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University honours five at winter graduations


The University of Bradford honoured five national and international figures with honorary degrees at its winter graduation ceremonies. They included leading professionals from health and social housing and Bradford-born composer and producer.

The ceremonies were held in the Great Hall of the city campus, on Wednesday 30 November and Thursday 1 December, where Chancellor Kate Swann and Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Cantor presented the honorary degrees.

The recipients of honorary degrees from the University included:

Neil Hunt, Doctor of Health

Now Chief Executive of the Royal College of General Practitioner, Neil was previously Chief Executive of Alzheimer's Society, where he led an impressive modernisation, developing new services, raising the public profile of the organisation, and rapidly growing its resource base. He chaired the advisory group that led to the first National Dementia Strategy for England. He has also worked in the strategy units at both the Home Office and the Department Of Education, held the position of Director of Child Protection at NSPCC and worked in various roles within Social Services.

Benson Taylor Benson Taylor, Doctor of the University

As well as an accomplished composer and producer, Benson was one of the founding members of the Emmaus homeless project in Bradford, established to develop St Mary's Church into a home and working environment for the homeless. He works internationally with the United Nations World Food Programme, is Patron of the Halifax charity Music and the Deaf, and is a Goodwill Ambassador for the Cambodian Children's Trust in Battambang. Benson has also composed scores for film, television and games, and won Best Original Music at the 2014 Monaco International Film Festival.

Helen Hirst Helen Hirst, Honorary Fellow

Helen is Chief Officer of Bradford City, Bradford Districts and Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven CCGs. She has worked in the NHS in Bradford for 22 of the past 24 years, with her last role being Deputy Chief Executive for Bradford and Airedale Teaching Primary Care Trust. In 2010 she worked for the Department of Health as a Programme Director for Primary Care to support health reforms and the establishment of the NHS Commissioning Board. In addition to her current role she has also provided interim support to NHS England as Director of CCG Development, and to the Vale of York CCG as Accountable Officer.

Geraldine Howley Geraldine Howley, Doctor of the University

Now Group Chief Executive of Incommunities, Geraldine started her career as a temporary housing receptionist more than 30 years ago, becoming a chartered surveyor and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Housing along the way. She has led Incommunities, one of the largest social housing providers in Yorkshire and the Humber, since 2003, investing more than £400 million pounds into modernising old homes and building new ones. Geraldine is also Chair of the Centre for Partnership, which runs an internationally recognised Graduate Employment Mentoring Programme.

Ashok Soni OBE Ashok Soni OBE, Doctor of Health

A former President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Ashok was awarded an OBE for services to community pharmacy and the NHS. He started his career in 1983 on graduation from the Portsmouth School of Pharmacy, when he opened his own pharmacy, and took up a range of roles including Clinical Network Lead for NHS Lambeth and Chairman of the National Pharmacy Association Board of Management. He was also part of the NHS Future Forum, reviewing the Health and Social Care Bill. Ashok led the work stream on the role in the Public Health in the NHS, and was a member of the Expert Advisory Board reviewing the NHS constitution.