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University awards three honorary degrees

Posted on 14 January 2011

The University of York is to award honorary degrees to a pioneering physicist, a soprano singer and celebrated early music specialist, and a charity fundraiser.

Professor Archie Howie, Dame Emma Kirkby and Penelope Worsley will be presented with the honorary degrees of Doctor of the University at ceremonies taking place on Friday, 21 and Saturday, 22 January.  

The University confers honorary degrees on individuals who have made a significant contribution to society. Recipients often have existing links with the University and are chosen from nominations made by its members.

Professor Archie Howie CBE, FRS

Professor Archie Howie is a pioneer in the field of electron microscopy. He has worked at the forefront of electron diffraction theory and novel imaging methods. He played a vital role in conceiving York JEOL Nanocentre whose electron microscopy capability makes it unique.

Born in 1934, he attended Kirkcaldy High School and the University of Edinburgh. He did a PhD at Cambridge before taking up a permanent post there, and is now a fellow of Churchill College. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1978 and awarded their Royal Medal in 1999. In 1992, he was awarded the Guthrie Medal and Prize of the Institute of Physics. He was head of the Cavendish Laboratory from 1989 to 1997 and is now an Emeritus Professor. He is also President of the International Federation of Societies for Microscopy and the Royal Microscopical Society. He was made a Commander of the British Empire in 1998 for services to electron microscopy.

Dame Emma Kirkby

Emma Kirkby is one of the most highly respected performers in classical music and appears worldwide with orchestras and chamber ensembles, including the Academy of Ancient Music, London Baroque, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Freiburger Barockorchester. Born in 1949, Dame Emma studied classics at Oxford and sang in choirs and small groups, mainly in Renaissance and Baroque repertoire before joining the Taverner Choir in 1971. She began a long association with the Consort of Musicke two years later and made her debut in London in 1974, and then specialised in early music.

Dame Emma has made over a hundred recordings, from madrigals of the Italian and English Renaissance to works of Mozart and Haydn. She has performed and taught in York regularly for more than 30 years. In November 2000 she received the Order of the British Empire, and in June 2007 was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Penelope Worsley

Penelope Worsley has been involved with voluntary work and charities in Yorkshire for the past 45 years. She worked with St John Ambulance from 1967 to 1988, becoming County President for North Yorkshire. Originally from Wiltshire, she has been involved with communities, churches and organisations in the York area, including the Theatre Royal appeal, the York Arts Centre and charities across Yorkshire.

In 1999, following the death of her son, she set up a charity in northern Thailand to help the Karen hill tribe people to build a better future. Since then she has raised over £3 million and is now working with over 40,000 people in 100 square miles of northwest Thailand. The aim is to improve health through the provision of clean water, blankets and mosquito nets, improve education by providing transport, accommodation, food and sponsorship of students to university, and improve income generation by regenerating land. Each year 30 to 50 UK students work as volunteers in Thailand, as did her son Richard.

Notes to editors:

  • Professor Archie Howie will be presented for his honorary degree by Professor Pratibha Gai, of the Department of Physics in Ceremony One on Friday, 21 January at 9.30am.
  • Dame Emma Kirkby will be presented for her honorary degree by Professor Peter Seymour, of the Department of Music in Ceremony Three on Saturday, 22 January at 9.30am.
  • Penelope Worsley will be presented for her honorary degree by Professor Dianna Bowles of the Department of Biology in Ceremony Four on Saturday, 22 January at 12 noon.
  • To arrange photographs contact Caron Lett on 01904 322029.

Contact details

Caron Lett
Press Officer

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