‘Restoration Man’ presenter receives honorary degree
24 July 2015 - Carrie Braithwaite
Architect, writer, lecturer and TV presenter George Clarke has received an Honorary Doctorate from Leeds Beckett University.
George, best known for presenting Channel’s 4’s Restoration Man, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts on Friday 24 July for his contribution to the Arts.
Speaking about his award, George said: “It’s a huge honour to receive the honorary doctorate today. I’m thrilled to bits and can’t quite believe it. To be sharing the day with so many other graduates is great. It’s actually 20 years nearly to the day that I got my first degree so I feel like I’m going back in time today.”
When asked about his career highlights, George commented: “I think I’ve been really lucky and have had many career highlights over the years: beginning my television career was amazing, establishing my own practice was fantastic, graduating was brilliant back in 1995 as well. Starting my own office and becoming an architect was a hugely big deal for me. I think that was my biggest ambition of all: all I really wanted to do was graduate, become an architect, and hopefully one day launch my own business. I think everything else that’s happened since then has been a massive bonus.”
After studying architecture at the University of Newcastle and University College, London, George started his own practice in 1998, with celebrity clients including Simon Fuller and Jamie Oliver. In 2011 George set up George Clarke and Partners who have designed and realised a diverse portfolio of work from new build and residential refurbishments through to high profile developments in retail, commerce, arts, culture and regeneration.
George’s advice to graduating students today is to work hard: “They’ll have worked hard for the last three years but they’ve got to keep that going. You’ve got to have a real passion for what you do. I love what I do every single day, whether it’s sitting at a drawing board, designing buildings, visiting buildings, making television. I’ve always had that passion since I was a kid and I think that’s the most important thing. Also seize every opportunity that comes along. In some ways making mistakes is no bad thing – you learn from your mistakes more than anything else.”
George has been a successful TV presenter since 2004 and is best known for hosting Channel 4’s hugely popular Restoration Man, where George meets couples looking to save some of the most beautiful old buildings in Britain by turning them into unique homes. More recently George presented George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces, a programme which shows how unexpected small spaces can be adapted into practical living areas, wonderful retreats or unusual offices.
George recently set up an independent television production company, Amazing Productions, to focus on factual programming for all the main UK broadcasters. George also enjoys lecturing and is passionate about the way architecture can transform our everyday lives; his aim is to make architecture popular and accessible to everyone. George is an ambassador for Shelter, The Maggie Centre’s, The Prince's Foundation for Building Community and City & Country Group; one of the UK's leading restoration specialists. George is also patron of the Civic Trust Awards, established to recognize outstanding architecture, planning and design in the built environment. George is a passionate supporter of Sunderland Football Club, so much so that he is a Trustee of the club.
Leeds Beckett University Vice Chancellor, Professor Susan Price, said: “A highly talented architect and television presenter, George misses no opportunity to share his passion of the spaces around us. We are delighted to recognise his contribution to the arts with the award of this Honorary Doctorate and have enjoyed welcoming him to our campus alongside the architects of the future.”