COOLNESS is something that is often difficult to define. We all think we know what it is when we see it.

The Scotland we look out at, from the Herald on Sunday, has spades of that indefinable something. It’s there in our musicians, our entrepreneurs, our sports stars, our influencers.

To celebrate this, we’re publishing our list of Scotland’s 100 Coolest. These are people who either live in Scotland, or are Scots having an impact in other parts of the world.

Their coolness resides in the way that they look, the things that they make, or the impact they have had in shaping Scotland and the world.

Our cool list comes in all different shapes and sizes. They can be gallus folk with attitude. They can be people who have pushed for change.

They can be artists who have created work that has blown our minds. They can be the people you never even knew were doing the most amazing, world-enhancing things.

Over the next three weeks we will be counting down from 100 to one, with the coolest Scot revealed on September 23.

Of course, we’re sure you won’t agree with every entry on our list. If you don’t, please do get in touch and tell us what you think. Or, better still, thrash it out with your friends.

Cool, after all, comes in many forms. Here are some of them.


Erin Cuthbert, 20, football striker

Why? She’ll show the World Cup what gallus is.

ERIN Cuthbert wasn’t yet out of her mother’s womb the last time Scotland qualified for the World Cup. But, here she is, at 20 years old, a chief weapon in a women’s team that is on its way to the World Cup in France next year. The unflinching, Irvine-born Chelsea player, who was the third-highest scorer for her team last season, seems almost unstoppable. Bear in mind this is the girl who begged, at four years old, for her dad to take her along to a Girdle Toll Boys football club, which he then ran.

Scotland women’s coach, Shelley Kerr, has summed up her attitude: “For all Erin’s attributes and the abundant talent, the one thing she’s got that we’ve probably missed is that Scottishness. We’ve been missing it across all out teams – male and female – for some time.

She is gallus, she’s got a winning mentality, she’s physical and she’s got that sheer Scottish passion that maybe hasn’t been apparent. Coaches try to develop many things but Erin has got them naturally - confidence, resilience, and the need to sometimes do the ugly things first.”


Tom Harlow, 29, burlesque star

Why? He puts the tassels in boylesque.

YES, boylesque – as in burlesque, but with the word “boy” in it, because it’s done by men. On the international burlesque scene Tom Harlow is a star – an award winning performer of striptease. And, yes, he does wear nipple tassels – sometimes. But he also sings like he was born to do cabaret. You’ll find him at the Riding Rooms in Glasgow. Originally trained in opera and classical singing, at the Edinburgh fringe he dressed up in blue satin as Laverne Andrews in the drag-comedy Bugle Boys – A Salute To The Andrews Sisters. He observes that burlesque is all about parody. “It’s about subverting the normal, about twisting it. It literally means parody and satire. That is where it comes from in history. So I think there will always be a political subversion or statement to be made with it.”


John Robertson, 33, blogger

Why? Because we all want his simple, beautiful life.

THE story of The Everyday Man blogger, John Robertson, is not exactly an everyday story. Six years ago, when John Robertson started writing his men’s lifestyle blog, it was really just for him, but it took off. He now has 23,000 Instagram followers and a life that involves him jetting around the world from his home base of Dumbarton and took him, among other places, to the Olympics in Rio. Why did it work? Good timing, combined with the allure of his aesthetic. He has a personal look that chimes with these times of craving for minimalism – a T-shirt, black jeans and a pair of white trainers. Simplicity at its best.


Samantha Kinghorn, 22, wheelchair racer

Why? Because her tenacity is mind-blowing.

THE superlatives never quite do justice to the many achievements of wheelchair racer Samantha Kinghorn who last year became a double world champion in the T53 100m and 200m. Kinghorn – known as Sammi to her friends – was crushed by a forklift beam while helping clear snow on the family farm in the Berwickshire village of Gordon in 2010. Her back was broken and she was paralysed from the waist down. “After the accident I accepted there was nothing I could do about it,” she says. “I never cried or was that upset. I just got on with things straight away.” Away from racing, she is no less impressive: Kinghorn delivered her first lamb aged five.


