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Ritula Shah, Brian Cox, iconic midlands footballer, one of world’s most successful authors, leading business woman, and Coventry social entrepreneur to be awarded honorary degrees by the University of Warwick

The University of Warwick has just announced that it will award honorary degrees to six people at its winter degree ceremonies which will run from Wednesday 16 January - Friday 18 January in the Butterworth Hall of Warwick Arts Centre. Those to be honoured include:

Wednesday 16th January Morning
Ken Follett (Hon DLitt)

Wednesday 16th January Afternoon
Brendon Batson (Hon DLitt)

Thursday 17th January Morning
Ritula Shah (Hon DLitt)

Thursday 17th January Afternoon
Dame Fiona Kendrick (Hon DSc)

Friday 18th January Morning
Rashid Bhayat (Hon DLitt)

Friday 18th January Afternoon
Brian Cox (Hon DSc)

Some short biographies on each graduand now follow along with information on the type of degree each will receive.

Brendon Batson OBE- Hon DLitt (Honorary Doctor of Letters)

Brendon BastonBrendon started his football career in 1969 as an apprentice with Arsenal FC, the following year he was offered a professional contract with the club. In 1974 he transferred to Cambridge United where he was the club captain and led the team to promotion to what was then the old 3rd Division. In his four years at Cambridge (two of which were under manager Ron Atkinson in 1976–7) Brendon made a total of 163 appearances scoring six goals.

When Atkinson moved to West Bromwich Albion in 1978 (which was then in the 1st Division (now known as the Premier League), Brendon joined him, in a deal worth £28,000, teaming up with fellow black players Cyrille Regis and Laurie Cunningham. Although they were not the first black professional footballers in England, the three players were seen as icons of black participation in professional football. They were affectionately nicknamed “The Three Degrees” and remain extremely popular with West Bromwich’s fans.

Unfortunately, in 1984 a knee injury forced Brendon into early retirement where he was immediately offered a position with the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) progressing to Deputy CEO, a role he held until 2002. Brendon has held several positions within the PFA, including the Chairman of PFA Financial Management Ltd, Director of PFA Enterprises (the commercial arm of the PFA) and to this day he remains a trustee.

In 2002 Brendon was approached to join the new board at West Bromwich Albion FC as MD, at the time newly promoted to the Premiership and has continued to have a very close relationship with the club.

As well as forming his own consultancy working across a range of areas generally around equality, coaching and financial support, Brendon has had active roles as Board Member and Chairman respectively with SGSA and Sporting Equals. Currently Brendon is Chairman of the Professional Players Federation (PPF) which is a membership organisation made up of professional player unions across all sports, President of EU Athletes and a trustee of both the PFA and the West Bromwich Albion FC Foundation.

Brendon was appointed as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2001 New Year Honours and Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2015 New Year Honours - both for services to football.

Much more on Brendon can be found at:


Rashid Bhayat - Hon DLitt (Honorary Doctor of Letters)

Rashid BhayatRashid established his first social venture in 1997 at the age of 17, which worked with young people in one of the UK’s most challenging neighbourhoods. Since then, he has worked at a local, regional and national level, designing and implementing social change programmes for young people and communities.

Rashid is the Founder and CEO of the Positive Youth Foundation, which supports young people who find themselves in a wide range of complex and challenging circumstances. The organisation was formally established as a ‘spin-out’ charity in 2011, following on from its inception as a voluntary organisation and subsequent positon as a local authority service.

Rashid’s professional interest also include supporting social enterprise development, public service transformation and wider social impact programmes. Rashid is a regular platform speaker on subject matters relating to raising the aspirations of young people.

Rashid is also a Trustee of the Coventry City of Culture Trust.

You can see more information on the Positive Youth Foundation here:


Professor Brian Cox OBE - Hon DSc (Honorary Doctor of Science)

Brian Cox (Source: Wikipedia)Professor Brian has said in a number of interviews that when he was aged 12, Carl Sagan’s the book and TV series Cosmos first inspired him to become a physicist. However his first career was in rock music, initially joining the rock band Dare in 1989. In 1993, he joined the UK rock band D:Ream, which had a number of hits, including the number one "Things Can Only Get Better," D:Ream disbanded in 1997 but Brian had also been studying physics alongside his musical career

In 1995 Brian obtained a first class honours degree in physics from the University of Manchester and in 1998 a PhD in High Energy Particle Physics for his work at the Hadron Elektron Ring Anlage (HERA) particle accelerator at the DESY laboratory in Hamburg.

