When 23-year-old Nathan Sullivan stepped up to speak before a crowded room in Edinburgh this week, he had a mountain of unspoken voices behind him. More than 15,000 children are currently living in care in Scotland. Nathan was one of them. It’s why he’s here now, in this campus room in a corner of the …

Song for my sister

It’s Friday morning in the Beattie family household. Judith is curled up on the living room chair, wrapped up like a fluffy burrito in a fleecy dressing gown. Her twin sister Katie and brother Ross sit closely beside her, watching as she drops her head tiredly onto the armrest. It’s the day after another round …

Undead bands and pumpkin heads rock creative hub

In a derelict looking building in the city’s west side, where trains grumble by on iron girders and Glasgow’s elite elderly shoppers take their tea, Michael Collin is creating a band of the undead. “This larger one is the drummer and this guy is sort of headless,” he says, pointing to an empty space on …

Donations flood in for Syrian refugee appeal

There’s a place near the Syrian border in the vast Jordanian desert that the children call Dream Land. A small, unobtrusive building in a sea of plastic tents, inside its walls are covered in bright paper butterflies. Small hands scratch rainbows of crayon onto paper with green strokes of grass and pink petaled flowers. The …

Flying whales, musical sloths and the boy who never grew up

You know you’re in the presence of an artist when the business card they hand you looks something like this. “It’s a sloth playing a banjo,” Neil Slorance points out helpfully. Seated in his studio/bedroom in Glasgow’s Southside, it looks as though the entire imaginative contents of Neil’s mind have exploded onto the four walls …

At the going down of the sun we will remember them

Scots soldiers are to unveil a memorial built with their own hands to honour the bagpipers and drummers who have lost their lives in conflict. After a summer spent planting and hewing stones into place, the soldiers at the Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming in Colinton are set to open a memorial …

A soldier’s farewell

You can go through it a thousand times but you never get used to saying goodbye, especially when it has to be said to your husband, your brother, or even your son.  At the soldier’s barracks in Edinburgh, in a squat building which serves as their mess hall, hands are being held tightly while eyes …

Built on the blood and sweat of men

Just before dawn the men rise, the fumes of whisky from the night before still lingering on their breath. Ill-shod and bleary-eyed, they gather by the ridges of the canals they are paid to dig. For a few pence a day they descend in their hundreds, using buckets and shovels to shift tonnes of heavy, …

Hogging the rare pet corner

There’s a grey door down in Leith which looks like pretty much every other front door in the city. Painted and polished with a standard electric buzzer it could be any tenement entrance in Auld Reekie. Until, that is, you reach the small round plaque hanging by its letterbox. BEWARE OF THE HEDGEHOG “Come in, …

The secret art of bringing the dead to life

In a tall stone tower, built right on the edge of sand and saltwater, George Jamieson is bringing the dead to life. Standing sentinel over the Forth and hidden by trees filled with birdsong, Cramond Tower is like something out of a Grimm fairytale, complete with high pointed turret and winding stone steps fit for …

A lesson in forgiveness from Rwanda genocide survivor

“Imagine someone who kills you slowly. They start to cut your arm, then your nose. So slowly that it takes three days for you to die. That’s how they killed my sister.” Jean-Paul Samputu’s voice is gentle, deep with the resonating tones of Africa. It’s been almost 20 years since his sister’s murder. Almost two …

Swords at the ready with Auld Reekie warriors

There’s nothing like the hiss of cold steel whistling past your face to make you feel more alive. Along the snowy streets of Edinburgh warriors are gathering. Arriving in dribs and drabs, they clamber down cold stone steps into the basement of a church hall. Centuries ago these brave individuals would have rocked up in …

Magic of The Snowman brought to life

Today, almost 300 children stared spellbound at a gilded stage for the first time in their lives and watched a real little boy and his snowman hold hands, take to the air, and fly through a night sky of glittering snow and stars. There are many magical moments at this time of year, but today …

Love behind enemy lines

It’s a picture of two lovers smiling in the sunshine, the man with his arm wrapped proudly around his girlfriend’s shoulders, the woman smiling shyly but happily in his embrace. It could be a photograph of any young couple, anywhere, but this image is of a young German girl, wrapped in the arms of a …

City pauses to remember the fallen on Remembrance Day

Row upon row of small white crosses stand silently to attention as the piper plays, as though each solider they represent has heard the call to duty once again. Around them the people of the city gather, heads bowed, children hushed as the words that have been read out loud for decades haunt the air. …

Welcome home dad as 3 Rifles return from Afghanistan

Goodbyes are always hard to say but sometimes they serve to make the ‘hello’ just that much sweeter. It is early morning at Redford Barracks and the excited screams of children can already be heard behind the fences of barbed mesh and wire. It could be the rather generous amount of ginger biscuits on offer, …

Combat Stress: Fighting the enemy within

Lance Corporal John Templeton was a Scottish soldier. He signed himself up for duty and took an oath to fight for Queen and country, should his Queen and his country call. And call on him they did – to the Troubles of Northern Ireland, to the blinding heat of war in Iraq. But for John, …