First day of Graduation honours key figures in the arts, politics and religion.

Posted on 31st October 2017

Dedication to music, higher education and theology in the city of Chester will be recognised with the award of honorary degrees on Tuesday, October 31.

Tuesday, October 31

  • At 9.30am in Ceremony one, Vicky Bulgin will receive a Master’s of Music, for her outstanding contribution to music in her role as Musical Director at the University of Chester.

Vicki Bulgin was born in Bridgend in South Wales in 1949, but grew up in the Rhondda Valley. Music featured hugely in her life from an early age, learning to play the piano and later the piano accordion and the viola. She was privileged to belong to the Glamorgan Youth Orchestra as a viola player, and later the National Youth Orchestra of Wales. She also sang with the Glamorgan Youth Choir and it was probably this that first instilled in her a love of choral singing.

Vicki studied music at the University of Wales in Cardiff. After completion of a B Mus degree, specialising in composition, studying under the eminent Welsh composer Prof Alun Hoddinott, she undertook an M Mus, also mainly in composition. It was during her time in Cardiff, and particularly through singing in the University’s Palestrina Choir, that singing became her most important musical expression.

From Cardiff, Vicki went to the University of Cambridge, to Hughes Hall, to follow a PGCE course in music for secondary school teaching. She began her teaching career at the Cambridgeshire High School for Girls and then at both Long Road and Hills Road Sixth Form Colleges in Cambridge. For a number of years she sang with the Cambridge University Music Society, firstly under Sir David Willcocks and then Sir Philip Ledger. It was during this time that she developed a love of conducting - particularly choirs.

From Cambridge Vicki moved to a Head of Music position in Bishops Stortford in Hertfordshire, moving to Rhyl in North Wales as the Head of the Creative Arts Faculty in 1990. She retired from teaching in 2008.

It was while teaching in North Wales that Vicki also began work as the Director of Music for Chester College as it then was, continuing through the transition into the University of Chester. As part of this role she was able to take the choir to represent Chester to the annual Choirs Festivals, hosted by different members of the Cathedrals Group of Church based institutions up and down the country. It was a privilege for her to conduct the massed choirs of over 200 singers, with orchestra, here in Chester Cathedral in 2005, 2012 and then in 2015 as part of the celebrations of the University of Chester’s 175th anniversary.

Vicki retired from this position in 2015 after 15 years but still thoroughly enjoys conducting the Chester Deo Gratias Choir, which she formed in 2009.

She said: “I was astounded when the Vice Chancellor announced in a Valedictory service when I retired that the University was going to award me an honorary Master’s degree. I feel immensely privileged and truly honoured by this.”

  • At 11.45am in Ceremony two, Lord David Willetts will receive a Doctor of Letters, for his outstanding contribution to higher education in his role as former Minister of State for Universities and Science.

The Rt Hon Lord David Willetts is the Former Minister for Universities and Science, Chair of British Science Association, Chair of Eight Great Technologies Fund; a specialist technology venture capital fund focussing on the eight technologies identified by the UK government for support and development, where Britain has real scientific strength and there are global market opportunities.

He served as the Member of Parliament for Havant (1992-2015), as Minister for Universities and Science (2010-2014) and previously worked at HM Treasury and the No 10 Policy Unit.

Lord Willetts is a visiting Professor at King’s College London, Governor of the Ditchley Foundation, and a member of the Council of the Institute for Fiscal Studies. He is an Honorary Fellow of Nuffield College Oxford and the Executive Chair of the Resolution Foundation.

He said: “I am very proud to be awarded this honorary Doctorate from the University of Chester. It is a great honour. Universities like Chester are at the heart of civic life. Universities do not just enhance their area, they also transform the lives of their students. They stand for important principles - protecting freedom of speech, respect for evidence, and the pursuit of truth. These values are as important now as ever. Universities are crucial to our national life and we should value and sustain them.”

  • At 3pm in Ceremony three, the Right Reverend Michael Baughen will receive a Doctor of Divinity, for his outstanding contribution to Ministry in this country, in particular in recognition of his role as Bishop of Chester and past Chair of the Governing Body.

The Right Reverend Michael Baughen was brought up in Orpington, Kent and worked in banking before serving in the Forces and then returning to banking.

He was called to ordained ministry at the age of 21 and studied for a Bachelor of Divinity Degree at the University of London. He had theological training at Oak Hill College, London.

