17 May 2017

Fellowship for disability sport pioneer

Fellowship for disability sport pioneer

A disability sport pioneer has been made an honorary fellow of Abertay University after transforming local opportunities in Tayside.

Elizabeth Ferris from Carse of Gowrie was selected for the honour in recognition of her tireless work in establishing and growing the Dundee Dragons wheelchair sport charity since 2013.

The 30-year-old was inducted as an honorary fellow alongside former Assistant Chief Executive of NHS Tayside, Daniel McLaren, former Abertay academic, Professor Louis Natanson and former Abertay Vice-Principal, Professor Mary Malcolm.

Abertay’s Division of Sport and Exercise has close links with Dundee Dragons and many students have engaged in training placements before going on to coach disability sport at a national level.

From small beginnings, Elizabeth, originally from Northern Ireland, has grown the organisation to more than 60 members across a range of sports including rugby, basketball, tennis, curling and badminton.

“I’m really honoured to receive this Fellowship from Abertay, particularly because of the strong links we have had with the university,” said Elizabeth, who suffered a spinal cord injury in 2011 and is a full-time wheelchair user.

She added: “When you are in a chair, people treat you as if you are wrapped in cotton wool, so the best thing to disprove that is to get out there and get involved in sport.

“The importance of exercise is magnified tenfold for someone with a disability and there’s also an important social aspect that can’t be overlooked.”

Daniel McLaren has contributed greatly, over four decades, to good governance in the National Health Service.

The University of St Andrews graduate has worked with South Eastern Regional Hospital Board, Grampian Health Board, Westminster Hospital and NHS Tayside.

He was a member of the University Court from 2005 to 2014.

Professor Louis Natanson retired from his role as Head of the School of Design and Informatics at Abertay in 2015 after 30 years’ service.

The University of St Andrews graduate initially became a teacher at Kirkton High School in Dundee and went on to teach maths, physics and computing at Southaw School in London and Forfar High School.

At Abertay he rose through the ranks, holding nearly all academic roles, and in 1999 oversaw the development of the new portfolio of programmes in Computer Games and Computer Arts which has been so crucial to the University’s success.

Professor Mary Malcolm is currently Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at the University of Bedfordshire.

She is credited with helping to transform the University into the modern force that it has become.

Prof Malcolm advanced rapidly through the ranks at Abertay, becoming first Senior Lecturer, then Division Leader, Head of the Dundee Business School, and finally Vice-Principal (Academic Development).  

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