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A film to take the breath away

Press Release   •   Sep 12, 2017 12:48 BST

Jackie Kay sitting in Kelvingrove Park

A unique collaboration between VisitScotland and the country’s national poet is showcased in a new online film.

‘Scotland’s Makar: Jackie Kay’ is the latest in a series of videos to highlight how different people from across the nation embody the ‘Spirit of Scotland’ or #ScotSpirit.

In the film, Jackie Kay, who was made Scotland’s Makar last March, reads her poem ‘Scotland, my Jo’. Specially commissioned by the national tourism organisation, the poem describes Jackie’s relationship with Scotland and what makes it so special to her. Verses end with the anaphoric line “Scotland, you take my breath away”.

Speaking in Kelvingrove Park, Jackie also discusses her role as Scotland’s national poet and highlights the importance of the literary art to the country and its heritage. As well as the historic Glasgow park, viewers can also enjoy footage of the Glenfinnan Viaduct and the Kelpies among many other Scottish exploits.

Born in Edinburgh to a Scottish mother and a Nigerian father, Jackie was adopted by a white couple at birth and was brought up in Glasgow. Her search for cultural identity has inspired much of her work and made her an ideal candidate to examine the unique identity of Scotland itself.

The film joins other ‘Spirit of Scotland’ cinematic short documentaries including videos about a Scottish golfer, train driver and windsurfer.

The Spirit of Scotland campaign was launched in February 2016 and is built on extensive research which shows that people think Scotland has a unique spirit– whether it’s the magic of the landscapes or the warmth of the people. The hashtag #ScotSpirit has seen 1,000 daily uses by national and international visitors, businesses and locals sharing what the spirit of Scotland means to them. This has contributed to unprecedented engagement across VisitScotland’s social media channels with followers across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram averaging an increase of 100%.

Jackie said: “I’m delighted to have been part of this film. It is stunning and gives a real sense of what a range of gifts Scotland as a country has to offer. I wanted to write a poem that was a love letter to my country, capturing some of its qualities, and also some flaws. It was important for me too to write a poem that would leave enough room for the images, and that could be understood on a first listen.

“We have much to be proud of in Scotland today - our openess, our inclusiveness, how we stretch out our arms as a country to the world. It seems to me this small film captures not only Scotland’s breath-taking beauty, but its wit and charm and love of self-deprecation too.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive for VisitScotland, said: “Our latest film demonstrates the unique qualities which make Scotland a place like nowhere else in the world. Jackie’s beautiful words, accompanied by footage of some of the country’s best offerings, gives you a real sense of Scotland and its spirit.

“The Spirit of Scotland campaign has already been a huge success, harnessing the power of the nation behind tourism and raising the profile of Scotland to unprecedented levels, as a place to visit, invest and live. I’m sure this stunning video will encourage more visitors, from near and far, to come and experience Scotland for themselves."

‘Scotland’s Makar: Jackie Kay’ can be viewed at 

The poem, “Scotland, my Jo” can be seen below.


You’re a blether: you’re a beauty,

You’re a right warmer, a wee charmer.

It’s no overstating things to say:

Scotland, you take my breath away.

You’re braw, you’re bonny, dreich or dry.

You brag and blag but you’re modest tae.

Even when blawing up an absolute hoolie:

Scotland, you take my breath away.

You’ve a spark in your een, you’re gutsy, gallus.

You speak yer mind, you’re kind; trusty,

You can be nippy, touchy tae, aye but:

Scotland, you take my breath away.

Never alone if together with you,

Oot by your lochs and your brochs - och!

You’re the most spirited of all company:

Scotland, you take my breath away.


Notes to Editors

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  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
  • The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
  • This will be supported by seven overarching strategies:
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    2. Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
    3. Internationalisation and International Engagement: we will utilise all our platforms to enable Scottish-based tourism businesses to better understand international opportunities and market to a global audience and we will work within One Scotland Partnerships to optimise the potential of Scotland’s Diaspora and our strategic partners at regional, European and global levels
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  • Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
  • 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology
  • 2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories through a wide-ranging variety of new and existing activity to drive the nation’s tourism and events sector, boosting tourism across Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology begins on 1 January 2017 and will end on 31 December 2017. It will build on the momentum generated by previous themed years in Scotland including the 2015 Year of Food and Drink, Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums Galleries Scotland and Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
  • For more information visit or join the conversation at #HHA2017