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UEA Congregation 2007

Tue, 26 Jun 2007

The University of East Anglia is gearing up for a week-long celebration as 3000 graduating students and more than 9000 visitors gather on campus for Congregation 2007.

Among those celebrating will be 94 medical students – the very first in a new breed of UK doctors. The UEA medical school was established in 2001 as part of a national expansion of medical student numbers in the UK – a key element of Prime Minister Tony Blair’s NHS Plan. UEA’s students will be the first new medics for 30 years.

“Our aim from the beginning was to produce doctors whose primary focus would be the patient. We have emphasised the bedside skills of clinical examination and communication and we are confident that the new doctors will be a real asset to the NHS,” said Prof Sam Leinster, head of the School of Medicine, Health Policy and Practice.

Other new courses at UEA to produce their first graduates this year are Pharmacy and Speech and Language Therapy – both helping to fill gaps in local recruitment.

UEA Congregation 2007 takes over four frenetic days and 14 separate ceremonies. Joining the celebrations this year will be 18 honorary graduates including innovative architect Will Alsop, racing driver turned commentator Martin Brundle and novelist Alexander McCall Smith (full details below).

Ordinary graduating students have extraordinary tales to tell as well (see case studies below).

The ceremonies will be held in Congregation Hall at UEA from Tuesday July 10 until Friday July 13.


A ‘couple’ of new doctors Husband and wife medical students Finola Lynch and Michael Clements are among the first batch of UEA-trained doctors to hit the wards. They left successful careers in journalism and information technology respectively to re-train as medics, initially undertaking an access course at the College of West Anglia, Kings Lynn, where they met. In 2002 Finola and Michael joined UEA’s new medical school – one of the first for thirty years. “We feel very privileged to have experienced the launch of a new medical school,” said Finola, 34. “We developed a unique relationship with our tutors and our input helped shape the course for future years.” Michael, 32, added: “It has been a challenging and rewarding experience. As the first cohort of doctors to graduate from UEA we will always have a small place in the history of UEA, which makes us feel very special.” During their time at UEA, Finola played cello in the university’s symphony orchestra and Michael worked part-time as a lecturer at Norwich City College. Both will work at hospitals in Norfolk for the next two years, along with two-thirds of their peer group who have elected to work in the region. Finola and Michael graduate with the School of Medicine, Health Policy and Practice on Tuesday July 10 at 11.30am. For interviews or pictures, please contact the UEA Press Office on 01603 592203 or

Final-year arrival Studying medicine as a single mum might seem challenge enough. But Anna Campbell-Porter went one step further and had a baby in her final year. Despite juggling a highly demanding course with looking after her five-year-old daughter Anastasia and four-month old son James, Anna joins UEA’s first cohort of new doctors this summer. Anna said: “Things have been tough. I'm still having sleepless nights as you would expect and I've managed to continue breastfeeding even while on placement. “But I've loved every minute of my degree and my tutors have been extremely supportive throughout my five years.” Anna graduates with the School of Medicine, Health Policy and Practice on Tuesday July 10 at 11.30am. For interviews or pictures, please contact the UEA Press Office on 01603 592203 or

BMA job for UEA med student Face-to-face talks with Tony Blair, dinner with Helen Mirren…it’s been a busy time for graduating medical student Leigh Bissett. As chairman of the British Medical Association’s student committee for two years, Leigh made the very most of his time at UEA – sitting on government task groups, editing The Insiders Guide to Medical Schools, and appearing on television alongside the Prime Minister. “My life has been utterly transformed and major opportunities I could have only ever dreamed of became realities,” said Leigh. “UEA leads the way in UK medical education and I will leave with a determination to do a great job and to do the best for my patients.” Leigh graduates with the School of Medicine, Health Policy and Practice on Tuesday July 10 at 11.30am. For interviews or pictures, please contact the UEA Press Office on 01603 592203 or

Battling cancer to complete degree Getting a degree is never going to be a walk in the park, but Angela Ritchie has had more hurdles to overcome than most. Within the fist few months of her course, the 27-year-old was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma - a common form of cancer in young adults. Six months of chemotherapy at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital followed, accompanied by anxiety, fatigue and depression. Life was made even more difficult by the fact that both of Angela's parents have suffered from severe mental health problems throughout her life. She was worrying about them, at the same time as worrying about herself. With “amazing support” from counsellors and disability advisers at UEA's Dean of Students Office, she then studied in Cape Town, South Africa for a semester. “It was hard work, but learning breathing and relaxation exercises from the Art of Living societies in both universities has helped me,” said Angela. She is now graduating with a BSc in Development Studies, winning her battle against cancer, and looking forward to a bright future. “I had wanted to go to UEA to do this course for seven years but really wanted to support my younger sister through university first, because my parents were unable to. At one point I had three jobs!” At UEA, 10 per cent of students are registered disabled. Also, mental health concerns are co-ordinated by a dedicated advisor. Now Angela hopes her story will encourage everyone to seek and fully use the support that is available. Angela Ritchie graduates with the School of Development Studies on Tuesday July 10 at 4.30pm. For interviews or pictures, please contact the UEA Press Office on 01603 592203 or

