A day to celebrate for hundreds of Chester graduates

Posted on 18th March 2011

Hundreds are graduating from the University of Chester today and celebrating their achievements with family and friends.

This is a very important day for all our graduates as we join together with their family and friends to celebrate their accomplishments.
Professor Tim Wheeler, Vice-Chancellor

More than 470 graduands will follow in the footsteps of the University’s countless alumni as they graduate across three ceremonies at Chester Cathedral. They will be congratulated on their successes by the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tim Wheeler.

Three eminent individuals who have each made outstanding achievements in their field will also be present to receive Honorary Degrees.

Mr Graham Proctor is being recognised for his outstanding contribution to the City of Chester and his support for the University and its work. He is being presented for admission to the degree of Master of Science.

His wife Mrs Susan Proctor MBE, JP, DL is being recognised for her outstanding contribution to the County of Cheshire and her support for the University mission. She is being presented for admission to the degree of Master of Arts and The Rt Hon Baroness Morris is being recognised for her outstanding contribution to education. She is being presented for admission to the degree of Doctor of Letters.

Professor Wheeler said: “This is a very important day for all our graduates as we join together with their family and friends to celebrate their accomplishments. So much time, energy, creativity and determination goes into each award and I am proud to be able to play a part in marking their success.

“They will join thousands of fellow University of Chester alumni and will use the knowledge they have gained to make a positive impact on their chosen fields. I wish them every success with their future endeavours.

“I am also delighted to acknowledge three highly regarded individuals who have made such an impression on the region. We are very proud to welcome them.”

During the services, the University’s Public Orator, Professor Peter Harrop, will outline the notable careers of the Honorary Graduands, and the exceptional contributions they have made.

Ceremony 1 - 9.30 am: Mr Graham Proctor.

Mr Graham Proctor was born in Withington, Manchester. He studied at the former Chester College (now the University of Chester) in 1961. He began his teaching career in Christleton, where he taught general science and physics. He also taught at Bishops Bluecoat School, now a specialist science college.

He is particularly proud of being part of a team which admitted students with severe disabilities into mainstream school, which he said at the time was ‘cutting edge’, as they were cared for and treated as equals by their fellow students. In May 1980, Graham, now married to Sue, and with daughters Kirsten and Ruth, noticed a small notice on the village board at Pipers Ash, where they lived just outside Chester.

This was the first they had heard that an extension to the M53 motorway was coming through their street. Working with other local residents the campaign succeeded in establishing an alternative route, known as the ‘Missing Link’ which did not destroy any properties and filled in the gap that then existed between the A56 and A55.

Graham gained useful experience of grassroots campaigning and this laid the foundation for many years of local political work. By 1981 he was elected to Great Boughton Parish Council, the following year he was elected to the City Council and was Group Leader for the Liberal Democrats from 1984 until 2001.

His wife Sue, also an active local politician, was elected Lady Mayor in 1991 and Graham became Consort. In 2001, he was himself elected Lord Mayor. He is an Honorary Freeman and Honorary Alderman of the City of Chester.

A keen advocate of the scouting movement, he joined the Wolf Cubs at the age of seven and then joined the Chester Scout group at Northgate, later moving to the First Saughall Senior Scouts. When his teaching career took him to Ellesmere Port, he joined the school Scout group as leader, continuing in that role for many years.

The Scout Movement has honoured Graham with both the Long Service Award and Medal of Merit. He is also Honorary Secretary of Chester Rowing Club. He also played for 14 years with the Clog and Whippet Country Dance Band.

Ceremony 2 - 11.45am:  Mrs Susan Proctor MBE, JP, DL.

Susan Proctor was born in Ellesmere Port in 1947, the eldest of four daughters. In 1968 she met Graham Proctor who had arrived to teach Science at her old school.

Graham had been a student at Chester College and ran a folk club at the Bull & Stirrup in Chester which Sue joined. Sue was actively involved in the “Save Pipers Ash” campaign which was established when a motorway proposal threatened to destroy four houses in the road where she Proctors lived.

