A MILLIONAIRE and a Rolls-Royce expert were honoured alongside the University of Bolton’s brightest students.

John Roberts, the owner of Bolton-based internet retailer ao.com, Daniel Keating, managing director of Bolton Wanderers’ shirt sponsors FibrLec, and Roy Brooks, former chairman of the Worldwide Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club and a motoring correspondent for The Bolton News and Bury Times, were all given honorary degrees.

Mr Roberts was awarded a Doctor of Business Administration for outstanding contribution to local business.

He said: “I’m proud to be here today. It’s been a great year so far, both for me and for ao.com.

“I couldn’t have believed the success we’ve had but it’s happened because of the hard work of so many people.”

Mr Keating was awarded a Doctor of Business Administration for outstanding contribution to the Bolton community and to football.

He said: “I’m wonderfully privileged to be receiving this doctorate.

“The University of Bolton is very important to FibrLec as we commercialise its intellectual property.

“To have links with this university is a fantastic honour.”

Mr Brooks was awarded a Doctor of Engineering for outstanding contribution to automotive engineering.

He said: “I feel privileged and extremely honoured to get this degree. I’m very happy with the degree of success the Rolls-Royce Enthusiast Club has had — the Northern section alone has 600 members.”

It was also a proud day for The University of Bolton’s first class students at Victoria Hall.

About 100 students achieved a First Class Degree with Honours — the highest undergraduate award given by the university.

Andrew Walker, aged 33, graduated with a First Class degree in Health and Safety Management.

He said: “It’s a very proud achievement and a proud moment for me. I have thoroughly enjoyed networking with fellow students and learning new skills.”

Rob Smith, aged 35, graduated with a First Class degree in Civil Engineering.

He said: “I’ve worked really hard and given up a 15-year career in IT to go to university, but it’s all been worth it.”

Also recognised for their outstanding achievements yesterday afternoon were academics Professor John Brooks, the Vice-Chancellor of the of Manchester Metropolitan University and Dr John S Bailey, the former President of the American College of Greece.

Professor Brooks was appointed Vice-Chancellor in 2005 and was responisble for a strong change agenda and a £350 million capital programme. He collected a Doctor of Education for outstanding contribution to Higher Education in the North West.

Dr Bailey’s award of Doctor of Education for outstanding contribution to International Education and Leadership is the latest in a list of accolades recognising his “long and faithful service to education”.

See all our 2014 graduation photos here.