‘Revolutionary’ project for enterprising friends Four Environmental Sciences students have set themselves what seems like an impossible challenge – to cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats on a zero-carbon budget. Top Tapper, Ben Meaker, Will Ashley-Cantello and Pete Clutton-Brock plan to produce a documentary of their 1000-mile, 19-day trip entitled Carbon Revolutions. They will closely monitor their carbon emissions throughout the journey. When it is impossible to prevent carbon being emitted, it will be offset by persuading local people to install energy saving appliances and other environmentally-friendly actions. No strangers to setting up environmentally friendly projects, last year the friends set up a sustainable juicing company and a new initiative to fund renewable energy projects around UEA campus. Tom, Ben, Will and Pete graduate with the School of Environmental Sciences on Thursday July 12 at 2.30pm. For interviews or pictures, please contact the UEA Press Office on 01603 592203 or

From UEA chef to UEA graduate Sarah Power worked in the catering industry for many years, culminating in her role as head chef at UEA’s Sainsbury Centre. “I got married and had two wonderful children and thought that was my lot in life,” said Sarah, from Whinburgh, near Dereham. “However six years ago I resolved to find a part of me that had disappeared under the weight of sleepless nights, nappies, and a husband commuting to London full-time.” Sarah enrolled on an access course and - thanks to an inspirational tutor - was offered a place to study history full-time at UEA. Though enjoying the thrill of learning and debate, she struggled to keep up and was soon identified as dyslexic and diagnosed with Myers-Irlen syndrome, the disturbance of text. But thanks to strong support from her history tutors and from UEA’s Dyslexia Support Service, she is on track to receive a first class honours degree. “I have been able to achieve more than I ever dreamt was possible.” Sarah Power graduates with the School of History on Tuesday July 10 at 2.30pm. For interviews or pictures, please contact the UEA Press Office on 01603 592203 or

Walking towards better mental health During his nursing training at UEA, Paul Lefever became well aware of the positive effects of fresh air and exercise on those suffering from mental health difficulties. With the support of the Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Partnership and Julian Housing Support Trust, he has launched Discovery Quest – an innovative walking therapy project. During the six-month programme, participants walk a total of 450 miles, culminating in a camping trip to Ben Nevis and the West Highland Way. Paul said: “The idea is to help people recover from their illness by promoting personal challenges, teamwork and new skills. Ultimately my aim is to inspire hope.” For more information on Discovery Quest, please visit Paul graduates with the School of Nursing and Midwifery on Thursday July 12. For interviews or pictures, please contact the UEA Press Office on 01603 592203 or


Prof Alexander McCall Smith Tuesday July 10, 11.30am Though best known as a popular author Prof Alexander McCall Smith will be awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science degree for his contribution to medical ethics. He is vice- chairman of the Human Genetics Commission, chairman of the British Medical Journal Ethics Committee and a member of the International Bio-Ethics Commission of UNESCO. Born in Botswana in 1948, he became Professor of Law at the University of Edinburgh, before setting up a new law school in Botswana.

Martin Brundle Tuesday July 10, 2.30pm Formula 1 racing driver turned ITV Sport commentator Martin Brundle was born in King’s Lynn. He first came to prominence in the early 1980s when he went head-to-head with the legendary Ayrton Senna in an epic battle for the Formula 3 crown. He subsequently raced in Formula 1 for the Williams, McLaren, Jordan, Brabham and Benneton Ford teams. In 1990 Brundle won the Le Mans 24-hour race with Jaguar. He began commentating with Murray Walker in 1997 and is also involved with the management of David Coulthard’s career. He receives an Honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree.

Prof Lord Robert May Tuesday July 10, 4.30pm Lord May is a cross-bench member of the House of Lords and was president of the Royal Society from 2000 to 2005. A physicist by training, he developed interests in population biology, disease and biodiversity. He has held positions at Oxford, Harvard, Princeton and Sydney universities, as well as Imperial College, London. From 1995 to 2000 Lord May was chief scientific advisor to the Government and head of the Office of Science and Technology. He was knighted in 1996 and made a life peer in 2001. He receives an Honorary Doctor of Science degree.

Shami Chakrabarti Wednesday July 11, 11.30pm Hhuman rights campaigner Shami Chakrabarti has been director of the pressure group Liberty for four years, working for a 'culture of respect for human rights'. After joining Liberty in 2001 she spent two years campaigning against the new anti-terrorist measures which followed the 9/11 attacks on the US. She receives an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

Camila Batmanghelidjh Wednesday July 11, 2.30pm Camila Batmanghelidjh has dedicated her life to helping disadvantaged children. She set up The Place to Be offering psychotherapy and counselling to children in schools, which now serves more than 20,000 children a year across the country. In 1995 she founded Kids Company to reach vulnerable children on the margins of society, persuading Railtrack to donate six railway arches in Camberwell which were converted into 'The Arches' youth centre. She receives an Honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree.

