Granton Hub’s history group unveiled their long-awaited Pearls of Wisdom project earlier this month at a special event at Madelvic House for participants, their families and friends.  

Aimed at recognising the contribution made by older people to North Edinburgh, the project features the sculpted heads of six longtime local activists mounted on special plinths that document and celebrate their involvement in the community over decades of activity.

Created by award-winning artist Kevin Dagg, the sculptures are of community activist Betty McVay, former Scottish Older People’s Assembly vice chair Joan Turner, local historian John Dickson, campaigner and volunteer Tony Delahoy, social inclusion activity worker Frances Durie, and former local MP and MSP Malcolm Chisholm.

The Scottish Government’s Minister for Older People and Equalities Christine McKelvie spoke at the event, which was also attended by Elizabeth Bryan from Age Scotland.

Granton History Hub’s Willie Black said: “We believe it is the first time that ‘not so ordinary’ people have been recognised in the way that the great and the good have been in the past. The six individuals have made a major contribution to the lives of not only older but younger people too.”

Local activist Betty McVay and Kevin Dagg’s sculpture of her head.

For Kevin Dagg, the highlight of the entire experience was meeting the people he modelled. He said: “To spend time with them and to hear their stories just felt like a pleasure. But it’s not really about me – it’s about them, and about their stories and their contribution, and what they’ve given to the community.”

Participant Betty McVay added: “I would like to say on behalf of everyone what a humbling experience it is to sit here and listen to people talk about you. It’s been fun, and it’s given myself and all the people involved a great deal of pleasure.” 

The six heads are expected to go on display in various locations around North Edinburgh in the new year.