Calum Maclean, 29, wild swimmer

Why? He’s ice cool.

ROASTING? Baltic? Hoora cold? If these are the words that come to mind when you take a dip in Scottish waters, then probably you are someone who has watched the viral Scottish Water Temperature Chart video he did for BBC The Social. For these are the words used by MacLean, now a legend of Scottish wild swimming, partly because of his videos and but also because of Dhan Uisge, the stunning series he did for BBC Alba.

Turns out Maclean, from Inverness, did his first proper wild swim when he was nine years old and he snuck out, at first light, to swim the Derwent River in Tasmania. He almost thought he wouldn’t make it through the wild water, but he got the bug. Most extreme of his swims, he reckons, was a dip he did last year in Loch Coire an Lochain, the highest loch in Scotland. “About half the loch,” he recalls, “was still covered in huge slabs of thick ice, in April.

“I swam under the ice, without a wetsuit, like a seal hunting in the Arctic. The water numbed my body immediately, I couldn’t feel my toes for the rest of the day.”


Geoff Ellis, 53, festival promoter

Why? He shaped live music in Scotland.

THE biggest festivals, the great landmark music events – Geoff Ellis has been behind most of them. And, when the 3D Festival kicks off in Slessor Gardens for the opening of the V&A on Friday, it will be courtesy of Ellis again. Owner of King Tut’s, promoter of T In The Park, creator of TRNSMT, the CEO of DF Concerts has almost never not been doing something cool, right back to when he booked bands at the Marquee Club in London back in 1990. The man who once wanted to be a stonemason like his father, has done more to shape the live music landscape of Scotland than anyone. Those who hope he may bring back T In The Park, however, will likely be disappointed. Last year, Ellis said: “The days of drawing 85,000 people to a camping event in Scotland have probably gone.” But who needs a field when you can have Glasgow Green?


James Robertson, 30, entrepreneur

Why? He’s the candlemaker who wants to build a wakeboard park on Skye.

BACK around a decade ago, James Robertson noticed that in the shop he was working at in Portree, the candles they were selling were from Cornwall. “I could do that,” he thought and started experimenting with making some in a bothy on his uncle’s croft. Thus Isle Of Skye Candles was born. The bothy, though quirky, wasn’t ideal for candle-making, since the floor was uneven and he had to prop the tables up on pegs and get up in the middle of the night to check the temperature of the wood-fired Rayburn. But he persisted and they sold.

Not content with just making candles, however, he is also building a mini Skye empire including local deli and restaurant – while also living the life. When not working, he’s probably wakeboarding.

“One of my coolest experiences,” he says, “was wakeboarding along with this pod of dolphins jumping beside me. That was amazing.” It’s perhaps not surprising then, that he has designs on creating a wakeboard park. “I’d love to set one up on Skye,” he says.

“Particularly if I could tie that in with the new candle factory we want to build so at lunchtime we could go wakeboarding. Why not?”


Alister Mackie, 48, stylist

Why? He is the story of men’s style.

YOU don’t get much more visionary stylists than internationally-renowned Alister Mackie. As Vogue magazine once put it: “His styling genius has helped define more collections than you could possibly know over the past few decades.”

The creative director of AnOther Man magazine is the definitive guru of male style, who, through his pages, tells an inspired story of current menswear. He has styled campaigns for global brands Louis Vuitton, Prada, Christian Dior and many others, and continues to work for many top magazines.

As a youngster, growing up in Larbert in central Scotland, he dreamed of London – and ended up there, via Glasgow School of Art, studying at Central St Martins then working for the era-defining Dazed & Confused.

“Style,” Mackie has said, “is being able to put things on without looking like you have really tried.”


Usman Mohammed, 25, barber

Why? Because all the coolest things happen in shipping containers.

JUST over a year ago Usman Mohammed started up a barbershop in a shipping container at Braehead. He called it Guy & Beard, and for the first six months the business ran with no mains electricity or water. Nevertheless it took off and he now has three such Guy & Beard containers in Glasgow – with mains electricity – and a further three opening in Edinburgh.

