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”