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Honorary award recipients for 2021

7 Oct 2021 2:00PM

The University of Suffolk has announced who will be receiving honorary awards at their graduation ceremonies this month.   

Honorary awards recognise notable contributions to the educational or cultural well-being of society, in business, industry, commerce or enterprise, for academic distinction, for public or community service or an exceptional contribution to the University. 

Nine individuals will receive awards including those in education, the environmental sector, community leaders and broadcasting.  

Geoff Barton is General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), a professional association representing more than 21,800 educational leaders from maintained and independent schools across the United Kingdom. Prior to this, for fifteen years he was headteacher at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds, an 11-18 state community school of 1600 students. 

Geoff has written and edited more than 100 books on grammar and literacy. He has worked as a consultant to various Government agencies and writes columns for a range of publications, including a weekly blog for the Times Education Supplement.  He is a frequent commentator on education in the media. Geoff said of his award “I couldn’t be prouder to have been made Honorary Doctor of the University of Suffolk. Education has been deep in my bloodstream since my years as a reluctant student whose life was suddenly transformed by a great English teacher, and then into my professional career as teacher, headteacher, and leader of ASCL. I’ve seen first-hand the extraordinary work that the University of Suffolk has done over the years, and I am delighted to be associated with their vision, academic rigour and commitment to changing the life-chances of so many young people.” 

Ipswich-born broadcaster Stephen Foster will be a familiar voice to radio listeners having spent 30 years at BBC Radio Suffolk. He is regarded as one of the country’s most versatile broadcasters and his career spans six decades. He can currently be heard on Radio Caroline, the station which ignited his interest in radio and music when he was still at school in the mid-1970s. 

From the outset Stephen has championed the cultural side of his home county. His life-long passion for all types of music has been at the forefront of his various activities - on and off air. Stephen, also known as Foz, has presented thousands of programmes, emcee’d hundreds of concerts and promoted scores of gigs. He has helped make Ipswich Music Day one of the most successful free family festivals in the UK. 
Stephen is also a respected music writer, contributing weekly to the East Anglian Daily Times and The Ipswich Star newspapers as well as penning a monthly column for Grapevine magazine. With his encyclopaedic knowledge of the history of rock and pop he has also been involved in compiling many CD releases down the years. Heavily influenced by broadcasting icon John Peel, Stephen has long been a key figure on the Suffolk music and arts scene. Stephen said of his honorary degree “I am absolutely delighted to receive this in recognition of my contribution to arts and culture in my home county. It is a huge thrill for me to receive this award which I would like dedicate to the creative force that is Suffolk.” 

Celia Edey OBE will be awarded an honorary doctorate. Born and raised in Colchester, Celia’s first job in the sixties, was as assistant to a ballet and theatre photographer in London. She has retained a passion for the performing arts ever since and spent 15 years assisting her sister to run a small ballet school in Colchester.  In 1984 she organised Colchester’s first Fun Run in aid of the British Lung Foundation, and subsequently became their National Chairman of fundraising. Celia was responsible for a number of high-profile theatrical events attended by their patron, Diana, Princess of Wales. 

Alongside her fundraising work, Celia was appointed a Magistrate in Essex and eventually took up a leading role as Chairman of the Magistrates Court Committee for the County, the body responsible for the governance of the Magistracy and its business. During this period, she fronted a campaign to provide new fit-for-purpose Court buildings in the County and was appointed to the National Governing body for Magistrates Courts. For this work she won a Public Servant of the Year Award. 

In 2006 she joined the Council of the University of Essex, eventually becoming its Treasurer. That in turn led to her membership of the Board of the then University Campus Suffolk, where she discovered her passion for the organisation. She was privileged to play a part in the achievement of it gaining full University status and delighted to receive an O.B.E. from HM the Queen, recognising 30 years of voluntary contribution to Higher Education and the communities of Essex and Suffolk. 