He married Myrtle in 1965 (who died in 2014) and has three children and eight grandchildren.

He was ordained at Southwell Minster in May 1956. His first curacy was at St Paul’s, Hyson Green in Nottingham, followed by Reigate Parish Church; Rector of Holy Trinity (Platt) Rusholme, Manchester and Vicar and then Rector of All Souls Langham Place London.

He became the Bishop of Chester from 1982 to 1996 – the Chester Diocese is around 1,000 square miles and then included around 370 churches. He followed this with roles as Assistant Bishop in London and Assistant Bishop in Guildford.

Across the years he has served on the General Synod of the Church of England and was an Area Dean, a Prebendary of St Paul’s Cathedral; a member of the House of Lords for nine years, chaired the Central Readers’ Council; chaired the Committee for State Aid to Churches in Use; chaired various Evangelical bodies and Conferences; in retirement, he chaired the Langham Trust and saw through its reconstruction as the Langham Foundation.

In November 1994, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Liverpool, in recognition of his Episcopal leadership and for his contribution to education in the Diocese especially as chairman of Chester College Governors and chairing its progress towards becoming a University College – and now the University of Chester.

His concern to find songs for Christian youth groups to sing led to the pioneering publication Youth Praise in 1966, which released youth groups all over the country to worship in a contemporary way. In this he was Editor and also one of the authors and composers. For many years he was Chairman of Jubilate Hymns. He has authored many songs and hymns and has composed music for many more. His most well-known and much-used tunes are to Lord for the Years and Name of all Majesty.

His speaking ministry has taken him all over the world and his strong desire to promote congregational Christian music has meant an ongoing involvement in such events as Prom Praise, which he originated with Noel Tredinnick.

His interests include music, mountains, railways and travel. He now lives in Godalming and is part of the Busbridge church family.

He said: “In my 14 years chairing the College Governors there were big changes and developments which prepared the way for the change to University College. I was delighted when it became the University of Chester. My close involvement with the College meant a lot to me then but now my admiration abounds for the wonderful success of this University of Chester and it is an honour to be awarded this honorary degree.”

  • The Very Reverend Gordon McPhate will receive a Doctor of Divinity for his contribution to the Diocese of Chester and the University. 

The Very Reverend Gordon F McPhate BA, MB, ChB, MA, MTh, MSc, MD, FRCP is a Visiting Professor of Theology and Medicine and formerly Dean of Chester.

He qualified in Medicine at Aberdeen in 1974, with a prize for research in the pharmacology of asthma. Initially a junior cardiothoracic surgeon, he then taught human physiology to undergraduates at Clare College, Cambridge.

Appointed Lecturer in Physiology at Guy’s Hospital Medical School in the University of London, he began research in the hormonal regulation of human metabolism which later centred on diabetes, and which led to a Master’s degree in Clinical Biochemistry from Surrey, and a Doctorate in Biochemistry from Cambridge.

At the Guildford hospitals, Gordon was Registrar and trained as a pathologist. In 1986, he was appointed Senior Lecturer in Pathology at the University of St. Andrews, and in 1993 also was appointed Consultant Chemical Pathologist to the Fife hospitals. In 1999, he additionally was appointed to the General Medical Council.

His preparation for ordination in the Church of England was at Westcott House and Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, where he took a degree in Biblical Languages and Theology and patristics.

As a curate in Southwark diocese he decided to become a worker priest and so was moved from his parish to become honorary Minor Canon of Southwark Cathedral, where he also taught theology for the Southwark Ordination Course and was very involved in the pastoral care of the choir. On appointment to St. Andrews, he also became Anglican Chaplain and remained there for 16 years. While there, Gordon took a Master’s degree in Ethics at New College, Edinburgh, specialising in philosophical aspects of medical ethics and the moral theologies of Karl Barth and Stanley Hauerwas. In 2002, he was appointed Dean of Chester by the Crown.

He continued activity in the General Medical Council and the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Pathologists, ensuring his engagement with practical medical ethical issues.

As a member of the Society of Ordained Scientists for many years, Gordon sought to promote high-quality science/religion dialogue and debate at all levels, particularly in sixth forms and universities.

His membership of the Anglican Centre in Rome signals his commitment to ecumenical dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church.

He said: “The University of Chester has honoured me by this award, which serves to consolidate and further deepen, my long and happy association with its students and staff.”