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Princess Royal attends graduation ceremony

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal visited Dingwall today to preside over the Highland Theological College UHI graduation ceremony at Dingwall and Strathpeffer Free Church. Acting in her capacity as Chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands, HRH presented certificates to the graduates and gave an address. Reverend Stuart Smith, Minister of Gairloch and Dundonnell Church of Scotland, also spoke at the event.

A number of special awards were presented at the ceremony as well. The university conferred its first ever Honorary Doctorate to longstanding supporter, Eileen Mackay. Eileen grew up in Dingwall before embarking on a distinguished career in the civil service, holding posts in HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office. After retiring, she dedicated her time to a wide range of non-executive roles. She volunteered as an independent member of the university court and sat on a number of university committees. The Honorary Doctorate recognises her outstanding contribution to the university.

John Norman MacLeod, Vice-Principal and Director of Studies at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI, meanwhile, was presented with the university’s Chancellor’s Medal. John Norman, who joined the Gaelic college as its first lecturer in 1983, is set to retire later this year. The award recognises his contribution to the development of further and higher education through the medium of Gaelic throughout his 35 year career.

The Highland Theological College UHI Student of the Year award was presented to Robert Nicholson from Cumbria. Robert, who is studying on the university’s BA (Hons) theological studies, was commended for his positive, friendly and supportive attitude. He was also recognised for the contribution he makes through his role as a student representative. Robert received a certificate and a cheque for £100 and will be put forward as a candidate for the overall University of the Highlands and Islands’ Student of the Year award.

Cate Otanes received Highland Theological College UHI’s Endeavour Award. The award recognises students who have demonstrated exceptional commitment and dedication to their studies in the face of challenging circumstances. Cate relocated from the Philippines to attend an access course at the college in 2016 and is now undertaking the university’s BA (Hons) theological studies. She is completing her studies in her third language, having learned her local and national languages before she learned English. Cate also volunteers her time as a student representative and as president of the University of the Highlands and Islands’ Christian Union.

Highland Theological College UHI Principal, Hector Morrison, said: “Today has been a very special day for our graduates and award winners, for the family and friends who gathered with us and for the university and college. We also had the honour of welcoming the Chancellor of the university, Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal. I would like to congratulate all of our graduates and wish them well for the next stage in their journeys.”  

Professor Clive Mulholland, University of the Highlands and Islands’ Principal and Vice-Chancellor, added: “It has been a pleasure to celebrate the endeavours of our graduates and to recognise the invaluable contributions made by Eileen Mackay and John Norman MacLeod. They have both played a crucial role in the development of the university and we thank them for their years of service.”

Eileen Mackay said: “I am deeply moved to be honoured by the University of the Highlands and Islands in this way and especially here in my home town of Dingwall. It has been an enormous privilege to play a part in the early years of the university which will go from strength to strength in the years ahead.”

John Norman said: “I feel greatly honoured to receive this award from the university and I am delighted to be presented with the medal by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal. The university and its partner colleges have transformed study and employment opportunities across the Highlands and Islands and it is important to recognise the contribution staff, students and graduates make to the social, cultural and economic regeneration of local communities and the region as a whole. It has been an honour and a privilege to have worked with such inspiring colleagues at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and across the university partnership and it is particularly satisfying to have contributed to the expansion and development of Gaelic at tertiary level.”


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