Dr Robert Graham, chairman of Bridge of Allan based Graham’s The Family Dairy today (12 April) further cemented his family’s links with the University of Stirling when he and his wife Jean presented a cheque to Professor Christine Hallett, University Principal and Vice-Chancellor to support the rebuilding of the respected university’s library.
Dr Graham and his wife Jean donated £30,000 to the University of Stirling. The donation will see the Graham family receive sole naming rights to the archive reading room that will be called ‘The Robert and Jean Graham Reading Room.’
Dr Graham’s son Robert and daughter Carol, respectively the managing director and marketing director of Graham’s The Family Dairy, gifted the £30,000 to their mother and father as a special way of recognising their family’s close association for many years with the University of Stirling and its lands.
Describing how he and his wife felt when they learned of the unique gift from their offspring, Dr Graham said: “Jean and I were absolutely delighted.It is a very thoughtful and appropriate gift, for as a family the Graham’s have a proud farming heritage in the area and strong connections with the University of Stirling.
Dr Graham added: “Jean and I are very proud that the Graham family name will now be associated with the reading room at the University of Stirling for generations to come.Today heralds yet another significant milestone in our family’s strong links with one of Scotland’s most respected seats of learning.”
The significant donation and the opportunity to put their family name to the reading room, cements a 71 year-old relationship between Graham’s The Family Dairy and the lands of the university.
In 1939, Dr Graham’s father, also Robert, took up the tenancy of Airthrey Kerse Farm in Bridge of Allan on land that formed part of the Airthrey Estate. The land on which the university library now sits was also pasture on which his dairy cows grazed.
When in 1947, Dr Graham’s father bought Airthrey Kerse Farm from Airthrey Estate, he continued to rent the prized farmland on fields that now form the University of Stirling.In 1967, the Graham’s agreed to give up this grazing land in order to allow construction of the university buildings, a move that Dr Graham notes significantly boosted education and employment opportunities in the area.
Subsequently, for over a decade, Dr Graham and his wife Jean managed a busy supermarket on the University campus, initially in the Pathfoot Building and later in the new MacRobert complex.
On its completion, the library building will retain much of its 1970’s styled exterior, reflecting its designation by ICOMOS (the International Council of Museums and Sites) as one of the UK’s top twenty heritage sites.
Commenting on the decision by Scotland’s largest independent dairy to donate towards a new archive section of the library, “We are delighted that the Graham family is supporting the transformation of the University Library. Not only are they close neighbours and business friends, but the Graham name has a long association with the historic Airthrey Estate on which the University is located. It is very fitting that there will be the Graham Reading Room for the University Archive and Special Collections.”
Work on the new library started in September 2009 and is scheduled to be completed in August this year.