As we head into 2020, we thought it would be a good idea to look at some of the amazing things that happened throughout 2019.

Whether it’s developing world leading initiatives, celebrating landmark achievements, hosting major sporting events or providing the backdrop of some of Hollywood’s biggest movies, Scotland is once again at the forefront of the global consciousness.

2019 may have been a tumultuous year for many different reasons, but throughout all the uncertainty, Scotland stood strong, showing the world just what it’s made of. Over the course of the last 12 months, our innovative, pioneering outlook, our dogged determination and our unique creativity have shone through – providing some truly remarkable highlights.

So, without further ado, let us take you for a wander down memory lane, as we relive the best bits of 2019.

Scotland shouts proudly – “Hey Europe”

In March of 2019, Scotland launched a bold new campaign dedicated to showing our European neighbours that we were still open – open to anyone who wanted to make the journey to Scotland to live, work, study, visit or do business. The Scotland is Open campaign was a bold statement that unequivocally let Europe know that we value our relationship with them and to remind them that we are a country that is open, welcoming, inclusive, multicultural and compassionate.

The campaign has been a massive success so far, with people across Europe engaging in huge numbers with our emotional, authentic message. As we move forward into 2020, this message is one that will continue to resonate throughout Europe – and wider – as Scotland continues to position itself as the perfect place for anyone to come to.

From Scotland, to the stars!

2019 was the 50th anniversary of first moon landing, but did you know that the man who famously proclaimed “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” actually had a little Scottish in him? Yes, legendary astronaut, Neil Armstrong claims Scottish ancestry, along with fellow astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, and he famously visited the small town of Langholm in the Scottish Borders – where his ancestors came from – in 1972.

Fast forward to 2019, and Scotland was breaking completely new milestones with the achievements of Dave Mackay. Born in Sutherland, in the far north of Scotland, Dave is the chief pilot for Virgin Galactic and in February of 2019, he became the first person born in Scotland to go to space. We got the chance to chat to him about his experience and he gave us some incredible insight.

Read Dave's story.

“We saw the full moon looking stunningly bright in the black sky of space over the San Francisco area, sitting just above the thin band of cyan blue atmosphere. It was then that I realised that we had already passed the boundary of space and I made the call, ‘Welcome to space, Scotland’”.

Pioneering educational legislation introduced

Scotland has led the world in a commitment to excellence in education for centuries. We were the first country in the world to provide education open to both boys and girls, as early as the 17th century. Today, we still carry on this pioneering outlook and 2019 saw the introduction of two incredible new pieces of legislation into our primary and secondary schools.

Navigating the trials and tribulations of young adulthood is tricky enough as it is, which is why we introduced an innovative new resource across the country aimed at helping our young people navigate healthy relationships and consent. At the heart of this messaging is the sentiment that relationships should be mutually respectful, consensual, positive, healthy and enjoyable.

This also comes on the back on Scotland’s world-first commitment to embed the teaching of LGBT+ rights into all public school curriculums. The introduction of LGBT+ education into our schools cements Scotland’s dedication to tackling issues of homophobia and transphobia and ensures that everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Campaign poster for he for she

Our continued commitment to gender equality

Scotland is determined to make the world an equal place for everyone in it, and we have a number of amazing initiatives specially dedicated to the issue of gender equality. That’s why, back at the start of this year, First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon signed Scotland up to the United Nation’s #HeForShe campaign – a global initiative to progress gender equality both at home and abroad.

However, that’s not all; we also announced plans to invest more than £50 million in improving access to mental health services to support new and expectant mothers. Further, initiatives like our 50/50 by 2020 campaign is challenging public, private and third sector organisations to ensure they have a 50/50 gender split in their boardrooms.

Scotland’s female sporting stars shine brighter than ever

July saw the start of the most popular Women’s World Cup ever, as millions came together to celebrate our female footballers. The Scotland team were playing at their first ever World Cup, and the first World Cup appearance of any Scotland side – male or female – since 1998. These Scottish Bravehearts put on an incredible show, inspiring countless young girls across the country in the process.

As well as this, Scottish Golfer, Catriona Matthew, led a European team to glory on home soil at this year’s Solheim Cup. The event was taking place in Scotland for the third time and the country affectionately known as ‘The Home of Golf’ once again proved to be a lucky charm, making it three wins out of three.

Star of the ‘silver screen’ yet again

Every year, Scotland attracts the world’s leading actors, filmmakers, and TV producers to its shores as they select us to provide the backdrop to some of the globes best-known productions. 2019 was no stranger to this Hollywood fascination, as once again some of the biggest names in the game headed to our shores.

St Abbs

Hot on the heels of its starring role in Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War, Scotland once again became home to ‘Earth’s mightiest heroes’. The small town of St Abbs, on the southeast coast of Scotland, doubled as the home of Thor and his fellow Asgardians, playing the role of ‘New Asgard’.

As well as this, Will Ferrell landed in Edinburgh to film his latest comedy, Eurovision; Vin Diesel and a host of fast cars descended on the city to film the latest The Fast and the Furious instalment; and Daniel Craig once again popped over to film scenes for the latest Bond movie….and don’t even get us started on Outlander!

Social Bite goes global

Social Bite is an incredible social enterprise with a noble goal – to end homelessness. Seven years ago, they started by opening a small sandwich shop in Edinburgh, but, through continued successes and incredible achievements, their altruistic revolution has gone on to take over the world!

After two immensely successful ‘Sleep in the Park’ events in the last two years, which raised millions of pounds for their cause, Josh Littlejohn and the Social Bite team decided it was time to go big – announcing the ‘Worlds Big Sleep Out’ in 2019. Spread across 50 cities around the world, from New York to Sydney, L.A. to London, more than 50,000 people braved the elements to sleep out on 7 December, aiming to raise tens of millions of pounds in the process.

Read Mary's story.

If 2019 is anything to go on, 2020 promises to be another incredible year!

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