More than 800 students will celebrate their graduation across three ceremonies on Saturday 23 January.

University of Exeter celebrates winter graduation

Olympic Gold medallist Sally Gunnell OBE will be among a number of inspiring figures to be honoured at the University of Exeter’s winter graduation this year.

More than 800 students will celebrate their graduation across three ceremonies on Saturday 23 January.

Alongside Sally Gunnell, they will be joined by honorary graduands Eddie Farrell, founded of Children’s Hospice South West, and distinguished genomics and bioinformatics expert Professor Richard W Michelmore.

Each ceremony will be presided over by the University’s Chancellor, Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE DL. In her last graduation before she retires from her role, she will personally greet each graduand and inspire them to use their education to make a difference in the world.

The three distinguished honorary graduates to join the students on the day will be:

Edward Farwell MBE 9am

Eddie Farwell has lived in the South West for almost his entire life. He was brought up in Yeovil and studied at Exeter for his B.Phil in Social Work and the Certificate of Qualification in Social Work. From 1977-2005 he worked for Devon County Council. Eddie’s life sadly changed forever in 1983 when his eldest two children Katie (d. 1991) and Tom (d. 1998) were diagnosed with a genetically derived illness which meant that they would die in childhood. Inspired by the care his family received over many years, Eddie and his wife Jill founded Children’s Hospice South West in 1991. Little Bridge House, the region’s first children’s hospice, opened in North Devon in 1995. During the Appeal for their second Hospice, Jill died of cancer (2004). Driven by his passion to relieve the suffering of families with life-limited children, and through the generosity of thousands of people in the region, Eddie went on to open Charlton Farm near Bristol (2007) and Little Harbour, Cornwall (2011).

Professor Richard W Michelmore 11.45am

After studying Natural Sciences at Cambridge, Richard Michelmore joined the faculty of the University of California at Davis in 1982. Richard was the founding Director of the Genome Center at UC Davis; in this role he oversaw the recruitment of over sixteen genomics and bioinformatics faculty and the development of five service cores. He is currently a Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Plant Sciences, Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Medical Microbiology and Immunology.

Sally Gunnell OBE DL 3pm

Sally Gunnell remains the only woman ever to hold four major track titles concurrently – Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth. She won Olympic Gold in 1992 and defied the odds to become World Champion in 1993, setting a new World Record in the process. Her success, by her own admission, was down to a firm grip over her own mind and a lot of very hard graft. Sally’s injuries eventually forced her retirement from elite sport, but she continues to remain in the public eye, thanks to her TV career and through her role as a motivational speaker and writer on health and wellbeing.

Today, Sally’s mission is to promote health and wellbeing for everybody in the UK. She is a passionate supporter of initiatives that encourage families to be more active. Her corporate work, helping organisations including the University of Exeter to boost health and wellbeing in the workplace, confirm her formidable reputation as an influencer at the highest levels of business.

Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE DL, Chancellor of the University of Exeter said: “I am truly honoured and privileged to be able to award every graduand with their degrees and celebrate their achievements with them. This will be my last graduation ceremony as Chancellor of the University of Exeter but as always I am looking forward to welcoming friends and family of the graduands for what promises to be a truly uplifting and joyful celebration. I hope they will be inspired to use the qualification gained at our global 100 University to change the world. They join a family of more than 80,000 Exeter alumni and we hope they keep in touch with us”.

The ceremonies will be streamed live from our Graduation website.

Date: 22 January 2016

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