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University of Leicester Honorary Degrees

The University of Leicester will be conferring honours on 13 nationally and internationally acclaimed people at degree ceremonies at Leicester’s De Montfort Hall on 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th July 2005.

Those to be honoured by the University in this way come from as far afield as Ghana and as close to home as Leicestershire. They represent the worlds of literature, entertainment, music, business, science, medicine, sport, the legal profession and the Church and all have made unique contributions in their fields.

This year, for the first time, two people who have devoted much of their time to service of the University are to be awarded Honorary Distinguished Fellowships.

Professor Robert Burgess, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester said:

“As we celebrate the success of our students, we are always delighted to award honorary degrees to people whose contribution to their local communities, society and the world at large is indisputable.

“Many of our honorary graduands have special connections with the University, the City or the County, and all are highly distinguished people and an inspiration to our students. It gives us special pleasure this year to award Honorary Distinguished Fellowships to Dr Helen Scott and Dr Frank May, who have given such inestimable service to the University over so many years.”

Recipients of the University of Leicester 2005 honours are as follows (in order of ceremony, see photo opportunities below):

  • Sir Donald Sinden, CBE (DLitt), actor
  • Vikram Seth, CBE (DLitt), writer and poet
  • Ms Yasmin Jetha (LLD), Executive Director and member of the Abbey Board
  • Professor Jane Plant, CBE (DSc), Chief Scientist of the British Geological Survey
  • Professor Sir David Wallace, CBE (DSc), Vice-Chancellor of Loughborough University and Treasurer and Vice-President of the Royal Society
  • Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, OBE (LLD), renowned Paralympic athlete
  • Dr Helen Scott OBE (Honorary Distinguished Fellow)
  • Margaret Nkrumah (LLD), Head Teacher of the SOS Hermann Gmeiner International College (Ghana)
  • John Rutter (DMus), distinguished contemporary composer
  • Professor Sir Peter Lachmann (DSc), distinguished Immunologist
  • Dr Frank May, MBE (Honorary Distinguished Fellow)
  • The Very Reverend Derek Hole (LLD), former Provost of Leicester
  • Mark Haysom (LLD), Chief Executive of the Learning and Skills Council

Note to Editors

Brief biographies and press quotes from the honorary graduands follow.

University of Leicester Honorary Graduands, Summer 2005


Sir Donald Sinden, CBE, FRSA (Doctor of Letters)

One of the country’s best-known actors, Sir Donald Sinden originally trained as an architect before moving into the professional theatre.

His connections with Leicester date back to six months with the Leicester Repertory Company in 1945, a time which he recalls as a formative experience. Every week he went to concerts at the De Montfort Hall with his fellow actors, developing ‘a splendid technique’ for getting soloists to give encores.

From 1974 until very recently he served on the Leicester Education Arts Committee, including a term as Chairman. Sir Donald has longstanding links with the University of Leicester’s Department of Adult Education (now Institute of Lifelong Learning), and has contributed to study days run by the Department. One of the most memorable was ‘King Lear’ at University Centre, Northampton, with the Shakespearian scholar, Professor Kenneth Muir, in 1977.

His career has spanned classical theatre to the West End and numerous television appearances, while his 29 film performances include The Cruel Sea and Doctor in the House

As a Shakespearian actor, Sir Donald has been hailed as one of the finest actors of his time. His Shakespearian roles began in 1946 at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre and have continued into the 1990s in television. A founder member of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1963, he appeared as Polonius in Sir Peter Hall’s 1994 production of Hamlet. Two of his greatest performances are considered to be Malvolio and King Lear, working with John Barton and Trevor Nunn, while his performance as Feste merited a chapter to itself in Professor Stanley Wells’ book, Royal Shakespeare.

An enthusiastic theatre historian, he founded the British Theatre Museum Association (now the Theatre Museum), of which he was Chairman (1971-7). He is President of the Henry Irving Society, and has actively supported the July 2005 conference at the University of Leicester, Sir Henry Irving, a Life in the Victorian Theatre.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1966, awarded a CBE in 1979 and knighted in 1997; the same year he became a Freeman of the City of London.