Celia said “As soon as I arrived at the Waterfront Building in Ipswich for my first Board meeting for University Campus Suffolk, I discovered in myself a passion for everything this organisation could contribute to Ipswich, Suffolk and the wider region. It has been an enormous privilege to watch its growth, and to play a part in its transition to the University of Suffolk. I am honoured to remain part of the University of Suffolk ‘family’ and receive this accolade and look forward to an association with the University long into the future.” 

Albert Grant OBE is an ex-Labour Councillor who has dedicated his life to tackling racism and fighting to secure Equality and Justice for all. Albert will be receiving an honorary doctorate from the University. 

Albert came to Ipswich in 1955 at the age of 21 from Barbados. During his time as Councillor, he became the first Black Mayor of Ipswich in 1995. He also served on the Housing and Planning committees, was Chairman of the Whitton/Whitehouse Housing Forum, Chairman of the Council’s Equal Opportunities Steering Group and a leader of the liaison panel dealing with the West Meadows Travellers site.  

Outside Council activities, Albert was a founder member of the Ipswich Caribbean Association and the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality. He served on the board of Ipswich Blind Society and as Governor for Westbourne Academy and Whitehouse Community School. 

Upon hearing the news, he would be awarded an honorary doctorate, Albert said “I see life like a conveyor belt, starting with the raw material, represented by the opportunities and challenges life throws at us, the helping hands and minds we bring. It is about finding the right tools, resources, energy and creativity laid out in equal measure to help mould the perfect product. A part of me has always been on that conveyor belt and I hope each of us could find our place to contribute to that perfect product.” 

Since moving to Suffolk in 1963, Cynthia Capey has been associated with the University and its forerunners for over half a century.  First employed part-time to teach Liberal Studies to students at what was then the Civic College, she introduced part time certificated courses in Religious Studies in response to local demand.  When the Suffolk College was preparing to offer degree courses, Cynthia created a pathway for Religious Studies candidates. 

In 1991, Cynthia undertook a research project profiling the faith communities of Suffolk resulting in two books. Cynthia facilitated the emergence of Suffolk Inter-Faith Resource (SIFRE) as a charitable company and oversaw the development of part-time courses in world religions, delivered in towns and villages around the county.  Cynthia was charged with setting up the College Chaplaincy as an ecumenical and multi-faith endeavour and was enabled by her close contact with asylum seekers and refugees within the College to lay the foundations for the Suffolk Refugee Support. 

Cynthia retired from her post at the College in 1996 but continued to work in a voluntary capacity for SIFRE specializing in diversity training and inter-faith consultancy.  In 2006, she received an international award from the Muslim News for her work with Muslims and she was the first recipient of the Symmachus award for building bridges with the Pagan community.  She continues to engage with, listen to and learn from, people of all faiths and none. 

Cynthia said “I was delighted to receive this invitation to accept an honorary degree from the University of Suffolk. It recognizes the importance of the interfaith work which I have been privileged to nurture, and will, I hope, encourage others to build bridges and promote tolerance and mutual understanding.” 

After studying engineering at Cambridge University, Robin Christopherson MBE worked as an IT instructor for the Royal National Institute for the Blind (BNIB) before becoming a founding member of UK tech charity, AbilityNet who specialise in advising individuals on technology to help them at home, in education and in the workplace, and helping companies design attractive websites, software and apps that are easy to use by all. 

He has been a leading expert on accessibility and digital inclusion for over two decades and a regular speaker raising awareness of the power and potential of technology to transform people's lives. 

Being blind himself, Robin is passionate about all areas of technology and his work was recognised with the award of an MBE in the 2017 Queen's New Year’s Honours list for services to digital inclusion. 

Robin is also a member of the All Party Parliamentary Groups on Disability (APPGD) and Assistive Technology (APPGAT) and was included in the 'Power 100' list of the UK’s most influential people with disabilities last year, as well as the UN's ‘World's top 100 most influential people in digital government’ list the year before - voted by over 500 organisations including governments and global NGOs. 

