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The Rt Honourable Lord Kenneth Baker CH PC

Doctor of Letters

Kenneth Baker was a Conservative Member of Parliament from 1968 to 1997. He was the first Minister for Information Technology, responsible for introducing computers into schools, the privatisation of British Telecom and Cable & Wireless, and the establishment of the cable industry. His Cabinet posts included Environment Secretary, Education Secretary, and Home Secretary.

As Education Secretary Kenneth Baker introduced his Great Education Reform Bill which revolutionised English education. The National Curriculum, testing and league tables came into being; schools were given control over their own budgets; city technology colleges were established and became forerunners of specialist schools and academies; all schools had the chance of greater freedom by becoming grant-maintained; and polytechnics were freed from council control and set on their path to become universities.

He left the Government after the 1992 election, and in the same year was awarded the Companion of Honour. He became a member of the House of Lords in 1997. Lord Baker is currently spearheading a new type of school for 14-19 year olds based on vocational skills: University Technical Colleges. UTCs have All-Party support and £150 million was committed by the Coalition Government for 24 UTCs – 34 have so far been approved by ministers.

Lord Baker is founder and chairman of the Baker-Dearing Educational Trust which coordinates information on UTCs. He is also Chairman of Edge, an independent education foundation dedicated to raising the stature of practical and vocational learning. He is a Vice-Chairman of the Cartoon Museum and a Trustee of the Booker Prize Foundation. He has published several anthologies of poetry, his memoirs, and books on caricatures.

Beth Tweddle MBE

Doctor of Science 

As Britain’s greatest ever-female gymnast, Beth’s impressive achievements include being an Olympic Bronze Medalist, a triple World Champion, a six-time European Champion, a Commonwealth Champion and seven-times consecutive National Champion. Along with her unrivalled success Beth has competed at three Olympics Games; Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012 - where she won Bronze in the Uneven Bars.

Since starting out at the age of seven, Beth has helped to reinvent British gymnastics and her achievements place her in the ‘greatest of all time’ category within her sport. Her medals haul started at the 2002 Commonwealth Games where she collected Gold and two Silvers.

Over the next decade she would go on to win over 20 more Gold medals, competing all over the world in major championships. In 2007, Beth also found time to graduate from Liverpool John Moores University with a 2:1 in Sports Science and subsequently was accepted to study Physiotherapy at the University of Liverpool, which she deferred to allow her to concentrate fully on training for the 2012 Games.

In 2010, Beth was included in the Queen's New Year’s Honours List, and received an MBE for her success, commitment and dedication to gymnastics. Following her Olympic success, Beth took a break from competitive gymnastics, taking part in the 2013 series of ITV's Dancing on Ice, which she won with skating partner Daniel Whiston.

Beth has since retired from competitive gymnastics but is very much involved with her beloved sport, as a director and ambassador of Total Gymnastics. Beth and fellow Olympian, Steve Parry, set up the company to provide the opportunity for as many children as possible to take up gymnastics, within schools, leisure centres and gymnastics clubs, to help develop the sport around the country.

David Pickering FCA DL FloD

Doctor of Business Administration 

David Pickering was born in Chester and is married to Sue with four children and 10 grandchildren. He is a Chartered Accountant, Fellow of the Institute of Directors and Deputy Lieutenant of Cheshire.

Born and bred into a farming family near Chester, David qualified as a Chartered Accountant in Chester. He spent a rare spell away from his native Cheshire in 1966/67 to work for Touche Ross in London, and then Cabot Carbon in Ellesmere Port. David was a Director of Meadow Foods Ltd, one of the UK’s most successful independent dairy processing companies, built up by the Pickering and Chantler families. Meadow Foods employs 250 people and has a turnover in excess of £300m.

David has been actively involved in community affairs. He is a trustee of Chester Zoo; Chair of Food Cheshire; Chair, University of Chester Thornton Research Ventures Ltd; Sexton at Hope Church. He has been a Cheshire County Councillor, President of Chester Business Club; President of Chester City Club; President, City of Chester Conservative Association; Chair, Chester Cathedral Council. He recently retired as a Member of Council of the University of Chester after 15 years. He was Chair of the Audit Committee.

David has run a marathon; cycled from Lands End to John O’Groats, across Cuba and Israel, and from Rome to Chester raising money for Chester charities. A breeder and owner of racehorses – David was a Director of Chester Race Company from 2000 to 2010. He has a golf handicap of 12 and has been Captain at Eaton Golf Club.

