One of Scotland's top entrepreneurs will be honoured for his philanthropic work at a prestigious award ceremony next month.

Sir Tom Hunter will be one of six recipients of this year's Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.

Described by some as the "Nobel Prize for philanthropy", the medal recognises those who use their private wealth for public good and is awarded biannually to global figures leading the way in this field.

This year's winners will receive their medals at a ceremony at the Scottish Parliament on October 17.

Now in its 12th year, it will be only the second time the ceremony has been held outside the United States. Holyrood first hosted the event in 2005.

The award recipients were announced today by the Carnegie UK Trust, which said the philanthropic activities of this year's medallists span the globe and include support for education, science, entrepreneurship and the arts.

Sir Tom, a Scottish businessman, was knighted in 2005 for services to entrepreneurship and philanthropy.

A long-term advocate of "giving back," he has championed the cause of philanthropy in Europe, the trust said.

The son of a shop owner, he started his first business selling sports shoes from the back of a van with a £5,000 loan from his father, building the business into Europe's largest independent sports retailer and eventually selling it in 1998 for £290 million.

Along with his wife, Lady Marion Hunter, he went on to establish The Hunter Foundation, which supports educational and entrepreneurial projects.

This year's other medal recipients are Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, chair of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development; American mathematician Dr James Harris Simons and his wife, economist Dr Marilyn Simons; Dr Dmitry Zimin, the founder of the second-largest telecom business in Russia; and Dame Janet Wolfson de Botton on behalf of the Wolfson family, founders of the Wolfson Foundation, which supports and promotes excellence in the fields of science and medicine, health, education and the arts and humanities.

Previous winners include the Gates family, the Sainsbury family, the Cadbury family, George Soros and Kwik-Fit founder Sir Tom Farmer.

This year's celebration of philanthropy will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the trust set up in the name of Andrew Carnegie.

The Scot, who was the richest man in the world at the beginning of the 20th century, founded the Carnegie UK Trust in 1913 as part of a network of organisations dedicated to "improving the wellbeing of the masses".

In an interview with the Sunday Times Scotland, Sir Tom stated: "Carnegie is a hero of mine and I was inspired into philanthropy by his story."

Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and chairman of the Carnegie Medal Selection Committee, said: "Andrew Carnegie was the greatest export of Scotland to America, and we are delighted he did not forget his beloved Scotland as he helped lay the foundation for modern philanthropy.

"As we of the Carnegie institutions celebrate his legacy, we all remember his admonition that with wealth comes responsibility. Our Medal of Philanthropy honourees have embraced that philosophy.

"The legacies of Andrew Carnegie and our honourees can be found in science, education, libraries, museums, and universities all over the world. They are a great tribute to humanity and its potential."

The Scottish Parliament will hold a public ballot to give members of the public a chance to attend the ceremony in the debating chamber.

People who want to attend should apply to Holyrood in writing before Wednesday October 2. Further details of how to apply are on the parliament's website.

Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick said: "We are proud that the Scottish Parliament is once again the only place outside of America to host the Carnegie Medals of Philanthropy ceremony.

"It's a great honour to share in acknowledging the significant contribution the medallists are making worldwide in their chosen areas.

"It is an important part of the activities celebrating the international legacy of Scots-born philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

"His spirit and philosophy lives on in these individuals and organisations and we hope the medallists continue to inspire others to make a difference and leave their own legacies."