Marie Ashby receives honorary degree from Vice-Chancellor Prof Shearer West

Famous faces join University of Nottingham’s winter graduation ceremonies

Friday, 16 December 2022

An award-winning journalist, a world squash champion, and a film director, DJ and musician all received honorary degrees this week from the University of Nottingham at this year’s winter graduation ceremonies.

Marie Ashby, Don Letts and Nick Matthew OBE joined thousands of students in a series of graduation ceremonies on University Park Campus, which ran from Tuesday 13 December to Friday 16 December.

The ceremonies took place at the David Ross Sports Village, where students and their families joined the three honorary graduands who were formally celebrated for making an exceptional contribution in their professions or campaigns close to their hearts.

Marie Ashby – Doctor of Letters

Award-winning broadcaster and journalist Marie Ashby has been a well-known face on television screens across the East Midlands for the last 30 years.

Marie has entertained audiences and helped to share the human stories behind the headlines, producing thought-provoking documentaries for BBC’s Inside Out, grilling MPs on Sunday Politics, and fronting ITV and BBC daily news programmes.

Marie Ashby gives speech to graduands
I can’t tell you how much this means to me. I am so chuffed to receive an honorary degree from the University of Nottingham, in the city where I spent my career as a journalist and presenter. It’s wonderful.
Marie Ashby

Marie joined BBC Radio Nottingham in 1987 when she covered the General Election and secured an infamous interview with footballer Brian Clough in her first week. She quickly moved to television and became known for sensitive and balanced reporting on often difficult subjects as well as giving us a bird’s-eye view of the Midlands by helicopter in Sky High.

Over the years she has worked closely with the University of Nottingham and the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust. Her film about dementia, fronted by fellow honorary graduate Vicky McClure, was a prequel to the BBC series “Our Dementia Choir with Vicky McClure”.

Her documentary on pressures on pharmacists won her Best Current Affairs Programme at the Royal Television Society Awards.

Marie Ashby received the honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters on Friday 16 December.

Don Letts – Degree of Doctor of Letters

For the past 40 years film director, DJ and musician Donovan ‘Don’ Letts has been the constant beat in the musical awakening of successive generations.

His weekly Radio 6 Culture Clash show provided many post-millennials with their first introduction to Dub and Reggae rhythms, while their parents may remember his performances in Big Audio Dynamite – the hugely successful 80s band that fused Alternative Dance, Fusion Reggae, Hip Hop and Punk.

He has been pivotal in shaping the musical genres of Punk Rock and Dub Reggae since the 1970s forging links that fundamentally changed the cultural landscape at the time and laid the ground for the rise of the Rock Against Racism movement.

As well as DJ-ing and performing he captured the vibrancy and chaotic energy of the music scene through his films, including The Punk Rock Movie. He went on to produce more than 20 films, as well as documentaries on the musical links between the White and Black working-class youth.

Through the dogged pursuit of his artistic and musical interests he has united disparate groups in a love of the movement and joy of dance.

Don Letts received the honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters on Tuesday 13th December.

Nick Matthew OBE – Doctor of Laws

The only Englishman to win a World Championship squash title, Nicholas (Nick) Matthew OBE is arguably one of the greatest British players of all time.

Nick made history by winning the two most prestigious tournaments in the professional game: the British Open and the World Open, three times each. These remarkable achievements sit alongside his four Commonwealth medals, three of which are Gold, and record-breaking number of national titles – in 2013, he made history by becoming the first man to win five National Squash Championship titles.

His sporting achievements have spanned almost 25 years since he won his first title at the World Junior Championships in 1998. In 2015 he joined the University of Nottingham, playing as part of the Professional Squash League and nurturing talented student players. He led the team to their first national title the following season.

Nick retired from the sport in 2018 but continues his involvement as a writer, broadcaster and commenter. The Nick Matthew Academy, based in his home city of Sheffield, was established to coach the next generation of English squash players and has created a pathway to help children go from beginners to elite players. He was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2015 for services to the sport.

Nick Matthew received the honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws on Wednesday 14th December.

Katie Andrews - Media Relations Manager for the Faculty of Social Sciences
Phone: 0115 951 5751

Notes to editors:

About the University of Nottingham

Ranked 32 in Europe and 16th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024, the University of Nottingham is a founding member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement.

Nottingham was crowned Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024 – the third time it has been given the honour since 2018 – and by the Daily Mail University Guide 2024.

The university is among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research, positioned seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. The birthplace of discoveries such as MRI and ibuprofen, our innovations transform lives and tackle global problems such as sustainable food supplies, ending modern slavery, developing greener transport, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

The university is a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally - and our graduates are the second most targeted by the UK's top employers, according to The Graduate Market in 2022 report by High Fliers Research.

We lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, a pioneering collaboration between the city’s two world-class institutions to improve levels of prosperity, opportunity, sustainability, health and wellbeing for residents in the city and region we are proud to call home.

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