University of Chichester honorary graduates announced

Alex Danson celebrates a goal at the London 2012 Olympics
Alex Danson celebrates a goal at the London 2012 Olympics

A STAR of the street is coming to Chichester, as one of television’s best-loved characters is honoured.

Julie Hesmondhalgh, a stalwart of Coronation Street who won numerous awards for her portrayal of Hayley Cropper, will receive an honorary master of arts at a University of Chichester graduation ceremony.



The Lancashire-born actress has raised tens of thousands of pounds for charity in the past decade, including the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, which raises awareness of the dangers of bullying, and Maundy Relief, which seeks to relieve poverty.

She bowed out of the soap earlier this year after 16 years, as her character chose to take her own life as she battled with pancreatic cancer – a storyline praised by critics for the way it handled the subject matter.

She was also praised at the start of her Corrie career for portraying British television’s first transgender character.

Also honoured are the former children’s laureate and War Horse author Michael Morpurgo and his wife Clare, a tutor and advocate of the specialist educational art of Montessori.

They will each receive an honorary fellowship for their contribution to literature and education.

The other three honorary graduates are Alex Danson, Jonathan Veira and Nick Warberton.

University vice-chancellor Clive Behagg said: “Chichester has a rich history of honouring outstanding individuals who, through the contributions they have made in their field, can be an inspiration to our graduates.

“I am proud that at Chichester it has become a tradition that many of our honorary graduates have worked closely with our students either on our sports fields, musical auditoriums, or in classrooms.”

From the remaining honorary graduates, Ms Danson is an England and Team GB hockey international, winning a bronze medal at London 2012.

She will receive an honorary master of science.

Internationally-renowned opera singer Jonathan will receive an honorary master of arts. The baritone has performed across the world and gives lessons for several singers at the university.

Finally Nick Warburton, a BBC radio dramatist who scripted the Barchester Chronicles and Tommies for BBC Radio 4 will receive an honorary fellowship.

Mr Warburton, who wrote the children’s book Out of Africa provides guidance for several Chichester students and is already a visiting fellow in creative writing.

Ceremonies take place at the festival theatre on Sunday and Monday, where around 1,300 students will be recognised for their efforts.