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By special resolution of the University Council (governing body) and its Senate, it was decided to recognise and celebrate the achievements of former students, who left either Chester or Padgate Colleges before 1979 with a Certificate in Education or a Bachelor of Education awarded by the Universities of Liverpool or Manchester. On Saturday, September 14, around 400 alumni and their guests gathered on the University’s Parkgate Road Campus to accept their University of Chester honorary degrees, in recognition of their contributions to education and wider society through teaching or other roles.

Four ceremonies were hosted in the University Chapel, where alumni spanning across five decades were invited to stand by year group as their honorary degrees were conferred upon them. Within these ceremonies were alumni with a broad range of significant achievements, including: Directors of Education in places as far away as Canada and Malaysia; pioneers in special educational needs and educational psychology; those with civil honours (including OBEs and MBEs); and a rich culture of lifelong volunteering in organisations such as Scouts, Girl Guides and Duke of Edinburgh Awards.

Amongst the esteemed headteachers, secondary and primary teachers, and Early Years specialists attending the ceremonies, were also alumni in a broad range of careers, including:

  • The Chairperson of the British Para Table Tennis Board
  • A member of the RAF freefall parachuting team and Physical Education branch
  • An award-winning children’s author and a well-known non-fiction author
  • An alumna who, in 1975, joined a new organisation called the Equal Opportunities Commission and has since worked to eliminate discrimination in education, employment and public services.

The most senior alumnus from Chester College to accept his award on the day was William Palin, who started training at Chester College 80 years ago, in 1939. As well as training as a teacher, William is also a World War Two veteran and, at 98 years old, was brought to his ceremony with the kind support of Blind Veterans UK.

Barbara Blundell, the most senior alumna from Padgate Teacher Training (now the University’s Warrington Campus) was also in attendance. Barbara began training at Padgate College 70 years ago, in 1949, as part of the College’s first cohort.

This year marks the 180th anniversary of the founding of the institution in 1839. Then known as the Chester Diocesan Training School, it was the first purpose-built teacher training facility in the UK. Now, as the University of Chester, the institution offers a wide variety of courses to over 20,000 students from 130 different countries.

Almost 1,000 more Honorary Degrees have been awarded in absentia to former students who were unable to attend. If eligible, you can still apply to receive your honorary degree until December 1. Please click here for more details.

Comments about the day included:

  • “You will never know how much it means to me to get this degree honour 62 years after gaining my teaching certificate at Padgate.”
  • “I had a lovely day especially as some of my family came to the University, they too had a special day. My eldest granddaughter said: “It’s not everybody who has a grandma getting a degree at almost 85!” My three years (1967 to 1970) will always remain in my memory, as I was so happy during the time spent in College. As Professor Wheeler said at the ceremony, you will always be part of the University of Chester and the University of Chester will always be a part of you.”
  • “A unique day in the history of the University. Every aspect demonstrated high quality attention to detail that was much appreciated by everyone I met. Resoundingly successful!”
  • “I had the most amazing time in receiving my honorary degree, being able to reside on the campus and use the facilities, meet up with old friends and all in such glorious weather! Thank you again for providing me with such a splendid and unforgettable experience.”
  • “Throughout the day, there was a very warm and friendly reception of us all. There was a palpable atmosphere of goodwill, acceptance, encouragement and welcome, expressed in so many different ways throughout the day. We concluded an amazing day with a sense of achievement and great appreciation for all that had been arranged for us and delivered with such care and professional expertise. A day to cherish, reflect upon and remember with immense pleasure and thankfulness.”
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