QMYOU Alumni Magazine Issue 84 - Page 7

P RUE WAS NOMINATED for the role of Chancellor given the affinity of her interests and experience with the University’s expertise in food and drink, sustainable business, and creativity and culture, and well as one of its key values of social responsibility. The new Chancellor has an impressive track record as an entrepreneur having successfully built a business from scratch in the 1960s which grew to become Leith’s Good Food, the party and event caterer. In 1969, she opened Leith’s, her famous Michelin starred restaurant, and in 1975, founded Leith’s School of Food and Wine which trains professional chefs and amateur cooks. The group reached a turnover of £15m in 1993, when she sold out all but the restaurant, which she went on to sell in 1995. For many, Pr ue Leith is the epitome of classic cookery experts. With her rich culinary background, she was an obvious choice for the role of judge on the BBC’s ‘Great British Menu’. Having been involved with the show from the first screening in 2006, Prue is a regular on our television screens where she is mainly seen putting the country’s top chefs under severe scrutiny in a bid to identify Britain’s finest dishes and its top culinary talent. Prue has received no less than eleven honorary degrees or fellowships from UK universities, including one from QMU in 1997. In addition, she was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1989 and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2010 Birthday Honours list. Echoing Queen Margaret University’s focus on making a real practical difference to people’s lives, Prue has a deep-rooted commitment to social responsibility. As Chair of the RSA, she has been instrumental in founding and running many charities including ‘Focus on Food’, which in partnership with the Soil Association, set up the Food for Life initiative which works in schools focusing on cooking and sustainability. She has held numerous public appointments but the one she has described as the most important of her long career so far has been her role as Chair of the School Food Trust (2006 – 2010), the British Government’s campaign to replace foods high in salt, sugar and fat with freshly cooked healthy food. Her passion in this field prepares her well to act as a figurehead for QMU’s work in food and drink, including that of the Scottish Centre for Food Development and Innovation based at the University. A champion of education, Prue was a member of the National Task Force setting up National Vocational Qualifications. Some of her other public appointments include Chair of the Restaurateurs’ Association and member of a Consumer Debt Commission. Always an optimist, Prue has strived throughout her life to make things better. She has become passionate about the care and rights of people who are dying and is involved with the ‘Dignity in Dying’ campaign, believing that much work needs to be done to improve end of life care. She is therefore very interested in finding out more about QMU’s specialist nursing research in person-centred practice, dementia and the care of older people. During the week, Prue mainly works as a novelist. She has recently completed her significant entrepreneurial qualities, but she has also worked hard to help develop and highlight the UK’s culinary talent, the importance of good healthy food for all, and to tackle inequalities. She is therefore an excellent fit for our work in food and drink, which dates back to our inception in 1875 when we were established to help improve the diet of the urban poor. “Prue is an accomplished public speaker and writer, and is able to connect with a very wide audience, through her writing of novels, her opinion pieces and her passion for good food. We look forward to her involvement in a variety of university events. In addition, we know that she has a keen interest in learning more about our ground-breaking nursing research in person-centred practice and care of older people, and to  help enhance our long established reputation in hospitality and tourism; business; and food, nutrition and biological sciences.” Professor Wend concluded: “Indeed, Prue Leith has achieved so much in her varied career, ever adapting to change and embracing optimism. She is strong, motivated, entrepreneurial and ambitious, and will not only be an excellent role model “Prue Leith’s career and background resonates deeply with the values and ethos of QMU, as well as with our flagships in health and rehabilitation; creativity and culture; and sustainable business.” seventh novel, and in 2012, published her memoir ‘Relish: My Life on a Plate’. Professor Petra Wend, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of QMU, said: “Prue Leith’s career and background resonates deeply with the values and ethos of QMU, as well as with our flagships in health and rehabilitation; creativity and culture; and sustainable business. She is a highly respected public figure who has strong beliefs about the importance of education and in its transformational importance to society. Much of her life’s work has been in food and drink, in which she has shown for our students, but will help Queen Margaret University with our ambitious plans to be known as a ‘university of ideas and influence’.” Prue takes over the role of Chancellor from entrepreneur, Sir Tom Farmer, who was installed as the University’s Founding Chancellor in 2007 when the institution was awarded University title. She will be installed into her new role at our Graduation ceremony in July, but is already starting to play a full role in the life of the University, meeting staff, students and friends of the University at various events. ❒ QMYOU / New Chancellor 7