A happy homecoming for graduate Vernon Kay

Vernon Kay looks resplendent in his brightly-coloured robes

CAMERA CALL: Original Buzzcocks members Pete Shelley, left, and Howard Devoto celebrate their success

First published in News

VERNON Kay described himself as “emotional, nervous and very proud” when he joined hundreds of students to graduate from the University of Bolton.

The Bolton-born television and radio star received an Honorary Doctorate for his outstanding contribution to the field of entertainment in front of his family — and the nation’s media.

Resplendent in his robes, Vernon made a showbiz entrance raising laughs among those gathered at Victoria Hall — including his parents, daughter Phoebe and aunt.

He made a heartfelt speech before emotions got the better of him and fear of tears made him cut it short.

Work commitments meant his wife Tess missed the ceremony.

Vernon congratulated all the students for their achievement, before adding: “Apart from the birth of my two little girls, this is most proudest moment of my life. This award means so much, thank you so much, it means a lot.”

Speaking before the ceremony, Vernon said: “I was chuffed when I found out about the award. It is a sign of recognition.

“The fact that I received this award from the University of Bolton means a lot because Bolton is my home town and I am being recognised in Bolton. It is an honour and a privilege.”

Vernon, who already has a degree in environmental science from Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “I’m not letting anyone take this away from me. I have worked hard and grafted for this for 12 years.”

Yesterday’s graduation ceremony was also a homecoming for two founder members of the band The Buzzcocks. Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley received Honorary Doctorates for their outstanding contribution to the field of music.

They co-formed The Buzzcocks while students at Bolton Institute, which is now the University of Bolton, where they studied humanities.

Pete is best known as the group’s lead singer, while Howard, who quit after their first single, went on to form the influential band, Magazine.

Pete said: “The university has changed a lot, not like us.

“It was a good environment and allowed you to be what you wanted to be and do what you wanted to do, like we did.”

Commenting on his achievement, Howard laughed: “Be careful what you do because you could end up wearing these robes like we are!

“It is an honour to be awarded in this way from the place we once attended. I did learn a lot.”

Others recognised for their work included Yakub Patel, who received an Honorary Doctorate for his contribution to the Bolton community. He is one of the brothers behind the pharmacy chain Cohens and the sponsors of the town’s first academy school, Essa, which was formerly Hayward School in Great Lever. He said: “I am extremely honoured to be awarded this honorary doctorate.”

Mathaka Mmapatsi was awarded an Alumni Fellowship. A former student of the University of Bolton, Mr Mmapatsi has a high-position with the Training Agency in Botswana and still works closely with the university.

He dedicated the award to the students who studied alongside him. Mr Mmapatsi said: “England is my second country and Bolton is my second town.”

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