Former college principal Dave Mulller and novelist Esther Freud among University of Suffolk’s honorary graduates
- Credit: Archant
Honorary graduates recognised for their achievements in writing novels and supporting higher education joined graduates from the University of Suffolk yesterday – and despite coming from different disciplines revealed how much the county means to them.
Top novelist Esther Freud was recognised for her work in the field of literature during the afternoon ceremony, while Christine Dobson – a key founder of the university and leader in developing radiography BSc and MSc courses – was celebrated for her work during the morning.
But despite their differing backgrounds, both spoke of the influence Suffolk had on their careers.
Esther splits her time between London and Walberswick, and said she was honoured to be receiving the recognition from the University of Suffolk – a county that has been influential in her work.
“I feel really delighted to be receiving this honorary degree, especially from Suffolk which is a place that means so much to me,” the 54-year-old said.
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“I have set two of my novels here – probably the novels I enjoyed writing more than any others just because when you are working on a book you are in that place in your head and it gives me a lot of pleasure to be in this part of the world.
“So it really means a lot to me and I feel very honoured.”
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Esther’s fifth novel, The Sea House, was her first set in Suffolk, before her most recent Mr Mac and Me returned to the rural beauty of the county.
The setting was perfect in helping her realise elements she had always wanted to include in her work.
“The first book I set in Suffolk was in about 2000, The Sea House, and I realised when I started to write it that I had been storing up all sorts of things I wanted to put in a book for years because it came pouring out so easily – just the weather, and the landscape, and the sea, and just that feeling, the effect it has being somewhere very beautiful.
“It was a great pleasure to write that book.
“More recently Mr Mac and Me, which was my last book, I wrote it from the point of view of someone who was born and bred in Suffolk whereas my first Suffolk book was a visitor’s point of view, and I felt that had come about because I knew the county even better and I could take a slightly different look at it.”
The mother of three, who is married to actor David Morrissey, said it was “very special” being part of the graduates’ special day, and hailed their hard work as they made their next step into the wide world.
She said: “They have worked so hard and learnt the fruits of their labour.
“One of wonderful things about working very hard and concentrating on what you most want to do is that it is very satisfying.
“Once you have learnt to do that you can apply it to pretty much anything in your life and it is a great satisfaction.”
For Christine Dobson, her honorary degree represented a personal journey seeing the university develop from the seed of an idea into a thriving campus.
Having been principal of the East Anglian College of Radiography, and later assistant principal for higher education when the college merged with Suffolk College in 1992, she was instrumental in working to develop the county’s first university.
“I am thrilled to be getting an honorary fellowship at the university,” she said.
“I was part of the team that developed it and it is with huge pride that I am here, not only receiving an honorary degree but also that it is from the University of Suffolk with all its degree awarding powers that makes it doubly pleasing.
“Suffolk was one of the only counties without a university and our young people deserved a university in their locality, so I feel quite proud to get to where we are today.”
During Ms Dobson’s ceremony, the retired assistant college principal hailed the efforts of vice-chancellor Richard Lister, who announced his plans to retire earlier this year, and said she hoped to see the establishment go from strength to strength.
Former principal of Suffolk New College, Professor Dave Muller, was recognised for his contribution to education with an honorary degree from the university he is credited for co-pioneering.
As a visiting professor of rehabilitation psychology at the University of Suffolk, Professor Muller mentors and supports staff carrying out research.
He said: “I feel very proud, privileged and excited to be receiving the honorary doctorate. It feels like a cycle really, we started it all off together and this is very humbling to finish in this way and to be awarded this honour.”
Internationally recognised games inventor, writer, consultant and historian David Parlett was also given an honorary doctorate from the University of Suffolk.
Last year, Mr Parlett was appointed visiting professor in games design at the university, where he gives presentations and runs workshops on all aspects of non-digital games.