SIR TOM HUNTER TAKES TOP SCOTTISH HONOUR

A VERY unusual thing happened earlier this week, according to motor racing legend Jackie Stewart: “A Scotsman did quite well.”

Stewart was referring to the emotional moment when the Wizard of Wishaw John Higgins lifted the Snooker World Championship trophy for the fourth time on Monday night after narrowly beating newcomer Judd Trump.

But he could just have well as been talking about the winners of the Great Scot Awards, held at Boisdale restaurant in Canary Wharf in association with Boisdale Restaurants, the Spectator and City A.M.

This year’s overall winner of the Great Scot Award, following in the footsteps of painter Jack Vettriano, was Scotland’s first home-grown billionaire, the businessman, entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter, who received the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Great Scot Award for pledging to give £1bn to good causes over his lifetime through The Hunter Foundation.

Andy Gray, the disgraced Glaswegian Sky Sports presenter, was a no-show at the awards dinner, but fellow Scots Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury, and Miss Scotland 2009 Katharine Brown applauded as singer Annie Lennox OBE accepted the Great Scot Award for Charity and GMTV presenter Lorraine Kelly won the Great Scot Award for Entertainment.

The Lifetime Achievement Award went to songwriter Bill Martin, who wrote hit tunes including Congratulations for Cliff Richard and My Boy for Elvis Presley – the last song Elvis performed live – while Stewart, the first-ever winner of the Great Scot Award, presented golfer Sam Torrance OBE with the Great Scot Award for Sport.

“A special thanks to this evening’s sponsor Johnnie Walker,” joked Torrance as Boisdale’s waiters dispensed generous measures of Scottish whisky to the tartan-clad guests, “for helping me through these last forty years.”