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University awards Honorary degrees

Press release issued: 10 July 2001

Honorary degrees awarded at Bristol University on Monday 9 July

Today, at its degree ceremonies, Bristol University is awarding Honorary degrees to four prominent figures.

Mr Ian Liddell, CBE, received the degree of Doctor of Engineering this morning at 11.15 am.

Ian Liddell graduated in Mechanical Sciences from Cambridge. He 'cut his teeth' as an engineer on the Sydney Opera House project and is now a leading structural engineer in lightweight tension and fabric structures. He is well known for his work on such projects as the Riyadh Conference Centre, the conversions at St Catherine's Dock in London, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, the Mannheim Multihalle Grid Shell and the Millennium Dome, the roof structure of which was a particularly remarkable achievement.

His more unusual projects have included a portable tent for an Antarctic expedition and a fantasy airship for EuroDisney. He is a Royal Academy of Engineering Professor at Cambridge and was awarded the Gold Medal of the Institution of Structural Engineers in 1999 and a CBE in 2000. He is currently creating a stadium for the Arizona Cardinals in Phoenix, USA.

The Right Honourable Tony Benn and Sir David McMurtry, CBE, will be honoured with the degrees of Doctor of Laws and Doctor of Engineering at a ceremony this afternoon at 2 pm.

Tony Benn's grandfather was an MP, as was his father. His mother also came from a political family, unsurprisingly, he also went into politics.

Almost exactly 50 years ago Tony Benn first travelled to Bristol. He was selected, against the odds, as the Labour candidate in the Bristol South-East by-election which followed the death of Stafford Cripps. He won the election, entered Parliament as its youngest member, aged 25 and represented this part of Bristol for the next 33 years.

Tony Benn's political career has included membership of the Labour Party's National Executive Committee for 35 years, chairmanship of the Party from 1971-72, membership of the Privy Council and contributions to Labour governments as Postmaster General, Minister of Technology and Power, Secretary of State for Industry, and Secretary of State for Energy.

He has made his mark on the constitutional history of our country, has thrown his energies into representing Bristol, and has contributed significantly both to the debate over political ideas and to the analysis of contemporary history.

Sir David McMurtry, CBE, was born in Ireland just over 60 years ago and came to Bristol at the age of 18.

He failed to join Rolls Royce in Derby as an apprentice and joined Bristol Siddeley Engines. Rolls Royce subsequently took over Bristol Siddeley Engines and he achieved his goal of becoming a Rolls Royce apprentice by the 'back door'. He flourished in the Rolls Royce environment and in his early 30s was Assistant Chief of Engine Design at Rolls Royce in Filton.

While David was working on the M45 Ultra Quiet Engine, he was asked for his advice on the problem of measuring some complex pipe runs of only .25" diameter for the Olympus engines used in Concorde. The pipes had to fit accurately between solid mountings and the difficulty came in measuring them once they had been manufactured. It was David McMurtry who built the first touch trigger probe that could take such a measurement.

The invention led to the creation of today's company Renishaw of which he is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

As early as 1986 he began receiving awards of recognition, particularly in America, and today he is Fellow of the American Society of Manufacturing Engineers and sits on the American Standards Committee for Co-Ordinate Measuring Machines.

In 1989 he was appointed a Royal Designer for Industry and in 1994 was awarded CBE in The Queen's Birthday Honours. Last year he was appointed a Fellow of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and in this year's New Year's Honours he was appointed a Knights Bachelor for services to design innovation.

Dr Keith Scholey will be honoured with the degree of Doctor of Science at a ceremony this afternoon at 4.45 pm.

As a zoology and PhD graduate of Bristol University, Keith Scholey has a long association both with this city and the University. He is currently Head of the BBC's Natural History Unit (NHU).

Keith has been its Head since 1998. For the previous 16 years he worked in the unit as a researcher, producer, director and series producer on programmes that include The Living Planet, The Sky Above, The Great Rift Valley and Life of Plants.

In the late 1990s, as a senior member of the NHU team, he lobbied hard to make films about the catastrophes that wildlife film-makers and ecologists were seeing in the natural world. He oversaw Tiger Crisis, a programme on the imminent extinction of tigers, and films on El Niño, global warming and the extinction of Atlantic salmon. He was also series producer for State of the Planet, which he regards as the most important series he has been involved with, as it deals with climate change and human induced mass extinctions forecast for this century.

Keith has been important in the public understanding of biology through his many films that captivate and educate. In addition, he has been highly influential in changing the type of natural history films, so that the public is informed about the pressing need to avert the biodiversity loss and reduce climate change.

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Copyright: 2001 The University of Bristol, UK
Updated: Tuesday, 10-Jul-2001 12:00:48 BST

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