Dundee at 50: looking back and moving forward

2017 sees the 50th anniversary of the formation of the University of Dundee following its separation from the University of St Andrews.

The connection between the two universities is well established, dating back to the initial formation of University College, Dundee in 1881 and the subsequent joining of the two institutions six years later.

The next 70 years saw many changes (not least the decision to build a road bridge linking Fife and Dundee!) and led to the granting of a royal charter, which formally established the University of Dundee in August 1967.

In recognition of this anniversary we are planning to publish a series of blog posts throughout the year featuring alumni reminiscences and images from the 1960s.

If you have a story, photographs or simply a short anecdote to share with us, we would be delighted to hear from you!

Please send your memories to Sue Hill (Publications Officer) and Phil Pass (Alumni Relations Officer):

E: alumni@st-andrews.ac.uk
T: +44 (0)1334 46 7194
P: Development, University of St Andrews, Crawford Building, 91 North Street, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9AJ

The ‘Ever to Excel’ Bell

In our latest blog, Simon Harper (BSC 1987) recounts how St Andrews gave him and his wife, Ann (née White, BSc 1985) much more than just a degree: it equipped them with the enthusiasm, determination and community spirit to raise £100,000 to buy a new ring of eight bells for their local church in the middle of the ‘deepest financial crisis the UK had seen in a generation’. Here is their story. 



Ann and Simon with daughters Lucy (left) and Emma (graduating)

“Ann and I first met in the University’s Hamilton Hall – the iconic red-bricked building overlooking the 18th green of the Old Course. Ann was the Senior Student in 1983–84 and I followed her lead in 1986–87.

“Following University, I trained as a Chartered Accountant with Arthur Andersen, then Price Waterhouse and am now Finance Director of the insurance broker Lycetts, while Ann, after earning a prize in Economics, went on to pursue a PGCE at Jordanhill College in Glasgow. She has been a primary school teacher ever since.

“We were married in July 1988 and moved first to Newcastle and then in the early 1990s to Ovingham – a small village in the Tyne Valley – with our elder daughter Emma. Our youngest daughter Lucy followed in 1997. In the centre of the village is an ancient church with a Saxon tower containing three bells – one dating from 1350, one from 1505 and the third from 1879. They were difficult to ring due to their age and the condition of the frame.

“Around 2008, a small group of us had begun to investigate installing a new ring of eight bells and by October 2009 we had launched an appeal to raise £100,000 to do just that. By this point I had been working in the financial sector for many years and was then Operational Director of Finance at Northern Rock. I was therefore well qualified to appreciate the challenge before us as we’d set our target in the middle of the deepest financial crisis the UK had seen in a generation.

“With the benefit of hindsight, our goal was extremely naive but enthusiastic.

“So we were quite staggered when, after numerous fundraising events – including a walk along Hadrian’s Wall – we achieved our target in just over 18 months. By January 2012 the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London, the same company that cast Big Ben, had installed our ring of bells in Ovingham.


“Tradition dictates that even if a bell is recast at a later date (for example, if it has cracked) any inscription on the original will be repeated as an enduring reminder of the donor. Ann and I sponsored a bell which now bears our names and those of our daughters, Emma and Lucy. But it also reads:

AIEN ARISTEUEIN – Ever to excel

in recognition of the fond memories that we will always have for St Andrews. We met there, we made long-lasting friends there and it has given us a sense of belonging and community that we have carried with us throughout many areas of our lives – including our careers.”



Guardian angels of business

Fourth year International Relations Student & Co-Founder of the University of St Andrews Alumni Angel Network (UStAAAN), Matthew Leonard, gives an overview of UStAAAN and its upcoming launch event in New York City. Matthew has recently been named among the 40 Under 40 by ‘Scottish Business Network News’.

Based in New York City, UStAAAN, the New York Chapter, is a group of St Andrews alumni, faculty, students, and the US community at large. We are working to create a sustainable network that will serve as a foundation to connect angel investing, entrepreneurship, and St Andrews. To this end we connect angel investors and advisors with innovative start-ups seeking capital and other support.


The St Andrews community has exampled a diverse range of entrepreneurial activity across the globe. Edinburgh based husband and wife duo, Lesley and Nigel Eccles Co-Founded Fantasy Sports giant, Fanduel. London based, Damian Kimmelman, Co-Founded Due Dil and was named International Entrepreneur of Year at the inaugural Tech City News Hall of Fame awards in June 2014. Whereas, San Francisco based, Japser Platz is a founder with fintech start up Tally, which closed a $15mn series A round in May 2016, led by Sasha Ventures.