He is now a member of the high energy physics group at the University of Manchester and in 2005, he was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship. He researches at the University of Manchester and at the CERN facility in Geneva, Switzerland, home of the Large Hadron Collider. He works on both the ATLAS experiment and the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment.

His scientific publications include papers on quantum chromodynamics at high energies and novel techniques to identify hadronically decaying W - a new idea that has since developed into a whole sub-field of 'boosted particle' studies, now employed in Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiments. Professor Cox also led the "FP420" project, which made the case for installing low-angle proton detectors at CERN.

He combines an active research career with an equally active commitment to popularize science to the public, especially through presenting or appearances on a vast array of BBC programs such as The Big Bang Machine, In Einstein's Shadow Horizon, the BBC's Bitesize revision programmes, Wonders of the Solar System , Wonders of the Universe, Wonders of Life, Space Hoppers, Dani's House, Science Britannica, Stargazing Live, The Science of Doctor Who, The Human Universe, the Sky at Night, QI and many, many more. He is also a co-host of the popular BBC radio program The Infinite Monkey Cage.

He was appointed as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen's 2010 Birthday Honours for services to science, He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2016.

He has also received many other awards, particularly for his efforts to publicise science. In 2002 he was elected an International Fellow of The Explorers Club and in 2006 he received the British Association's Lord Kelvin Award for this work. He held a prestigious Royal Society University Research Fellowship (an early-career Research Fellowship scheme) from 2006 to 2013. In 2010 he won the Institute of Physics Kelvin Prize for his work in communicating the appeal and excitement of physics to the general public. That year also saw him awarded a Peabody award for his Wonders of the Solar System TV series. In 2012 he was awarded the Michael Faraday Prize of the Royal Society "for his excellent work in science communication".

His highly successful 2017 UK theatre and arena tour was seen by over 150,000 people, including a sell-out 9000 seat show at Wembley Arena in London, for which he holds the Guinness World record for the largest science show ever performed.

Two of his speeches are available as TED lectures, where he explains the physics being performed (or not being performed) at the Large Hadron Collider. He has also co-authored a number of books including:

· Why Does E=mc²? (And Why Should We Care?) (with Jeff Forshaw) (2009)

· Wonders of the Solar System (with Andrew Cohen) (2010)

· Wonders of the Universe (with Andrew Cohen) (2011)

· The Quantum Universe (And Why Anything That Can Happen, Does) (with Jeff Forshaw) (2011)

· Wonders of Life: Exploring the Most Extraordinary Phenomenon in the Universe (with Andrew Cohen) (2013)

· Human Universe (with Andrew Cohen) (2014)

· Forces of Nature (with Andrew Cohen) (2016)

· Universal: A Guide to the Cosmos (with Jeff Forshaw) (2016)

· The Infinite Monkey Cage – How to Build a Universe (With Robin Ince) (2017)

For more information, on Brian visit:


Ken Follett CBE- Hon DLitt (Honorary Doctor of Letters)

Ken FolletKen Follett is one of the world’s most successful authors. Over 165 million copies of the 31 books he has written have been sold in over 80 countries and in 33 languages.

Born on June 5th, 1949 in Cardiff, Wales, the son of a tax inspector, Ken was educated at state schools and went on to graduate from University College, London, with an Honours degree in Philosophy. He was made a Fellow of the College in 1995.

He started his career as a reporter, first with his hometown newspaper the South Wales Echo and then with the London Evening News. Subsequently, he worked for a small London publishing house, Everest Books, eventually becoming Deputy Managing Director.

Ken’s last project, The Century Trilogy, has sold over 22 million copies worldwide. The three books tell the story of the twentieth century through five generations on three continents.

Ken’s first major success came with the publication of Eye of the Needle in 1978. A World War II thriller set in England, this book earned him the 1979 Edgar Award for Best Novel from the Mystery Writers of America. It remains one of Ken’s most popular books.

In 1989, Ken’s epic novel about the building of a medieval cathedral, The Pillars of the Earth, was published. It reached number one on bestseller lists everywhere and was turned into a major television series produced by Ridley Scott, which aired in 2010. World Without End, the sequel to The Pillars of the Earth, proved equally popular when it was published in 2007.

Ken’s most recent book, A Column of Fire, published in 2017 is a historical novel about spies and secret agents in the 16th century, the time of Queen Elizabeth I. Set partly in the fictional town of Kingsbridge, it is a sequel to The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End.

