University Medal in ‘safe hands’
The man who watched over students, staff, royalty, politicians and movie stars during their time at the University of St Andrews was honoured today (Thursday 25 June).
Recently-retired University Security Manager Stewart Davidson was awarded the University Medal at this afternoon’s graduation ceremony, in recognition of his ‘outstanding contribution to the welfare and daily life’ of the University community.
During Stewart’s 11 years at the University, he was a key member of the team which provided discreet protection to undergraduate Prince William, as well as a host of visiting VIPs, including former United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Hollywood film stars Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones, and the former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami.
Stewart joined the University in 2004, following a long and distinguished career in the police force, latterly serving Tayside Police as both Chief Inspector and Chief Superintendent.
He took up post in Fife as St Andrews prepared to welcome the world’s media for Prince William’s graduation, an event attended by all senior members of the Royal family. Stewart went on to supervise the return visit of Prince William and fellow St Andrews alumnus Catherine Middleton – the future Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – for the launch of the University’s 600th Anniversary Celebrations in February 2011.
He is credited with ensuring the smooth running of both major visits, as well as a vast array of University and student-led events, armed with ‘little more than pen and paper, a usually cracked phone, and a never-ending supply of extra-strong mints’.
This week’s graduations are the first without the ever-watchful eye of Perth-born Stewart. Happy to take a seat for once, Stewart has worked at 120 ceremonies, in addition to other major events including Raisin Weekend, rectorial drags and installations, and the May Dip.
He was presented with his medal by Executive Officer to the Principal, Dr Bethan Williams, who said: “Stewart Davidson’s face will be unfamiliar to so many of you graduating here today. And yet, he has quietly played an important part in your experience of student life at St Andrews.
“My colleagues and I have been deeply privileged to work with a man of such sound judgment, quiet confidence and exemplary professionalism. We have all learned from him, and benefited in many ways from his thoughtfulness, consideration and kindness.”
Reminiscing about the highlights of his University career, Stewart singled out graduation week: “It’s what we all work towards and it’s great to see students you’ve known from year one walking across the stage. Also the graduation of Prince William and his return to launch the 600th with Catherine was a highlight, and more recently Hillary Clinton and her large team of secret service agents was an experience.”
Despite keeping an eye on a long procession of household names who visited St Andrews to lecture or receive honorary degrees, Stewart says he was rarely star-struck, although did wish he’d spoken to Bob Dylan when he was made a Doctor of Music in 2004.
In his retirement, Stewart has no plans to rest on his laurels. Having already completed 36 runs, hill races, trail runs and 10ks this year so far, as well as Mount Kilimanjaro, he is planning to race more and travel.
“I will miss working with the people, one of the challenges of retirement is losing your team and the camaraderie,” he said.
“Working with students keeps you thinking young and I will miss that too.”
Issued by the Communications Office.