Skip to content

York honours 13 for contribution to society

Posted on 7 July 2016

The University of York will next week award honorary degrees to a distinguished group of scientists, educationalists, campaigners, and a number of figures from the world of arts, entertainment and politics.

They are:

  • Bridget Jones author and screenwriter, Helen Fielding
  • Actress, Helen McCrory
  • Politician and campaigner, Lord Hague of Richmond
  • Anglican bishop, theologian and poet, Lord Rowan Williams
  • Charitable campaigner and CEO of Turning Point, Lord Victor Adebowale
  • Educators, Tony Cann and Professor Sir John Holman
  • Medical ethical lawyer, Professor Sir Ian Kennedy
  • Ballerina, Marguerite Porter
  • Scientists, Dr Patrick Vallance, Professor David L Heymann, Comendador Augusto Sampaio and Professor Tieniu Tan

They will receive honorary doctorates at the University’s graduation ceremonies on 13, 14 and 15 July.

Every year, the University confers honorary degrees on people who have made a significant contribution to society. Honorary graduates are selected from nominations by members of the University and often have existing links with academic departments or are York alumni.

Helen Fielding

Helen Fielding

Helen Fielding is an author and screenwriter, best known as the creator of the worldwide bestselling Bridget Jones novels, made into award-winning films.

Born in Morley, West Yorkshire, Fielding attended Wakefield Girls’ High School before studying English at St Anne’s College, Oxford. Working as a BBC Regional Researcher in 1979, she wrote and produced documentaries in Africa for Comic Relief fundraising broadcasts, and in 1989 was involved in a documentary about the South Sudan War, forming the basis for her first novel Cause Celeb.

From 1990 – 1999, Fielding worked as a journalist on several national newspapers. Her best-known work, Bridget Jones’s Diary, began life in 1995 as an anonymous column in The Independent. Its success led to two novels, Bridget Jones’s Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason – published in 40 countries and selling more than 15 million copies. Their film adaptations, with Fielding on the scriptwriting team, achieved worldwide success and a third movie, Bridget Jones’ Baby – based on Helen’s 2006 columns in The Independent - is scheduled for release in September 2016. The bestselling Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy was published in 2013.

Fielding has two children and divides her time between London and Los Angeles.

Comendador Augusto Sampaio

Comendador Augusto Sampaio

Comendador Augusto Sampaio is a distinguished Brazilian computer scientist, specializing in strong software engineering. For the last 10 years, he has led a team of 60 engineers at Motorola in Brazil in developing and applying novel testing techniques. Part of the Brazil Test Center, the collaboration of around 350 students, researchers, and engineers, is responsible for the test of every application running on Motorola’s mobile phones, worldwide.

Comendador Sampaio created a novel educational programme giving young Software Engineers an experience similar to that of a medical doctor’s hospital residency. The programme won a prize from the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology. Comendador Sampaio is Planning Director of the Brazilian Computer Society, and helps the Brazilian Research Councils (CNPq and CAPES) to evaluate higher education institutions in Brazil and major applications for funding.

In 2010 he was awarded the title of Comendador da Ordem Nacional do Mérito Científico, Brazil’s highest scientific honour. Comendador Sampaio is one of just a dozen computer scientists to have ever received this honour

Helen McCrory

Helen McCrory

Helen McCrory is a multi-award-winning actress who has worked in theatre, film and television for thirty years. In theatre, she has worked extensively at the National Theatre, including her widely acclaimed role as Hester Collyer in the National’s current production of The Deep Blue Sea, and more recently playing Medea to great acclaim. She has the unique honour of having been asked to perform at the Donmar Warehouse in the West End more than any other actor. Twelfth Night and Uncle Vanya - directed by Sam Mendes - both transferred to Broadway, winning Helen awards on both sides of the Atlantic.

She has also received global recognition for her incendiary contribution as Aunt Polly in Peaky Blinders and as Evelyn Poole in US series Penny Dreadful. Helen’s other TV work includes starring roles in Anna Karenina, Leaving, Frankenstein and North Square.

In film, Helen has worked with some of the industry’s most celebrated directors - Martin Scorsese on Hugo, Stephen Frears on The Queen, where she played Cherie Blair, Sam Mendes in Skyfall and David Yates in the Harry Potter series, where she played Narcissa Malfoy. She is a patron of several charities.

Professor Sir Ian Kennedy

Professor Sir Ian Kennedy

Professor Sir Ian Kennedy QC is a lawyer who specialises regulation and the law and ethics of healthcare. Appointed Chair of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority in 2009, he is also Emeritus Professor of Law at King’s College London and of Health Law, Ethics and Policy at University College London, and Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics.

Chair of the public inquiry into children's heart surgery at the Bristol Royal Infirmary from 1998–2001, Sir Ian contributed to the establishment of the Healthcare Commission which he chaired from 2004 until 2009. He chaired the King’s Fund inquiry into the quality of general practice in England in 2012, and also carried out a review of the care of children in the NHS.

Sir Ian is a Fellow of the British Academy and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons of England and of Scotland, Physicians, General Practitioners, Paediatrics and Child Health, and Anaesthetists, and of the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors.

