Founding singer of Ultravox John Foxx and women’s rights activist Dr Helen Pankhurst are among a number of esteemed figures set to receive honorary degrees from Edge Hill University this summer.

Each of the six recipients – leaders in a range of areas spanning women’s rights, education, sport, energy and music – will be recognised by Edge Hill for the contribution they have made to society, which resonates with the University’s teaching and research.

John Cater

John Cater

Vice-Chancellor Dr John Cater said: “Each year we seek to recognise individuals whose outstanding achievements resonate with the ethos of Edge Hill University. In 2014 we are delighted to recognise the contributions of Sir Harrison Birtwistle CH and John Foxx, two locally-born, distinctive and very significant contributors to excellence in Music and the Arts; Dr. Helen Pankhurst, Barrie Wells and Wally Brown CBE, three individuals who have devoted much of their lives to improving opportunities for others; and Colin Drummond OBE, a business leader and pioneer in recycling and green energy. We are privileged and delighted to welcome them as part of the University community, and very much look forward to next month’s ceremonies.”

Honorary doctorates will be conferred on the following individuals during Edge Hill University’s graduation ceremonies at the Ormskirk campus between 21st and 25th July 2014:

Sir Harrison Birtwistle CH
Born to a working class family in Accrington in 1934, Birtwistle participated as a clarinettist in local amateur music events. In 1965 he sold his clarinets to devote his efforts to composition, and travelled to Princeton as a Harkness Fellow where he completed the opera Punch and Judy, a work commissioned by Benjamin Britten’s Aldeburgh Festival. This work, together with Verses for Ensembles and The Triumph of Time, firmly established Birtwistle as a leading voice in British music and an international figure in modern music.

Wally Brown CBE
Wally Brown was Principal of Liverpool Community College from its creation in 1992 until his retirement in 2008. Born in Toxteth, Liverpool, Brown was previously Head of Community Education in Lambeth, and an adult education manager in Manchester. During his time as principal at the community college he transformed it into one of the most successful and outstanding further education colleges in the UK.
At the time of the Toxteth riots, in 1981, Wally Brown was Chair of the Community Relations Council, and acted as a mediator between the police and the local community. He was made a CBE in 2002 for services to education and awarded freedom of the City of Liverpool in August 2012. Now retired from his post at the college, he continues to contribute to the local community as a Non-Executive Director of Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust Board, and also the Chair of Liverpool Community Health Audit Committee and a Member of the Equality and Diversity Group.

Colin Drummond OBE
Colin Drummond was appointed Executive Director of South West Water PLC (now Pennon Group PLC) in 1992 with a remit to build and run the group’s non water business. His first major acquisition was Haul Waste, a leading waste disposal company in the South West of England with turnover of £20m, profits of £1m and 200 employees. Under his leadership as Chief Executive, Haul Waste, subsequently named Viridor, has become one of the UK’s leading recycling, renewable energy and waste management companies (2011/2012 turnover £761m, PBT £57.6m and 3200 employees). Prior to joining Pennon, Colin was Chief Executive of Coats Viyella Yarns Division, an Executive Director of Renold PLC, a consultant with the Boston Consulting Group and an official with the Bank of England. Colin is the Chairman of the Government’s Living With Environmental Change Advisory Board and of the Environmental Sustainability Knowledge Transfer Network. He was Master of the Worshipful Company of Water Conservators for 2007/08 and Chairman of the WET 10 Water Related Livery Companies from 2008 to 2013. In 2010, Colin took part in the Channel 4 series Undercover Boss and in 2012 received an OBE for services to technology and innovation. Viridor is currently working in partnership with Edge Hill University’s Faculty of Education to deliver a programme of higher education study that supports Viridor’s UK management strategy.

John Foxx
Born in Chorley and best known as the founding singer of the band Ultravox (1976-9), Foxx signed as a solo artist to Virgin Records in 1979, where his albums of pioneering electronic music, Metamatic (1980), The Garden (1981) and The Golden Section (1983) were released. In 1982 he set up his own recording studio, used by a number of cult bands, such as Siouxsie and the Banshees and Nick Cave. In 1983 Foxx contributed to a soundtrack of Antonioni’s film Identification of a Woman. Between 1985 and 1997 he withdrew from music and earned a successful living as a graphic artist under his real name, Dennis Leigh. He became a visiting lecturer at the Royal College of Art, a position he retains. In 1997 he returned to music performance and by 2006 had released his album to accompany a sequence of films, Tiny Colour Movies, premiered at that year’s Brighton Festival. The following year a showcase of his artwork and music was presented at the Institute of Contemporary Arts. He toured Europe with his new band John Foxx and The Maths in 2011. In 2013-4 his band is touring with Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.

Dr. Helen Pankhurst
Dr Helen Pankhurst, the great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst, leaders in the British suffragette movement is CARE International UK’s campaign ambassador. Helen is also a Senior Technical Advisor for the Water Team of CARE USA with a remit of support to CARE’s water sector work internationally. Helen was born in Ethiopia and worked there for three years as the Country Representative for WaterAid. She also worked as Head of International Programmes for five years at WOMANKIND Worldwide and for five years as the Regional Manager for the Horn of Africa at the Agency for Cooperation and Research in Development (ACORD).Helen’s academic background has been varied, having started in a French school, then an international one, and having been to British (Sussex, Edinburgh) and American (visiting scholar at Vassar) universities. She has a social science PhD (Economics, Anthropology, Sociology and Politics).

Barrie Wells
Sport-loving philanthropist and successful entrepreneur Barrie Wells established the Wells Sports Foundation in 2009. The charity aims to enrich the lives of children through sport, primarily through ‘Box 4 Kids’ – a unique opportunity for seriously ill and disabled children and their loved ones to enjoy a VIP day at major sporting events in the comfort of an executive box. Created – and still ongoing – at Liverpool FC in 2010, it is through Barrie’s personal campaign that the scheme has now been rolled out to many other Premier League football clubs and Rugby League and Union grounds across the country, Club Wembley and now extends to other entertainment and sports at the O2, Royal Opera House, Royal Albert Hall, Wimbledon and Lords Cricket Ground. Barrie also personally funded 18 of Britain’s best athletes in the lead up to the London Olympic Games in 2012, including Jessica Ennis, Beth Tweddle, Dai Greene, Holly Bleasdale and Katarina Johnson-Thompson. In return, he asked the athletes to give up their time to inspire school children to take up sport under the Wells Sports Foundation’s Athletes 4 Schools scheme. In total, the campaign benefitted over 35,000 school children nationwide. Barrie is a Patron of Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.