We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Colleges & wider student experience

Student news

Leading musician and renowned inventor honoured in winter graduation ceremonies

(9 January 2017)

Leading folk musician Kathryn Tickell OBE and renowned inventor Professor John C Taylor have been awarded honorary degrees during Winter Congregation ceremonies.

The University is holds five Winter Congregation ceremonies over two days,when around 2,500 students graduate, celebrating their hard work and achievements together with relatives and friends in the stunning surroundings of Durham Cathedral, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Honorary Degrees

Kathryn Tickell OBE was made an Honorary Master of Music and Professor John C Taylor OBE became an Honorary Doctor of Science. 

Kathryn Tickell OBE

Kathryn Tickell OBE is an acclaimed performer of the Northumbrian pipes, as well as a renowned folk musician, composer and recording artist. She founded The Young Musicians Fund, which has raised £100,000 for young people in North East England, and initiated The Festival for the North East.

Kathryn has a strong association with Durham, having performed and recorded in Durham Cathedral and performed at Ushaw College. She received the Queen’s Medal for Music awarded to individuals judged to have had a major influence on the musical life of the nation in 2009 and an OBE for services to folk music in 2015.

After receiving her degree Kathryn Tickell said: “I’ve always had a strong connection with Durham because my granddad was a pitman in County Durham and my dad was born here. I remember being brought to the Miners’ Gala by my granddad and Durham is a place that looms large in my life. That adds an extra depth to what was already a very meaningful day for me.

“It was fantastic to be honoured in this way. I kept thinking of my granddad throughout. I just wish he had been here to see his granddaughter being given this honour. He wouldn’t have believed it. I can’t quite believe it.

“It’s fantastic to be honoured in this very impressive Cathedral, where I’ve played many times, and to have the honour conferred by Sir Tom, well, I started to get a little bit tearful. We have that connection through music and passion for the North-East and I can’t think of anyone better to receive the degree from.”

Professor John C Taylor OBE

Professor John C Taylor OBE is a world-renowned inventor and entrepreneur, perhaps best known for designing thermostat systems. After 20 years working for the family business, Otter Controls, he left to build his own company, Strix Ltd, which has received four Queen’s Awards.

Professor Taylor is an eminent horologist, with a renowned collection of early English clocks and watches and designed the Chronophage clocks, which have been exhibited in a number of museums. He is a visiting Professor of Physics at Durham and generous supporter of research in the Physics Department.

Professor taylor said “I am very honoured to receive such a prestigious award from one of the premier universities in the UK and the world.”

Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University said: “Both of our honorary graduates are great innovators in their field and I am sure our students will draw inspiration from them.”

Sought after Durham Graduates

Professor Corbridge explained what makes Durham Graduates attractive to employers, “Durham students benefit from education that is challenging, difficult, enabling, research-led and transformative, delivered in an environment of world-leading and world-changing research, as well as enjoying a wider student experience to rival the best in the world. This helps make our graduates among the most sought after in the world.

“I congratulate all of our graduates and wish them every success as they embark upon a new phase in their lives.

Durham graduates go on to enjoy a range of interesting and varied careers, as well as joining the University’s international alumni network. The University is in the top 50 globally for the employability of its students by blue-chip companies in 2016/17*.

50th Anniversary Alumni Guests

Students graduating in Thursday afternoon's ceremony were joined by representatives of the Class of 1967, a group of Durham alumni who left 50 years ago. The alumni were invited back to the University to celebrate the golden anniversary of their graduation in 1967. They were welcomed by the University community and processed down the aisle to join senior staff and guests around the dais before enjoying the post-ceremony celebrations.

Don’t forget to share your images of Graduation at #DUCongregation #DUmakeithappen

Full details of Winter Congregation 2017 can be found here

*Ranked 39 globally for the employability of its students by blue-chip companies world-wide (QS World University Rankings 2016/17)