Matthew Langridge MBE

Master of Science 

Matthew Langridge was born in Crewe and grew up in Northwich. In 2001 he was the first ever junior British oarsman to win the Gold Medal in the single sculls event in the Junior World Rowing Championships.

Later that year, he broke the British Indoor Rowing record for 2,000m in the J18 category. He won his first senior vest in 2003 and raced in the men’s squad at the World Championships in Milan, where the crew finished ninth overall and qualified for the Athens Olympic Games. He won Final B with Matthew Wells, ranking them seventh overall.

In the 2007 season he won two World Cup Gold Medals, in a pair with Colin Smith at Linz, and in an eight at Amsterdam, before winning the Bronze Medal in the pair at the World Championships in Munich. He won the Bronze Medal at the 2007 British Indoor Rowing Championships in the Men's Heavyweight category. In the run-up to the Beijing games he won Silver at the Munich World Cup event, Bronze in Lucerne, and Gold in Poznan.

At the Olympic final, despite a late charge from Great Britain, the eight was edged out by Canada, and Matthew took home a Silver Medal. Matthew also took home a silver medal at the World Rowing Championships 2014 in New Zealand, with his rowing partner James Foad.

His medal tally now stands at an Olympic Silver and Bronze; two World Championship Golds, a Silver and a Bronze; seven World Cup Golds, two Silvers and a Bronze and a Junior World Championships Gold. Matthew is now based in Henley-on-Thames where he trains under the sponsorship of UK Sport.

Frances Hulbert

Doctor of Business Administration 

Fran Hulbert is the former Director of Skills Policy at the Northwest Regional Development Agency. The skills remit of the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) was based upon substantial economic and labour market analysis and linked to capital regeneration, infrastructure investment, business development and growth in employment opportunity.

Fran’s role involved ensuring that the skills, qualifications and competencies provided by schools, colleges and higher education better match the needs of employers. This was underpinned by “bending the spending” of circa £4bn of regional public resource on skills, employment and Higher Education (HE) in the region to respond to agreed priorities. Having been the lead representative for England’s nine RDAs for employment, skills and HE, she is experienced in creating links across several Government departments and Treasury on national policy issues in this area, working directly with ministers and the relevant national executive bodies.

A main achievement was placing skills capability on the policy table as a key economic factor to establish the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. Fran’s extensive career has included teaching, lecturing in HE, curriculum and professional development at a national level, senior management posts in FE/HE, quality assurance, change management, regional economic development and policy formulation.

In her RDA Skills Policy role she was at the forefront of several major interventions such as the initial preparation and decision making process for the potential move of the BBC to Salford to create the new MediaCity, the supply of skills for the nuclear industry in Cumbria and the planning of workforce development in high level manufacturing sectors. She is strongly committed to ensuring that direct and active skills and employment measures are invested to the benefit of individuals, local communities and businesses.

Fran was a member of the Foster Review of Further Education, a Board member of the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurs, and Foundation Degree Forward, and is a Fellow of the RSA. She chairs the University of Chester’s Business Advisory Council, and the Riverside Innovation Centre’s Steering Group. She also chairs the Fabric Advisory Committee of Chester Cathedral and is a Lay Canon of the Cathedral.

Now working independently, she combines the continuation of several non-executive university Board appointments with specific strategic, advisory and evaluation assignments. She is a very experienced conference Chair, and a highly regarded speaker, facilitator and presenter.

Fran lives in North Wales with her husband, with their grown up family and grandchildren in the vicinity. She enjoys being an art student again, writing, cooking and travel and laughs if you talk about retirement.

Carrie Ford

Master of Arts 

Carrie rode in her first official race at 16 and had her first win at the Welsh Legion in Chepstow. Prior to retiring Carrie calculates she rode more than 80 winners, 60 at point to point, 30 National Hunt rules and some wins on the flat.

Carrie retired from racing in 2004 to plan for a family, with daughter Hannah born in 2005. She came out of retirement to ride Forest Gunner in the Grand National. Following this Carrie did retire to a full-time post as the Northern Region Education Officer for The British Horseracing Education & Standards Trust (BHEST).

Carrie is involved with the ‘Racing to School’ initiative which is a free educational programme for pupils and students of all ages. In addition, Carrie has helped to raised more than £100,000 for the Christie Charity though its charity balls.

