Scots Language Awards night showcased best of Scottish talent

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WHAT a stunning night of celebrating our language, songs, stories and poems the Scots Language Awards in Dundee last Saturday turned out to be.

Since its inaugural event in 2019, the annual prize ceremony has looked to celebrate figures who have championed the Scots language.

The pandemic saw the event go virtual, and this year, it was hybrid, allowing people from all over to join the audience in Dundee.

The event began with co-host, columnist Alistair Heather, calling out to the hybrid audience to submit their best Scots language joke.

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The mood of the evening was set – inclusive and fun.

Social media star and poet Len Pennie co-hosted with Heather, creating a laid-back and hilarious rapport all evening.

The opening remarks came from Billy Kay, who Len Pennie described as the “Papa of Scots”.

Kay spoke of his pride for activists in the room and far beyond doing their bit for Scots.

He added the ongoing consultation for the Language Bill is the priority for the movement in the month ahead, and the Bill is progress that has been hard-fought for.

Next came the first of the awards – Scots Speaker of the Year was awarded to Marjolein Robertson. The Shetlander praised the evening for celebrating difference and bringing the language into normality through schools, the stage and teaching.

She thanked her dad and Jakob Jakobsen, who saved most Shetland dialect and made it what it is today – a mix of Norn and Scots. All this was done wearing her Shetland lace hap.

Whilst saying this, I hope she knew her name has been added to those historic figures for generations to come.

Scots Performer of the Year was presented to Alan Reid, aka Bundy – his response? A simple “Spot on” followed by a joke he told he was banned from telling by his daughter about “a brick who cried cause his ma was a wa’”. His daughter shook her head in embarrassment, but her smile said pride.

Scots Media Person of the Year was awarded to Doric Dad, his supporters in the audience jumping to their feet when it was announced.

Doric Nursery Rhymes for Loons and Quines by Gordon M Hay won Scots Bairns Book of the Year. Hay thanked illustrator Rosemary Cunningham and gave a wee rhyme from the book.

Scots Project of the Year was won by The Maiden’s Leap.

Robin Stapleton joined Beth Malcolm and comedian Bruce Fummey giving performances in Scots. Stapleton performed multiple songs – one was Oor Hamlet, a song written by a frustrated teacher in Cathcart trying to share Shakespeare with children. Malcolm sang Ain Vyce and led a rendition of Happy Birthday to Billy Kay.

Matthew Fitt presented the award for Young Scots Writer of the Year. It was evident in his speech that all nominees had “immense talent, a flair for writing and bravery.” An excerpt from the winning book, Juliet ‘n’ Juliet by Eva McMillan, was read by Len Pennie. It was described as “terribly bonnie”, and McMillan provided a reflection of love, loss, and beauty beyond her years.

Emma Grae pronounced herself as the Queen of Scots after winning Scots Book of the Year to show her Grannie the lack of proposal from Prince Harry hadn’t dampened the success of her granddaughter.

READ MORE: Knowing the Queen spoke Doric should mark an ultimate end to Scots stigma

Dr Jamie Fairbairn accepted the Scots Champion of the Year award in his kilt. Dr Fairbairn is a teacher at Banff Academy and joined the multiple teachers and schools who arguably have the greatest thanks of the movement for their work in schools.

Winners for the remainder of the evening all resonated with the leading figures of the movement as inspirations – such as Liz Lochhead, winner of the Scots Writer of the Year and Anne Donovan, winner of the Janet Paisley Services to Scots Award.

All through the evening, the audience was enveloped in celebrating Scots.

They radiated the positivity and pride of Scottish heritage and were motivated to continue to preserve and encourage all to find their voice in the language. All I kept thinking was “this needs to be on national television in the future”.

The nation needs to digest some of the celebration, positivity, pride and motivation from that room. I can’t wait to see the ceremony on our screens, sooner rather than later.