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Honouring the Heroes of Helensburgh


Community led initiative launched to promote the area’s famous sons and daughters

Scotland has produced some of the finest scientific, creative and business people that have ever lived. And many of them have very strong links with the Helensburgh area.

From the inventor of television, to a multi Oscar® nominated actress, a UK Prime Minister to a young wheelchair tennis star aiming for gold in this summer’s Paralympics. The influence of the people that have been born or lived in the area extends far beyond the boundaries of the Firth of Clyde, and yet little has been done to celebrate and embrace their achievements.

Today sees the launch of a new community led initiative to redress this situation.

Helensburgh Heroes has been created as a non profit making organisation with the intent of designing, delivering and managing leisure and arts facilities that will educate, inform, entertain and above all, inspire future generations to emulate the area’s famous sons and daughters.

The Heroes theme having been chosen as their stories, events and aspirations connect the community as individuals to the area, and gives meaning to its past, present and future.

To date an incredible 68 Heroes have been identified and their biographies are included in a new web site that provides details of what the Helensburgh Heroes initiative hopes to achieve. Amongst the Heroes first project priorities is the creation of a ‘Hollywood’ style Walk of Fame (possibly Scotland’s first) and the establishment of a living arts and heritage centre which will provide educational facilities for both the local community and visitors. A ‘B listed former School building, designed by one of the Heroes - Alexander Nisbet Paterson, - has been suggested as a possible location for such a centre.

The list of 68 Heroes includes:

Deborah Kerr – (1921 – 2007) Star of stage and screen. 6 time Academy Award® Nominee
Andy Clyde (1892 – 1967) Comedic Actor & Hopalong’s Sidekick
Major Phil Ashby QGM (1970 - ) Real life action hero who led the escape from Sierra Leone
Moses McNeil (1855 – 1938) Founders of Rangers FC & Footballer
Robert “Bobby” Brown (1923 - ) Goalkeeper & Scotland’s first full time Manager
Jack Buchanan (1890 – 1957) Britain’s First Major Star of Stage & Screen
John Logie Baird (1888 – 1946) TV Pioneer & Inventor of television
Jimmy Logan (1928 – 2001) Entertainer, theatre owner, producer, director and actor
Stephen Conroy (1964 - ) Talented Portrait Artist
Hazel Irvine (1965 – ) Grandstand’s youngest ever presenter and BBC Sports anchor
Neil Munro (1863 – 1930) Author & Journalist. Famous for tales about the fictional Clyde puffer the Vital Spark and her captain Para Handy.
WH Auden (1907 – 1973) An Anglo-American poet, regarded by many as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century.
Cecil Day Lewis (1904 – 1972) - An Irish-born poet and Poet Laureate
Morven Christie (1979 - ) Actress tipped for Hollywood A List.
Horatio Scott Carslaw (1870 – 1954) Mathematician & Scholar
David Caldwell (1977 - ) Award winning Portrait Artist
Christopher Orr (1967 - ) Contemporary and highly collectable artist
Mary O’Rourke (1913 – 1964) The singing choirboy billed as “Master Joe Peterson, the Phenomenal Boy Singer”!
Kenneth Hyslop (1972 - ) Drummer & Musician with Slik, the Skids and Simple Minds
Kim Winser OBE (1959 - ) Retail genius, saviour of luxury brands Pringle & Aquascutum
Andrew Bonar Law (1858 – 1923) MP & UK Prime Minister
John Michael Hammersley (1920 – 2004) Mathematician & award winning scientist
Viola Paterson (1899 – 1981) Member of the distinguished Paterson family of artists
Sir James George Frazer (1854 – 1941) Father of modern anthropology
Emma Richards (1974 - ) First British woman to complete the Around Alone yacht race
William Herbert Guthrie-Smith (1861 – 1940) Author, New Zealand Naturalist & Conservationist
Vice Admiral Sir Ian McGeoch (1914 – 2007) Ace wartime submariner and a serial escaper
Sir William Jackson Hooker (1785 – 1865) Most influential British Botanist of the past 200 years- “Father “of Kew Gardens & Glasgow Botanic gardens
James Ballantyne Hannay (1855 – 1931) Chemist and inventor of the artificial diamond
Richard Tait (1964 - ) Entrepreneur, inventor and creator of Cranium

Phil Worms, 45, a local Helensburgh resident who is actively involved with the Helensburgh Heroes initiative stated: “It appears incredible that an area of less than 25,000 people can produce such an incredibly inspiring and important list of men and women. Our Heroes have made significant contributions to our society and it is equally incredible that so little has been done to formally recognise their achievements to date.”

Worms added, “We hope that the creation of the Helensburgh Heroes initiative will inspire both the local, and wider national community, to get actively involved and help us deliver an aspirational range of educational facilities that will pay fitting tribute to some of the Nation’s most creative and innovative sons and daughters.”

Tom Vaughan, Director of the recent box office hot “What happens in Vegas” has backed the initiative: “I support and wish this project well. It is true that Helensburgh has a rich history and is a town of cultural significance. I think the idea of a Centre is a great one and hope a way is found to make it happen. Helensburgh certainly played a key role in my development as a film maker. “

And likewise Richard Tait, inventor of the board game Cranium, and a former Helensburgh resident, added his support by stating: “Given the rich history, cultural significance and the growth we have seen in the area I feel that it is very important we have the opportunity to bring such a resource to the community and ensure that the heritage we share is celebrated and woven into the fabric of our families and future generations to come.”

Full details of the Helensburgh Heroes initiative, together with the biographies of the 68 listed to date, can be found at



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