Alice Thompson, who founded the sandwich shop and social enterprise in 2012 with Josh Littlejohn, will receive the Degree of Doctor of the University, Honoris Causa at the university’s graduation ceremony.
A former QMU events management student, Thompson has hosted George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Prince Harry and the now Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, at Social Bite cafes. She and Littlejohn have established five social enterprise cafes throughout Scotland, a high end Edinburgh restaurant that helps to feed homeless people and ‘ Sleep in the Park,’ the world’s largest sleep-out, to raise money for homelessness. The £3.6m this raised has helped to fund Social Bite Village, a development of 11 purpose-built homes for the homeless based in Granton, Edinburgh.
“Alice took a risk, by taking a break from her studies to start an internship,” said Queen Margaret University principal Professor Petra Wend. “This decision led to her collaboration with Josh – with Social Bite launching when Alice was just 21 years of age. Her story helps to demonstrate what is achievable when people combine raw enthusiasm, flexibility, partnership and a deep-felt social conscience. Her work fits perfectly with QMU’s commitment to social justice and our drive to support social enterprises.”
Also receiving the Degree of Doctor of Education, Honoris Causa, from QMU is Ann Southwood, former principal and chief executive of Newbattle Abbey College, a residential adult education college on the outskirts of Dalkeith in Midlothian. After 18 years at the helm, Southwood was recognised this year as the longest serving principal of a further education college in Scotland. She has been instrumental in raising the profile of adult education and making it accessible to adults with few or no qualifications.
“Her drive to support adult learners, regardless of background, to achieve their potential through college and university education, fits with QMU’s commitment to widening access and equality of opportunity,” Profesor Wend said.
Queen Margaret College’s graduation ceremony takes place in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall with 800 students and their families.