In the words of the language which she has helped champion for many years, Sheena Blackhall is a gallus quine.
And now the north-east ‘Queen of Doric’ is being presented with a Lifetime Achievement prize at a prestigious awards ceremony in Glasgow later this month.
2019 is the United Nations Year of Indigenous Language and the national organisation, Hands Up for Trad, has created a number of new accolades, celebrating the best in Scots, in association with Creative Scotland.
Mrs Blackhall, who has written scores of books and songs, covering every subject under the sun, while highlighting the continuing influence of Doric in Scottish lore, will be the inaugural recipient of the ‘Janet Paisley Lifetime Achievement Award’.
The category has been established in commemoration of the internationally-recognised writer, poet and playwright, Ms Paisley, who was honoured for her services to Scots at the Trad Music Awards but died last November.
Mrs Blackhall told the Press and Journal she was thrilled that Doric has burst into the spotlight through such initiatives as film festivals and book adaptations.
She added: “I’m both shocked and very honoured to win this lifetime award, but I look on it more as an award to Doric as well.
“Hard on the heels of the Doric Film Festival, the opportunities to publish Doric and to translate famous novels for adults and children seem to have mushroomed.
“People are shrugging off the ‘Doric cringe’ factor, whereby folk were ashamed of their mither tongue. Now, they are more likely to celebrate it.”
Dr Tom McKean, the director of the Elphinstone Institute in Aberdeen, is among those who have applauded Ms Blackhall’s ‘massive’ contribution to ensuring that the Scottish language is flourishing across the north-east and further afield.
He said: “Sheena is unique. Over several decades, she has produced a trove of regionally, nationally and internationally recognised and acclaimed work.
“She has published over 150 poetry books in Scots and English and translated a range of classic literature into Scots including, most recently, Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.
The Scots Language Awards ceremony, hosted by Alistair Heather and Frieda Morrison, will celebrate the country’s national language, spoken by more than 30% of the population, while rewarding excellence in schools, communities and arts.
The prizes will be presented at Glasgow’s Mitchell Theatre on September 27.
Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, said yesterday: “I am pleased to welcome the inaugural Scots Language Awards which highlight the achievements and contribution of those strengthening and promoting Scots in the arts, cultural and education sectors.
“We know the important role that the language has for many across Scotland who use it every day and these awards go some way to recognising this.”
For more information, visit www.scotslanguageawards.com, while tickets are available from www.ticketsglasgow.com.