Rabbie challenged in the fame game

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HE’S hogged the limelight for decades - but now bard Robert Burns finally has competition in the celebrity stakes.

For the first time a book ‘Ayrshire’s Famous People’ details the outstanding achievements of the ploughman poet’s fellow greats.

It is being made available to the county’s 50,000 schoolchildren, charting major achievers of the past 500 years right up to modern-day tycoons like Sir Tom Hunter.

A team of local heritage and business experts from the Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry compiled the 114-name A-list.

And the chamber’s chief executive Valerie Russell said: “There has perhaps been a reliance on Robert Burns and people would be forgiven thinking Ayrshire has not produced any other worthies.

“But as our list shows we have produced talent down the generations from Liverpool manager Bill Shankly to roadbuilder John ‘Tar’ Macadam.

“And with penicillin creator Alexander Fleming and violin virtuoso Nicola Benedetti thrown in we are keen to challenge Burns’ dominance of the headlines.

“He does feature aand we are sure he won’t mind sharing his fame.

“It is a project we have wanted to do for years and we finally managed to get a budget together for it.

“There are others that are worthy of a place so this could be just the start.”

The list features 96 men and 18 women either Ayrshire-born or principally linked - and 28 people are living.

Each of Ayrshire’s 46,250 school children at 26 secondaries and 137 primaries will receive an electronic link in three different formats of the ebook – which features video and animation.

Millionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter, who features in the top 20, said: “You would think one tiny part of Scotland couldn’t quite generate the content for a full book of outstanding achievement; but then you’d be wrong.

“It tells a tale not just of the famous but also about the ordinary folk who have accomplished extraordinary things – I hope that trend continues and grows.”

Nat Edwards, Director of the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum said: “It’s not until you see all these names written down that you realise what an impact Ayrshire has had on the culture and life of not just Scotland but the whole world.

“We all know about Robert Burns but when you see the list you realise that far from being an exception, Burns was part of a phenomenal tradition of free-thinkers, innovators, creative talents and remarkable individuals that has continued to this day.

“More than anything else, Burns loved the company of people - where he could enjoy the free exchange of ideas, music, poetry and song. I am sure that he would not only be more than happy to make room for these wonderful people alongside him in this Ayrshire Hall of Fame - but would be honoured and delighted to be in their company.”

The Chamber, which represents more than 800 firms in the county, funded the venture to celebrate Ayrshire’s success and to inspire schoolchildren that it’s a great place for business.

A dedicated education team provides direct employment links to business, including the Chamber Youth Academy which offers mentoring and entrepreneurial challenges as well as a direct route into work.

It’s hoped the book could also encourage tourism by inspiring a trail linking those on the list.

Dundonald-based firm Giglets – a member of the Chamber - was hired because of its skill in creating enhanced ebooks with digital animation and sound effects.

Boss Craig Johnstone,23, said: “Children are at the forefront of the iPad and tablet revolution so an ebook was the natural target to reach our audience.

“We’ve worked on this for four months and I believe we’ve delivered exciting content and used the latest technology to bring to life Ayrshire’s famous characters from down the centuries.

“And many people will not have heard of most of them, or be aware of the strong Ayrshire connections.”

*Ayrshire’s Famous People will be launched on Friday April 26 by Irvine-born Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Culture Secretary in the town’s Menzies Hotel.

Top Twenty:

1. Richard Oswald (1705-1784) Auchincruive (signatory Treaty of Paris)

2. Robert Adam (1728-1792) Culzean (architect)

3. David Dale (1739-1806) Stewarton (cotton Merchant/social visionary)

4. John Loudon MacAdam (1756-1836) Ayr (tarmac inventor)

5. Robert Burns (1759-1796) Alloway (poet)

6. Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane (1773-1860) Largs (governor New South Wales )