Sir Donald commented:

“I am indeed honoured that a university which has Professor Richard Foulkes as Head of its English Department should bestow upon me an Honorary Degree of DLitt.”

Vikram Seth, CBE (Doctor of Letters)

Acclaimed for his best-selling novel, A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth, writer and poet, was educated at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, Stanford University, California and Nanjing University, China. From 1985-86 he was Senior Editor with Stanford University Press.

His publications include poetry collections: Mappings (1982); The Humble Administrator’s Garden (1985), which won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize (Asia); All You Who Sleep Tonight (1990); and Beastly Tales from Here and There (verse fables for children, 1992).

From Heaven Lake: travels through Sinkiang and Tibet appeared in 1983, winning the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award, and his first novel, The Golden Gate: A Novel in Verse, was written in 1986. He has also written a libretto, Arion and the Dolphin, for English National Opera, performed in 1994, and in 1992 translated the work of three Chinese poets: Wang Wei, Li Bai and Du Fu.

The same year he wrote A Suitable Boy, which won the WH Smith Literary Award and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Overall Winner, Best Book). It is set in India in the 1950s and tells the story of the young Lata’s search for a husband. He followed it in 1999 with An Equal Music, the story of a violinist’s memories of a former lover.

In 2001 he was made a Chevalier, Ordre des Arts et des lettres (France).

Yasmin Jetha (Doctor of Laws)

In January 2001, former Loughborough High School student Yasmin Jetha was appointed the first female executive director in Abbey National’s 150 year history. She is also the first Asian woman to become executive director at any FTSE 100 company and was named Asian Businesswoman of the Year in 2001 in recognition of the success she had earned through her career.

She is a strong advocate that execution of strategy is key to success and that strategy alone is not enough. She is looking to put something back into the wider community which has been fundamental in her success to date.

Within Abbey, posts she has held include Director, Corporate Systems; Director, Retail Lending; and Director, Retail Service & Operations. She has been responsible for all Abbey's procurement, property, security and IT and has been a Pensions Trustee. Yasmin Jetha joined Abbey in 1985, after having held IT roles at Lucas CAV and Nationwide Building Society.

Born in Tanzania, Yasmin Jetha arrived in Leicestershire 35 years ago to complete her A-levels at Loughborough High School. She then went on to Westfield College, London University, gaining a BSc in Mathematics followed by an MSc in Management Science from Imperial College.

Yasmin Jetha is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. She has worked at only three different companies, each time starting at the bottom of the heap.

Now, she pursues her interests on a wider front using her previous background as a FTSE 100 director. She is an adviser to senior directors of both start-up and established organisations.

Yasmin Jetha commented:

“As you can imagine, I am delighted to be awarded such an honour by the University of Leicester. It is a leading university, which attracts students from a wide social and ethnic background, and delivers one of the highest completion rates in the country. In a business environment which is getting more competitive, merit is increasingly becoming the key determinant of an individual’s success. I fully expect, over the coming years, that more and more females will be recognised for their contribution to business. Loughborough High School gave me a tremendous start and I am delighted to receive this Honorary Degree from the University of Leicester.”

Professor Jane Plant, CBE, FRSE, FRGS, FIMM, CEng, FGS, CGeol (Doctor of Science)

Professor Plant has been Chief Scientist and Director of the British Geological Survey since 2000 and is Professor of Geochemistry at Imperial College, London. She is President-Elect of the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy.

Five times over six years Jane Plant was diagnosed with breast cancer, until with – as it appeared – only months to live she changed her lifestyle and her diet and within weeks had regained her health and defeated the disease. In 2000 she published a book outlining her experiences, entitled Your Life in Your Hands: Understanding, Preventing and Overcoming Breast Cancer.

Her career, though less dramatic, has been no less successful. After graduating from Liverpool University in 1967, she received a PhD from the University of Leicester in 1977.

She worked for the British Geological Survey, Atomic Energy Division from 1967, taking a sabbatical year to work in North America in 1988. Between 1989-91 she was head of the Applied Geochemistry Group, then Assistant Director and Chief Geochemist until 1997. She has been a Visiting Professor at Liverpool University, and a Special Professor at Nottingham University.

