A colourful procession of around 200 academics and students will grace the city streets on Friday as the University of Chester approaches one of the highlights of its 175th anniversary.
As part of the University’s spring graduation on March 20, time-honoured traditions will be observed before the second ceremony takes place in Chester Cathedral in the afternoon.
The University’s staff, dressed in full graduation regalia, will join Vice-Chancellor Professor Tim Wheeler, the High Sheriff of Cheshire, Mrs Susan Sellers, the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Chester, Councillor Bob Rudd and Mrs Sandra Rudd, the Lord Bishop of Chester, the Dean of Chester, together with University Council members and guests of the University. Processional music will be provided by the brass band, ‘Inspired Music’.
The parade will start from outside of the Guildhall at 2.10pm, with a proclamation about the proceedings from Town Crier David Mitchell and make its way up Watergate Street towards the Cross.
At that point Steve Bird, the University’s Esquire Bedell, carrying the silver-gilt mace, will be challenged by the Lord Mayor’s mace and sword bearers. Adrian Lee, the University Secretary, will present a scroll as proof of the University’s having been awarded the Freedom of the City, which, when accepted by Cllr Bob Rudd, the Lord Mayor, will grant safe passage.
Then the procession will continue along Eastgate Street before turning left into St Werburgh’s Street and concluding at the West Door of the Cathedral. A trumpet fanfare will herald its arrival and the commencement of the afternoon graduation ceremony.
The University of Chester has been making history since 1839, when it was founded by such pioneers as the great 19th-century prime ministers, William Gladstone and the Earl of Derby and a former Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev and Rt Hon John Bird Sumner. It is one of the longest standing English higher education establishments of any kind, pre-dating all but Oxford, Cambridge, London and Durham, and its original buildings were the first in the country to be purpose-built for the professional training of teachers.
Around 450 students across two ceremonies will follow the well-trodden path of the University’s countless alumni this week and receive their degrees from the institution’s Chancellor, His Grace the Duke of Westminster KG CB CVO OBE TD CD DL and Vice-Chancellor Professor Tim Wheeler.
Professor Wheeler said: “Graduation is a proud day for our students, their families and their friends. It’s a chance to celebrate all that they have achieved in their university career through hard work and determination and to look back at the years they have spent with the University of Chester.
“This is a particularly special year for the institution as we celebrate 175 years of teaching excellence. We hope that graduands, their families, students, staff, the people of Chester and visitors enjoy the ceremonial spectacle known as ‘encaenia’, which accompanies our graduation.
“There will be a further opportunity to celebrate with us at a spectacular fireworks display on Saturday evening.”
Joining the students on the day will be three honorary graduands, who will receive degrees in relation to their exceptional impact on a specific field:
- Robert Mee FCIBS DL will receive an honorary Doctor of Business Administration in recognition for his outstanding contribution to business in the region and in particular recognition of his role of Chair of Ellesmere Port Development Board.
- The Very Reverend Vivienne Faull will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters in recognition of her outstanding contribution to Ministry in this country, in particular in recognition of her roles as Dean of Leicester and Dean of York.
- The Singh Twins will receive an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts in recognition of their outstanding contribution to British Art.
10am – Robert Mee FCIBS DL - Doctor of Business Administration
Robert was educated at Long Eaton Grammar School and then trained as a Taxation Accountant before joining the Bank of Scotland Group in 1972 through its subsidiary Capital Bank in their Nottingham Branch. He managed several branches before moving to the Head Office in Chester, where he held a variety of senior roles before his promotion to the Board of Capital Bank in 1992, with responsibility for Consumer Finance.
Robert spearheaded the strategy that saw the Bank of Scotland become the UK’s major partnership and affinity bank, working with many leading companies including Centrica, GUS, The Automobile Association, Sainsbury’s and many other financial institutions. He has also had responsibility for businesses in Australia and Europe.
In 1998, he moved to the Bank’s Head Office in Edinburgh to become Managing Director, Personal Banking, before his appointment as Chief Executive of the Bank of Scotland Retail Division in May 2000, when he also became a member of both the Group Management and Main Boards.
In September 2001, Bank of Scotland merged with Halifax Bank to create HBOS and he was appointed Deputy Chief Executive of the combined Retail Bank with over 60,000 staff. However, after helping with the initial integration of the two largest operating divisions he chose to leave in January 2002.
At this time he decided to pursue his future career as a Non-Executive Director and worked with various financial organisations, before retiring in 2011.
In September 2010 he was asked by Cheshire West and Chester Council to help put together a private led Regeneration Board for Ellesmere Port, a voluntary role which he continues to do as Chairman. The Board has overseen significant economic growth, with several thousand new jobs created, and provides a strategic vision for the town.
Also, in a voluntary capacity, Robert is a Council Member of the North of England Zoological Society which operates Chester Zoo, one of the largest visitor attractions in the UK where he Chairs the Operations and Finance Committee.
In October 2013, he was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant for Cheshire in recognition of outstanding Public Service in the County.
He lives in Chester and is married with one son.
2.30pm - The Very Reverend Vivienne Faull, Dean of York – Doctor of Letters
Dean Faull studied at The Queen’s School, Chester and Saint Hilda’s College, Oxford. After teaching with the Church Mission Society in North India and youth work at Shrewsbury House, Everton, she trained for ministry at Saint John’s College, Nottingham and the University of Nottingham.