Mohammed has barbering in his blood. Both his father and his grandfather were barbers in Pakistan, where he lived until he was five. “I’m a third-generation barber,” he says, “but I wanted to do something different, outside the box, and we’ve managed to do it inside a box.” But, for Mohammed it’s not all about beards. He also runs the Good Container Co, which converts containers for other people. Anything that involves thinking “inside the box”.


Josh Taylor, 27, boxer

Why? He’s a knock-out with the WBC super lightweight title is in his sights. 

PEOPLE have been saying that Josh Taylor could be the next Ken Buchanan. They’ve been saying it since he won gold at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. They’re saying it louder now. Unbeaten in 13 fights, the super lightweight boxer could be on the brink of global glory. in June he beat Viktor Postol of Ukraine and became next in line to fight Jose Ramirez and a shot at the WBC world title. Manager Barry McGuigan raves about him. in 2015, he said: “Drive is so important in this sport and this guy has so much ambition and determination as well. As far as ability and ticking all the boxes you’d want ticked, this kid has it in shed-loads.”


Ellora James, 18, app designer

Why? Because at 16 she designed a genius app KIDS.

SO the thinking goes, should be spending less time on their tech and more outdoors That was the issue that Wick High School pupils Ellora James and her friend Mari-Ann Ganson brainstormed over when, at the age of just 15, they entered the Apps for Good competition.

Was there some way of making an app that would make kids spend more time in nature? The result was Envirocache, which draws on geo-cache technology to provide children with nature treasure hunts.

Three years later James is studying Ethical Hacking at Abertay University and hopes to build a career in cyber security – while at the same time nurturing Envirocache. She also blogs under the title Because I’m Appy.


Jordan Young, 38, actor

Why? We all love a telly villain.

RIVER City bad boy Alex Murdoch is a role that Jordan Young plays with dastardly aplomb. Yet, it’s not all double dealing, ruthless vendettas and breaking hearts. The Fife-born actor has garnered widespread plaudits including from the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who took to Twitter to praise his emotionally charged performance as a bereaved father mourning the death of his prematurely born son. 

Scot Squad fans will know him best as lothario PC Jack McLaren in the police mockumentary series where Young’s improv skills and comic timing are sublime. Oh, and he’s a master at Twitter banter too. Check out the wordsmith at @joskyn100


Fallon Carberry, 31, hair stylist

Why? She’s to dye for.

COLOUR – gobsmacking, dazzling colour – has never been so big in hair, and the woman that trailblazed some of the most striking recent trends is Fallon Carberry at Blow in Glasgow. So it should be no surprise that her salons – she opens her third in Glasgow soon – are magnets for stars and influencers. Among them are singer Amy Macdonald, Geordie Shore’s Holly Hagan and reality star Bleu Briggs. “We started the glitter root trend back in 2015,” Carberry recalls. “It went viral overnight – and was shared by Miley Cyrus.” Blow’s influence extends beyond the salon – it has 85,000 followers on Instagram.


Leah Hutcheon, 38, entrepreneur

Why? Life is so much easier with her bookings system.

IF we were to start listing awards and accolades that Hutcheon’s tech start-up has won over the past few years we would run out of space quite quickly. Suffice to say, she’s won a few. Hutcheon, in her former life as a busy magazine editor, had been frustrated at the struggle to book out-of-hours hair and beauty appointments and thought there must be a smart solution. So, when she lost that job, she decided to make it – Appointedd, a cloud-based bookings and management piece of software, which even got Skyscanner’s Gareth Williams backing.

Hutcheon is also proof you don’t have to come from a tech background. She studied English and drama, worked as a producer at Cowgate Central Theatre, and, on her way to business success, starred in the BBC show The Entrepreneurs.


Nightwave, 35, DJ and producer

Why? Because she’s a DJ who plays the bansuri flute.

BACK in the 1990s, Slovenia was one of the coolest places for techno and electro music. Slovenian DJ Maya Medvesek, also known as Nightwave, moved to to Glasgow in 2006 and sees lots of parallels between the city and her homeland at that time. “Glasgow is just the best place for electronic music,” she says.

