Dunoon Student's Double Award

UHI Student John Frace, better known to many as Travelling Tabby, was presented with not one, but two awards last week.

John has been named as Argyll College UHI’s Higher Education Student of the Year 2021 in recognition of his voluntary work in creating and maintaining Scotland’s Coronavirus Tracker website. The judges of the award felt that John’s tireless commitment over the last 16 months, totalling over 1,500 hours work alongside his full-time degree studies, really deserved recognition.

In June this year, John received a Herald Higher Education Award for his outstanding contribution at a virtual ceremony hosted by Brian Burnett – his trophy was sent by post and presented to him in Dunoon by Argyll College Principal Martin Jones, along with the College’s own award.

Martin Jones said, "John’s commitment to providing easily accessible and bang up to date information on the regional coronavirus situation is exceptional. He is an inspiring young man, and I am delighted that we are able to recognise his contribution in this way. I’m also looking forward to buying John a real, rather than virtual, cup of coffee."

In March last year, John created Scotland’s Coronavirus Tracker website which has now attracted 1.5 million users, and at the height of lockdown had over 1,000 people logging on every day for the 3pm update. John’s Twitter following has exploded to 22,800 followers, including Professors Devi Shridhar, Jason Leitch, Linda Bauld, and the First Minister.

Professor Linda Bauld said of the website, "People all around the country have stepped up to contribute to the pandemic response but John stands out as someone who has gone above and beyond. With his website he has provided easily accessible analysis and visualisation of coronavirus statistics from Scotland and the UK, alongside local data and international comparisons. These data are publicly available but often difficult to navigate from official sources. John has provided a vital public service, volunteering thousands of hours of his time to keep people informed. I have a daily file for media interviews and consult John's website every day as it is a one stop shop of information. If I'm speaking to a regional radio station I can instantly find the figures for that area on his dashboard. To examine which local authorities have had more or fewer cases in the past week I can find that in seconds on his 'local data' pages. Plus to track progress with the vaccine programme his visualisations have been invaluable. I am personally indebted to him for all he has contributed - as thousands of others around the country are. I know he has a bright future ahead."

John is currently in his third year studying for a Business and Management BA (Hons) with Argyll College UHI a partner of the University of the Highlands and Islands.