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Honorary awards

The University confers honorary awards as a way of recognising contributions to a specific field or to society in general, especially to people who have a close connection to our region or the academic areas in which we work.

Meet just a few of our distinguished honorands.

Virginia McKenna

Virginia McKennaMultiple award-winning actress, author and animal rights campaigner Virginia McKenna became an Honorary Doctor of Arts, for her outstanding contribution to acting and the conservation of animals. As a screen actress, Virginia appeared in classic films such as The Cruel Sea, Carve Her Name With Pride and A Town Like Alice , but she is probably best-known for her portrayal of Joy Adamson in the true-life film Born Free, for which she won the Variety Club Best Actress Award and was nominated for a Golden Globe. 

Jack Sapsworth MBE

The Vice Chairman of Luton Town FC, Jack Sapsworth MBE, was recognised for his outstanding contribution to fundraising and charity work. Mr Sapsworth, a Former High Sheriff – as well as Deputy Lieutenant – of Bedfordshire, has been a member of the Rotary Club of Luton since 1981 and has received Rotary International's highest level award the Four Avenues of Service Citation. He is also a very active fundraiser for local homeless charity, Signposts, and for Keech Hospice Care. The successful businessman of more than 43 years was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Business Administration.

Sally-Ann Wilson

Broadcast specialist Sally-Ann Wilson the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association received an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration for her outstanding contribution to media broadcasting. Ms Wilson is a firm supporter of education and the role of positive media in support of development, and poverty reduction

Kevin Whately

Kevin WhateleyKevin Whately, actor, has been a familiar face on our screens for many years and is probably best known for his role as Robbie Lewis in Inspector Morse and, more recently, Lewis. Mr Whateley was awarded an honorary Doctor of Arts award for his outstanding achievements in acting. The Northumberland-born actor - who is an ambassador for both the Prince's Trust and the Alzheimer's Society - has lived in the local area for 28 years and has supported Luton's bid to become a city in the past.

Baroness Kennedy

Helena KennedyBaroness Helena Kennedy is a frequent broadcaster and a member of the House of Lords, is one of the country's leading barristers and an expert in human rights law, civil liberties and constitutional issues. She was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Law. Baroness Kennedy has had connections with the University since the 1990s and shares a passion to widening participation in higher education.

Jim O'Connor

Jim O'Connor is Chief Executive of NOAH Enterprise, a Luton based welfare charity, that aims to help the most disadvantaged members of society, particularly the homeless. He was awarded an Honorary MBA. The partnership between NOAH Enterprise and the University of Bedfordshire is very special; students get involved with NOAH across a spectrum of activities including marketing, media and social work that puts some practical flesh on the academic bones.

Greg Rutherford

Greg RutherfordLondon 2012 Olympic gold medallist and long jump star Greg Rutherford MBE received an Honorary Doctor of Science. Bletchley based Greg, along with Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah, was part of that 'Super Saturday' evening when Team GB romped home with three golds in 46 minutes.

Darren Gough

Former England international cricketer, Darren Gough - spearhead of the English bowling attack during the 1990's and who took 74 wickets in 17 Ashes Tests - received an honorary Doctorate of Science for his outstanding achievements in cricket.

Pete Winkelman

MK Dons' acclaimed chairman received an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration for his outstanding contribution to the life and community of Milton Keynes. Record executive turned football supremo, Mr Winkelman is the man who brought professional football to Milton Keynes and has helped to deliver a 30,000-seater stadium - host to the England Under-21s and for three 2015 Rugby World Cup pool matches. Mr Winkelman also established leading residential recording studios, Great Linford Manor.

John Cridland

John Cridland CBE, the Director-General of the UK's leading business organisation, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), was awarded Honorary Doctor of Business Administration. As head of the CBI, John Cridland is the key spokesman for 240,000 members of the British business community and was recognised for his outstanding contribution to industry and commerce.

Etienne Stott

Etienne Stott, who grew up in Bedford and learned to canoe on the Great Ouse, was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science for outstanding achievements in canoeing. An inspirational sportsman and an outstanding individual, he has shown that injury and setbacks are no barrier to success when combated with commitment, dedication and toughness.

Colin Salmon

Colin SalmonLocal lad and actor Colin Salmon received an Honorary Doctor of Business Arts award. Colin is best known for his roles in three James Bond films and TV shows like Doctor Who, as well as a stint on BBC's Strictly Come Dancing. Colin moved to Luton as a baby and went to Ashcroft High School.

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