Students Staff

13 June 2015

Essex graduate gets MBE for Richard III search

Dr John Ashdown-Hill

Dr John Ashdown-Hill

Former University of Essex student, and Honorary Graduate, Dr John Ashdown-Hill was one of the five Essex alumni recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Dr Ashdown-Hill has been awarded an MBE for his role in the discovery of the remains of Richard III under a Leicester car park.

It was his research - including new evidence suggesting the last Plantagenet king had been buried at Grey Friars church and not thrown into the River Soar as previously thought, together with his discovery of Richard III's mitochondrial DNA sequence - that led to the exhumation and identification, and reburial of Richard III.

Four other Essex alumni also received honours:

  • Bryan Avery (MA History and Theory of Architecture 1970) of Avery Associates Architects received an MBE for services to architecture.
  • Professor Gwyn Griffiths (Electronic Engineering 1975) received an MBE for services to marine science. Gwyn founded Autonomous Analytics and was Head of the Underwater Systems Lab at the National Environment Research Council.
  • Vivienne Hayes (PG Diploma Comparative History 1994), Chief Executive of the Women’s Resource Centre, received an MBE for services to women.
  • Adrian Penfold (Government 1973), Head of Planning at British Land, received an OBE for services to the property industry.

Dr Ashdown-Hill completed a PhD in Essex’s Department of History and received an Honorary Degree in 2014. He said: “I’m absolutely delighted that my key role in bringing about the discovery and identification of the remains of Richard III has now been formally recognised in this wonderful way.

“I would like to thank all those people who have campaigned in various ways for me to receive this national honour – including the University of Essex, which publicly honoured me a year ago.” 

Television presenter, restaurant critic and food expert Loyd Grossman, who received an honorary degree from the University last year is awarded a CBE for services to heritage. England footballer Casey Stoney, who will receive an honorary degree next month, is awarded an MBE.

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