Bake-Off judge becomes QMU chancellor

Prue Leith CBE installed as university chancellor, and Hollywood film producer awarded honorary degree

TV presenter and food entrepreneur, Prue Leith CBE, has been officially installed as the Chancellor of Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh at the University’s graduation ceremony.

Prue, who was recently announced as the new judge on The Great British Bake Off, was joined by internationally renowned film producer Iain Smith OBE, who was awarded an honorary degree for services to the film industry. Both attended an impressive ceremony in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall with 800 students and their families.

Prue Leith, novelist, businesswoman, food writer, restaurateur, campaigner and TV presenter, takes over the role of Chancellor of the University from entrepreneur Sir Tom Farmer, who served as Founding Chancellor of QMU from 2007 to 2016. 

Now, Prue mainly works as a writer (with seven novels and an autobiography ‘Relish: My Life on a Plate’ to her credit) and as a TV presenter. Prue became particularly well known to the British public when she starred in the BBC 2 cooking contest programme, ‘Great British Menu’. She spent 11 years as a judge on the show before leaving in 2016. This autumn, she will take her place on prime time television as the new judge, alongside Paul Hollywood, on the popular amateur cooking show, ‘The Great British Bake Off’.

Professor Petra Wend, Principal of Queen Margaret University, said: “Prue Leith is a highly respected public figure who has strong beliefs about the importance of education and in its transformational impact on society. She has contributed significantly to the food and hospitality landscape of the UK, having worked successfully as a food entrepreneur, as well as highlighting the UK’s culinary talent and promoting good food health for all. She has become concerned about the care and rights of people who are elderly or dying, and is involved with the ‘Dignity in Dying’ campaign and the Campaign for Better Hospital Food. She is also active in tackling inequalities, promoting entrepreneurship and supporting and nurturing young talent.” 

Iain Smith OBE was awarded an honorary degree for services to the UK and the international film industry at today’s graduation ceremony.

Born and raised in Glasgow and a graduate of the London School of Film Technique (now the London Film School), Iain is an international film producer with some serious credits to his name. His career began as a line producer for David Puttnam on ambitious movies such the ‘Killing Fields’ and ‘The Mission’. He is also known for his involvement in a variety of feature films and cult classics including ‘The Fifth Element’ and creatively adventurous films such as ‘Cold Mountain’, ‘Wanted’, ‘Children of Men’ and the TV series ‘24: Live Another Day’. Believed to be one of Europe’s busiest producers, Iain was the recipient of a BAFTA for Outstanding Achievement in Film in 2005, and was made an OBE for his services to the film industry in 2008. 

Principal, Professor Petra Wend, concluded: “We are delighted to officially welcome Prue Leith to her new position of Chancellor of Queen Margaret University and to her first QMU graduation ceremony. We are also honoured that today our students have also learned about Iain Smith’s most impressive career. Iain’s care for the film industry and respect for its audiences, his creative risk taking, his tremendous leadership and management skills as a producer, exemplify many of the values that to which QMU ascribes. We are therefore pleased to recognise his considerable achievements with the award of Degree of Doctor of Letters, Honoris Causa.

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