Recipients of honorary awards announced by Oxford Brookes University

Wednesday, 31 August 2022

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Honorary awards are set to be presented to eight individuals at the Oxford Brookes University graduation ceremonies this week (31st August - 6th September).

The eight individuals come from a variety of fields, including surveying, accountancy, law, and the music industry. 

Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University, Professor Alistair Fitt said: "It is  a privilege to be awarding these recipients with their awards, alongside all of our graduating students who have worked so hard through the pandemic.

“We choose our honorary graduates carefully and with great consideration, ensuring that their values and attributes align with Oxford Brookes. We very much look forward to celebrating their achievements at our graduation ceremonies, which remain one of the highlights of the academic year.”

The eight honorary graduates are:

Robert Kirtland - Honorary Fellowship of the University (1 September)

Robert is a chartered accountant from Oxfordshire who was born and educated in Thame.

Robert was a governor at Oxford Brookes from 2012 until 2020, and was a founding trustee of Charity Mentors Oxfordshire. He was also Treasurer for the Dorchester Abbey appeal which raised over £4m in the early 2000s, and is currently a Trustee of Charity Centre Oxford.

He was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Oxfordshire in 2020, and managed the promotion of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise scheme.

John Otway - Honorary Doctor of Music (1 September)

Buckinghamshire-born singer-songwriter John Otway performed his first Aylesbury music concert 50 years ago in 1972. Then fifty years later in April 2022, he performed his 5,000th gig at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire.

John, who nicknames himself ‘Rock n’ Roll’s Greatest Failure’ has released 15 albums, sold out the Royal Albert Hall and headlined at the London Palladium.

During the Covid-19 lockdown period in 2020, John performed nine shows on Facebook from his own home, with more than 10,000 viewers watching each one.

Professor Melanie Jane Leng MBE - Honorary Doctor of Science (2 September)

Professor Melanie Leng is a former student of Geology at Oxford Polytechnic, which later became Oxford Brookes University, where she says she fondly remembers the support she received from her old department.

Professor Leng started work at the British Geological Survey, eventually working her way up to heading geochemistry and is currently  one of three Chief Scientists, with her speciality being Environmental Change.

For her services to environmental science, Professor Leng was appointed a Member of the British Empire in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Joanna Barker MBE - Honorary Doctor of Letters (2 September)

After retiring from a career in investment banking, Joanna has contributed a great deal of service to the charitable and Higher Education sectors in the UK. She was also awarded an MBE in 2014 for her services to people with cancer.

Joanna has also furthered the development of key areas of work in English Studies at Oxford Brookes University,  particularly, the Elizabeth Montagu Correspondence Online, a digital project of recovering and making accessible historical manuscript letters from the eighteenth century.

Nicholas Wilson (Lord Justice Wilson) - Honorary Doctor of Laws (2 September)

Nicholas Wilson, Lord Wilson of Culworth, has a lengthy and distinguished service in the courts of the UK, particularly in the field of family law and human rights.

Lord Wilson was called to the Bar in 1967 where he specialised in family law, before then becoming Queen's Counsel in 1987. In 1993 he became a judge of the High Court, Family Division.

In 2005 he was promoted to the Court of Appeal, then in 2011 he became a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and was given the honorary title of Lord Wilson of Culworth.

Lord Wilson now does a great deal to help prospective lawyers pursue a legal career, and recently he judged the Oxford Brookes School of Law Mooting Grand Final in the Supreme Court.  He commented that he was hugely impressed with the calibre of the mooters.

Barry Carpenter CBE, OBE - Honorary Doctor of Education (3 September)

Barry Carpenter has a life-long association with Oxford Brookes University, notably the Harcourt Hill Campus from his days as a student at Westminster College (as it was then known) between 1973 and 1976. He was then a Principal Lecturer from 1992 until 1997, during which time he established the Centre for the Study of Special Education.

Barry is the UK’s first Professor in Mental Health in Education. In July 2020 he was awarded the distinguished Fellowship of the Chartered College of Teaching, for his leadership in the field of Education during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Richard Venables - Honorary Doctor of the University  (6 September)

Richard has worked as a Chartered surveyor in Oxford for more than 25 years, and specialises in commercial property.

He dedicates considerable time and energy to supporting economic and cultural development in Oxfordshire, and was a board member of Experience Oxfordshire from 2009 until 2020. He is also currently an Ambassador for Oxfordshire Youth, Patron for Active Oxfordshire and a Vice Patron for Oxford Civic Society.

Richard was appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant for Oxfordshire in 2016 and was High Sheriff of Oxfordshire from 2018-19.

Leslie Morphy OBE - Honorary Doctor of the University (6 September)

Leslie Morphy OBE became a member of the Board of Governors at Oxford Brookes University in 2011, before being appointed as Chair between 2016 and 2020.

Both her parents are former Oxford Brookes University students, having attended predecessor institutions Westminster College and Oxford Polytechnic.

In 2006 Leslie was appointed as Chief Executive of the national charity for homeless people, Crisis, and oversaw a significant expansion both of its services and of its income. This contributed to Leslie being awarded an OBE in 2010, in recognition of her commitment to helping homeless people.