From Bernard Street to Everest base camp
For those of you who are old enough, you’ll remember when this eclectic and quirky little magazine first started to appear on pub window ledges, in shops and libraries, and on the coffee tables of Leith’s most discerning citizens.
If you do remember it back then, you’ll recall that almost all of the articles in those fledging editions were either about or centred on Leith exclusively. Whether it was the spiky, probing exposures of local issues like fly-tipping, or sparkling reviews of cafes and restaurants, the magazine was a beacon for all things EH6.
Although times, contributors and editors change, and the magazine has evolved into the glossy, multi-faceted organ that you have in your hands now, something fantastic happened recently, right on our collective doorstep, and for me, it’s worthy of celebrating right here in our own wee window on the world.
To Bernard Street and to Petals on the Shore, our local florist. I’m guessing that many of you will have been in there and will have sought guidance from and spoken to Adele Borthwick, the owner and designer of all the beautiful and thoughtful bouquets and other arrangements that have been her hallmark since she opened Petals 23 years ago.
Prior to opening her shop, Adele began working full-time in a flower shop straight from school, earning £15 a week and attending college on her one day off. Determined to learn as much and as quickly as she could, Adele spent two years grafting every day to hone her craft and then set out on her own adventure.
Like every small business, there have been obstacles to surmount, but with the determination that Adele thinks she must have got from her granny and great-granny who were both Leithers, she has overcome them all and never taken a backward step.
With such inspirational women in her DNA, it’s no surprise that when Adele was recently chosen to take part in a prestigious floral design competition, she chose to represent female Sherpas in Nepal. Fleur de Villes (Flowers in the City) is a Canadian venture which works to showcase a city’s world-class talent. The theme of this year’s exhibition in Edinburgh was ‘Voyage’: Fifteen florists were each assigned a country and tasked with researching that country’s floral tradition and history, before going on to utilize that knowledge by creating inspirational and beautiful pieces of art.
Adele’s stunning floral depiction of a female Sherpa at the Everest Base Camp in Nepal blew the judges away and promptly picked up the award for the Most Creative Design in the competition.
The iconic Everest Base Camp trail lies within the equally iconic Himalayas. It was from here that Sir Edmund Hillary and a Nepalese Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay set out in 1953 to become the first men to conquer the world’s highest peak.
To this day, courageous and unstinting Sherpa guides provide guidance, support and unwavering determination to assist climbers who are following in Hillary and Tenzing’s footsteps.
As Adele highlighted while talking about her inspiration for her design, there are many female Sherpas who not only bring their unique mountaineering experience and deep terrain knowledge, but also invaluable warmth and encouragement to all those who need it.
These remarkable women are not only providing all of that support in the harshest of environments, but they are also empowering young girls and other women in the region to redefine traditional gender roles, achieve economic independence, and to quite literally, reach for the top.
While she may not be climbing mountains, it’s obvious that Adele’s determination, drive and talent are also extremely inspirational and provide the backdrop to a fantastic success story in our wee community that provides a welcome warm glow to the early days of Autumn.
And in a world where it seems that some women are expected to climb their own personal Everests on a daily basis, Adele’s award-winning tribute to the female Sherpas of Nepal shows not only her amazing talent, but compassion and solidarity with women striving across the world.
If you do pop in to see Adele, you’ll find her to be an unassuming yet extremely professional guide and artist, and you’ll emerge not only with flowers designed for you by an award-winning florist but just feeling all the better for your visit.
She really is a small diamond in the community and after 23 years on Bernard Street, is definitely a Leither.
Her grannies would be proud of her. ■