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Suffolk: Computer pioneer Dame Stephanie Shirley to be honoured by UCS

PUBLISHED: 17:53 21 September 2012

Dame Stephanie Shirley honoured at UCS

Dame Stephanie Shirley honoured at UCS

Archant

ENTREPRENEUR Dame Stephanie ‘Steve’ Shirley will be honoured at a University Campus Suffolk (UCS) graduation ceremony.

Dame Stephanie, a refugee from Nazi Europe who pioneered the rise of the computer industry in the UK, will be made an Honorary Doctorate of UCS alongside 190 graduating students at the Bury St Edmunds campus on September 29.

The 79-year-old, who has donated about £50million to autism research since 2001, was described by the university as “an ardent philanthropist”.

In 1939 Dame Stephanie arrived in Harwich as an unaccompanied five-year-old refugee from Nazi Europe.

Her first job was at the Post Office Research Station at Dollis Hill and she took her London University honours maths degree at evening classes. One of her jobs was to check the randomness of the premium bond computer ERNIE, and she then entered the burgeoning computer industry.

In 1962, she founded Freelance Programmers for women who, at that time, were leaving industry on marriage or when their first child was expected.

Calling herself Steve in her business development letter to avoid discrimination, over 25 years she turned the business – now called Xansa – into a FTSE 250 leading technology group.

There was a personal side to her success story. Her late son Giles was severely autistic and inspired much of her philanthropy.

Organisations she has helped include the Kingwood support service, Prior’s Court School and Autism Cymru in bilingual Wales.

A smitten Stowmarket couple who fell in love at first sight have confessed they would not change each other for the world as they prepare to celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary.

Reporter Gemma Mitchell has compiled a varied but by no means exhaustive list of influential women who have made their mark in Suffolk, from business and charity leaders, to educators and campaigners.

All the latest updates on whether Highways England plans to close the Orwell Bridge.

High winds have led to train service cancellations including on the mainline from Suffolk and Essex to London and local routes between Sudbury and Marks Tey.

Shane and Zoe Coldron were Chantry School childhood sweethearts. But unexpectedly Zoe, 44, collapsed and died last week. Her husband Shane has spoken about how the family is coping, plus the overwhelming support he has received.

High winds have brought down overhead power cables leaving homes in many Suffolk and Essex communities without electricity.

A well known west Suffolk pub has suddenly closed its doors after the district council received a licence review application from police, stating the premises was ‘associated with serious crimes and disorder’.

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