Knighthood for Alexander McCall Smith among honours bestowed on Scots

The creator of The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series knighted for services to literature, academia and charity.

Alexander McCall Smith, author of No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, knighted in New Year Honours Roberto Ricciuti / Contributor via Getty Images

Bestselling author Alexander McCall Smith has been knighted in the New Year Honours list.

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

Sir Alexander, 75, was born in what was then known as Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, and made Edinburgh his home after studying there.

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 Emeritus Professor of medical law at the University of Edinburgh, is behind the Great Tapestry of Scotland, and is also a patron of several charities, including The Eric Liddell Community, a care charity and community hub in Edinburgh.

Commenting on the knighthood, Sir Alexander 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.

“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.”

Sports stars are among the other famous names in Scotland to be recognised in the New Year Honours.

Former Scotland manager Alex McLeish said he was “hugely honoured and humbled” to be made an OBE for services to charity.

He is involved with organisations including Crohn’s and Colitis UK and the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice Glasgow.

Former Scotland rugby captain Rob Wainwright has been made an OBE for voluntary and charitable services to the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, which was founded in 2017 by his friend Doddie Weir.

Scotland rugby legend Weir died in November 2022 aged 52 after a six-year battle with motor neurone disease.

Wainwright has raised more than £4m for the foundation through founding Doddie Aid.

He said being recognised is a “tremendous honour” and vowed to “complete Doddie’s mission” of a world free of MND.

Another former Scotland rugby captain, Stuart Hogg, was made an MBE for services to the sport.

Scotland’s top try scorer made 100 appearances for the national side before retiring earlier this year, having played at two World Cups and British and Irish Lions tours.

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

Other people from the arts recognised include Morag Deyes, former artistic director of Dance Base in Edinburgh, who becomes an OBE for services to dance.

Blair Parham, director of music and principal conductor of the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra, becomes an MBE for services to Scottish music.

Two MSPs have been recognised in the New Year Honours list – Liz Smith and Pam Gosal.

Former Scotland cricketer Ms Smith, who represents Mid Scotland and Fife for the Scottish Conservatives, said being made a CBE for services to sport was “completely unexpected”.

Her party colleague – the first Indian Sikh MSP – is made an MBE for services to business and racial equality, and said it was the “honour of (her) lifetime”.

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, West Lothian, who, following a fundraising drive, donated gifts at a children’s hospice dressed in Star Wars costume along with volunteers.

He then set up the Capital Sci-Fi Con and has since raised around £360,000 for Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS).

He said being awarded a British Empire Medal is “just unbelievable”.

Deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden said: “Everyone from Scotland receiving honour today represents the best in British communities.

“I send my warmest congratulations to this year’s recipients, all of whom are incredibly deserving for what they have achieved.”

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