Martin Lewis OBE

Doctor of Business Administration 

He founded in 2003 for £100. It is now the UK's biggest money site, with over 13 million monthly users and seven million receiving the Martin's Money Tips email –and he remains its full-time Editor-In-Chief. He has his own prime-time ITV programme - The Martin Lewis Money Show and is resident expert on Daybreak, Lorraine, This Morning, Radio 5 Consumer Panel and Radio 2 Jeremy Vine amongst others.

Martin has worked on campaigns to reclaim Bank Charges, PPI and Council Tax with over 10 million template letters downloaded and many billions repaid. He is currently campaigning for financial education in schools.

Martin has been Consumer Journalist of the Year, Citizens Advice Consumer Champion and topped The Grocer's 2011 Retail Power100 list. Martin is also a governor of the London School of Economics and founder and patron of the MSE Charity, which so far has seen £100,000 of grants go to consumer finance education charities. The MSE Charity addresses the UK’s problem of financial illiteracy by funding relevant guidance and education for individuals and groups.

In 2012, MSE joined the MoneySupermarket group, and Martin used some of the proceeds to set up a £10 million charity fund. The first £1 million is being donated to Citizens Advice. The rest will be given over the next few years, and Martin primarily aims to focus on his passions for financial education and improving mental health and debt policy.

Colin Parry OBE JP

Doctor of Letters 

​Colin Parry OBE JP is well known for his work with the charitable organisation which he founded, The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation For Peace. His efforts have helped the progress of the peace process in Northern Ireland.

Colin is a tireless campaigner for Peace and has become a prominent authority and speaker in the years following the IRA bombing in Warrington in which his son was killed. Following this tragic event, Colin and his wife Wendy founded the Foundation for Peace and created their unique Peace Centre in Warrington.

Colin was awarded the OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in 2004 and has received many other awards and accreditations including Rotary International's most prestigious award for 'World Understanding and Peace' before an audience of 10,000 in the Osaka Baseball Dome in Japan.

An inspired networker and communicator, Colin runs his own coaching and leadership development company. Colin has also written widely on the subject of peace, having many first person pieces published in national and regional media, and he also wrote the book 'Tim: An Ordinary Boy', published by Hodder & Stoughton (1994). Colin also hosted his own television series, 'An Interview with Colin Parry' on Granada Television, in which he interviewed a wide variety of guests.

Colin Parry is Chairman and Co-founder of the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. The Foundation is dedicated to providing conflict resolution programmes and activities that benefit children, young people, adults, schools and communities everywhere.


Canon Christina Baxter CBE

Doctor of Theology 

Dr Baxter studied at Durham University and went into teaching becoming Head of Religious Education. She became only the second woman reader in the Lincoln diocese. She completed her PhD at Durham University and became a lecturer at St John’s College, Nottingham. She became Dean and then Principal until her retirement in 2012.

The University of Chester currently validates the research degrees at St John’s and has a close relationship with the College. She has held over 45 committee memberships at a senior level including: the Federation of European Evangelical Theologians; Standing Committee of Church of England’s General Synod; Joint Chairman of the Anglican Evangelical-Catholic Dialogue; Vice-Chairman, House of Laity of the General Synod; Chair, Church of England Committee for the Ecumenical Decade in Solidarity with Women; Archbishops’ Council; Women Bishops Working Party; Bishops’ Advisory Panel member and Vice President of the Bible Reading Fellowship Trustees.

Professor Philip Love CBE DL

Doctor of Letters 

Philip Love is a Scot who came to Liverpool in 1992 to take up the post of Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool, a position he held until he retired in 2002. He was on the Council of Universities UK between 1996 and 2002 and was Chairman of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association between 1995 and 2002.

Before his arrival in Liverpool, he held various posts in Scotland, having been President of The Law Society of Scotland (the governing body of Scottish Solicitors), a Commissioner of the Scottish Law Commission (the body responsible for reforming the Law of Scotland), Vice-Principal of the University of Aberdeen (where he held a Chair in Law) as well as being a practising solicitor and a member of The Society of Advocates in Aberdeen.

