Remembering Gillian Purvis

The Gillian Purvis Trust 2004-2021

The Gillian Purvis Trust was established in 2004, to celebrate the life of Gillian Purvis, a witty, well-read, bright and delightful young woman. Gillian, aged 33, tragically died after a fire spread to the flat she shared with her partner, Toby Paterson.

Toby set up the trust to help students in creative fields in which he and Gillian shared an interest, specifically fashion, creative writing and travel for research.

Thanks to many generous donations over the years, the trust has awarded over £55,000 to students, with many going on to great success in their chosen field.

The trust closed in 2021 and this website commemorates its legacy.

About the Trust

The objectives of the Trust were to assist students in their third or final year of undergraduate study, or postgraduate students, studying in an artistic, creative field in Glasgow, by awarding grants known as The Gillian Purvis Award.

Jim and Libby Purvis at Gillian’s cherry blossom tree in Kelvingrove Park 2021

Jim and Libby Purvis at Gillian’s cherry blossom tree in Kelvingrove Park 2021


Chaired by Toby Paterson, the Trustees were family members and close friends of Gillian’s: Robert Dallas Gray, Sarah Lowndes (to 2015), Hazel Quinn, Sally Swadel and Anne Ward. The Administrator was Lesley Paterson, contact, 07780 905802.


Partner organisations who assisted with awards were

  • The Glasgow School of Art’s Department of Fashion & Textiles
  • The Creative Writing Departments of The University of Glasgow, The University of Strathclyde and The Glasgow School of Art
  • The Fashion Business Department of Glasgow Caledonian University


Beyond 2021 the Trust’s legacy is enhanced with the continuing successes of those who received awards from the Trust. Gillian is remembered through this legacy website, her sculptural memorial at the SECC and the cherry blossom tree planted in her memory in Kelvingrove Park.

Supporters and Donors

The initial surge of donations at the memorial service for Gillian in Dunblane Cathedral was followed by contributions in many generous, heartfelt and creative ways that immediately established the Trust and facilitated the presentation of the first award in 2005. That and the many continuing donations from individuals, organisations, trusts and foundations, enabled the Trust to greatly exceed its original modest aspirations and run for seventeen years. There was no formal fundraising campaign and yet voluntary help poured in.

Running for Gillian

Hazel and friends run the Women's 10K

Blaise Drummond Blossom Tree

Blaise Drummond was inspired to paint Gillian’s cherry blossom tree 2005

The Trust’s generous supporters raised funds by running marathons, staging concerts and DJ-ing, piano recitals, donations in lieu of wedding gifts, plant sales and the famous garden teas.

In-kind support came in the form of:

  • Design and print services
  • Creating and hosting the website
  • Preparing and auditing the annual accounts
  • Memorial Sculpture, funding, design and installation at SECC
  • Tree planting in Kelvingrove Park
  • Help to establish the Creative Writing Award
  • Judging the various awards
  • Hosting, catering and presentations at the 10th Anniversary of the Trust
  • Gifts of artworks

Thank you

Toby, the Trustees and Gillian’s family sincerely thank all who kindly remembered Gillian with their support. Your contributions were the means of honouring her memory through the work of the Trust, providing support for talented students.

See Newsletters for all acknowledgements. There are too many of you generous contributors to mention here.


Over 17 years, around 100 students benefited from a share of £55,000.

harlotte Horsley

Charlotte Horsley, 2009 winner

Eva Joly

Eva Joly, 2010 winner

The Gillian Purvis Award

£750 to a fourth year Design student in the Department of Textiles & Fashion, The Glasgow School of Art

