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Public light show at city landmark honours student’s charitable legacy

On 25 March, hundreds of fibre optic flowers will illuminate the University of Edinburgh’s Old College quadrangle to honour a remarkable student who founded a charity during her studies. 

Ellie Maxwell, founder of Firefly International
Ellie Maxwell, founder of Firefly International

Ellie Maxwell – who died from cancer ten years ago – launched charity Firefly International in 1999 while she was studying English and Philosophy. The twinkling lights mark the 20th anniversary of the Scottish charity, which supports children and young people in areas of conflict through art and education. 

Open to the public

Created by artist Bruce Munro, Fireflies will open to the public on Monday 25 March and features hundreds of bulbs on stems, which will glow across the quad at night. The installation will run until 29thMarch and from 9am – 9pm although the light installation will look at its best from early evening onwards. It is open to all and free to attend. 

Tours of Bruce Munro’s mesmerising art installation will be organised for local youth and community groups throughout the week. 

Award launch

An award to support students who manage charities will launch as part of the celebrations to continue Ellie’s legacy. The Ellie Maxwell Award will offer £500 of funding and support for University of Edinburgh students who are developing innovative ideas and projects for their charities. 

The award will be launched at a fundraising event in the University of Edinburgh’s Playfair Library on Friday 29 March. Speakers at the event include refugee rights campaigner Amal Azzudinand award-winning poet Marjorie Lotfi Gill. There will be music from Bosnian polyphonic choir Kuchke and artworks on show by Derek Robertson and Iman Tajik.

Find out more

Firefly International provides young people in Bosnia, Syria and Turkey artistic and educational programmes to develop their skills and confidence, and to improve their prospects. 

The installation and event have been organised by Firefly International with support from Edinburgh student volunteers. 

Firefly International website