A day to cherish for new graduates

Posted on 15th March 2013

Hundreds of students are preparing to take the next step towards their futures as they graduate from the University of Chester this week.

On Friday, March 15, around 600 students will be awarded degrees and follow the well-trodden path of the University’s countless alumni to have graduated at Chester Cathedral.

Both the University’s Chancellor, His Grace the Duke of Westminster KG CB CBO OBE TD CD DL, and its Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tim Wheeler, will congratulate the graduate scholars across three ceremonies.

Professor Wheeler said: “It is always a pleasure to see so many students graduate from the setting of the magnificent cathedral in the heart of this historic city. It is rightly one of the proudest moments of their lives and a day to cherish with family and friends.

“These qualifications symbolise all they have achieved to date and will unlock the boundless possibilities of their futures. As they embark upon their new lives as graduates, we hope they will make a positive mark in their chosen fields and the communities in which they make their lives.”

During each ceremony an eminent individual will be awarded an Honorary Degree for outstanding achievements in their chosen fields – on this occasion in literature, engineering and commerce.

Professor Wheeler added: “We are delighted to welcome three outstanding individuals who have given so much to society. They thoroughly deserve their Honorary Degrees and we are proud to have them join us on this very special day.”

The following people will be conferred with Honorary Degrees by the University of Chester:

Ceremony 1 (9.30am)

Michael Arditti will receive a Doctor of Letters in recognition of his outstanding contribution to writing and critical review.

Born in Cheshire and educated at Jesus College, Cambridge, Michael Arditti began his literary career writing plays, of which several were produced on the stage, including: The Volunteer (National Youth Theatre); The Freshman (National Student Theatre Company); as well as radio productions such as Something To Scare Off The Birds; The Morning Room; The Chatelaine; and The Family Hotel (all for BBC Radio 4).

He has written theatre criticism for the Evening Standard, The Times, Sunday Times and Daily Mail, opera criticism for the Sunday Express, and book reviews for The Times, Daily Telegraph, Independent and Daily Mail.  He has contributed to the Dictionary of National Biography, the City Secrets series, as well as theatrical anthologies, and is a regular broadcaster on the BBC. 

His novels are The Celibate; Pagan and her Parents - published in America under the title Pagan’s Father; Easter; Unity; A Sea Change; The Enemy of the Good; Jubilate; and The Breath of Night. He has also written a short story collection, entitled Good Clean Fun.

Michael Arditti was awarded a Harold Hyam Wingate scholarship in 2000, a Royal Literary Fund fellowship in 2001, an Oppenheim-John Downes memorial award in 2003, and Arts Council awards in 2004 and 2007. 

He was the Leverhulme artist in residence at the Freud Museum in 2008. Pagan’s Father was shortlisted for the Lambda literary award.  Easter won the first Waterstone’s Mardi Gras award, was shortlisted for the Creative Freedom award and longlisted for the Whitbread prize. Unity was shortlisted for the 2006 Wingate Jewish Quarterly award.  

He said: “I am delighted to be awarded an Honorary Degree by the University of Chester, which shows that, unlike prophets, novelists are received with honour in their own countries – and, in this case, county.”

 Ceremony 2 (11.45am)

Michael Oliver OBE DL will receive a Doctor of Engineering in recognition of his outstanding contribution to British industry and manufacturing, and business entrepreneurship.

Michael Oliver grew up in Cheshire and left school at the age of 15 to start an apprenticeship with David Brown Machine Tools which allowed him to study day release at a technical college.

After three years he gained an Ordinary National Certificate (ONC) certificate in Mechanical and Production Engineering before going on to study a Higher National Diploma at Liverpool Technical College where he successful achieved a certificate in Mechanical and Production Engineering.

At the age of 23, he designed the world’s first gear shaving machine for the production of automotive gears with full hydraulic drive. He then went to work in America where he designed the revolutionary gear rolling machine to produce automatic transmission gears for Ford Motor Company. The process, which he developed with Landis in Pennsylvania, is now used world-wide to manufacture high volume automatic gears.

He then moved into sales, first selling chemical process equipment, then machine tools, before returning to the UK in the mid-1960s with his late wife Ann and daughter Lynn.

After a spell working with Lord Stirling, in 1980 began his own business, Oliver Engineering, at the family home in Hale. During this period he designed a type of needle valve for use in the oil and gas industries which would eliminate leakage across the seat and up the stem of the valve.

Now operating as Oliver Valves Limited, the company has grown from one small factory in Knutsford, to 12 factory units employing around 350 people and operating in 80 countries. It also has two sister companies – Oliver ValveTek, producing valves operating at 10,000ft below sea, and Oliver Twinsafe, producing valves for large pipelines.

He said: “I am extremely proud to receive this prestigious honour from the University as a mark of the University’s recognition of my engineering achievements.”

Ceremony 3 (3pm)

James Berresford will receive a Doctor of Business Administration in recognition of his outstanding contribution to business, tourism and the economy of the North West.

Educated at the City of London University, James Berresford’s early career started in arts administration and theatre marketing before moving to countryside recreation.

He went on to Nottinghamshire County Council as Tourism Officer and subsequently became Assistant Director of Leisure responsible for the management of various tourist attractions, including Sherwood Forest.

He was appointed to the Heart of England Tourist Board as Regional Director in the East Midlands before joining the Northwest Development Agency as Regional Business Manager for Tourism. He was then appointed a Director of the Agency with oversight for Tourism and Culture. 

In 2009 James took up the post of Chief Executive of VisitEngland, the recently established official tourism body for England.

He is also a Director of the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA) and the National Skills Academy for Hospitality.

He said: “I’m so proud to receive this special honour from the University of Chester, an academic institution on top of its game and at the forefront of innovation. This is why I believe its Business School is so highly regarded countrywide. 

“With so much of the tourism industry made up of Small and Medium Enterprises, I hope to see the University of Chester producing many exciting entrepreneurs who will see the opportunity in tourism and create exciting new businesses within this very important industry.”