"You never lose your passion for your home" - Honorary doctorate given to Suffolk music legend
PUBLISHED: 20:41 15 October 2019 | UPDATED: 21:45 15 October 2019
UNIVERSITY OF SUFFOLK
One of Suffolk's biggest ever music stars has received an honorary doctorate from the University of Suffolk during a week of celebratory graduations.
Music legend Nik Kershaw was awarded the title at a ceremony at the university this week along side five other Suffolk celebrities. The Wouldn't It Be Good singer was honoured for his service to the music industry, after he went from playing in Ipswich pubs on a Sunday night to performing in front of thousands at Wembley Stadium as part of the historic Live Aid concert in 1985, alongside the biggest artists of the time.
Talking at the graduation, the 61-year-old spoke of his fondness of the town he grew up in.
"It is nice to come back," he said. "I still play gigs at the Regent from time to time. It's nice to see all the old haunts, a lot of them are still here.
"Coming here I drove past my old place of work in Grimwade Street. I spent 20 years in this town so I remember it well. I had some really good times, perhaps some that I wouldn't want to share with you, but some good times. I grew up here."
The pop singer, who was once described as the "best songwriter of his generation" by super star Elton John, also reflected on how the Suffolk town helped shape his career. The musician, who wrote the hit song The One and Only for Chesney Hawkes, has previously said: "I used to play at the pubs around here.
"We used to play at the Mulberry Tree quite a lot and a pub called the Kingfisher that we used to make a pilgrimage to every Sunday evening to see the local bands. I don't think you ever lose the passion for your home town. My parents who are no longer with us lived on the Gainsborough Estate. I don't come back that often but when I do it feels really comfortable. I mean it has all changed so much. I'm looking out at the docks and everything, I used to come down here and take photographs of the boats but it really looks beautiful now."
Receiving their awards this week alongside Kershaw are other popular names from Suffolk. Chief executive of the New Wolsey Theatre, Sarah Holmes, picked up her doctorate on Monday with Internet Watch Foundation deputy CEO Fred Langford and Broadway and West End musical theatre star Kerry Ellis receiving their awards alongside Mr Kershaw today, October 15. Manager of Suffolk Refugee Support, Rebecca Crerar, will be honoured on Wednesday before the final star, Ian Livingstone, CBE, who is regarded as one of the founding fathers of the UK games industry, completes the awards on Thursday.
Speaking about being honoured at the ceremony, Mr Kershaw said: "I still feel a bit of a fraud receiving the award but that is the story of my life really.
"It's great getting the e-mail and once I'd figured out it wasn't a joke. I'm really proud and it's great to be appreciated and noticed, and hopefully give something back."
Fred Langford was awarded an Honorary Doctorate for his work at the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), an international charity which combats child sexual abuse images on the internet.
With 30 years of experience, he is an internationally respected authority on cybersecurity, internet policy, child protection, online crime prevention and effective regulation.
He was a founding director of the UK Safer Internet Centre and a former trustee of the Marie Collins Foundation and Commonwealth Cybercrime Initiative.
"I have worked for many years to protect the victims of online child sexual abuse and now have the opportunity to share what I've learned around the world to help others from many sectors, cultures and countries to develop their own responses to this horrendous crime," he said.
"It is a privilege to have my work acknowledged in this way, especially from the University of Suffolk."
A star on both the West End stage and Broadway across the Atlantic, Kerry Ellis was awarded with an Honorary Fellowship from the university on Tuesday night.
Ellis originated the role of Meat in Queen's We Will Rock You and was the first British woman to play Elphaba in the worldwide smash Wicked, winning the 2008 Whatsonstage.com Award for Best Takeover in a Role.
Born and raised in Suffolk, Ellis achieved chart-topping success as a vocalist signed to Universal Decca records and released her debut album, Anthems, in 2010 - produced by legendary Queen guitarist Brian May.
Her other leading role credits include Nancy in Oliver!, Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, Ellen in Miss Saigon and Fantine in Les Miserables.
She said: "I feel quite speechless, it is overwhelming. Being recognised for a job that you love and that you have been doing for your whole life is the cherry on top especially to have it from your home county, it is a real honour.
"My message to the students is to dream big, follow your dreams. If you can find something you are passionate about you will have a very happy life- a very busy, happy working life and I think that's what it is all about.
"Be brave, be confident and don't be put off, be resilient and believe in yourself."
Rebecca Crerar started working with asylum seekers and refugees in Suffolk in 2000 in her role supporting those in most need into accommodation around the UK while they waited for their claims to be decided.
Her passion continued into 2005 hen she became the volunteer coordinator of Suffolk Refugee Support, which was only a small charity at the time.
Since then, she has taken over the leadership of the charity and has enabled several thousand refugees and asylum seekers to gain vital help in the form of advice, English lessons, training and emotional support.
She said: "I will be accepting this award on behalf of the many refugees who have fought against unimaginable adversity to make this county their home, while remembering the many others who have lost their lives in the conflicts of the world."
Crerar will receive her Honorary Fellowship Wednesday, October 16.
Ian Livingstone CBE, who will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate on Thursday, October 17, co-founded the iconic chain, Games Workshop, with Steve Jackson in 1975 - launching Dungeons and Dragons in Europe.
In 1982 he co-authored The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, the first interactive gamebook in the Fighting Fantasy series which has sold almost 20 million copies worldwide.
While serving as executive chairman of Eidos Plc, he launched global video games blockbusters including Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.
Mr Livingstone is due to be awarded his Honorary Doctorate on Thursday, October 17.
He said: "I believe the arts and sciences should no longer be a question of either/or and must be brought together to encourage creativity and innovation.
"Creativity is a core strength of the UK and gives us an edge as a nation.
"I'm delighted that the university offers both arts courses and a BSc course in Computer Games programming."