The ‘professional’ behind the scenes

Stewart Davidson who was presented with the University Medal.
Stewart Davidson who was presented with the University Medal.

St Andrews University has had its fair share of high-profile visitors and students over the years but one of the key figures in keeping events running smoothly has always liked to stay in the background.

From overseeing arrangements for a visit by the US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, not to mention planning for the return of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to launch the 600th anniversary celebrations, to keeping tabs on the university’s car parks, security manager Stewart Davidson worked away quietly getting the job done.

However, he found himself in the spotlight last week when he was on the receiving side at the graduations - being presented with a University Medal.

“It was a great privilege to receive the medal and a great experience but the graduations are very different when you are looking out at the audience,” Stewart said. “However, while it is an individual who steps up to receive the medal, it is really for the whole team.”

The medal presentation marked his final week after more than 10 years as the university’s first head of security.

He came to St Andrews in 2004 after a distinguished career in the police force, latterly as Chief Superintendent with Tayside Police and he received the Queen’s Police Medal in 2001 in recognition of his operational career.

The safety and security of students and visitors was always his priority.

“When it comes to student activities what we try to do is let the students enjoy themselves but not at the expense of the reputation of the university,” he said.

With many well known - and at times controversial - figures visiting the university, security was vital.

“North east Fife is a very safe area but St Andrews is also a worldwide destination and the spotlight is on it and you cannot forget that in times of heightened security,” he said. “We have always had a good relationship with the police in terms of security.”

In the citation presenting Stewart for the University Medal, Dr Bethan Williams, of the Principal’s Office, said it had been a privilege to work with him and paid tribute to his “extraordinary” commitment, “sound judgment, quiet confidence and exemplary professionalism.”

Looking forward to his retirement, Stewart said he had no priorities other than planning his and wife Margaret’s next big trip.