Skip to main content Accessibility information

Honorary graduates 2022

Graduation Ceremonies

Plymouth Marjon University was founded 1840. During the years that have followed this small university has made a big impact, through changing lives, enabling students to gain qualifications and giving them skills and experiences which have a positive impact upon the wider community.

The University confers honorary degrees on nominated persons who are deemed to have made outstanding contributions to education, culture, society, business or public life. These awards celebrate those who are making a positive difference in the lives of others, both publicly and privately.

Fern Britton, honorary graduate of Plymouth Marjon University

Honorary Graduate - Arts Humanities Social Science

In 1975, Fern’s deputy headmistress, who was doubling as a careers advisor, decided on Fern’s working life. This all-girls school of good repute was a place where physicists, surgeons, and politicians were made. When Fern entered the office, the Headmistress assumed she wanted to be an actress, following in the footsteps of her father, Tony Britton, but Fern had never been invited to perform at any school entertainment evenings, oddly enough. Confidently, Fern said ‘I don’t want to be an actress, I want to be a make-up artist. I’m inspired by David Bowie.’ After a moment of looking puzzled, the Headmistress handed Fern a leaflet and said ‘Here you are. You seem a good candidate for drama school. You can be a stage manager.’

Following this tantalising exchange, that is what Fern became. She applied for the Central School of Speech and Drama, and after two years of incredible training, she qualified. Fern worked at the Cambridge Theatre Company and was in a circle of friends there that featured Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, and Emma Thompson, all writing, performing, and having fun. Following this, Fern toured productions around the UK, sometimes taking them to the West End. In 1980, Fern wrote to all the radio and TV stations in the UK asking for a newsreader job and landed a role at Westward Television in Plymouth. Later, BBC Spotlight pinched her, and then BBC Breakfast, as a newsreader and presenter. In 1994, Fern landed Ready, Steady, Cook, but stepped away from this to raise her children.

After, Fern got the dream role at This Morning, where she happily presented for 10 years and had a fantastic time. Since then, she was asked to write her autobiography, and then novels, publishing her tenth novel earlier this year. Fern’s books now feature on the Sunday Times Bestsellers list and has sold over a million copies.

Mark Lovell, honorary graduate of Plymouth Marjon University

Honorary Graduate -Sport Exercise & Rehabilitation

Mark is currently the Chief Executive Officer at the Plymouth Argyle Community Trust where he has worked for the past 14 years. In this role, he has worked with some fantastic people and had some amazing experiences working within the football industry where every day is different from the one before.

With a background in Sports Development, Mark studied at the University of Winchester and has previously worked at Reading FC Community Trust, volunteered with the Devon FA and coached overseas. 

He has had the privilege of working with multiple partners and individuals over the past 15 years, with one of his highlights being the development of a designated facility for the charity and attending the Houses of Parliament to be awarded with the ‘Community Club of the Year Award’, as well as coaching in various settings including overseas. Outside of work, Mark enjoys more football, but also enjoys spending time with his family.


Sarah Wallace, honorary graduate of Plymouth Marjon University

Honorary Graduate - Health & Wellbeing

Sarah Wallace is a Consultant Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) at Wythenshawe Hospital and an honorary senior lecturer at the University of Manchester. She specialises in Critical Care and Dysphagia and has over 30 years of clinical experience.

Trained in Manchester she has worked in the UK, Singapore, Grenada (WI) and Cambodia, in hospitals and communities, and for Non-Government Organisations. She holds expert lead roles with the Intensive Care Society, the National Tracheostomy Safety Project and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists as a Specialist Advisor.

Sarah has contributed to numerous national policies and she teaches internationally with her published research gaining national awards and recognition. Her collaborative tracheostomy quality improvement project has been adopted by NHS England and internationally.

Sarah has pioneered new treatments, supported service developments, and provided training in the UK and internationally, including in Australia and Chile. She continues to play a key clinical and strategic role in the pandemic response. She was awarded an OBE in the Queens New Year’s Honours list 2020 and a Fellowship by the RCSLT for her contributions to the NHS and the SLT profession.

Hilary Knight, Honorary Graduate of Plymouth Marjon University

Honorary Graduate: School of Education

Following completion of a degree in 1973 from Borough Road College (now Brunel University), Hilary Knight MBE gained her initial teaching experience as an Early Years teacher across a variety of schools in London before moving with her family to Plymouth in 1985. Hilary subsequently took up a role as the foundation stage teacher at Downham School, which provided education for students aged 4-16 years with special education needs.

Hilary progressed to be Deputy Head of Downham school, whilst advocating for appropriate support and provision for the Foundation Stage curriculum and working closely with key stakeholders to progress local education priorities. Hilary proactively mentored newly qualified teachers, supported career progression of teaching assistants, and led the apprentice and work-experience schemes within the school. Following her retirement, Hilary has continued to be heavily involved as a governor. 

After 32 years, Hilary retired from Downham after having had an enormously positive impact on the children she taught. Hilary increased the intake of children attending the school by introducing an integrated nursery.  When Hilary first adopted this integrated approach, it was ground-breaking and helped to overcome misperceptions regarding SEN schools and disability.

For the last 20 years, Hilary has also been a volunteer with the Plymouth Soup Run and most of her time is spent coordinating this service which provides free food and drinks to homeless, hungry and vulnerable people 365 days a year. In recognition of this work, Hilary was awarded an MBE in 2018.

Hugh Borthwick - Honorary Graduate of Plymouth Marjon University

Honorary Graduate - School of Education (MTEP)

Hugh is the Head of Production at Theatre Royal Plymouth (TRP). He has been the resident Production Manager at TRP for many years on all in-house theatre productions, co-productions, and Engagement & Learning projects on the 3 stages: Lyric, Drum and The Lab, and externally including London West End for productions such as Othello and Wind in the Willows. In 2020, Hugh undertook the enormous challenge of reopening the Theatre to the public following the Covid lockdowns. Hugh has played a key role in construction projects like areas of the TR2 rehearsal space and the Messenger sculpture, which Hugh supported with planning, delivery, and completion. Prior to his exciting career at TRP, Hugh has been a resident and Assistant Director on the London West End, in the USA, and for major productions around the UK.

Starting out in Plymouth, Hugh began his educational career at St Boniface College to complete his O and A Levels, before studying applied psychology at the University of Wales where he was Chairperson of the Student Hall Committee. Hugh went on to achieve a CTEFLA in the Newnham Language Centre, Cambridge.

Hugh has contributed to the Plymouth community in several ways, namely in his role as a governor at Plymouth High School for Girls and volunteering at the Stonehouse Community Fridge, which he continues to do today.

See our honorary graduates from 2020-212019, 201820172016, 20152014 and 2013.