Roy Pike (left) and Tony Rowe (right).  Picture by Steve Haywood. 

Honorary degrees for South West stalwarts

The University of Exeter is bestowing key figures from the South West region with Honorary Degrees this week, among 14 Honorary Graduates. 

Kicking off proceedings was Tony Rowe OBE, Chief Executive and Chairman of Exeter Chiefs Rugby Club and also South West Communications Group, which he established in 1982. He was joined on Monday 14 July by Roy Pike who led Torquay Boys’ Grammar School for 27 years, making him one of the longest-serving head teachers.  He is an alumnus of the University of Exeter and three of his six children also graduated from the University. Both men received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws. 

Tony Rowe OBE said in a speech to graduates: “My advice is to look for opportunities; life is full of them. The first of mine was in 1983 when the Government privatised telecoms.  The opportunity to get involved in the rugby club came along in 1993 - they needed £4,000 to help travel to away games, so I got to put the name of my company on their shirts. When the game went professional I formed the board of directors in 1998 and oversaw the move to Sandy Park, to create a revenue-generating conference and banqueting facility as well as the stadium which has had an average attendance this year of 10,000 and a £10m turnover. We have recently got planning permission to grow capacity to 20,000. The latest opportunity was to bid to host Rugby World Cup games – three are coming next year. Be positive, believe in yourself, never take no for an answer, and if you want it badly enough you can do anything you set your mind to.”

Roy Pike gave this advice: “I have been so lucky to find a career that is intellectually stimulating, that has allowed me to take my school from coasting to the top 20 nationally, and occupy influential positions locally and nationally. One constant in life is change - capture that constant.  As you reach a successful stage see how that can go on – when you reach a plateau use it as a springboard. Every individual has a right to be valued – bring that to a school, university or any community and you will see how that translates into the basis for harmony. ”

Professor Dame Julia Slingo OBE, Chief Scientist at the Met Office, and Philip Bostock OBE DL, former Chief Executive of Exeter City Council, will receive honorary Doctorates on Friday 18 July. 

Graduation ceremonies take place in the Great Hall, Streatham Campus from 14 to 18 July and in Truro Cathedral on 21 July.

Date: 15 July 2014

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