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Prue Leith appointed chancellor of Queen Margaret University

07 October 2016 by

Great British Menu - has been appointed as the new chancellor of Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.

Leith, who was awarded the Robyn Jones Lifetime Achievement award at the 2016 Shine Awards earlier this week, will take over the role from entrepreneur Sir Tom Farmer, who was installed as the founding chancellor in 2007 when the institution was awarded the university title.

Leith was nominated for the role due to the affinity of her interests and experience with the university's expertise in the areas of health and rehabilitation, creativity and culture, and sustainable business.

The role of chancellor is a ceremonial one, with duties including presiding over graduation ceremonies and performing an ambassadorial role on behalf of the university.

Leith has received no less than 11 honorary degrees and fellowships from UK universities, including one from Queen Margaret University in 1997, and was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1989 and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2010 Birthday Honours list.

She has been instrumental in founding and running charities, including Focus on Food which, in partnership with the Soil Association, set up the Food for Life initiative and works in schools focusing on cooking and sustainability. She has also been chair of the School Food Trust (2006-2010), the government's campaign to replace foods high in salt, sugar and fat with freshly cooked, healthy food. The Scottish Centre for Food Development and Innovation is based at the university, which helps food and drink companies reformulate existing products; for example, by finding healthier alternatives to fat, salt and sugar.

Leith said: "Following the wonderful Tom Farmer will not be easy, but I look forward to it. I much admire the way QMU has consistently regarded food, nutrition and health as practical and socially important (as well as academic) subjects. And I love the enthusiasm and can-do attitude of students. So I know it will be interesting and fun. And I hope I will be useful."

Professor Petra Wend, principal and vice-chancellor of Queen Margaret University, said: "Prue Leith's career and background resonates deeply with the values and ethos of Queen Margaret University. Much of her life's work has been in food and drink, in which she has shown significant entrepreneurial qualities, but she has also worked hard to help develop and highlight the UK's culinary talent, the importance of good healthy food for all, and to tackle inequalities. She is therefore an excellent fit for our work in food and drink, which dates back to our inception in 1875 when we were established to help improve the diet of the urban poor."

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