Great Britain's most successful Paralympian ever, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, Richard Adams OBE, founder of Traidcraft and the Out of this World chain of ethical supermarkets, renowned drama teacher, Dorothy Heathcote, Jarrow-born playwright, Alan Plater, and psychologist and language specialist, Professor Steven Pinker will be honoured at the ceremony.
Dr John Hogan, Registrar of Newcastle University, said: 'The University seeks to achieve excellence in all its endeavours, and to encourage our students to fulfil their true potential. Each year, therefore, we honour individuals the University recognises as having achieved excellence in their chosen field.
'Individually, the achievements of the five people being honoured in May are outstanding. Collectively, the talent, initiative, creativity, enthusiasm and sometimes sheer hard work they embody are an inspiration to us all.'
The Chancellor of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, the Right Honourable Lord Patten of Barnes CH, will confer the Honorary Degrees at a ceremony to be held in the University’s King’s Hall, Armstrong Building, at 3.00 pm on Friday, 6 May 2005.
Notes for Editors
Doctor of Letters (DLitt): Dorothy Heathcote, internationally-acclaimed drama educationalist
Dorothy Heathcote has been described as one of the greatest teachers of the 20th century. In an extraordinary career, spanning 60 years, she was responsible for transforming the attitude of many in the teaching profession towards both drama and the school curriculum. She is credited with almost single-handedly changing the ways teachers think about and practise drama and theatre work in secondary schools.
Although she had no formal training as a teacher, Dorothy Heathcote pioneered a unique methodology based on the use of drama as a tool to stimulate holistic learning. Her methods, refined during 36 years of teaching, relating to the use of drama in the curriculum, particularly her central concepts of 'role', 'mantle of the expert' and 'rolling role' have inspired two generations of teachers and educationalists.
Dorothy Heathcote taught at Newcastle University for 36 years, but her international reputation for her work in drama education continues to grow, nearly 20 years after her retirement. Video recordings of her tutorials, filmed between 1971 and her retirement in 1986, are still watched by teachers world wide.
Her work has been the subject of several television and radio documentaries, and her biography was published in 2003.
Doctor of Letters (DLitt): Alan Plater CBE, award-winning dramatist
Born in Jarrow in 1935, Alan Plater was brought up in Hull, and trained as an architect at King's College, Newcastle (now Newcastle University). He has been a full-time writer since 1961, with over two hundred assorted credits in radio, television, theatre and films – plus six novels, occasional journalism, broadcasting and teaching.
He has enjoyed a long association with the Live Theatre in Newcastle, which in 1994 triumphantly revived his celebrated musical, Close the Coalhouse Door, written with Alex Glasgow and Sid Chaplin, a key work in the development of British political drama. Most recently, his play, Charlie's Trousers, played at the Live Theatre in March 2004.
Alan Plater's television career began with a string of single plays as well as contributions to the pioneering Z Cars series. Subsequent work has included Barchester Chronicles, the Beiderbecke Trilogy, Fortunes Of War and A Very British Coup, work which has netted him a string of awards including a BAFTA, awards from the Broadcasting Press Guild and the Royal Television Society, an International Emmy (USA), the Golden Fleece of Georgia (USSR), and the Grand Prix of the Banff Festival (Canada).
His most recent television work includes The Last of the Blonde Bombshells, shown on BBC TV in 2000, which starred Judi Dench in a BAFTA and Golden Globe-winning performance, and Belonging, dramatised from the novel Web of Belonging by Stevie Davies, shown in the autumn of 2004 on ITV, and starring Brenda Blethyn, Rosemary Harris, Anna Massey and Kevin Whately. He was awarded a CBE in the last New Year’s Honours List.
Doctor of Science (DSc): Professor Steven Pinker, experimental psychologist and specialist in language and the mind
Professor Steven Pinker is one of the world's leading authorities on language and the mind. He gained a bachelor's degree in experimental psychology from McGill University, Montreal, Canada, followed by a doctorate from Harvard, in 1979 and a post-doctoral fellowship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he spent most of his academic career until moving back to Harvard in 2003 as Professor of Psychology.
His main area of research lies in the psychology of language. He has written two books outlining a theory of language acquisition in children and has published numerous research papers on the subject.
He is perhaps best known in this country for his multiple award-winning books 'The Language Instinct' (1994), 'How the Mind Works' (1997), 'Words and Rules: The ingredients of language' (1999) and 'The Blank Slate: the Modern Denial of Human Nature' (2002). He also contributes frequently to the media on subjects ranging from politically correct language to the genetic enhancement of human beings.
Doctor of Civil Law (DCL): Richard Adams OBE, founder of fair trade company, Traidcraft
Richard Adams' name is synonymous with ethical trading. Mr Adams, who lives in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, has spent his working life in the founding and development of several successful charitable, community-owned, or co-operative enterprises that allow people to express constructive social and environmental values through their work, spending or saving. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology (Durham University), a Diploma in Theology (London University) and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (Newcastle University).
His first job was promoting industry in the North East after which he founded Tearcraft (1975) and Traidcraft plc (1979), now Britain’s largest fair trade company. He was instrumental in founding the Fairtrade Foundation whose fairtrade-marked products topped sales of £140m in 2004, and was a founding director of Shared Interest, the institution which finances a large proportion of fair trade worldwide.
He has written widely on corporate social responsibility, founding the ethical business research body, New Consumer, and also established the ethical supermarket chain, Out of this World, in 1994.
As a Government-appointed member of the Brussels–based Economic and Social Committee of the European Union he concentrates on social and environmental issues, especially sustainable development. Presenting the 2005 New Statesman award for individual social enterprise champion the judges said, ‘Perhaps more than anyone else, he is responsible for the idea that we can change the world around us by changing the way we consume.’
Doctor of Civil Law (DCL): Dame Tanni Grey Thompson DBE, 11 times gold medal-winning paralympian
Wheelchair athlete, Tanni Grey Thompson is one of the most successful British athletes of all time. Despite being born with Spina Bifida, she has represented Great Britain since 1997 at 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m distances. She has competed in the past five Paralympic Games, and has netted a total of 15 medals, 11 of them gold, most recently winning gold at 100m and 400m in Athens in September 2004. She also has 11 World Championship medals, including five gold medals, has broken over 20 world records, and has won the London Marathon six times.
Since 1996, she has been Development Officer for UK athletics, is a member of the Sports Council for Wales, and is Deputy Chairman of the UK Lottery Sports Fund.
Her achievement have brought several national honours, including and MBE (1993), OBE (2000) and, in the 2005 New Year Honours List, she was made Dame of the British Empire.
Order of Proceedings
3.00 pm The Academic Procession will enter King’s Hall, followed by the Chancellor’s Procession.
3.10 pm The presentation of postgraduate students for their degrees begins.
3.30 pm The Public Orator, Professor John Burn, will present the Honorary Graduands to the Chancellor in the following order:
Ms Dorothy Heathcote
Mr Alan Plater
Professor Steven Pinker
Richard Adams OBE
Dame Tanni Grey Thompson
The Public Orator (Professor John Burn) will deliver a short speech about each graduand before presenting them to the Chancellor, who will confer the degree by means of a handshake over the University Mace. Copies of the speeches by the Public Orator will be available at the ceremony.
4.30 pm The ceremony will close.
For further information contact Melanie Reed in the University Press Office on +44 (0) 191 208 5791; e-mail email@example.com
Photograph courtesy of BBC Online
published on: 6th May 2005