Day one of graduations will see students from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences pick up their degree awards in Creative Writing, English, History, Advertising, Animation, Film Studies, Media, Biology, Ecology,  Law and Criminology and Psychology.

Honorary Awards will also be given to Doctor Who and Broadchurch writer Chris Chibnall and comedian and broadcaster Alexei Sayle.

You can follow Edge Hill graduations live at facebook.com/edgehilluniversity through @EdgeHill or by following the #EHUgrad on Twitter.

Watch ceremonies live here: edgehill.ac.uk/graduation/live/

Swimmer sets gold standard

European Youth Olympic silver medallist and European Junior Championship gold medallist, Alex Dunk, likes a challenge as he succeeds with his studies alongside his swimming.

Alex, from Tarbock, has graduated from Edge Hill University this week with a BA (Hons) Biology, a subject he enjoyed throughout his school years.

“Edge Hill has been a great experience and I thoroughly enjoyed my course,” said Alex. “Scholarships Administrator, Zoe Slater, was amazing and the staff in the sports centre were so helpful and accommodating. The pool was always available to me, as was the gym and sports hall if I ever needed it, which really made a difference when I had afternoon lectures.”

Alex was awarded an Edge Hill University Sports Scholarship at Gold standard based on his swimming achievements. He was also crowned Knowsley Young Sports Person of the Year and was selected out of thousands of young people to carry the Olympic torch in 2012.

“I was 16 when I made my first international competition and from there I was selected to represent Great Britain in the European Youth Olympic Festival in Trabzon, Turkey in the summer of 2011. I managed to pick up a silver medal and was spotted by the England Talent Development programme, and selected for European Juniors in Belgium and Poland where I won a gold medal and broke a British record for 18 year olds.

“Following this, I was picked up by the World Class Programme, which aims to help the development of future world class athletes, and I received funding from British swimming to help towards training and hotel costs.

“After the 2012 Olympics and the poor medal performance of the swimming team, the government cut the funding of the World Class Programme, so I continued training on my own. During the qualification event for the 2016 Olympics, I achieved four lifetime best times from four events, and made the final of the 400m Individual Medley.”

Alex’s future aspirations are the same as any elite athlete. He aims to keep training and improving, perfecting his skill set for the 2020 Olympics.

Click here to find out more about Edge Hill’s sports facilities.

Award-winning young filmmaker eyes big screen career

A talented young filmmaker whose films have already won two prestigious awards graduated from Edge Hill University today with first class honours in Film Studies.

Andrew Harrison, 21, from Birkdale, has several productions to his credit including a full-length feature. Alongside filmmaking colleague and Edge Hill graduate Lewis Simpson, Andrew received a North West Young Filmmaker award from the Institute for Amateur Cinematographers for short film I Live on the Deaths of Millions, which was selected for its plot and cinematography. Andrew also won an award from Southport MovieMakers for his short film Goldfish, in praise of the film’s depiction of emotion.

Andrew said: “The short and feature-length films I have made range from comedies to horrors, and have all been co-written and directed by my three friends and I. We kept them low-budget by using our own equipment and locations, and also assuming the roles of cast and crew! We’ve made films for almost 10 years now, initially just for fun and out of love for the craft, but more recently the production values have risen and the experience and technical knowledge we have gained whilst studying has helped the films look progressively more professional.”

Whilst studying, Andrew was awarded an Edge Hill Excellence Scholarship which he says has helped him hugely.

He said: “It allowed me to buy more advanced film equipment – such as a new, higher-end camera and different lenses – whilst still being able to afford living costs. The Edge Hill library is a brilliant and indispensable resource for renting film equipment but thanks to the Scholarship I was also able to own some equipment of my own which made it easier to shoot whenever and wherever I wanted. You don’t need money to make a great film – as many low budget films have shown – but the Scholarship’s allowing me to purchase equipment certainly improved the visual quality of my films.”

After graduation Andrew plans to spend the summer shooting several of his new scripts, with the intention of entering them into prestigious festivals.

He said: “Me and my filmmaking colleagues (also Edge Hill students) have several films planned, and intend form a small production group in order to further our careers and get our films noticed. I also plan to apply for internships and jobs at any industry level I come across, potentially at nearby television locations like the BBC, ITV, or Lime Pictures, and work my way through roles. My ultimate career goal is to work in the film industry either as a writer or director, but I would happily start in any position and work my way up.”

Andrew has credited his lecturers and tutors at Edge Hill as being “wonderfully supportive and helpful throughout my entire degree, both in the department of Film Production and my core subject Film Studies.”

He continued: “Their passion for cinema and the art of it has been inspiring and exciting and has urged me to carry on with my hobby in my extracurricular time. They always advised we spend free time watching films, to constantly surround ourselves with them and in turn learn more about the techniques and methods, which was great advice.

