Alumni Services

Queen's New Year's Honours for alumni

A past MasterChef winner and restaurateur, a cognitive ageing researcher and a theatre director are among graduates named in the Queen’s New Year's Honours 2019.

Business and charity

Sir Donald Brydon Kt CBE

Sir Donald H Brydon Kt CBE received a knighthood for services to business and charity. He is Chairman of London Stock Exchange Group plc, Sage Group plc and the Medical Research Council's Legacy Council. The 1967 graduate was awarded an honorary degree by the University in 2017.

I was delighted to discover that I had been awarded a Knighthood for services to business and charity. I have been most fortunate to have had a varied business career with several highlights – the development of index funds and the privatisation of Royal Mail – standing out as important achievements. I have also been privileged to chair the Medical Research Council which leads the world in stimulating basic science leading to improvements in human health. Chairing EveryChild and Chance to Shine has given me the opportunity to provide life skills to children from all backgrounds and through the Science Museum to inspire new generations of scientists. All of this would constitute a fully rewarding career and the present award is the icing on top. It must have been my early Edinburgh education that set the foundations.

Sir Donald H Brydon Kt CBE

Gender equality

Helen Pankhurst giving a talk
Credit: Katie Lucas

Dr Helen Pankhurst (PhD 1990) received a CBE for services to gender equality. She is Senior Advisor at CARE International and Board Member of Action Aid. The great granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst, Dr Pankhurst is herself one of the UK’s foremost campaigners for equal rights.


I’m delighted to be awarded the CBE for services to gender equality.  The world still subordinates women - socially, economically and politically, with discrimination compounded by systemic prejudices based on other differences such as those of colour, sexuality and religion. It is not just that biases persist, these are morphing in new forms, as can be seen from the misogyny on social media. Nevertheless, there are a growing number of people and institutions globally who are on the case, challenging their own preconceptions as well as those of others, and in quiet and more visible ways, working towards a fairer world. I am proud to be in their midst.

Dr Helen PankhurstSenior Advisor at CARE International

Cinema and drama

Black and white photo of David Gothard holding a drink.
David Gothard at the end of his Edinburgh student days.

David Gothard (MA Mental Philosopy 1969) was awarded a CBE for services to cinema and drama. A former artistic director of Riverside Studios, he helped to bring the work of acclaimed playwrights such as Tadeusz Kantor, Samuel Beckett and Dario Fo to the Hammersmith arts venue in the 1980s. More recently David has been an artistic associate at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, and taught at the Playwrights Workshop at the University of Iowa and at the National Film and Television School. 

There are two surprise effects of receiving an award associated with state and empire [...] With this award one's life of bewilderment can suddenly drop into sharp, surprise focus. Tadeusz Kantor of Cracow in the Edinburgh College of Art with 'Dead Class' produced by Richard Demarco and self, preceded by Poor House months of Beuys, Buckminster Fuller, Neagu, Abramovic and more imprinted the mind as Dr [George Elder] Davie knew they would. Films intuitively watched in the Polish Airforceman's Club and weekly film programmes of Lynda Myles in the FilmSoc all return. The Traverse under Jim Haynes with self later as trainee director crowds the mind with standards of art. By graduation I was fortunate to somehow start conjuring worlds of performances and films including the glorious decade of Riverside Studios.

David Gothard

Food industry

Black and while photo of Thomasina Miers
Credit: Tara Fisher 2015

Chef and restaurateur Thomasina Miers (MA 1999) was awarded an OBE for services to the food industry. After winning MasterChef in 2005, she partnered with fellow Edinburgh graduate Mark Selby to set up the Wahaca restaurant group, inspired by the markets of Mexico. She is also a food writer for the Guardian.


I was both amazed and thrilled when I heard about the award – it really is the hugest honour. I couldn’t do any of it without the support of my team at Wahaca and a collection of amazing people that help and inspire me every day.  I feel exceptionally lucky to be working with so many hard-working people in an industry where there is so much creativity and talent.  In particular it has been huge fun working with my business partner Mark over the past decade, with his flair and dynamism.  I hope this will encourage more bright young sparks to get into this hugely rewarding sector.

