Patient rams table into pregnant nurse after “bad day” 224

By Paul Thornton
A PATIENT has been jailed after he rammed a table into the stomach of a heavily pregnant nurse who was caring for him – because he was having a bad day.
Prosecutors said John Ross, 46, would have been able to see the Afro-Caribbean staff nurse was almost six-months pregnant when he launched the sick attack.
The ungrateful lout also screamed a volley of racist abuse at the health worker, who was helping him to have kidney dialysis.
Yesterday (Monday) at Edinburgh Sheriff Court he admitted assault and racist abuse and was locked-up for three months after a sheriff branded the attack “disgraceful behaviour”.
Fiscal depute Graham Fraser told the court how staff nurse Eunice Kudom had telephoned Ross after he failed to show for an appointment at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
The 28-year-old was due to help Ross with kidney dialysis, which he needs three times every week.
But when he failed did not appear for his 9am appointment in July this year, she became worried and called him.
His taxi had been late to pick him up and this, he said, had put him in a bad mood. He eventually made it to the hospital and was taken into a private room to begin his dialysis.
But after a short while Ross accused Miss Kudom of interrupting him and, despite an apology from the nurse, launched his attack.
Mr Fraser said: “She apologised but he became aggressive and said she was nothing but a useless girl.
“He pushed a table which struck her on the stomach.”
Mr Fraser added that because Miss Kudom was so heavily pregnant it would have been obvious to her attacker that she was expecting a child.
To add insult to injury as the terrified nurse, who was 24-weeks into her pregnancy, fled the room he repeatedly screamed “black b****” at her.
Ross had shown “a wholesale lack of consideration for people saving his life”, said Mr Fraser.
Luckily, she had not suffered any injuries or complications to her pregnancy as a result of the attack.
His lawyer, Caroline Kwek, said that her client had been struggling since his mother, who was his main carer, had been hospitalised.
She said he was deeply ashamed of his actions that day, which he attributed to having a bad day – including his taxi being late to take him to his appointment.
Miss Kwek added that a serious head injury 10 years ago had caused Ross to act differently at times.
She said: “He took out his anger on the nurse.”
But Sheriff Nigel Morrison QC said: “This is disgraceful behaviour.”
He jailed Ross, of West Bryson Road, Edinburgh, for three months.

US cops send Richey hate mail 223

By Douglas Walker

THE US cops who arrested Kenny Richey before his Death Row sentence have sent gloating messages to him in jail.

The cheeky officers posted a ‘Thank You’ card to the inmate and wrote inside – ‘You’re now back where you belong’.

A separate enclosure shows a grinning Richey with the words ‘Are you still smiling?’ written below.

Last night the proud con says the card is now stuck on his cell wall and has accused the American detectives of hiding crucial evidence during his trial.

The package was addressed to ‘Ken’ Richey with the full Saughton prison address in Edinburgh and was sent using a 94 cent airmail stamp. 

The envelope was franked in Lima, Ohio on 21 August 2008 and written on the top left hand corner was the sender’s address of Putnam Co Sheriff in Ohawa, Ohio.

Enclosed was a drab, brown greeting card with ‘Thank You’ printed on the front.

Inside written in blue ink was, ‘Welcome back, you’re now back where you belong’ and beneath were the signatures of Roy Sargent and Steve Stechschulte – the two officers who arrested Richey following the death of two-year-old Cynthia Collins.

Also enclosed was a photocopy of the local paper’s story of his death sentence in 1986.  The article carried a photo of Richey grinning widely while being lead away by police officers.

Typed beneath the photocopy was, ‘Are you still smiling?’.

Richey, 44, was freed from Death Row in January after agreeing a plea bargain to quash his conviction for the murder of innocent Cynthia.

The toddler died in a fire in her Columbus, Ohio, apartment 22 years ago while drunken revellers partied outside.

Richey, from Edinburgh, always denied setting fire to the apartment building in a revenge attack on a former lover who lived below the dead girl’s flat.

Now retired, Putnam County Deputy Sheriffs Roy Sargent and Steve Stechschulte arrested the former US-marine on the night of the fatal blaze.

