65 Years of Breaking Barriers
Last night I had the privilege of attending the Strathclyde University gala dinner at the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow.
The occasion marked the anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen granting Strathclyde the Royal Charter in 1964, a significant milestone in the University’s history.
The University of Strathclyde continues to be inspired by its founder’s vision of a ‘place of useful learning’, and is ambitious to make a positive difference to the lives of our students, the society we are part of, and the world we share.
As an alumni of the University, the founding ethos resonates with me, and I continue to be proud of the University in being a place for useful learning; focusing its internationally leading teaching, research and translational expertise to solve key global challenges, supporting the development of innovative and productive economies and societies and working in close partnership with like-minded organisations to shape the world we live in. As CEO of ENABLE Scotland, I am delighted that ENABLE Scotland is leading one such partnership.
It was a hugely humbling experience to be present last night, and I was absolutely honoured and delighted that ENABLE Scotland was the first organisation singled out by Professor Sir Jim McDonald in the socially progressive, widening access field for our innovative Breaking Barriers programme to support young people who have a learning disability to access higher education for the first time in the UK. Along with our partners at the University and at Scottish Power, we are seeing the first cohort of students with a learning disability progress through the Business School and experience work place learning – they are the true pioneers.
It was a huge honour to be highlighted in the same breath as so many notable Scots such as Professor Boyle, Lord Smith of Kelvin, and to be amongst such notable figures in Scottish civic society as Ian McRitchie from MCR Pathways and of course our great friend in the sector Kenneth Robertson of the Robertson Trust.
As ENABLE Scotland enters its 65th year, it was also a poignant moment to reflect on the incredible shared heritage that ENABLE Scotland and the University of Strathclyde have in one remarkable man – Sam Curran.
Often referred to as one of the founding fathers of ENABLE Scotland back in 1954, fighting for the rights of his daughter Sheena, Samuel Curran set up ENABLE Scotland, and served as our President from 1964 until 1991. Mr Curran, whom we have a meeting suite named after in ENABLE Scotland’s offices at INSPIRE House to this day, also just happened to be a celebrated physicist and the first Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde n in 1964.
Our connection and shared agenda to improving society economically, in its health, quality of life, and its creativity is stronger than ever, and I look forward to more collaboration and innovation with the University as we continue our agenda to break down barriers to an equal society.