Since 1992 he has been involved in a wide range of activities on Merseyside - he has been a Chairman of The Mersey Partnership and is currently a Trustee of Liverpool Charitable and Voluntary Services and St George's Hall Trust. He has also been a Trustee of Merseyside Police and High Sheriff's Charitable Trust, Liverpool Philharmonic Foundation and a Governor of Liverpool College. He has been a Deputy Lieutenant of Merseyside since 1997 and was High Sheriff of the County in 2007-2008. He is married to Isobel, another Scot, and they have five children and 10 grandchildren.

Neil Young

Master of Arts 

Neil was appointed Manager of Colwyn Bay Football Club in 2008 with Assistant Manager Gary Jones. In two seasons they had secured promotion to the Northern Premier League Premier Division. Neil left Colwyn Bay and became the first Manager of newly formed Chester FC which developed after the demise of Chester City.

In May 2010 Chester were allocated to the North West County league, two steps below Colwyn Bay. Following an appeal the club were reassigned to the Northern Premier League Division One North. Gary Jones joined Neil, along with two players from Colwyn Bay. They immediately established themselves at the top of the division with a 12 point lead.

In 2012/2013 they won the Peter Swales Shield and set a strong pace in the Blue Square North Division winning 11 of 13 games. Neil was working for Mersey Rail Electric but the company granted Neil an 18 month sabbatical to football full time. The Club then went on to win 12 straight games, the league title, and broke several league records. They also secured the most wins (33), fewest defeats (3), the most points (107), the most goals scored in a season (103) and the best goal difference (71). They won the Cheshire Senior Cup and broke the record for the longest unbeaten streak.

Neil saw Chester win three championships ‘on the bounce’, six trophies and four promotions in five years. They have even bought and sold a player - Antoni Sarcevic - at considerable profit and Neil has been Manager of the Year for Conference North Division for 2012/2013.


The Rt Honourable Lord Hunt

Doctor of Letters 

Lord Hunt of Wirral is Chairman of the Financial Services Division of the international commercial law firm DAC Beachcroft LLP, having been a partner since 1969 and senior partner from 1995 to 2005, specialising in regulatory law.

David led the legal teams on the report for the Law Society on the future regulation of solicitors and also the first independent review of the Financial Ombudsman Service. He chairs the Press Complaints Commission and has been charged with setting up a new regulatory structure for the newspaper and magazine industry. He also chairs the Lending Standards Board and a panel of experts in drawing up a code for governance for Clinical Commissioning Groups. He is Non-Executive Chairman of McDonald’s Education Company. He is Vice President of the Holocaust Educational Trust.

David co-chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Legal and Constitutional Affairs and has been in parliament since 1976, having spent 21 years in the House of Commons as MP for Wirral and from 1983, for Wirral West. He was a minister in successive governments from 1979 to 1995, having served in both Margaret Thatcher’s and John Major’s Cabinets. He has been a member of the Privy Council since 1990.


The Rt Honourable Frank Field DL MP

Doctor of Letters 

In 1979 Frank was elected Member of Parliament for Birkenhead. Between 1980 and 1981 he served as Shadow Education and Social Security spokesman for Labour under the leadership of Michael Foot.

In 1990 he took up the chairmanship of the Social Security Select Committee and continued in this role up to 1997. From 1997-1998 he accepted the position of Minister for Welfare Reform in Tony Blair’s first Cabinet. He then served as a member of the Public Accounts Committee between 2002 and 2005. Before the 2010 General Election, when Frank was returned with an increased majority, Frank led the campaign against the removal of the 10p rate of tax which saw 5.3 million households financially lose out.

In 2010, in recognition of his expertise in the fields of poverty and welfare, Frank was appointed Chair of the Independent Review on Poverty and Life Chances. Frank serves as Co-Chair of the Cross Party Group on Balanced Migration and is a member of several All-Party Parliamentary Groups (which are established by MPs in order to investigate issues of interest in greater depth), including the All-Party Group on Zimbabwe, the Group for Clean Coal and the Group for Dying Well.

Gillian Burns MBE

Master of Science 

Gill started playing rugby for Liverpool Polytechnic in 1987, becoming Captain a year later. In 1988 she made her England debut against Sweden and her debut for Great Britain in 1989 against France. In 1989 she set up and captained Waterloo FC Womens’ Rugby and in the following years became Captain of the North and Captain of England.

She has received a world record of 73 England caps, five England 7s caps, two Great Britain caps and two World XV caps and retired from the sport in 2002. She was the North West representative on the North and National Rugby Football Union Women committees from 1988-1993.

