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Swimmer honoured by college

PUBLISHED: 20:02 26 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:45 03 March 2010

SWAPPING her swimming costume for a gown and mortarboard, Karen Pickering stepped on to the stage at Suffolk College to receive an honorary degree.

To a standing ovation from other graduates and their friends and families, the Ipswich swimmer was awarded a Doctorate of Civil Law (DCL) last night.

SWAPPING her swimming costume for a gown and mortarboard, Karen Pickering stepped on to the stage at Suffolk College to receive an honorary degree.

To a standing ovation from other graduates and their friends and families, the Ipswich swimmer was awarded a Doctorate of Civil Law (DCL) last night.

The people who had packed into the main hall at the college were told of Karen's achievements in the pool, from winning European and Commonwealth Championship gold medals to being part of a record breaking relay team to winning more Commonwealth medals than any other British swimmer.

And in reference to Karen's early swimming days, orator Susan Spence, highlighted how her story could have been very different.

Ms Spence said: "There was nearly not a Karen Pickering after the premature removal of her arm bands had her sinking to the bottom of the pool like a stone."

Receiving her Doctorate at one of seven graduation ceremonies to be held at Suffolk College, Karen was appreciative of the honour and the applause with which she had been greeted.

She said: "When my sister heard I was to receive a Doctorate of Civil Law she said 'Why on earth are they giving her that? She knows nothing about law and is rarely civil'.

"I am grateful for the recognition from outside of my field, the field of sport and would like to thank the University of East Anglia and Suffolk College for honouring me in this way."

Earlier in the day Lady Jill Freud was also awarded a DCL. Wife of Sir Clement Freud, she lives in Suffolk, has been in the acting profession for more than 40 years and now owns Jill Freud and Company which presents the annual summer theatre seasons in Southwold and Aldeburgh.

Other honorary graduates receiving DCL's during the week of graduations were Oscar-nominated actor Ralph Fiennes and John F Brennan, who has forged links between Suffolk University in Boston, USA, and the College in Ipswich.

More than 1,500 students graduated from Suffolk College this year with the largest number of ceremonies to award them their degrees.

Principal Dave Muller said: "It's a very important day for our college.

"I am delighted that so many people from Ipswich and Suffolk will be graduating at the same time as we will be recognising the achievements of our honorary graduands."

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