Student Awarded MBE in Queen's Birthday Honours

UHI Argyll student John Frace, better known to many as Travelling Tabby, has been awarded an MBE for services to Public Health Communication during COVID-19.

In March 2020, John created Scotland’s Coronavirus Tracker website which at the height of its popularity had over 1,000 people logging on every day for the 3pm update and recently passed 30 million total views. 

The website broke down both national and regional daily figures into an easy-to-read format, allowing communities across Scotland to learn about the data relevant to them. It received UK-wide press coverage and acclaim from scientific experts, including Professors Devi Shridhar, Jason Leitch, Linda Bauld, and the First Minister.

John, told us:

“It was a complete shock! I was just getting ready to go out one morning, when a letter came through the door. It feels amazing, although I’ve still not wrapped my head around it yet. The last two years have been a lot of work, so I’m super honoured and humbled to be getting recognized in this way. I didn’t think I would ever achieve anything like this in my entire life, never mind before I’d even finished university! But I’m so so pleased that the website has helped enough people to the extent where the government thought I deserved this honour.”

John estimates that he has spent 3-4 hours a day updating the website over the past two years, which equates to around 364 working days. His tireless commitment, alongside his full-time degree studies is truly deserving of the award. He will graduate later this year with a UHI honours degree in Business and Management.

Jane MacLeod, Lord Lieutenant of Argyll and Bute, said:

“I was delighted to hear that John Frace was awarded an MBE in The Queen’s Birthday Honours List. John developed and maintained Travelling Tabby throughout the pandemic. Travelling Tabby was of considerable assistance to the public as it provided easy to access statistics and information about the spread of Covid-19 throughout the UK. Travelling Tabby was often referred to by NHS specialists speaking to the media.

In Argyll and Bute we are particularly proud of the fact that John lives within our community and has successfully completed an HNC at UHI Argyll progressing to study for an Honours Degree in Business which he will complete shortly. John is an inspiration to our young people.”

Martin Jones, UHI Argyll Principal and Chief Executive Officer added:

“John studied at our Dunoon learning centre, and we are all extremely proud of his achievements and this most recent award. He is a modern role model, combining his computing and business management skills to action the tracker. Through volunteering his time, he made a difference to the lives of so many.” 

Professor Todd Walker, UHI Principal and Vice-Chancellor, added:

“We are all thrilled and delighted for John. This award is well deserved and recognises the tireless commitment he made to creating and maintaining Scotland’s Coronavirus tracker website alongside his full-time degree studies.”