He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2018 Birthday Honours for services to literature. His other awards include: in 2013 he was made a Grand Master at the Edgar Awards in New York, in 2012 Winter of the World won the Qué Leer Prize for Best Translated Book of that year in Spain; in 2010 his book Fall of Giants won the Libri Golden Book Award for Best Fiction Title in Hungary that year, also in 2010 he was made a Grand Master at Thrillerfest V in New York, in 2008 he won the Olaguibel Prize for contributing to the promotion and awareness of architecture, in 2003 his book - Jackdaws won the Corine Literature Prize in Bavaria, in 1999 his novel Hammer of Eden won the Premio Bancarella Literary Prize in Italy, and in 1979 - Eye of the Needle won the Edgar Best Novel Award from the Mystery Writers of America.

Ken has been active in numerous literacy charities and was president of Dyslexia Action for ten years. He was chair of the National Year of Reading, a joint initiative between government and businesses. He is also active in many Stevenage charities and is President of the Stevenage Community Trust.

Ken, who loves music almost as much as he loves books, is an enthusiastic bass guitar player in two bands.


Dame Fiona Kendrick DBE - Hon DSc (Honorary Doctor of Science)

Fiona KendrickFiona Kendrick became Chairman of Nestlé UK and Ireland on 1 July 2017, having previously served as Chairman and CEO from 2012. Having started her career initially in teaching, Fiona joined Nestlé UK in 1980 in a commercial role, and spent her working life with Nestlé in key strategic roles in the UK market as well as at global level.

Prior to heading up the UK and Ireland business, with a £2.4 billion turnover, employing 8,000 people across 20 sites, Dame Fiona was responsible for the global strategic direction of Nestlé’s coffee brands, based in Nestlé headquarters in Switzerland. The role reported into the main Nestlé Executive Board.

Fiona has a personal passion for the youth employment and skills agenda, and has led a number of projects in this area both inside and outside Nestlé. She has helped to transform Nestlé UK and Ireland’s recruitment practices through the Nestlé Academy. The Academy brings together graduate and apprenticeship programmes, direct entry schemes and vocational training in order to deliver more flexible entry points and alternative routes to higher education for people.

Fiona was a UK Commissioner for Employment and Skills and played a lead role in supporting the development and delivery of strategies for skills and employment across the four UK nations.

From January 2015 to December 2016 Fiona was President of the Food and Drink Federation, the association that represents the UK food and drink manufacturing industry. She previously led the Food and Drink sector’s skills and competitiveness agenda and co-chaired the UK Food and Drink Export Forum.

In the 2015 New Year’s Honours’ list Fiona was created Dame Commander of the British Empire for services to the food industry and support for skills and opportunities for young people. Dame Fiona was awarded the Chartered Management Institute Gold Medal for Leadership in 2017.

In recognition of services to the food and drink industry and young people's employment and skills,

In January 2017 Fiona was appointed as Deputy Chair of the Institute for Apprenticeships Board and in January 2018, appointed to Chair of the new University of Hereford for Engineers.


Ritula Shah - Hon DLitt (Honorary Doctor of Letters)

Ritula ShahRitula Shah is an award winning BBC journalist and broadcaster. Her Radio 4 biography describes her as a self confessed "anorak" who had been listened to Radio 4 ever since she can remember. “She woke up with Jack de Manio and "listened with mother". Her passion for journalism began at Warwick, where she studied history and was actively involved in the student radio station.

She graduated from Warwick in 1988. And afterwards joined the Radio 4 production team based in Birmingham.

After a spell in regional TV news, she joined the Today programme. Seven years and many nightshifts later, Ritula made the short journey across London to Bush House -- where she became one of the presenters of the daily news show The World Today. She found herself presenting the programme from a variety of unlikely locations, including a building site at the back of a mosque in Tehran and under a table on a rooftop in Moscow (the only place where the equipment was protected from the snow).

Ritula is a trustee of the International Institute for the Visual Arts and an ambassador for the British Asian Trust. In 2011 she won Media Professional of the Year at the Asian Women of Achievement Awards

For further information please contact:

Peter Dunn, Director of Press and Media Relations, University of Warwick
Tel UK 024 76523708 office 07767 655860 mobile
Tel overseas: +44 (0)24 76523708 office +44 (0)7767 655860 mobile/cell

PJD 11th December 2018