“Furthermore, if any readers who aren’t yet at university are considering taking Film (either Studies or Production) as a degree at Edge Hill, then they absolutely should have no doubts about its efficiency in honing skills in the filmmaking area.”

Click here to find out more about Film Studies courses.

Alexei Sayle receives Honorary award

Alexei Sayle receives his award from Vice-Chancellor Dr John Cater

Liverpool-born comedian and broadcaster Alexei Sayle was today made an Honorary Doctor of Literature by Edge Hill University.

Upon receiving his award, Alexei told of watching the campus grow on visits to Ormskirk since family members moved to the town in the early 1990s. He also praised the University’s commitment to employability.

He said: “I’m not only impressed by the facilities at this marvellous institution, but also the effort made to guide students from study into their professions – it’s very different to when I was a student and might have helped me decide what I wanted to do more quickly.”

He joked: “I need to provide those graduating today with some inspirational advice so I’ll refer to one of my stand up characters who is a bit of Zen master. He says ‘when one door closes, another opens.’ I used to have a Vauxhall Astra that was like that…”

A stand-up comedian, actor, author, radio and television broadcaster, columnist and recording artist, Alexei is widely regarded as one of the most original and influential performers to emerge from the 1980s alternative comedy scene, and acknowledged as a creative innovator across numerous art forms.

Roger Shannon, Professor of Film and Television at Edge Hill University said: “Alexei Sayle is an innovator, an originator and a comedic agitator.

“Honorary Doctorates at Edge Hill University are an important way in which we can acknowledge the highest of achievements. Alexei has demonstrated these in so many ways.

“His attainments demonstrate what an excellent role model he is for the University and for its students, and we are delighted to mark his many successes with an Honorary Doctorate today.”

Chancellor’s Scholarship winner Joshua swaps student life for wildlife

Dedicated conservation volunteer Joshua Styles may be graduating this week, but he leaves behind a lasting legacy to protect Edge Hill University’s wildlife for years to come.

Joshua, from Sandbach in Cheshire, completed a three-year BSC in Ecology after discovering a taste for conservation work through volunteering for Cheshire Wildlife Trust, Lancashire Wildlife Trust and Martin Mere.

During his time at Edge Hill, Joshua created a biodiversity action plan for the campus to identify key habitats and species, give grounds staff a plan for the management of green spaces on campus that would be beneficial to wildlife, and also biodiversity improvement measures such as the placement of bat and bird boxes around campus. Joshua’s work led to the discovery of a rare Dune Helleborine orchid on campus, one of only 100 locations in the UK where the plant has been recorded.

“I have always had a strong connection with the natural world from an early age,” said Joshua. “In my teens I became a local wildlife sites surveyor for the Cheshire Wildlife Trust (CWT) which involved me surveying biodiverse sites and recording the species present, which provided CWT with valuable biological records. I also volunteered with Cheshire Rangers, assisting with practical conservation work such as coppicing, formulating a management plan for a local nature reserve, which led to an increase in the nationally protected and rare grass snake, and recording species on Cheshire East Council’s local wildlife sites.”

Joshua has earned various awards in recognition of his hard work at Edge Hill. As well as two awards for academic achievement, he won an Excellence Scholarship for his commitment to volunteering, which he continued alongside his studies. He has also been awarded a prestigious Chancellor’s Scholarship in recognition of his contribution to the University.

Thanks to his outstanding skills and experience in the environmental sector, Joshua secured a part-time job as an ecological consultant before he even graduated, and he plans to increase his hours now he’s not studying.

“Doing my degree has been an absolutely fantastic experience,” he added. “I made a lot of contacts in the sector I wanted to work in and I was supported by amazing tutors.”

To find out more about studying Ecology, click here.

Top marks for PR students whose campaign had positive impact on migrant community

A group of Public Relations (PR) students who graduated today from Edge Hill University have received the highest mark ever received for a piece of work since the course began.

Alex Croft, Holly Worsley, Lore Adenegan, Aaron Roberts, Caitilin Jones and Isabella Sivvery devised and implemented a PR campaign to promote the work of Southport-based charity Migrant Workers Sefton Community (MWSC) which works with Eastern European migrant workers across the Sefton area.

Eileen Saunders, Founder of MWSC said: “The team helped raise the profile of the charity and really got stuck into the work. They were really interested in what we do. They were a professional team who put a lot of effort into the project, particularly on the day of an Integration Event we held, where they were confident, professional and courteous. A joy to work with.”

Holly Worsley

Holly Worsley said: “Working on the campaign has been a greatly rewarding project to be involved in. It was a fantastic opportunity to put our PR theory to the test whilst also helping the community and a worthy charity who were in real need of support in its PR activities.