She gained useful experience of grassroots campaigning and this laid the foundation for many years of voluntary and community work. Sue stood as a Liberal candidate in the May 1981 County Council elections and came second by several hundred votes. Two months later, however, Sue was elected to Chester City Council.

In 1991 she became the ninth woman mayor of Chester. In February 1992 Chester was granted the right to have a Lord Mayor and so for the final weeks of her time in office Sue became Chester’s first ever Lord Mayor. At the end of her term of office Sue stood for election to the County Council for a fourth time and won, as well as returning to paid work with Chester Council of Voluntary Service to run the Volunteer Bureau.

She stayed there until 1997 having taken the Bureau through a period of significant growth. However, by then Sue was heavily involved in local government, and had to choose between her paid job and Council activities. She subsequently served as Vice-Chairman of the Council and then, when the cabinet system was introduced, as Executive Member for Social Care.

In 2005 Sue became Leader of Cheshire’s Liberal Democrat Group, the first and only woman to have led any political group on Cheshire County Council. She also served for five years on Cheshire Police Authority. She has managed to retain the seat through each election until the County Council was abolished in 2009 and Sue chose to retire from local government and active politics.

Outside of politics, Sue has followed interests in Health and Social Care. She was involved in a national steering group which led to the founding of the Manic Depressive Fellowship, a second steering group which established the Crossroads Care scheme in Chester, and a third which brought together Barnardo’s and Cheshire Youth Services at New Scene Youth Club.

Working mainly with young people with learning difficulties, the Club recently received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. Sue is a patron of the Chester Childbirth Trust.

In 2009, she helped a local family achieve their ambition to build a BMX track in memory of their 12-year-old son who died in a road incident. In just 18 months, with Sue in the Chair, Josh’s Project raised £76,000 and the track known as Josh’s Jumps, was constructed with sufficient money to maintain it and keep it secure for the next 10 years.

Sue is also a Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Cheshire and form more than 30 years has been both a Parish Councillor and School Governor. She became a Magistrate last year and serves on the Vale Royal bench. In 2004 Sue was awarded an MBE for services to the community in Chester.

Ceremony 3 - 3.00 pm: The Rt Hon the Baroness Morris.

Estelle Morris was born in Manchester and is a graduate of Coventry College of Education (now Warwick Institute of Education) where she gained a Bachelor of Education degree in1974.

Her first post was teaching Social Science and Humanities at a multi-cultural inner city community school in Coventry. Estelle remained there from 1974–92, becoming Head of Sixth Form Studies, but retaining a commitment to outreach work including home visits to pupils and families. In 1992 she was elected to Parliament for Birmingham Yardley.

In 1994 she was appointed as Opposition Spokesperson for Education and Employment. After Labour’s 1997 election victory Estelle became Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the Department for Education and Employment and in 1998 Minister for School Standards. In 2001 she was appointed Secretary of State for the newly created Department for Education and Skills.

Estelle Morris famously resigned from this post in 2002 but rejoined the front bench in 2003 as Minister for the Arts in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. She did not seek re-election at the general election in 2005 after 13 years as MP for Birmingham Yardley.

She was conferred as Baroness Morris of Yardley in the County of West Midlands, on 14 June 2005. In April 2005, the Right Honorable Baroness Morris was appointed to a three year term as a Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sunderland, where she was once again able to pursue her commitment to outreach.

In 2005, she was appointed both Chair of the Children’s Workforce Development Council and President of the National Children’s Bureau. She currently chairs the Strategy Board of the Institute of Effective Education at the University of York.

She is Chair of the Education and Learning Committee of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation – an independent grant-making organisation focusing on the arts, education and social justice – and engages with the work of the Roundhouse arts, education and community venue in London.

She is Chair of the Board of Trustees for the National Coal Mining Museum of England and Patron of First Taste Charity which has won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for its work in the Derbyshire Dales.

First Taste is an educational arts charity undertaking practical action for carer training in care and nursing homes, and engages in a range of arts and reminiscence projects, as well as working with young people to mentor care workers, and through them the elderly, in the introduction of IT.