Legacies from former Carnegie grant recipients support a new generation of undergraduates

The Trust is extremely grateful to have received a total of £9,000 in legacies these past few weeks, which will be used to complement existing support to undergraduate students through the Trust’s Special Supplementary Fund.

Both donations come from individuals who benefitted from the Trust’s funding during their studies.

Dr Alexander Florence was a student in Medicine at the University of Aberdeen from 1945 to 1950 during which the Trust covered the cost of his tuition fees. The first in his family to attend university, he served as a general practitioner in Turriff after his graduation.

In 1966, he and his family moved to Tawa, New Zealand, where he practised until his retirement in 1998. As a GP, he witnessed the side effects of Distaval/thalidomide on his patients, which led him to question the use of this drug by pregnant women. In Silent Shock: The Men behind the Thalidomide Scandal and an Australian Family’s Long Road to Justice, Michael Magazanik, an Australian journalist and lawyer, writes “Dr Leslie Florence became the first doctor to publish on the connection between thalidomide and nerve damage” (p. 117).

Dr Florence died of septicaemia in March 2018. His obituary appeared in the British Medical Journal (BMJ 2018;361:k1937 doi: 10.1136/bmj.k1937, Published 4 May 2018).

A former Carnegie PhD Scholar (Cambridge 1949-50 to 1951-1952), Dr Donald McVean was a pioneering Scottish botanist and ecologist who conducted groundbreaking vegetation surveys mountaineous regions of Australia, Pakistan, New Guinea, Iceland as well as Scotland. After a First Class BSc in Botany at the University of Glasgow (1949), Donald completed a PhD on the ecology of the alder, entitled Plant and Animal Ecology with Particular Reference to the Common Alder. His thesis was supervised by Sir Harry Godwin and Dr Alexander Watt, two highly prominent botanists at the time.

After his PhD, Dr McVean was appointed to the Nature Conservancy in Edinburgh in the 1950s, followed by the Australian National University in Canberra. During his career, he undertook, among other projects, a groundbreaking survey of the Scottish Highlands with the conservationist Derek Ratcliffe. This resulted in the book Plant Communities of the Scottish Highlands (1962), which is still widely referenced today. Dr McVean returned to Scotland in the 1970s during which he provided consultancy services on land use both locally and internationally. Following his retirement, he moved to Argyll where he passed away in May 2017 at the age of 91.

We are extremely grateful to our former grantholders whose generosity in leaving us these legacies will help us continue our work with students in the Scottish universities.