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Blue Peter presenter and former Radio Cumbria journalist Helen Skelton is one of five people to be awarded honorary fellowships by the University of Cumbria.
Next week will witness three days of celebratory ceremonies for the University of Cumbria, as it sees over 800 students graduate, formally installs Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Strike in his role, and awards five honorary fellowships to Harry King, Sir James Cropper, Jill Ward, Jeffrey Fardon and Helen Skelton from Kirkby Thore. The magnificent location of Carlisle Cathedral will provide the stunning backdrop for the events on 22, 23 and 24 November.
Students will be presented with their degrees at ceremonies on all three days. They will be graduating with honours degrees, foundation degrees and postgraduate awards in a wide range of subjects including business, the arts, sport, education, health, nursing and community work. A number of students will also receive special awards for exceptional academic excellence.
Prior to each ceremony, there will be a formal procession into the cathedral with staff and students in academic robes.
Professor Strike will be installed as Vice Chancellor of the University of Cumbria at 3.30pm on Tuesday 22 November. The honorary fellowships will be awarded at the following ceremonies:
Tuesday 22 November
10.00 am Harry King
12.00 noon Sir James Cropper
3.30 pm Helen Skelton
Thursday 24 November
10.00am Jill Ward and Jeffrey Fardon
Harry King is a well-known local broadcaster whose long career has stretched over 50 years, and he receives his honorary fellowship in recognition of his outstanding contributions to broadcasting, the arts and the Cumbrian community.
Helen Skelton was born in Cumbria, trained as a journalist at the university and is now famed both for her work as a presenter on Blue Peter and her adrenalin-filled activities in aid of charity. Helen receives her award in recognition of her outstanding contributions to broadcasting, the Cumbrian community and her charitable work.
Sir James Cropper joined the family paper-manufacturing company, James Cropper plc, based at Burneside near Kendal in 1966, and retired as chief executive in 2000. He has held a number of public service roles within the region throughout his career and is probably best known as Lord-Lieutenant of Cumbria, a position to which he was appointed by the Queen in 1994. Sir James receives his honorary fellowship in recognition of his definitive contributions to Cumbria, the local economy and its charitable causes
Jill Ward and Jeffrey Fardon both spent 40 years of their lives in the Royal Albert Hospital (now closed) in Lancaster. The accounts they have given of their experiences in the institution have contributed significantly to the training of student nurses. In 2008 they undertook a project with the pupils and history teachers at Central Lancaster High School which was later featured at the Lancaster City Museum. The project has resulted in the publication of academic papers with a chapter on oral history being published in the standard nursing text. It continues to form an integral part of the curriculum for students training to work with people with learning difficulties, and will positively influence future learning disability practice.
In recognition of this, Jeffrey Fardon and Jill Ward are awarded honorary fellowships for their outstanding contribution to the academic development of the understanding of the social history of learning disability. Sadly, Jeffrey died earlier this year, before the award could be made, and his honorary fellowship will be award posthumously.
Professor Strike said of the ceremonies: "The university will certainly enjoy its celebrations, including my installation and the awarding of the honorary fellowships, over the three days, but our main intention as always is to ensure that the students who will be graduating have a truly memorable time. The three days of graduation ceremonies are actually about their hard work, commitment and achievement, and the support they have received from their families and friends. We want them to have a wonderful day, to enjoy the occasion to its fullest and to take away with them memories not only of the ceremony, but also of their time at the University of Cumbria. It's a chance for everyone at the university to celebrate the students' success and wish them well for the next stage in their lives. While the graduations look back and reflect success already achieved, the installation ceremony is also an opportunity for me to look forward, to set out my view of the university's future and the promise it holds for our future students."