University of Plymouth unveils 2009 Honorary Degree Awards

University of Plymouth Graduation Week 2009 will embrace the city's famous spirit of discovery when pioneering polar explorer Pen Hadow and BBC camerawoman turned plastic bag campaigner Rebecca Hosking receive honorary doctorate degrees this month.

Pen and Rebecca will take their place among 15 other honoraries - including award-winning singer-songwriter Seth Lakeman and Urban Splash co-founder Tom Bloxham MBE - and thousands of graduates and their families at the ceremonies on historic Plymouth Hoe.

Pen achieved global recognition in 2003 when he became the first person to trek solo from Canada to the North Geographic Pole without resupply. He followed that with a trek to the South Geographic Pole, so becoming the first Briton to walk unaided to both. Pen's autobiography 'Solo' became a subsequent best-seller, and he has since acted as an advisor to agencies such as NASA, the US Navy and the Met Office on the effects that global warming are having on the poles.

Pen, who will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Science, said: "The work I do is immensely rewarding in itself but it is always nice to be recognised and I am delighted to join so many esteemed graduates and honorary doctors at the University of Plymouth. I am a strong believer in realising your potential and graduation is both a celebration of that, but also the checkpoint for a new stage in the journey."

Rebecca Hosking saw for herself the cost to the environment that man can have when she captured on camera the suffering of marine life in Hawaii due to plastic waste. Following the completion of her documentary 'Message in the Waves', Rebecca succeeded in convincing the shopkeepers in her home town of Modbury, Devon, to remove all plastic bags from their stores. Her campaign proved so successful that scores of other towns in the UK have contacted her for support and advice.

Rebecca, who is now focussing on film-making again, is also set to be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science. She said: "I have always believed in educating people through my camerawork, so it is very gratifying to be recognised by the University of Plymouth. I hope the film-makers of tomorrow, some of whom will be graduating this year, will find the opportunities to focus on the really important issues for our society and our planet."

Maintaining the environmental theme, Juliet Davenport, founder of the Good Energy Group, will also receive an Honorary Doctorate of Science, while Guy Watson, founder of the Riverford Organic Farm, will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Law.

But there are a number of other well known names being honoured, including Folk musician Seth Lakeman, BAFTA-winning composer Nick Ryan, and the Chairman of the NHS in the South West, Charles Howeson.

The graduation ceremonies will take place from 21-25 September with hundreds of students receiving their honours from the University. Professor Wendy Purcell, Vice-Chancellor of the University, said: "I am extremely proud of our graduates and their achievements and I wish them every success for the exciting new opportunities that await them as they enter the next stages in their lives. We are working hard to lead transformational change on an economic, social and cultural level and our graduates, as ambassadors of the University and the region, play an important role in this mission. By fostering an inclusive culture which embraces citizenship and scholarship, we are confident that they graduate with the skills and qualities to go out and make a difference to society."

This year's honorary graduates, who have made a major contribution both to their fields of expertise and society as a whole, are:

  • Marina Abramovic, a pioneering visual artist, who will be presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Arts on Friday 25 September.
  • Nigel Ashcroft, IT expert and Project Director for actnow Broadband, who will be presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Technology on Tuesday 22 September.
  • Tom Bloxham MBE, Chairman and joint-founder of the award-winning regeneration company Urban Splash, who will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Business on Friday 25 September.
  • Barbara Bond MBE, the former Deputy Chief Executive of the UK Hydrographic Office and past President of the British Cartographic Society, who will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Science on Monday 21 September.
  • Michael Carr, former Chief Science Officer at British Telecom, who will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Technology on Wednesday 23 September.
  • Juliet Davenport, Chief Executive and founder of the Good Energy Group, who will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science on Wednesday 23 September.
  • Pen Hadow, pioneering polar explorer and expert on climate change, who will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science on Wednesday 23 September.
  • Professor Sir Martin Harris CBE, former Vice-Chancellor of both the University of Essex and Manchester, and Chancellor of the University of Salford, who will be presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Education on Saturday 19 September.
  • Rebecca Hosking, film-maker and environmental campaigner, who will be presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Science on Monday 21 September.
  • Charles Howeson, the new Chairman of the NHS in the South West and Chairman of First Great Western Trains Advisory Board, who will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Management on Monday 21 September.
  • Howard Jones, Director of Human Networks for the Eden Project, who will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts on Saturday 26 September.
  • Anthony Kingdom, author and chronicler of local railway history, who will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Arts on Saturday 19 September.
  • Seth Lakeman, award-winning singer-songwriter, who will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Music on Friday 25 September.
  • Nick Ryan, award-winning composer and sound designer, who will be presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Music on Friday 25 September.
  • Professor Isabella Premoli Silva, internationally acclaimed scientist, who received an Honorary Doctorate of Science on Monday 7 September.
  • Bernard Samuels, former Director of the Plymouth Arts Centre, who will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts on Thursday 24 September.
  • Susan Sparrow, Business Woman of the Year for the South West in 2006, who will be presented with an Honorary Doctor of Education on Saturday 26 September.
  • Guy Watson, founder of Riverford Organic Vegetables, who will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Law on Tuesday 22 September.
ENDS