Sir Ian Botham

Honorary graduands celebrate sporting life

English sporting legend Sir Ian Botham is among those picking up an honorary degree on the third day of summer graduation 2010 at the University of Exeter.

Sir Ian, who grew up in Somerset and played much of his cricket for the county, is regarded as one of England’s greatest all-round test cricketers and broke a number of cricketing records.

This includes being the first man to score a century and take 10 wickets in the same match, being the youngest cricketer to take 200 Test wickets, and the first player ever to reach 5,000 runs and 300 wickets.

After picking up his honorary degree in a morning ceremony, Sir Ian will pay a visit to the Sir Christopher Ondaatje Devon Cricket Centre, based on the University’s Streatham Campus. The centre was opened in 2009 by another England cricket legend, Mike Gatting.

As part of his visit Sir Ian will catch up Julian Wyatt, who used to play alongside him at Somerset and is now Director of Cricket at the cricket centre. Sir Ian will also be meeting with young players to impart some of his cricketing wisdom and inspire them on to be stars of the future.

Besides being a sporting legend, Sir Ian has been a tireless fundraiser for leukaemia since a visit to a Taunton hospital during which he visited the children’s ward. Since 1985 he has raised millions of pounds, with Leukaemia Research amongst the charities that have benefited.

Professor Roger Eston, from the University’s School of Sport and Health Sciences, said: “Many would say that his staggering record as a cricketer is surpassed by his selfless determination and inspirational record as a fund-raiser for charity. To date, supported by his wife Kath and family, Sir Ian Botham has personally raised over £12 million for leukaemia research through his many long charity walks in the UK, India and the Alps, as well as supporting many other good causes. It has been said that even if he’d never picked up a bat or ball, he’d still have earned the knighthood in 2007 (10 times over)!”

Continuing with the sporting theme on Wednesday, Olympic rower Lady Ann Redgrave will be next to pick up an honorary degree.

Lady Redgrave qualified as a medical doctor in 1984 from Charing Cross Hospital Medical School, London, and initially pursued a career in Orthopaedic surgery, with a particular interest in Sports Medicine.

To prepare for the Seoul Olympic Games, she took a sabbatical from medicine in 1988. Whilst on sabbatical, disillusioned with the repeated dismissals of her orthopaedic colleagues to often disabling lower back pain, she began to explore how to develop her expertise further in this area.

Impressed by the response of her husband, Sir Steven Redgrave, to osteopathic medicine, she decided to cross train as an osteopath. She completed her training in 1990 and founded the Redgrave Clinic later that year.

As an athlete Ann competed for the GB Rowing Team from 1984 to 1988, including participating in the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984, the Commonwealth Games in 1986, and three times in the World Championships.

Professor Alison Richard is also due to receive an honorary degree (DSc) on Wednesday. Professor Richard was installed as the 344th Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge in 2003. The Vice-Chancellor is the principal academic and administrative officer of the University, and Professor Richard is the first woman to hold the position full-time.

Date: 14 July 2010