Fast-bowling cricket legend and motorcycle racing icon to receive honorary degrees

6 July 2023

Legendary West Indian cricketer Michael Holding, known as ‘Whispering Death’ for his pace bowling technique, is among the honorary graduates being recognised by the University of Derby at its awards ceremonies later this month.

Thousands of students will be graduating between 19 and 21 July at Derby Arena. They will be joined by honorary graduates, chosen to recognise their contribution to the University, city or county.

Michael Holding
Michael Holding. Image courtesy of Derbyshire County Cricket Club

The recipients of this year’s honorary degrees are:

Michael Holding (Honorary Doctor of the University) – the former West Indian cricketer was one of the most feared fast bowlers in the world. He played for Derbyshire from 1983 to 1989 and was the club’s President in 2017. A respected commentator and broadcaster, he has published three books, most recently Why We Kneel, How We Rise, which explores racism in today’s world.

Ron Haslam (Honorary Master of the University) – a former professional motorcycle racer from Derbyshire. ‘Rocket Ron’ won three world championship titles, four British championships and a number of other titles. His race school at Donington Park provided instruction for more than 86,000 riders over a 24-year period.

Professor Nigel Hitchin FRS (Honorary Doctor of the University) – a British mathematician born and raised in Derbyshire. He is a Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and one of the world’s foremost geometers.

Isy Suttie (Honorary Master of the University) – a musical comedian, actress and writer raised in Matlock. She has appeared in Channel 4’s Peep Show, Damned, Shameless and Man Down, BBC’s Whites, and Sky and HBO’s The Baby. She has also appeared on panel shows including Q.I. and 8 Out of 10 Cats. Derbyshire features frequently in her writing, including in her Sony-award-winning BBC Radio 4 series, Isy Suttie’s Love Letters, and in her two books, The Actual One and Jane is Trying.

Warren East CBE (Honorary Doctor of the University) – the former CEO of Rolls-Royce plc. Warren was appointed in 2015 after a series of profit warnings, returning the company to profitability and steering it through turbulent times, including the pandemic and its impact on global aviation. He established and began to execute the strategy to prepare the business for a thriving future in a net-zero carbon world. This included sponsorship of Rolls-Royce Submarines’ partnership with the University in 2022 to create the Nuclear Skills Academy, and the Down to Earth Derby project, encouraging nature-based regeneration in the city.

Martin Austin MBE (Honorary Master of the University) – the founder of Derby-based consultancy Nimbus Disability, which supports organisations to meet the needs of their disabled customers. Nimbus has developed CredAbility, a quality assurance mark which demonstrates a commitment to quality for people with disabilities, and the Access Card Scheme, which allows people with disabilities to discreetly communicate their needs to entertainment and tourism providers.

Miltos Frangopoulos (Honorary Doctor of Education) – an art historian born in Athens. Miltos is Deputy Director of Studies at Athens-based Vakalo Art and Design College and Visiting Fellow in Art History at the University of Derby.

Professor Kathryn Mitchell CBE DL, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Derby, said:

“Graduation is a wonderful opportunity for the University community to come together to recognise and celebrate the hard work and achievements of our students. I am delighted that we can also take this opportunity to recognise individuals who have made an impact in the University, city and county through industry and academic partnerships, championing disability rights and raising our region’s profile.”

Find out more about the University of Derby Awards Ceremonies.

Read more about the honorands.

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