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Dragon’s Den star and comedy writers among 2024 University Honours

Posted on 5 February 2024

Entrepreneur and star of Dragon’s Den, Sara Davies, award-winning scriptwriters, Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, and public health specialist Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, are among six distinguished figures to receive honorary degrees from the University of York in February.

Sara Davies, a graduate of the University, founded the global, multi-million pound business Crafter's Companion

This year’s recipients of honorary degrees, which will be awarded as part of the University's winter graduation ceremonies, also include co-CEO of Birmingham Museums Trust, Sara Wajid; physicist, Professor Hideo Ohno, and University of York Academic Registrar, Dr Wayne Campbell.  

The University of York confers the honorary degree of Doctor of the University honoris causa on individuals who have made outstanding contributions to society.

Sara Davies founded the global, multi-million pound business Crafter's Companion, which introduces innovative designs to the craft market, selling products to more than 40 countries. She became the youngest-ever female dragon to join BBC One’s Dragons’ Den and was awarded an MBE for services to the economy in 2016.


Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran are accomplished scriptwriters and producers known for their significant contributions to television, theatre and musicals. They have created several hit television comedies, including the acclaimed Shine on Harvey Moon, and The New Statesman

They set up Alomo Productions, writing and producing TV shows Birds of a Feather and Goodnight Sweetheart. Their latest play, Cluedo - The Next Chapter, inspired by the classic board game, is about to start a nationwide tour.

University of York Vice-Chancellor, Professor Charlie Jeffery, said: “Our honorary graduates this year demonstrate the significance of creativity, innovation, and communication in making real and impactful contributions to society. 

“We are also proud to honour Dr Wayne Campbell for his services to the University of York; he has been an inspirational leader whose passion for enhancing student life has helped us to create strong  and lasting partnerships with our student community.”


Professor Jonathan Van-Tam is a Senior Strategy Adviser to the University of Nottingham School of Medicine and previously the Deputy Chief Medical Officer in the Department of Health and Social Care, where he played a crucial leadership role during the Covid-19 pandemic. His efforts in orchestrating the acquisition and distribution of vaccines and antiviral drugs in the UK were pivotal.

Sara Wajid, co-CEO of Birmingham Museums, has worked in the arts for 30 years in various roles and sectors, including as an editor of artists’ books and as a literary journalist. She is a judge of the Museums and Heritage Awards, and has been a judge of the Museum Activism Awards. In 2014, she founded the Museum Detox network for people of colour in museums in order to promote anti-racism and equality through solidarity.

Student experience

Professor Hideo Ohno, the 22nd President of Tohoku University, is a physicist and world leader in the field of spintronics - a technology that takes advantage of the magnetic (spin) and electronic (charge) attributes of an electron. Professor Ohno’s pioneering work in the field ranges from the creation and exploration of the physical properties of new ferromagnetic semiconductors to the development of a high-performance spintronics device. 

Academic Registrar at the University of York, Dr Wayne Campbell's experience extends to all aspects of the student journey from admission to graduation and beyond, including higher education administration, enhancing the quality of teaching and learning, student life and employability. He is passionate about working in partnership with elected student representatives to improve the student experience.   

Dr Campbell is a graduate in Biochemistry from the University of Kent, where he also gained a PhD in Biotechnology, and possesses two Masters’ degrees from the Universities of Cambridge and Loughborough.

Honorary degree ceremonies take place from Tuesday 06 February to Thursday 08 February 2024. If any media wish to attend, please contact the Press Office for further information.

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