Exceptional role models: 2016 Honorary Graduates are announced

Wednesday, 25 May 2016


Script-writer and producer Paul Mayhew-Archer, who co-wrote two of the most successful British sitcoms of the last 20 years (The Vicar of Dibley and Mrs Brown’s Boys) will receive an honorary degree at Oxford Brookes University next month.

Further recipients include; critically acclaimed novelist Sarah Dunant, The Reverend the Lord Leslie Griffiths; Dame Julie Moore, Chief Executive of University Hospitals Birmingham; Michael Volpe, General Manager of Opera Holland Park and Melanie Richards, Vice Chair and Partner of KPMG.

They will be joined at the June graduation ceremonies by Dr Tim Cook, Co-Director for User Engagement of the Networked Quantum Information Technology hub in Oxford, Professor Judith Ellis, Chief Executive of the UK Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and Ann Francke, CEO of the Chartered Management Institute.

Professor Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University said: “Honorary Graduates are always chosen very carefully. We consider how their particular strengths link with the work of the University and the conferment of the degree allows Brookes to acknowledge those whom we admire and respect. When graduating students hear an Honorary Graduate speak, they get an important reminder of what can be achieved. 

“Each of this year’s recipients is an exceptional role model for our students and staff and I am honoured to have such inspirational figures join us for some of the University’s most memorable moments.”

Paul Mayhew-Archer has co-written The Vicar of Dibley with Richard Curtis, and Mrs Brown’s Boys with Brendan O’Carroll. In 2015 he and Richard also wrote the screen version of Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot starring Dustin Hoffman and Judi Dench. Paul has also been a producer and script editor with credits including I’m Sorry I haven't A Clue, Spitting Image, Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps and Miranda. He read English at Cambridge and taught at John Mason School in Abingdon where he wrote plays for the students. Five years ago Paul was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He has always believed in the therapeutic power of laughter and he now uses comedy to keep his own spirits raised and to raise the spirits of others dealing with health problems: He has written pieces for Maggie’s - the cancer support charity, and Seesaw - the family bereavement charity; he has given talks at local and national Carers’ conferences; and most recently he made a documentary for the BBC entitled Parkinson’s: The Funny Side.   

Sarah Dunant is a writer, broadcaster and critic. She was a founding vice patron of the Orange Prize for women's fiction, sits on the editorial board of the Royal Academy magazine and reviews for The Times, The Guardian, and The Independent on Sunday. She teaches creative writing at The Faber Academy in London and biennially at Washington University in St Louis on its Renaissance studies course. Sarah is an internationally bestselling and critically acclaimed novelist and has been a fellow on the Oxford Brookes Creative Writing MA since its inception.  She has written twelve novels, four of which have been short listed for awards, three screen plays and edited two books of essays. She worked for many years with the BBC in radio and television, producing and presenting arts documentaries and magazine programmes. Sarah is now a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4’s talk series A Point of View.

Each of this year’s recipients is an exceptional role model for our students and staff and I am honoured to have such inspirational figures join us for some of the University’s most memorable moments.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Alistair Fitt, Oxford Brookes University

Dr Tim Cook advises universities on Technology Transfer. He is currently the Co-Director for User Engagement of the Networked Quantum Information Technology hub in Oxford and recently retired from the board of Oxford Gene Technology, a successful university spinout company. He worked with Oxford University since 1997, where he headed Isis Innovation, the University’s Technology Transfer Company until 2006 and was Visiting Professor in Science Entrepreneurship at the Said Business School, Oxford from 2006 to 2009. He was the founding chairman of the Oxford Science Enterprise Centre at the Said Business School and now chairs the EPSRC Impact Acceleration Awards Technical panel for the Maths and Physical and Life sciences Division. He was one of the original Directors of Venturefest and was Chairman for two years. Dr Cook is an outstanding role model for students and graduates, inspiring them to pursue a career in business and enterprise which is solidly based on their skills in science, technology and business.

Michael Volpe joined the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in 1989, where his role was to promote local cultural institutions. Within a few years he had persuaded the council to start its own opera company. Opera Holland Park, of which Michael is the General Manager, is now one of the UK’s most thriving, respected and artistically innovative opera companies. Michael’s numerous duties range from strategic planning and fundraising to selecting repertoire and engaging orchestral players. Michael is a powerful advocate for the transformative nature of education. He attended an unusual state boarding school, which took inner city boys and gave them an education rich in music and drama. Since then he has dedicated himself to promoting opera as something everyone can enjoy. He is a regular voice in the national press and his recent memoir Noisy at the Wrong Times, is a passionate plea for the arts to be taken seriously in schools.

