One of the youngest Holocaust survivors and Channel 4 head of news awarded honorary degrees

One of the youngest survivors of the Holocaust and the head of news and current affairs at Channel 4 are amongst the esteemed recipients to receive honorary degrees at the University of Sheffield next week (10-12 January 2018).

Author and historian, Agnes Grunwald-Spier, copyright Richard Cooper Head of News and Current Affairs at Channel 4, Dorothy Byrne

More than 3,600 of the brightest students will share the stage with five inspiring honorary graduates receiving special recognition for their outstanding contribution to their fields – from journalism and architecture to history and medical care.

Author and historian, Agnes Grunwald-Spier, is a passionate campaigner who has dedicated many years of her life to ensuring awareness of the Holocaust and its survivors remains in the public eye.

Born in Hungary in July 1944, Agnes was a baby in the Budapest Ghetto. In late 1944 Agnes’ mother Leona was ordered to report to a collection point where she was ushered onto a train which, unbeknown to her, was bound for Auschwitz-Birkenau.

As if by a miracle, at the last moment, the Nazi official decided to pull women and children off the train and Agnes and Leona were saved. In January 1945 Budapest was liberated by Soviet forces and after surviving several harrowing years in forced labour camps in Poland, Agnes’ father Phillipp smuggled the family out of Hungary and across war-ravaged Europe.

In 1947, they moved to the UK and safety, but such were the horrors of Phillipp’s wartime experiences, he sadly committed suicide when Agnes was just 10 years-old.

In her 50s, Agnes undertook a Masters in Holocaust Studies at the University of Sheffield - something which changed her life and resulted in her having three books on the Holocaust published.

She will receive the degree of Doctor of Letters on Friday (12 January 2018) at 10.30am.

Agnes will give a lecture on her experiences during the Holocaust and her third book ‘Women’s Experiences in the Holocaust’ at the University of Sheffield’s Students’ Union on 31 January 2018. Tickets are available online.

As Head of News and Current Affairs at Channel 4, Dorothy Byrne is responsible for some of the best investigative journalism in television. Her programmes; Dispatches, Unreported World and Channel 4 News itself – have won numerous BAFTA, Emmy and Royal Television Society Awards for their domestic and foreign investigations on topics from Syria to Labour Party politics.

Dorothy graduated with a Diploma in Business Studies in 1974 and went on to spend some time working in schools in Nigeria. It was her experience there in the 1970s, observing backhanders and corruption, that made her consider journalism with the aim to make things better and stop the cover-ups. Dorothy will be awarded the degree of Doctor of Letters on Friday (12 January 2018) at 2.30pm.

The Winter Graduation ceremonies will take place at the Octagon between Wednesday 10 – Friday 12 January 2018 where students from all five of the University’s faculties - Arts and Humanities; Engineering; Medicine, Dentistry and Health; Science and Social Sciences - will celebrate their academic achievements.

Lucy Nickson

Paul Monaghan

Dr Bernard Johnston

Other worthy recipients of honorary degrees, who will be celebrating with research, PhD and masters graduates from the University also include Lucy Nickson who has transformed the care of terminally ill people through her contributions as the Chief Executive of two end-of-life support organisations in North Derbyshire. Inspired by her nurse Grandmother, Lucy studied at the North Trent College of Nursing and Midwifery at Sheffield Hallam University in 1990. Whilst a student nurse, aged 19, her father died.

This tragic event motivated her exceptional career in both the NHS and end of life charities as she believed families who have lost a relative could be better supported.

Paul Monaghan, who will be receiving his honorary degree on Wednesday at 12.30pm, is one of the founding directors of the architectural practice Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM). In 2015, his practice won the Royal Institute of British Architects Stirling Prize, the UK’s most prestigious architectural award, for their transformation of Burntwood School, an existing south London secondary school.

Dr Bernard Johnston has worked tirelessly to break down barriers between people and their customary roles within engineering to create companies and courses that are truly multidisciplinary and centred around both efficiency and a building’s occupants. These initiatives have made him a leader in both education and industrial engineering. Bernard is said to have introduced sustainability into building construction before others were aware of its importance. Bernard will receive his degree on Thursday at 2.30pm.

Watch the graduation ceremonies live

Information about the winter graduation ceremonies and a full schedule

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