Princeton University’s Professor David MacMillan spent more than three hours chatting to pupils and staff at Bellshill Academy about his time there. He also spoke about what it felt like to win the Nobel Prize and about his other career successes, on his first visit to the school since leaving in 1985.
He said: “As soon as I entered through the main doors all the memories came flooding back. Bellshill Academy and New Stevenson Primary really were amazing places to attend, and I owe so much of what I’ve achieved to the support and encouragement of so many wonderful teachers. I just remember there being such a positive culture and not only in the sciences but being encouraged in lots of subject areas.”
Prof MacMillan along with his wife, sister and daughter were given a tour of the school by senior pupils and head teacher Jodie McGraw. As they passed through the assembly hall, he told them of the occasions when his band played on the stage in the hall when he was sixteen years old.
“We were a decent group and had a lot of fun times, but not good enough to go that much further,” he reflected.
Pupils from two chemistry classes had given up a day of their holidays to ensure they got the chance to meet their school’s Nobel Prize winner and be photographed with his medal.
David had an engagement beforehand after agreeing to open the new constituency office of his friend, MSP Stephanie Callaghan who had asked him to visit the school.
Ms Callaghan said: “There is no better example of ‘anything is possible’ than following Dave’s incredible journey from football mad, Stevenston Primary School pupil to Nobel Prize winning, Princeton University Distinguished Professor.
“That is why I am overjoyed that Dave agreed to open my constituency office. Dave’s pride in his North Lanarkshire roots is exemplified in how quickly he responded in the affirmative to my suggestion he visit Bellshill Academy.
“Dave’s extraordinary journey is one that I am sure many will see as a beacon of light in dark times. I hope that his path is one that others will be inspired to follow.”