At 16.00 hrs GMT on Monday I logged onto the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture andForestry website for the 200th Commemorative Meeting of the Academy. Via a live weblink I was able to view Stockholm Town Hall, thronged with VIPs in evening dress. Musicians were playing what I assume was the Swedish national anthem to greet the arrival of their Head of State, King Carl XVI Gustaf. It was a glittering occasion, if slightly impenetrable to those of us whose linguistic skills do not extend to Swedish. However, it was clear that new members of the Academy were being received and then there were honours and awards being presented by the Academy President Kerstin Niblaeus to some distinguished scholars, not only from Sweden but from all over the world. However, my colleagues here at Newcastle and I were only really interested in one particular presentation. We waited nearly an hour. Then, after this tremendous build-up and some musical interludes, Relu Director and Duke of Northumberland Professor of Rural Economy Philip Lowe, was presented with the Bertebos Prize by King Carl XVI Gustaf in recognition of his contribution to rural studies. The recommendation upon which the prize was awarded says: "Professor Philip Lowe holds the Duke of Northumberland Chair of Rural Economy and is highly reputed in rural studies with significant contributions in sustainable rural development and land use management. He is the founding Director of the Centre for Rural Economy at the University of Newcastle, UK since 1992 and leads its current research programme on Rural Economy and Land Use. This has enabled researchers from different disciplines to investigate the social economic, environmental and technological challenges faced by rural areas and with considerable impact for future knowledge exchange within and beyond the involved stakeholders. He has published widely in the areas of sustainable land use management, advocating reflexive interdisciplinary research. Also, he has made significant contributions in international comparative research, and played an active role in rural policy development at the national and European levels." There was tremendous applause in Stockholm Town Hall, but it was nearly as loud here in my office. Everyone wanted to congratulate Philip on this tremendous achievement. And without the benefit of this modern technology, how could we have known how splendid he looked in a frock coat?
( Photo ©The Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry (KSLA). Photographer: Mats Gerentz)