A delegation of further education leaders welcomed Pope Benedict XVI on his arrival in Edinburgh for the first papal visit to Britain for 28 years.
The four educationalists were chosen to attend the official state reception at the Palace of Holyrood House to honour Cardinal Newman, who was an Oxford academic, rector of what is now University College, Dublin, and founded The Oratory School. The Pope's visit was organised around his beatification.
Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, Lynne Sedgmore, executive director of the 157 Group, Alan Tuckett, chief executive of adult education body Niace, and Graham Hoyle, chief executive of the Association of Learning Providers (ALP), formed part of the group of 400 representatives from all parts of British society who welcomed the Pontiff.
Ms Sedgmore and Mr Hoyle were part of a group which met personally with the Queen and the Pope. Ms Sedgmore said: "The Foreign Office wanted to invite educationalists to honour Cardinal Newman. I was delighted and excited to be part of it.
"The Pope shook hands and listened to everybody. The Queen spoke to me - she had obviously been briefed that we were all from educational organisations, so I told her I was representing the 157 Group and she asked if she could be a member."
The occasion also gave the FE leaders the opportunity to lobby the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, over cuts expected for colleges and training providers in next month's spending review.
Ms Sedgmore, who highlighted the number of times coalition members gave speeches or launched Government programmes in colleges, said they spoke to Mr Clegg about the work done in FE and he was supportive.
"He was really positive about FE colleges," she said. "He said he thinks what we do is fantastic, so we have to make sure that's reflected in the funding. But he highlighted all the challengers in bringing down the deficit and funding the pupil premium."
She said she intends to write a joint letter with Niace and the ALP to continue to press the case.