign for a Gaelic television service. The man in question has an unlikely pedigree. He comes from a humble rural Hebridean background, from childhood seriously sight-impaired, deaf and often lacking in self-confidence, yet his intelligence, humanity, political nouce, people skills and steely resolve were such that what lesser beings regarded as impossible, he made possible. That man is John Angus Mackay. He retired at the end of March this year (2015) for the post of CEO of Bord na Gaidhlig, an organisation which he transformed from a somewhat precarious existence into a model development agency with a growing track record of achievement and ambitious, but realistic goals for Gaelic regeneration.