The New Year’s Honours List has recognised the considerable achievements of three extraordinary local people.
Professor David Tregear Ulph, Ronald Webster and Heather Cunningham were three of the 1,044 candidates that were selected at CBE, BEM and MBE level to receive an honour in the 2016 list.
Professor Ulph of the University of St Andrews and who lives outside Cupar, was awarded a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).
He has been recognised for services to economics and social sciences and has spent all of his career as an economist, operating both inside and outside academia in posts such as the Chief Economist and HMRC and adviser to the Committee of the Scottish Parliament. He currently sits on the NHS Pay Review Body.
Mainly theoretical in nature Professor Ulph’s research lies in areas such as tax avoidance and climate change but he admits to not favouring one over the other. “At the time I am working on each area I am totally fascinated by it and want to understand what is going on as far as possible. But then some big new policy issue comes along that grabs my interest and I work on that intensely for a while.”
Surprised but gratified by the nomintation, Professor Ulph does not yet know who put him forward but he has his theories.
“Given that the award was for my contribution to economics and social sciences my only thought was that the Economic and Social Research Council had been involved in the nomination.”
Heather Cunningham, a retired primary school teacher from Pittenweem, has been awarded the BEM for services to the community and arts.
A former teacher at Colinsburgh Primary, Heather has turned her hand to many voluntary activities, stating the 30 years as a Sunday school teacher being some of her most rewarding.
“I love working with children and there was quite a flock of them at during my time there.”
Taken by complete surprise by the nomination, Heather hadn’t appreciated just how much she had put into the community until she added it all up.
Amongst her charges, she started the first playgroup in the East Neuk, served on the committee of the Pipeband and is still involved with the ‘Pittenweem in Bloom’ project.
Ronald Webster (78), Crail, was awarded an MBE for services to tennis in Scotland.
A former president of the Lawn Tennis Association’s central district, current secretary at St Andrews Lawn Tennis Club and playing partner to Andy Murray’s grandfather Roy Erskine, Mr Webster is most proud of establishing an indoor tennis centre at Stirling University.
“It took a great effort to persuade people to put the money up but it has provided such a brilliant facility since being built,’’ he said.
Mr Webster believes that without such facilities players such as Andy and Jamie Murray would not have had sufficient opportunity to develop their skills - and hopes that youngsters in St Andrews will soon be able to take advantage of similar facilities.
“We desperately need an indoor tennis centre but haven’t raised the finance. If someone more active than me could get it up and running, it would be great for the area.”