Susan Boyle to receive honorary degree

By Press Office

Susan Boyle is to receive an honorary doctorate in recognition of her contribution to the creative industries, from Queen Margaret University (QMU), the institution where she once studied towards a Certificate of Higher Education for Carers. 

At a summer graduation ceremony in Edinburgh to be held on 6 July 2012, QMU founding chancellor Sir Tom Farmer will confer the Degree of Doctor of the University, Honoris Causa, on musical performer Susan Boyle;  the eminent developmental psychologist Professor Colwyn Trevarthen; leading hotelier and hospitality industry champion Norman Springford and Professor Ian Percy CBE, former chair of QMU’s board of governors.  Each honorary graduate is recognised for the relevance of their work to society at large, reflecting the university’s own commitment to enhancing lives in the communities it serves.

Brought up in Blackburn West Lothian where she still lives today, Susan Boyle achieved international fame with her television debut in 2009 when she sang ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ from Les Miserables on Britain’s Got Talent. That performance alone has since been watched by over 500 million people worldwide and she is now a global phenomenon  whose achievements in the face of adversity have become an inspiration to others.

Her first album, I Dreamed a Dream, was the fastest-selling debut album of all time. With the release of two further albums she has since sold over 18 million albums worldwide, and had over 120 platinum and gold albums across 38 countries.  She was the first female artist to have two number one albums simultaneously in the UK and USA twice within 12 months in the history of the charts. Only the Beatles and The Monkees have achieved the same.

She has performed for Pope Benedict XVI and Queen Elizabeth II, and performed on TV in the UK, USA, Australia, Ireland, and Japan.  She has also performed live on television in China to half a billion people on China’s Got Talent.   A documentary has been made about her life and the stage musical, I Dreamed a Dream, has sold out across the country to enthusiastic and appreciative audiences. She will receive her honorary doctorate in recognition of significant services to culture and the creative industries.

New Zealander Colwyn Trevarthen is Professor (Emeritus) of Child Psychology and Psychobiology at The University of Edinburgh. He has published over 200 articles and chapters on brain development, infant communication and child learning and emotional health.

Professor Trevarthen has a PhD in Psychobiology from Caltech in Pasadena, where he worked with Roger Sperry on the neuroscience of consciousness and how complementary motives of the two cerebral hemispheres serve intelligent acting and communicating. He was a post-doctoral researcher at the Center for Cognitive Studies at Harvard, where his influential research on infant communication or 'intersubjectivity' began with Jerome Bruner in 1966. He will receive his honorary doctorate in recognition of significant services to education.

Professor Ian Percy CBE qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1967, becoming a partner in Grant Thornton when he was just 28 years old, and where he enjoyed a long and successful career in Scotland and in London.

In 1990 he was elected President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland where he sought to advance the profession’s thinking by proposing a review of governance. This suggestion found favour with the Governor of the Bank of England, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and the Chair of the Stock Exchange and led to the establishment of the Cadbury Committee. This was followed by the establishment of the Auditing Practices Board, on which he served as Vice Chairman until 2002.  He also served as the UK Member of the International Auditing Practices Committee.

As Chairman of the Accounts Commission for Scotland, the organisation that oversaw local government finances, he challenged local authorities to make their finances and decision making more transparent to the public and championed ‘value for money’ reports. He held this position until 2000, when devolution established Audit Scotland, which oversaw both local authority and health service accounts, and he became its first Chairman, serving until 2002.

He has been Chairman of Kiln plc, Cala Ltd and Companies House as well as The Edinburgh Academy. He was Deputy Chairman of The Weir Group plc and Ricardo plc, and a member of various boards in the private, public and charity sectors. He will receive his honorary doctorate in recognition of his significant contribution to public service, and in appreciation of his six year tenure as Chair of the Governing body at QMU, in which he oversaw achievement of full university title and the establishment of a brand new campus at Musselburgh.

An accountant by profession, businessman and hotelier Norman Springford is a former employee of HMRC who went on to start up his own accountancy firm.  In the 1980s he had interests in the pub trade and then a bingo hall, finally purchasing the Playhouse Theatre in Edinburgh which was sold on to Apollo in the mid-1990s. 

He opened his first hotel in 1996 and now the family-owned Apex Hotel group has grown to include 8 hotels in Edinburgh, London and Dundee.  In April 2012 he was awarded the HIT Scotland Lifetime Achievement Award by The Hospitality Industry Trust He will receive his honorary doctorate from QMU in recognition of his significant services to the hospitality industry.

Notes to Editor

For more information, please contact Maggie Wright on 0131 226 3622 or 07801 710360  

From its very inception, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, has focused on providing relevant education and research, addressing real-life issues to enhance the social and economic well-being of all the communities we serve.   We have flagship areas of expertise in health and rehabilitation, creativity and culture, and sustainable business. . As a small university, we aim to offer a community environment to our students in which they can fulfill their potential.  A commitment to social, ecological and economic sustainability underpins all our work. Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh is a registered charity: Scottish Charity Number SC002750.

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