Derbyshire heritage champions to receive honorary degrees

4 November 2019

Champions of Derbyshire’s proud industrial heritage are among those receiving honorary degrees from the University of Derby in November.

They will join an expert on one of Derby’s most celebrated historic figures, a prolific author and journalist and the man who oversaw the opening of the Royal Derby Hospital.

Since 2004, Adrian Farmer BEM has worked to protect and promote the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site and educate people about its outstanding universal value.

He has been Highly Commended by Visit Britain in their first Tourism Superstar Awards for services to Belper, and awarded a British Empire Medal for services to Belper and volunteering.

Adrian will be confirmed as an Honorary Master of the University (HonMUniv) at the Buxton Graduation Award Ceremony, which takes place at the Devonshire Dome on Saturday 9 November, in recognition of his contribution to significantly raising the profile of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site and bringing communities together in the region.

Mervyn Allcock MBE will be named an Honorary Master of the University (HonMUniv) at the ceremony which takes place at Derby Arena on the morning of Thursday 21 November, in recognition of his achievement in re-opening and developing Barrow Hill Roundhouse and the national impact of his lifelong commitment to railways.

Mervyn led the rescue of the Roundhouse, near Chesterfield, in the early 1990s. He secured an 11th hour preservation order to prevent its demolition, and in 1998 the Roundhouse reopened and has enjoyed a new lease of life as a highly successful commercial railway depot, museum and event venue.

At the same ceremony, space scientist, poet and historian Dr Desmond King-Hele will be made an Honorary Doctor of Letters (HonDLitt) in recognition of his scholarly work and research in bringing to countrywide attention the life of Dr Erasmus Darwin, whose own activities set in motion the creation of the institutions linked to the origins of the University of Derby.

An evolutionist long before his grandson Charles, Erasmus Darwin was regarded as both the country’s leading physician and its leading poet. A genuine polymath, he was also a botanist, scientist, inventor, and educationist.

Journalist, author, parliamentary sketchwriter, theatre critic and columnist Ann Treneman will also be named as an Honorary Doctor of Letters (HonDLitt) at that day’s afternoon ceremony at the Arena.

Ann, a resident of Bakewell, has worked for The Times for the past 20 years. She has won and been shortlisted for many awards and is the new President of Bromley House Library in Nottingham.

Her honorary doctorate recognises Ann’s outstanding career as a journalist, sketch artist and theatre critic and her contribution to the British media.

At the ceremony taking place on Friday 22 November, John Rivers CBE DL, who recently retired as Chair of the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust following more than ten years of NHS service, will be made an Honorary Doctor of the University (HonDUniv).

During his tenure as chairman, John oversaw the opening of the new Royal Derby Hospital, and the merger of Derby and Burton hospital trusts, creating one of the largest university teaching hospitals in the country. He is also a determined campaigner for wider recognition of Florence Nightingale’s connection with her Derbyshire home.

He is being made an honorand of the University of Derby in recognition of his impact on the region through the development of the NHS Foundation Trust and his commitment to the Florence Nightingale legacy in Derbyshire.

Professor Kathryn Mitchell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Derby, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be celebrating the achievements of our new honorands and recognising the positive impact they and their work has had on our county and our region.

“Our honorands provide genuine inspiration for the thousands of our graduating students who will be at the ceremonies, and about to embark on their careers or further academic study. Hopefully, they too will aspire to leave similar legacies which will enhance knowledge and understanding for many years to come.”

More information about our graduation ceremonies is available on the University of Derby website.

For further information contact the press office at