Lanark’s Andrew Hilland is standing as the Labour candidate for the Lanark and Hamilton East seat in next month’s general election - and he has a lengthy pedigree of public service in his family behind him.
His great-grandfather James Connelly, a former miner and veteran of the 1st World War was one of the first people elected as a Labour councillor to Lanark Town Council, becoming a baillie and a JP and giving a lifetime of service to his local community; his grandmother Kathleen Hilland (later Kathleen Grieve) was a member of the last Lanark Town Council prior to regionalisation in the 1970s, and is well remembered also as chairman of the Lanimer Committee; and her son Martin Hilland has served as a councillor in Glasgow.
Andrew, 30, went to St Mary’s Primary then St Aidan’s High, then his life took him far beyond his Lanark roots.
“I have been incredibly fortunate to have opportunities in life, and in 2004 became the first person from my High School to study at Oxford University,” he said. “I relished that experience, and the subsequent opportunity to study a masters in international law and human rights at New York University.
“But I have never lost sight of where I came from, and the values that my parents and grandparents instilled in me – compassion, decency and solidarity.”
Andrew described himself as a “passionate advocate for human rights and social justice”. In 2009 as a volunteer for the charity Reprieve in Louisiana, he worked with attorneys and investigators in representing impoverished defendants in death penalty cases.
As director of research and secretary to the Global Citizenship Commission, he producedf a report on what needed to be done to fulfil the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was presented to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last year.
And for the past year he has worked with the UN in developing a plan for increased investment to get more young people globally into education.
Andrew joined the Labour Party in 2010 and in 2013 quit my job as a lawyer in New York to return home to work for Gordon Brown, making the progressive case for Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom in the independence referendum.
And he added that athough his studies and work have often taken him away from home, he has always maintained strong ties here, with a community that has been home to generations of his family, and where his father Vincent Hilland runs his law practice in which Andrew’s brother Jamie is also a lawyer.
Now chosen as Labour candidate, Andrew is looking forward to the campaign.
“I have always been interested in the area of public service, tackling social and economic problems, which is why for the last few years I have been doing more of the human rights work,” he said,
“I always wanted to stand.
“It is all very exciting, and it has all happened so quickly; I am excited about getting out there in the next few weeks and meeting everyone.
He has one regret though: “It is sad that my grandmother is not around to see me do this,” he said. “She was very passionate about Labour.”
He knows the campaign will be tough, given the SNP majority.
Angela Crawley, as a newcomer in the 2015 election took the seat for the nationalists with a majority of 10,100, defeating Jim Hood who had held it for Labour since 1987 and who in turn had succeeded Labour's Judith Hart, and Angela is standing again.
But Andrew believes he has the skills and experience to serve as a champion for the area.