Paralympian Grey-Thompson and Bath businessman to receive honorary degrees

Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE, one of Britain’s greatest ever paralympic athletes, and Bath’s Andrew Brownsword, successful entrepreneur, will receive honorary degrees from the University of Bath next week.

Over 2,000 students will graduate at the summer award ceremonies at Bath Abbey in ten ceremonies on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (6, 7 & 8 July).

Tanni Grey-Thompson, who receives her Doctor of Laws on Thursday at 10am holds 11 gold medals, three silver and one bronze won over 16 years and five Paralympic Games.

She said: “It’s lovely to share in people’s day of celebration and to see so many happy and relieved parents. My husband, who has a Phd, says I shouldn’t be at the ceremony unless I’ve written at least 60,000 words, but it’s great and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Tanni Grey-Thompson is patron of the British Paralympic Association and is currently promoting a new initiative to boost the green credentials of Paralympics GB, the UK Paralympics Team for 2012, which has its training base at the University.

She said: “It’s all about getting athletes to think of their impact on the environment and their carbon footprint. Athletes are iconic and people do listen to what they have to say. Athletes have to travel a lot to compete but there’s lots of basic stuff they can do that can have a lasting impact.”

Andrew Brownsword will receive his honorary Doctor of Arts degree on Wednesday at 3pm. He moved to Bath in 1978 and now lives with his family in the Royal Crescent.

He is best known as the man behind the “Forever Friends” greetings card range and now runs eight hotels across the country through his Abode Hotel Group.

He has combined his success as an entrepreneur with commitment to the local community and supports a large number of local causes including the Hoburne Museum, the Bath Abbey Restoration Appeal, the Royal United Hospital, Dorothy House the Research Institute for the Care of the Elderly.

He owned Bath Rugby Club until recently and has been involved with the University through the Sports Training Village and the arts complex. He was an active member of Council in the early 1990s.

Andrew Brownsword said: “I am deeply honoured to receive this degree, which has come as a complete surprise. I am especially honoured that the University of Bath has given me this award as Bath is my adopted city. It is lovely for me and for my family.

“Forever Friends has had a big influence on the greetings cards industry, especially humorous and cute cards. It was an industry I was very pleased to be a part of and it still fascinates me.”

The University’s former Pro-Vice Chancellor, Professor Ian Jamieson OBE, who lives in Bath, will receive a Doctor of Laws on Tuesday (10am).

Professor Jamieson joined the University of Bath in 1985. In his role as Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Learning & Teaching he was responsible for all aspects of the student experience, working very closely with the Students’ Union. His leadership in this crucial area was commended in the University’s outstanding assessment from the Quality Assurance Agency.

More broadly Professor Jamieson has an established reputation in the field of vocational education. He founded the Journal of Education and Work and has over 80 publications and five books to his name. He has had a marked effect on the development of work related education in UK schools.

Professor Jamieson said: “I am delighted to receive this honorary degree and although it is personal to me, it also reflects the enormous support I have received from the University of Bath over the years in developing my work in education at every level.”

Other honorary graduates include:

  • Sir Fazle Hasan Abed KCMG is the founder and chairman of BRAC (formerly, Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee), the largest development Non-Governmental Organisation in the world. For his outstanding contributions to social improvement, he will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree on Tuesday (12.30pm).
  • Antony Beevor FRSL is an historian and author. He has published several novels, but is best known for his works of military history focusing on key points in the Second World War that have brought him great critical acclaim and popular success. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree on Tuesday (3pm).
  • Toby Churchill was a student at Bath in 1965, as part of his degree he spent a two-month work placement in Paris & Clermond Ferrand in 1968. During the visit he swam in a river and contracted viral encephalitis which resulted in him becoming paraplegic with a speech disability. He completed his degree from home and graduated in 1971. As communication aids at the time were few and far between Tony designed his own, the Lightwriters, a portable text-to-speech communication aid changing the lives of many people with speech loss. His inventions later earned him many awards. He received an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree on 22 June at a private ceremony which was filmed to be shown in the Abbey on Wednesday (12.30pm).
  • Dr Simon Thurley is a leading architectural historian, a regular broadcaster on television and radio and the Chief Executive of English Heritage; the Government’s principal advisor on the historic environment in England. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree on Thursday (12.30pm).
  • Dr Jean Botti is the Chief Technical Officer of EADS (The European Aeronautic Defence & Space Company)and is a member of the EADS Executive Committee. He recently led an Innovation Works project that engineered the world’s first pure biofuel flight. He has fostered strong links with the University throughout his career in the aerospace field. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree on Thursday (3pm).

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