St Andrews also offers a rich collection of innovative spin out companies. One such example, Xelect Ltd, provides specialist genetics support to the aquaculture industry and is led by world renowned Professor Ian Johnston. In March of this year Xelect closed a £170k seed round, led by EOS Technology Investment Syndicate. EOS itself was founded by serial entrepreneur and St Andrews alumnus Kevin Grainger which compounds the enterprising caliber of the University and its wider community.

UStAAAN endeavors to foster this entrepreneurial culture by connecting such like-minded individuals and providing the necessary infrastructure to allow alumni, students and faculty to grow their early stage ventures through access to capital investment and mentorship.


At events, alumni will have the opportunity to network with like-minded entrepreneurs and investors whilst also engaging with exciting early stage ventures from the St Andrews community.


New York Angels founder David Rose

Tuesday, 18 October 2016 will see UStAAAN launch in New York City. For the event, UStAAAN has partnered with Tiger 21, the world’s premier peer-to-peer learning network for high net worth investors, whose 440 members’ collectively manage in excess of $40 billion in personal assets.

The launch will be hosted in Tiger 21’s Manhattan Townhouse on the Upper East Side and guests will have the opportunity to enjoy a key note speech delivered by David Rose. David is the Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the New York Angels, Founder and CEO of Gust, and the New York Times bestselling author of both Angel Investing: The Gust Guide to Making Money & Having Fun Investing in Startups and The Startup Checklist: 25 Steps to a Scalable, High-Growth Business. Attendees will also be able to enjoy single malt scotch, wine, and hors d’oeuvres.


For more information on UStAAAN in NYC, please visit: us.ustaan.org

To join UStAAAN’s LinkedIn group please visit: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8458277

To keep up with UStAAAN on Facebook please visit: https://www.facebook.com/StAAngelNetwork/


The ‘other’ hook of St Andrews

For many prospective students, the opportunity to come and study at St Andrews has an additional allure. The world-famous Old Course, six other public courses, and an almost never-ending array of other first-class golfing venues within an hour’s travel all provide an unparalleled experience for the golf fan.

With The Ryder Cup having just finished, and the annual Alfred Dunhill Links Championship just begun in St Andrews, there is no better time to catch up with one such prospective student, Ed Hodge (MA 2000), who arrived at St Andrews twenty years ago with a love of the game that has developed into him forging a career in the game. 


St Andrews.

The Home of Golf.


The Old Course, St Andrews

For a self-confessed golf fanatic, it was the perfect fit for my university studies, having secured the grades to study Modern History. I look back on it as the best four years of my life. I met my wife, made life-long friends, learned skills that I continue to use to this day and formed a bond with the town that will never leave me. It’s a wonderful place for a student.

Yes, I played golf, ok a lot of golf (the discounted prices for local residents are terrific), but from my two years of life in University Hall, to being Sports Editor of the The Saint student newspaper in 1997/98, to studying subjects in depth such as Civil Rights and Martin Luther King, The Swinging Sixties and World War I & II, it was an all-round superb experience, full of highlights.

Yes, I played golf, ok a lot of golf, but from my two years of life in University Hall… it was an all-round superb experience, full of highlights.

I remember graduating in May 2000, with a 2.1 MA Honours, and feeling as prepared as I could be for the working world. I’ve since worked in differing roles in the sports media industry in Scotland for the last 16 years and, appropriately, have found myself back in St Andrews in recent times in my role for Scottish Golf, whose headquarters are based just outside the town.


Ed (left) with co-author Peter Burns (right) at Gleneagles, Perthshire Photo: Kenny Smith Photography

The golf connection has continued with my move into writing books. Jewel in the Glen: Gleneagles, Golf and The Ryder Cup was first printed in 2013, and subsequently updated for a second edition in 2014 after Europe’s triumph. Our Day in May, the story of St Johnstone FC’s first major trophy win in 130 years, was then published in 2015.

Again working with Arena Sport, an imprint of Birlinn Ltd, I’ve now co-authored (with Peter Burns) a unique new history of The Ryder Cup, published earlier this summer.  Fittingly, Pete is also a St Andrews graduate.

