Ladies and Gentleman,
Tonight is very special for Catherine and me. It brings together two institutions that are dear to us: our alma mater, St Andrews University, and Middle Temple, our hosts here tonight. Both are world-renowned. Both are roughly of the same venerable age. We are proud to be so closely associated with them.
600 years have passed since Pope Benedict sent his Bull to King James I of Scotland and Bishop Wardlaw, founding our University, Scotland’s oldest. Actually, it could be 599 or 601 years ago – our School of Mathematics was clearly not as strong back then as it has become. But who’s counting? The point is that scores of generations have passed through its halls since then. All those brilliant minds…especially all of us who did Geography!... have two things in common.
First of all, we have been privileged to receive the best of university educations. Secondly, we all love St Andrews. We love it for the academic start in life it gives us. We love it for its traditions - traditions that lie at the very heart of Scotland’s history. We love it because it made us look beyond St Andrews, beyond the borders of Scotland, to the wide world. But perhaps most important of all, we love it for the friendships it has given us. As I look around this hall tonight – and even take a peek at the person sitting three from my left – I thank God for those friendships - our friendship - forged in our ancient halls. I even include in that one of my alma mater, who shall remain nameless, here tonight who rang me today to say he’d pay good money for me not to speak!
The 600th Anniversary campaign is about helping our University to bestow those gifts on generations to come. With your support we can make sure that every child is born into a conditional offer from the world’s best university, regardless of circumstance. Tonight we are celebrating the red gowns of St Andrews not only as a symbol of 600 years of history, but as a symbolic invitation to every bright mind of the future to aspire to St Andrews. Please be generous in supporting these scholarships, and I hope you have a wonderful evening.