Robin said “You may think that technology is useful - or even essential - in many things that you do but, it’s only when you or someone close to you has a disability or impairment, that you begin to appreciate just how transformative tech is across all areas of our lives. Being blind myself, my work, travel, home and social life all rely on tech. It gives us options where none existed. It opens doors (for many, quite literally). I feel hugely honoured to work in this area and doubly honoured to receive such recognition from the University of Suffolk. Thank you and please spread the word about the empowering nature of technology, regardless of ability or impairment.” 

Headteacher for 30 years, Duncan Bathgate will be receiving an honorary award. Educated in Hampshire, Norfolk and Northern Ireland, Duncan returned to Ipswich for Sixth Form. A degree in Early Learning at Reading led back to Ipswich, teaching at schools across Suffolk over the next 15 years, eventually becoming Headteacher of Bealings in 1996.  

Bealings discovered Heathcote’s little-known drama work, “Mantle of the Expert” reinventing and developing it as the main way of learning. At Bealings, the children and adults work in co-created fictional organisations with a successful past. The children raise questions, discover clues, make theories and follow lines of inquiry. The method has attracted world-wide attention. Offered Beacon Status in the 2000’s, Bealings developed training for teachers across Suffolk and beyond, it has featured in seven professional films and has been rated ‘Outstanding’ five times by OFSTED. 

Duncan said “I’m very happy to accept this great honour on behalf of our team, and everyone in our Bealings Family!  Thank you to all the encouragement from our parents, governors, LA, NEU, NAPE and colleagues and friends around the World and especially our children, past and present!” 

Rae Snape has been a headteacher since 2007 and describes the job as ‘the best job in the world!’ Interested in policy and passionate about education, Rae was a member of the Primary Headteachers' Reference Group at the Department of Education for nine years. She is a National Leader of Education, a co-founder of the Cambridgeshire Festival of Education and of MyCambridge Cultural Education Partnership. 

Rae is the first ever Ambassador for Smiley Education Talks working with the Smiley Movement to share inspirational stories from those working in education in support of the United Nations Development Goals – Goal 4 Quality Education. 

Rae has contributed to several books on education and has written her first book called "The Headteacher's Handbook" which is published by Bloomsbury. Rae will be presented with an honorary at the graduation ceremonies for the University of Suffolk at West Suffolk College. Rae said “I am truly honoured to have been awarded an Honorary Degree from the University of Suffolk. The University’s impressive mission for individual, societal and global transformation through high quality education, chimes deeply with my own and the University’s aim to change lives for the better is inspiring. I am very grateful to the Vice-Chancellor for this nomination. I am very proud to be the recipient of this wonderful award and to have a connection with such a fantastic centre of learning." 

Environmentalist and Educationalist Susan Falch-Lovesey has a successful 30-year track record of establishing and developing environmental projects and services of various scales for charity, local authority and business - applying her skills and experience to making a social and environmental impact.  

Susan’s early career focused on running and establishing environmental centres – a role that brought together her love for teaching and the outdoors, care for the environment and interest in sustainable business.  

Working for both the National Trust and Norfolk County Council, she created teacher training programmes, EU-funded energy and outdoor learning projects, whilst also collaborating over establishing Forest School in Norfolk and a whole county energy programme. 

Currently, Susan is Local Liaison Officer and Skills Champion for Vattenfall and has eagerly embraced the opportunity to develop and promote career pathways into the wind industry – especially for young people. 

Susan will be receiving an honorary award at the graduation ceremony for the University of Suffolk as East Coast College and said, “I am so surprised, excited and honoured to be recognised in this way for something that I love doing and would like to accept this award on behalf of all those who work together to create more sustainable futures.” 

The honorary awards will be presented during graduation ceremonies celebrating the successes of students from the University being held across Suffolk and in Great Yarmouth between 9-23 October 2021.  


University of Suffolk Press Office