18 January 2010

Athletics star receives honorary degree

Jessica Ennis

Sporting star and University of Sheffield graduate Jessica Ennis continued her winning streak after receiving an honorary degree from the University on Thursday 14th January 2010.

The athlete, who scooped a gold medal in the World Heptathlon Championships in Berlin last year, was amongst four other recipients who received accolades for their excellent contribution to their chosen fields and, or, significant personal achievements.

Sheffield-born Jessica, 23, studied Psychology at the University of Sheffield, before graduating in 2007. Although the talented star was unable to compete in the Beijing Olympics through injury, her sporting excellence has been recognised in the form of the Sportswoman of the Year award from the Sports Journalists’ Association and third place in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2009.

The degree ceremonies also saw Barry Hines, a prolific writer of fiction, screenplays and television drama, become a Doctor of Letters in recognition of his literary talents.

Mr Hines’ most celebrated novel, A Kestrel for a Knave, was adapted by the author for the highly acclaimed film version Kes. Other works of his include The Blinder, Billy’s Last Stand, The Gamekeeper, Two Men from Derby, The Price of Coal, Looks and Smiles, Threads, The Heart of It, Elvis Over England and, most recently, an anthology called This Artistic Life. Mr Hines was also Yorkshire Arts Fellow in Creative Writing at the University of Sheffield from 1972 to 1974.

Professor Peter Blood, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University and an international authority on the physics of semiconductor optoelectronic devices, particularly laser diodes and light-emitting diodes, became a Doctor of Science for his work. Professor Blood worked initially at Philips Research Laboratories in Redhill before joining the School of Physics and Astronomy at Cardiff in 1990. For the past ten years he has chaired the Steering Committee of the EPSRC National Centre for III-V Technologies at the University of Sheffield.

The ceremonies also awarded doctorates to Neville Peel, one of the leading pension lawyers in the North of England and David Stone OBE, who has had a long and distinguished career in the Sheffield steel industry as managing director of Doncasters Sheffield, Stocksbridge Engineering Steels, United Engineering Steels and British Steel Engineering Steels.

Mr Peel spent the early part of his career with James Neill Holdings in Sheffield, before going on to establish pensions departments at Addleshaw Booth & Co and Nabarro Nathanson. He is now Senior Pensions Consultant at Eversheds. In 2001 he was elected a Pro-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield and over the past eight years he has made an outstanding contribution to the life and governance of the University.

David Stone is now the highly respected chairman of the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, having previously served as chairman of the Weston Park Hospital NHS Trust and the Central Sheffield University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Professor Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “The University is delighted to award honorary degrees to people who have made such a significant contribution to their field. We are privileged that these national and eminent figures are coming to the University to accept their Honorary Doctorates as they are excellent role models to our students.”