Latest News | 11 July 2022

Key figures to be recognised with honorary degrees

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The boss of Disability Direct and a founder of law firm Smith Partnership are among those set to receive honorary degrees from the University of Derby.

Amo Raju, the chief executive of Disability Direct, will be made an honorary doctor of the university, recognising his commitment and contribution to the voluntary sector and the disabled community in Derby.

Peter Smith, who as well as helping found Smith Partnership is founding chair of the Derby Museums Trust, will be made an honorary master of the university.

Each year notable people with a strong connection to the university or to the city are chosen to receive an honorary degree at awards ceremonies, which are held when students graduate after completing their courses.

Thousands of students, guests and VIPs are expected to attend the next set of ceremonies, which will take place at Derby Arena from Wednesday 20 July to Friday 22 July.

Mr Raju has been instrumental in promoting support services for disabled people in Derby.

As a disabled person himself from birth, he has faced countless personal battles throughout his own journey. Today, he is a nationally recognised sector leader.

He has directly and personally raised more than £25 million in grants, contracts and self-generated income for the disabled community, and has been a leading light during the pandemic.

Speaking about receiving an honorary degree, he said: “I’m humbled and uncharacteristically speechless.

“This award will not only mean so much to me but will hopefully inspire future generations of disabled people to learn and then apply skills which benefit the wider community.

“I thank the University of Derby from the bottom of my heart for recognising my efforts and hope to continue working to improve options and facilities for all in the city.”

Mr Smith was appointed founding chair of the Derby Museums Trust in 2012.
Under his leadership, the trust surmounted enormous financial and other challenges and successfully put together a bid for £15 million of inward investment to create the Museum of Making, now a landmark in the city and a major visitor draw.

Amo Raju

He said: “I am truly delighted to be offered this award by the University of Derby.

“The transformation of Derby’s museums since the creation of the Museums Trust has been extraordinary; it was a privilege to be the trust’s founding chair and to help lead it to successful independence.

“This award recognises the achievements of all of the trustees and the outstanding museum management and staff.”

Also among this year’s honorary degree recipients is British Army officer and physiotherapist Captain Harpreet Chandi MBE, who recently made history by becoming the first woman of Indian origin to complete a solo, unsupported expedition to the South Pole.

She is joined by award-winning LGBT+ advocate Shaun Dellenty, England Women’s Rugby Union Team member Lydia Thompson and Her Honour Judge Nirmal Shant QC, resident judge at Derby Crown Court.

Liam Sharp, a Derby-born publisher, artist and writer of comics and novels, will also be recognised.

Liam was responsible for the design of Marketing Derby’s ram in last year’s Derby Ram Trail, which was called ‘Captain Stone’.

Professor Kathryn Mitchell, vice-chancellor of the University of Derby, said: “Graduation is such an important milestone for our students, their families and guests.

“It is the culmination of years of hard work and provides an opportunity for our students to reflect on what they have achieved and celebrate the efforts they have put into their studies during their time at university.

“It is also an opportunity to recognise and thank those inspirational people who have helped contribute to our university, city and county, which is done so through the awarding of honorary degrees.

“The positive impact this year’s honorands have made is significant, so we are delighted to be able to acknowledge that.

“Congratulations to everyone that will be graduating, we cannot wait to celebrate with you.”

To mark the beginning of the university’s awards ceremonies, a special service will take place at Derby Cathedral on Tuesday 19 July at 6pm.

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