Hollie Webb

Hollie Pearne-Webb receiving her honorary degree, HonMUniv, 2016
Credit: Ede & Ravenscroft


Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, honoured guests and graduands, it gives me great pleasure to be presenting today, Hollie Webb (Olympic Gold Medalist), for the award of Honorary Master of the University.

Hollie Webb is a British women’s hockey player and Olympic gold medallist. She scored the winning goal for her team against the Netherlands in the finals match at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. The team beat the Netherlands on penalties after the final ended 3-3 at the end of normal time. She is a current European as well as Olympic Gold medallist.

Hollie grew up in Belper, just outside Derby, and was educated at the Ecclesbourne School. She studied at the University of Sheffield and graduated with a degree in Economics in 2013.

Hollie’s interest in hockey started while she was at (primary) school. After seeing an advertisement for Belper’s junior team, she started playing at Sunday morning sessions held at local primary schools.

Hollie spent 10 years at Belper Hockey Club before moving to Beeston. It was there that she began to blossom on the international scene, playing hockey several times a week while studying at University for an economics degree.

After graduating, Hollie joined Premier League club Surbiton and moved south so that she could combine working for Her Majesty’s Treasury with playing regular hockey. She plays for Surbiton as a defender.

Her mum Maxine has been quoted as saying that Hollie was born to be a sports star. She recalls taking Hollie for her first-ever hockey session, which she thought would be something fun for her to do alongside swimming, golf, running and all the other sports that she liked playing.

As well as all those sporting activities, Hollie also attended tap and ballet classes, which stood her in good stead for the BBCs Strictly Come Dancing special, part of its Children in Need fundraising events last week.

It is fair to say that Hollie has always had a very keen interest in and talent for sport and over the years, has played tennis for Derbyshire, cricket for Wirksworth and netball for her school but it was with a hockey stick in hand that she felt most comfortable.

That interest and commitment meant that she progressed quickly; playing in all age groups at Junior International level. It was the step up to the Women's Senior Squad in early 2013 that set her on the path to this year’s Olympic Games in Brazil.

Her international debut came against South Africa in Cape Town in 2013, while she was still at University. Hollie has played hockey for her country more than 100 times and some highlights of her sporting career so far include gaining a Silver Medal at the European Championships in Belgium in 2013, a bronze medal at the World League Finals in Argentina later the same year, a Silver Medal at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 and a gold at the EuroHockey Championships in 2015.

As well as being a full time athlete Hollie also works part time at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as a Finance Graduate. She is currently studying towards a Chartered Institute of Management Accountants’ qualification.

Hollie is very proud to have won the Derby Telegraph's Sportswoman of the Year award last year at the inaugural ceremony. She still enjoys coming back to her home town of Belper, where she had her first job as a sales assistant in New Look.

Hollie feels very happy whenever she visits Derbyshire and she and her fiancé Tom are planning their wedding next year here in the County.

Ours is a University that takes pride in the quality both of its sports programmes and its sport performance. Hollie is a great role model for our students and graduates.

Chancellor, in recognition of her sporting achievements we are delighted to award Hollie Webb the honorary degree of Master of the University.

[November 2016]