An Honorary Bencher of the Inner Temple, he was knighted in 2002 for services to medical law and bioethics.

The Rt. Hon. the Lord Hague of Richmond

The Rt. Hon. the Lord Hague of Richmond

Lord Hague enjoyed a 26 year career in the House of Commons; serving as MP for Richmond, North Yorkshire, Leader of the Conservative Party and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

Away from politics, he forged a highly successful career as a speaker and author, penning a popular biography of William Pitt the Younger and a biography of fellow Yorkshireman William Wilberforce.

He was born in Rotherham and attended a comprehensive school, before going to Magdalen College, Oxford, where he attained a first-class degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics.

Lord Hague first came to wider attention aged just 16, when he gave a barnstorming speech at the 1977 Conservative Party Conference.

He would later go on to hold one of the great offices of state as Foreign Secretary.

He stepped down as the MP for Richmond at last year’s General Election and was made a Life Peer.

Recently he has joined forces with the actress and UN Special Envoy for Refugees, Angelina Jolie campaigning against sexual violence in conflict.

Marguerite Porter

Marguerite Porter

Marguerite Porter is a former ballerina of the Royal Ballet Company.

She was born in Doncaster and trained in Yorkshire and later at the Royal Ballet School in London.

She joined The Royal Ballet Company in 1966 where she remained for 20 years, becoming a Guest Artist for a further three years.

She danced all the major roles in the Royal Ballet Repertoire and was privileged to work with some of the greatest names of the last century, including Dame Ninette de Valois, Sir Frederick Ashton, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, and Jerome Robbins. She was partnered by among others Anthony Dowell, Wayne Eagling and finally Rudolf Nureyev.

After leaving the Royal Ballet she published her autobiography Ballerina, A Dancer’s Life.

Marguerite Porter made her debut Broadway appearance as The Queen in Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake in 1998.

She is now the Director of the Yorkshire Ballet Summer School and a Governor of the Royal Ballet Company.

Dr Patrick Vallance

Dr Patrick Vallance

Dr Patrick Vallance is President of Research and Development at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and a member of the GSK Corporate Executive Team. Prior to joining GSK, Patrick Vallance was a clinical academic and as Professor of Medicine led the Division of Medicine at University College London.

He has an international reputation as a vascular biologist and clinician scientist. His research has spanned structural and molecular studies, in vitro and in vivo experimental pharmacology and clinical studies including the use of large-scale patient databases.

His leadership at GSK has led to a new wave of medicines - from treatments for malaria through to cancer therapies.

Dr Patrick Vallance was elected to the Academy of Medical Sciences in 1999.

Professor David L. Heymann

Professor David L. Heymann

Professor David L. Heymann is Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Head of the Centre on Global Health Security at Chatham House, London and Chairman of the Board for Public Health England.

Previously the World Health Organization's Assistant Director-General for Health Security and Environment, Professor Heymann was also Representative of the Director-General for polio eradication. Appointed Executive Director of the WHO Communicable Diseases Cluster, he also headed the global response to SARS.

Professor Heymann worked for 13 years as a medical epidemiologist in sub-Saharan Africa on assignment from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There, he participated in the first and second outbreaks of Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever.

An elected Fellow of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (United States) and the Academy of Medical Sciences (United Kingdom), in 2009 he was appointed an honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to global public health.

Professor Tieniu Tan

Professor Tieniu Tan

Professor Tieniu Tan is an expert on image processing, computer vision and pattern recognition.

He is Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and Director of the Centre for Research on Intelligent Perception and Computing, CAS Institute of Automation (CASIA).

He is a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, International Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Fellow of The World Academy of Sciences for the advancement of sciences in developing countries and Corresponding Member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences.

He received his BSc degree in electronic engineering from Xi'an Jiaotong University in 1984, and later gained MSc and PhD degrees in electronic engineering from Imperial College.

From 1989, he joined the Computer Science Department at the University of Reading, before returning to China in 1998 to join the National Laboratory of Pattern Recognition (NLPR), CASIA. He was the Director General of CASIA from 2000-2007, the Director of the NLPR from 1998-2013, and Deputy Secretary-General of CAS from 2007-2015. He has been a Professor at CASIA since 1998.

He has published more than 500 research papers in refereed international journals and conferences, and has authored or edited 11 books.

Lord Rowan Williams

Lord Rowan Williams

Lord Rowan Williams is an Anglican bishop, theologian and poet.

Born in Wales, Lord Rowan Williams was educated at Dynevor School in Swansea, before reading Theology at Cambridge and graduating with a PhD in Philosophy from Oxford in 1975.

Ordained a Deacon in 1977 and a priest the following year, he was elected as Bishop of Monmouth in 1991. He became Archbishop of Wales in 1999, and the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury three years later - the first in modern times to be appointed from outside the Church of England.

Committed to inter-faith dialogue and charity, Lord Rowan Williams is Patron of the Peace Mala Youth Project For World Peace, the Canterbury Open Centre, Birmingham-based charity The Feast, the British T. S. EliotSociety, and Chair of the Board of Trustees of Christian Aid.