Medvesek is also a gender equality activist, part of the Producergirls collective that teaches women music production. “I hate the term ‘female DJ’ actually,” she says. But Medvesek isn’t only about the electronic sounds and big dance tracks. She also likes some meditative chill. “I want to create music with healing frequencies and using my voice,” she says.

“I want to use more instruments rather than machines or software. I’m learning bansuri flute at the moment. I’m not very good yet though.”


Celia Hodson, 56, social entrepreneur

Why? Because “buy one, give one” is an inspired way to fight period poverty.

THEY didn’t used to talk about period poverty when Celia Hodson was a single mum bringing up her daughters and son, but they lived with it. She knew what it was to get to the check-out and put back the luxury items because you couldn’t afford it.

Hence, when she retired in her fifties to Dunbar, she talked to her family about how to fight poverty, and they came up with the idea of Hey Girls, a not-for-profit which sells sanitary products on a “buy one, give one” model.

But Hodson was cool before Hey Girls. In her early fifties, encouraged by a friend, she applied for a job running the School of Entrepreneurs in Australia, got the job, sold up her house and car, and headed to Sydney. “It was the kind of thing you do in your twenties,” she recalls. “It was like being straight out of uni when you go and do a backpacking thing.”


Jon McKellan, 37, games designer

Why? He made retro-text computer games cool.

GAMES don’t have to be fancy, graphically complicated Fortnite-style shoot em’ ups. They can also be cool, 1980s technology-inspired, text-based adventures and puzzle solving challenges. This is what Jon McKellan and his team at No Code proved when they created Stories Untold, which in 2017 clinched a Scottish Bafta for Best Game. It was a kind of Stranger Things meets Choose Your Own Adventure. McKellan, who is a dad of three, says: “It’s a horror thriller and quite a wonderfully weird game that gives the player an almost frustrating experience, deliberately so.”


Charlotte Brimner, 20, singer-songwriter

Why? She’s the coolest of sounds from cool Dundee.

NEXT Friday, when the big V&A opening party kicks off in Slessor Gardens, 20-year-old Charlotte Brimner from Dundee will be taking the stage along with Primal Scream and Lewis Capaldi. Earlier this year, her band, Be Charlotte, signed a major deal with Columbia/Sony. Big things are happening, in other words, for Brimner, the bespectacled Dundonian who first caught attention for her teenage recordings. And rightly so, because she has one of the freshest, and distinctly Scottish, indie-pop sounds around. This last year has been busy touring and writing new material. “I’ve been doing a lot of co-writing sessions,” she said in a recent interview, “and also going back to my favourite style of writing with just me and a guitar.” She also makes spectacles cool. Hers, she says, come from Spex Pistols in Dundee.


Graham MacMillan-Mason, 32, founder of Burnt Church Film Club

Why? Because cinema isn’t just about multiplexes.

SICK of mainstream cinema? Graham MacMillan-Mason was too which is why last year he founded a film club that has quickly become the most exciting in Scotland. For a start, the venue is pretty interesting and grungy – the back room of the vegan eatery The Flying Duck in Glasgow – but so is MacMillan-Mason, who started the club after moving to the city from Sunderland. The first film he ever showed established the aesthetic of the club and its founder right away: vampire horror comedy The Lost Boys. That’s what him, his clubs and his films are all about: walking away from the centre to the edge, darkening things down a bit but having a laugh. Give away your multiplex loyalty card and get yourself down there.


Steven Brown, 46, artist

Why? He made the coo a popular-art industry

STEVEN Brown isn’t the only person who paints cows – and Highland coos are a Scottish popular art obsession – but he is the one who, through his distinct brand of gallus salesmanship, has somehow made his McCoos into an icon. Back in 2015, he painted his first Highland cow after a friend encouraged him. Now he has 560,000 followers on Facebook. He is a known brand.

“Facebook,” Brown said, “is really important for us. We do a live Facebook show on Wednesday nights and, along with other live video posts.” Brown comes across as genuine, an outsider not caught up in any art world pretence. “I’m not your traditional artist,” he says. “I’m just a guy from Kilmarnock and people relate to where I’ve come from and the incredible journey that I’ve been on to get to where I am.”


