North East Paralympians to be honoured

Sunderland University is set to honour paralympic legends Hazel Robson and John Robertson as it celebrates its 21st anniversary

North East Paralymic legend Hazel Robson
North East Paralymic legend Hazel Robson

Paralympic legends Hazel Robson and John Robertson are to be honoured by a North East university as it celebrates its 21st anniversary next week.

Sunderland University is marking the milestone at its annual graduation ceremonies, with local businessman Ralph Saelzer and five of the institution’s former governors also being honoured.

Washington-born sprinter Hazel Robson is one of Britain’s most successful Paralympians.

Her consistency over the last decade makes her one of Britain’s most decorated athletes.

At the Athens Games in 2004, Hazel brought home two silver medals and she followed this up with a double bronze in Beijing 2008. Hazel, who has cerebral palsy, has also competed and won medals at European and World Championship level.

Sunderland-born sailor John Robertson began sailing at the age of 11. The Paralympian became the first skipper in the history of disabled Sonar Sailing to helm his crew to back-to-back IFDS world titles in 2005 and 2006.

John, who was disabled as a result of a motorbike accident in 1994, has taken part in three Paralymics – Athens, Beijing and London.

Hazel and John will receive honorary fellowships in recognition of their outstanding contribution to sport.

Ralph Saelzer is managing director of German-owned Liebherr Sunderland Works Ltd on the River Wear.

German-born Ralph moved to Sunderland in 2002 to join the Liebherr Group as the works manager of their Sunderland plant. He is to receive an honorary doctorate in business administration for his outstanding contribution to the North East economy.

Sunderland University was founded in 1992 and to celebrate its 21st anniversary it is honouring five people who have had a major impact on its development.

These are Chris Jobe, the former North East director of Northern Rock, Lady Cynthia Irvine, chair of South of Tyne and Wearside NHS Mental Health Trust, Cathy Barnes, who has spent 30 years in further education, William Ault, an architect and a town planner, and entrepreneur Suhail Din.

All five will be awarded honorary fellowships in recognition of their longstanding commitment as independent governors.

University vice-chancellor Professor Peter Fidler said: “Our honoraries have all made highly significant contributions within their fields and will inspire our graduates as they celebrate their academic success and embark on their careers. We look forward to welcoming them and are proud to pay tribute to them.”

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