Moray graduate lands top University accolade

Leanne receives her award from HRH The Princess Royal
Leanne receives her award from HRH The Princess Royal

A MORAY GRADUATE found herself with a very special Royal appointment yesterday when the Princess Royal presented her with a Student of the Year award.

Leanne Demay travelled from her Spey Bay home to receive the award from the University of the Highlands and Islands at a special ceremony in Inverness.

The 36-year-old was praised for her “positive attitude” as well as her academic achievement, securing a first-class honours degree in archaeology at Moray College UHI – while bringing up a family, working at Elgin Museum and volunteering on excavations around the Highlands and Islands.

Over 200 guests gathered at the new Inverness College UHI building on the University of the Highlands and Islands Foundation day, an annual event that celebrates the endeavours and successes of UHI students.

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, as chancellor of the university, presided over the event and presented the awards and fellowships. Also receiving an award was BBC weather presenter Carol Kirkwood, who received an Honorary Fellowship for her 20-year contribution to broadcasting.

After receiving her award Leanne praised the “unique learning experience” she was offered by the University, saying: “It enabled me to study a subject which would normally have been out of my reach due to work and family commitments.

“The cooperation between partnering colleges gives huge opportunities to remote students and the video conferencing, online chats and Facebook pages create a special support community between lecturers and students.

“I would like to say a huge thank you to my lecturers, friends and family for the amazing support they offered me throughout my studies. It was hard work, but I loved every minute and I am absolutely delighted and humbled to receive the Student of the Year award.”

Leanne joined BBC Television's Carol Kirkwood
Leanne joined BBC Television’s Carol Kirkwood on a special day for the University

Professor Clive Mulholland, principal and vice-chancellor of the university, said: “Foundation Day is one of the highlights of our university calendar. It’s an opportunity for members of our university community to join together to celebrate success and thank our supporters.

“This year’s Foundation Day has been another great occasion – we were delighted that our Chancellor, Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal, presided over the ceremony and that the eminent writer and director Douglas Mackinnon gave us such a fascinating insight into his career.

“Thanks to everyone who came and congratulations to our newest honorary fellows and our award winners.”

Prior to the ceremony the Princess Royal officially opened the new £50million Inverness College UHI building, touring the facility and speaking with students and staff.