Hannah Dines, 25, para-cyclist and athlete

Why? She’s the human equivalent of a unicorn.

HANNAH Dines is ballsy, whip-smart, has a wit dryer than the Sahara and dyes her hair every colour in the rainbow.

A self-dubbed former “couch potato” who didn’t take up sport until she was 19, Dines – who was born with cerebral palsy – competes on the world stage in para-cycling and athletics. Last month, she took the European RaceRunning title in the RR3 100m.

She has no qualms when it comes to shattering disability taboos. When approached to take part in Channel 4 reality TV show The Undateables last year, she penned a searing retort: “I have many qualities that make me undateable, but none of them are to do with my disability.”


Hope Dickson Leach, 42, film-maker

Why? She haunted us with The Levelling – we can’t wait to see more.

DICKSON Leach’s debut film, The Levelling, a dark and atmospheric family drama set on a Somerset dairy farm in the aftermath of the floods of 2015, made a big splash last year. Top critic Mark Kermode listed it as one of the best of films of 2017.

So, what she does next is much anticipated – and currently she has several projects on the go.

Among them is a film set in Hong Kong, as well as an American movie staring Jack O’Connell and Lily Collins, co-written with the show runner of upcoming Netflix show Maniac.

But it’s not just her movies that make her cool.

Edinburgh-based Dickson Leach is also the co-founder of Raising Films, a campaign to make the film industry more parent friendly.


Jo Clifford, 68, trans playwright

Why? She is one of the greatest writers of the queer gospel.

THIS year when Jo Clifford’s play The Gospel According To Jesus, Queen Of Heaven played in the Brazilian town of Garanhuns, the armed police came out to stop it. “But the audience refused to move. They occupied the theatre,” she says, “and the police took away the seats and the awning. They cut the lights and the sound, so in the end the actress was performing in the dark while the producer was singing the soundtrack.”

Clifford has long been one of Scotland’s outstanding playwrights, but it feels as if her time has now truly come. She raised her children as a man and began to live as a woman in 2006, and now describes herself as a “transwoman, father and grandma”. Her plays have caused controversy for decades, but now seem more relevant than ever. Her 1985 Edinburgh Festival hit, Losing Venice, currently at London’s Orange Tree Theatre, could be a play about our Brexit times. The Gospel Of Jesus, Queen Of Heaven triggers bans but keeps touring. But also, she moves us with powerful autobiographical works, like her one-woman show, Eve.


Jenni Fagan, 41, author and poet

Why? She’ll probably write the Great Edinburgh Novel.

THERE are almost too many reasons to think Jenni Fagan is cool. The author, who was raised in the care system and moved 37 times by the age of 16, wrote a first novel, The Panopticon, so inspired she made the Granta list of Best Young British Novelists. (The film version, by the way, is in pre-production, and a play is on the way). She’s a single mum bringing up her seven-year-old son, earning money by renovating houses, yet somehow manages to fit in writing poems, photography and writing “a really, really creepy story” which she merely hopes will be the Great Edinburgh Novel.

Oh, and she’s also writing a PhD thesis inspired by Kafka, looking at the metamorphosis of society. “I have a real fascination with all of the institutions that we live in. Luckenbooth, my latest novel, is essentially the metamorphosis of Edinburgh over 100 years.”

Convinced yet? You will be when you read her new book of poetry, There’s A Witch In The Word Machine, out last week.


Rohan Gunatillake, 38, tech entrepreneur

Why? He is going to stop tech from stressing us out.

GLASGOW-BASED Gunatillake is a key thinker of the tech age, named in Wired’s Smart List of 50 “people who will change the world” in 2012. He’s working on it. The entrepreneur brought us Buddhify, the pioneering mindfulness app, and wrote a guide to modern mindfulness. But currently he is working on something far more vital – “how technology can be designed to be more supportive of people’s health, rather than the current situation where many popular apps lead to distraction, distress or worse”. But don’t delete your Buddhify just yet. It remains the most popular independently-created mindfulness app in the world, and recently launched an update with meditations for children and parents. Gunatillake, who has a Barbet called Nessie, even advises that it’s good for people to meditate with their dogs.