Year Winner Speciality
2005 Scott Ramsay Kyle Embroidery
2006 Catherine Aitken Print
2007 Lynsey Park Print
2008 Hillary Fry Embroidery
2009 Charlotte Horsley Weave
2010 Eva Joly Print
2011 Angela Porchetta Embroidery
2012 Joanna Faulkner Print
2013 Sophie White Print
2014 Catherine MacGruer Knit
2015 *Amy Bond Weave
2016 Roseanna Noon Embroidery
2017 Franz Maggs Fashion
2018 Poppy Camden Fashion
2019 Asia Pryztarska Fashion
2020 Emalie Christensen Knit
2021 Kialy Tihngang
Jessica Turnbull

*donation from Scott Ramsay Kyle (first winner) for the 10th Anniversary of the Trust raised this award to £1000

The Gillian Purvis Award for travel for primary research

£500 to a third year Design student in the Department of Textiles & Fashion, The Glasgow School of Art

Postcard from Holly Rothwell, 2006 winner

Postcard from Holly Rothwell, 2006 winner

Year Winner Destination
2006 Holly Rothwell Kizhi, Moscow
2007 Jennifer Groundwater France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Liechtenstein, Germany
2008 Ian Porter Berlin
2009 Emma Shannon London, Coventry, Birmingham, Bristol, Nottingham, Walsall
2010 Kathy Beckett Sao Paulo
2010 Ting Ye South China
2011 Israel Parra-Zanabria Mexico
2012 Sahrish Shafiq London and Surrey
2013 Ailis Dewar Iceland
2014 Christopher Barton Waldassen, Germany
2015 Rachel Northedge Denmark
2016 Jessica Butler London and Barcelona
2017 Paula Vogels West Highland Way and the Hebrides
2018 Karin Tokunaga Norberg and Gothenburg, Sweden
2019 Valters Aispurs Basel, Switzerland

The Gillian Purvis Award for new writing

£1,500 to a student of creative writing at The University of Glasgow or The University of Strathclyde or The Glasgow School of Art

Liz Lochhead who helped to set up the New Writing Award with Toby Paterson and Fiona Rintoul, 2008. Image courtesy of the Herald and Evening Times.

Liz Lochhead who helped to set up the New Writing Award with Toby Paterson and Fiona Rintoul, 2008. Image courtesy of the Herald and Evening Times.

Year Winner
2008 Fiona Rintoul
2009 Kirsty Logan
2010 Linda McLaughlin
2011 Philip Murnin
2012 Bryony Stocker
2014 Defne Cizakca
2015 Mary Donough
2016 Stephen O’Shea
2017 Agata Maslowska

The Gillian Purvis Degree Show Prize

£1,000 to a new graduate of The Glasgow School of Art for an outstanding work in the Degree Show

Turner Prize winner Martin Boyce selected Romany Dear as 2011 winner

Turner Prize winner Martin Boyce selected Romany Dear as 2011 winner

Year Winner Degree
2010 Lucy Duncombe Visual Communications
2011 Romany Dear Sculpture & Environmental Art
2012 Min Zhong Textiles & Fashion
2013 Chris Silver Sculpture and Environmental Art
2014 Glasgow School of Art Phoenix Bursary Fund*
2015 Thomas Wood Fine Art Photography

*Following the (first) fire at the Mackintosh Building of The Glasgow School of Art, the Trust made a £1,500 donation towards 3-month residencies offered by national and international institutions for students who had lost their work in the fire.

The Gillian Purvis Travel Bursaries

£500-£1000 to 3rd year students of Fashion Business or Fashion Branding, Glasgow Caledonian University, for international student exchange

Year Winner Destination
2015 Pinja Salmi Helsinki Metropolia University, Finland
2016 Mhairi Galloway Iowa State University, USA
2016 Samantha Taylor Helsinki Metropolia University, Finland
2017 Eryn McEwan Brooklyn College, USA
2018 Kirsty Binning California State Long Beach University, USA
2018 Bryony Muir California State Long Beach University, USA
2019 Cristiana Janetta Villaneuva University, Madrid, Spain
2019 Erin O’Neil VIA University College, Denmark

Legacy Fund

Celebrating the trust’s original partnership with the Department of Fashion and Textiles at The Glasgow School of Art, residual trust funds were donated to support the graduates of 2022, enabling them to attend and present their work at Fashion Design and Graduate Week in London.