Shortly afterwards Richey told Deputy Roy Sargent that the prosecutor Randy Basinger was a ‘dead man’ and that ‘whoever testified against him had better hope he’s six feet under’.

Stechschulte was the lead detective on the case and the first person inside the apartment where Cynthia died.

He says the evidence in the case remains fresh in his mind and he has no doubt Richey killed the tot.

Upon his release in January, bitter Stechschulte insisted: “Knowing the facts that I knew, that man committed the crime.  There is no doubt in my mind.”

Stechshulte is no longer serving with Putnam County police and is now a Law Enforcement Instructor at the Apollo Career Centre in Lima, Ohio.

Still furious about Richey’s release, last night he angrily confirmed sending the card and gave a chilling warning.

He raged: “It’s between Richey and the two of us – no one else.

“The man is a killer. You ask the family of Cynthia Collins what they think of him. 

“He’ll do the same in Scotland – I can guarantee it.”

Richey is currently back behind bars after being accused of attacking a 63-year-old granddad.

Last night he said: “The two cops who signed the card were the arresting officers in the case. 

“They hid evidence which would have proved my evidence from the very start.

“I couldn’t care what they think anymore, they are both lying son of a bitches.  I hope they rot in hell.”

Since his release Richey has never been far away from controversy and was quickly banned from a number of nightclubs and casinos.

His life on the outside quickly spiralled out of control and in July he was beaten up by a man claiming to be a boxer after a booze-fuelled brawl outside his flat. 

The previous night Richey had to be talked down from a factory roof after being surrounded by armed police.

He is also currently undergoing treatment for mouth cancer after being diagnosed in April.

Last week Richey told how he was set for pop stardom as a 17-year-old after former Bay City Rollers manager Tam Paton lined him up an audition for a new band.

However both were then sent to jail meaning his dreams were dashed.  The pair were reunited in prison this week following Paton’s arrest on drug charges last Friday.

Top scout plunges to death at beauty spot 222

By Douglas Walker

A TOP scout has died after plunging 50ft to his death on Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh.

Mark Muir, 19, was discovered in jagged gorse bush by a passing walker after going missing 24 hours earlier.

The teenage student had been out with friends before deciding take a detour along the precarious hillside.

Police believe he lost his footing and say his death is nothing more than a tragic accident.

Mark, who is originally from Inverkip, Inverclyde, was a keen climber and had recently surpassed the 60,000ft milestone.

He had been enjoying a night out with friends in Edinburgh’s city centre before leaving them to make his own way home in the early hours of September 18.

Cops say he had ventured up Arthur’s Seat and was walking along a precarious trail beneath Salisbury Crags when he fatally lost his grip.

Mark, who lived in the city’s Haymarket area, plummeted 50ft down the steep hillside before landing in some sharp gorse bush below.

He lay undiscovered until a walker made the grim find 24 hours later last Saturday morning.

Academic Mark left Greenock High School last year and was studying maths and accountancy at Edinburgh’s Heriot Watt University.

He had been in the Scouts since he was ten years old before becoming a youth leader with the 85th First Inverkip group.

David McCallum, district commissioner of Greenock and District Scout Association, had known Mark was the last nine years.

He said: “I knew him extremely well. He was a smashing lad and one of Scouting’s nicest sons.

“It was a dreadful accident. It’s just a shock.

“He was a real achiever and received his Chief Scout Gold Award and Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award.

“He was one of the few scouts to achieve the Double Everest Award where he climbed the equivalent of 60,000ft.

“He was a hero and an inspiration to many, and a lot of young people will be badly affected by his death.

“Mark followed the real scouting path and was friends with lots of people. He kept the scouting promise to do his best.”

Last night Holyrood Park Rangers issued a warning to people of the area’s dangers.

A Historic Scotland spokesperson said: “The terrain of Holyrood Park is diverse, open and in places extremely challenging and exposed. 

“We advise people to keep to the paths and not attempt to stray into territory that could be potentially dangerous to them. 

“It is important that people using the park are well equipped and prepared for any activity they wish to undertake. 

“If a user of the park has any doubt about what the landscape in the park may encompass or available paths and walking routes, our Holyrood Park Ranger service can provide information.

“The user can then make planned, careful and responsible use of the park, at their own risk.”

