Jonathan Van-Tam and Gary Sweet celebrate Honorary awardsMon 05 February, 2024
Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam MBE and Gary Sweet, Luton Town Football Club’s Chief Executive Officer, were among the famous faces joining the University of Bedfordshire’s Class of 2024 at graduation (Tuesday 30 January).
Professor Van-Tam and Gary were also joined by renowned physician Dr Harry Brunjes to collect their Honorary awards during ceremonies held for more than 2,000 students from the Faculties of Creative Arts, Technologies & Science, Health & Social Sciences, Business School and Education, English & Sport between 30 January – 2 February at the University’s Luton campus.
Professor Van-Tam was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science, after becoming a familiar face to many during the Covid-19 pandemic, working as the government’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer and keeping the nation up to date with the latest developments on the virus.
His quick-witted analogies and trusted advice made him a household name around the country and, back in 2022, he delivered an inspiring public lecture at the University of Bedfordshire where he reflected on the challenges of leading during the pandemic.
Addressing graduates, Professor Van-Tam said: “A graduation is always a warm and uplifting occasion. It celebrates the end of a period of study and the achievement of goals, but it also reflects and recognises the hard work and dedication of your academic staff, your technicians, and your support staff over several years.
“Today is a very special ceremony for you and for me. One of my children graduated from this university a few years ago so I feel profoundly honoured to have been bestowed this Honorary degree at the same institution.”
Also celebrating with fellow graduates on campus was Luton Town Football Club’s Chief Executive Officer, Gary Sweet, who was awarded an Honorary Master of Business Administration in recognition of his work which saw the Club promoted to the Premier League for the first time in its history.
Accepting his Honorary award, Gary said: “Education shouldn’t be something you finish now - please allow education to continuously be a part of your life. My hunger for knowledge is as enthusiastic today as it has ever been and it’s equally important to share your knowledge with others. This inclusivity has been a key part of the success of Luton Town.
“Congratulations and well done to all of you today. Stay humble, take the pathway that brings out your passion and good luck with your future careers.”
The final special guest celebrating alongside Bedfordshire’s Class of 2024 was physician Dr Harry Brunjes, founder of the highly successful Premier Medical Group, who was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Arts.
Raised in Bedfordshire, Dr Brunjes is widely recognised in the world of medicine and he holds various roles including as a founding fellow and Vice President of The College of Medicine. He said: “It’s a wonderful moment for all you graduates today. You have shown three aspects necessary for a successful life. Firstly is hard work to pass the exams, the second is your acquisition of skills achieved by that hard work, and the third is luck. But I believe you earned your luck – you were lucky to choose the University of Bedfordshire and, very simply, I stand here and wish you the best.”
Throughout the week, a number of special student prizes were also awarded to graduates who have excelled in their studies. These included the Stephanie O’Kane Memorial Prize – set up in memory of a former student and mentor – which is presented annually to a midwifery student who has demonstrated clear and innovative practice that could directly benefit women and families. This year’s recipient was Health & Social Sciences graduate Aida Green.
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