It’s been a busy time in recent years, especially with two young children, but throughout my daily work, and the book writing, the lessons learned at St Andrews never leave me.

Sadly, my golf game does require some lessons though … oh to be a student again!


Award Winning Travel, Award Winning Alumni

Veda Tirumalareddy (MLitt 2010) may only have spent one year in St Andrews, but the experiences and knowledge she gained while in Scotland helped her create her successful travel company back home in India. Since then, the company has taken off and led to international recognition as a Finalist in the Education UK Alumni Awards 2016 (to nominate yourself for a 2017 Award, see the end of this post).

“Born and raised in India, I chose to pursue higher education in the UK. I completed a BA Honours in Business Studies from the University of Exeter and a Masters in International Business from the University of St Andrews.

The big draw of St Andrews for me, aside from being one of the top five universities in the UK, was that the Management School nurtures out of the box thinking while providing a strong academic foundation to make ideas commercially successful.

In 2010, after completing my Masters, I chose to explore unchartered territory and plunge head long into entrepreneurship in the Wildlife & Responsible Travel industry. My passion for wildlife and nature began early, starting with the many childhood trips I took with my father to the remotest parts of India.

When I began to write up the project report for Planetwildlife.com, a company specialising in tailor-made wildlife travel, everyone was a bit sceptical about how a niche product like this would take off in the Indian market, which is used to mass-marketed group travel.

However, my education in St Andrews gave me the exposure to management skills and the successful business practices required to lead and grow an international business, while the diversity of ‘the bubble’ helped me to understand the cultures of my consumers and partners. Admittedly, it was a difficult task to break this mold, but this part of the process is what I found most exciting.


Planetwildlife co-founder and CEO, Veda Tiramulareddy

Planetwildlife began in 2011. Having proved that it is possible to successfully run a start-up offering a niche product in a traditional market, I have gone on to establish Planetwildlife in South Africa and Australia. Its presence on three continents makes Planetwildlife a global brand associated with providing experiential travel through responsible tourism. I believe this will have a positive impact on the tourism industry as a whole, as it is one of the few travel companies that takes environmental sustainability so seriously.

I decided to enter the Education UK Alumni Awards in 2016, as I saw this as a great opportunity to reconnect with UK universities. Alumni Awards is a great platform to network with other professionals and entrepreneurs. Being selected as a Finalist in the Entrepreneurial category gave me the official recognition for the company and I would encourage others to put themselves forward for these awards.


Veda meeting the Duchess of Cambridge, April 2016

I would also like thank the University of St Andrews and the British Council for giving me the opportunity to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, fellow alumni of the University, on their Royal Visit to India in April of 2016.”


Nominations for the British Council Alumni Awards 2017 are now live. These awards celebrate the impact and value of a UK higher education and is open to alumni who have studied in the UK since 2001. The 2017 awards are restricted to alumni of a UK institution who now reside in one of the following countries:

Egypt, Ghana, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia. Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Turkey, USA

To discover how to nominate yourself, or your fellow alumni, for a British Council Alumni Award 2017 please visit (https://www.britishcouncil.org/education-uk-awards)


Finalists at the Education UK Alumni Awards 2016 in India

Kingdom v Capital rivalry returns

President of the Women’s Rugby Club, and Alumni Relations Summer Intern in the Development Office, Naomi Boon, gives an overview of the upcoming 2016 Royal Bank of Scotland Scottish Varsity Match.

‌The Scottish Varsity Match between Scotland’s two oldest University Rugby Clubs dates back more than 150 years, predating the annual Oxford v Cambridge Varsity Match.

In 2015, after 4 successful fixtures in London, the Scottish Varsity Match came home to Scotland. Sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland, the match was played at the home of Scottish Rugby, BT Murrayfield in front of 10,000 spectators, with the Women’s 1st XV fixture preceding the Men’s 1st XV match on the international pitch.


Photo courtesy of Chris Reekie

This year’s stage is set and months of planning look sure to provide the biggest audience ever on 24 September at BT Murrayfield.

The St Andrews’ men will strive to defend their title after an epic win last year which came down to a last minute try and a winning conversion from scrum half Finn Murphy with the final kick of the ball, to emerge victorious over the Edinburgh University side.