Last night Mark’s devastated mum, Karen Muir, said she was too upset to comment any further.

A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police said: “This appears to have been a tragic accident.

“There are no suspicious circumstances and a report has been submitted to the procurator fiscal.”

Two years ago a Taiwanese schoolboy also died after falling to the bottom of Salisbury Crags.

Tam drummed out of court 221

By Paul Thornton

SUSPECTED drugs dealer Tam Paton almost went face-to-face in court with a sheriff who used to play drums in a band he managed.

The 70-year-old former Bay City Rollers manager was arrested on Friday night and, after a weekend in the cells, appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Monday over 12 drug charges.

He was set to appear in a custody court presided over by Sheriff Gordon Liddle – once a drummer in Paton-run group ‘Bilbo Baggins’.

But when quick thinking court staff made the connection, Paton was quickly penned in to appear before a different sheriff, Graeme Warner.

Paton once hailed the sheriff’s 1970s group as “better than the Rollers”, with whom they shared the tartan rockers image.
Guided by Paton, the group played at top venues around Scotland, released a chart single and even had an appearance on Top of the Pops before Sheriff Liddle left to pursue his illustrious law career.

The pair were set for a surprise reunion until eagle-eyed court staff spotted the coincidence.

But strict rules prevent sheriffs from dealing with people they know personally and court staff moved swiftly to ensure the problem never surfaced.

Paton, who suffers from heart problems, appeared in private and was remanded in custody after making no plea or declaration.

A Scottish Court Service spokesperson confirmed Paton was never going to cross paths with his former band’s drummer.

She said: “Thomas Paton was on the list that was due to be heard by the other Sheriff on duty that day.”
But a court insider said: “It was never mentioned by the sheriff but as soon as we saw the name we knew of the connection and it was made sure that he did not come in front of Sheriff Liddle.”
Just like their better-known contemporaries, Bilbo Baggins went for the tartan rock look and even played for RAF heroes at a base in Cyprus.
But despite playing sell-out gigs at top spots like the Glasgow Apollo, the “New Rollers” label worked against them.
And their biggest chart success came with ‘She’s Goin’ to Win’, in 1978, which reached just number 42 in the rankings.
In an interview seven years ago, Paton declared: “I am delighted Gordon has been successful.
“Bilbo Baggins were better than the Rollers. They were a very strong, musical band.”
Sheriff Liddle left Cranhill Secondary School in Glasgow without a single O-Grade and began work as an electrician. In his spare time, he played in a band called Horoscope.
Bilbo Baggins began with four members and later added a fifth. For a while, it seemed they were on their way to fame and fortune. But the fame never came and after the band split in 1979, Sheriff Liddle began his career in law.
He graduated in Law from Edinburgh University in 1984 and went on to become an advocate. He was appointed a temporary sheriff in 1998 before being elevated to full-time sheriff in May 2000.

St Monans is “community on the dole” 220

By Alexander Lawrie
A PICTURESQUE seaside town has been slandered on a popular website – as a community on the dole.
The people of St Monans, in the East Neuk of Fife, have seen their reputation insulted on the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
The self-editing website – the biggest free information database in the world – states: “St Monans is home to many businesses, of which fish merchants and fish-smokehouses are most abundant as the majority of people are on benefits.”
The website has earned a reputation for inaccuracies, but many researchers believe it still gives the most up-to-date information on the internet.
Contents of the site are provided by volunteers, and in this case the contributor has gone too far, says local Tory councillor Mike Hayward-Scott.
He said: “I certainly would not, as a councillor, say this is an accurate description. It’s disparaging and will not endear the author to St Monans.
“Wikipedia is just a version of the truth and shouldn’t be taken too seriously. The person who has written this is ignorant and ill-informed because I know for a fact that the people of St Monans are extremely hard-working and industrious.
“I’m appalled at this scurrilous comment, and as a matter of fact the amount of people in the village claiming benefit is well under the national average.
“I think its incumbent on people to check facts and not daydream. Secondly, it proves people reading Wikipedia should have a pinch of salt ready just in case.”
According to recent figures St Monans has a population of 1440 people.
And, according to the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation, in 2006 only 13 per cent of St Monans residents were on benefits.
In total, only 183 people were claiming income support, and within this group 170 people were classed “employment deprived”.
The offending online entry has now been removed.