Professor Plant is a member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution and from 2001 has been Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Hazardous Substances.

In 1999 she was made a Freeman of the City of London. The same year she became a member of the Water Conservators’ Company. She is currently a member of the CBI Minerals Committee, MIRO Council, Parliamentary Science & Technology Committee and the Parliamentary Minerals Committee. She has published widely on economic and environmental geochemistry.

Professor Plant commented:

“I have had a very successful career as an Earth and Environmental Scientist. This is no small way reflects my PhD studies at the University of Leicester and the professional links I have had with its staff since that time.”

Professor Sir David Wallace, CBE, DL, FRS, CEng, FREng, FInstP, FRSE. (Doctor of Science)

Professor Sir David Wallace has been Vice-Chancellor of Loughborough University since 1994 and has made a distinguished contribution to science and to the development of the East Midlands Universities. He has served as Deputy Lieutenant for Leicestershire, and is Treasurer and Vice-President of the Royal Society.

Educated at the University of Edinburgh, he was a Harkness Fellow at Princeton University (1970-72), before becoming Lecturer, then Reader in Physics at Southampton University.

Returning to the University of Edinburgh in 1979, he became Tait Professor of Mathematical Physics, then Head of Physics in 1984. While there, he became Director of the Edinburgh Concurrent Supercomputer and of the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre, which he established and from which two spin-off companies resulted.

In 1980 he received the Maxwell Medal of the Institute of Physics and in 1998 was elected to the Royal Academy of Engineering. Between 1988-1998, he served in a variety of roles at what later became the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and from 1991-98 advised the European Commission in a number of areas.

Sir David chaired the 1995-97 Task Force on Sport in Higher Education for the Committee for Vice-Chancellors and Principals and the Standing Conference of Principals. He has also chaired the HEFCE Value for Money Steering Group.

In 1996 he was awarded the CBE for services to parallel computing. He has been a member of the Royal Society Science and Industrial Award Committee and the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council, as well as President of the Physics Section of British Association for the Advancement of Science and of the Institute of Physics.

In 2004, he was Knighted for services to UK Science, Technology and Engineering. He has published widely in the fields of theoretical physics and computing.

In 1995 he ran the London Marathon, raising £8,000 for Sports Aid Foundation and Loughborough Sports Scholarships.

Sir David Wallace commented:

“There have always been cordial and fruitful relationships between the Universities of Leicester and Loughborough, and I am honoured to receive this award.”

Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, OBE (Doctor of Laws)

Britain’s best-known Paralympic athlete, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson currently holds 16 Paralympic medals and a number of British and World Records.

Born with spina bifida and in a wheelchair from the age of seven, she began wheelchair racing at 13. Four years later, following major surgery, she began her competitive career, with the Rookwood paraplegic club in Cardiff. Her first Paralympics were in Seoul in 1988, where she won a bronze medal in the 200 metres.

Educated at Loughborough University, where she received a BA (Hons) in Politics and Administration, she went on to become Development Officer for UK Athletics in 1996. She has been a Member of Council for the Sports Council for Wales and for UK Sport, and Deputy Chair of the UK Lottery Sports Fund.

Dame Tanni has represented Britain at 100m-800m distances from 1987. She competed in the Paralympics in 1988, 1992, 1996 and 2000, winning 16 medals, of which 11 were Gold. She competed in the Olympics in 1992, 1996 and 2000, and World Championships, where she has won 11 medals, including 5 Gold Medals.

She has broken more than 16 world records, and been a winner in the London Wheelchair Marathon in 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2001 and 2002, winning six Gold Medals.

Among the awards Dame Tanni has received are BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2000 (3rd place), three times BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year and Welsh Woman of the Year. In 2000 she received the OBE in the Millennium New Year’s Honours List in honour of her services to sport and was created a Dame in 2004 for her services to sport. She was awarded the Freedom of the City of Cardiff in 2003.

She has been elected to the Laureus World Sports Academy, placing her alongside leading sporting celebrities such as Pele, Jack Nicklaus, Michael Jordan, Boris Becker, Ed Moses and Alberto Tomba. In 2002 she received the Walpole Best British Sporting Achievement Award and the Commonwealth Games Sports Award for Best Female Disabled Athlete.