Prof Will Alsop Wednesday July 11, 4.30pm Innovative architect Prof Will Alsop is well-known for his use of vivid colours and unusual forms. His striking works include Marseille’s regional government building, Cardiff Bay Visitor Centre and Peckham Library, which won the Stirling Prize in 2000. In his book SuperCity, Alsop describes his vision of a futuristic conurbation stretching along the M62 from Liverpool to Hull. He has also worked with UEA’s CRed carbon reduction team on low carbon projects. He receives an Honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree.

Dr Tadataka Yamada Wednesday July 11, 4.30pm Dr Tadataka Yamada retired as chairman of research and development at GlaxoSmithKline last year to become president of the Global Health program for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In this role he oversees grants totalling $6 billion aimed at addressing major health challenges of the developing world, including TB, HIV, malaria and malnutrition. He is a gastroenterologist whose research has focused on the molecular biology of hormone receptors. He receives an Honorary Doctor of Science degree.

Richard Jewson Thursday July 12, 9.30am Richard Jewson is Lord-Lieutenant of Norfolk and Pro-Chancellor at UEA. Educated at Rugby School and Pembroke College, Cambridge, he first worked in the timber and building material supply industry, becoming managing director of Jewson, and then chairman of its parent company Meyer International, from which he retired in 1993. He is currently chairman of Archant and a non-executive director of Jarrold. He receives an Honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree.

Frank Oldfield Thursday July 12, 11.30am Frank Oldfield farms 6000 acres at East Raynham near Fakenham. He has been a trustee of the John Innes Foundation since 1997 and was appointed chairman in 1998. He has been a member of the John Innes Centre governing council since 1994 and is a member of the council's resources committee. He receives an Honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree.

Prof Sir John Enderby Thursday July 12, 2.30pm Physicist Prof Sir John Enderby is vice-president of the Royal Society and president of the Institute of Physics. He has received numerous honours including a CBE in 1995 and a knighthood in 2004 for services to science and technology. As president of the Institute of Physics he helped re-launch physics at UEA in the form of the new Natural Sciences degree. He receives an Honorary Doctor of Science degree.

Anthony Thwaite and Dr Ann Thwaite Thursday July 12, 4.30pm Husband and wife Anthony and Ann Thwaite both receive Honorary Doctor of Letters degrees. Norfolk-based writer Anthony Thwaite was a friend of Philip Larkin and co-edited both his poems and letters. He is president of the Philip Larkin Society and received an OBE in 1990. Dr Ann Thwaite is a biographer who has written about the lives of AA Milne (winning the 1990 Whitbread Biography Award), Emily Tennyson, Edmund Gosse, Philip Gosse and Constance Hodgson Burnett. She has also written for children and has run a small children's lending library near her home in Low Tharston, Norfolk.

Prof Alexander Florence Friday July 13, 9.30am Prof Alexander Florence is one of the most consistently influential and respected pharmaceutical scientists worldwide. He retired last year after 17 years as dean of the school of pharmacy at the University of London. In an illustrious international career, he has written more than 250 papers, reviews and books. He is editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Pharmaceutics and co-editor of the Journal of Drug Targeting. He receives an Honorary Doctor of Science degree.

Michael Cockerell Friday July 13, 11.30am The doyen of serious documentary filmmaking, Michael Cockerell receives an Honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree. He has made documentaries on British political history and parliamentary politics since the 1970s, including films on former Prime Ministers James Callaghan, Edward Heath and Margaret Thatcher. His recent three-part history of Tony Blair’s premiership received critical acclaim. His films are shown to politics students at UEA.

Prof Paul Morris Friday July 13, 2.30pm Educationalist Prof Paul Morris is President of the Hong Kong Institute of Education in Tai Po, which plays a major role in educating and training teachers in Hong Kong. Prof Morris is best known for his research and scholarship over many years on the Hong Kong education system, and his leadership of the Institute to a self-accrediting university-level institution in the wake of the changeover from British colonial rule. In achieving the latter he has had to strongly defend the academic autonomy of the Institute and its staff. He receives an Honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree.

Michael Berkeley Friday July 13, 2.30pm Composer, conductor and presenter Michael Berkeley receives an Honorary Doctor of Music degree. He is one of Britain's leading contemporary composers and a distinguished conductor. He is a regular presenter on BBC arts programmes and introduces Proms, concerts and festivals. He has strong links with East Anglia. He is the godson of Benjamin Britten, who helped found the School of Music at UEA, and was inspired by the North Norfolk landscape to create his earliest musical compositions. He also worked with UEA's first ever Creative Writing graduate Ian McEwan on the 1982 oratorio Or Shall We Die?
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