By Gillian Lord
The year in news
It was the year UNESCO granted World Heritage Status to the Forth Bridge, when Scotland’s population was around 5,347,600 and Mhairi Black, 20, became the youngest elected MP since before the Reform Act of 1832. It was also the year Abellio ScotRail took over the ScotRail franchise, the Church of Scotland voted to allow the ordination of gay ministers in civil partnerships and Andy Murray married Kim Sears in Dunblane. It was also, according to the Met Office, the windiest Scottish summer in decades, and the winter of 2015/16 the wettest since records began in 1910.
The results of the General Election in May turned Scotland’s political landscape on its head, with the SNP winning in a landslide, claiming 56 out of 59 seats. In a rout on an unprecedented scale, Labour lost 40 constituencies, and the Lib Dems lost 10. Besides taking every seat in Tayside, all six seats in the north east of Scotland and making huge gains in Edinburgh and Fife, the SNP won all seven seats in Glasgow and wiped out the Lib Dems in the Highlands and Islands.
Crash victims John Yuill, 28, and Lamara Bell, 25, both died after they lay undiscovered near the roadside for three days, despite police being notified. The pair were returning from a camping trip in July 2015 when their Renault Clio left the M9 motorway near Stirling and crashed down an embankment into trees. A 101 call was made by a member of the public to report the incident, but police only sent a crew to investigate in response to a second 101 call three days later. John is thought to have died at the scene, Lamara died in hospital four days later. The tragedy sparked a reassessment of the handling of 999 and 101 calls.
After the last of Leuchars’ two fast jets squadrons left for RAF Lossiemouth in September 2014, RAF Leuchars was handed over to the army on March 31 2015 and became Leuchars Station. From July, personnel from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and the Royal Military Police began moving into the base.
A gym instructor down on his luck caused a major incident in Kirkcaldy in November, when he called for a cab and forced the driver to hold up the Bank of Scotland in the Mitchelston Industrial Estate. Andrew Patrick, 40, affected a Polish accent and claimed to be carrying bombs and a firearm. The robbery sparked terror, with nearby schools and businesses put in lockdown as a team of armed police and an army bomb unit descended. Patrick was arrested three weeks later, after a massive manhunt, and received a six year nine month jail sentence.
Three amateur fishermen lost their lives on the Firth of Forth in August. Birrell Stewart, 30, Jason Buchan, 35, and David Stead, 47, all from East Wemyss, were fishing for mackerel when their boat overturned in worsening weather conditions. A memorial plaque to the men was unveiled in East Wemyss a year later. In a further blow to the family, Jason Buchan’s brother, Martin, 30, died in a car accident in 2018.
Storm Frank raged in Angus and the Mearns just before Hogmanay. Towns and villages along the main rivers of Angus and Aberdeenshire suffered major flooding, roads were destroyed, and evacuations were necessary in some places.
Wills and Kate (or the Earl and Countess of Strathearn) made their first official visit to Dundee in October, just 10 miles down the road from where they first met in St Andrews in 2001. Crowds lined the streets to welcome the royal couple, who spent time at Dundee Rep, and also visited the RRS Discovery during their visit
The year in sport
Rugby World Cup: Australia 35-Scotland 34. Conventional wisdom remains that the Scots were well and truly robbed of a semi-final slot in October 2015, due to a controversial late penalty awarded by Craig Joubert in the dying moments of the game, giving Australia a one point lead at the final whistle – where the Scots team stood rooted to the spot, in shock and disbelief.
Fortunes were a little better at the Davis Cup tie in Glasgow, however, when Andy Murray’s defeat of Bernard Tomic took Great Britain through to the final for the first time since 1978. Murray went on to lead Great Britain to victory in Ghent in November, with his defeat of David Goffin making it Britain’s first Davis Cup win since 1936.
American Zach Johnson became the 144th Open winner, claiming victory at The Old Course after a thrilling three-man playoff with Australia’s Marc Leishman, and South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen, finishing a shot ahead of Oosthuizen after four extra holes.
In football, the last day of the January transfer window in 2015 is looked upon by Dundee United fans as the beginning of their dramatic slide down the Premiership and into the league below, a slide that only now looks like being reversed with a return to the top flight of Scottish football.
Despite promises from owner Stephen Thompson that star duo Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong would be going nowhere, both ended up with Celtic scarfs above their head late that night.
The £2 million joint fee wasn’t enough to sweeten the blow for the supporters and United were never the same team again. Relegation followed the next season after then manager Jackie McNamara was sacked.
The year in culture
Hot on the heels of Dundee being awarded the UNESCO City of Design status the previous year, UNESCO granted World Heritage Status to the Forth Bridge in July 2015.
Shell-shocked students in Tayside and Fife started an online petition to the Scottish Qualifications Authority after their new Higher Maths exam paper was deemed impossibly difficult. Attracting scores of signatures within hours, the petition said: “Students, teachers and parents alike are in disbelief at the exam set by the SQA for Higher Maths. It bore no resemblance to the CFE course studied and specimen papers provided.” The petition added that “the majority of questions were so hard the students weren’t able to solve them.”
The now-defunct T in the Park moved to a new venue in Strathallan Castle, but it wasn’t all wine and roses that July.
Furious fans described delays of up to five hours to enter or leave the venue, with young teenagers left stranded in the mud and dark on rural roads as the festival’s traffic management plan descended into farce. Adding to the woes, a man was found dead, another assaulted with a bottle, Police Scotland made 44 arrests and the Scottish Ambulance Service reported 606 visits to the hospital tent. Further complicating things, a pair of ospreys returned to their original nest near the site in February, despite attempts to persuade them to settle elsewhere, and further precautions had to be put in place to ensure their safety.
2015 was the Year of Food & Drink in Scotland, with VisitScotland tempting tourists to try Arbroath smokies, roast wild venison in Auchtermuchty or Cairn O’Mohr’s fruit wines, ciders, sparkling wines, to name a few Courier Country foodie hotspots.
Dundee was officially the most miserable place in Scotland, according to the Office for National Statistics Happiness Index. On a scale of zero to 10, residents of Eilean Siar, Orkney and Shetland scored an effervescent 7.99 compared to Dundee’s dour 7.02. Dundee Lord Provost Bob Duncan disagreed, saying the city was becoming increasingly “buoyant”.
On a Saturday in September, Young Daniel Boyle, 14, broke the internet for shutting down an aggressive ‘hate preacher’ in St Andrews, in the most Scottish way possible – drowning him out with on his bagpipes. Armed with a small amplifier, the aggressive ‘preacher’ was shattering the tranquillity by the fountain in Market St, until Daniel intervened, belting out Scotland the Brave until the police arrived. Footage went viral, attracting some 2.4 million hits in 24 hours.