She published an autobiography, Seize the Day, in 2001, has written for the Daily Mail, the Guardian, Best and Good Housekeeping, and is well-known to radio and television audiences.

Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson commented:

“I am very proud to receive this honour. I am delighted to become associated with such a special place where research is used so extensively to promote learning.”

Margaret Nkrumah (Doctor of Laws)

Margaret Nkrumah is renowned for her work in the further education of children from disadvantaged backgrounds in Africa.

The daughter of a successful Ghanaian businessman and politician, she graduated from the University of Leicester with a degree in English in 1963 (then Margaret Odamtten), returning to Ghana where she married the paediatrician, Francis Nkrumah, a year later. Her husband was the son of Kwame Nkrumah, who established the anti-colonialist party which led Ghana into independence 1957.

After a period in the US, Margaret Nkrumah studied for an MPhil in ‘Creative Writing and the Nationalist Sentiment in Pre-Independent Ghana’, at the University of Ghana.

The political troubles in their country led the family to live away from Ghana for a few years, but on their return Margaret Nkrumah became Assistant Headmistress at the Ghana International School. In 1990 she was appointed the founding Head of the new SOS Hermann Gmeiner International College, part of a worldwide organisation to provide schooling for homeless children.

Her school, which takes children from some of the poorest African countries many who have been orphaned or abandoned, has since been acknowledged as the most successful school in Ghana, and Margaret Nkrumah has won recognition as the top head teacher in her country.

She has served for five years on the Executive of the IB Board and of the International Schools Association and is the Senate Member representing Africa of the SOS Hermann Gmeiner Foundation.

The college, which Margaret Nkrumah set up from scratch, is the only SOS institution which is self supporting except for capital projects. It now has excellent facilities and equipment and sets high standards of academic performance. Most of its students go on to university.

Her achievement is recognised throughout her country. She is close to the Government and President of Ghana, and to the Secretary General of the United Nations.

Margaret Nkrumah commented:

“I am honoured and delighted by my alma mater’s decision to confer this honorary degree on me. My university years at Leicester were some of the happiest of my life and set me on a path leading to self-discovery and fulfilment.”

John Rutter (Doctor of Music)

John Rutter is a distinguished conductor and composer, much-loved for his choral music, who has several times conducted the Leicester Philharmonic Choir at the De Montfort Hall, most recently in 2004.

A chorister at Highgate School, he was an exact contemporary of fellow composer, John Tavener, and both of them were involved in the 1963 recording of Britten’s War Requiem, conducted by the composer himself, an event which was to influence John Rutter’s own conducting technique.

Early heroes were Britten, Walton and Stravinsky, but he admits to also liking the American songwriters, Gershwin, Kern and Richard Rodgers, from whom he has learned a lot about setting words, and melodic outline.

Educated at Clare College, Cambridge, where he received an MA and MusB, he remained at the College as Fellow and Director of Music between 1975-79. He published his first compositions and conducted his first recording while still a student.

He is now Director of the Cambridge Singers, a choir which he founded in 1981. He was made an Honorary Fellow of Westminster Choir College in Princeton in 1980 and an Honorary Fellow of the Guild of Church Musicians in 1988. In 1996 the Archbishop of Canterbury conferred a Lambeth Doctorate of Music on him in recognition of his contribution to church music.

His musical compositions include choral works, anthems and carols, among them the Gloria, Requiem, Magnificat, Mass of the Children and Psalmfest. His orchestral and instrumental works include the Beatles Concerto, television work and music for groups such as the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble and the King’s singers. He has also written two children’s operas.

With Sir David Willcocks, John Rutter has co-edited four volumes in the Carols for Choirs series and edited the first two volumes in the Oxford Choral Classics series, Opera Choruses (1995) and European Sacred Music (1996).

John Rutter commented:

“I’m delighted to be honoured in this way. I have enjoyed my visits to Leicester, guest conducting the Leicester Philharmonic choir, and this will be an equally happy occasion.”

