Renowned broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough graduated from the University of St Andrews today (Wednesday 22 June 2011). He was joined in today’s honours by Nobel Prize winner Christiane Nusslein-Volhard and Olympic rower Sir Steve Redgrave.
In his response, Sir David commented, “There is no honour I value more highly than that which comes from a university institution, particularly one which is as distinguished and as venerable as this.
“Universities, it seems to me, are the most important institution in our society bar none. It is the one institution which speaks truth, and which speaks truth, independent of commercial reasons, political reasons and dogma.
“In our time, those things and that institution could not be more important. It is under attack all the time.
“The university is of prime, prime importance to us all. And a compliment like this from such a university is one which I could not value more highly.”
Sir David was followed by fellow honorand, Nobel Prize winner Christiane Nusslein-Volhard, who was made a Doctor of Science during the morning ceremony.
In the afternoon, Olympic rower Sir Steve Redgrave was made a Doctor of Laws. Responding afterwards, he said, “It is a great honour for me to be able to stand here. Through my years of being in top line sports you realise the dedication and worth ethic of very much the first seven rows here, the work and dedication that they have put in for their degrees and sitting there just watching them all come up is just fantastic to see and the smiles on people’s faces, it’s really a pleasure to be involved.
“I suppose if I have to give a lesson of some sort is that this is just the start in some ways; some of you may be going onto further academia, some of you may be going out into the workplace if not there already, but the opportunities are out there. Being part of one of the oldest universities in the world, the University of St Andrews, is something that you can be really proud of; the galleries filled with families and friends will be absolutely over the moon and proud of what you have achieved.
“The one thing that I have learned from my sport is that the more you put in, the more you get out, so it’s really handing the baton over to you guys; that the world is your oyster, you can decide whatever direction you want to go in.
“For somebody that has come from a secondary background and has not gone onto further education, to be honoured in this way is an extremely great honour.. and this is my second attempt at getting here. I was supposed to be honoured in November last year, and being honoured at St Andrews University on St Andrews Day, would have been absolutely fantastic, but trying to get here in the morning we had a snowstorm and I couldn’t make it, so thank you for allowing me to come up for a second time.
“I know all the work that you guys have put in, but I’ve also been up in Freshers Week, so I know there is a little bit of fun too. You work hard, you play hard, so congratulations to all of you.”
Following the ceremony, Sir Steve chatted with members of the University rowing club and sporting fans eager to meet their hero.
Issued by the Press Office
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Ref: Day2 220611Public interest stories