University of Leicester eBulletin

'Thanks' for All Your Help: 'You Helped Me Reach for the Stars'

July 2003

Leicester man with Asperger's Syndrome pays tribute to University and County Council

A Leicester man has voiced his thanks to all those who have enabled him to achieve his degree in Physics with Astrophysics from the University of Leicester.

Hamish Spence, of Hinckley Road, Leicester Forest East and a former pupil of Groby Community College, will receive his degree on Friday, July 11, 2003.  

[Photo: Hamish Spence]
Hamish Spence

He said: “I am a profoundly deaf student with Asperger's Syndrome. I am most grateful for all the support I received from the Physics and Astronomy Department and the University’s AccessAbility Centre eg notetakers, specialist equipment etc, and also the support from Sara Cooper of Leicestershire County Council’s Autism Outreach Team.

“It will be a proud day for me and my family when I graduate-I enjoyed my time at University. I also joined the Astronomy club – Leicester quite literally helped me reach for the stars!”

Dr Derek Raine, Director of Teaching in the Physics and Astronomy Department said:

"The transition from school to university is difficult for most students as they adapt to becoming independent learners, and for Hamish it was more difficult than for most. However, he persevered and succeeded and we are very proud of him."

Dr Paula Dobrowolski, Head of the University’s AccessAbility Centre added: “Hamish has done extremely well in his studies and has achieved both academic and personal maturity during the course of his degree.  He will be an asset to any employer with his skills and determination to succeed. It has been a great pleasure to work with him. All the AccessAbility Centre staff wish him every success for the future.”

Sara Cooper of Leicestershire County Council’s Autism Outreach Team said: “It has been a pleasure working with Hamish at the University of Leicester and I'm delighted that he has achieved such success in his degree. Hamish has a good understanding of his Asperger syndrome and has worked very hard with me on ideas and strategies to help him with his studies. It just goes to show what people with Asperger syndrome can achieve.”

Approximately 3,000 students will celebrate success at the University of Leicester when they are awarded their degrees on July 9, 10 and 11. Friends and families from around the world will be present for the ceremonies.

A total of 2,000 undergraduate students will receive their Bachelor’s degrees while higher degrees will also be conferred on approximately 1,000 postgraduate students.

The degrees will be conferred at six ceremonies, by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Robert Burgess.


Hamish Spence will graduate from the University Leicester on July 11, 2003 at 11.00am  The ceremony will take place at De Montfort Hall, Leicester. Please contact Ather Mirza on 0116 252 3335 or 07711 927821 BEFORE the ceremony if you wish to attend.  Photo opportunities may be arranged at other times by prior consent.

Hamish can be contacted on 0116 239 2802.

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Information supplied by: Barbara Whiteman
Last updated: July 2003
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