Celebrating our
Honorary Graduates

Each year Leeds Beckett University presents honorary awards to individuals or organisations whose work and achievement reflect the values of our University and who have made a positive impact on our region. This year we were delighted to recognise individuals from across education, the arts, sport, industry and commerce, and public life.

Stephanie Hirst - Honorary Doctorate of the University

On Monday 25 July, radio star and transgender icon, Stephanie Hirst, received an Honorary Doctorate of the University, in our first graduation ceremony of 2016.

Stephanie is an award-winning radio DJ, TV presenter, broadcaster and an icon of the UK transgender community. With over 14 awards, she is probably best known for fronting the ‘Hirsty’s Daily Dose’ breakfast show on Capital Radio for 11 years, which earned her and fellow presenters the title of Commercial Radio Presenters Of The Year at the CRCA Awards, and a nomination in the breakfast category of the 2005 Sony Awards. However it is not just her broadcasting and radio talent that have put her in the spotlight.

Stephanie was born as Simon in Barnsley in 1975 but, in autumn 2014, she announced her transition to female: her true gender. Throughout her journey, she has been praised for the honesty and integrity she has shown, and as a result, she was included in the Rainbow List 2014 - an annual celebration of the 101 lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender people in the UK who make a real difference.

Speaking about receiving the award, Stephanie said: “I’m deeply humbled to receive this award, I’m speechless really, but hopefully it will show that being true to yourself and being authentic can be recognised.

"The advice I would give to students who would like to pursue a career in broadcast media is to never stop trying. If you get a few knocks, don’t let that stop you from working in this wonderful world of show business."

Jason Gillespie - Honorary Doctorate of Sports Science

In the second graduation ceremony of Monday 25 July, Jason Gillespie, one of Australia’s best-loved cricketers and Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s First team coach, who has been integral to Yorkshire’s recent County Championship success, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Sports Science.

“If I’m perfectly honest, receiving this award is a bit surreal and something I never envisaged. As a professional cricket player and a coach you don’t really think of awards, but you focus on the job at hand and what you need to do to be as effective as possible. To be recognised in this way is very humbling."

As a player, Jason was part of a golden era of Australian cricket taking 402 wickets for his country in all forms of international cricket, including 259 in 71 Tests.

‘Dizzy’, as he’s known to fellow players and fans worldwide, is Australia’s sixth highest wicket-taker in Test cricket. He will also be remembered for the stunning double-century he scored as a night-watchman against Bangladesh in his last Test match.

"My message to the graduating students today is simply to trust yourself, back yourself and enjoy the ride. It’s a big wide world out there so embrace it and try and do things that you really love doing.”

Jason Davidson - Honorary Doctorate of Sport

On Tuesday 26 July, we were proud to award Jason Davidson, Head of Athletic Performance at Super League champions Leeds Rhinos, an Honorary Doctorate of Sport.

Sheffield-born Jason has established himself as one of the leading conditioners in British sport, overseeing the strength and conditioning for Leeds Rugby and the England national rugby league side.

“Receiving this award means a lot to me. I’ve come down a different route to the academic route. Most of my life has been spent working full-time so I like to think that I’ve done my education through the game and learnt from my mistakes and got better from my mistakes so this award means a lot.”

In collaboration with Leeds Beckett’s leading sports scientists, Jason and his colleagues at Leeds Rugby are working to identify talent and support the development of junior rugby players in Yorkshire.

"My advice to students is to get out there now in the real world and use everything that you have been taught. Pick your sport, enjoy your sport, because if you are not enjoying it there is no point in doing it.”

Peter Smith - Honorary Doctorate of Sport

Also on Tuesday 26 July, we were honoured to award Peter Smith MBE, former Manager of the Leeds Sports Development Team at Leeds City Council (LCC) and the operational lead behind many of the city’s great sporting events, an Honorary Doctorate of Sport.

“It really is something very special to me. I suppose, like everybody, you want to do your best at work, and it’s really appreciated when that effort is recognised by receiving an honorary award.”

Originally from Derby, Peter relocated to Leeds in 1971 to attend Leeds Beckett’s predecessor institution, the Carnegie School of Physical Education.

Graduating in 1975 with a BEd (Hons) in Physical Education, Peter spent several years working as a PE Teacher in Leeds and the Middle East before joining LCC.

In this role Peter was responsible for organising several stand-out city events, including the Tour de France Grand Départ, which laid the foundations for The Tour de Yorkshire cycle race. Now in its second year, the event is fast becoming one of the biggest cycle races in the UK, attracting some of the world’s elite cycle teams.

"When you organise big events that you want the public to come to you’re never sure if anybody will turn out. So to suddenly see thousands of people line the street in Headingley for the Olympic Torch Relay, and the same for the Tour de France, that’s the moment when you suddenly go ‘wow, it’s worked.’”

Martin Lewis - Honorary Doctorate of Arts

We were also delighted to welcome Martin Lewis OBE, campaigner, newspaper columnist and founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, on Tuesday 26 July who was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts.

