Dame Helen picks up degree

ACCLAIMED actress Dame Helen Mirren has collected an honorary degree from the University of Essex to go alongside her many acting gongs. The twice Oscar-nominated actress, who grew up in the county, is one of 1,500 people who will graduate this year.

ACCLAIMED actress Dame Helen Mirren has collected an honorary degree from the University of Essex to go alongside her many acting gongs.

The twice Oscar-nominated actress, who grew up in the county, is one of 1,500 people who will graduate this year.

The Prime Suspect star joined the National Youth Theatre, followed by four years with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Her successful television and film career has included roles in Gosford Park and Calender Girls.


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At the Wivenhoe Park campus yesterday Dame Helen, who grew up in Ilford and Southend, joined hundreds of excited graduands at the ceremony in the lecture theatre building.

Students from more than 120 countries will be honoured this year and during his address, the university's chancellor, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, recognised the “amazing mingling of races, nationalities, religions, political views and cultural backgrounds.”

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He said: “One of the particular distinctions of this university - this vibrant and exciting university - is the richness of its intake. The galaxy of its students is a continuing source of its common wealth. A quarter of undergraduates and nearly three quarters of graduate students come from abroad.”

Other honorary degrees bestowed over the two days also went to psychotherapist professor and writer Susie Orbach, and journalist Lindsey Hilsum.

Dr Radhika Coomaraswamy , the United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence, and historian Professor Linda Colley were among the other honorary graduates.

Among the students graduating today are a mother and son, Linda and Matthew Walker, from Chelmsford.

Despite discovering in her final year that she was dyslexic, Mrs Walker achieved a BSc in Psychology, while her son, 21, will receive a BA in Accounting and Management.

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