Former Chester MP, TV and radio personality and writer Gyles Brandreth will be installed as Chancellor of the University of Chester during the institution’s graduation ceremony on Friday, March 17.
Mr Brandreth was a campaigner for the institution to be granted university status in the 1990s, 150 years after its foundation by the Church of England as the country’s first purpose-built teacher training college.
This ambition was eventually realised in 2005 and he has followed the university’s progress since with keen interest.
His installation ceremony, which begins at 10am in Chester Cathedral, will be followed by two graduation ceremonies, at which 465 graduands will receive their well-deserved awards.
Perhaps now best known for his BBC broadcasting career, with regular appearances on The One Show and Just a Minute, Gyles is a prolific author of fictional, biographical and autobiographical works, an accomplished classical actor and musical performer and a witty journalist and political diarist.
In public life, he was a whip and Lord Commissioner of the treasury in John Major’s Government. The ability to hold civil weddings at venues other than registry offices is thanks to Gyles Brandreth’s Private Members’ Bill (subsequently the 1994 Marriage Act).
He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters by the university in 2014, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the arts and to acknowledge his time as Chester’s elected representative.
The voluntary role of chancellor is primarily ceremonial, officiating at graduation ceremonies and representing the university at other formal occasions.
Chancellors can advise universities objectively, in the capacity of a ‘critical friend, drawing on their own professional experience’. They are usually also chosen for their association with an institution, its work and its surrounding communities and have often held public office.
Mr Brandreth 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.”
Also joining and celebrating with the students on this special day are two esteemed individuals who will be awarded honorary degrees in recognition of undertaking outstanding work in their respective fields – Professor Sir Cary L Cooper CBE and Lieutenant General Professor Sir Edmund Burton KBE DL MA DSc FBCS FIET.
University vice-chancellor Professor Tim Wheeler said: “One of the great joys of being a university vice-chancellor is to take part in our graduation ceremonies and be able to share this wonderful day with our graduands and to celebrate their success alongside their proud families and friends.
“It is also a privilege to be able to present honorary degrees to two remarkable individuals for their outstanding contributions to their chosen fields.
“I am particularly delighted to welcome Dr Gyles Brandreth as our new chancellor. He has taken a great interest in both this city and the university and we look forward to working with him in the future.”