Bedford town centre was a scene of joy and delight this week as more than 700 University of Bedfordshire graduates donned their gowns to collect their degrees.
Alongside delighted students at the five ceremonies, the university also used the occasion to mark the contributions of Baroness Rosalind Howells of St Davids and entrepreneur Andrew Bentley, who received Honorary Fellowships for their contributions to the achievements of the institution.
Baroness Howells, who spent her early life in St Davids, Grenada, was installed as Bedfordshire’s second Chancellor in March 2009 and has overseen a rapid growth in the University’s development and investment in facilities to improve students’ experience.
Awarded an OBE in 1994 and the recipient of a life peerage in 1999, Baroness Howells received her award at a ceremony marking the achievements of graduates from the Business School and the Faculty of Education and Sport.
“I am very grateful to the University for this very prestigious award. I’ve loved my time as Chancellor of the University but all good things come to an end,” said Baroness Howells, an active race relations campaigner told the students.
Another highlight was when Bedford’s embankment area came to a standstill for the annual Civic Ceremony.
Dignitaries marched down to the Corn Exchange from the Swan Hotel to the sound of the University’s Pipe Band for the first ceremony of the week; an occasion where Andrew Bentley collected his Honorary Fellowship.
The Chair of the Board of Governors at the University from 2004 until 2011, Mr Bentley oversaw the merger between the University of Luton and the Polhill campus of De Montfort University, into the University of Bedfordshire we know today.
An articulate supporter of education and the transformational impact that education can have, Mr Bentley took the opportunity to share some sound advice learnt from his illustrious career for the students from the Faculty of Education and Sport.
“If there is something you want to do with your life, it’s down to you to make it happen. No one’s going to steer your career for you and you aren’t going to get there by coasting, but you can do it,” he said.
Other ceremonies throughout the week celebrated successes from the University’s Faculties of Health and Social Sciences, as well as Creative Arts and Technologies.
The graduations proved a key moment to celebrate those students who had gone above and beyond during their three years at Bedfordshire.
Megan Gage for instance, who was presented with the Jacques Prize which recognised her significant academic work, and professional practice, during her studies on the (BA) Hons Primary Education course.
The Eileen Alexander Award, which recognises the student with the highest classification average in the Department of Sport Science & Physical Activity, was presented to Hannah Marshall.
She will be returning to Bedfordshire to study for a Masters degree, following a successful three years in which – among many achievements – she presented her final dissertation on the core body temperature being manipulated to optimise athletic performance at the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences Annual Student Conference.