CBeebies star & local education advocate celebrate Honorary degrees with fellow graduates

Tue 22 November, 2022
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The last cohort of the University of Bedfordshire’s Class of 2022 celebrated their achievements during a week of graduation ceremonies, featuring a number of inspiring keynote speakers and two Honorary Doctorate recipients – CBeebies star, Andy Day, and education leader, Mike Berrill.

Held over four days between 15th – 18th November, graduating students and esteemed guests gathered with friends and family at the historic St Mary’s Church on the Luton campus to hold ceremonies for the Faculties of Creative Arts, Technologies & Science, Health & Social Sciences, Business School and Education, English & Sport.

Addressing graduates in her speech, Vice Chancellor Professor Rebecca Bunting said: “Education is so precious. I do hope you have valued your studies, that you won’t let your experience go to waste and that you will keep on learning and developing, wherever life takes you. And be ambitious, bold and achieve remarkable things. You can do this!”

Graduates were joined by a number of Guests of Honour who delivered thought-provoking keynote speeches across the week of ceremonies including The Culture Trust Luton CEO, Marie Kirbyshaw, and HM Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Susan Lousada.

On the final day of ceremonies on 18th November, the Class of 2022 were also joined by two special guests who were awarded Honorary Doctorates from the University.

Broadcaster and children’s actor Andy Day – the longest-running presenter on BBC’s CBeebies channel – was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Arts in recognition of services to Broadcasting, and during his speech invited smiling graduates to clap along to a chorus of the much-loved children’s classic, ‘If You're Happy and You Know It’!

Speaking about receiving this Honorary degree, Andy said: “I feel very honoured to be awarded an Honorary Doctorate, and excited as well as I never went to University, so I felt very privileged. I felt like I was graduating with the students! It’s the start of their careers and they’ve worked very, very hard over the past however many years – postgraduates and graduates of all different ages – and it’s inspiring for me. I wish them all the best.”

Local school leader and educational advocate, Mike Berrill, was also awarded an Honorary Doctor of Education for outstanding contribution to UK Teacher Training and School Leadership.

Mike has spent a 50-year career working in education, including being the Executive Principal at Biddenham International School and Sports College in Bedford.

Mike added: “It was a shock and a surprise to be put forward for this Honorary and I will absolutely treasure it. It has come as a pinnacle of 50 years in education and it makes me very proud to have received it.”

Also graduating was Bedfordshire’s Student Union Co Vice-President, Tabitha Ajao, who gave a speech after crossing the stage to receive a certificate herself. She said: “Today, we look back on our university experience and smile knowing we did it! From being brand new members of the University of Bedfordshire, eager to start our academic journeys to right now celebrating our successes and resilience.

“While today is about us and our successes, I feel now is the time to acknowledge the support from our faculty and staff because, without their help and encouragement, I’m sure many of us would not be sitting here today. On behalf of all of us here, I would like to say thank you.”

During the ceremonies, a number of special student prizes were awarded to graduates, including the new Amani Liaquat Award which was given to Social Work Apprenticeship graduate, Amy Pates. This particular accolade is an annual prize set up by the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences (HSS) in honour of late HSS Masters student, Amani, who passed away earlier this year after a courageous battle with brain cancer.

A digital album with photos taken throughout Friday’s ceremony can be viewed on the University of Bedfordshire’s Flickr page, here.

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