19. Jess Smith

Jess Smith, born in Aberfeldy in 1948, is a proud descendant of the travelling community and a renowned author and storyteller.

From the ages of 5 to 15 Jess lived with her seven sisters and parents in a single-decker blue Bedford bus. She has published several books inspired by the lives of her ancestors and her community, including three autobiographies.

Jess visits schools, universities and prisons using storytelling to raise awareness of the travellers’ culture and community. She is devoted to sharing Scotland’s most ancient culture and fighting against the stigma that travelling people experience.

In 2012, she led a successful campaign to have the Tinker’s Heart near Loch Fyne recognised as a Scottish monument. This sacred spot holds great significance to travellers as the place where people gathered to marry and have their babies christened.

Jess is the patron of the young travellers’ rights organisation and won the Herald Society Equalities Project of the Year Award in 2012.