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Michael Eavis
Michael Eavis
Vice-Chancellor Glynis Breakwell and Chancellor Lord Christopher Tugendhat with Michael Eavis
Vice-Chancellor Glynis Breakwell and Chancellor Lord Christopher Tugendhat with Michael Eavis

Press Release - 14 December 2004

Glastonbury Festival organiser gets honorary doctorate

The organiser of the Glastonbury Festival, Michael Eavis, has received an honorary doctorate from the University of Bath.

Mr Eavis was awarded a Doctor of Arts degree for his services to the arts at a graduation ceremony at the Assembly Rooms in Bath yesterday, Monday 13 December 2004.

Mr Eavis has organised the Glastonbury Festival - the largest rock festival in Europe - since 1970. The festival attracts around 100,000 people and some of its income is given to charities including Greenpeace, Oxfam, CND and WaterAid.

During a speech made to several hundred graduates and their families, Mr Eavis talked about how he was inspired by seeing the Bath Blue Festival to start the first Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm in 1970. About 1500 hippies turned up to pay a pound to receive a free pint of milk and watch Marc Bolan and T Rex.

Mr Eavis told how he was brought up in the Methodist faith to work hard and get things done, principles that helped him to establish the Festival as a world-wide event.

"I don't know why the Festival is so successful - it's a mystery to me," he said. "We are top of the tree around the world and the tickets are sold out within ten minutes. Whatever we do, we attract enthusiasm and this is the extra thing about Glastonbury."

He said that people frequently helped for no money - at the last event Sir Paul McCartney was happy to perform, even though he made a financial loss on the day.

Mr Eavis said he was delighted to be awarded the honorary doctorate. "It's been a fantastic day, a great privilege and a great honour," he said. His family, including his 92-year-old mother, attended the ceremony.

Mr Eavis was introduced by Professor Geof Wood, head of the University's Department of Economics and International Development, who described the Festival as a "remarkable contribution to global popular culture."

"It keeps alive a vision of a better world amid the rapaciousness of capitalism, global inequalities and rising violence," he said. He spoke of Mr Eavis' "tenacity and spirit" and "skills of negotiation and diplomacy".

At an earlier ceremony Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss was given an honorary Doctor of Laws. Dame Butler-Sloss was made the first lady Appeal Court judge in 1988, and was appointed President of the High Court Family Divison in 1999. She also chaired the inquiry into the Cleveland child abuse allegations, in which more than 100 children were removed from their homes on the basis of unproven medical techniques for diagnosing child abuse.

Professor Stephen Lillicrap, the Director of the Bath Institute of Medical Engineering (BIME) was given an honorary Doctor of Science degree at the first ceremony yesterday. BIME is a design engineering group whose products are aimed at the needs of disabled people and hospital patients. Professor Lillicrap began his role in 1977.

The graduation ceremonies continued today, when Dame Louise Johnson, head of the Laboratory of Molecular Biophysics at the University of Oxford, received an honorary Doctor of Science award.