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Honorary degrees awarded

Press release issued: 15 February 2005

Bristol University is awarding honorary degrees to two prominent people at today's degree ceremonies in the Wills Memorial Building.

Bristol University is awarding honorary degrees to two prominent people at today’s [Tuesday, February 15] degree ceremonies in the Wills Memorial Building.

His Excellency, Mr James Williams, High Commissioner of Saint Christopher and Nevis and Bristol graduate, will be honoured with the degree of Doctor of Laws at the 11.15 am ceremony.

An internationally renowned diplomat, he is an unsung hero in the Caribbean islands of St Christopher and Nevis. He has had a distinguished teaching career actively promoting lifelong learning and helping disadvantaged young people to achieve.

He studied French and Spanish at the University of the West Indies graduating in 1969.  He later joined Sandy Point High School as Head of Modern Languages and was appointed Headmaster in 1979.

In 1980, the Minister of Education appointed James as the new Headmaster at Basterre Junior High School. James, applying his own style of teaching, transformed the school into a success story.  Many apparent no-hopers gained distinctions in their School Certificate Examinations as a result of his efforts.

His country, wanting to support his successes at teaching, sent James to Bristol University where he graduated with a Masters in Education in 1984.  After qualifying, he returned home and was given the position of Vice-Principal and then promoted to Principal of the College of Further Education. 

In 1995 he became Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education as well as Deputy Minister of Education, Labour and Social Security which paved the way for his current position representing his country as High Commissioner for St Christopher and Nevis. 

Mrs Lillian Brown, member of staff and convocation and Bristol graduate, will be honoured with the degree of Master of Arts at the 2.30 pm ceremony.

After obtaining a degree from Bristol University and then, in 1952, a Certificate in Education, Lilian undertook supply teaching, followed by periods of acting.

In 1957, Lilian joined St George Grammar School as a supply teacher. Her career there was to span 30 years, later being appointed to Head of House then Senior Mistress, eventually retiring in 1986.

During that period, St George’s merged with two Secondary Modern Schools forming a comprehensive school with over 2,000 students based on four sites.  The school later became one of Bristol’s most multi-cultural schools.

Demonstrating her lifelong commitment to teaching and her students Lilian took a leading role in addressing the teaching issues in an ethically diverse society writing a paper for her Union on the problems she had encountered and suggested solutions for them.

Lilian’s commitment was not just to her students, but also for her fellow teachers, she was an active member of the Avon Teachers’ Consultative Committee and of the Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association throughout her career.  She was branch Secretary for several years and for nine years served on the National Working Party for Multi-Cultural Education.  She was later Branch Vice-President, President and, after her retirement, Branch Almoner for 10 years. When she finally left office in 1997 her Union awarded her their Certificate of Honour for her lifelong service.

Lilian has been an active member of the Association of Alumni at Bristol University, being elected to Court and then to the Convocation Committee. Lilian now chairs the Convocation Awards sub committee and serves on this for Student Awards.  She also helps represent the Convocation team that welcomes foreign students helping them to acclimatise to Bristol.

On receiving her honorary degree, Lilian said: “I owe the rest of my life for my days as a student at Bristol University, my marriage, my career, everything.”

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