Kate Kennedy steps out in St Andrews

Kate and Bishiop Kennedy.
Kate and Bishiop Kennedy.

The Kate Kennedy Procession in St Andrews went ahead as planned following the most turbulent period in the history of the controversial student club.

Healthy crowds took in the procession through the centre of town despite the dark clouds overhead and the occasional hailstone shower.

The honour of being Kate in this year’s parade went to Londoner Ted Haxby who is studying French and Latin.

Thomas Pye, president of the Kate Kennedy Club, was delighted with how the day went.

“The 2012 procession ran smoothly, interrupted only by a short hailstorm,” he said.

“A full procession cast, with the addition of three new characters and two bands, left punctually at 2pm.

“The Kate Kennedy Club, Trust and Procession Committee were delighted to see so many spectators, who came out to show their support, despite uncertain weather.

“The procession could not happen without the support of the town of St Andrews, Fife Council and Fife Constabulary and it is wonderful that students and citizens were once again able to work together towards this historic event.

“We look forward to next year.”

In February, two members of the club resigned in protest at the male-only membership policy and set up the rival Kate Kennedy Fellowship which gained immediate backing from the university, student groups and new rector, Alistair Moffat.

Membership of the fellowship was open to all students, male and female, who could then decide if they wished to opt out.

University support for the Kate Kennedy Club was withdrawn by Professor Louise Richardson shortly after she became principal back in 2009.

She said the university could not support a group that excluded people on gender grounds.

Last month, however, the Kate Kennedy Club announced it had changed its 86-year-old membership policy and would allow women to become members in the next academic year - a move warmly welcomed by Professor Richardson.

The society was founded in 1926, although its origins date back to the early 15th century. It is best known for the spring procession through the town, traditionally led by a male student dressed as a woman.

It is a celebration of the lives of some of the great men and women from the history of St Andrews and the university.

And despite all the recent controversies, Saturday’s procession shows this popular town and gown event is still an important date in the St Andrews calendar.