Press and Journal
February 16, 2023

Aberdeen ‘medical hero’ to be immortalised with first storytelling statue in Scotland

John Macleod was instrumental in progressing diabetes treatment - but it's claimed his efforts are being overlooked.


A life-size sculpture of the Aberdeen man whose work led to the discovery of insulin in 1922 will become Scotland’s first storytelling statue.

The bronze work of John Macleod will be unveiled in Duthie Park in autumn this year, celebrating the 100-year anniversary of his Nobel Prize.

Mr Macleod was educated at Aberdeen Grammar School after moving to the city at the age of seven with his family.

He was a hard-working student winning many prizes while studying medicine at Marischal College.

The physiologist later moved to Canada after graduating and began researching diabetes alongside colleagues. This work led to the most successful treatment for diabetes – the discovery of insulin.

He was awarded a share of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1923 alongside Frederick Banting for their discovery.

An artistic render of the sculpture to be erected in DuthiePark, a short distance from Macleod’s final resting place in nearby AllenvaleCemetery. Supplied by JJR Macleod Memorial.

Mr Macleod died in 1935 and is buried in Aberdeen.

Now, Ayrshire sculptor John McKenna is working on a life-sized bronze statue of Mr Macleod to immortalise the pioneering Aberdeen physiologist.

Once erected, visitors will be able to scan a QR code that will trigger an app. The visitor will receive a call playing a brief recording of an actor’s voice speaking as the statue.

Sharing ‘unknown tale of humble medical hero’

The JJR Macleod Memorial Statue Society is a community organisation in Aberdeen raising funds for the first-of-its-kind project in Scotland.

John Otto, founder and chairman of the organisation, said: “It means a great deal to us that Macleod’s statue will be the first to showcase this interactive feature north of the border.

JJR Macleod Memorial Statue Society founder John Otto.

“Having a statue that tells its own story is a playful and memorable way to engage with history.

“The app will also feature a short video about Macleod’s scientific legacy and the actual making of the statue, which will be another way to access the inspiring and largely unknown tale of this humble medical hero”.

Aberdeen-based author and screenwriter Kimberlie Hamilton wrote John Macleod’s monologue, which was recorded by David Rintoul, another Granite City native.

Acclaimed Scottish actor and Aberdeen native David Rintoul provided the voice of Professor John Macleod’s memorial statue.

The Game of Thrones actor said: “I am delighted to be a part of the JJR Macleod Memorial project and to lend the statue a voice delivered in a genuine Aberdeen accent.

“Like Macleod, both my father and my uncle were University of Aberdeen medical graduates, so having this opportunity to tell the Professor’s story feels especially personal and meaningful.”

Macleod’s Storytelling Statue is a collaboration with the Talking Statues Association, which was founded by the Danish app developer David Peter Fox and has produced similar projects around the world since 2013.