Schoolgirl Rona Learmonth did Shetland proud when she gave a welcome in dialect to around 800 guests attending the historic academic robing ceremony for the new University of the Highlands and Islands.
Rona, 10, from Scalloway Primary School, was one of five young people from the region who took it in turns to welcome the guests in English, Gaelic, Scots, Orcadian and Shetlandic last Thursday.
A hearty round of applause followed Rona’s address: “Wir blyde you’re come ta dis graand foy fir da Highlands an Islands University. We hoop you hae a lightsome day.”
The event – also attended by director of Shetland College UHI and the NAFC Marine Centre Professor David Gray – took place at Eden Court Theatre, Inverness. A Tornado jet from RAF Lossiemouth had flown over Shetland College the NAFC Marine Centre earlier in the day as part of a flypast of all the university’s campuses in the region.
Guests from Scotland’s universities, local authorities, the Scottish government, the university’s academic partners, the education sector and the business sector, joined church leaders and Lord Lieutenants and people who have made a significant contribution to the university’s creation, at the event.
James Fraser, UHI principal and vice-chancellor, said: “This was a historic day for the people of the Highlands and Islands. The founding of the university is a momentous achievement and one of which we can be justifiably proud. Rona did a wonderful job and we were all very proud of her.”
In addition to last Thursday’s event, each UHI partner will be celebrating its role in the new university at its graduation ceremony taking place over the next two months. These ceremonies will mark the first degrees awarded by UHI as the University of the Highlands and Islands. Shetland College UHI will be holding its ceremony on 30th September.
The University of the Highlands and Islands was granted university title by the Privy Council in February this year. It now has over 8,000 students, located and studying throughout a partnership comprising: Argyll College UHI; Highland Theological College UHI, Dingwall; Inverness College UHI; Lews Castle College UHI, Lewis; Moray College UHI; NAFC Marine Centre UHI, Shetland; North Highland College UHI, Thurso; Orkney College UHI; Perth College UHI; Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI, Skye; Scottish Association for Marine Science UHI, near Oban; Shetland College UHI; and West Highland College UHI.