Former MP and passionate champion of the University of Chester Gyles Brandreth has been revealed as its new chancellor.
A fierce campaigner for the institution to be granted university status during his period of office representing Chester in parliament in the 1990s, Dr Brandreth will succeed the late sixth Duke of Westminster in the ceremonial role when he is officially installed on March 17 next year.
Wearing his new hat, the politician turned broadcaster will officiate at graduation ceremonies and represent the university at other formal occasions.
Dr Brandreth – who was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of Chester in 2014 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the arts – has called his appointment a 'great privilege'.
He said: “I am hugely honoured by this appointment and looking forward to serving a university whose heritage I admire, whose growth and achievement have been extraordinary and whose future is so exciting.
“In a rapidly changing world, nothing is more important than education and the range and quality of what the University of Chester has to offer at undergraduate and post-graduate level is remarkable.
“Chester is a university of achievement and ambition and it's a great privilege to be invited to play a part in its ongoing story.”
He also took to Twitter to express his delight at taking on the role.
Dr Brandreth is perhaps best known for his broadcasting career with the BBC now, with regular appearances on The One Show and Just a Minute, but he is also an author of fictional, biographical and autobiographical works, an accomplished classical actor and a journalist.
In public life, he was a whip and Lord Commissioner of the Treasury in John Major’s government.
The many causes he endorses range from Third World, medical and homeless charities, to those benefiting pets and wildlife, and he is patron of a number of cultural activities and organisations.
The decision to approach Dr Brandreth was taken at the university’s Governance and Nominations Review Committee, and approved by its governors last month.
The first chancellor was the late Duke of Westminster, who had served more than two five-year terms.
His Grace had advised the university of his intention to stand down at the end of the current academic year.
Professor Tim Wheeler, the university’s vice-chancellor, said: “We have been in the fortunate position of having two outstanding individuals, both absolutely passionate about their responsibilities towards society, as ambassadors for the University of Chester.
“Dr Brandreth is something of a Renaissance man, whose thirst for knowledge, abiding love of the English language, literature and history are matched by a sense of enthusiasm and fun and an understanding of the value of volunteering, which is very much in the spirit of the University and should appeal to our students and staff alike."