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This honour is for the whole city, says Bradford 2025 Bid Director


Honorary graduate

Bradford City of Culture Bid Director, Richard Shaw, has dedicated his Honorary Degree of Doctor from the University of Bradford to the city. 

Accepting his award in the University’s Great Hall yesterday (Tuesday, July 18th), Richard told students, academics and guests: "I am hugely fortunate to be here to collect this honorary award today, something that was totally unexpected.

"But in all honesty, I don’t think this is really an award for me. I think it’s for the quite extraordinary people who brought the City of Culture title home to Bradford. I don’t just mean the staff of the bid, as wonderful and as wonderfully creative as they were.

"I’m talking about the volunteers, the steering groups, board members and advisors, the teachers, artists, musicians, promoters, politicians and performers and the brilliantly creative people across the district who saw the opportunity and went for it, giving up their time, applying their imagination and breathing passion into a bid that fought off competition from 19 other places across the UK. Truthfully, these are the people who really deserve this recognition."

During his thirty-year career, Richard has worked at some of the country’s finest arts and media organisations, including the British Film Institute, Lion Television, the Royal Opera House, The National Theatre and English National Ballet. 

Born in Leeds, he always intended returning to his West Yorkshire roots at some point and it was the lure of bringing City of Culture to Bradford that sealed the deal. The title is estimated to bring an extra £700m into the district, creating 3,000 jobs and attracting around 1.1m visitors. 

Richard, who lives in Saltaire, has now handed the reins to Bradford 2025 Creative Director Shanaz Gulzar and Executive Director Dan Bates, but will continue to have a hand in its delivery. If there is one moment that sticks out as the highlight of his efforts it is, of course, the moment Bradford was announced as the winner, live on BBC’s The One Show on May 31st, 2022. 

He said: “Two thousand people had gathered in City Park to hear the result. And at that moment, when the judges announced that this was Bradford’s time, it was clear that this was the shared ambition of a huge number of people who had come together in passionate common cause.

“I’ve never experienced the collective joy that rang out so loudly when Bradford was named City of Culture - the cheers and celebrations that marked that day were for the work of thousands of people who came together over three years to share the vision that we could do this. This award is a credit to their extraordinary commitment, their imagination and passion in the belief that this really is Bradford’s time.”

2025 Bid Director

Pictured above: Richard Shaw. Credit: Bradford 2025.

Richard’s message to graduating students was to see the benefit of teamwork.  

He said: “Winning the title for 2025 was a collective act. It was only possible because people put aside their own personal ambitions and worked together, night and day, to make it happen.

“Collaboration is the key to success.”

One of those collaborators was the University, a strategic partner of Bradford 2025. Speaking ahead of the ceremony, Richard paid tribute to the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Shirley Congdon, for her tireless and passionate support of the bid. 

“One of the first doors I knocked on back in November 2019 was Shirley’s. Since that first meeting, Shirley has been a total rock, not just for her support during the bid, which was amazing, but in the delivery. It is a continuing relationship. 

“Her commitment has been and continues to be absolutely astonishing."