Ash's Tim Wheeler honoured by The Open University
SINGER, songwriter and Alzheimer's campaigner Tim Wheeler has been honoured by The Open University.
The Ash frontman from Downpatrick joined 277 OU students for a degree ceremony in Belfast today.
Mr Wheeler was awarded the honorary Doctor of the University at the Waterfront Hall in recognition of his "exceptional contribution to education and culture".
Also honoured was Catherine Bell, formerly Deputy Secretary for Policy in the Department for Employment and Learning, who was awarded a Master of the University.
The OU makes honorary awards in line with its mission to be open to people, places, methods and ideas, and the promotion of social justice through the development of knowledge and skills.
Mr Wheeler said he was "incredibly grateful and proud".
"I've very fond memories of the Waterfront Hall when Ash played the Good Friday referendum concert with U2. Returning to the stage to receive this honour will be another very special moment in my life," he said.
Many of the graduates have fitted their study around work or family commitments; some have a disability or live in a remote or rural community, while others did not have traditional university entry qualifications, or came from low-income households.
The ceremony marked the culmination of years of hard work and commitment to learning.
Diane Gibb from Coleraine, who achieved a BA (Hons) in Business Studies, chose the OU because the flexibility of studying part-time fitted her life as a working mum.
"I had to be organised and self-disciplined in order to meet deadlines and get my OU work done during the only free time I had whilst raising a family. It meant I was able to work and study at the same time and benefit from continuous work experience alongside my degree," she said.
John D'Arcy, National Director of the OU, said the students were a constant source of inspiration.
"They work incredibly hard to fit learning into their lives and proving that part-time higher education makes a meaningful difference to individuals, families and communities," he said.