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Actors, craftsmen, scholars, campaigners and leaders of industry to be honoured by York

Posted on 5 June 2002

The actors Penelope Wilton and Berwick Kaler are amongst eight people who will be awarded honorary degrees by the University of York this summer.

Other recipients include the inventor of the Personal Organiser, David Potter, sculptor and stone carver, Dick Reid, and campaigners Philippa Russell, Director of the Council for Disabled Children, and His Royal Highness, Prince Hassan of Jordan, who is Chairman of the Hashemite Charity Organisation.

Professor Eric Brown is a former Professor of Geography at University College London and a leading authority on geomorphology. Renowned for his studies of the landscapes of many regions, including Brazil, Argentina and North America, he is a former Vice-President of the Royal Geographical Society and president of the Institute of British Geographers. He was also a much-respected Dean of Students at University College London, where one of his most promising students was York's Vice-Chancellor, Ron Cooke.

Berwick Kaler, a household name and family favourite in York for his annual portrayal of the pantomime dame at York Theatre Royal, may be recognised by those elsewhere for his television roles in 'Auf Wiedersehn Pet', 'Spender', 'The Bill', 'Byker Grove' and 'Grafters'. But he is a legend in York for the Christmas pantomimes he writes and stars in. The ludicrous antics, York jokes and ad libbing have made the pantomime an immoveable fixture for generations of York families. He can also be seen this Christmas in York in Babbies in the Wood.

Prince El Hassan bin Talel of Jordan is Chairman of the Jordan Hashemite Charity organisation and a member of numerous international bodies concerned with human rights, inter-faith dialogue, economic co-operation and culture. An abiding theme of his international work is that of co-existence and conflict resolution. He has made many contributions to the study and practice of humanitarian assistance and development and has been a keen supporter of York's Post-War Reconstruction and Development Unit.

Dr Tom Little is the former Head of Unilever's Colworth Laboratory, one of the company's principal research sites. He was a major force in promoting high-quality food-related research at Unilever, on national research bodies and through EU initiatives. His belief in the fundamental importance of academic research to wealth creation made him instrumental in a number of research initiatives across the UK, including a number at York. He was awarded a CBE in 1996 for services to the food industry.

Dr David Potter, Chairman of Psion, may be best-known for his invention of the electronic Personal Organiser. A former university teacher, he saw earlier than most the potential of the micro-chip, and established Psion as a provider - initially - of software, especially computer games. A South African by birth, David Potter is active in educational charities in the region, especially the Canon Collins Educational Trust.

Dick Reid is an architectural sculptor and carver who has run a successful and internationally-known business in York since 1958. He has worked tirelessly to revive and foster the work of carvers and stonemasons and encourage young people to enter the profession. His own studio employs 13 people, including apprentices. Their work includes new work at home and abroad and conservation work in historic houses and churches. He is a Trustee of the Prince of Wales's Institute of Architecture and a past President of the Master Carvers' Association.

Philippa Russell is Director of the Council of Disabled Children and a campaigner for over 30 years for improvements in social, educational and health services for disabled children and their families. She is an advocate of a holistic approach to the needs of disabled children and has been hugely influential in both policy and practice. Formal national recognition of her contributions have come in the form of an OBE in 1988 and a CBE in 2001. In 1992, she was awarded the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Centenary Award for her contribution to the field of learning disability.

Penelope Wilton is an actress renowned for her versatility - she is well-known for theatre, film and television performances. She played Wendy Woods in the South African epic film Cry Freedom and revealed her comic gifts in TV series such as Ever Decreasing Circles and as in the children's television production of The Borrowers. Her career has included first performances of many new roles for major playwrights, especially Harold Pinter, and wide classical experience in Shakespeare, Chekhov and Ibsen plays.

Notes to editors:

  • Please contact Hilary Layton (01904 432029) in advance if you would like to attend one of the ceremonies. There will be photocalls for the honorary graduands half an hour before each ceremony outside Central Hall.
  • University of York graduation ceremonies will be as follows:
  • Wednesday 10 July
    • 12 noon Honorary Degree: Penelope Wilton and students graduating in Women's Studies, Health Sciences, Health Studies, Medieval Studies and Archaeology
    • 3pm Honorary Degree: Dr Tom Little and students graduating in Biochemistry, Biology and Chemistry
  • Thursday 11 July
    • 9.30am Honorary Degree: Prince Hassan of Jordan and students graduating in Language and Linguistics, Physics and Politics
    • 12 noon Students graduating in the joint degree of Politics, Economics and Philosophy
    • 3pm Honorary Degree: Dr David Potter and students graduating in Computer Science, Electronics and Music
  • Friday 12 July
    • 9.30am Honorary Degree: Berwick Kaler and students graduating in English and Psychology
    • 12 noon Honorary Degrees: Philippa Russell and Professor Eric Brown and students graduating in Mathematics, Social Policy, Social Work and Sociology.
    • 3pm Honorary Degree; Dick Reid and students graduating in Economics, Educational Studies, Environment, History of Art, History, Management Studies and Philosophy.

Contact details

David Garner
Senior Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322153