Nico Simeone, 29, chef

Why? Because he has wows us with his innovative dining concepts.

FIRST he took Glasgow with two restaurants – 111, and, in that hippest of neighbourhoods Finnieston, Six by Nico. Now he’s taking Edinburgh, where he opened another Six by Nico earlier this year. But what makes Simeone particularly cool is 111, his restaurant with a conscience set up in 2016, which employs and runs a cook school for the disadvantaged. Now at 111 he has launched a new concept, Trust, in which he asks us not to choose for ourselves, but to go with what the chef decides. Do we trust him? Absolutely.


Sara Sheridan, 50, novelist and perfumer

Why? She makes some bitchin’ smells.

HISTORICAL novelist Sara Sheridan and her make-up artist daughter Mollie were sick of perfumes that patronised women. So, two years ago they launched their own artisan scent company, Reek, and delivered a perfume with gallons of attitude. Damn Rebel Bitches came with a whiff of activism, a punch of tribute to the women of the Jacobite risings, and a challenging of beauty industry norms. Their T-shirt slogans declared “Bitches Unite”. Reek also commissioned blogs on the repeal of the abortion law in Ireland, and paid for an activist to go back there to vote. Meanwhile, Sheridan has continued to rattle out her inspired Mirabelle Bevan mysteries. Next year she also brings out Where Are The Women, an imagined atlas of Scotland that renames all those monuments and sites in Scotland named after men, with women’s names.


Cara Ellison, 33, games developer and writer

Why? She is the story behind your dream games.

“SOMETIMES it’s hard to pin down how important Cara Ellison has been to video games,” declared Paste magazine earlier this year, “because Cara Ellison doesn’t make a big deal about what she’s done for video games.” Suffice to say it’s quite a lot.

She games-tested for the Grand Theft Auto series, wrote stories for games and travelled the world to write a kind of travel book about the mad, mad world of game-making, entitled Embed With Games.

As Paste put it, she’s “the Hunter S Thompson of games journalism”. Currently she is doing story design on Dreams for the PS4 and working on the opening essay for Becoming Dangerous. One of her biggest recent projects, though, isn’t a game.

It’s a BBC kids’ television game show, Last Commanders, inspired by video gaming.


Mark and Isla Nelson, 37 and four, comedians and political influencers

Why? They keep it in the family.

IT’S hard to say whether, when Mark Nelson started doing hilarious videos with his daughter Isla, he found his perfect sidekick, or she found hers. Suffice to say that those wee bits of footage in which we were delivered “a three-year-old’s take” on everything from elections to the Kardashians were the most genius thing the stand-up has done. The News At 3, as the BBC short videos were called, had us hooked, and soon Isla was scooping up the Best Actress Award at the Scottish Comedy Awards.

But we haven’t seen much from Isla lately. Maybe it’s because she’s now the grand old age of four. Or maybe it’s because Nelson got worried that soon people would be just seeing him as Isla’s dad – which, perhaps, they already were.


Johanna Basford, 35, colouring book pioneer

Why? Because she saved us with colouring.

ONCE upon a time colouring books were for children. Then came along Johanna Basford with The Enchanted Garden and her wild idea that adults would like colouring, and we were hooked. Some 21 million copies later and colouring-in is up there with meditation as a popular relaxation technique. The Scot who started the revolution says all of that “melts” her brain. Basford, who happens to be married to James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog, says the success was almost accidental. “I absolutely did not set out to try and make any of this happen.” Next month she publishes World Of Flowers and launches a campaign encouraging people to do a month of colouring a flower a day as part of an experiment to see if they feel happier afterwards.


Rose Leslie, 31, actor

Why? Because Jon Snow and Ygritte for ever.

THEY’RE the screen romance story of the year. Rosie Leslie and Kit Harrington were a couple in Game Of Thrones. She died in his arms. Then in June this year, the real-life couple married at Rayne Church, Aberdeenshire, to the bliss of fans. Here are a few things you might not know about Leslie – unless you’re not an obsessive GOT fan. She lived in France for two years and speaks French. She is the middle child of five. She’s quite posh – she was raised at her family’s ancestral seat, Lickleyhead Castle, Aberdeenshire, and her father is the chieftain of Clan Leslie. Her mother is a descendant of Charles II of Scotland and England. Does this make her cool? Maybe not. But she rock climbs, skis and does archery. She also rocks as Maia in series The Good Fight.


