Falkirk charity takes centre stage in University of St Andrews tradition

Falkirk-based charity Cycling Without Age Scotland took centre stage last week ahead of the formal installation of the new Rector of the University of St Andrews.

By Fiona Dobie
Tuesday, 19th April 2022, 4:30 pm
Student Andrew Byrne-King pilots new Rector Dr Leyla Hussein OBE on her 'drag' around St Andrews.
Student Andrew Byrne-King pilots new Rector Dr Leyla Hussein OBE on her 'drag' around St Andrews.

Dr Leyla Hussein OBE participated in the traditional ‘student drag’ through the Fife town before the ceremony last Thursday.

Students joined the new Rector on a day-long tour of student halls and St Andrews traditions, including a pier walk and the ‘drag’ procession, in a day of celebration.

Dr Hussein – the university’s 54th rector – was taken on her ‘drag’ in an e-bike Triobike trishaw, the unusual form of transport which Cycling Without Age Scotland officially introduced into the UK in 2018.

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Dr Leyla Hussein OBE, the university's 54th Rector, enjoyed a tour of the town on a trishaw.

The trishaw enables volunteer pilots to take one or two passengers for rides in both the countryside and urban areas.

The new Rector was piloted on her ride by student Andrew Byrne-King, from Syracruse, USA, who is currently in his second year at the university reading International Relations.

Having started in Falkirk, Cycling Without Age Scotland now operates more than 50 branches in almost every part of Scotland and thanks to support from the Scottish Government, rides in these trishaws are offered completely free of charge to anyone of any age with a disability or mobility issues, and especially the elderly.

Christine Bell, CEO of the charity, said: “Cycling Without Age Scotland gives people who face mobility challenges or disabilities, or who are lonely and isolated, access to and inclusion in their communities and the world around them.

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"So Dr Hussein championing accessibility and inclusivity resonates very strongly with us and it is a privilege for our charity to have contributed to this prestigious occasion."

Adrian McDowell, chair of the board of trustees of CWAS, added: “Bringing together and serving all generations are important parts of what Cycling Without Age Scotland does.

“This celebration of a long-standing tradition of this world famous institution by such inspiring students is a hugely exciting reflection of that, and we are delighted to have played a part in it.”

Since 1858, the Rector at the University of St Andrews has been elected by the students, and as well as being president of the university court, the highest governing body of the university, they also play an informal, pastoral role for students.

Dr Hussein, a psychotherapist, campaigner and global leader on gender rights, was appointed Rector in November 2020 for an initial three year term.

She said: “Two productive, educational and energising years into my term as Rector, I am honoured to be partaking in the storied traditions of the ‘Rector’s Drag’ and formal installation ceremony.

"As Rector it is my greatest honour and responsibility to represent student voices at the highest levels of decision-making at this historic university.

"The entirety of my term as Rector has been committed to support for student advocacy and activism and dedicated to the great structural change that such work contributes to.

"To each student at this university who is demanding greater support, accessibility and inclusivity, I truly admire your contributions to the St Andrews community and hope to continue supporting your work in my final year as your Rector.”