Official whisky glass hits 5 million mark 219

By Alexander Lawrie
SCOTLAND’S ‘Official Whisky Glass’ makers are celebrating after selling their 5 millionth glass.
Glencairn Crystal – who supplies the Royal Family with their cut-glass crystal – has smashed all sales expectations over the past six years.
The company behind the famous Glencairn Glass is to celebrate the sales landmark by introducing a brand new version of the iconic whisky glass.
And the family-run firm has also disclosed they have recently landed the prestigious contract to supply crystal to the QE2.
The new, innovative tumbler has been specifically designed to enhance the taste and enjoyment of Scotland’s national drink, as the tapered mouth of the glass allows ease of drinking, the wide bowl shows off the whisky’s colour and the base is designed to be easy on the hand.
And while the company has picked up a stream of awards for their glass design, which only uses the finest crystal in the manufacturing, they are refusing to “rest on their laurels”.
In recent years the company – who are the last remaining crystal suppliers in Scotland – has earned themselves the Scottish Marketing Award for Innovation, along with the more prestigious Queen’s Award for Innovation.
Scott Davidson, Glencairn’s Product Development Manager, said: “We had been selling the glass for a couple of years and discovered whisky companies were referring to it as the official whisky glass.
“Some of them told us they wouldn’t use anything else while tasting their whiskies, which was really nice to hear.
 “The glass was designed with the help of Master Blenders from five of the largest whisky companies in the country. Their input was invaluable in the concept and the ultimate design of the glass.
“It is specifically designed to allow the aroma to build up and to keep the taste of the whisky consistent.
“Glencairn have been supplying the Royal household for the past 18 months, and we really hope we can be allowed to use the Royal crest as official suppliers in the very near future.”
The crystal company, which is based in East Kilbride, has been supplying prestigious companies such as Rolls Royce, Cunard and BP with personalised crystal glasses for over 20 years.
The new version of the glass is the same size and shape of the original, but uses lead free crystal to give a better clarity and a finer edge.
Along with the clean cut version, there are also limited editions available with engravings including a Scottish thistle, an Irish harp and the Welsh dragon.
The glass was originally developed by Glencairn Crystal managing director Raymond Davidson over 20 years ago, but the concept lay gathering dust until his sons discovered their father’s prototype in 2000.
The shape of the glass is derived from the traditional nosing copita used in whisky labs around Scotland, and the pioneering design was aided by Master Blenders from five of the largest whisky companies in world.
A presentation ceremony was held by the blenders in 2004 at the Fettercairn Distillery to officially acknowledge Mr Davidson for designing and developing the Glencairn Glass.
David Stewart, Master Blender with William Grant and Sons, said: “It’s great that Scotch whisky now has its own drinking glass at long last, and being a Whisky Blender this glass allows me to nose the whisky from this glass prior to drinking.”
John Ramsay, the Master Blender from Famous Grouse, said: “The Glencairn Glass is based on the nosing glass shape that most blenders use professionally.
“The shape combines the aroma and captures the attributes of the professional glass.
“The recent move to crystal has been a big improvement for me, because it takes the glass thickness down.”
And Whyte and Mackay’s Master Blender, Richard Paterson, added: “A very special drink needs a very special glass to fully appreciate it, and the design of the Glencairn Glass allows the drinker to experience malt whiskies the way they were meant to be experienced.
“Five million customers can’t be wrong.”
The glass first went into production in 2002, and since then it has been supplied almost exclusively to the whisky industry, with only a limited number of bars and restaurants being supplied.
Now with the introduction of the new glass the company is hoping to widen their target market.
Paul Davidson, Managing Director of Glencairn Crystal Studio, said: “Although the glass has been highly successful we did not want to sit back on our laurels, and through an extensive period of consultation we have improved the glass and the branding to allow it to sit alongside the most premium of malt whiskies.
“Working with a new manufacturing partner we have invested heavily with a view to establishing a global reputation for the glass as the choice for whisky drinkers everywhere.”
Scott Davidson said: “Our customers tell us the shape of the glass is iconic and memorable, and we are now hoping to take the concept and adapt it for the wider consumer market.
“Currently, 95 per cent of our trade is business to business, and the second phase of our development will be to introduce the glass to the consumer directly.”
John Hansell, the Publisher & Editor of Malt Advocate Magazine, said the Glencairn glass has the “perfect balance of elegance and masculinity”.
He added: “I don’t want a dainty drinking glass, but I also don’t want a glass that’s so thick and bulky that it keeps me too isolated from my whisky. The Glencairn Crystal Glass achieves the proper balance.”