7. John Galt (1779-1839) Irvine (novelist)

8. Johnnie Walker (1805-1857) Kilmarnock (whisky tycoon)

9. John Boyd Dunlop (1840-1921) Dreghorn (creator pneumatic tyre)

10. James Kier Hardie (1856-1915) Cumnock (labour party pioneer)

11. Andrew Fisher (1862-1928) Crosshouse (Australian Prime Minister)

12. George Douglas Brown (1869-1902) Ochiltree (novelist)

13. Lord John Boyd Orr (1880-1971) Kilmaurs (biologist)

14. Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) Darvel (discovered penicillin)

15. Bill Shankly (1913-1981) Glenbuck (Liverpool FC manager)

16. Kirsty Wark (1955) Kilmarnock (journalist)

17. Sir Tom Hunter (1961) New Cumnock (tycoon/philanthropist)

18. Graeme Obree (1965) Irvine (cycling champ)

19. Kirsty Hume (1976) Ayr (supermodel)

20. Nicola Benedetti (1987) West Kilbride (classical violinist)

Famous Ayrshire People:

1. George Lokert (1485-1547) Ayr (master of logic)

2. James Dalrymple (1619-1695) Barr (philosopher/judge)

3. Alexander Peden (1626-1686) Sorn (covenanter)

4. John Brown (1628-1685) Muirkirk (covenanter)

5. John Snell (1629-1679) Pinwherry (philanthropist)

6. John Dalrymple (1648-1707) Stair (Act of Union statesman)

7. John Dalrymple (1673-1747) Stair (soldier/diplomat)

8. James Macrae (1677- 1744) Ayr (pirate hunter/Madras governor)

9. Lady Margaret Dalrymple (1680-1779)Stair (Countess of Loudoun, gardener)

10. Andrew Michael Ramsay (1686-1743) Ayr (writer/chevalier)

11. Robert Simson (1687-1768) West Kilbride (mathematician)

12. Andrew Cochrane (1693-1777) Ayr (tobacco baron/politician)

13. Sir John Witherspoon (1722-1794) Beith (signatory American Independence)

14. Elizabeth McGuire (1724-1801)Kilmaurs (Countess Glencairn/Burns patron)

15. John Tennant (1725-1810) Alloway (farmer/Burns crony)

16. Barbara Gilmour (Died 1732) Dunlop (cheesmaker)

17. James Boswell (1740-1795) Auchinleck (author)

18. James Hunter Blair (1741-1787) Ayr (politician/banker)

19. John Murdoch (1747-1824) Ayr (teacher to Robert Burns)

20. Gilbert Blane (1749-1834) Kirkoswald (physician to the fleet)

21. Colonel William Fullerton (1754-1808) Troon (soldier/statesman)

22. William Murdoch (1754-1839) Lugar, Cumnock (gas lighting inventor)

23. William Tennant (1758-1813) Ochiltree (chaplain to forces in India )

24. John Tennant (1760-1853) Ayr (farming expert)

25. David Tennant (1762-1839) Ochiltree (sea captain)

26. William McClure (1763-1840) Ayr (geologist/sea mapper)

27. Sir James Shaw (1764-1843) Kilmarnock (Lord Major of London )

28. Charles Tennant (1768-1838) Alloway (bleach pioneer)

29. Ensign Ewart (1769-1846) Kilmarnock (Battle of Waterloo hero)

30. David Boyle (1772-1853) Irvine (advocate/MP)

31. John Piper (1773-1851) Maybole (military officer)

32. Henry Eckford (1775-1832) Kilwinning (US Navy architect)

33. William Gilkison (1777-1833) Irvine (sailor/adventurer)

34. Captain Sandy Allan (1780-1854) Fairlie (shipping magnate)

35. Thomas Morton (1783-1862) Mauchline (barrel loom inventor)

36. John Munn (1788-1859) Irvine (shipbuilder)

37. Rev John Burtt (1789-1866) Kilmarnock (clergyman/poet)

