Former Chair of Governors Bob Wilson

One of the key figures behind the survival and success of Edge Hill University has received an honorary award.

On Tuesday, the former Chair of Governors Bob Wilson was presented with the fellowship in recognition of his commitment and entrepreneurial skills which led to the University’s growth and expansion.

Upon receiving the accolade, the 75-year-old said: “I don’t think words can describe how honoured I feel. I can’t thank the University enough for even considering me, let alone give me this honorary fellowship because it is such a special acknowledgement.

“I joined Edge Hill in 1998 following a request from the then Secretary of State for Education & Science to assist in preparing the institution for independence from the LEA the following year, was advised that would be for approximately two months. It actually became some 12 years as I was elected as Chair of the Governing Body of Edge Hill College of Higher Education upon incorporation in 1989 until my retirement in July 2000.

“When I first arrived I knew very little about Higher Education and at the time Edge Hill was very limited in what it had to offer, with its focus mainly on teacher training. We were way down on people’s lists and I think many thought that we would fail on our own but we all worked hard and with the arrival of John Cater as Vice Chancellor the University has grown so much. I’m delighted that the University feels that I have contributed to its success and has given me this award.”

The married father of three, who was born in Tuebrook, had a challenging childhood. He lost his mother when he was just four years old and his father, a tugboat man, worked long hours and had parental responsibility for his own brothers and sisters, which meant that Bob spent much of his early years living with his grandmother and late mother’s sister.

His dream was to become an architect but he abandoned his ambitions to earn a wage and started as an ‘office boy’ at Demerara Sugar Company in Liverpool until he was called up for the army. He spent his National Service years in Jamaica, where he learned a lot about their culture and industries. Upon his return to Liverpool his international knowledge and his understanding of the processes that led to the nationalisation of sugar and rum production meant that he quickly climbed the career ladder to Managing Director and won many awards.

Being an astute businessman, Bob was approached by the Secretary of State for the position at Edge Hill and his key achievements during his time at the University included the building of Forest Court, the new mathematics building, natural and applied sciences and the first management school. The University’s Wilson Centre was also named after Bob because of his life-long keen interest in sport.