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Admiral Sir Philip Jones GCB DL and Lord Hall of Birkenhead will receive honorary degrees in ceremonies at Chester Cathedral in recognition of their expertise in their fields.

More than 550 graduands will be congratulated by the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Eunice Simmons, who will be presiding.

Professor Simmons, said: “Our graduation ceremonies are such a highlight in our year and I am very much looking forward to my first in Chester Cathedral as Vice-Chancellor.

“It is a wonderful occasion for all the soon-to-be-graduates, their families and their friends as they celebrate the culmination of all their hard work and step out into their futures.

“I am also extremely pleased to see such eminent professionals in their fields, Admiral Sir Philip Jones and Lord Hall of Birkenhead, receive their honorary degrees in recognition of all they have achieved.”

  • Ceremony one 10.30am

Admiral Sir Philip Jones GCB DL will receive a Doctor of Science in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Royal Navy.

Philip completed a 41 year career in the Royal Navy in June 2019, which culminated in his three year appointment as Chief of Naval Staff and First Sea Lord, the Royal Navy’s professional Head and Chairman of the Navy Board. In that role he was responsible to the Secretary of State for Defence for the fighting effectiveness, efficiency and morale of the Naval Service. He also advised the Chief of the Defence Staff on maritime aspects of all operations. As Top-Level Budget holder for Navy Command he was responsible for the Navy’s £6.4Bn budget and its 30,000 people.

Prior to that, as a Vice Admiral, he had served as Fleet Commander, responsible for the provision of ships, submarines, maritime aircraft and Royal Marines units as required to support mandated maritime operations. As a Rear Admiral, he had served as Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Policy), where he worked to identify and drive the Navy Board’s strategic objectives. As Flag Officer Scotland and Northern Ireland, he commanded the Navy’s Regional and Reserves forces.

Born in Cheshire and educated at Birkenhead School, he read Geography at Mansfield College, Oxford. Earlier in his career he saw active service in the Falklands Conflict in 1982, served in HM Yacht BRITANNIA, commanded the frigates HM Ships BEAVER and COVENTRY, the Amphibious Task Group (as a Commodore) and UK Maritime Forces (as a Rear Admiral). He is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Shipwrights, a Younger Brother of Trinity House and a Freeman of the cities of London and Glasgow.

Having stepped down as First Sea Lord he is now a Trustee of the National Museum of the Royal Navy and of the White Ensign Association, a Distinguished Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies and a Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire.

He said: “After growing up on the Wirral, and with a father who spent most of his working life at Cammell Laird Shipbuilders in Birkenhead, I was clearly aware of the strong maritime heritage of this area when I joined the Royal Navy over 40 years ago. As such it was very special when I was selected to be Head of my Service, as 1st Sea Lord, four years ago; the first ever from this region. Having retired nine months ago, I feel deeply honoured to have my achievements, and my links to the area, recognised with the award of an honorary degree by the University of Chester.”

  • Ceremony two 2.30pm

Lord Hall of Birkenhead will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Royal Opera House and the BBC.

Tony Hall is one of the key figures in this country's media and arts industries. As Director-General, Tony is the BBC’s creative, editorial and operational leader. He oversees all the BBC’s services across the UK and around the world, both public service and commercial.

Tony is also President of the European Broadcasting Union, championing public service media across the world.

He became the BBC's 16th Director-General in 2013 and announced this January that he would step down from the role in the summer to take up the position of Chair of the National Gallery.

Tony first joined the BBC as a news trainee in 1973 and, as Director of News and Current Affairs, launched many of the BBC's most popular digital services - including BBC News Online, the rolling news channel, BBC Parliament and Radio 5 Live.  

In 2001 he became Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House, bringing financial stability, supporting new artists, and developing new audiences. He introduced the first live cinema screenings around the UK, low-price ticket schemes and a thriving new production park in Thurrock.

In 2004 Tony was appointed inaugural Chair of the industry-led Creative and Cultural skills, introducing the first formal creative apprenticeships as well as new online careers guidance for emerging talent.

In 2009 he joined the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and became Chair of the Cultural Olympiad Board. He is currently a Trustee of The Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

He was awarded a CBE in 2006 and was made a life peer in 2010. He sits on the crossbenches in the House of Lords. 

He said: “I’m extremely proud to be awarded this Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of Chester. It means a great deal to me, as someone who was born and brought up just down the road in Birkenhead, to receive this award from such a celebrated academic institution that feels so close to home. It’s a real honour to have the chance to share this ceremony with the latest generation of talented young graduates as they embark on their own exciting careers.”

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