Stars of sport, entertainment and education honoured

Posted on 4th November 2010
The following people will be conferred with Honorary Degrees by the University of Chester at today's graduation ceremony at Chester Cathedral.
Matthew Kelly will receive a Doctor of Letters for his outstanding contribution to television, drama and the performing arts.

Actor David Kelly, better known to the public by his stage name Matthew Kelly, qualified as teacher from Manchester Polytechnic and has enjoyed success as an actor and television presenter.

In 1991 he took over from Bruce Forsyth to present You Bet and then became presenter of Stars in their Eyes and for six of the 11 years he spent on the programme, Matthew was enrolled as a part time student with the Open University, graduating in Psychology.

During 2003, while still presenting, he appeared as Lenny in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men on stage in London and achieved a Lawrence Olivier Award for Best Actor. Earlier this year he replaced Simon Callow to play Pozzo to Ian McKellen's Estragon in Beckett's Waiting for Godot.

He is also President of the NeuroMuscular centre in Winsford, a charity co-founded 20 years ago by his wife Sarah, who retired as its Director around five years ago. Each year the charity hosts a Spirit of Christmas Carol Service in Chester Cathedral, which Matthew leads.

Dr Willie Carson OBE will receive a Doctor of Science in recognition of an outstanding contribution to the horse-racing industry.

Willie Carson was British Champion Jockey five times; he won 17 British Classic races, and passed the 100 winner mark in a single season on 23 occasions, for a total of 3,828 wins. He is particularly associated with riding the contrasting race horses Nashwan and Dayjur and in 1989 he rode 13 group one winners, a feat which has only been bettered once. He was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1983 for his services to horse racing. He only retired from competitive racing in 1996.

In a parallel career Willie Carson has been buying and breeding horses since the 1960s and in 1980 he took over the Minster House Stud at Ampney Crucis near Cirencester. He remains the only jockey to have ridden a horse that he bred, Mister Son, to victory in the St Leger Stakes in 1988.

He has appeared on two series of A Question of Sport and remains a regular presenter and pundit for BBC Racing. He was also Chairman of Swindon Town from 2001 until 2007. Until very recently he had a sustained involvement with Children's Charity Cloud Nine in Cheltenham.

David Rowlands will receive a Master of Science in recognition of an outstanding contribution to the County of Cheshire and personal commitment to the development of education.

David started farming in partnership with his parents at the family farm in Mickle Trafford. He now farms in partnership with his son and daughter and the 240 acre Grange Farm is home to a herd of rare breed beef which is sold directly from the farm to the consumer. The farm joined the High Level Stewardship scheme in 2007 and encourages wildlife, contains a permissive Right of Way, and hosts farm visits.

He became a Parish Councillor in Mickle Trafford and District in 1976, and was also member and Chair of nearby Elton Parish Council. He represented the Elton Ward as a Chester City Councillor from 1979 until 1990 and again from 1991 until 1995, becoming a Cheshire County Councillor in 1997 and remaining in post until 2009 when the district councils were replaced by the two new unitary authorities.

David became a Governor at Upton High School in 1990, subsequently taking the role of Chair of Governors for a 12 year period until 2007. He has been a Governor at West Cheshire College for almost four years, and last year he became Chair of Governors at St Oswald Primary School in Mollington. He was also Executive Member for Education at Cheshire County Council from 2001 - 2009.

He has also been a member of court at the Universities of both Liverpool and Salford and Chair of the Oldfield Educational Trust.

He is Chair of the Cheshire Farm and Wildlife Advisory Group and Chair of the Executive Group of the North West Rural Affairs Forum. David also chaired the Cheshire Rural Recovery Task Force and is Deputy Chair of the Cheshire Branch of the Country, Land and Business Association. He also chairs the Cheshire Rural Charitable Trust.

The organisation Natural England has provided funding for the adaptation of farm buildings at Grange Farm to receive groups of visitors, especially from schools for educational purposes.