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  • Ceremony 7 – 10.30am

Tony Garnett DL, FRAgS will receive an honorary degree of Doctor of Science (DSc) in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the County of Cheshire, in particular for his role as Chairman of the Cheshire Agricultural Society.

Tony received a Fellowship of The Royal Agricultural Societies of England: the prestigious accolade was for his dedication to agricultural and he has now been made a Fellow of the RASE.

Tony retired as Chairman of The Royal Cheshire Show and Cheshire Agricultural Society, in June 2019 and upon his retirement was made Honorary Life Warden, a position only previously held by two others, Lord Woolley and John Platt, who was Chairman of The Cheshire Agricultural Society for 30 years. Tony was instrumental in obtaining the ‘Royal’ status for the Cheshire Show in 2015. He is currently President Elect for the Cheshire Farms Competitions.

He has held numerous President and Chairman roles including being a Council member of The Cheshire Agricultural Society of Cheshire for 25 years and Chairman of The Cheshire Show for 12 years. During his time as Chairman, Tony has worked hard to bring back the agricultural side to the Show and all agricultural trade stand space was taken in 2014 and 2015 with further space allocated for agricultural trade stands.

In 2002, Tony was asked to organise a marquee displaying ‘Farming Through the Ages’ at King’s School, Macclesfield, to celebrate HM The Queen’s Jubilee visit to Cheshire. In 2003, he hosted a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association delegation at his farm during the Commonwealth visit to Britain. The delegates toured the site and were entertained with afternoon tea in the family home. In 2008, Tony represented the National Farmers’ Union in the parade on Remembrance Day past the Cenotaph on the first year that the NFU was represented.

In November 2008, Tony attended Windsor Castle to a Reception given by TRH The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh in recognition of his contribution to farming, and in 2011 he was made an Associate of Royal Agricultural Society of England, RASE. He was awarded the Ambassador for Cheshire Agriculture Award in 2012.

Tony is a member of the RASC (Royal Association Society Commonwealth) and attended the Commonwealth Conference in Zambia in 2012 and RASC Conference in Australia in 2014 and attending the Conference in Canada in autumn 2018. He hosted a visit by The Archbishop of York at Clay Bank Farm. Clay Bank Farm has hosted numerous events over the years, including National Holstein Events, National Stock judgings, Herd competitions and many parties of students from Reaseheath College, Colleges from Ireland and the UK, The National Grassland Society UK visit in 2007 and a party of Australian farmers.

Tony has shown TRH The Princess Royal and The Countess of Wessex around the Cheshire Show and in 2016 he received the Sir William and Lady Bromley Davenport Trophy for ‘Exceptional endeavour in promoting the interests of agriculture and countryside related activities in Cheshire’ and was also honoured to be made a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society of England.

The Cheshire Show has been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. Three other voluntary workers with the Show, along with Tony, attended a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in recognition of the Award.

Tony said: “I am extremely honoured and humbly proud to be awarded an Honorary Degree of Science by the University of Chester. I have held many honorary positions and it has always been a great pleasure to help and support organisations, but did not expect my efforts to be rewarded with such a huge honour as an honorary degree”.

  • Ceremony 8 – 2.45pm

Sheila Dillon will receive an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters (DLitt) in recognition of her outstanding contribution to journalism and broadcasting.

Sheila Dillon has been a food journalist for more than three decades.  She has worked on BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme, first as a reporter, then producer and now presenter.

In her early days on the programme she produced groundbreaking editions on BSE--mad cow disease and its connections to our desire for cheap food, the rise of GM foods, the growth of the organic movement from muck and magic to multi-million pound business, and the birth of the World Trade Organisation - triggering the modern globalisation of our food supply.  All at a time when those subjects were not widely covered in the media and certainly not covered by 'food' programmes. 

Recent programmes on robots in the food business, the origins of the horsemeat fraud, the glory of British pies, diet and cancer, and the inadequacies of medical training when doctors are now faced every day with diet-induced diseases, carry on the tradition. In 2000 she helped set up the BBC Food and Farming Awards which judge shops, producers, campaigners, cooks in public organisations and policy makers not only for the quality of their food but the difference they make to their communities, as well as the  local and national economies. She’s won numerous awards for her journalism, including the Glaxo science prize.

  • Nickolas Grace will receive an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters (DLitt) in recognition of his outstanding contribution to drama and the arts.

Nickolas was born in West Kirby and educated at King’s, Chester and Forest School, Walthamstow. He received a scholarship to Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, followed by Repertory in Frinton, Manchester and Nottingham.

Roles in the Royal Shakespeare Company, from 1972-78 included: Biondello in Alan Bates’ Taming of the Shrew; Aumerle in Richardson/ Pasco Richard II (Stratford and New York); Aeneas in Troilus and Cressida; Hitler in Schweyk and Witwoud in Way of the World; Dromio of Ephesus in musical version of Comedy of Errors with Dame Judi Dench (Stratford, London and ITV). He played Hamlet for the opening of Derby Playhouse in 1975.

Other theatre includes: Renfield in Dracula with Terence Stamp (Shaftesbury Theatre); MC in Cabaret (Bristol Old Vic); Edgar in King Lear and the title role in Richard II (Young Vic); Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Nick in What the Butler Saw (Old Vic); Mozart in Amadeus (Her Majesty’s); Koko in The Mikado; Joseph Porter in HMS Pinafore (Sadler’s Wells and New York); Voltaire in Bernstein’s Candide (Scottish Opera/ Old Vic/ Lisbon Opera/ BBC TV - Olivier Nomination); Nicodemus in The Mystery of Irma Vep (Ambassador’s); Cole Porter in A Swell Party (Vaudeville); Life Support with Alan Bates (Aldwych); Grimaldi in Dick Wittington (Sadler’s Wells and Barbican); Underling in The Drowsy Chaperone with Elaine Paige (Novello); Trinity in Chariots of Fire (Gielgud); Jules in Sunday in the Park with George (Châtelet, Paris).

Film and TV includes: Anthony Blanche in Brideshead Revisited (BAFTA Nomination); Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin of Sherwood (ACE Nomination); Nelson in Napoleon and Josephine; Marcus in Birds of a Feather; Boozer-Pitt in House of Cards; Harry in Heat and Dust; Merlin; Sharpe; Bertrand Russell in Tom and Viv; title-role in Lorca (Montecarlo Prize); Montgomery in D-Day to Berlin; Tailor in Evita; Casey in My Family; Postlethwaite in Decline and Fall; Larry in Killing Eve.

Directing credits include: Tobias and the Angel (Interdrama Award); The Sea: The Ruling Class; The Betrayal of Nora Blake (Observer Musical of the Year) and Helping Harry (London, Berlin and USA).

He is also a Fellow of Royal Central School and a Companion of LIPA.

Nickolas said: “It’s an enormous honour and pleasure to receive an Honorary Doctorate from the city of my childhood.”

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