The City of Helsinki has traditionally presented awards to distinguished residents on Helsinki Day on 12 June. This year, awards were once again presented to Helsinki residents who had distinguished themselves in the fields of science, culture and sports. The City of Helsinki also awarded ten golden Helsinki medals for merits for the benefit of the city.
“Helsinki Day is absolutely one of the highlights of the year. Today, we prominently celebrate our wonderful capital and what it means to be a Helsinki resident, in addition to honouring residents who have distinguished themselves in different ways – members of our community who have contributed to a better Helsinki. The spirit of the city is created by its people, which is why it’s my great honour to present awards to them today,” rejoices Mayor of Helsinki Juhana Vartiainen.
The awards were presented during a formal evening event at Helsinki City Hall on 12 June.
Ten distinguished Helsinki residents received a golden Helsinki medal
The golden Helsinki medal is the highest recognition of the City of Helsinki – a kind of honorary citizenship of the city. The City Board decides on the awarding of Helsinki medals annually, and the medals are presented in connection with Helsinki Day. In 2023, Helsinki medals were presented to the following persons:
Ilona Anhava, gallerist, Master of Laws
Elina Brotherus, photographer, video artist
Raoul Grünstein, entrepreneur, Master of Science (Economics and Business Administration)
Kari Helin, real estate developer, entrepreneur
Antti Kuronen, journalist
Timo Laitinen, Director General of the State Treasury, Master of Laws
Marianne Miettinen, football coach, former football player
Miska Rantanen, journalist, Master of Social Sciences
Stepan Sarpaneva, watchmaker
Pekka Sauri, former Deputy Mayor
Hannele Siro, Coordinator of Family Activities at the Uusimaa District of the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare, registered nurse.
The City of Helsinki Science Award was presented to Professor Craig Primmer
The City of Helsinki also presented the City of Helsinki Science Award, the objective of which is to strengthen and promote awareness of Helsinki as a science city. The award, in the amount of EUR 10,000, is awarded in recognition of significant scientific work carried out by a Helsinki resident or in Helsinki.
In 2023, the City of Helsinki Science Award was presented to Professor Craig Primmer from the University of Helsinki. Primmer is an Australian Finnish researcher who studies fish genetics with his team. Studying the genetic basis of the life history of salmon allows researchers to find ways to protect biodiversity both in natural populations and fish farming.
The Helsinki Culture Award was presented to singer-songwriter Maija Vilkkumaa
The Helsinki Culture Award is in the amount of EUR 15,000. The award is presented to a Helsinki-based artist in recognition of significant artistic merits or significant work for Helsinki’s cultural life.
In 2023, the award was presented to singer-songwriter Maija Vilkkumaa, who has been described as the greatest Finnish female artist of her generation. Vilkkumaa, who writes recognisable, relatable and lovable lyrics, graduated from the University of Helsinki in February 2023 with a Master of Arts degree, majoring in Finnish. The artist, who is turning 50 this year, is celebrating her career with a biography, which will be published this autumn, and a birthday tour.
The Artist of the Year awards were presented to Anna Brotkin, Ima Iduozee and Sonja Salomäki
The Artist of the Year awards are presented to Helsinki-based artists from different fields of the arts. The Artist of the Year awards are in the amount of EUR 5,000. In 2023, the awards were presented to the following persons:
Anna Brotkin, scriptwriter
Ima Iduozee, dancer, choreographer, video director
Sonja Salomäki, textile artist
The Helsinki Athlete of the Year 2023 is Viivi Lehikoinen
The City of Helsinki also annually presents awards to the Helsinki Athlete or Sports Team of the Year, Helsinki Sports Club of the Year, Young Helsinki Athlete of the Year and Helsinki Coach of the Year based on achievements in sports. The grants awarded are in the amount of EUR 10,000 for the Athlete of the Year, EUR 5,000 for the Sports Club of the Year and EUR 2,500 for the Coach and Young Athlete of the Year.
The Helsinki Athlete of the Year 2023 is athletics athlete Viivi Lehikoinen, who last year made it to the 400 metres hurdles semi-finals in the World Championships and the finals in the European Championships and broke the Finnish record, which had been thought to stand forever.
The Helsinki Sports Club of the Year 2023 is the cheerleading club Golden Spirit. The club has resolutely carried out ground-breaking work in the field of psychological coaching, which allows a psychologically safe environment to be promoted in training and the drop-out phenomenon to be prevented among children and young people.
The Young Helsinki Athlete of the Year 2023 is Greco-Roman wrestler Tino Ojala, who won a gold medal in his age group in the European U23 Wrestling Championships in March.
The Helsinki Coach of the Year 2023 is Helsinki-based football coach Kimmo Ståhlhammar. Ståhlhammar has coached football players in different sports clubs around Helsinki for more than 40 years.
Photo: Jussi Hellsten