Some success stories

From Scott Ramsay Kyle’s collection, 2014

From Scott Ramsay Kyle’s collection, 2014

The Gillian Purvis Award

Scott Ramsay Kyle

Having enjoyed great success in many fields, including fashion and film, Scott continues to produce highly embellished, abstract and figurative, provocative and delicate work. A long time ago when asked what he would spend his Gillian Purvis Award on, he said “You should see the price of sequins!”. Ten years later, commenting on how important the award was for him, he increased the award to £1,000 in celebration of the Trust’s 10th Anniversary.

Catherine Aitken

Catherine Aitken on the opening night of her Degree Show at GSA 2006

Catherine Aitken

From her design studio, furniture and home interior accessories are produced.

Lynsey Park

Lead Designer, Colour and Materials for Footwear, Puma Group

Jo Faulkner

Produces a wide range of printed fabrics, based on hand-painted designs, supplying studios, fashion and home interior brands.

Catherine McGruer

From her studio in the Highlands, textile designs are produced for commissions, collaborative projects and a range of her own interior and fashion accessories.

Amy Bond

Designer and creator of hand woven textiles from her Glasgow studio.

Franz Maggs

Couture Fashion, mixing vintage themes to create dark, bold and glamorous designs.

Ailis Dewar

Designer at Alex Begg textile mill in Ayr, creating for its own label and working with the world’s most prestigious fashion houses.

Poppy Camden

Specialises in costume working across theatre, TV and film.

Christopher McAvoy

With a fellow weaver set up Glasgow’s first micro mill in 100 years. Commissions have included consultation with the automotive industry and work with clients such as Alexander McQueen and the V&A.

The Gillian Purvis Award for New Writing

The Leipzig Affair

Fiona Rintoul

Having used her award for a research trip to Berlin, Fiona completed and published her first novel. The Leipzig Affair was extremely well received by reviewers and was serialised on BBC Radio 4.

Kirsty Logan

Now widely recognised as a Scottish novelist, poet, performer, mentor, reviewer and writer of short fiction, Kirsty’s work has been translated into Japanese and Spanish and broadcast on BBC.

Remembering Gillian

Gillian was born on 23 August 1970 to Libby and Jim in Glasgow, close to Kelvingrove Park. She and sister Hazel grew up in Scotland and South Africa, before settling in Dunblane.

Gillian Purvis as a Toddler Gillian Purvis

Gillian studied English Literature at the University of Glasgow, and worked for many years in the Marketing and PR team at the SECC. Her memorial, funded by close friends and colleagues at the SECC, and designed by Toby Paterson and John Creed, commemorates her work there, and marks the spot where she also used to enjoy feeding the local cats!

Gillian had many interests and some hidden talents. She made her own clothes (always looking fabulous), played the violin, and gained a black belt in Taekwondo, along with her sister Hazel. For the precious years that Gillian and Toby spent together, they enjoyed shared interests, in art and design, films, writing and music. And, not forgetting Coco, Gillian’s beloved cat who shared life with them!

Gillian and Toby travelled together on many trips in the UK and Europe, with Gillian sometimes acting as artist’s assistant when Toby was installing work. By contrast, she loved visits to Toby’s family island cottage in Wester Ross.

The love and admiration for Gillian and ultimate joy in remembering her was manifested in the family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances who filled Dunblane Cathedral for her memorial service. Read at the time by Sally, Gillian’s aunt, the words from Mary Oliver’s poem Wild Geese, selected by Toby and displayed on the memorial at SECC, echo on:

the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things

Gillian Purvis Memorial

Newsletter Archive

September 2004 Newsletter May 2005 Newsletter March 2006 Newsletter April 2007 Newsletter September 2008 Newsletter November 2009 Newsletter January 2011 Newsletter May 2012 Newsletter Winter 2014 Newsletter