Janey Godley named as first ever 'spirit of Glasgow' award winner

The comic picked up the award at the official closing gala of the 2023 Glasgow Comedy Festival.

Sir Billy Connolly has hailed Janey Godley as a “great comedian” as he announced her as the winner of the inaugural Spirit of Glasgow Award.

She was presented with the award at the 2023 Glasgow International Comedy Festival, just minutes after she closed the show at the official closing gala at the King’s Theatre in the city.

An independent panel of judges met on Wednesday to consider the nominations and passed their recommendations on to Sir Billy, who made the final decision ahead of the announcement on Sunday.

The others on the shortlist for the award were Scott Agnew, Paul Black, Craig Hill, Kieran Hodgson, and Susie McCabe.

Sir Billy appeared on screen to announce Godley, who has been battling cancer, as the winner of the award, saying: “Hello, I am Billy Connolly and I am here to congratulate the winners of the Glasgow International Comedy Festival.

“Glasgow deserves to have a comedy festival – an international comedy festival. It’s the funniest town in the world bar none… and it deserves to be at the top of the league.

“The winner of the award – the Billy Connolly Award believe it or not – is Janey Godley. A worthy winner.

“A worthy comedian. She’s been a pal of mine for about five or six years. We met in New Zealand when she was performing at a festival, and I took her to see my show – almost killing her on the way. I have a weird way of crossing the road.

“It took her a while to get used to it. She’s a great girl, a great comedian and an extraordinary life story to dwell on. I’m very proud to be part of the International Festival and I’m very proud that my drawing has been part of the trophy. It’s lovely.”

The Spirit of Glasgow award was defined by five criteria – humour, resilience, openness, depth and being unapologetic.

The award, featuring a self-portrait of Sir Billy etched in glass, was presented to Godley by festival director Krista MacDonald alongside Two Doors Down star and judge, Elaine C Smith.

Godley said: “I can’t believe I’ve won this… If I couldn’t joke I wouldn’t be me.

“I have won an award from a man that I’ve admired since I was a child.”

Godley was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in November 2021, and has undergone chemotherapy treatment.

She was given the all clear last year, but announced in December that a recent scan showed signs of the disease in her abdomen.

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