University of Derby Annual Awards Ceremonies

Students celebrating

Students celebrating - Credit: Archant

This year’s sparkling celebration of the success of students at the University of Derby was extended from the usual two to three days in January.

Over 4,000 students returned to the city accompanied by family and friends to receive their degrees at the city’s Assembly Rooms when a total of eight ceremonies were presided over by University of Derby Chancellor, the Duke of Devonshire, Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire, Willie Tucker, and the High Sheriff of Derbyshire, Derek Mapp. Each day, in addition to the ceremonies, a procession led by a local band wended its way through the Market Place and along Iron Gate to a thanksgiving service in Derby Cathedral. A graduation ball on the Friday evening brought the rousing occasion to an end.

Six exceptional figures with a connection to Derbyshire or the University received an honorary award and addressed the gathered graduates. Ian Drake, Chief Executive of hugely successful British Cycling became an Honorary Doctor of the University. Ian taught at Derbyshire’s Frederick Gent School, establishing a groundbreaking after-school cycling club. Award-winning writer and first Derbyshire Poet Laureate, Cathy Grindrod, was awarded Honorary Master of Letters, while author and critic Hilary Mantel became an Honorary Doctor of Letters. As well as a host of other plaudits, Hilary, who was born in Glossop, has won the prestigious Man Booker Prize twice. TV producer Kate Oates, who grew up in Derby and attended Ockbrook School, was made an Honorary Master of the University. Kate has worked on The Archers, Coronation Street and Emmerdale. Former Formula 1 driver and Team Manager, Reginald ‘Tim’ Parnell became an Honorary Master of the University. Tim’s successes include racing in the British, Austrian and Italian Grands Prix, a stint as both Team and Works Manager for British Racing Motors’ Formula 1 team and as Circuit Director of Mallory Park and Oulton Park. Photographic historian Roger Taylor was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Art. Roger, who attended Derby College of Art in the 1960s is known internationally as an historian of mid-19th century British photography.

At a separate Awards Ceremony for the University of Derby Buxton, on 16th November, Liz Fothergill - Chief Executive of Derby-based Pennine Healthcare, and former Vice-Chair of the University’s Governing Council – received an Honorary Doctorate.

Among the many triumphant students was MA Education graduate Mthulisi Matshakaile, originally from Zimbabwe, who studied for his degree online. A University of Derby spokeswoman said: ‘Despite having to flee eventually from the country, which had become a war zone, he managed to study the three modules he needed. He had said that the tutors he was liaising with at the University of Derby kept him going.’ Mr Matshakaile is now head of a school in Zambia. Also celebrating was Oswald Amponsah, a Sergeant in the Royal Army Medical Corps, who also received a Masters (MSc) degree in Environmental Health with University of Derby Online Learning. He studied while continuing his full time job which included deployment to Afghanistan. Among the many other students with inspirational and fascinating stories to tell were Paul Bibbings from Chesterfield and Sherryl Jaques from Ripley, whose Advanced Diplomas in Nursing Studies (Mental Health) were the first of two special celebrations this year. They met while studying and plan to marry in Bakewell this June.