Marjon News

Olympic champions, Tom Daley and Giselle Ansley awarded Honorary Degrees

Released: 07.11.17

Local Olympic medallists, diver Tom Daley and GB Hockey champion, Giselle Ansley, were reunited after Rio when they were both awarded Honorary Degrees from Plymouth Marjon University at this year’s graduation ceremony. The awards were presented in recognition of their outstanding contribution to sport and their role in inspiring students and members of the wider community.

World champion diver, Tom and former Marjon hockey club player, Giselle joined with students from Marjon’s Sport, Health and Wellbeing faculty who graduated in two separate ceremonies at Plymouth’s Guildhall on Friday 27th September.

Professor Rob Warner, Vice-Chancellor of Plymouth Marjon University commented, “We were delighted to have Tom and Giselle joining us to accept their honorary degrees from Plymouth Marjon University, which has such a focus on sport and health.

“Their achievements, determination and commitment are an inspiration to all our students and to people across the wider community to get involved in sport at every level.”

Marjon undergraduate Maddy Hopson was inspired to take up diving by Tom four years ago. She was working as a Student Ambassador on the day and so got to meet Tom again. She is currently studying for a degree in BA (Hons) Sport Development at Marjon. Maddy has cerebral palsy and is campaigning to get disabled diving included as a competitive sport in the Paralympics.  

She also coaches other disabled divers at Plymouth diving and blogs for the English Federation of Disability Sport.

Maddy says, “After seeing Tom win a bronze medal at the Olympics in 2012, I went to watch him train at Plymouth Life Centre and I met him a few times. He inspired me to give diving a go myself and I now train once a week, as well as coaching other disabled divers.

“Sport has changed my life and given me the confidence to study it at university. Diving is my passion and I wouldn’t have started it without Tom as an inspiration.”

Gold medal winner, Giselle Ansley, has also had an impact on inspiring Plymouth’s next generation of hockey players, returning to Plymouth Marjon Hockey club to coach young players whenever she is in the area.

Tom Daley’s fame and visibility on social media meant the awards were featured on the BBC, Daily Mail and the Plymouth Herald.

Other honorary degrees awarded at this year’s graduation ceremonies were for former Marjon graduate Faraday Fearnside, who founded a not-for-profit organisation called Open Hearts Open Borders, which supports refugees; and Sean Bellamy who was nominated as a Top 40 finalist in the Global Teacher Prize 2016.

Over 2000 people gathered to take part in the celebrations over the course of two days. A Graduation video and official Graduation photo album are now published on Facebook.

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