Video game creator, rock music producer and hang-gliding champion to receive honorary degrees

9 July 2019

One of the founders of the company behind the hugely successful Tomb Raider video game and a top rock music producer will among six people from Derbyshire to be honoured at the University of Derby’s graduation ceremonies later this month.

They will receive their honorary degrees in front of thousands of graduating students, their families and friends at ceremonies taking place at the Derby Arena on 17-19 July.

Derby-born Chris Shrigley set up Core Design, which created the Tomb Raider franchise and its digital heroine Lara Croft, which has achieved massive success and even inspired a blockbuster Hollywood movie.

Chris will be made an Honorary Doctor of the University of Derby in recognition of his international success and its impact on gaming across the globe at a ceremony on Thursday 18 July

Chris, who will be sending a message by video from his home in the USA, said:  "Receiving this award is a huge honour, and I'm truly humbled to be recognised in this way, particularly by my home town university. It's very special, and makes the countless hours and late nights making games all worthwhile."

Andy Sneap, originally from Belper, has earned acclaim for his work as a rock musician and producer, working with some of the world’s top heavy metal bands, such as UK veteran rockers Judas Priest.

He will be made an Honorary Master of the University for his contribution to the rock music industry in the UK and overseas.

Andy said: “After 30 years of producing and playing guitar this award has finally made my dad realise I have a proper job! Even though I’m used to playing to large crowds this will be an interesting experience to say the least. It is certainly unexpected, but also somewhat flattering to have the contribution I have made to the music I love recognised in this way in my home city.”

Judy Leden MBE, who co-founded a flying school in Ashbourne, will be honoured for her achievements to promote hang-gliding and the impact she has had on the local flying community.

Judy, who will be awarded an Honorary Master of the University said: "I have spent the past 40 years in pursuit of excellence in my sport, breaking records, winning championships and latterly, introducing many people to the airborne world that I love. 

“To have my achievements recognised by the University of Derby in this way is truly humbling, and I am overjoyed and thrilled to be receiving this honour."

Also being named as an Honorary Master of the University is Brian Jones, who since 2006 has been Chief Executive of the SENAD Group, which has developed high quality educational programmes for children and adults with a variety of special educational needs.

Brian said: “I am extremely honoured to be receiving this award from the University of Derby in recognition for my work to promote and ensure the equality of education provision for young people.

“During my career I have worked with the most fantastic young people and their families, and have seen that when given the right educational support everyone is able to flourish and maximise their potential.

“It is this knowledge that makes me determined to continue to work with colleagues to develop policy and practice to increase the equality of opportunities for all people with additional needs.”

Marketing Derby Managing Director John Forkin, who spearheads efforts to generate investment and development in the city, will be named an Honorary Doctor of the University.

Normanton-born John has worked tirelessly to get investors to ‘think Derby’ for more than a decade and has overseen Marketing Derby’s contribution to the creation of over 5,000 new local jobs.

John said: “To be honest, I was totally surprised but also equally delighted to be offered the award. So many people have contributed to the development of the city and the University and it's a genuine honour to be considered. Derby is a city of innovation in ideas and making and I'm keen to support our continued evolution as an attractive location in which to live, work or visit." 

Chris Hughes, a long time trustee of the University of Derby and former Chair of its Governing Council, will be honoured for his work to promote the growth of the University, and the wellbeing of its staff and students over the past 17 years. He will be named an Honorary Doctor of the University.

Chris said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to receive this honorary degree. As Chair I saw many, many awarded over my time at the University and to be part of that illustrious company is something I will always treasure. I thank the University wholeheartedly for recognising the very small part I played in making the University of Derby the success it is today.”

Professor Kathryn Mitchell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Derby, said: “It is wonderful to be able to celebrate the work of six people from our city and county who have excelled in their very diverse fields and had such a positive impact on so many people’s lives.

“They each exemplify the values of boldness and brilliance to which we encourage our students to aspire, in order to achieve success in their careers and lives.

“Our graduation ceremonies are always great occasions for our students and their families. We will welcome over 12,000 people to Derby Arena over the three days to share in the achievements of our graduates as they begin on their journey into their chosen careers or areas of further academic study.”

Ceremony details:

Wednesday 17 July

School of Law and Social Sciences; Institute of Education (8:30am-1pm)

Honorand – Brian Jones

Derby Business School and Management School (1.15pm-6.30pm)

Honorand – Chris Hughes

Thursday 18 July

School of Arts and School of Humanities and Journalism (8:30am-1pm)

Honorand – Andy Sneap

College of Life and Natural Sciences (1.15pm-6.30pm)

Honorand – Chris Shrigley

Friday 19 July

College of Health and Social Care and the University of Derby Online Learning. (8:30am-1pm)

Honorand – Judy Leden MBE

College of Engineering and Technology; Centre for Mineral Products (1.15pm-6.30pm)

Honorand – John Forkin



For more information about the honorands and graduation ceremonies, including opportunities for journalists to attend or to arrange interviews, email or telephone 01332 591043.



Rock producer Andy Sneap pictured in a recording studio with guitars and amplifiers
Andy Sneap
July 2019 Chris Shrigley pictured against a white background
Chris Shrigley
July 2019 honorand Judy Leden picture hiking on a hill
Judy Leden
SENAD chief executive Brian Jones pictured in front of a brick wall
Brian Jones
July 2019 honorand John Forkin pictured in a studio
John Forkin
July 2019 honorand Chris Hughes pictured in a room
Chris Hughes

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