Chris Srawley, Chairman of the Leicester Philharmonic Choir, said:

“Leicester Philharmonic Choir is privileged to have been conducted by John Rutter in recent years. The concerts mainly featured John's music and enabled the choir to explore less frequently performed repertoire, e.g. the Rutter Birthday Madrigals. The choir will forever be grateful to John Rutter for the opportunity to perform under his baton.”

Professor Sir Peter Lachmann, FRCP, FRCPath, FRS, FMedSci (Doctor of Science)

Professor Sir Peter Lachmann was, until 1999, the Sheila Joan Smith Professor of Immunology at the University of Cambridge, where he is now Emeritus Professor. He is a Fellow of Christ’s College, Cambridge, and Head of the Microbial Immunology Group, Centre for Veterinary Science, Cambridge and President of the Federation of Acadamies of Medicine of the European Union.

He was educated at Cambridge and University College Hospital, before becoming a Visiting Investigator at Rockerfeller University, New York (1960-61). Returning to Cambridge, he held a number of posts, before becoming Professor of Immunology at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in 1971.

Subsequent posts included Head and Honorary Head of the Medical Research Council Group on Mechanisms in Tumour Immunity and Honorary Director of the MRC Mechanisms in Tumour Immunity Unit. During 1976-99 he was Honorary Clinical Immunologist with the Cambridge Health Authority.

He served on numerous national and international medical committees, including the Medical Research Council, the British Council, the Council of the Royal College of Pathologists and the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee. He was five times Visiting Investigator at the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation of La Jolla. He was RSM Visiting Professor at various centres in the USA and held similar posts in Australia, London, France and India. Among many public lectures around the world, he has given the Frank May Lecture at the University of Leicester. He is a former Vice-President of the Royal Society.

International prizes Sir Peter has won include a Gold Medal from the European Complement Network in 1997, the Medicine and Europe Senior Prize, Academie des Sciences de la Santé in 2003.

He was Associate Editor, Clinical and Experimental Immunology, and is widely published on complement and immunopathology. He is national Patron of Lupus (UK), a trustee of Arthritis Research Campaign and President of the Henry Kunkel Society.

Sir Peter commented:

“The University of Leicester enjoys a distinguished record in the biological and medical sciences and I feel greatly honoured to receive this honorary degree and thereby become more closely associated with this fine university.”

The Very Reverend Derek Hole (Doctor of Laws)

The Very Reverend Derek Hole, Emeritus Provost of Leicester, was ordained as a priest in 1960.

His first church was St Mary Magdalen in Knighton, Leicester and he spent six years as Rector of Burton Latimer, where he completely restored and reordered the church. From 1973-92 he was Vicar of the Church of St James the Greater, before being appointed as Provost of the City, a position he held until 1999.

As Provost, his legacy to his successor was the purchase of the house next to the Cathedral, now the Cathedral Centre. He was also involved in the planning of the development of the Western Burial Ground and the creation of the Visitors’ Centre.

He has served as Chaplain to the Queen, the first in the diocese for 54 years, to three Lord Mayors of Leicester and to nine High Sheriffs of Leicestershire and was Honorary Canon to Leicester Cathedral. Other chaplaincies include to the Haymarket Theatre, De Montfort Hall, Gild of Freemen of the City of Leicester, Leicester Girls’ High School and to the Master of the Merchant Taylors’ Company in the City of London.

He has been Rural Dean for Christianity South, Leicester; Chairman of the House of Clergy; Vice-President of the Diocesan Synod and a Member of the Bishop’s Council. Overseas, he has been Domestic Chaplain to the Archbishop of Cape Town and Commissary to the Bishop of Wellington.

He has played a prominent role in Leicester church charities, serving as Director and Trustee of the Leicester Charity Organ Society and Trustee of Leicester Church Charities.

Among the many organisations he has served are Priest Associate of the Actor’s Church Union; President of the Leicester Rotary Club; and Leicester Guild of the Disabled. He is an Honorary Life Member of the Leicester Branch of the British Red Cross Society and Chairman of the Board of Management of the British Australian Society. He has been Governor at a number of Leicester schools, and was made a Freeman of the City of London in 2003.