An award-winning TV and radio presenter, Martin is a financial journalist, campaigner and charity founder who is passionate about financial education.

“It’s a huge honour to come here and get an honorary doctorate – I’m especially excited that it’s in the field of education, which is a campaigning field I’ve been working on very heavily for the last five years.

"My big battle was to get financial education on the big curriculum, so to come here and see some acknowledgement of that, I hope, is another flag waving to the idea that every pupil in this country will finally get a decent bit of financial knowledge before they leave school.”

Martin launched Money Saving Expert in 2003 for £100 and remained its full-time Editor-in-Chief for 13 years until earlier this month when he became Executive Chairman. It is now the UK's biggest money site, with more than 15 million monthly users and 11 million signed up to receive the Martin’s Money Tips email.

Richard Demarco CBE - Honorary Doctorate of Arts

On Wednesday 27 July, Professor Richard Demarco CBE, British artist and patron of European visual and performing arts, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts.

The first Leeds Beckett honorary ever to be congratulated by the Scottish Parliament, Richard was commended by Miles Briggs, Member of the Scottish Parliament for Lothian, on his outstanding and inspirational commitment to the arts sector in Edinburgh, the UK and across Europe.

In 1963, Richard co-founded the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh before establishing the Richard Demarco Gallery three years later. In the early 1990s, Richard transformed the Gallery into the Demarco European Art Foundation to emphasise the educational nature of his work as Kingston University Professor of European Cultural Studies in the 1990s. The Demarco Archive, as it is now known, has become a unique academic resource for scholars all over the world studying European arts, curatorship, developments in cultural policy, and the history of the Edinburgh Festival.

“I am really committed to the idea of the cultural heritage that we all have of Europe. We possess this – it is our birth right. We also possess the energy that comes from creativity. My job has been to create the idea that the perfect university is ‘the university of all the arts’. You cannot have a university unless it has identified with every single language of the arts; so I’m so happy to be here on this day when so many people will be graduating in the field of the arts.”

As an artist, Richard is represented in over 2,500 art collections, both public and private, including the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and The Victoria and Albert Museum.

Professor Paul Rogers - Honorary Doctorate of Laws

Our University was delighted to welcome Global Security Consultant to Oxford Research Group and Professor of Peace Studies, Paul Rogers, on Wednesday 27 July, awarding him an Honorary Doctorate of Laws.

“Getting an award from this university is an honour, particularly as it has such a good reputation for peace studies. I think it is going to be an incredibly important area to work in: over the next 20-30 years we, as a world community, need to make a transition to creating a more stable and sustainable planet. Anyone who is contributing to that will be doing an incredibly important job.”

Paul has worked in the field of international security, arms control and political violence for more than 30 years. He lectures at universities and defence colleges around the world and has written and edited 26 books, including Global Security and the War on Terror: Elite Power and the Illusion of Control.

He is currently involved in a new pilot project for the Network for Social Change on ‘Remote Control’ - the use of armed drones, special forces, privatised military companies and other forces to maintain control, raising issues of ethical behaviour, accountability, precedent-setting and risk of proliferation.

Nick Hardwick - Honorary Doctorate of Laws

Wednesday 27 July also saw Nick Hardwick CBE, the former Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons, receive an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from our University.

Nick held the role of HM Chief Inspector of Prisons from 2010 until January this year, taking responsibility for providing independent scrutiny of detention in England and Wales through carrying out announced and unannounced inspections of detention facilities, including prisons, young offenders’ institutions, police cells and immigration detention.

“It’s a real honour to get this award, particularly as it comes through my links with Leeds Beckett and the work they’re doing with prisons. The advice I would give graduating students today is don’t be afraid of making mistakes. People who never make mistakes never make anything so I hope that they will try difficult things and not be put off if they don’t always get it right.”

Since retiring from his role as HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick is now Professor of Criminal Justice at Royal Holloway, University of London, and Chair of the Parole Board, an independent body carrying out risk assessments on prisoners to determine whether they can be safely released into the community.

As well as his official appointments, Nick is actively involved in many worthy organisations concerned with young people, offenders and refugees, including being Chair of the New Horizon Youth Centre, a day centre which works with young people who are vulnerable, homeless or at risk, helping them to create positive futures. He is also a trustee of Prisoners Abroad, a human rights organisation which cares for the welfare of all British citizens held in foreign prisons.

Harry Jepson - Honorary Doctorate of Education

At 97 years old, Harry Jepson OBE, the President of Leeds Rhinos and Chairman of the Rugby League Conference, became Leeds Beckett's oldest honorary graduate when he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Education on Tuesday 26 July.

“Receiving this award is out of this world as far as I’m concerned. It’s something that I never even contemplated and I couldn’t believe it, but I’m delighted to be here!

Former teacher and deputy headteacher, Harry, first developed a love of rugby league began when he was seconded to the famous league-playing Bewerley Street School and was taken under the wing of the headmaster there, Edgar Meeks, who was also the Hunslet Chairman.