She served as a Deaconess at Saint Matthew and Saint James, Mossley Hill in the Diocese of Liverpool from 1982 to 1985, moving to become Chaplain, later Fellow, of Clare College, Cambridge.
She began cathedral ministry in 1990 as Chaplain at Gloucester Cathedral. In 1994 she moved to become Canon Pastor, and later Vice Provost, at Coventry Cathedral.
In 2000, she was appointed Provost of Leicester (the first women to lead a Church of England cathedral), becoming Dean of Leicester in 2002 and oversaw significant developments of its site and facilities as well as its work as a place of gathering for all peoples at the heart of one of the most diverse cities in Europe.
In Leicester, she participated in the Common Purpose Profile programme and was a governor of Leicester College, one of the largest and most diverse further education colleges in the country. As a trustee of Curve, Leicester’s new theatre, she worked closely with Adirupa Sengupta, now leading Common Purpose Asia Pacific, who was a fellow Trustee.
In 2009, she was elected Chairman of the Association of English Cathedrals (the cathedrals’ representative body) and is serving her second term on the English Anglican Roman Catholic committee for ecumenical conversations. She is one of eight women, elected to participate in the work of the Church of England House of Bishops. Dean Faull received an honorary doctorate from the University of Gloucestershire in 2014 for her outstanding contribution to the church and her work for the equality of women.
The Very Reverend Vivienne Faull, Dean of York, said: “As a small child I used to get off the bus to school outside the Parkgate Road Campus and regarded the then College with awe. I am therefore humbled, and of course thrilled, to be awarded an honorary doctorate by the University. The University has been steadfast in its commitment to resource the work of the church through the study of theology. I am delighted that, in their turn, the Bishop and the Dean of Chester continue to play a significant part in the University’s governance.”
2pm - The Singh Twins – Doctor of Fine Arts
The Singh Twins are contemporary British artists of international standing, whose award-winning paintings have been acknowledged as constituting a unique genre in British Art, and for initiating a new movement in the revival of the Indian miniature tradition within modern art practice - something which, in 2010, was officially recognised at the highest level of British Establishment when they each received an MBE “for Services to the Indian Miniature Tradition of Painting in Contemporary Art” in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Although born in London, The Singh Twins grew up on the Wirral, where they received a Catholic convent education and later went on to read for a BA (Hons) in Comparative Religion, Ecclesiastical History and 20th Century Western Art History at the University of Liverpool’s affiliated College, the then Chester College. This was followed by a period of postgraduate study at the University of Manchester, during which time, they won a Government of India, INTACH Scholarship, to carry out field research into their chosen subject of Sikh Art and Heritage. In 1997 they decided to pursue a full time career as artists, which led to their first solo UK touring exhibition in 1999.
A road trip to India as teenagers (which introduced The Singh Twins to the ancient tradition of Indian miniature painting), together with the resistance they experienced when trying to develop that tradition as young art students, remain two of the most important influences on their art. Describing their work as Past - Modern (as opposed to Post Modern) The Singh Twins engage with important areas of critical debate - challenging existing stereotypes and redefining, generally accepted, narrow perceptions of heritage and identity in art and society. Combining elements from Western and Eastern aesthetics, The Singh Twins assert the value of traditional and non-European art forms to the continuing development of contemporary art practice - exploring cultural, social and political issues of global significance within a highly decorative, often witty and symbolic style which has universal appeal and transcends cultural barriers.
They have exhibited in some of Britain’s most prestigious art venues, including: the Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow; The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; the National Portrait Gallery, London; and the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh. Their work has also toured to museums and galleries around the world, including The Smithsonian Institute, Washington and the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi where, in 2011, they became the only British artists, besides Henry Moore, to have been offered a major solo exhibition at this, India’s foremost venue for contemporary art.
Their work is in private and public collections worldwide. Public commissions include two major paintings celebrating their home city of Liverpool’s 800th birthday in 2007 and its status as European Capital of Culture in 2008, as well as paintings for, National Museums Scotland, the Museum of London, the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto and the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam.
In 2002 they were appointed official Artists in Residence for the UK Manchester Commonwealth Games and have since continued to help promote the artistic life of the North West in their role as advocates for both The Beautiful North in 2007 and Liverpool City Brand in 2009, as well as official ambassadors for Liverpool Primary Care Trust’s Decade of Health and Wellbeing initiative in 2010, which enabled them to promote their belief in “the importance of art and culture to the spiritual and physical wellbeing of society”. The Singh Twins have represented Liverpool at international art exhibitions such as Fragile, 8 Days a Week and The International Indian Art Fair, New Delhi and have been invited to judge various art events including Arts Council England’s Art08 North West’s Awards and Design a Superlambanana Competition in 2008, the Liverpool Art Prize in 2009 and Merseytravel’s Art On the Network Competition in 2010. The promotion of their home city of Liverpool through their work was formally recognised when they were made Honorary Citizens of Liverpool in 2008. That same year they became the first recipients of the Liverpool Art Prize’s People’s Choice Award.
Although more widely known for their paintings, The Singh Twins are also published illustrators and writers, as well as filmmakers.
For more information visit www.singhtwins.co.uk
The Singh Twins said: “As artists, whose work was once dismissed as backward and outdated because of its traditional and non-western roots, being awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Art for ‘outstanding contribution to British Art’ is not only a special honour but an important, personal milestone of recognition and achievement for us in terms of the goal we set ourselves almost 30 years ago to challenge the Western art Establishment’s generally Eurocentric and narrow definition and evaluation of contemporary art.”