Staffordshire University announce honorary graduates

Mental health campaigner Ruby Wax OBE and intrepid explorer Lev Wood are among inspirational figures to be honoured by Staffordshire University next month.

Gold medal winning Olympic cyclist Laura Kenny CBE and businesswoman Sara Willingham, star of BBC’s Dragons’ Den, will also be made Honorary Doctors as part of the University’s annual awards ceremonies beginning on Monday July 10.

Completing this year’s role of honour is Nigel Meadows, Senior HM Coroner for Greater Manchester, who commenced his career as a Law graduate at Staffordshire University; Kevin and Carol Shanahan, the husband and wife team behind leading Staffordshire data solutions firm Synectics Solutions; and former governor Dr Ruth Thompson who sadly died last year.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Liz Barnes said: “We honour people who can inspire our students and graduates and who have achieved distinction in a field relevant to our University.

“A great example is Kevin Shanahan who graduated with a degree in Computer Science and who, together with Carol, has established a successful business in Staffordshire which provides placement and employment opportunities for our talented students and graduates. Similarly, Manchester coroner Nigel Meadows, who has maintained links with the University throughout his career and is a fantastic support to our law students.”

“We will also honour our former governor Dr Ruth Thompson who used her vast experience of Higher Education to contribute fully to the work of Staffordshire University and who is sadly missed.”

More than 3,000 graduates are to be congratulated on their achievements by Professor Liz Barnes and Chancellor of Staffordshire University, the Lord Stafford, during the week of ceremonies to be held at Trentham Gardens from July 10th – 14th.

Order of ceremonies

Tuesday July 11, 2.30pm: Ruby Wax OBE, Doctor of the University

Comedienne turned mental health campaigner, the nomination recognises Ruby’s determined efforts to help others through her best-selling books and the setting up of ‘frazzled’ cafes as safe places where people can meet and share their stresses.

Wednesday July 12, 10.30am: Sarah Willingham, Doctor of Letters

The nomination recognises Sarah’s Staffordshire roots, her achievements as a businesswoman, entrepreneur and working mum which earned her acknowledgement as “one of the 35 most successful women under 35”.

Wednesday July 12, 2.30pm: Nigel Meadows, Doctor of Law

Nigel is a Staffordshire University Law graduate who has worked as a solicitor specialising in mental health and medical negligence and who is now Senior HM Coroner for Great Manchester. His nomination recognises his continued support for our law students.

Thursday July 13, 10.30am: Dr Ruth Thompson, Doctor of the University

Dr Ruth Thompson had a 30 year civil service career, rising to Director General for Higher Education with policy responsibility for widening participation, the current system of student loans and developing the Research Excellence Framework. She served as a governor of Staffordshire University and Birbeck, University of London the posthumous award recognises her passion and support.

Thursday July 13, 2.30pm: Laura Kenny OBE (Trott), Doctor of Science

The award recognises Laura’s monumental success as first British woman to win two Olympic gold medals, her local links through the Matrix Fitness pro-cycling team and as an inspirational role model.

Friday July 14, 10.30am: Carol and Kevin Shanahan, Doctors of the University

The award recognises the continued growth and success of Synectics Solutions as a North Staffordshire business employing over 350 people and with an annual turnover of 18m and its impactful work on projects such as the National Fraud Initiative.

Friday July 14, 2.30pm: Levison Wood, Doctor of the University

From his Staffordshire beginnings, Levison Wood has gone on to see the world as an explorer writer and photographer and his award recognises his inspirational work.

Notes to editors: You are invited to send reporters/photographers to the Awards Ceremonies at Trentham Gardens. To confirm your attendance and gain access to the ceremonies, please contact Staffordshire University Press Office on 01782 294375. NB. During the week, contact Maria Scrivens on 07766 520339 or Amy Platts on 07799 341911.

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