On Monday 15th May, 2,140 alumni who have made significant contributions to education were awarded honorary degrees from the University of Roehampton at London Southbank's Royal Festival Hall.
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Alumni from Roehampton who had completed a Certificate in Education, a teaching qualification which was awarded until 1981, were invited to the special graduation to acknowledge and celebrate their achievements in education. The University's Chancellor, Professor Dame Jacqueline Wilson, presided at the ceremony and The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster and University Pro-Chancellor gave the address.
Honorary graduates included 98 year-old Freda Smith from Ipswich who left Southlands College in 1938 and taught for 44 years, taking only 19 sick days in that time. Other beneficiaries included Brian Hazell from London, who has been a Head Teacher at Clapham Manor Primary School and Children's Centre for over 30 years, as well as Marina Smith MBE who has devoted her work to religious education and who co-founded the Beth Shalom Holocaust Centre.
Speaking at the event, Freda Smith said, "[This event] means a great deal it's a real honour for all the work I did when I was younger and for all the years I've done since to meet all these wonderful school teachers who worked hard in College and who worked hard when they left College. And I've enjoyed every minute of it. It's been absolutely wonderful."
University of Roehampton Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul O'Prey CBE, comments; "This event is about recognising the hard work and dedication of the men and women who have made significant contributions to education and teaching across the world.
"Our graduates played a huge role in the revolution that took place in British schools during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and have together educated millions of children. Teaching is a great and important profession; it is a great responsibility, full or challenges but also full of reward. Today we remain one of the leading providers of teacher education in the country."
This special May Graduation service is part of the University's celebration of its 175th anniversary since it welcomed its first cohort of students. The University of Roehampton comprises four Colleges; Whitelands, Digby Stuart, Froebel and Southlands, and became a University in its own right in 2004. The 2,350 Roehampton alumni who were unable to attend the event received postal honorary degrees.
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