Ken Dodd tickled pink to receive Honorary Degree.

Posted on 11th November 2009
Thousands of students will celebrate the culmination of their hard work, dedication and sacrifice when they graduate from the University of Chester this week.

More than 2,500 students, together with their family and friends, will follow in the footsteps of countless alumni who have made a real contribution to the world when they graduate across eight ceremonies at Chester Cathedral from November 4-6.

They will be joined at the Cathedral by seven distinguished individuals who will be awarded Honorary Degrees for their outstanding success and contribution in their chosen field, including comedian Ken Dodd OBE, who will receive a Doctor of Letters for his outstanding career as an entertainer and his charitable work across the region.

Professor Tim Wheeler, the University's Vice-Chancellor, said: "It is always a pleasure to join our graduates in such a magnificent venue for one of the proudest moments of their lives. Graduation is the climax, the crowning moment of their achievements, a day to reflect on dedication, hard work and sacrifice, and an opportunity to look forward to a future of boundless possibilities.

"These qualifications mark the end of the journey so far, the successful culmination of a sustained commitment to study and personal development, and also the beginning of another voyage of discovery.

"As University of Chester graduates, our students are following in the footsteps of countless alumni that have gone onto make an outstanding contribution in their chosen field, not just locally, but nationally and internationally.

"It is fitting, therefore, that they should be joined by seven outstanding individuals who have each made their own unique mark on the world. They are all richly deserving of their Honorary Degrees, and it is my pleasure to welcome them to one of the most memorable events in our calendar."

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

Wednesday, November 4

Sandra Rudd (9.30am) will receive a Master of Arts for her outstanding contribution in supporting the University with great distinction and her wider contribution to public life in Chester.  As well as being a tremendously supportive and loyal member of the University's Governing Body, Sandra Rudd has been very active in local politics since the early 1990s.

In 1997, she took up the post of Executive Secretary to Christine Russell, Chester's first Labour MP, and continues to manage Christine's Parliamentary office in Chester. She was herself elected to Chester City Council in 1994, sitting on numerous committees, and served as Sheriff of Chester in 2003-2004, Deputy Lord Mayor in 2005-2006, and Lord Mayor in 2006-2007. Earlier this year, she was made an Honorary Alderman of the city.

David Briggs MBE (11.30am) will receive a Master of Arts for his outstanding contribution in supporting the High Sheriff's Award for Enterprise and his wider contribution to public service in Cheshire.  As well as diverse commercial interests, including serving as Managing Director of Dawsons Music Ltd, one of the country's leading musical instrument retailers in the UK, David Briggs has been involved in several charitable and community activities.

A Director of Warrington Youth Club, he became President of St John Ambulance Cheshire in 1982, is Chairman of the Council of St John of Jerusalem for Cheshire, and was awarded an MBE earlier this year.  As the High Sheriff of Cheshire in 2006-2007, he set up two new High Sheriff Awards - the High Sheriff's Award for Young Citizenship, and the High Sheriff's Award for Enterprise, organised in conjunction with the University.

Ken Dodd OBE (3pm) will receive a Doctor of Letters in recognition of his outstanding contribution as an entertainer and to charitable works in the region. A household name as a stand-up comedian, singer-songwriter, actor and all-round entertainer, Ken Dodd has a reputation unique in the annals of show-business.

With acting roles ranging from Shakespeare to Dr Who, 19 songs in the UK top 40, 100 million records sold worldwide, record breaking seasons at the London Palladium, and a place in the Guinness Book of Records for the world's longest ever joke-telling session, Ken Dodd is the variety act par excellence.
Appointed OBE in 1982, he is also known for the enormous amount of time and energy he devotes to charity work. The Ken Dodd Charitable Trust supports numerous charities, and he was worked tirelessly to raise funds for Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology.

Thursday, November 5

Jeremy Taylor (9.30am) will receive a Master of Business Administration in recognition of his outstanding contribution to public life in Cheshire. Jeremy Taylor has spent the past 30 years making an enormous contribution to Cheshire, initially as Personnel Director of Cheshire County Council, then as Director of Corporate Policy and Director of Community Development, during which time he was the prime instigator in bringing the RHS Show to Tatton Park, before becoming Chief Executive in 2002. He has also been active in the voluntary and charitable spheres, for example serving as Director of The Prince's Trust for Cheshire.

Josephine Sykes (11.30am) will receive a Master of Arts in recognition of her outstanding contribution in producing the Chester Mystery Plays, and her wider contribution to the University and local community. Jo Sykes is being honoured by the University she loyally served for more than 40 years, and from 1993 to 2003, she essentially devised, produced and directed the graduation ceremonies.

Alongside her professional life, Jo Sykes has made a valued contribution to culture in Chester. With a strong interest in amateur theatre, she is currently Chairman of the Chester Mystery Plays company, and oversaw a performance of the Mystery Plays in Liverpool Cathedral as part of the city's Capital of Culture year. Jo has also been involved in many fund-raising activities for the Cathedral.

The Earl of Derby (3pm) will receive a Doctor of Business Administration in recognition of his outstanding contribution in the promotion of business enterprise in the region. With ancestors including the 14th Earl of Derby, the three times Prime Minister and one of the founders of the University, the Earl of Derby spends most of his time overseeing the management of the Knowsley Estate, which includes Knowsley Safari Park and Knowsley Hall. 

He has become increasingly involved in around 100 voluntary, charitable and sporting organisations, including serving as Local Area Patron of the Prince's Trust, as President of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society, and as Life President of the Rugby Football League. He also energetically pursues his family's traditional interest in racing with his Stanley House Stud in Newmarket, and the great mare Ouija Board, twice Horse of the Year.

Friday, November 6

Peter Roberts (10.30am) will receive a Doctor of Letters in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the development of the University.
Peter Roberts has devoted an enormous amount of time to helping a number of educational establishments, especially the Queen's School in Chester, where he was Chairman of the Governing Body for six years, and at the University of Chester. His contribution to the University as a governor and a member of Council has been immense.

Earlier in life, Peter undertook National Service, when he was commissioned into the Royal Army Service Corps and posted as 2nd lieutenant to Khartoum and, after studying at Oxford, he opted for a commercial career, working overseas for BP and later Alfred McAlpine.

Professor Edward Gregson (2.30pm) will receive a Doctor of Music in recognition of his outstanding contribution both in composing and the leadership of one of England's foremost conservatoires.

Professor Gregson is a composer of international standing, whose music has been performed, broadcast and recorded worldwide. Down the years, he has completed commissions for many of the world's major orchestras, while his music for the theatre includes commissions from the Royal Shakespeare Company.

One of the UK's most highly regarded composers, he was nominated in 1988 for an Ivor Novello Award for his title music to BBC television's Young Musician of the Year programmes, for which he has regularly officiated as a jury member and broadcaster. In 1996, he became Principal of the Royal Northern College of Music, a post he held with distinction until his retirement last year.