Thousands of Red Lichties have had their say in a global poll to shine a light on the locals who have brightened up their pandemic.
Among an array of Arbroath stars, a popular singer who bounced back from a live lockdown performance heart attack has been chosen with his wife as the Angus town’s citizens of the year in a 2020 no-one will forget.
Alan and Val Mowatt topped the voting on the Red Lichties Worldwide Facebook page which drew 3,600 votes from local and exiles in every corner of the world.
The well-known couple drew an international online audience of their own for their Live Fae Our Living Room facebook music sessions every Friday night during lockdown.
In early July, the couple’s weekly gig hit a blip when Alan took a funny turn at the mic.
He soldiered on and within minutes was back belting out the Rat Pack hits for which he is best known.
However, after the live stream ended, Alan was rushed to hospital where it emerged he had suffered a heart attack during the Facebook show.
He underwent a triple heart bypass but the Mowatts thrilled fans with an online return for the festive period.
Alan and Val were among a roll of honour which Red Lichties Worldwide compiled after suggestions from around the world about who locally deserved recognition for their community spirit during the coronavirus crisis.
New trophy donated by Millgate Bar owner
The idea has led to their names going onto a new trophy donated by Scott Wann of the town’s Millgate Bar and the return of a citizen of the year award.
Modest Alan said he and Val were overwhelmed.
“In all honesty we do feel embarrassed as the last year has shown just what a wonderful community we have in oor wee toon.
“But we are also really chuffed that 700 people voted for us from all over the world – over the moon actually.
“It was lovely of Scott Wann to sponsor the award and to generously donate the trophy.
“For us every one is a winner for what they have done for the community in the last year.
“One of the worst years has brought out the best in so many people and the long list of nominees perfectly demonstrated this.
“To be part of this has been a genuinely humbling experience and we share this with everyone who worked so hard to support the community in so many different ways in 2020.”
Almost 20 nominations for online poll
Their fellow nominees included Arbroath hairdresser and singer Danny Laverty, who has raised thousands of pounds for medical equipment, and OAP May Smith, whose doorstep dressing-up antics during lockdown made the 89-year-old great-gran an internet sensation.
Church of Scotland Moderator and Arbroath minster, the Rev. Dr Martin Fair was also a nominee, as well as volunteers involved in local food projects and other charities.
A project by teenager Eilidh Bowen to remember all of Arbroath’s First World War fallen in painted stones placed throughout the community was also on the list.
Kirstin Cruickshank of the RLWW admin team said the Facebook group had been blown away by the worldwide response to the poll.
“The admin team chatted and we thought it would be nice to do something to highlight some of the good things going on in the town and brighten things up for people.
“It was a little bit of light relief to show people that they were being thought of.
“But it just grew and grew.”
Facebook group following has rocketed during pandemic
“Technology has been an absolute godsend throughout the pandemic – we have had so many more people join the group.
“Our oldest member, Leonora Meek is 97 and logs on every day.
“The interest we get is absolutely phenomenal and it is from right across the world,” said Kirstin.
Current membership of more than 10,600 includes thousands of exiled Lichties in across the UK, Australia, Canada and the USA.
But the group also has far-flung followers in locations including Peru, Liberia, Cameroon, Hong Kong and Uganda.