Students Staff

12 May 2015

Honorary Graduands announced

Casey Stoney

Casey Stoney is among seven people to be awarded Honorary Degrees at Graduation 2015

Essex-born England football star Casey Stoney and anti-poverty campaigner and activist Jack Monroe are among seven people to be awarded Honorary Degrees at Graduation 2015 at the University of Essex.

The group of distinguished individuals, which also includes social science research pioneer Professor Paul Thompson and The Clangers and Bagpuss co-creator Peter Firmin, will join nearly 3,000 students and 6,500 guests for this year’s celebration, which takes place from 14-17 July 2015.

This year’s Honorary Graduands are:

Peter Firmin is an artist who created drawings and puppets for a number of much-loved children’s TV programmes and influenced thousands of children’s childhoods.

He was honoured with the Special Award at the BAFTA Children’s Awards in November 2014.

Together with Oliver Postgate, the founder of the animation company, Smallfilms, they created several very popular series of short films using stop-motion animation, including The Clangers, Noggin the Nog and Ivor the Engine. One of their creations, Bagpuss, came top of a BBC poll to find the favourite children’s programme.

He started out getting paid £30 a week to make drawings and backgrounds for a series called Alexander the Mouse and went on working on other series for children for the next 50 years. He and Oliver were innovators in the field of children’s TV programme and their strong message of ecology and recycling continues to influence thousands of children and adults today.

The toys and books which are based on these stories continue to delight adults and children to this day.

Professor Andrew Mack is an Essex alumnus who helped revolutionise the field of peace research, making important contributions to the work of the United Nations and working at leading universities around the world.

He is Director of the Human Security Report Project at Simon Fraser University in Canada and a faculty member of the university’s new School for International Studies. Prior to this he directed the Human Security Centre at the University of British Columbia. Before this, Professor Mack was a Visiting Professor at the Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research at Harvard University.

From 1998 to 2001 he was Director of the Strategic Planning Office in the Executive Office of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He held the Chair in International Relations at the Institute of Advanced Study at the Australian National University (ANU) from 1991 to 1998 and was Director of the ANU’s Peace Research Centre, Senior Research Fellow in the ANU’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre.

He has published 16 books and more than 60 scholarly articles.

Actor, director, author and archivist Murray Melvin was part of the Theatre Workshop Company at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East in London.

Under the direction of the late Joan Littlewood, he was involved in her productions including Oh What a Lovely War and A Taste of Honey, which blew a welcome wind of change through the UK theatre at the time.

He was the company’s first student and was the role model for the start of the University’s East 15 Acting School.

He won the best actor Prix de Cannes in 1962 for his role in A Taste of Honey and nominated for a BAFTA Most Promising Newcomer Award. His films include Alfie, The Devils, The Boyfriend and The Phantom of the Opera.

As a theatre director, his work includes opera, recitals, drama and comedy. In 1990 he started to record the Theatre Workshop’s residency at the Theatre Royal. This work has now expanded to include the whole of the theatre’s history from 1884 to the present day.

He was on the Board of the Theatre Royal for 22 years and is now a Guardian of the Theatre Workshop Trust.

Jack Monroe is an award-winning, Essex-born writer and campaigner on poverty issues, particularly food and hunger relief.

She started writing her blog A Girl Called Jack in 2012, sharing the affordable meals she made for herself and her son on a budget of just £10 a week. The blog soon gained national coverage, and Jack herself became a recognisable figure who was praised in the British media for her grit in the face of severe financial hardship.

Her first cookbook A Girl Called Jack, based on her blog, was published in February 2014. Her second cookbook was a food diary through a rollercoaster year from anonymity to having a food column in The Guardian and a book that sat at the top of the paperback charts.

Jack is an active campaigner, fronting a petition demanding politicians debate hunger in Britain. Within four days the petition had secured 100,000 signatures and the debate was held in the House of Commons. She is an ambassador for Oxfam and travelled to Tanzania to learn about women and agriculture.

She has twice been listed on The Independent On Sunday’s Pink List 2014 of the most influential openly LGBT people in the UK.

She writes a weekly recipe column for The Guardian, and regularly contributes political pieces to The Mirror, The Independent and The Guardian.

Andrea Stark is a founder and first Chief Executive of High House Production Park in Thurrock, a centre of excellence for creative industries.

The new charity was established to advance culture-led regeneration and education for the benefit of the people of Essex. It is in the heart of Europe’s largest regeneration area.

Previously a member of the National Executive Board of Arts Council England, Andrea had responsibility for two regions and for its national work to shape public policy beyond the cultural sector.

She became Chief Executive of Eastern Arts Board in 1999 where she devised a highly successful investment strategy that generated over £125 million in funding for a series of world class arts centres. She is currently involved in work on behalf of South East Local Enterprise Partnership to support development of Colchester as a creative industries hub.

Andrea is an influential advocate, generating new ideas for the role culture can play at the heart of public policy and strategy at a national and local level.

She has a strong track record in driving forward the development of creative industries in the East and North East of England and in Scotland.

Casey Stoney is an Essex-born footballer who has been capped more than 100 times for the England women’s national football team since making her debut in 2000.

After being a non-playing squad member at UEFA Women's Euro 2005, she was an integral part of the England teams which reached the UEFA Women's Euro 2009 final and the quarter finals of FIFA Women's World Cup in 2007 and 2011.

Casey, who plays for Arsenal Ladies is a Sky Sports Living for Sport Mentor. She was the first and is the only female member of the Professional Footballers’ Association’s management committee.

She was named Nationwide International Player of the Year for 2007-08. In 2012 she succeeded Faye White as the England captain and also became captain of the newly-formed Team GB squad for the 2012 London Olympics. In 2014 she was named 9th in The Independent on Sunday’s Pink List of the most influential openly LGBT people in the UK.

Professor Paul Thompson is a pioneer in social science research, particularly the development of life stories and oral history within sociology and social history. He is the pioneer of oral history work in Europe and his book on the philosophy and practice of this method, The Voice of the Past (1978), is available in ten languages and entering its 4th edition.

Now Professor Emeritus in Sociology at Essex, he founded the journal Oral History in 1971 and the Oral History Society in 1973. Between 1970 and 1973 he carried out a project titled 'Family Life and Work Experience before 1918' which was the first national oral history interview study to be carried out in Britain.

Thompson set up the 450 interviews for The Edwardians as an archive in a storeroom at Essex, which was subsequently much used by other researchers, resulting in many key publications by others. This provided the model for the setting up of Qualidata (now part of the UK Data Archive at Essex). From 1994 he was Qualidata’s founder and first Director.

In 1987 Thompson also founded the National Life Story Collection (now known as National Life Stories) at the British Library. This is now the largest oral history archive in Europe, including collections on artists and architects, scientists, Holocaust survivors, financiers, oil workers, the Post Office, etc.

Thompson’s other books include Living the Fishing, on family and work in Scottish fishing villages. He is co-author of Pathways to Social Class and Growing Up in Stepfamilies, and most recently, Jamaican Hands Across the Atlantic. Since retirement he has also worked for a variety of community projects, including with Moroccan migrants to Britain, a neighbourhood in middle class North Oxford, and close by, three Essex coastal villages.


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