A ROYAL fashion designer, an award-winning musician and a television star are among the names receiving honorary degrees from Manchester Metropolitan University this year.
The eight recipients are singer Guy Garvey, fashion designer Sarah Burton, television presenter Gethin Jones, life peer Lord Smith, filmmaker Mike Leigh, Barnardo’s Chief Executive Martin Narey, business innovator Richard Thorpe and businessman Rod Aldridge.
Vice-Chancellor John Brooks said: “I am delighted with the quality and diversity of our honorands this year. They represent outstanding achievement in the public and private sectors, and range from the creative arts to business. In their individual ways each one represents a strong role model for our students.
"Their award of a Doctorate symbolises the personal attainment which is such a strong feature of each of our graduation ceremonies, and reinforces the individual achievement of each of our graduates.”
Guy Garvey, singer with the Mercury Music Prize-winning band Elbow, will become an honorary Doctor of Arts at the graduation ceremony for the Faculty of Art and Design on Wednesday, 11 July, in recognition of his contribution to music.
Garvey, who is also known for presenting a show on BBC 6 Music, met his bandmates while studying at in his hometown of Bury. Their fourth album, The Seldom Seen Kid, won the Mercury Music Prize, two Ivor Novello song-writing awards and a Brit award for Best British Band, amongst many other plaudits.
He said: “I was having an ‘Oh my God I’m almost 40 moment’ when I opened the letter from the Vice Chancellor of MMU. What an unexpected gift! What an honour! I’m one of seven kids and the only one that didn’t go to university as I decided to stay in the band. My mum stuck a picture of me singing on the degree wall at home many years ago, but now I can finally join the clan wearing the right outfit.
“The young people that come to Manchester and Salford to be educated, teach or research are the life blood that keeps this city’s heart pumping. I know many tutors and students from MMU and know what an amazing university it is. I’m thrilled and very proud to be honoured by them in this way.”
Sarah Burton, the designer who created Kate Middleton’s wedding dress, will also become a Doctor of Arts at the graduation ceremony for the department for Clothing, Design and Technology on Thursday, 12 July.
Burton took over at Alexander McQueen following the designer’s death, and designed not only the Duchess of Cambridge’s dress for the Royal Wedding but also the bridesmaid’s dress for her sister, Pippa Middleton, and the dress the Duchess wore to the evening engagement.
The designer, who was born in Macclesfield, took Art Foundation at Manchester Polytechnic before going on to St Martin’s College, in London.
She has also created dresses for Michelle Obama, Cate Blanchett, Lady Gaga and Gwyneth Paltrow, and was named Designer of the Year at the 2011 British Fashion Awards.
Lord Peter Smith of Leigh, who has been the leader of Wigan Council since 1991, will receive an honorary degree from the Faculty of Humanities, on Saturday, 14 July, when he will become a Doctor of Laws.
This is in recognition of his outstanding contribution to improve life for all people in the North West of England. He was on the board of the NWDA, where he was chair from 1999 to 2000 and sat on the agency’s Executive Board until 2009.
Lord Smith is currently chair of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA), and served on the board of Manchester Airport for several years. Lord Smith was raised to the peerage as Baron Smith of Leigh in 1999, in recognition of his work in local government and was awarded the Freedom of the Borough of Wigan last year.
Welsh television star Gethin Jones will receive his degree, making him a Doctor of Science, from the Faculty of Science and Engineering, also on 12 July.
He was also captain of the University rugby team, and at one point considered a career as a professional rugby player.
He started his media career presenting children’s programmes for Welsh channel S4C, before moving on to join Blue Peter in 2005, and has since become one of the most popular faces on television, coming third in the 2007 series of Strictly Come Dancing.
On Friday, 13 July, multi-award winning filmmaker Mike Leigh will become a Doctor of Arts at the graduation ceremony for the Department of Contemporary Arts, part of the MMU Cheshire faculty based in Crewe.
Leigh, who was born in Welwyn but spent much of his childhood in Salford where he attended Salford Grammar School is known for his films including Vera Drake, Life is Sweet and Topsy Turvy.
He won the Best Director award at Cannes Film Festival for Naked in 1993 and the Palme d'Or in 1996 for Secrets and Lies.
Also receiving an honorary degree will be former Barnardo’s Chief Executive Martin Narey, who will receive an honorary Doctorate of Letters on Tuesday, 17 July, from the Faculty of Education.
Narey, who was born in Middlesborough and studied at Sheffield Polytechnic, started his career in the NHS before joining the prison service in 1982. He held his position at Barnardo’s from 2005 to 2011, and was appointed the government’s adoption czar last year.
Business innovator Professor Richard Thorpe will be honoured by MMU Business School, becoming a Doctor of Business Administration in recognition of his work across the country, on Monday, 16 July.
Professor Thorpe spent nearly 20 years working at the University where he led the development of a new MBA and was instrumental in the creation of the doctoral programme for the Faculty of Management and Business, which has now become the Business School.
Sir Rod Aldridge, the founder of Capita and chairman of The Aldridge Foundation, which encourages young people to create their own social change, will also become a Doctor of Business Administration from the Faculty of Education on 17 July.