Kobi Onyame, 36, rap artist

Why? His album, Gold, is the freshest of urban sounds – and it’s from Glasgow.

THOUGH Onyame was raised in London, he’s an advocate for searching for your vibe elsewhere. There’s something, he says, in the water in Glasgow. Add to that the inspiration he took from his Ghanaian heritage, “the high life and the afro beat” and the kind of music his father, an economist, used to play when he was a kid, and you have Gold, an album which is lighting up this year’s Scottish Album of the Year shortlist.

Onyame came to Strathclyde University in 2004 to do a masters in economics, and stayed – but chose not to follow in his father’s footsteps. “That,” he says, “would be the very sensible thing to do. And just like myself I did not do the sensible thing. I did the passionate thing.” It’s been a long journey – he worked in retail, battled depression, kept dreaming – but he is making his mark. What’s he up to now? “Basking in it. Just basking.”


Tom Kitchin, 41, chef

Why? He’s showing us how good Scottish scran can be.

WHAT Tom Kitchin does still matters – just as it did back in 2006, when he opened his Leith fine-dining gaff and his from “nature to plate” philosophy seemed revolutionary. It matters not just because we know his face from the telly. No, it counts because he’s a key force in the casual dining revolution. Though his Kitchin restaurant may have that Michelin star, where he is really making a mark now is with gastropubs. Last month, he announced he was opening a fourth restaurant in Edinburgh, Southside Scran, which will be about Scottish fare with a relaxed bistro feel. As the chef told us last year: “Sometimes when I’m in the Scran [And Scallie] I stop and I see people eating oysters or pig ears or stuff. It just creates atmosphere. Shellfish as well, I love seeing people getting into crabs. Everybody likes that food. That’s why I’ll never do another restaurant like Kitchin. Because the Scran And Scallie vibe is more and more what people are looking for.”


Niamh Nic Daeid, 50, professor of forensic science

Why? Fire investigation is in her blood – and she is making that matter. 

ALONG with her pioneering forensic colleague Dame Sue Black, Nic Daeid is one of the brains Val McDermid turns to for crime fiction detail. Her mother, a botanist, and father, a chemist, started up the first private fire investigation company working for the insurance industry in Ireland. “From the age of 10,” she says, “I started being dragged around and talking about fire scenes”. Now, as professor of forensic science at the University of Dundee, she is a leading expert in the impact of fire. Hence, when the Grenfell inquiry was looking for expert witnesses it turned to Nic Daeid. She is also director of the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science, a revolutionary 10-year project to transform the way forensics work in the justice system. But one of the things that makes her most cool is the way she communicates. Nic Daeid shows why forensics matters. “When I was growing up,” she says, “my grandmother, who was a very strong influence on me, always advocated working hard and being able to find something that would give your talents and your life some meaning.”


Eunice Olumide, 29, supermodel

Why? She's a supermodel philanthropist.

IS there anything that Eunice Olumide MBE doesn’t do? She presents television, speaks on panels, curates, has set up her own gallery, raises money for charity, DJs, acts and writes. She even appeared in Star Wars: Rogue One. Born in Edinburgh to Nigerian parents, and raised in a Wester Hailes housing scheme, she was spotted by a modelling scout on Sauchiehall Street. Above all, what makes her cool is that she has committed herself to philanthropy and environmental campaigning. Olumide, ever busy, just got married – to champion gymnast Steve Frew – and has a book out, entitled How To Get Into Fashion: A Complete Guide for Models, Creatives And Anyone Interested In The World Of Fashion.


Si Ferry, 30, football vlogger

Why? Ferry’s Open Goal interviews made footballers seem real again.

