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Light show honours student’s charitable legacy

​​​​​​​Hundreds of fibre optic flowers will illuminate the University’s Old College quad to honour a remarkable student who founded a charity during her studies.

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.

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.  

Ellie Maxwell
Ellie Maxwell launched charity Firefly International in 1999 while she was studying English and Philosophy.

Lasting legacy

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 that will promote social change through their charities.

The award will be launched at a fundraising event in the University of Edinburgh’s Playfair Library on Friday 29 March.

Charity event

Speakers at the event include refugee rights campaigner Amal Azzudin and 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.

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. 

Community tours 

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

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

Bruce Munro’s Fireflies will be on show at the University of Edinburgh’s Old College quadrangle from 25 – 29 March, 9am until 9pm. It is open to the public and free to attend.

Related links

Firefly International