Clergymen, he says, never retire, and he continues a ministry which he greatly enjoys. He is currently Chaplain to the Mayor of Oadby and Wigston, Chairman of the Leicestershire branch of the British-Australia Society and National Chaplain to The Royal Society of St George. He is also a Liveryman and Chaplain to the Master of the Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters.

The Very Reverend Derek Hole commented:

“I feel humbled, but deeply honoured that the University of Leicester has chosen to recognise my contribution to the Anglican Church and the Leicester community by offering me the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws. Over the years I have been in Leicester I have seen the University grow in numbers and reputation, making it one of the foremost universities in the United Kingdom. I am proud to be associated with it in this special way.”

Mark Haysom (Doctor of Laws)

Leicester graduate Mark Haysom has been Chief Executive of the Learning and Skills Council since 2003, an organisation he spent three years establishing and positioning as a leading skills delivery body.

It has a budget of more than £9 billion and a staff of 4,200. He is responsible for the planning and funding of all post-16 education and skills, with the exception of universities. The LSC works across Government – but particularly with the Department for Education and Skills, the DTI, the ODPM, the Treasury and Number 10.

Before this, Mark Haysom spent 20 years in some of the most demanding leadership roles with the UK’s major newspaper publishing companies. He worked for eleven years at the Trinity Mirror Group, finally becoming Managing Director of National Newspapers.

After graduating from the University of Leicester with a BA in English, he took a position on a trade publication as trainee sub-editor, soon leaving to be a reporter with the Grimsby News, part of the Lincolnshire Standard Group.

He became Editor of a weekly newspaper by the age of 25, increasing circulation over a four-year period. During his editorship the publication won the Newspaper of the Year Award for two consecutive years.

He has held demanding posts in both Reed International and Thomson Regional Newspapers, where he was head-hunted in 1992 to run the recently-created company of four divisions and 35 titles. Within six months, he halved the group’s losses from £1M to £500K a month.

His successes established him a reputation for business turn-around. He built strong management teams, recognised for their high degree of personal motivation, structured approach, quick decision making, innovation and humour.

Mark Haysom commented:

“I am absolutely delighted to accept this award – 31 years after gaining my first degree from the University of Leicester. Thirty-one years may sound like a very long time, but it feels as if it has passed in the blink of an eye.

“My time at Leicester was an enormously important period in my life – and every time I visit the city, which I do often in my work, I think of those times. The University of Leicester gave me opportunities and experiences for which I will always be grateful.

“I have been fortunate in my career to have been able to do jobs that are the stuff of dreams – running regional newspaper groups all over the country; being Managing Director of Mirror Group Newspapers at a particularly momentous time; and, most of all, in my current role as Chief Executive of the £9.6 billion Learning and Skills Council.

“The job of the Learning and Skills Council is about trying to change the world. And we try to do this by making sure that young people and adults get the education they deserve and that employers get the skills they need – and I am hugely proud to be able to lead it.

“I would like to think that this award recognises the importance of what the LSC is doing.”

Dr Helen Scott, OBE (Honorary Distinguished Fellow)

Dr Helen Scott was, from 1983 until 1999, a Member of Council at the University of Leicester and has served on a number of University committees. She is now a Life Member of the University Court, and in 1985 was awarded the Honorary Degree of LLD by the University of Leicester.

At the age of eight she announced to her surprised family that she wanted to be a barrister, and eventually did so, in spite of odds stacked against a woman achieving such a goal at that time.

A graduate of Newnham College Cambridge, she was called to the Bar and joined the Inner Temple and the Midland Circuit, where she began to practise, at a time when there were no other women at the Bar.

She continued to practise from chambers in Leicester in 1940, where she sat on the Ministry of Labour Appeals Tribunal during the War.

Dr Scott’s career took a new direction in 1958 when she was appointed Director of the Leicester-based British Steam Specialties Ltd, and subsequently ten more companies within the group.

Offices she has held include: President of the Leicester Soroptimists, Councillor for Blaby Rural District Council, Justice of the Peace for the Leicester County Bench (later amalgamated with the Leicester City Bench) and a Member of the Severn Trent Water Authority. From 1968-1985 she was Chairman of the BSS Group PLC.

