Gyles Brandreth drew on the wisdom of Winnie-the-Pooh and Nelson Mandela as he was installed as the University of Chester’s new chancellor.
The former MP for Chester has succeeded the late sixth Duke of Westminster in the ceremonial role, having been a passionate champion of the successful campaign for the institution to be granted university status.
Dr Brandreth – who was awarded his Honorary Doctorate by the University in 2014 – was officially installed as chancellor during a graduation ceremony at Chester Cathedral on Friday (March 17).
After declaring that enthusiasm and a good handshake were ‘really the only two requirements of a university chancellor’, Dr Brandreth went on to shake hands about 500 times in congratulating the graduands as they received their well-deserved awards
During his speech, he told of his honour and excitement at his appointment and referenced Nelson Mandela’s famous quote ‘education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’.
He acknowledged the vital role at the university of everyone from the vice-chancellor to the cleaners and maintenance staff.
The TV and radio personality also quoted advice given by Christopher Robin to Winnie-the-Pooh and recalled his correspondence as a 20-year-old with great wartime general Field Marshal Montgomery, who told him moral courage, ceaseless hard work and complete integrity were qualities essential for success.
“In seven words, the secrets of success – and I think they chime with the values of the founding fathers of this University,” said Dr Brandreth.
Now perhaps best known for his broadcasting career with the BBC – with regular appearances on The One Show and Just a Minute – 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.