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It’s always a pleasure to welcome our honorary graduates into the Edge Hill community.

Some are notable pioneers or real catalysts for change. Others have emerged triumphant as true torch bearers in their chosen fields. All display a true passion for their professions, with life journeys that never cease to inspire us. Their achievements resonate with our ethos and chime with our desire to recognise the nation’s change makers, those who make significant contributions at all levels of society.

Headshot of Michael Pennington

From Ormskirk to Vegas

Comedian Michael Pennington, better known as Johnny Vegas, is now an Honorary Doctor of Literature at Edge Hill, recognised for his work as a talented writer, producer and artist.

In receiving the accolade in 2014 – which also celebrated his contribution to the world of comedy and entertainment – the St Helens-born entertainer joined a notable list of honorary graduates, including broadcasters, business leaders, sports people and community activists.

Michael’s experience goes beyond his unique brand of stand-up comedy. He has featured on panel shows such as 8 Out of 10 Cats and QI. And acting roles have included the much-loved Geoff Maltby in the sitcom Benidorm and Krook in a BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Bleak House.

Michael is also a director and has published his memoir Becoming Johnny Vegas to widespread critical acclaim.

Headshot of David Morrissey

David Morrissey, actor and filmmaker – Arts

Described by the British Film Institute as one of the most versatile English actors of his generation, Liverpool actor and filmmaker David Morrisey became an Edge Hill Honorary Doctor of Arts in 2016.

He was recognised for his ongoing contribution to UK drama, television and film, including a range of standout performances, such as The Governor in The Walking Dead and German soldier Günter Weber in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.

David is also known for his charity work with the United Nations and his own Creative Arts School Trust, including running drama workshops for displaced children.

Headshot of Zoe Williams

Dr Zoe Williams, GP & clinical advisor – Science (Health)

Resident doctor on ITV’s This Morning, GP Dr Zoe Williams, has been recognised by Edge Hill for promoting healthy lifestyles and motivating the next generation of health professionals.

Zoe was made an Honorary Doctor of Science in 2022, acknowledging her broad range of roles and achievements. These include being named one of the country’s most influential GPs on the Pulse Power 50 List and founding Sportsgirls and Fit4Life, encouraging teenagers to be healthier and more active. 

The ex-Gladiator is also National Advisor for Public Health England and Clinical Advisor to the Royal College of General Practitioners. 

Headshot of Brenda Hale

Brenda Hale, Baroness Hale of Richmond, Former President of the UK Supreme Court – Law

Brenda Hale – the first female President of the UK Supreme Court – has been made an Honorary Doctor of Law by Edge Hill.

The accolade, bestowed in 2019, recognises Baroness Hale of Richmond’s iconic and trailblazing status, helping open doors for other women in the profession.

She was appointed a High Court Judge in 1994, becoming the first woman and the youngest person appointed to the Law Commission.

Clive Myrie

Clive Myrie, BBC Journalist & presenter – Arts

Clive Myrie has reported on some of the most defining news stories of our times. Now, the BBC journalist of 30 years can add an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Edge Hill to his extensive list of accolades which includes two Royal Television Awards.

Bolton-born Clive was recognised by the University in 2023 for bringing major news to our TV screens from more than 100 countries, including the war in Iraq and the US Presidential elections.

He also presents the BBC Proms and hosts Mastermind. And the son of Windrush generation parents, Clive is a passionate champion for equality.

Heidi Thomas and other graduates after receiving her honorary doctorate

Heidi Thomas, screenwriter and playwright – Arts

Liverpool-born Heidi Thomas, the screenwriter behind some of our most-loved programmes, such as Call The Midwife and Cranford has been recognised by Edge Hill for her contribution to film and television.

Heidi received her Honorary Doctorate of Literature in 2013, adding to her long list of accolades, including multiple BAFTA nominations and awards for Best Writer at the UK Royal Television Society and UK Broadcasting Press Guild Awards.

Her ability to connect strongly with her audience – exploring themes such as community life, families, health and education – has put her among the most in-demand TV writers.

Headshot of Dame Sue Ion

Dame Sue Ion, advisor on the nuclear power industry – Science (STEM)

Dame Sue Ion became an Edge Hill Honorary Doctor of Science in 2017 in recognition of her work as one of the UK’s foremost nuclear engineers.

The former head of British Nuclear Fuels’ Research and Development portfolio has worked tirelessly to promote the benefits of the industry. Sue was credited with persuading Tony Blair to change government policy on nuclear power, recognising it as a valuable energy source to help meet Britain’s future energy needs.

Sue has also been vocal about the need to do more to attract women into engineering and supports programmes to encourage students to develop STEM skills.

Headshot of Gill Burns MBE

Gill Burns, MBE, World Cup-winning rugby union player – Sport

Gill Burns, MBE, has been recognised by Edge Hill for helping raise the profile of Women’s Rugby during her successful career in the sport.

Made an Honorary Doctor of Science in 2017, Gill was celebrated for a playing career spanning four World Cups – including victory in 1994 – and her five years as England captain.

Gill was among the first six women to enter the World Rugby Hall of Fame and the first to referee at Twickenham. Merseyside-born Gill has won the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year Team Award and was voted the all-time hero at Waterloo Rugby Club.

Headshot of Wally Brown

Wally Brown CBE, ex-college Principal and community leader – Education

Wally Brown, CBE, was made an Edge Hill Honorary Doctor of Education in 2014 for his tireless work improving opportunities for others.

He was Chair of the Community Relations Council during the Toxteth riots in 1981, mediating between the police and the local community.

And Wally helped make Liverpool Community College one of the UK’s most successful further education colleges. He was the principal from its creation in 1992 until retirement in 2008.

He was given the Freedom of Liverpool in 2012 and continues supporting the community through various oversight roles with Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust.