Crime writer Val McDer­mid ‘moved’ by hon­orary de­gree

Kirk­caldy-born au­thor be­comes Doc­tor of Let­ters at cer­e­mony

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - NEWS - CRAIG SMITH [email protected]­

Best-sell­ing crime writer Val McDer­mid ad­mit­ted be­ing “very moved and very touched” as she had an hon­orary de­gree con­ferred upon her at St An­drews Univer­sity yesterday.

Ms McDer­mid has sold more than 15 mil­lion books which have been trans­lated into 40 lan­guages and has even been awarded the cov­eted Crime Writ­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion Di­a­mond Dag­ger for out­stand­ing achieve­ment.

How­ever, she is also the au­thor of award-win­ning stand­alone nov­els, non­fic­tion, short sto­ries, ra­dio and stage plays, a chil­dren’s book and a con­cep­tual in­stal­la­tion among many high­lights in an in­cred­i­ble ca­reer to date.

Wish­ing grad­u­ates well, Ms McDer­mid said she ap­proached ev­ery pro­ject with the same sense of pre­par­ing for an “aw­fully big ad­ven­ture” that she did when she started univer­sity in Ox­ford – and urged stu­dents to do the same.

“I should not be here,” she said.

“I say that not out of any false mod­esty or im­pos­tor syn­drome, but I say it be­cause when I was grow­ing up peo­ple like us didn’t as­pire to the life I have had.”

The 63-year-old was also recog­nised for her work as a tire­less ad­vo­cate of women’s and LGBTQ+ rights.

In her lau­re­ation by Pro­fes­sor Gill Plain, Ms McDer­mid was de­scribed as hav­ing “held a mirror up to so­ci­ety and un­flinch­ingly re­vealed its prej­u­dices and flaws” be­fore re­ceiv­ing her Doc­tor of Let­ters hon­orary de­gree.

“It would be fair, I think, to cat­e­gorise Val as an over-achiever – and she has been all her life,” she ex­plained. “Born in Kirk­caldy to a work­ing class fam­ily, she ben­e­fited from a qual­ity state school ed­u­ca­tion, in­spi­ra­tional teach­ing and the op­por­tu­ni­ties en­abled by a grant-funded univer­sity sys­tem.

“In­deed, she be­came the first Scot­tish state school pupil to win a place at St Hilda’s Col­lege, Ox­ford.

“She felt, back then, that she had to leave the parochial con­fines of 1960s Fife – not least be­cause it was a place, and I quote, ‘where there sim­ply were no les­bians, it wasn’t even a word that crossed peo­ple’s hori­zons’.

“Much has changed since then, and Val’s has been one of the voices help­ing to change it.”

More than 1,000 stu­dents have re­ceived awards at win­ter grad­u­a­tions.

Pic­tures: Kim Cess­ford.

Stu­dents cel­e­brate af­ter their grad­u­a­tion at St An­drews Univer­sity.

Top: Val McDer­mid with her hon­orary de­gree; left: Time to text fam­ily and friends with the good news; right: friends share a hug and con­grat­u­late one an­other fol­low­ing the grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony.

The pa­rade ar­rives in St Sal­va­tor’s Quad on North Street.

2018 will be a year to re­mem­ber for this grad­u­ate.

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