Prof Zoe Shipton, Andrew Crummy, Maureen Beattie, Rab Wilson

The Saltire Society announced five recipients of the 2023 Fletcher of Saltoun Awards.  Dr Scilla Elworthy, three times Nobel Peace Prize nominee for her work with Oxford Research Group and Great Tapestry of Scotland designer Andrew Crummy receive awards for Public Life. Zoe Shipton, Professor of Geological Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, receives an award for Science and actor Maureen Beattie and poet Rab Wilson receive awards for Arts & Humanities.   The Fletcher of Saltoun Awards will be presented in a ceremony at Òran Mór in Glasgow this afternoon.

Established in 1988, The Fletcher of Saltoun Awards recognise and celebrate the innovators and entrepreneurs who shape the cultural landscape of Scotland in the fields of Science, Arts & Humanities and Public Life.  Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun (1655-1716) was an accomplished patriotic Scots writer, politician, soldier, Commissioner of the Old Parliament of Scotland and an innovative thinker and intellectual visionary.   Previous recipients include Professor Sir Ian Boyd, John Byrne, Dame Evelyn Glennie and Professor Devi Sridhar.

Sarah Mason, Executive Director of the Saltire Society, said “We are delighted to have this opportunity to celebrate the innovators and Authorities in their fields we have in Scotland, and to recognise their impact.   Since 1936 the Society has worked tirelessly to ensure Scottish culture is recognised, lived and fought for.  The 35 years the Fletcher Awards have been running has seen over 65 people recognised and we are pleased to see five more exceptional people celebrated in 2023.”

Dr Scilla Elworthy has been nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with Oxford Research Group in developing effective dialogue between nuclear weapons policymakers worldwide and their critics. She now leads The Business Plan for Peace to help prevent violent conflict and build sustainable peace throughout the world.  Elworthy founded Peace Direct in 2002 to fund‚ promote and learn from local peace-builders in conflict areas‚ was awarded the Niwano Peace Prize in 2003 and the Luxembourg Peace Prize in 2020.  She has recently been named the recipient of the Goi Peace Award.

Andrew Crummy trained as an illustrator at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee before completing an MA in Design from the Glasgow School of Art.  He became an illustrator and lecturer based in London until 2000. His work developed into large scale murals and since 2013 he has been the designer of 21 tapestries including The Great Tapestry of Scotland. Over the years his work has developed into large-scale community art projects that are rooted in his childhood experience in Craigmillar.

Andrew Crummy said, “It is an honour to receive this award. As a community artist I am very aware that these tapestries are created by many people, bringing their knowledge, creativity and pride to my drawings and taking them to another level. It has been an honour to be part of these projects and to have worked with so many wonderful people."

Zoe Shipton is Professor of Geological Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Strathclyde. Her early career focussed on the structural and permeability architecture of fault zones, geological processes of earthquake rupture propagation and constraining uncertainty in geological models. Her recent research focuses on applying geological understanding to engineering the subsurface: for instance in geothermal energy, energy storage and Geological carbon storage. She, together with colleagues from academia and industry across Scotland, is exploring the use of abandoned and flooded coal mines in Scotland for geothermal heat extraction and energy storage, for use in domestic and industrial heating and to also generate jobs and income.  

Zoe Shipton said “I am delighted to receive this award, and slightly start-struck by the calibre of the other award winners!  I am particularly delighted to see that the nomination mentions that the work I do is part of a team. Achieving the large-scale changes in our energy system and society that are needed to meet (and ideally exceed) our net zero targets requires close collaboration between academia, industry, government and civil society across a very wide range of disciplines. My work has been supported by excellent researchers and colleagues from across science, engineering, social science disciplines and end-users from a wide range of applications. Without this partnership approach I could not have achieved the research and research outcomes  honoured in this award, so I consider this as an award  for the team”.

Maureen Beattie trained at what is now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland graduating in 1974 with the James Bridie Gold Medal. Her most recent work was in Duet for One at the Orange Tree theatre in Richmond; playing Celia in As You Like It at the RSC; and she has just finished work in a new play, Disfunction, for A Play, a Pie and a Pint at Òran Mór and the Traverse. She was President of Equity until July last year and was made OBE in the 2020 Honours List for services to the entertainment industry. She received an Outstanding Woman of Scotland award from the Saltire Society in 2018. She is the daughter of the late Johnny Beattie, the comedian and actor, and on 22nd October this year she took over from her father as Patron of the Gaiety Theatre in Ayr.

Maureen Beattie commented “My award as an Outstanding Woman of Scotland from the Saltire Society in 2018 was one of the highlights of my life and career. To find myself in the same company as the present and past recipients of the Society’s Fletcher of Saltoun Awards seems almost unbelievable. I will endeavour to prove myself worthy of the faith the Society has placed in me.”

Rab Wilson is an authentic and original Scottish voice who has written poetry including transliterations of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and the Odes of Horace into Scots.  His poetry ranges from lyrical verses to political satire and frequently uses classical forms.  His latest book, published in 2019, was ‘Oor Big Braw Cosmos’, a collaboration with the then Astronomer Royal for Scotland, the late Professor John Brown. His work appears regularly in poetry magazines and periodicals and in the daily poetry column of The Herald newspaper. Rab is also a very active social justice campaigner and ex-NHS whistle-blower; for this work he was was nominated for the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award. He has been a previous Robert Burns Writing Fellow in Dumfriesshire and was, until recently, ‘Scots Scriever: Writer in Residence’ at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, Ayr.

Rab Wilson commented “Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun is described online as a ‘Patriot’. In September, 1716, his last words were 'Lord have mercy on my poor country that is so barbarously oppressed'. Fletcher leeved his life as an advocate fir the country o Scotland, and the people o Scotland. In accepting this year’s Fletcher of Saltoun Award, sae generously awarded bi the Saltire Society, ah’d like tae think ah’m acceptin it in the spirit o the man fir whom it’s named eftir. Ah’d alsae like tae think that wi ma poetry, an activism fir social justice, that ah in some sma wey alsae act as an advocate fir Scotland and its people. Oor Makars still aye-an-oan scrieve fir the ‘sma fowk’… lang may their lums reek!”

The Fletcher of Saltoun Awards have acknowledged over 65 individuals in their thirty-five year history, advocating the brilliance, significance and impact of Scottish Culture.  Nominations are taken from across the Saltire Society membership to ensure a broad spectrum of individuals.  The Trustees of the Saltire Society, with the help and advice of independent experts in each field, select the recipients.   For more information on the Fletcher of Saltoun Awards, and videos of the 2023 recipients visit: