The Saltire Society Honour Scotland’s Greatest Contributors at Prestigious Fletcher of Saltoun Awards


On Saturday 21 September 2019, Saltire Society members invited the public to celebrate the contributions of four of Scotland’s most influential citizens, working for the benefit of Scotland at large.

The Awards were this year hosted in Aberdeen’s historic Maritime Museum and were awarded to Aileen Christianson, writer and academic, Di Gilpin, knitwear designer and innovator, Jan Clarkson, Dental healthcare researcher, and Steve Parkes, Director of Dundee University’s Space Technology Centre.



 Di Gilpin, Steve Parkes and Jan Clarkson 


Sarah Mason, Programme Director of the Saltire Society, said:

We are delighted to have this opportunity to celebrate the innovators and entrepreneurs       of Scotland and recognise the impact they have. Since 1936 the Society has tirelessly to ensure Scottish culture is recognised, lived and fought for.  The 30 years the Fletcher Awards have been running has seen over 50 people recognised and we are pleased to see Aileen Christianson, Di Gilpin, Jan Clarkson and Steve Parkes recognised in 2019.

The Fletcher of Saltoun Awards, established in 1988, honour the innovative and culture-shaping work in the fields of Science, Arts and Humanities and Public Life. The Fletcher of Saltoun Awards take nominations from the Saltire Society membership so as to welcome nominations from all over the country for those whose work may go largely unrecognised.

The recipients are:

Aileen Christianson has been a valued member of the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures at the University of Edinburgh for many years as well as an indispensable part of the editorial team of the Carlyle Letters project which is now nearing publication of volume 46. Aileen has for years been responsible for teaching and propagating knowledge of Scottish writers, particularly women writers, and her work on Willa Muir was the product of years of research and has been very positively received. Her teaching has been inspirational for generations of those meeting writers for the first time who might otherwise have passed unnoticed.


Di Gilpin is an outstanding designer-maker in the fields of Scottish wool production, fashion design and hand knitted garment construction.  Her reputation for excellence means she is sought after by designers world-wide. Her fine wool, stocked in the UK, Netherlands, Austria, California, Virginia and Maryland USA, carries these words on each label, ‘Proudly made in Scotland.’ Di Gilpin’s innovative designs and top quality production have earned her commissions from couture houses all over the world.  Her garments are presented on the catwalk by top UK, European and Canadian designers, including at London Fashion Week.Di Gilpin has made, and continues to make an outstanding contribution to Scotland’s reputation throughout the world for innovation, hard work, intelligence and superb craftsmanship.


'I wish to express my gratitude to the Saltire Society for  the Fletcher of Saltoun Award in the field of Arts and Humanities for 2019. It was a huge surprise to learn that I had received the award and an extraordinary and overwhelming  honour to find myself in such exalted company.Special thanks to my friends and family for their patience, endurance and support and above all to thank Shiela Greenwell without whom little of this would have been achieved.’ Di Gilpin



Jan Clarkson is a Fellow in Dental Surgery of the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh, a Fellow in Dental Surgery Paediatric Dentistry and Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh, and a Fellow of the Dental Faculty of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow. Much of Professor Clarkson’s research is embedded in service and education delivery. The outcome has informed changes to Scotland’s dental remuneration policy, contributed to NICE and SIGN guideline development, provided evidence of the effect of change to national postgraduate education policy and informed methodological debates in Randomised Controlled Trial design. She was Principal Investigator of the only implementation trial of dental remuneration and education, the first cluster versus patient randomised trial, a UK evaluation of the impact of changes in the dental service contract and the first US-funded Cochrane Systematic Reviews.

'I am very excited about sharing with others the work done by the Saltire Society and its aims and visions. I am delighted that dentistry has been honoured in this way.' Jan Clarkson


Steve Parkes is the technical leader of ESA's SpaceWire working group and is the author of the ECSS E50-12A SpaceWire standard. Dr Parkes is also the director of the NERC Satellite Receiving Station and the Managing Director of STAR-Dundee, a University of Dundee spin-out company which provides services and equipment to support organisations using SpaceWire for space applications. Dr Parkes was Principal Engineer - Matra Marconi Space / BAe Space Systems from 1988 to 1995 where he was the technical authority on digital signal and image processing for spacecraft instruments. He was also from 1982 to 1988 the Research and Development Manager for Geodata Systems Ltd where he was responsible for the development of a range of competitive underwater acoustic navigation and telemetry systems.

'The Saltire Society does an incredible job of promoting Scottish culture and achievements. I work with other engineers and scientists across the world. The results of our work go out into space, monitoring and protecting the Earth, providing communications, exploring other planets in the solar system and reaching out in support of scientific curiosity across the Universe. It is an honour for my work on spacecraft technology to be recognise by the Society.' Steve Parkes


All photographs by Graham Clark