St Andrews first for Lord Mayor’s show

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Robert the Bruce, Mary Queen of Scots, Pope Benedict XIII and John Cleese will all be travelling from the University of St Andrews to London this month to join in the Lord Mayor’s Show on Saturday 10 November 2012.

A walking party of more than 40 undergraduates, including costumed students representing key figures from the University’s past, will join around 6000 people, 25 marching bands, 300 horses, 18 vintage cars, 21 carriages, an original American stagecoach, and a Japanese Taiko drum band – processing from the City of London to the Royal Courts of Justice in the City of Westminster.

Cheered by a crowd of around half a million people, and watched live on the BBC by millions more, the St Andrews students will be representing the contributions made to history by Scotland’s first University, as part of the University of St Andrews’ 600th Anniversary celebrations.

The party will be led by the Chancellor’s Piper, David Maitland Gardner, and will include student ambassadors in their iconic red gowns, President of the Students’ Association Freddie Fforde, elected student representatives, and shield-bearers. The University Bedellus John Jardine will also join the procession carrying one of the University maces, along with Craig Shimmons MA(2004) of the London Alumni Club carrying a newly commissioned London Alumni Club mace on its first official outing.

Amber Lethem, one of the students taking part in the procession, said: “As an exchange student from Honolulu, Hawaii, to have the honour of representing St Andrews will mean that this school’s positive influence reaches literally to the opposite ends of the globe.

“To share that true Aloha spirit of this University, its academic achievements, and monumental growth as a world-recognised institution over the past 600 years will not only be an incredible experience for me personally, but will leave an imprint on the hearts and minds of many – whether a former student, a member of the Scottish community, or a supporter of the University itself.”

Final-year student, Katherine McWilliams, said: “This is my fourth year at St Andrews and I feel incredibly lucky to be in the 600th graduating class. I love this University dearly. For me, this experience will be the cherry on top of my time here.”

Uninterrupted by the Second World War, the Lord Mayor’s Show is a tradition that has survived plague and fire and countless wars and insurrections. Having fought its way through almost 800 years of history it is one of the few surviving institutions older than the University of St Andrews.

Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Louise Richardson said: “The University of St Andrews is delighted to participate, for the first time in our 600 year history, in one of the oldest and greatest displays of British pageantry, the installation of the Lord Mayor of London. The fact that in this, our anniversary year, the Lord Mayor is a St Andrews man marks it as a truly special occasion. The University is proud of our enduring links with the City through our history, our alumni and our friends and we cherish this opportunity to celebrate together.”

The annual event marks the instalment of the 685th Lord Mayor of London: Alderman Roger Gifford. Roger Gifford was born in St Andrews and educated at Sedbergh and Trinity College, Oxford. He is UK country head for SEB, the leading corporate bank in Scandanavia, which he has worked for since 1982.

Roger Gifford said: “St Andrews holds a very special place in my heart. I grew up on North Street and The Scores, spending my formative years on the beaches and braes of this wonderful town. My father spent his entire teaching career in the service of Scotland’s oldest and finest University and I still call St Andrews my home. So it is a real pleasure that the University is taking part in my Lord Mayor’s Show.”

Historical costumes have been kindly lent to the University by the Kate Kennedy Trust.

  • King Robert the Bruce – convened his first parliament at St Andrews.
  • Mary Queen of Scots – whose tutor George Buchann studied and taught at the University of St Andrews. During her reign, Her Majesty visited St Andrews and is rumoured to have planted the ancient hawthorn tree, which still grows in St Mary’s Quadrangle, in 1563.
  • Pope Benedict XIII – in 1413 signed the six papal bulls that confirmed the privileges of the University of St Andrews and gave it the right to confer degrees.
  • John Cleese was University of St Andrews Rector from 1970 to 1973.

The University of St Andrews’ 600th Anniversary Campaign was launched on 25 February 2011 by St Andrews alumnus and Campaign Patron Prince William. The anniversary campaign is a £100m philanthropic fundraising appeal. The Appeal will lay the foundations for a seventh century of exploration and allow the University to continue to invest in people, ideas and excellence.

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