She was appointed by the Department of Trade and Industry firstly as a Member of the Appeals Committee for the Consumer Credit Act 1972 and later to the Estate Agents’ Appeal Committee. The first woman in 112 years to be appointed President of the Leicester and County Chamber of Commerce, she led trade missions around the world, receiving an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours List for Services to Exports.

Dr Scott has been director of a number of public companies and, in 1973, was appointed a Member of the CBI Regional Council and the East Midlands Planning Council.

She commented:

“I feel greatly honoured and immensely proud to be awarded this new, prestigious award of Honorary Distinguished Fellow of the University of Leicester.

“I have been associated with the University since 1983 and over the years have watched with great interest and pleasure the growth in numbers and the broadening of the academic base, so that it is now placed among the top twenty universities.

“The University of Leicester, amongst many other attributes, is recognised internationally for space research, acknowledged by the University of Cambridge to be among the top twenty research intensive universities in the UK, and has twice won the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education.”

Dr Frank May, MBE (Honorary Distinguished Fellow)

Dr Frank May is a retired Leicester businessman who has devoted 60 years to public service.

Educated at Gateway School, he left in 1944 to go into the Army, returning to Leicester in 1948, where, in 1950, he took over his father’s electrical business.

During the post-war years he was asked by the Home Office to use his signals expertise in the Civil Defence. When this was disbanded in 1968, he began to establish a record of public service that has included the Leicestershire Crime Prevention Panel, the Leicester Chamber of Commerce, the Chartered Institute of Marketing and as a Member of the Rotary Club.

Dr May’s association with the University of Leicester dates back to 1982, when he was recommended to the University by the late Dr Mac Goldsmith. Appointed to the University Council in the 1980s, he supports the Centre for Holocaust Studies and is a patron of arts and music both at the University and throughout the City of Leicester.

To encourage and reward medical research within the Leicester Medical School, Dr May has established an annual prize-giving lecture, as well as a biennial lecture given by a national or international speaker to an invited audience.

Over more than 20 years he has been Trustee, Chairman, and is currently Honorary President of the Medical Research Foundation (Medisearch), set up in the late 1970s to support research within the Leicestershire teaching hospitals and the Medical School.

He has held a number of Home Office appointments. Dr May was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws by the University of Leicester in 1992, an MBE in 1994 and the Freedom of the City of Leicester in 2001.

The University has recently named a lecture theatre in its new £20M Henry Wellcome Biomedical Sciences Building in honour of Dr Frank and Mrs Katherine May.

"To receive the prestigious award of Honorary Distinguished Fellow from my home university is the climax to a long and interesting career. I am proud to have been able to make a contribution to this expanding and vibrant university and its medical school, and I wish everyone continued success for the future."


Tuesday 12th July 3pm

  • Sir Donald Sinden (DLitt), theatre, film and television actor
  • Vikram Seth, CBE (DLitt), writer and poet

Wednesday 13th July 11am

  • Ms Yasmin Jetha (LLD), Executive Director and Member of the Abbey Board

Wednesday 13th July 3pm

  • Professor Jane Plant, CBE (DSc), Chief Scientist and Director of the British Geological Survey
  • Professor Sir David Wallace (DSc), Vice-Chancellor of Loughborough University and Treasurer of the Royal Society

Thursday 14th July 11am

  • Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, OBE (LLD), Paralympic athlete
  • Dr Helen Scott OBE (Honorary Distinguished Fellow), former member of Council and Life Member of Court at the University of Leicester

Thursday 14th July 3pm

  • Margaret Nkrumah (LLD), Head Teacher of the SOS Hermann Gmeiner International College, Ghana
  • John Rutter (Dmus), composer and conductor

Friday 15th July 11am

  • Professor Sir Peter Lachmann (DSc), distinguished immunologist and Emeritus Professor at the University of Cambridge
  • Dr Frank May, MBE (Honorary Distinguished Fellow), former Leicester businessman and Member of Council at the University of Leicester and Life Member of Court

Friday 15th July 3pm

  • The Very Reverend Derek Hole (LLD), emeritus Provost of Leicester
  • Mark Haysom (LLD), Chief Executive of the Learning and Skills Council

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