“The experience from the campaign has also helped me secure a full time job at a leading agency weeks before my graduation.”

 

Paula Keaveney, Senior Lecturer in Public Relations and Politics at Edge Hill said: “The work the students did was of the same standard we would expect from PR professionals.  In fact they over achieved on many of their objectives and made a significant difference to a local charity.  This is down to their commitment and willingness to be imaginative and fast moving rather than wait for opportunities to come to them. 

“This is exactly the sort of behaviour that will make our graduates stand out in the work place and is why Edge Hill makes a point of including plenty of real world experiences in its PR degrees.”

New Doctor Who Showrunner receives Honorary Doctorate at Edge Hill

Chris Chibnall, who later this year becomes Showrunner for the BBC’s Doctor Who, visited Edge Hill University this morning to receive an Honorary Doctorate in Literature.

The award comes in the wake of Sunday’s news that for the first time ever, a woman will play the Time Lord in the legendary TV show. Jodie Whittaker, known for her role in acclaimed ITV crime drama Broadchurch (written by Chris), will be the show’s 13th Doctor.

“Appointed a new doctor yesterday, made an Honorary Doctor today – it’s been quite a weekend,” Chris laughed as he addressed graduands at the ceremony. He spoke of how honoured he was to receive the award and his love for the North West, which is ‘embedded in his heart and soul.’

Chris told graduands: “Something I wish I’d known earlier, you’re probably all wondering ‘what’s going to happen to me in the future?’ It sounds very obvious but I didn’t realise it until four years ago when I wrote Broadchurch and people started stopping me in the street to ask about it – the future is you, it’s not something that just happens. The future is there to be taken by every person graduating today.

“I wrote Broadchurch for myself and never thought anyone would want to make it, let alone watch it, but that story has gone around the world, been remade in America and France and turned into a novel. It led to me being offered what was as a child my dream job, being in charge of the Tardis and Dr Who – I never thought that would happen either!

“I’ve been really lucky – I’d wish everyone graduating the same amount of luck I’ve had. Your luck has already started by coming here to this extraordinary University.”

Chris Chibnall, who is one of Britain’s most important and accomplished television dramatists, grew up in Formby, Merseyside. He was head writer and co-producer of award-winning Doctor Who spin-off, Torchwood and writer of all three series of acclaimed crime drama Broadchurch. He contributed scripts to BBC One’s Life on Mars, was lead writer and executive producer for ITV1’s Law & Order UK; and creator and executive producer for Camelot, a dark retelling of Arthurian myth.

His two television films – BBC Two’s United, which tells the story of Manchester United’s Busby Babes and the Munich air disaster, and BBC One’s The Great Train Robbery, which documents the heist from the perspectives of both police and thieves – demonstrate Chris’ talent for dramatising historical moments around a core of well-drawn affective human relationships. He has also written five Doctor Who episodes.

Inspirational young carer achieves First Class degree

A young carer since the age of 11, Jodie Williams has devoted much of her time to looking after her mother, and has still managed to graduate from Edge Hill University today with a First Class Honours degree.

Sociology graduate, Jodie, grew up in South Wales and at the age of 11 years old started caring for her mother who suffered with a number of health problems. However as she started secondary school, her mother’s health deteriorated and Jodie became her full-time carer.

“For me, the decision to start studying at University was a very big one to make,” said Jodie. “Not only did I have to consider myself, but I had to consider whether my mother would manage if I moved away.

“It was a big change for me to move away from my family and not be able to offer face to face support for my mother, after having been a continuous source of strength for my family. Fortunately, my father was able to undertake some of the caring responsibilities which allowed me to concentrate and study to the best of my abilities.

“I was awarded an Excellence Scholarship which helped me achieve the best result that I could because it helped to reduce the pressure and worry of what was happening at home because I was travel home to visit my family regularly. I am so grateful for this support as I was able to focus more on my studies and as a result of this, I am so proud to have received a First Class Degree.”

Jodie has devoted her free time to promoting services for children in similar situations by running workshops, doing media interviews and presenting to national carers’ organisations. Jodie’s “courage and determination” was recognised in 2015 when she received the Youth of the Year Award for Wales at Buckingham Palace.

“When I found out I was awarded the Youth of the Year Award for Wales I was shocked as it is always a surprise to me when people commend me for the way I support my mother as I see it as an everyday thing. I remember feeling elated and nervous at the idea as Buckingham Palace had always been the world away. I am grateful that my caring role has allowed me so many opportunities.”

Jodie aspires to encourage changes that allow people in a similar situation to have more opportunities, putting her academic skills and life experience to good use.

Click here to find out more about studying Sociology.