Citation by Professor Alan Dearle, Dean of Science, for John Jardine who has been awarded the University Medal
Chancellor, it is my privilege to present John Jardine for the University Medal.
I can vividly remember John’s first day – at the University that is. It was November 1986 and I was a slightly more hirsute and much scruffier PhD student working in the ground floor of the Mathematics building. John marched in (and I use that word advisedly) with gleaming shoes, a spotless janitorial uniform and, I am sure, a regimental baton under his arm (although I may be misremembering that last bit). He asked: “Who is ICCS?” After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing and establishing that ICCS meant ‘in charge of computer science’ I directed him to Professor Morrison.
John had indeed just left the army – after twenty-fife years. He joined in 1961 and was sent to Towyn in North Wales as a member of the All Arms Junior Leaders Regiment. Being just fifteen at the time he needed his father’s permission to join the army and was allowed to do so on the proviso that if he went AWOL his father would return him personally back to the army. He left St Andrews by steam train and so began a long career with The 1st Battalion of the Black Watch (The Royal Highland Regiment) that would see him serving in Germany, Cyprus, Denmark, Libya, Kirkcaldy, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaya and Northern Ireland. After serving in Northern Ireland for eighteen months he was promoted to Colour Sergeant. His final posting was as Regimental Sergeant Major to the Glasgow and Strathclyde Officer Training Corps.
John’s role as Senior Janitor for Physics and Mathematics & Statistics was extended to all North Haugh buildings for a short period prior to his appointment as University Bedellus in October 2007. During that time John was quite innovative, taking time out in the evenings to learn how to use the Macintosh, which had only just been invented. He also initiated an email system to communicate with the other janitors on the North Haugh long before such things were common.
The role of Bedellus has two distinct areas. Firstly to oversee the day-to-day management of the janitorial network, to ensure the efficient and effective delivery of janitorial services within the University, and secondly to report to the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor, to carry out a full range of duties associated with the ceremonial and historic post of Bedellus.
Perhaps the most important of these are the graduation ceremonies such as the one we are all now attending. John has hooded 15,354 graduates since 2007. In addition to our Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral students he has also hooded 120 honorary graduates including The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton, The Right Revd Dr Rowan Williams, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Padraig Harrington, Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir David Attenborough to name but a few, slightly at random.
During his Bedellus duties John has had his toes stood on countless times, been handed hoods inside out and upside down, but nothing has phased him. He just utilised his gymnastics training from the army, combined with a balletic grace, to deal with the situation.
John tells me that his most proud moment as Bedellus came in 2014 during the University’s 600 Anniversary celebrations when he marched down the aisle of Westminster Abbey carrying the 600-year-old St Salvator’s mace behind the London Scottish piper. This was the first time that one of our mediaeval maces had left Scotland in living memory – if ever.
John is a family man, his wife Barbara has stood by his side during his time as Bedellus, including famously packing frozen towels and Diet Coke along with a little snack for the times between graduation ceremonies. It does get very hot under these lights. He is a keen fisherman – fishing off the beaches of Kingsbarns for flat fish and cod. He is also keen on cycling and has had a lifelong love of rugby.
John retired as Bedellus last summer and we have all missed his stories – he has a story for everything. We also miss him marshalling the academics prior to ceremonies, and his instructions for us to refrain from ‘academic thinking’ (aka sleeping) whilst on the stage. Since retiring, he has taken up a position on the St Andrews Community Council – so we can rest knowing that the town is in safe hands.
John Jardine is a true St Andrean and epitomises all that is good about this community – both the town and the gown. He is missed, loved and respected by all of us who have had the pleasure to work with him.
Chancellor, in recognition of his outstanding service to the University of St Andrews, I invite you to present John Jardine with the University Medal.