Home Media News Archive 2013 University of the Highlands and Islands Awards Announced

University of the Highlands and Islands Awards Announced

Scottish singer and multi-instrumentalist Julie Fowlis has been named as the University of the Highlands and Islands Alumnus of the Year. The annual award is given to a former student for services to the community, achievements in arts or sciences, business or in public or academic life.Julie Fowlis

The 35 year old graduated from the university in 2011 with an MA in material culture and the environment. Brought up on North Uist and later in Ross-shire, she has been an ambassador for Gaelic music and culture over the course of a solo career which has included numerous awards, worldwide performances and three highly acclaimed studio albums.

Julie Fowlis was presented with her award by university chancellor, HRH The Princess Royal, at the organisation’s Foundation Day. The event, which celebrated the achievements of its staff, students and supporters, was held at Nevis Centre in Fort William today (Tuesday 26 November). Over 250 guests attended.

The university also presented four honorary fellowships at the ceremony. Golfer Paul Lawrie OBE and fashion designer Sandra Murray MBE were two of the recipients.Paul Lawrie

Scottish golfer Paul Lawrie won the Open Championship at Carnoustie in 1999, has played in two Ryder Cups and won eight European Tour titles. He is also known for supporting junior golfers through the Paul Lawrie Foundation and was awarded an OBE in 2013 for voluntary service to golf.

Sandra Murray is an internationally renowned artist couturier based in Inverness. Born on the Island of Lewis, her designs are inspired by her Hebridean roots. She was commissioned to design Her Majesty the Queen’s piece for the opening of the Scottish Parliament and was awarded an MBE for services to Scottish fashion and textiles in 2009.

The outgoing chair of the University Court, Professor Matthew MacIver CBE, was also made an honorary fellow as was Jack Watson, chair of the University of the Highlands and Islands Development Trust.

James Fraser, the university’s principal and vice-chancellor, was presented with the organisation’s first ever Chancellor’s Medal. The award, signed by HRH The Princess Royal, recognises individuals who have given exceptional service to the university. Mr Fraser will retire from the organisation in December after eleven years’ service and a career of over 40 years in the education sector.

Allan Bransbury was made an honorary Master of the University for exceptional service. Mr Bransbury was a member of the small team tasked with developing a university for the region in 1992 and later became the institution’s corporate services manager.

Speaking about her award, Julie Fowlis said: “It's a huge honour to be named as Alumnus of the Year. I felt very proud to be one of the first year graduates from our newly formed University of the Highlands and Islands in 2011 and, through continued work as artist in residence Sandra Murray with the digital archive project Tobar an Dualchais based at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI, I have enjoyed keeping up those links with the university.”

Paul said: “I am grateful to the university for recognising my achievements in the game as well as the work of my Foundation. It was an honour for me to be a part of this special day alongside my fellow award recipients who have all excelled in their own fields.”

Sandra Murray said: “On first impression, this award took me by total surprise. Then I was reminded of the amazing Gaelic poem by Colin Masterton from Plockton called ‘Cò Mi?’ (‘Who am I?’) which is about Scotland talking to herself. The words can describe any practising artist today and the challenges they face, especially in the remote Highlands of Scotland, wondering if anyone local even notices they exist. This proves they do and confirms that awards and fellowships serve not just as measures of recognition, but more importantly, of encouragement. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like a compliment from time to time!”

The Foundation Day ceremony was followed by the university’s Annual Lecture which, this year, was delivered by environmentalist Richard Balharry MBE.



Susan Szymborski

University of the Highlands and Islands

Office:  01463 279222

Email:  susan.szymborski@uhi.ac.uk

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