It’s not often that a night out has you laughing and crying in equal measure.
But that’s what happened at this year’s Pride of Scotland awards.
I mentioned the event a couple of weeks ago. But now the date’s been set for it to air on television – Tuesday next week – I thought I’d share with you why it is so special and important.
It’s been dubbed the People’s Oscars – a night where Scots who are not ‘celebrities’ are celebrated.
These are people who have shown awe-inspiring courage, determination and compassion and it’s a privilege to be in their company.
They are nominated by family or friends and are given their awards by a host of well-known faces.
But the people I remember most clearly from the night weren’t among the winners.
They’re the family of Lily Douglas.
Lily Douglas legacy lives on across Scotland
Lily Douglas was named the Teenager of Courage at last year’s awards for the way she “inspired people all over Scotland and beyond with her incredible courage, positivity and determination to help others”.
She had been diagnosed with cancer in 2017 and became a household name thanks to the way she dealt with the disease and a series of gruelling treatments.
— Martel Maxwell (@MartelMaxwell) July 1, 2022
I was there that night and the beauty of that little girl on stage was incredible.
Lily was a talented dancer who seemed to draw people to her – including former Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips, who had grown close to her and presented her award.
Heartbreakingly, Lily Douglas died in hospital in January but her family were invited back to this year’s Pride of Scotland awards as guests.
And that told me everything I needed to know about this event.
Not only is it about honouring award winners, it’s about not forgetting people like Lily.
In this world where everything seems to move so rapidly – from news to our attention spans – remembering what and who is important is everything.
Lily will be remembered and loved forever by her family. That goes without saying.
But she is being remembered – with her family – long after she left this world and that shows a decency and honour that I love.
Tears of laughter made it a night to remember
There were more tears this year but so much laughter too.
Hosts Sanjeev Kohli and Elaine C Smith showed all the warmth and compassion you’d expect.
I’m not sure they’ll air this bit but during one technical failure the hosts had to fill time chatting to the audience.
Elaine quipped that this was the kind of moment that makes you wish someone like Lulu was around to belt out a song.
No sooner had she finished the sentence than Lulu – who was there to present an award – was on stage, singing Shout to the delight of the audience.
“She’s just like your auntie Margaret,” Elaine told the crowd.
“Mention a sing song and she’s there, lipstick on, doesn’t need to be asked twice.”
I caught up with another great pal that I’ve made through the awards. He’s possibly the funniest man on earth – Gavin Mitchell, or Boaby the Barman from Still Game.
It took me a moment to realise there was a theme for the table I’d been seated at. It was the property table – with presenters from A Place In The Sun and Scotland’s Home of the Year.
At one point a very glamorous lady beside me was wiping mascara from her chin and laughing at the same time.
It was one of those nights.
Every one a winner
I’d like to give a special shout out to Boots and Beards, a group who help Glasgow’s Asian community discover freedom, friendship, and mental wellbeing in the Scottish mountains.
It’s still not the done thing to admit to anxiety across much of society. But these guys have made so many feel like they’ve got a friend who will listen and help.
I loved presenting an award to them, along with Taggart actor John Michie.
A huge well done to everyone involved, then, from winners and singers to organisers.
You should be very proud.
And to the rest of you, get your hankies and Hob Nobs ready.
Pride of Scotland is on STV on Tuesday July 19 at 8pm.