KT honeymoon in remote cottage 218

By Alexander Lawrie
NEWLYWEDS KT Tunstall and her drummer husband Luke Bullen shunned a celebrity-style honeymoon – by renting a small, secluded cottage on Skye for the week.
The Scots-born pop star chose to stay in one of four private cottages in the tiny crofting and fishing village of Elgol.
The rock star couple were recently married at Skye’s Flodigarry Country House Hotel on the north east of the island, and their banns were posted in the island’s capital, Portree.
Owned by locals Andrew and Mary Sim, the four cottages have been in their family for six generations, and are based on the traditional island ‘black house’ or thatched cottage.
KT and Luke hired ‘Tigh Lachie’, the newest of the four cottages, and went totally unnoticed by the other guests during their stay.
The cosy cottage features underfloor heating and oil burning stoves, while a traditional veiled box bed added a further touch of romance to the already beautiful surroundings.
The view from the jetty at the bottom of the village, looking across Loch Scavaig into Loch Coruisk and the magnificent Cuillin Hills mountain range, is arguably one of the finest in the country.
After a wonderful week’s stay, kind-hearted KT left a thank you note for owners Andrew and Mary.

She wrote: “Skye is my favourite place in the world, and Elgol is my favourite place on Skye. Staying at Mary’s Cottages and meeting Mary & Drew enriched the experience all the more. All the best, KT.”
Mary and Andrew decided to keep the couple’s location secret throughout the course of their stay, but couldn’t wait to share the news once they said their goodbyes to the couple.
Mary said: “We feel very privileged that KT and Luke chose Mary’s Cottages as the place they wanted to spend the beginning of their honeymoon.
“We also very much appreciate the support they have shown to the island, as by choosing Skye as their wedding venue they will encourage many more visitors to come and enjoy the island’s unrivalled scenery, attractions and hospitality.”
“The cottages really are the perfect romantic getaway, and we very much enjoyed having them with us.”
The 33-year-old singer-songwriter has also just announced she is to take part in an expedition to the world’s biggest glacier as part of an initiative to highlight climate change.
Also aboard the research vessel Grogory Mikhev will be Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker and comedian Marcus Brigstocke.
The ship will travel along the west coast of Greenland to Disko Bay, then sail on to the Jakobshavn Glacier which is estimated to be losing 20 million tonnes of ice each day.

Family’s firebomb nightmare continues 217

By Alexander Lawrie
A FAMILY whose home was attacked in a horrific petrol bomb assault say they are still haunted by the attack.
Brian and Tracy Soave, from Penicuik, Midlothian, were sleeping when their home was fire-bombed by ex-neighbour Andrew Brown in August last year.
Brown, 23, was sentenced to eight years at Edinburgh’s High Court on Monday for the heinous attack.
The ex-garage worker denied attempting to murder the family, but he was convicted after the jury returned a majority verdict.
The couple, along with their two sons, narrowly avoided serious injury during the incident, and admit they still regularly relive the nightmare and suffer flashbacks about the night the deadly Molotov cocktail was thrown their window.
Brown was captured on a CCTV camera that the Soaves had attached to their home after suffering a catalogue of incidents over a six-year period.
The family had been subjected to abusive behaviour from Brown and had their cars vandalised over the six years.
They also had to contend with a barrage of unsolicited mail that included unordered books, DVD’s and pornographic material.
Mrs Soave, 41, said: “My husband first heard a loud bang that morning and rushed down to see what was going on.
“The next thing I heard was him shouting for all of us to get out of the house because the living room was on fire. At first we tried to get out the bedroom window onto the garage roof, but the blind was stuck and we couldn’t budge it. Eventually we just ran for our lives out the front door.
“We had six years of hell living next to him. We constantly had our vehicles slashed, daubed with paint and found rude notes on our windscreen.

