Former Ipswich mayor and long-time campaigner for equality in the town Hamil Clarke has been awarded an honorary degree by the University of Suffolk.

Hamil set out for Ipswich from his birthplace in Barbados in 1960 as part of the Windrush generation.

He became an engineer and then went into the building trade after setting up his own painting and decorating trade.

In 1977 he was a co-founder of the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE). He is its longest-serving chair - a role he still fulfils today at the age of 84.

He spent a total of 24 years as a borough councillor between 1990 and 2018 and was mayor in 1998 and 2013. In 1998 he was awarded the MBE for services to the community.

Hamil said he was delighted to be awarded the degree because of his close links with the university and college.

Ipswich Star: Hamil Clarke was joined by his family at the graduation ceremony.Hamil Clarke was joined by his family at the graduation ceremony. (Image: Gregg Brown Photography/University of Suffolk)

He said: “It is very, very exciting because I went to what was then the civic college. I was with this college on the board all the way through until we got a university, so it is a long time.

“It’s very exciting to see that, and after all this time we have this university in Suffolk, and I had a small part in it.”

His award brought together two parts of his life: “I have two passions really, one is equality and the other one is education, and I am involved with both still, so I am pleased about that.

"And I don’t know when I am going to give up, when I can’t talk or walk! I’m 84 and still involved in all these things.

“I’m still the chair of ISCRE, still on the board of ASSET Education Trust, I’m on the board of Ipswich School, so they are keeping me busy.”

What advice would he give to students graduating this week as they head onto their next steps? “Regardless of how difficult they might think life will be, always stay true to themselves and they will succeed.”