Lord Rowan Williams is also a poet and translator of poetry. His collection The Poems of Rowan Williams was longlisted for the Wales Book of the Year award in 2004.

Professor Sir John Holman

Professor Sir John Holman

Professor Sir John Holman is Emeritus Chair in the University of York’s Department of Chemistry, Founding Director of the National Science Learning Centre, Senior Adviser in Education at the Wellcome Trust and the Gatsby Foundation and President of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).

Studying Natural Sciences at Cambridge, Professor Holman taught in secondary schools before becoming Principal of Watford Grammar School for Boys in 1994. The author of numerous chemistry textbooks, he is Founding Director of Salters' Advanced Chemistry programme, and joined the University of York as Salters’ Professor of Chemical Education in 2000.

Serving as National Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Advisor to the British government from 2006 to 2010, he was appointed Chairman of the Salters’ Institute Board in 2013.

Knighted for services to education in 2010, Professor Holman is Chair of the Teacher Development Trust and Trustee of the Natural History Museum. Winner of the RSC’s Lord Lewis Award and the Royal Society’s Kavli Education Award, in 2014 he was named by the Science Council as one of the 100 leading practicing UK scientists.

Tony Cann

Tony Cann

Tony Cann is an entrepreneur and educationalist who established the Institute for Effective Education (IEE) at York.

The IEE has established itself as one of the leading education research units in the UK, carrying out high quality evaluations of education programmes and practices.

Tony Cann’s overriding passion is, through technology, to help teachers improve education, particularly helping students who underachieve.

Tony Cann was educated at Rugby School and Manchester University where he read Chemistry. Following a successful career in the family business in Lancashire, he went on to chair the local East Lancashire Training and Enterprise Council (ELTEC).

He later founded Promethean Ltd. Promethean’s first interactive whiteboards were delivered in 1996 and they are now in use in nearly one million classrooms worldwide.

In 2006 Tony Cann made a significant donation to the University which led to the creation of the Institute for Effective Education at the Berrick Saul Building.

He continues to be involved in a number of companies in different sectors, including manufacturing, distribution and retail.

Lord Victor Adebowale

Lord Victor Adebowale

Baron Victor Adebowale, CBE is Chief Executive of Turning Point, a health and social care enterprise and one of the first appointed ‘People's Peers’.

With a passionate interest in public service reform and reversing the inverse care law, Lord Adebowale lectures widely on poverty, social exclusion, equality, human rights, leadership and change management.

Lord Adebowale is a Non-Executive Director of NHS England, President of the International Association of Philosophy and Psychiatry, and Visiting Professor and Chancellor at the University of Lincoln, on the Board of Governors at the London School of Economics and joined the Co-operative Board in April 2016. He is also Non-Executive Director of IACOM Ltd and Leadership in Mind.

Receiving a CBE in 2000 for services to the unemployed and homeless young people, in 2001, he was appointed a cross bench member of the House of Lords.

Further information:

  • Professor Sir John Holman will be presented for his honorary degree by Professor Richard Taylor, from the Department of Chemistry, on 13 July in Ceremony Two at 12 noon.
  • Helen Fielding will be presented for her honorary degree by Dr Lisa Peschel, of the Department of Theatre, Film and Television on 13 July in Ceremony Three at 3.30pm.
  • Lord William Hague will be presented for his honorary degree by Matt Matravers, from the York Law School, on 13 July in Ceremony Three at 3.30pm.
  • Professor Sir Ian Kennedy will be presented for his honorary degree by Professor Tom Baldwin, from the Department of Philosophy, on 14 July in Ceremony Four at 9.30am.
  • Lord Victor Adebowale will be presented for his honorary degree by Professor Kate Pickett of the Department of Health Sciences on 14 July in Ceremony Four at 9.30am.
  • Marguerite Porter will be presented for her honorary degree by Caroline Thomson, Director of the English National Ballet and York honorary degree holder, on 14 July in Ceremony Five at 12 noon.
  • Dr Patrick Vallance will be presented for his honorary degree by Professor Deborah Smith, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, on 14 July in Ceremony Six at 3.30pm.
  • Tony Cann will be presented for his honorary degree by Professor Frank Hardman, of York’s Institute for Effective Education, on 14 July in Ceremony Six at 3.30pm.
  • Lord Rowan Williams will be presented for his honorary degree by Rev. Dr Rowan Williams from the University of York on 15 July in Ceremony Seven at 9.30am.
  • Comendador Augusto Sampaio will be presented for his honorary degree by Professor Jim Woodcock from the Department of Computer Science on 15 July in Ceremony Eight at 12 noon.
  • Professor David L Heymann will be presented for his honorary degree by Professor Charles Lacey, from York’s Centre for Immunology and Infection, on 15 July in Ceremony Eight at 12 noon.
  • Professor Tieniu Tan will be presented for his honorary degree by Professor Edwin Hancock from the Department of Computer Science on 15 July in Ceremony Nine at 3.30pm.
  • Helen McCrory will be presented for her honorary degree by Professor Judith Buchanan from of the Department of English and Related Literature on 15 July in Ceremony Nine at 3.30pm.


Media enquiries

Saskia Angenent
Press Officer

Tel: 01904 323918