Thomasina MiersChef and restaurateur

Social sciences

Professor Ian Deary

Professor Ian Deary of the University's Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology has received an OBE for services to social sciences. The psychology and medicine graduate practised psychiatry in London and Edinburgh before moving to academic psychology. His research interests include human mental abilities, the effects of ageing and medical conditions on mental skills, and the impact of cognitive ability on people's lives.


It is encouraging to have the research on cognitive ageing and the links between intelligence and health awarded this honour. I am proud to take the bow on behalf of the participants, research team, and supporters of the Lothian Birth Cohorts, and the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology.

Professor Ian DearyDirector of the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology


Sheriff Mackenzie at a prize-giving event for his charity Dileab an t-Siorraidh.
Sheriff Mackenzie at a prize-giving ceremony for An Dileab an t-Siorraidh. Credit: E-Sgoil, Stornoway

Sheriff Colin Mackenzie (BL 1959) was awarded an OBE for services to the community in the Western and Northern Isles of Scotland. He was the full-time Sheriff of Shetland and Orkney from 1992 to 2004 and is currently an Honorary Sheriff for Grampian, Highland and Islands.

Sheriff Mackenzie estimates that, at one point, he was engaged in no fewer than 27 different committees on various voluntary matters. His current focus is on An Dileab an t-Siorraidh [The Sheriff's legacy], a charity he set up that works with primary schools in Lewis and Harris to encourage pupils to use Gaelic.


I was surprised and delighted to be awarded an OBE in Her Majesty's New Year's Honours list. Surprised, as now being in my ninth decade, I thought I was long past the age when such awards were made - but delighted I nevertheless am.

Sheriff Colin Mackenzie OBE

Complete list of honoured alumni

Sir Donald H Brydon Kt, CBE

Chairman, London Stock Exchange, Sage Group plc, and Medical Research Council.  For services to Business and charity.

Mr David V Gothard CBE

Lately Director Riverside Studios. For services to Cinema and Drama.

Dr Helen Pankhurst CBE

Senior Adviser, CARE International. For services to Gender Equality.

Professor Ian J Deary OBE

Professor, Differential Psychology and Director, Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh.  For services to the Social Sciences.

Dr Stephen J Lee OBE

Programme Group Manager, Forest Resources and Management, Forestry Commission. For services to Forestry.

Sheriff Colin S Mackenzie OBE

For services to the community in the Western and Northern Isles of Scotland.

Dr Anna L Meredith OBE

For services to Animal Welfare and the Veterinary Profession

News article on the Dick Vet website

Miss Thomasina J Miers OBE

Professor, Differential Psychology and Director, Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh.  For services to the Social Sciences.

Mr Robert M Andrews MBE

For services to the Ryedale Festival, North Yorkshire.

Mr Albert H E Baldwin MBE

Chairman, St Helena Heritage Society. For services to the community and local services in St Helena

Mrs Jane Whinnett MBE

Chair, Nursery Head Teacher Council. For services to Early Childhood Education.

Mr Andrew W Gordon BEM

Chairman, Longniddry Villa Football Club. For services to Football and the community in East Lothian.

Mrs Anne B Russell BEM

Lately Chair, Sheffield Health Action Resource for Ethiopia. For services to Nursing and Health Leadership in Ethiopia.

Honorary graduates

Dr Margaret E Atwood CH

Canadian Author. For services to literature

Sir Michael E Palin KCMG, CBE

Comedian, Actor, Writer and Television Presenter. For services to travel, culture and geography

Dame Louise L Martin DBE

For services to Sport.

Dr Nicola Benedetti CBE

Musician. For services to Music.

Professor Thomas W Smith OBE

Head of Jazz, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Artistic Director, Scottish National Jazz Orchestra. For services to Education and Jazz Music

Related links

New Year's Honours for staff