Honorary awards list announced by University of Derby

5 April 2017

Five notable people, all with a strong connection to the city of Derby, are to receive honorary degrees from the University of Derby at its annual Award Ceremonies.

Smith of Derby Limited’s Managing Director, Bob Betts; actress Patricia Greene; former Chief Executive of Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sue James; Director of Research & Technology at Rolls-Royce, Paul Stein; and founder of Derby Jazz, Geoff Wright, will all receive their awards alongside the University’s graduating students.

Thousands of students, guests and VIPs are expected to attend the next set of Award Ceremonies which will take place on 12, 13 and 14 July 2017 at Derby Arena.

Bob Betts is Managing Director of world renowned Derby-based clockmakers Smith of Derby Limited. He is also Operations Director for Warwick International Computing Systems Limited - the UK's leading Occupational Health solutions and services provider. Bob is also Visiting Fellow of the University of Derby College of Business, Law and Social Sciences.

Derby born, Bob is an active member of many city organisations and is Chairman of Marketing Derby, the award-winning public/private sector company challenged with attracting inward investment to the city. Marketing Derby has been voted as the top inward investment team in the country for the past two years running.

He will receive an Honorary Doctorate at the ceremony in July.

Patricia Greene (known as ‘Paddy’) is an actress who has had a lengthy career in radio and film. She is probably best known for portraying matriarch Jill Archer in the BBC Radio 4 show The Archers, for which she has been a cast member for 60 years.

Patricia was born in Derby in 1931 and spent the early part of her career here. After grammar school she worked as a ward orderly in a children’s hospital and in a sheet metal firm, while fighting her desire to become an actress. In 1951 she started on a three year course at the Central School in London. This was followed by the usual stints in all kinds of theatre (twice nightly and continental classical tours), various TV and film.

After beginning in The Archers she did many radio plays and worked for several months on Crossroads. She had time out to work on Arnold Wesker’s film The Kitchen, and did stints at Birmingham and Coventry Rep.

In 2007 the Queen awarded her an MBE for services to radio drama and the University wishes to recognise this achievement by conferring her with an Honorary Masters of the Arts.

Sue James is a highly experienced NHS Chief Executive who worked at the most senior level of health care management for almost 20 years before retiring from Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in December 2015. Her NHS career spanned over 40 years and was spent in a variety of operational and strategic general management posts within the acute sector of the NHS. Sue’s work made a valuable contribution to national policy on health sector staff education and leadership. During her time at Derby the Trust won the first ever national Compassionate Care award in 2012, and in 2015 Royal Derby was the focus of the ITV documentary Superhospital and named best A&E Department in the country. The Trust has achieved numerous other awards for innovation and quality of patient care.

Sue was recently given a Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding contribution to NHS Leadership. In recognition of her services to health, the University is awarding her an Honorary Doctorate.

Paul Stein was instrumental in the formation of Derby’s Institute for Innovation in Sustainable Engineering (IISE). The Institute works collaboratively with industry to research and develop sustainable solutions within engineering. He has contributed much to the city through the development of the University’s understanding of regional manufacturing and engineering companies. 

Paul is Director of Research & Technology for Rolls-Royce, prior to which he was the company’s Chief Scientific Officer. He is actively engaged in ensuring that professional engineering talent is promoted and sustained through the specialist pipeline and fellowship scheme. 

The University is conferring him with an Honorary Doctorate in recognition of his contribution to the development of the region’s manufacturing and engineering industries and aeronautical science.

Geoff Wright founded Derby Jazz in 1982 and brought some of the finest national and international talent in Jazz to the city.  Since then he has worked ceaselessly to provide a consistently superb programme of contemporary jazz music. He ensured the opportunity for musicians to play to an appreciative audience and receive timely remuneration for their performance.

He later developed an educational programme that supported and fostered young jazz talent in the region and continues to work as a director and voluntary executive for the organisation.

Geoff will receive an Honorary Masters of the University, offered in recognition of his significant achievement in establishing a lasting jazz scene in the city and creating opportunities for budding musicians.

Professor Kathryn Mitchell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Derby, said: “All of these notable figures have made an exceptional impact on their industry or city and I am delighted to confer their awards alongside our graduating students this summer.”