Photo courtesy of Chris Reekie

After a tough defeat in last year’s fixture (36-7), the women’s team are determined to up their game and hold their ground against the Edinburgh Ladies, a strong side boasting several key Scotland Internationals.

Coming up against such a challenging opposition, particularly in front of 10,000+ spectators is by far the most exciting, physically demanding and mentally challenging event in the calendar for the team, but it is an incredible honour to play the national stadium.


Photo courtesy of Chris Reekie

Saturday 24 September 2016 will see a day-long festival of sport, ‘Kingdom vs Capital’ with many different clubs, including netball, football, lacrosse and  fencing participating in Edinburgh v St Andrews fixtures in the capital, before the showcase Varsity event at Murrayfield from 4.30pm.


Photo courtesy of Scottish Rugby

Tickets for the game are FREE for students and under 25s or £5 and are available here:


Bus tickets are also available for single or return transport from St Andrews and can be purchased here:



Twitter: @scottishvarsity

Facebook: /scottishvarsitymatch


We look forward to seeing many St Andrews alumni and friends at Murrayfield on 24 September to show your support for our Saints!

Requiem for the Argonaut – the Gatty Boat

Professor Herbert Macgregor (BSc 1958) has fond memories of his time at St Andrews as a Zoology student. Here he shares one particularly vivid memory of the summer of 1957, when he and his classmates ran into some adventure on board the ‘Argonaut’ – the old Gatty boat.

The idea was to go out with a dredge and see what we could scrape off the bottom of St Andrews bay. Great! Much better than sitting all day in that dreary teaching lab in the Bell Pettigrew under the ever watchful eye of that wonderful old soul Chrissy Sutherland – God bless her woollen socks!

Ten of us stood expectantly on the St Andrews quay while Dave Clark brought the Argonaut alongside and checked that we had the right gear aboard. Dave was one of the St Andrews fishermen, baggy trousers, old blue woollen rollneck, soft cap and the iconic pipe. He was a man of very few words who had worked the bay since he was boy.

All aboard scrabbling for the best seat up on the foredeck. Dave entered the little cabin that housed the ancient Victorian Lister petrol/paraffin single cylinder plonker, cranked it up and off we went, out along the pier and into the sunlit freshness of the bay, with the Bell Rock lighthouse 10 miles  dead ahead to the east.  This was great! I was glad I’d decided to do Zoology!


Pictured are the undergraduate students on board the ‘Argonaut’ in the summer of 1957. Herbert Macgregor is seated on the extreme left.

Two hours later we were two miles offshore, with the May Island peeping round the headland to the south. We’d had a go at dredging and brought up some interesting stuff. Two of the party were seasick but in general we were happy – and hungry. Time to head for home?

Then something happened. The Lister coughed and died. The reassuring part of this was that Dave didn’t seem the least concerned, even though tide and wind were driving us slowly but surely out into the North Sea. I had two years’ National Service in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers behind me, so I asked Dave if he would like me to take a look, which I did.  Uh Oh! The magneto, arguably the very heart of the engine, had – disintegrated.

Now remember, in 1957 there was no Health and Safety, no VHF, no EPIRB, no life jackets, no oars, no sails, nothing, and the sun was going down. Two more went down with sea sickness. The outlook was grim.  We were – yes – doomed.  Dave, meanwhile, settled down beside his steering wheel, filled and lit his pipe and did nothing. “Ach, Dinnae worry yerself laddie” he said in a way that only a Fifer can.

An hour later, when the shore had receded to the skyline and things seemed desperate, Dave relit his pipe just at the moment when we spotted a tiny dark shape making its way towards us. Being a native of the town I recognised Tom, another of the local fisherman, seated in the stern of his boat, puffing his pipe and headed in our direction. May the Good Lord be praised! We were about to be rescued! Tom went straight past us without even looking in our direction and then, at the last minute, turned and shouted to Dave “What’ye doing sittin oot here? “Oh just fishin” says Dave. Whereupon Tom took us in tow and we headed for home.

A few weeks later, the Gatty bought a new boat.

Fast forward over 50 years and the Gatty not only has a specialist, highly robust vessel for operation in shallow waters at high speeds (with not a pipe in sight) – the University has also recently announced plans for a new £10 million marine laboratory, which will cement Scotland’s reputation as a world leader in oceanic research.

new marine lab

Artist’s impression of new Gatty Marine Lab by East Sands, photo courtesy of University of St Andrews