To commemorate the 125th anniversary of nurse education in Oxford this year, Dame Julie Moore and Professor Judith Ellis MBE will receive honorary doctorates. 

Dame Julie is a graduate nurse who after a variety of clinical, management and director posts was appointed as Chief Executive of University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) in 2006. In 2013, Julie was asked by the Secretary of State to lead the turnaround of two poorly performing Trusts in special measures and has since helped two further Trusts. In 2014 she chaired the HSJ Commission on Hospital Care for Frail Older People.  In 2015 she was appointed interim Chief Executive of Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (as well as remaining Chief Executive of UHB), to help lead it out of clinical and financial difficulties. Julie was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire in the New Year’s Honours 2012. She has been included in the BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour list of the 100 most powerful women in the UK and is included in the Health Service Journal’s list of the most influential clinical leaders.  

Professor Judith Ellis MBE is Chief Executive of the UK Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, a Medical Royal college that is responsible for the education and training of paediatricians in the UK and more widely supports the development of the child health workforce internationally. Her international work also includes being the Chair for the charity ‘Help 4 Hurting Children’  which trains children’s’ nurses and doctors in Uganda and is a Trustee of the Tropical Health Education Trust, a global health organisation which trains and supports health workers through health partnerships, enabling people in low and middle income countries to access essential healthcare. Professor Ellis is a registered nurse and has worked in nursing leadership roles for many years. She was awarded a Member of the British Empire award in 1998 for her outstanding contribution to nursing and a Nursing Times Leader Award in 2014.

Melanie Richards is Vice Chair and a Partner at KPMG and joined in 2000 to develop the Debt Advisory practice, a team which has advised on circa €60 billion of debt in the last couple of years. Melanie was appointed to the KPMG UK Board in 2012 and appointed Vice Chairman of KPMG UK in October 2014. She has more than 30 years of banking experience particularly in bank lending, debt restructuring and capital markets’ instruments. Melanie is a passionate champion of Diversity & Inclusion both within and outside of KPMG and is a recognized voice on the issue of gender inequality. She is a founding member of the 30% Club Steering Committee, a pioneering campaign focused on increasing female representation in FTSE Boards and Leadership. Melanie received the Opportunity Now 2013 Champion Award, the gender campaign from Business in the Community, for her contribution to advancing, promoting and embedding a diversity culture within the workplace. She joined the Harvard Women’s Leadership Board in June 2014.

The Reverend the Lord Leslie Griffiths of Pembury and Burry is Superintendent Minister of Wesley’s Chapel, London. He gained his Master’s degree in theology at Wesley House, Cambridge where he trained for the Methodist ministry. His first appointment was in Haiti where he spent much of the 1970s. He was ordained there and his two sons were born there; as well as congregational work, he was active in community development and in education. Since his return to the UK in 1980 he has served the church in a variety of posts in or around London. He is a Freeman of the City of London and a Knight of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. He is a Canon of Saint Paul’s Cathedral. In 2004 he was awarded a Life Peerage, and sits in the upper house of the British parliament as a member of the Labour Party. He is the current national President of the Boys’ Brigade and chairs the Board of Trustees for two secondary schools in London’s inner city. He has been a regular broadcaster with the BBC for almost 30 years; he writes a regular column for The Methodist Recorder and has published seven books.

Ann Francke is CEO of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and author of Financial Times Guide to Management: How to Make a Difference and Get Results. Ann is a transformational leader with vision, pace and proven ability to deliver profitable growth and build organisational capability. At CMI, she uses her experience in leading organisations to promote best practices in management and leadership and improve management standards across the UK and beyond. Ann has been named in the top 100 women to watch in the 2015 Female FTSE report from Cranfield and is an expert on current challenges facing women in the workplace. Prior to CMI Ann was Global General Manager at the British Standards Institution, held executive board positions at Boots and Yell and was European Vice President at Mars.  Ann began her career at P&G and managed a variety of international brands including Pampers, Always and Olay before rising to global general manager.

The honorary degrees will be awarded at ceremonies in Oxford Brookes Centre for Sport on the Headington Campus.