Students given Bond’s famous ‘sheal’ of approval

Friday 2 April 2010

Sir Sean Connery receiving his honorary doctorate from St Andrews in 1988 (photo: Special Collections)

A night porter at the University of St Andrews received an unexpected treat when he picked up an after hours call by Sir Sean Connery.

The Scottish James Bond, no stranger to calling the University unannounced, was ringing to offer his support to student organisers of a major arts festival taking place later this month.

It is the second year running that Sir Sean – a patron of the festival – called from his home in the Bahamas to chat to unsuspecting students. Last year, it was event organiser Philippa Dunn who took the call, but this year’s surprise recipient was porter Robert Dibb, who was doing his nightly rounds of the Students’ Association building.

He said, “It was around 5.30pm so staff had not long left. I picked up the phone and the voice at the other end said, ‘hello, my name is Sean Connery, I’m calling about the On The Rocks opening night.  Please could you tell Ella I am unable to attend as I’m in the Bahamas.’

“He then wished the festival well and offered his continued support.  I wasn’t really sure if it was him or not, so I just said ‘ok doke, thank you’, and we said goodbye.  It wasn’t until after I told a colleague that remembered him doing the same thing last year that I realised it was really him.  It was quite surreal.”

Since Connery’s Bond famously liked his martinis ‘shaken, not stirred’, it is fitting that he should support a festival called On the Rocks, now in its second year following a successful launch in 2009.

The national showcase of the best in comedy, poetry, literature, design, art, film, dance and music will run annually for one week in April (Sunday 18th to Sunday 25th) in and around St Andrews.  Run entirely by St Andrews’ students on a limited budget, the organisers hope that it will eventually become one of the highlights of the Scottish arts calendar.

Student Ella Wright had written to Sir Sean requesting continued support and was thrilled to hear about the transatlantic phonecall from the Scot, who holds an honorary degree from St Andrews.

Ella, who is in her fourth year, said, “I had no idea Sir Sean had rang until someone told me a couple of days later that the porter had taken the call.  I was gutted to have missed it, but we are absolutely delighted to have his continued support.  It really means a lot to us that he took the time to ring personally to give us his good wishes for the second year running.”

The event already has the support of honorary graduates Dame Judi Dench and Joanna Lumley, as well as former students Crispin Bonham Carter and Siobhan Redmond.  Sir Sean was made a Doctor of Letters by St Andrews in 1988. New additions this year include actor Simon Pegg and renowned philosopher Roger Scruton, who is also making an appearance at the festival.

Hosting seventy performances across twelve venues in the University and town’s historic surroundings, the unique event will kick off with a charity spring fete on the University’s mediaeval quadrangle, and culminate with an open-air ceilidh.

Among the highlights include a stunning performance of Shakespeare’s The Tempest on the beach, a series of secret gigs in unusual locations, a debate on the importance of beauty and a spell-binding performance of classic fairy tales by local school children at St Andrews Castle.

Tickets are available to buy online at or by calling 01334 424443.

For further information contact Ella Wright at [email protected] or telephone 07815 813808.


Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews Contact Gayle Cook, Senior Communications Manager on 01334 467227, mobile 07900 050 103, or email [email protected]

Ref:  00Heaven 020410

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