I can’t even remember what started it all off because when we first moved in to the house they were really friendly towards us.
“Although his face is covered in the footage, I’ve got no doubt in my mind it was him. When you live next door to someone for that length of time, you can just tell.
“All we were trying to do was live our lives in peace and it has been turned upside down, all for nothing.”
Judge Roger Craik QC told the court the CCTV footage was “one of the most dramatic sequences” he had witnessed in court.
The attacker, who was clad in a white hooded boiler suit, was captured on film outside the Soave family home in August last year launching a lit petrol bomb towards the house.
Brown and his family had lived next door to the Soaves before moving to a nearby street just a couple of months before the attack.
Mr Soave said he was “disgusted at the sentence” admitting the family is still coming to terms with the attack.
Mrs Soave, 41, added: “I don’t really know how to feel about the sentence, we thought he might get longer. But, I now feel we will always have to look out over our shoulders.
“I have to add however, the police dealt with the matter impeccably and the detectives involved were outstanding.”


Michelle McManus supports children’s charity 216

By Karrie Gillett

FORMER Pop Idol winner Michelle McManus showed her support for a new children’s helpline which would see counsellors available online.

The campaign from charity NSPCC is hoping to raise more than £11 million in Scotland over the next three years to expand the service which answers calls for help from anxious kids.

Last year, 33,500 youngsters spoke to volunteers in Scotland about problems ranging from abuse at home to troubles at school.

Now the charity aims to develop this vital service through its Child’s Voice campaign – with the goal of training more counsellors to answer an increasing number of calls.

And singer Michelle McManus, from Glasgow, joined a children’s choir today in Edinburgh to launch the start of the appeal as a new counselling base opened in the city.

She said: “I jumped at the chance to be part of the campaign.

“I know that more than 33,000 kids called and spoke to someone at ChildLine last year and one in three of those children had never spoken to anyone before.

“These stats just show how important the charity is – it really is the first and only resort for some children.

“I grew up in large family, I’ve got little sisters myself and I think every child deserves a safe childhood at the very, very least and as adults we are here to protect them.”

After launching the appeal, the NSPCC announced major plans to build on the ChildLine phone service which one child accesses every minute.

The funds raised will go towards creating an online and text message service and to building on their adult helpline which advises adults who have concerns about a child.

Elaine Chalmers, head of ChildLine Scotland, said the aim was to widen access to help for troubled children in Scotland so that no call would go unanswered.

She said: “We want to double the capacity of volunteers answering calls and use new, exciting ways to work with children such as texting and going on the internet.

“The demand is there to be answered and we want to work with children in a way that they are most comfortable with.

“We would take about one call a minute from a child but times have moved on and kids are more and more comfortable with texting and the internet.

“Expanding these services would mean that we could make sure no worried child would have to go without speaking to someone.

“It doesn’t matter how small the concern, if it matters to them, it matters to us.”

The new Edinburgh base which opens tomorrow will be the third premises in Scotland for the charity alongside its Aberdeen and Glasgow centres.

ChildLine Scotland has been responding to concerned children since 1990 with bullying, family relationships and abuse the three main reasons for calls.

And 2003 Pop Idol winner Michelle, 28, backed the plea from the charity that no problem would be too insignificant for volunteers to listen to.

She said: “The basic fact is that the charity is there to listen; that’s what it’s all about.

“Sometimes the kids are terrified to talk to anyone because they don’t feel they are going to be able to make any sense or get any help.

“It’s really important to let them know that there are people here to listen and they do have someone to turn to.”

JK Rowling honoured by city of Edinburgh 215

By Michael MacLeod

HARRY Potter author JK Rowling has said she can’t ever imagine leaving Edinburgh after being honoured by the city.

She picked up the ‘Edinburgh Award’ on Friday night for her “outstanding achievements and contribution to the city.”

With husband Dr Neil Murray in tow, she arrived at the 5-star Prestonfield House Hotel wearing an off-the-shoulder black evening dress and a sparkling silver clutch-bag.

Speaking outside the glitzy awards ceremony, she said that despite being born in Gloucestershire and raised all over England, Edinburgh is now “very much” her home.