38. Hew Ainslie (1792-1878) Dailly (poet)

39. Betsy Miller (1793-1864) Saltcoast (sea captain)

40. Rev Thomas Burns (1796-1871) Mauchline ( New Zealand pioneer)

41. John Fulton (1803-1853) Fenwick (tech instrument maker)

42. James Paterson (1805-1876) Kilmarnock (writer)

43. Lady Flora Hastings (1806-1839) Galston (royal lady-in-waiting)

44. Andrew Barclay (1814-1900) Kilbirnie (locomotive maker)

45. Alexander Macmillan (1818-1896) Irvine (publisher)

46. Sir William Muir (1819-1905) Kilmarnock (Indian governor)

47. James Service (1823-1899) Kilwinning (Australian colonist)

48. William Landsborough (1825-1886) Stevenston (explorer)

49. Robert Dunsmuir (1825-1889) Hurlford (Canadian industrialist)

50. John McIlWraith (1832-1902) Ayr (metal tycoon)

51. Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) Stevenston (visitor/dynamite inventor)

52. Sir Thomas McIlWraith (1835-1900) Ayr (financier/Queensland premier)

53. Sir Robert Murdoch Smith (1835-1900) Kilmarnock (archaeologist)

54. Sir Hugh Muir Nelson (1835-1906) Kilmarnock ( Queensland premier)

55. Dr Henry Faulds (1843-1930) Beith (physician/fingerprint pioneer)

56. Alexander Morton (1844-1923) Darvel (lace tycoon)

57. Charles Kerr Marr (1855-1919) Troon (benefactor)

58. Sir John Lavery (1856-1941) Saltcoats (painter)

59. James Morton (1867-1943) Darvel (textile tycoon)

60. Gavin Morton (1867-1954) Darvel (textile designer)

61. Sir James Stevenson (1873-1926) Kilmarnock (Churchill’s adviser)

62. Robert William Service (1874-1958) Kilwinning (poet)

63. Eleanor Allen Robertson (1885-1955) Kilmarnock (painter)

64. Sir James Learmonth (1895-1967) Kilmarnock (nerve surgery)

65. David Fowler McIntyre (1905-1957) Prestwick (aviator)

66. Brigadier Bernard Ferguson (1911-1980) (soldier/New Zealand premier)

67. William ‘Willie’ Ross (1911–1988) Ayr (politician)

68. Robert Colquhoun (1914-1962) Kilmarnock (painter)

69. James H Moffat (1919-1998) Saltcoats (businessman/benefactor)

70. Ally MacLeod (1931-2004) Ayr (football manager)

71. Hugh McIlvanney (1933) Kilmarnock (sports writer)

72. William McIIvanney (1936) Kilmarnock (writer)

73. Stewart Conn (1936) Kilmarnock (poet)

74. Margaret McDowall (1936) Kilmarnock (swimmer)

75. Jan De Vries (1937) Troon (alternative medicine)

76. Gordon Brown (1947-2000) Troon (rugby)

77. Billy Kay (1951) Galston (writer)

78. Alex Neil (1951) Patna (politician)

79. Sam Torrance (1953) Largs (golfer)

80. Janice Galloway (1955) Saltcoats (novelist)

81. Cameron Sharp (1958) Kilmarnock (sprinter)

82. Peter Howson (1958) Prestwick (artist)

83. Roy Aitken (1958) Ardrossan (footballer)

84. Dr James MacMillan (1959) Cumnock (composer)

85. Eddi Reader (1959) Irvine (singer)

86. Jack McConnell (1960) Arran (politiciano)

87. Colin Montgomerie (1963) Troon (golfer)

88. Lorraine McIntosh (1964) Cumnock (singer)

89. Brian Whittle (1964) Troon (sprinter)

90. Fiona Hyslop (1964) Irvine (politician)

91. Rhona Martin (1966) Dunlop (curler)

92. Jackie Brambles (1967) Arran (radio/tv presenter)

93. Nicola Sturgeon (1970) Irvine (politician)

94. Karen Dunbar (1971) Ayr (comic)