Four Leeds Beckett alumni have been recognised for their contribution to society with an Honorary Doctorate.
Last week over 5,000 graduands were welcomed to our alumni community. As well as celebrating our students’ achievements, Graduation is an opportunity to celebrate and recognise the success of people who have made a huge contribution in their chosen field and wider community. This year nine honorary doctorates were awarded by Leeds Beckett University, and four of the recipients had already studied at our University previously.
Dr Bob Price OBE studied Physical Education at Carnegie College of Physical Education, one of our predecessor institutions. After being awarded a Bachelor of Education degree in 1971, Dr Price began his career as a physical education teacher for children with severe physical disabilities, before moving on to become head of delegation to the Great Britain team in five consecutive Summer Paralympics. His subsequent roles as Chairman of the British Paralympic Association, President of the European Paralympic Committee and more recently, President of the International Sports Federation for Persons with an Intellectual Disability (INAS), have seen unprecedented achievements in disability sport.
On receiving his honorary award Dr Bob Price said: “Receiving an honorary degree from any institution is a cause for gratitude and receiving one from Leeds Beckett University has a special and added significance because it was on this campus that I first began as an undergraduate more than 50 years ago. There is a real sense of circularity associated with the fact that 50-odd years later the same institution has asked me back to a graduation ceremony.”
“What I would suggest to all of today’s young graduates is that they seize whatever opportunity comes before them. You never really know what’s around the corner in your career; but, unfortunately, I’ve come across too many people who, too late in life, think back to opportunities that they could’ve taken but didn’t.”
Ady Hinchliffe graduated from the University with a BA (Hons) degree in Human Movement Studies in 1994, after he competed regionally and nationally as a diver in the 1980s. After retiring from diving to pursue a coaching career, Ady was Head Coach for the City of Leeds Diving Club, home to six of the current British podium divers, for over 20 years. His leadership of the team resulted in Leeds divers Jack Laughter and Chris Mears notoriously taking gold for Team GB in 2016, and Jack winning another silver, Ady himself was awarded Performance Coach of the Year in 2014 at the Leeds Sports Awards and Diving Coach of the Year at the British Swimming Awards in 2015 and 2016.
On receiving his award, Ady said: “To receive the award is very flattering; the university has always been a big supporter as I built a diving programme in the city. It’s great to back on campus and to have that connection as I have a lot of friends within the University who have supported and helped me in many different ways.
“My degree gave me a number of skills; as well as a lot of knowledge, it also gave me a lot of methods and techniques to deal with my sport and difficult situations. My message to the graduating students is not to put a limit on anything, they can achieve so much if they give everything in their chosen field.”
Nahid Rasool has been Chief Executive of the Shantona Women’s Centre for the past 18 years and was officially recognised by the University for her commitment to empowering communities in Leeds with an Honorary Doctorate of the University. Nahid previously graduated in 2007 with an MBA from Leeds Business School, and under her direction, the Shantona Women’s Centre has grown into a diverse, multicultural organisation employing 30 staff who offer women and young children of black and minority ethnicity (BME), an open and transparent service that builds upon their skills and helps bridge the gap between societies. Shantona Women’s Centre has received various awards and accolades, including the Duke of York Community Initiatives Award in 2007 and 2012, and an A1 Business Excellence Award for Best Women’s Centre in 2015.
On receiving her honorary degree, Nahid said: “Receiving this honorary degree is a huge achievement for me: it is recognition for my contribution, because I’m passionate about it, but it’s also getting the recognition from the university where I graduated – I was actually on the other side of things like the students who are graduating today. Now I am getting the honorary graduation and the university recognition, which is a huge achievement for me and for my organisation.”
Kadeena Cox MBE made history in Rio last year when she became the first British Paralympian to win gold medals in multiple sports at the same Games since Isabel Barr in 1984. Kadeena graduated in 2013 with a degree in Sport & Exercise Science. In May 2014 Kadeena suffered a stroke. After two months of physiotherapy, she recovered back to normal health and began training again, before another suspected stroke in September, that eventually led to a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. Intent on making the 2016 Summer Paralympics, Kadeena was selected for the Great Britain athletics team to compete at the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships, where she beat the world record for a 100m sprint and took Gold in the 100m T37 final. This secured her place for Rio, where she set two new world records, one in the T38 400m sprint and one in the 500m time trial cycling race.
Kadeena said: “It’s an absolute honour to receive this degree. I started my athletics career at Leeds Beckett as a junior. I trained at Carnegie Stadium when I was growing up and then I studied at Leeds Beckett and I’m from Leeds, so to be able to come back to my home city and home grounds and to be given this award is a really special moment and something I’m going to cherish and remember forever.”
“I’d say to any graduate to never give up and to never doubt yourself. There have been numerous phases within my life where I’ve doubted myself and felt like all things were going against me, but it’s been through sheer determination and the fact I’ve continued to push on through things that I’ve managed to get to where I want to be.”