Other rugby related honours include being the first woman to referee at Twickenham; receiving the Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year Team Award in 1994; Winning the Cosmopolitan Achievement Award for Sporting Success in 1994; Sports Writers Association Awards in 1994; Sports Personality of the Year Awards (BBC) in 1994; she received an invitation to 10 Downing Street to celebrate the Government’s plans for the future of sport in 1995 and in 1997 was invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace to celebrate Sport in the Life of the Nation.

In September 1999 she was the first woman player to be welcomed into the Rugby Hall of Fame. She was awarded the MBE in 2005 by the Queen for Services to Sport; became a Privileged Member of the RFU in 2012 and was Voted Waterloo Rugby Club All-time Hero in 2012.

Michael Arditti

Doctor of Letters 

Born in Cheshire and educated at Jesus College, Cambridge, Michael Arditti began his literary career writing plays, of which several were produced on the stage, including: The Volunteer (National Youth Theatre); The Freshman (National Student Theatre Company); as well as radio productions such as Something To Scare Off The Birds; The Morning Room; The Chatelaine; and The Family Hotel (all for BBC Radio 4).

He has written theatre criticism for the Evening Standard, The Times, Sunday Times and Daily Mail, opera criticism for the Sunday Express, and book reviews for The Times, Daily Telegraph, Independent and Daily Mail. He has contributed to the Dictionary of National Biography, the City Secrets series, as well as theatrical anthologies, and is a regular broadcaster on the BBC.

His novels include The Celibate; Pagan and her Parents - published in America under the title Pagan’s Father; Easter; Unity; A Sea Change; The Enemy of the Good; Jubilate; and The Breath of Night. He has also written a short story collection, entitled Good Clean Fun.

Michael was awarded a Harold Hyam Wingate scholarship in 2000, a Royal Literary Fund fellowship in 2001, an Oppenheim-John Downes memorial award in 2003, and Arts Council awards in 2004 and 2007. He was the Leverhulme artist in residence at the Freud Museum in 2008. Pagan’s Father was shortlisted for the Lambda literary award. He won the first Waterstone’s Mardi Gras award, was shortlisted for the Creative Freedom award and longlisted for the Whitbread prize. Unity was shortlisted for the 2006 Wingate Jewish Quarterly award.

Michael Oliver

Doctor of Engineering 

Michael Oliver grew up in Cheshire and left school at the age of 15 to start an apprenticeship with David Brown Machine Tools which allowed him to study day release at a technical college.

After three years he gained an Ordinary National Certificate (ONC) certificate in Mechanical and Production Engineering before going on to study a Higher National Diploma at Liverpool Technical College where he successful achieved a certificate in Mechanical and Production Engineering.

At the age of 23, he designed the world’s first gear shaving machine for the production of automotive gears with full hydraulic drive. He then went to work in America where he designed the revolutionary gear rolling machine to produce automatic transmission gears for Ford Motor Company. The process, which he developed with Landis in Pennsylvania, is now used world-wide to manufacture high volume automatic gears.

He then moved into sales, first selling chemical process equipment, then machine tools, before returning to the UK in the mid-1960s with his late wife Ann and daughter Lynn. After a spell working with Lord Stirling, in 1980 began his own business, Oliver Engineering, at the family home in Hale. During this period he designed a type of needle valve for use in the oil and gas industries which would eliminate leakage across the seat and up the stem of the valve.

Now operating as Oliver Valves Limited, the company has grown from one small factory in Knutsford, to 12 factory units employing around 350 people and operating in 80 countries. It also has two sister companies – Oliver ValveTek, producing valves operating at 10,000ft below sea, and Oliver Twinsafe, producing valves for large pipelines.


James Berresford

Doctor of Business Administration 

Educated at the City of London University, James Berresford’s early career started in arts administration and theatre marketing before moving to countryside recreation. He went on to Nottinghamshire County Council as Tourism Officer and subsequently became Assistant Director of Leisure responsible for the management of various tourist attractions, including Sherwood Forest.

He was appointed to the Heart of England Tourist Board as Regional Director in the East Midlands before joining the Northwest Development Agency as Regional Business Manager for Tourism. He was then appointed a Director of the Agency with oversight for Tourism and Culture.

In 2009 James took up the post of Chief Executive of VisitEngland, the recently established official tourism body for England. He was also a Director of the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA) and the National Skills Academy for Hospitality.