JUST 18 months ago, Si Ferry was in the twilight days of a football career, playing for Peterhead once a week, coaching Under-10s for Celtic, doing the Royal Mail night shift and sitting about the house all day. Then he got a call from some producers, who had a “wee idea”. They liked his Twitter stream and wondered if he would be up for interviewing fellow footballers. Thus Open Goal, the biggest new internet site in Scottish football was born. “I interviewed four of my mates and I thought nobody would like it,” says Ferry.

“But those interviews went out and it went mad after that.” Si Ferry Meets. Ally McCoist got over 150,000 views. Currently the team are pitching for a BBC show. What’s the magic? “People hold these players up on a pedestal,” says Ferry.

“They think they’ve got the best lives in the world. But you’ll hear they went through bad times. People like to hear that these guys don’t just live in perfect eight-room houses and drink champagne every night.”


Sharon Rooney, 29, actor

Why? Because the girl who made My Mad Fat Diary has run away to the Tim Burton circus.

BACK in 2013, Sharon Rooney became the big sister to every teen with mental health or body image issues in the country, when she played loveable teen Rae, in My Mad Fat Diary. The fan-following was huge. This the year she grows up on screen as she takes a role in next spring’s big release, Tim Burton’s Dumbo. “I just think, ‘how did this little Glasgow kid end up here? How?’” she said, in an interview last year, as she described her thrill at being cast in a film by her hero. Rooney is also a great body positivity campaigner. In May, when body fascists were critiquing heatwave dress, she tweeted, “Wear what YOU WANT. Be comfortable, be happy and BE FREE.”


Claire Heuchan, 26, blogger and social media influencer

Why? Because she is a black radical feminist who pulls no punches.

HEUCHAN’S Sister Outrider blog won a Write To End Violence Against Women award and her Twitter account has nearly 13,000 followers, all of them there for what this PhD student writes about being black, a lesbian and a woman in Scotland today. When, in 2016, she wrote about a piece in The Guardian about the “overlap between racism and nationalism”, she caused a twitter storm of rage.

How does Heuchan cope with some of the hate she experiences? “I crochet,” she says.

Next month, Heuchan has a book on racism coming out, for children, which is co-authored with Nikesh Shukla, its title being What Is Race? Who Are Racists? Why Does Racism Matter? And Other Big Questions. “I tried to write the book I needed as a child,” she says.


David Martin, 43, artist and festival director

Why? He brings dead buildings to life.

THREE years ago, hardly anyone knew about the Leith Theatre, Scotland’s most exciting new music venue. It had sat abandoned for decades. Then, David Martin, the creative director of Hidden Door festival and head of painting at nearby Leith School of Art, happened to get a look in. On his tour of the building, he got a glimpse of the huge peeling chasm of the main auditorium. “I saw it,” he says, “and honestly thought it would be epic.”

Hidden Door, an unruly, dream of a festival, started out in 2014, delivering art, music, poetry and film in some of the dank, peeling and abandoned spaces of Edinburgh, including Leith Theatre. Originally, all he had been looking for was somewhere to show his art. He had thought it would just be “an exhibition in a pub”. But then he kept discovering spaces. “I began to think of it as chasing a snowball down a hill, it was getting bigger and bigger, by accident.” Hidden Door has a special alchemy. Things happen to the places it uses in its wake. It’s also, Martin impresses, not just about him. It’s a giant team and volunteer effort. It’s also an endeavour that costs – this year the festival has appealed for £80,000 to save it.


Cora Bissett, 43, theatre director

Why? Because almost all of us have dreamed of being in a band.

SHE was cool back in 1991 when, as a Fife teenager, she fronted the indie band Darlingheart and toured with Blur and Radiohead. But theatre director Cora Bissett is even more cool now, particularly when she wrote a play about those times, What Girls Are Made Of. The show wasn’t so much about music, but about being young, having a daughter, dementia, and so many other things. It was also, as Herald theatre critic Neil Cooper put it, “a litany of pure joy”. “It felt quite weird,” Bissett says, “a little bit like your maw getting up at the Christmas do taking all their clothes off. I wondered if it would be embarrassing.” All this from the woman who also brought us such genius shows as Glasgow Girls.

NEXT WEEK: The countdown of Scotland's 100 Coolest People continues from 21-60