Degrees for high flyers

The founder of the low-cost airline easyJet will share the billing with three heroes of the North-East when he gets an honorary degree from a university in the region next month.

The founder of the low-cost airline easyJet will share the billing with three heroes of the North-East when he gets an honorary degree from a university in the region next month.

Stelios Haji-Iouannou, who transformed the holiday industry when he formed easyJet in the 1990s, will get his fourth honorary degree when he accepts a doctorate of civil law from Northumbria University in July.

Also receiving awards will be businessman-turned-explorer Conrad Dickinson, Northumbrian folk musician Kathryn Tickell and former hospital chief Sir Miles Irving, who are all from Northumberland.

The degrees will all be conferred during Northumbria's week-long academic congregation celebrations, which start on July 16.

Northumbria University vice-chancellor Professor Kel Fidler said: "Our honorary doctorate of civil law is awarded to persons of distinction who have earned national or international recognition and standing in education, business, culture and the professional and public services.

"As our students graduate and set off on the path to their future careers, we feel it is hugely important to help inspire them by showing them the successes which can be achieved with hard work and determination.

"Our honorary graduates this year are certainly shining examples and we are delighted to be able to recognise and celebrate their achievements."

Kathryn Tickell, who grew up in the North Tyne Valley, has been an ambassador for local folk music for more than 20 years, releasing a number of albums of Northumbrian pipe music and also playing with artists including Sting and the Chieftains, as well as at the opening of the Gateshead Millennium Bridge.

Conrad Dickinson runs his family furniture store, Dickinsons, in Hexham, but has become better known in the last few years for intrepid trips to the North Pole and the frozen Lake Baikal in Siberia. Professor Sir Miles Irving is the former chairman of Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust, and is in addition a board member of the Imperial War Museum, a member of Newcastle University's council and founder chairman of Northumbria University's ethics committee.

Also being honoured by Northumbria will be Sir George Cox, chairman of the Design Council, and Malaysia's first ever director of nursing Hajjah Bibi Florina Abdullah, or Matron Bibi.

They will join a long list of distinguished people who have received honorary degrees from Northumbria University which includes Alan Shearer, Tony Blair and Likely Lads writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais.

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