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Honorary Degrees awarded

Press release issued: 13 February 2002

Honorary Degrees awarded

Bristol University is awarding Honorary degrees to five prominent people at today's [Wedneday,
February 13] degree ceremonies in the Wills Memorial Building.

Margaret Boden, OBE, Professor of Philosophy and Psychology at Sussex University, and Peter Durie, MBE, GM, Pro-Chancellor of Bristol University and Chairman of the Funding Appeal for the new Children's Hospital, will be honoured with the degrees of Doctor of Science and Doctor of Laws respectively at the 11.15 am ceremony.

Margaret Boden is renowned for her many books on cognitive processes of the mind and artificial intelligence. Her first book, Purposive Explanation in Psychology, was published in 1972. At present she is writing a book on the history of cognitive studies.

Professor Boden has a Doctor of Science degree from Cambridge and a PhD from Harvard, and is a Fellow of the British Academy. She taught philosophy for several years at the University of Birmingham. She was awarded the OBE in the last New Year's Honours.

Peter Durie was born on New Year's Day, 1926. Peter's first formal schooling brought him to Bristol, to the Downs School. In 1943 he joined the army and rose rapidly through the ranks, always holding a rank higher than that permitted for his age. In 1945 he received a commission into the regular army, serving in the Royal Horse Artillery and Airborne Forces in India, Palestine, Cyprus and the British Army of the Rhine. During his time in the army he was awarded an MBE and, in 1951, the second highest award for bravery, the George Medal.

In 1964 he left the army and joined Courage as a senior management trainee. After a spell as a director of Courage Eastern, he moved to the Bristol area as managing director of Courage Western. He was appointed to the main board of the Courage Group and rose to Assistant Group Managing Director. He became Chairman and Managing Director of Courage Western until his retirement in 1986.

Retirement did not lead to a life of leisure. He was appointed Chairman of the Bristol & Weston Health Authority. In 1989 the Government created NHS Trusts. Peter led the group setting up the new Trust for Bristol, becoming the first Chairman of the United Bristol Healthcare NHS Trust.

Aware of the need for a new Children's Hospital in Bristol, Peter took the lead in an appeal to raise £11 million - half of the total cost. He worked solidly for the cause, which became the Wallace and Gromit Grand Appeal, and more than reached its target. The new hospital was opened last spring - the first-ever purpose-built children's hospital in the United Kingdom.

Peter has also been a hard-working member of the University Council, serving as its Vice-Chairman and as Chairman of its Buildings Committee. He is presently a Pro-Chancellor.

The Right Honourable Lady Justice Hale, DBE, and Stephanie Cole, will be honoured with the degrees of Doctor of Laws and Master of Arts respectively at the 2 pm ceremony.

Dame Brenda Hale is one of the most distinguished family lawyers of her generation. Her career in the law is unique in its combination of roles: academic, practitioner, law reformer and judge.

Brenda Hale began her academic career in 1966 as assistant lecturer at Manchester University, becoming a Reader in 1981. During her time at Manchester, she came to specialise in family law and published a number of pioneering texts that successfully integrated legal and sociological materials.

In 1968, she qualified for the Bar and practised part-time as a barrister for three years in Manchester. She was appointed to the Queen's Counsel in 1989.

It is in law reform that Dame Brenda Hale has so far made her most distinguished contribution, first as a Law Commissioner in 1984 - the youngest person ever to be appointed and the first woman - and later as a judge. For a decade she led a number of seminal reforms of family law, as well as contributing in other fields such as health law and criminal law.

Among Brenda Hale's finest achievements was to initiate and lead the Commission's work which produced the Children Act 1989, a fundamental and radical re-casting of the relationship between parents, children and the State.

Dame Brenda Hale was appointed a High Court Judge in 1994 and a Lady Justice of Appeal in 1999, and also received the Exceptional Woman Lawyer Achievement Award.

Local actress Stephanie Cole has graced the stage and television screen in many roles. She trained to be an actress at the Old Vic Theatre School and made her first stage appearance at the Bristol Old Vic at the age of 17.

After Bristol, Stephanie spent time with a number of theatre companies throughout the country, playing roles as diverse as Shakespeare and pantomime. Her first main role in the West End Theatre was in Rose, a play written by Andrew Davies and starring Glenda Jackson.

Stephanie will be best-known to most of us through her television roles in Tenko, the BBC television series set in Malaya during the Second World War, Open All Hours, with Ronnie Barker and David Jason, and Waiting for God, for which she won the British Comedy Award for Best Actress.

Stephanie has worked for and supports the National Schizophrenia Fellowship, which has a centre in Bristol. She is a Patron of the charities Age Concern, the Dementia Care Trust, and Bristol Research into Alzheimer's and Care of the Elderly, the charity that supports the research programme of Bristol University's Professor Gordon Wilcock.

Lady Pitkeathley, OBE, will be honoured with the degree of Doctor of Laws at the 4.45 pm ceremony.

Jill Pitkeathley was born an only child in Guernsey. She won a scholarship to the Ladies College on the island and then decided, as the first member of her family to go on to higher education, to study at Bristol University. She graduated with a BA in Economics.

She was first employed on Mossside in Manchester after gaining a certificate in Social Work at Leicester. She moved to Reading and took up the post of Voluntary Services Co-ordinator with the National Health Service.

In 1986 she was appointed Director of the National Council of Carers and their elderly dependants. In the next ten years she raised the awareness of the needs of carers, turning a private matter into a public policy and putting them on the political agenda. She was very much involved in the launch of Malcolm Wicks' Private Member's Bill in 1995, which became the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act.

In 1993 she received an OBE in recognition of her work and was made a Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners. In 1997 she was created a Labour Life Peeress in the first list of that election year. In 1998 she was made the first Chair of the New Opportunities Fund set-up with Lottery money. She is in charge of distributing £6 billion to address programmes dealing with health, education and the environment.

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Copyright: 2001 The University of Bristol, UK
Updated: Wednesday, 13-Feb-2002 10:04:22 GMT

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