Tommy MacKay – Summary

Tommy MacKay has been widely described as the most highly qualified and most highly honoured psychologist in the United Kingdom. He is qualified and chartered as an Educational and Child Psychologist, a Health Psychologist, a Clinical Neuropsychologist, a Teacher in Psychology, a Researcher in Psychology, an Accredited Cognitive and Behavioural Psychotherapist and a Chartered Scientist. He is a Founder Member of the Faculty of Paediatric Neuropsychology and of the Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology.

In terms of honours and awards, these include the following: an award from the Chartered Institute of Transport for his work on passenger transport policy and psychology; the national Award for Challenging Inequality of Opportunity for ‘outstanding achievements’ in challenging discrimination in relation to ‘gender, race, language, disability and, most particularly, socio-economic status’; the Award for Distinguished Contributions to Professional Psychology for ‘striking contributions to applied psychology’; and the Public Engagement and Media Award for ‘bringing psychology to a wider audience’. His research won the MJ Award presented to West Dunbartonshire for the Best Achievement in Children’s Services in the UK as well as a Business Excellence Award from Scottish Enterprise for ‘innovations and new applications’.

He was elected to Fellowship of the British Psychological Society for ‘an outstanding and original contribution to psychology’; to Fellowship of the Academy for Learned Societies in the Social Sciences; to Fellowship of the Royal Society for the Arts; and to Fellowship of the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies for his distinguished contribution to the advancement of this field. In 2002 he was elected as President of the British Psychological Society, and in 2008 he received the George and Thomas Hutcheson Award for most distinguished former pupil, on election by his fellow Hutchesonians of Hutchesons’ Grammar School.

In 2001 he was one of two nominations by the Senate of the University of Glasgow for the first Honorary Degrees of the new millennium. The other nominee was Prince Charles. He received the Degree of Honorary Doctor of the University in 2002 for his ‘outstanding contribution to educational psychology in Scotland’.

He has around 250 publications. His research on eradicating illiteracy, the subject of his second Doctorate, was the theme of over 500 newspaper headlines and radio and TV presentations. His work in autism is internationally recognised, and his many roles across teaching, research, publications and clinical practice have included his advisory role to the Scottish Government through the Autism Reference Group, his co-founding of the National Centre for Autism Studies, his Visiting Professor role at Strathclyde University, his leading of the flagship Government research on microsegmentation and his role as Clinical Director of the National Diagnosis and Assessment Service.

In 2018 he was invited to be the Vernon-Wall lecturer at Oxford, and in 2021 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the British Psychological Society. In his book on British Heroes, Prime Minister Gordon Brown described him as ‘a visionary and an inspiration’ and as being driven by ‘an absolute refusal to accept that anything was impossible’.