More than 500 students are celebrating the first ever Edge Hill University-awarded degrees this week as their ceremonies take place in a newly-built 850-seater lecture theatre-in-the-round on the Ormskirk campus.

Marking the first Edge Hill University graduations on Monday, 21 July and Tuesday, 22 July 2008 will be new regalia including a coat of arms for the University, a ceremonial mace and graduation robes worn by the University’s senior officers. The graduations have been meticulously planned down to the last detail as they are the first ceremonies of their kind on the Ormskirk campus.

John Cater, Vice Chancellor at Edge Hill University said: “Monday and Tuesday are two of the proudest days in the University’s history. For almost 125 years students, have graduated from Edge Hill with honours degrees, but this is the first time that the University has held its ceremonies at the Ormskirk campus, using our brand new theatre complex.

“We are delighted to welcome graduates from the many local colleges we work in partnership with, and to exemplify these links in the honorary award to Sir George Sweeney. More than nine-tenths of this week’s graduates and postgraduates will work in Education, Nursing and the Health Care professions, and we offer our best wishes for careers that can and will make a real difference to people’s lives.”

The historic awards will open with a troupe of trumpeters playing a resounding fanfare. An organist will then accompany the procession of graduands as they are shown to their seats. The ceremony will then continue with the awarding of degrees, including the honorary degree to Sir George Sweeney. The ceremony will draw to a close with a vocalist performing Fields of Gold, originally by Sting after which the trumpeters will bring the ceremony to an end.

Allocating the two tickets they receive for graduation can be a difficult task for students. Edge Hill has overcome this dilemma by broadcasting the ceremonies live via the internet for all to see. Screens will be erected across the University to allow families and friends to watch their loved ones receiving their honours. They will even be able to watch it from the comfort of their own homes.

During the ceremony, the first Edge Hill Honorary Degree will be awarded to Sir George Sweeney, former Principal of Knowsley Community College, who was knighted in 2000 for his services to Further Education.

Newly-appointed Pro Chancellor Chris Trinick, the retired Chief Executive of Lancashire County Council, will preside over the historic ceremonies.