Honorary degrees for Stars of ‘Still Game’, an actor and musician, and a mountaineer
Stars of ‘Still Game’, an actor and musician, and a mountaineer awarded honorary degrees from Queen Margaret University
Queen Margaret University’s graduation ceremony was brimming with creative talent and inspirational personalities this year as Scottish comedy actors, an actor and musician, and a world leading mountaineer were awarded honorary degrees on Tuesday 12th July.
Jane McCarry and Mark Cox, best known for playing the busybody, Isa Drennan, and the tight-fisted old miser, Tam Mullen, in the much loved Scottish TV comedy series ‘Still Game’ delighted the audience at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh when they were both granted the title Doctor of the University, Honoris Causa. Having been honoured for the memorable contribution they have made to the cultural life of Scotland, the duo went on to entertain the audience with their comedy banter, whilst regaling them with tales of their experiences on stage and screen, and their student days studying acting at Queen Margaret.
Actors Mark and Jane were joined by the multi-talented Paul Ewing, an actor, voice artist, presenter, producer, singer, songwriter, and music composer; and Mostafa Salameh, the first Arab to climb Mount Everest from its south side, and who is one of only ten people in the world to have completed the ‘Explorer’s Grand Slam’. Having all studied at Queen Margaret several years ago, Mark, Jane, Paul and Moustafa were delighted to celebrate their honorary degree awards and the success of new graduates, at what was Queen Margaret University’s first in-person graduation ceremony to be held since 2019, and in the year in which the institution celebrated 50 years of teaching drama and performing arts.
Playing two of Scotland’s most iconic characters in the BBC sitcom Still Game, which aired between 2002 and 2019 and was enjoyed by loyal fans for nine series and 62 episodes, Jane McCarry and Mark Cox were part of a multiple award-winning team. Still Game won awards from BAFTA Scotland, Scottish Comedy Awards, Rose d’Or and many more. Both Jane and Mark also played numerous roles in the Scottish sketch show ‘Chewin’ the Fat’ which ran between 1999 and 2005. Jane also had TV success in shows like ‘Rab C Nesbitt’, and as childminder Granny Murray in the BBC Two and Cbeebies hit programme ‘Me too!’. In addition, she trained as a drama teacher and inspired many school pupils to develop their creative performance talents. Mark has also had many parts in much loved TV programmes including Shetland’, ‘Rebus’, ‘Outlander’, and ‘Scots Squad’, and together with Jane they set up their own business hosting corporate events, which has seen them stage Burns Suppers as far afield as the British Embassy Garden in Abu Dhabi.
Paul Ewing had early success as a children’s presenter, working on over 250 children’s shows for the BBC in the late 1990’s and 2000’s. Currently living in Thailand, he now spends most of his time making music; song writing, singing and composing music for stage and screen including theatre productions, TV commercials, short films, and feature films. He was commissioned by the Royal Foundation in Thailand to compose the official birthday song for the late king’s 85th birthday - now added to Thailand’s official canon of royal songs, and was voted the Best Soul Funk Artist in the 2007 Indy Music Awards. As a producer, Paul has worked on UK West End and touring productions including the number one UK tour of ‘Dracula’, and ‘Priscilla Queen of the Desert’ starring Jason Donavan. Other producing credits include the South-East Asia leg of the Grammy Award Winning ‘Joss Stone’s Total World Tour’. His success on stage includes performances with the Royal Shakespeare Company and The Young Vic Theatre, and he was the first black actor to play Mozart in Peter Shaffer’s ‘Amadeus’ staged at the Derby Playhouse.
Born to refugee parents who met in a Palestinian refugee camp, Mostafa Salameh was brought up in Kuwait where he was made to feel like a second class citizen. After several years of hard toil living, working and learning in the UK with issues of immigration status hanging over his head, Mostafa transformed his life by gaining a degree in Hospitality and Tourism from Queen Margaret University, and dreaming big! Mostafa had a vision of standing on top of the world. He turned that dream into a reality when he became the first Arab to climb Mount Everest from the its south side, and one of only ten people in the world to have completed the ‘Explorer’s Grand Slam’. The Grand Slam challenge involved reaching the summits of the highest mountains of each of the seven continents - including Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro and Dinali in Alaska - as well as conquering the North and South Poles. After conquering Everest in 2008, Mostafa skied Greenland from south to north, becoming one of seven in the world to do so. Mostafa now mountaineers to support those in need. He leads guided climbs around the world and continues to raise millions for various charities, including over two million dollars for the King Hussein Cancer Center in Amman.
Sir Paul Grice, Principal of Queen Margaret University, said:
"We are delighted that, today, our students have the opportunity to learn about the careers of actors and creatives, Jane McCarry, Mark Cox and Paul Ewing, and the adventurer, mountaineer and charity fundraiser, Mostafa Salameh. We are inspired by Jane, Mark and Paul’s outstanding creativity and their endless ability to engage and entertain. Mostafa’s passion for social justice, and his commitment to improving the lives of the disadvantaged, reflects QMU’s values. Mostafa dared to dream, and what followed was, and continues to be, extraordinary. We are truly honoured to have such exceptional individuals at graduation and we are delighted recognise their impressive achievements with honorary degrees."
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