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University Medal: Mr Stewart Davidson

Stewart Davidson

Citation by Dr Bethan Williams
Office of the Principal

Chancellor, it is my privilege to present Stewart Davidson to receive a University Medal.

I have read recently that the best way to avoid anyone paying attention to you is to wear a highvisibility jacket. Apparently, we are all so accustomed to seeing them anywhere and everywhere, that we have become blind to the person whose presence they illuminate.

It is perhaps for this reason that 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. Think back to your first week here, and the welcomes that took place in this very hall. Think about Raisin Weekend, the University Carol Service, fashion shows, fundraisers, speaker events, rectorial drags, the May Morning Dip and countless other memorable occasions. Behind the scenes, helping the University or student organisers cover all eventualities (and a few more besides), was our Security Manager, Stewart.

Stewart joined us in St Andrews in 2004, following a long and distinguished career in the police force, and a transition back to civvy street via brief spells at the University of Dundee and Tesco. A native of Perth, he had joined what was then the Perth and Kinross Constabulary as a cadet in 1967. While his commitment to duty, discipline and public service meant that he missed some of what was ‘swinging’ about the sixties, it laid the foundations for a steady rise through the ranks, working across Scotland from Killin in Perthshire to Kirkton in Dundee, and in specialist units including media relations and child protection.

In 1990, he was promoted to Chief Inspector, and appointed Director of Studies in the Senior Division of the Scottish Police College. Not content with directing the studies of others, he also embarked upon a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the Open University, which he received in 1992.

Stewart was then promoted to the rank of Chief Superintendent, and served with Tayside Police as divisional commander responsible for policing the local authority areas of Angus, Perth and Kinross. This post brought with it new challenges – not least command of the T in the Park music festival in Kinross, and responding to an influx of New Age travellers to the hills of Angus. He also served as President of Scottish Police Superintendents, a role which involved regular engagement with politicians in London and Edinburgh, representing the interests of the police service and its members.

In 2001, Stewart received the Queen’s Police Medal, in recognition of his operational career, and his role within the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents. While the Younger Hall may not be quite as splendid as Buckingham Palace, our gratitude for Stewart’s service to our community at least equals that of Her Majesty.

As the first person to hold the position of Security Manager at St Andrews, Stewart set about creating a full and fulfilling role. Everyday duties ranged from the perennially popular management of University car parks, through to the coordination of an ever-growing number of student events. Stewart was soon acknowledged as an integral, valued, vital member of staff.

In addition, he quickly became involved in the high-profile events hosted by the University on what, I imagine, came to feel like an ever more frequent basis. It has been my privilege to work with Stewart on a number of such projects, and I can attest personally to the extraordinary level of commitment and attention to detail which he has poured into our planning and execution. Under his careful watch, we have welcomed royalty, diplomats, international political figures and highprofile guests from the worlds of sport, literature and the arts.

Armed with little more than pen and paper, a usually cracked phone, and a never-ending supply of extra-strong mints, Stewart worked tirelessly to ensure that such Royal occasions as the launch of our 600th Anniversary Campaign ran without flaw and were enjoyed by our distinguished visitors, local guests and staff and students alike. I am pretty sure that he even arranged for it to be a sunny day for the launch, which was held outside, in February. The organisation for this event was undertaken in a very short timeframe and involved working closely with former police colleagues who subsequently recounted the following anecdotes – which speak eloquently to Stewart’s commitment to duty and deep-seated sense of responsibility.

The first concerns an early morning start. Unable to sleep and wanting to check in with nightshift staff, the VIP Protection Unit arrived on site at 4.30am – to find Stewart already there. Later that day, they had to step in to persuade him that taking his well-deserved place in a receiving line would not fatally compromise security.

On another occasion, when protesters attempted to disrupt the arrival of a high-profile speaker, police hurried to the roof of a University building – to find Stewart already there, apprehending those responsible for the disruption. When the speaker duly arrived five minutes later, all was calm.

One early morning-after-the-night before he was found, by the Principal, broom in hand, sweeping away the debris from the previous evening’s event. The list could go on…

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.

Chancellor, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the welfare and daily life of our academic community and of the key role he has played in the undoubted success of major University events, I invite you to present Stewart Davidson with the University Medal.

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