He became involved in looking after the under 11s, then the under 13s and eventually the senior side at the school, whilst also becoming Secretary of the Hunslet Schools Rugby League Association and involved in County Rugby League at that level.

Post-retirement, Harry joined Leeds in the early 70s as Chairman Jack Myerscough’s right-hand man. He became Leeds's Football Director in the mid-1980s, using his extensive knowledge and contacts worldwide to help rebuild the side.

Now President of Leeds Rhinos and a noted ambassador for the club and the sport, he is also Chairman of the Rugby League Conference, the competition which has spread the game throughout England, Scotland and Wales in the summer, the sides in the Premier Divisions contesting the Harry Jepson Trophy.

“Work hard, listen to advice from people who have experience and be prepared to develop your own instincts. One of the things you have to do if you play rugby is to play off the cuff and that's true in life sometimes too.”

Colin Glass - Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration

Colin Glass, a well-known businessman in the city region,who has spent many years nurturing fledgling businesses, was welcomed by our University on Thursday 28 July as he received his Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration.

“I’m very proud to be awarded this honorary doctorate, especially as it’s from my home town university with whom I have a very good relationship. I’m humbled to think after a fairly long career that I’ve been honoured in this way.”

As a chartered accountant, he was a founding partner of his practice Winburn Glass Norfolk (‘WGN’) in 1975, but his passion lies in supporting the growth of small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In many cases he has been appointed as a non-executive director to the boards of the companies he assists, taking a small equity stake where he believes he can add value.

“Always engage with people. Engage with your colleagues, engage with people in business – try to get a mentor, someone who’s been there and done it, who’s maybe built a business and got the tee shirt.”

Lou McGrath - Honorary Doctorate of Laws

On the last day of graduation week, we were honoured to welcome the founding member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and Nobel Peace Prize medallist, Lou McGrath OBE, to receive his Honorary Doctorate of Laws.

“Receiving this award means a great deal to me. It’s fantastic to get recognised for the work that I’ve achieved."

Lou is also CEO of ‘Find a Better Way’, a charity founded by football legend Sir Bobby Charlton, which provides funding to universities undertaking research into better detection systems for landmine clearance, prosthetics, regenerative medicine and better amputation techniques.

“I suppose the best advice I can give someone is to use the skills and the education that you have to better yourself, but also to be grateful to those who helped you get there. Use your skills in a way to help your fellow man and woman and think about the people who will come after you on this earth.”

Liv Garfield - Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration

The rainy weather didn't dampen our spirits as we welcomed business woman and Chief Executive of Severn Trent Water, Liv Garfield, to Headingley Campus on Thursday afternoon for our last graduation ceremony of the week.

At Severn Trent, Liv, who was born and bred in Harrogate, has responsibility for one of the three largest water utilities in the UK, as well as 2,000 colleagues based in its international water services business.

“I’m truly honoured to receive such an award from Leeds Beckett University. I’m Yorkshire-born-and-bred so to receive such an honour from your home location is twice as special as it possibly could be from anywhere else.”

Liv joined Severn Trent Water as Chief Executive in April 2014. In addition to her current role at the helm of Severn Trent Water, she is a member of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council, where she provides high-level advice to senior ministers on critical business and economic issues facing the UK.

“My tips for any future graduate are: to think big, to be massively enthusiastic about everything you do, and to literally aim for the stars. If you work hard, you’ll be amazed what you can achieve. To be successful today in business, you’ve got to believe in yourself and you’ve got to be yourself: that is it.”

Martyn Moxon - Honorary Doctorate of Sport

Thursday's 5pm ceremony was a double celebration as we honoured Yorkshire’s Director of Cricket, Martyn Moxon.

Martyn, who has been instrumental in Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s recent County Championship success, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Sport.

“Receiving this award is a real highlight of my career: following a great tradition of individuals before me is a fantastic feeling and I’m very proud. The best advice I can give for graduating students' careers is don’t have any regrets! We often say to our players, let’s not be saying at the end of the season, ‘if only’. For any young person, be full of desire and do everything you can to make a success of, whatever you choose to pursue.”

In a playing career for Yorkshire spanning 17 seasons, Martyn, an opening batsman, scored 21,161 first class runs, with a high score of 274 not out, and is one of only 15 men to have scored more than 18,000 first-class runs for Yorkshire. His haul of 41 Yorkshire centuries in first-class cricket is bettered only by Geoffrey Boycott, post-the Second World War, earning him a place amongst Yorkshire’s great players.

After finishing his distinguished playing career, Martyn was appointed Director of Professional Cricket at Yorkshire in 1997, before being appointed Head Coach at Durham in 2001. He returned to Yorkshire in 2007 as Director of Cricket and, in 2012, instigated the club’s coaching restructure ahead of the county championship season, which saw Jason Gillespie and Paul Farbrace arrive at Headingley Carnegie as first and second team coaches respectively. Martyn played a significant role in Yorkshire’s LV= County Championship back-to-back title success in 2014 and 2015, leading them to a first County Championship title for 13 years in 2014 and the county’s first consecutive titles since 1968 in 2015.