Six New Honorary Sheffield Graduates

The head of the Lake District National Park, a prominent lawyer with the family and criminal courts and a senior anaesthetist and member of the Royal Society of Medicine are among six distinguished individuals being recognised with Honorary Degrees at the University’s Winter Graduation Ceremonies this week (13-15 January 2016).

Mary HayesRichard LeafeRichard Leafe is an alumnus of the University’s Department of Geography (BSc Geography 1987, MPhil Geography 1990) who has gone on to become the Chief Executive of the Lake District National Park Authority. Richard attributes much of his clear vision and success in such a responsible position to the training he received as a Geography student at this University. He found the department “endlessly interesting, always engaging”. This training has been vital in his role as Chief Executive, where he must balance the interests of the Park’s 41,000 residents and 16 million annual visitors within a landscape of immense national and international significance.

Following his studies Richard spent 17 years working for English Nature (later Natural England), before taking up his current role with the Lake District National Park Authority. He also currently chairs National Parks UK, the body that brings together the 15 National Parks across the whole country.

Richard’s management of the Lake District has not all been plain sailing, with controversial decisions - such as selling off some publicly owned land to balance a cut in the Park’s budget, or supporting the creation of zip wires as tourist facilities – taking place under his watch. However all Richard’s decisions draw on two bases: firstly taking on board the scientific and social scientific evidence, and secondly working with interest groups to arrive at workable policies. With this as his background it is good to know that the future of England’s largest and most-visited National Park lies in good Sheffield-trained hands.

Chas SimsAileen AdamsMary Hayes, another honorary degree recipient this week, is one of the leading names in family law, with her work described as seminal by the Deputy President of the Supreme Court.

Mary joined Sheffield in a part time teaching role in the mid-1960s having completed her studies at Southampton. This role quickly became a permanent lectureship, during which she began teaching family law.

When first appointed as a lecturer she was told she had to produce at least one good article for a peer-reviewed law journal each year – and she did, immediately getting published in two of the most prestigious, the Modern Law Review and the Law Quarterly Review. So commenced a distinguished career in family law, including authoring five major books and 50 articles in the most important law journals.

As well as defining many family law principles Mary also worked to challenge High Court judgements that set unsound precedents and risked children’s welfare. In 1992 she became a barrister and a member of Lincoln’s Inn, and later a Magistrate in Sheffield, chairing the Family Proceedings Court. Most recently she has chaired a number of serious case reviews involving child sexual abuse and child death.

Bob AdamsTilli TanseyAlso receiving an Honorary Degree is Dr Aileen Adams, a true daughter of Sheffield. Aileen was born and raised in Sheffield, the daughter of a doctor herself who, on the outbreak of World War II, recommended she consider medicine as a career.

In 1940, during her first year exams, Aileen joined her 30 classmates in the University’s Firth Hall, whose roof had a large hole caused by an unexploded incendiary bomb from a German bombing raid the night before. Such an experience can only have helped steel her for the impressive career that followed.

After graduating in 1945 Dr Adams took up her first role in Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. From there she took many positions around the world, including working in the US, Denmark and Nigeria, an experience she continues to encourage students she speaks to to take hold of.

The key part of her career was from 1960 to 1984, when she was Consultant Anaesthetist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and was closely involved in the development of the new neurosurgical unit. Then, in 1985, Dr Adams became the first woman to hold the post of Dean of the Faculty of Anaesthetists of the Royal College of Surgeons (now the Royal College of Anaesthetists), the highest achievement within the profession of anaesthetics. In 1988 Aileen was awarded a CBE in recognition of her career and achievements.

Others receiving Honorary Degrees this week include:

Bob Adams, a distinguished architect-planner and a former member of staff in the University’s Faculty of Architectural Studies who was instrumental in setting up the Department of Urban Studies and Planning.

Chas Sims (BEng Electrical and Electronic Engineering 1971, PhD Electromagnetics 1974), a distinguished engineer with a focus on product design and business development who co-founded TTP Group, Europe’s leading independent technology and product development group, and who Chairs the Board of Trustees of Christ’s Hope International, a charity that works in Africa to support children orphaned by AIDS/HIV.

Professor Tilli Tansey (BSc Zoology 1974, PhD Zoology 1978, DSc 2011), a Zoology alumna who established the Witness Seminars at the Wellcome Trust, enabling leading scientists and policy makers to discuss the stories behind their work, and who is currently Professor of the History of Modern Medical Sciences at Queen Mary University of London. Tilli is also a member of the Sheffield Alumni Board.

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