Arise, Sir Alexander! Scottish novelist Alexander McCall Smith knighted in New Year Honours list

Honours for Alex McLeish, Hazel Irvine, Rob Wainwright and Stuart Hogg

Author Alexander McCall Smith has been knighted in a New Year Honours list which recognises a host of Scots including former Scotland football manager Alex McLeish and rugby stars Rob Wainwright and Stuart Hogg.

Sir Alexander, the creator of The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series as well as 44 Scotland Street, was given a knighthood for services to literature, academia and charity.

Alexander McCall Smith is among a host of Scots to be honouredAlexander McCall Smith is among a host of Scots to be honoured
Alexander McCall Smith is among a host of Scots to be honoured
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Other high profile Scots in the New Year Honours list include Mr McLeish, the former Scotland, Rangers and Hibernian manager, as well as TV presenter Hazel Irvine, former Scotland rugby captains Mr Wainwright and Mr Hogg, and Conservative MSPs Liz Smith and Pam Gosal.

First Minister Humza Yousaf hailed the “exceptional contributions” of all those honoured.

Sir Alexander, 75, was born in Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, and made Edinburgh his home after studying in the capital, later becoming professor of medical law at Edinburgh University.

He published his first book in 1980 and rose to fame in 1998 with The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, which has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.

The author went on to write 44 Scotland Street, the world’s longest running serial novel, which is set in Edinburgh’s New Town.

The Scotsman became the first UK newspaper to publish a daily novel when 44 Scotland Street appeared from January 2004.

Sir Alexander is also behind the Great Tapestry of Scotland, and is a patron of several charities, including The Eric Liddell Community, a care charity and community hub in Edinburgh.

He said: “This is very kind of them and I feel most honoured. Writing the books has given me great pleasure over the years and if they have been appreciated, then I am delighted.”

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“I would have put myself pretty low down on the list of those deserving this sort of thing, but I’m obviously very touched by this. I shall carry on doing what I currently do, which is just to act as a chronicler of others’ lives.

“I have many more books that I hope to write, as long as I’m able, and as long as the actuaries permit."

Mr McLeish, meanwhile, said he was “hugely honoured and humbled” to be made an OBE for services to charity.

The former defender, who won the European Cup Winners' Cup with Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen side in 1983, is involved with the Catherine McEwan Foundation, Crohn’s and Colitis UK and the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice Glasgow.

Mr Wainwright was made an OBE for his work with the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, founded by his friend Doddie Weir, who died in 2022 after a battle with motor neurone disease (MND).

Mr Wainwright raised more than £4million for the foundation through founding Doddie Aid, said being recognised is a “tremendous honour” and vowed to “complete Doddie’s mission” of a world free of MND.

Another former rugby captain, Mr Hogg, was made an MBE. The nation’s top try scorer made 100 appearances for Scotland before retiring earlier this year.

There was also royal recognition for those in the arts world, with Alex Reedijk, general director of Scottish Opera, becoming an OBE.

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The same honour went to Morag Deyes, former artistic director of Dance Base in Edinburgh, while Blair Parham, director of music at the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra, becomes an MBE.

In politics, two MSPs have been recognised in the New Year Honours list. Liz Smith, a former Scotland cricketer who represents Mid Scotland and Fife for the Conservatives, said: “It is the greatest privilege to be honoured with a CBE for services to sport.”

Her party colleague Pam Gosal – the first Indian Sikh MSP – is made an MBE for services to business and racial equality.

Kenneth Thomson, until recently a director general at the Scottish Government, is made a Companion of the Order of the Bath for public service.

Officials said 109 people in Scotland have been awarded honours in the New Year list.

Among those recognised for their charity work is Keith Armour, 46, from Livingston, who set up the Capital Sci-Fi Con and has raised around £360,000 for Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS).

Elizabeth Craig Ovens, 79, has been made an MBE after spending 62 years working for the family business, McCaskie’s Butchers in Wemyss Bay, Inverclyde, where she became co-owner 25 years ago.

The shop was named UK Butcher Shop of the Year in May by the Food Manufacture and Meat Trades Journal. Ms Ovens, of Skelmorlie in North Ayrshire, said she felt a “mixture of surprise and delight”.

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Professor Sir Jim McDonald, principal of Strathclyde University, has been appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire. He said: “I am deeply honoured to have been recognised by His Majesty in this way."

Gayle Gorman, who served as HM chief inspector of education and chief executive of Education Scotland until earlier this year, has been made a CBE, as has Public Health Scotland chief executive Angela Leitch, and Scottish Ambulance Service chief executive Pauline Howie.

There were MBEs for retired police inspector Stuart Cossar, for his role in investigating the Lockerbie disaster, and sports presenter Hazel Irvine, who is honorary president of Enable Scotland.

MBEs also go to Inverclyde Council chief executive Louise Long, Elinor Middlemiss, Chef de Mission for Scotland’s 2026 Commonwealth Games squad, Susan Walker of Girlguiding Scotland, and Robert Christie, head coach of the Scotland Paralympic lawn bowls team.

Stewart Nicol, former chief executive of Inverness Chambers of Commerce, has been made an OBE, as has Andrew Anderson, head of Maggie's Cancer Support Centre, and Claire Armstrong, chief executive of the Royal British Legion Scotland.

Former Cosla chief executive Sally-Ann Loudon and Dyslexia Scotland chief executive Catherine Magee were both also made an OBE.

Professor Peter Hollingsworth, the director of science and deputy keeper of Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden, received a CBE.

Chief Superintendent Carol McGuire, Chief Superintendent Faroque Hussain and Police Constable Stephanie Rose received The King’s Police Medal.

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The King’s Fire Service Medal is awarded to acting Director of Asset Management Iain Morris and Watch Commander David Gibson. The King’s Ambulance Service Medal is awarded to care assistant Alistair MacDonald.



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