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World famous musician to play at Coventry University graduation ceremony as he is awarded Honorary Doctorate

Coventry University will present world famous pianist, organist and conductor Wayne Marshall OBE with an Honorary Doctorate of Arts in recognition of outstanding services to music and musical performance.

As well as receiving the honour, Wayne will play a 20-minute program as the students enter the ceremony at Coventry Cathedral which is also where he recorded his first commercial solo organ CD for EMI in 1989.

Wayne said: “I’m really looking forward to the day as I haven’t been back to Coventry Cathedral since recording the CD. It’s wonderful to receive this award but it’s also the perfect opportunity to do what I do best and to let everybody hear me perform. 

“It is a great honour and wonderfully fitting because of my connections to the cathedral, a privilege to be recognised in that respect.”

Wayne, who began piano studies aged just three and has appeared on BBC Proms, will play pieces by J.S. Bach – his famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor, and Franz Schmidt. The Prince of Denmark’s March will be played for the entrance of the students, and the Final from Symphonie no 1 by Louis Vierne will be played at the end of the ceremony on March 19th. 

Dr Alison Walker will also receive an Honorary Doctorate of Science in recognition of dedicated contribution to the enhancement of pre-hospital care across the West Midlands and the country. 

Alison has worked for the NHS for more than 30 years and been with West Midlands Ambulance Service as Medical Director and Honorary Medical Advisor since 2010. 

She is Chair of JRCALC, the Joint Royal Colleges Ambulance Liaison Committee which sets the guidelines for how all ambulance staff operate from a clinical perspective across the UK.

Last year she also received a prestigious Gold Medal from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine for her work developing links between hospitals and ambulance services during the pandemic. 

Alison is also heavily involved in research, not only undertaking investigations herself but supporting others to make steps forward in medical care.

She said: “I am really delighted to be receiving the Honorary Doctorate as it’s lovely to have that level of recognition from an academic body. 

“I was supposed to be coming down a year ago but couldn’t make it as I had a brain haemorrhage and got to see the NHS from a different perspective, as a patient. Having spent three months in hospital and been further supported during my recovery, I really appreciate everything that staff within the NHS do to support patients every single day.  The care I received means that I am not only able to return to work but also to attend this ceremony and enjoy this fantastic event.”

Coventry University will also honour Professor Graham Henderson CBE with an Honorary Doctorate of Education in recognition of significant contribution and commitment to Higher Education.

Graham, who graduated from Coventry University in 1975 with a degree in maths, went on to work in higher education for 40 years, most recently as Vice-Chancellor of Teesside University before he retired, where, among his achievements, he led Teesside to become the first ever modern (post-92) University to be recognised as THE University of the Year, a landmark moment for the higher education sector.

No stranger to a graduation ceremony, the former VC attended every single one during his 12-year tenure at Teesside. 

“I used to talk to all the parents about how it looks like nothing just to walk from one side of the stage to the other to receive an award, but their children – the graduates – would probably be terrified. I still remember my graduation day at Coventry Cathedral in 1975. It was the first time my parents came to visit me in Coventry, so it was a big, big event.

“Although I’ve been to so many large graduation ceremonies, not to mention the smaller ones throughout the years, ceremonies overseas and ones that I attended before I became a Vice-Chancellor, I think I will still be nervous this time as it’s such a special day for me personally.”

Graham has also only been back to Coventry once since he graduated and so he is very much looking forward to visiting his old student haunts…if they’re still there. 

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