She said: “It is my home, yes, very much so.

“I can’t imagine ever leaving actually. 

I’m really thrilled to get this award, obviously it’s very meaningful because Edinburgh is my home city so it’s got a practical meaning.”

She has sold 400 million books, but admitted she had never dared to dream of reaching such dizzying heights as an author.

When asked if she ever thought she’d scoop prestegious awards, she laughed and said: “Of course not, when I was living in Leith, no.

“This was not the kind of event at which I ever imagined myself featuring at.”

The night was a double celebration for JK, as it fell on what would be her Potter character Hermione’s 19th birthday.

Since revealing she wrote most of the Potter books in the capital’s cafes, some have become tourist attractions in their own rights.

JK added: “Edinburgh is the place where Harry evolved over seven books and many, many hours of writing in its cafes.

“So much has happened to me both professionally and personally since I moved here nearly fifteen years ago, that to receive this recognition is particularly meaningful and special.”

In true Hollywood style, she will have her hands cast in concrete next Spring to further mark the occasion.

The Edinburgh Award was set up in 2007 to recognise an individual’s outstanding achievements and contribution to the city of Edinburgh.

JK Rowling was selected by a judging panel comprising the Lord Provost and representatives from organiser Edinburgh City Council, Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian, Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations Council and the business community.

Ms Rowling is the second ever winner of the Edinburgh Award, following in the footsteps of her fellow city wordsmith Ian Rankin.

The internationally-renowned crime writer picked up the first Edinburgh Award in 2007 and, earlier this year, his handprints were immortalised in stone at the City Chambers.

From a large number of public nominations, representing a cross section of people from the fields of arts, business, science and hospitality, the Edinburgh Award judging panel unanimously voted Ms Rowling as this year’s winner.

Speaking on behalf of the judging panel, Lord Provost George Grubb said: “JK Rowling is undoubtedly one of the world’s best-loved writers and her books continue to thrill audiences young and old across the globe.
“Everyone knows the famous story of how she penned the first Harry Potter novel in various Edinburgh cafes and her literary achievements have really put the city on the map.

“She is a tremendous asset to the city, not least for her writing prowess but also for her philanthropy and the vast amount of support she gives to numerous charities.

“We are very proud that Ms Rowling has adopted Edinburgh as her home town, and I am delighted to honour her today by presenting her with The Edinburgh Award, 2008, in recognition of her inspiring achievements and her outstanding contribution to the cultural, social and economic prosperity of Edinburgh.”

As well as her writing, much of Ms Rowling’s time is taken up supporting various charities that are close to her heart within the city and beyond.

She is President of One Parent Families/Gingerbread and patron of both the Multiple Sclerosis Society Scotland and Maggie’s Centres for cancer sufferers.

Two years ago she set up a charity, the Children’s High Level Group, to promote children’s rights, particularly those of children in care in Eastern Europe.

Perhaps her most high-profile support goes to the Multiple Sclerosis Society Scotland, of which she is also patron, and hosts biennial charity balls, one of which was held at the Royal Museum in Chambers St.

Scotland has the highest prevalence of MS in the world, and claimed the life of her mother Anne, a Scot, in 1990.

Ms Rowling’s support for MSSS recently helped fund a new laboratory for MS research at the University.

Mark Hazlewood, Director of MS Society Scotland, said: “Jo’s support for people affected by multiple sclerosis has had a huge impact.

“She has enabled the MS Society Scotland to establish a world-leading research centre in Edinburgh which should lead to better treatments.

“She has added her voice to those of others raising awareness of MS and calling for Scotland to provide better support and services.

“People living with this devastating condition know that in Jo they have a strong ally; an ally who speaks with personal experience about how MS can impact on lives.

“She is every charity’s dream supporter!”

The judging of the Edinburgh Award was based on strict criteria, including whether the nominees’ work had made a positive impact on the city, gained international renown and contributed to an increase in tourism, education or overall awareness of Edinburgh.

As part of her award, Ms Rowling will be offered various opportunities throughout the year: for example, invitations to attend civic receptions, to accompany the Council at the annual Kirking at St Giles Cathedral and to take the salute with the Lord Provost at the Tattoo.