Honorary Awards – July 2015

Honorary recipients

Wed, 08 Apr 2015 09:47:00 BST

The eight recipients will receive the award of Honorary Doctorate of the University

A HUDDERSFIELD-born TV journalist and a self-made retail magnate are among the distinguished people from the media, science, enterprise, politics and the arts – including a cult DJ – who will receive honorary doctorates from the University of Huddersfield at an awards ceremony in July.

This year’s recipients will be (in alphabetical order)...

  • Leeds businessman and consultant Nigel Foster
  • Electronic musician and DJ Richie Hawtin
  • Television journalist and presenter Nina Hossain
  • Government science advisor Professor Sir Peter Knight
  • Chartered engineer and academic Sir John O’Reilly
  • Chinese engineering professor Li Peigen
  • Politician Baroness Kath Pinnock of Cleckheaton
  • Iceland CEO Malcolm Walker CBE



Nigel Foster

Nigel Foster is an experienced executive and non-executive director holding board roles at major international companies in the UK and overseas.  He is currently President and a director of the Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce and is also a director of Leeds and Partners, the inward investment agency for Leeds.

During his career, he has provided advice on transport, regeneration and sustainability and he has been involved in numerous major projects in the UK and overseas aimed at revitalising cities, creating sustainable development and supporting economic growth.  He now runs his own businesses providing strategic consultancy across all aspects of cities and the built environment, as well as supporting organisations in leadership development and innovation.

Since 2008, Nigel has been a Governor of the University of Leeds, sitting on both the Audit and Risk and Strategy committees and he is also a visiting professor at the Institute for Transport Studies.  Nigel is currently chair of both the Centre for Low Carbon Futures and the Sustainable Economy and Culture Board for Leeds City Council.


Richie Hawtin

Richie Hawtin is an English-born Canadian electronic musician and DJ who was an influential part of Detroit techno’s second wave of artists in the early 1990s and a leading exponent of techno.  He is known for his groundbreaking work with technology, his music productions under the alias Plastikman and for his ENTER. events in Ibiza and around the world – ENTER. is now global with events in the UK, USA, Japan, Holland and Argentina. 

As a DJ, he headlines clubs and festivals worldwide and has changed the direction of the art form through his innovations with technology and performance.  Richie is also the mind behind the Plus8 and M_nus Record labels and, as Plastikman, he has maintained an underground agenda over six albums and two compilations.  He returned to the live circuit in 2013 with a show for the Guggenheim in New York – at the request of designer Raf Simons from Dior which resulted in the critically acclaimed ‘EX’ live album and a headline date at Sonar in 2014.   Richie Hawtin’s cross-cultural achievements also include a spectacular collaboration with Anish Kapoor’s art structure for Monumenta in Paris, and at the Centre Pompidou, Hawtin re-scored a silent movie from the 1920’s to critical acclaim.  


Nina Hossain Journalist Nina Hossain is Huddersfield born and bred and attended Newsome High School and Greenhead College.  After University study and spells at ITV regional news in Carlisle and the BBC in London, Nina joined ITN in 2004. 

She has just celebrated 10 years with ITN, where she has reported live on some of the biggest events of the past decade, including the London bombings, the 2012 Olympics, the Royal Wedding and Margaret Thatcher’s death.  She presents the flagship News at Ten programme and for 15 years has been the face of the evening news in the Capital, first with BBC London and now with ITV News London.  Nina has also fronted the ITV current affairs programme Exposure.

Over her 20-year career, she has interviewed top politicians including prime ministers, film stars, rock stars and sporting heroes, listing her personal favourites as R.E.M., Lord Coe, Mo Farah, Lewis Hamilton, Duran Duran, Boris Johnson and the late Patrick Swayze.  


Professor Sir Peter Knight

Professor Sir Peter Knight – a Fellow of the Royal Society – is Senior Research Investigator in Physics at Imperial College and Senior Fellow in Residence at the Kavli Royal Society International Centre, Chicheley Hall and Past-President of the Institute of Physics.  He retired in September 2010 as Deputy Rector (Research) at Imperial College where he was responsible for the College’s research strategy.  He was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2005 for his work in optical physics.

Sir Peter chairs the new Quantum Metrology Institute at the National Physical Laboratory and recently chaired the Advisory Board of the EPSRC Centre Innovative Manufacturing in Advanced Metrology at the University of Huddersfield.  He has also chaired the Defence Scientific Advisory Council at the UK Ministry of Defence, remains a government science advisor.

Sir Peter’s own research centres on quantum optics, strong field physics and quantum information science.  He has won many prizes including the Thomas Young Medal and the Glazebrook Medal of the Institute of Physics, the Ives Medal of the OSA and the Royal Medal of the Royal Society. 


Sir John O’Reilly Sir John O’Reilly is a chartered engineer specialising in the field of information and communication technology and the author or co-author of some 350 or so research and technology publications, including three books on aspects of telecommunications.

Among his current role, he is Chairman of NICC (Standards) Ltd, which is responsible for ensuring telecommunication network and service interoperability in the UK.  He has served as Director General of Knowledge and Innovation for the UK government within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, previously having been Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University and before that Chief Executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).  He has held academic appointments at the universities of Essex, Bangor and UCL.

Active in the engineering profession, Sir John is an Honorary Fellow and former President of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and a Fellow and former member of Council of the Royal Academy of Engineering.  In 2007, he received a knighthood in recognition of his contributions to science.


Li Peigen Professor Li Peigen is one of China’s most respected professors in the fields of mechanical engineering and computer-integrated manufacturing.  In the early 1980s, he proposed the idea of forecasting compensating control of boring dimensions based on Karman Filter theory and he has also taken part in the design work for machine tools, for instance, crankshaft grinding machines and 5-axis laser machines, which were awarded first class prizes by Hubei Province and the Ministry of Education respectively.

Higher education is also a major concern for Li Peigen, who has been Chairman of the Mechanical Engineering Education Steering Committee of the Education Ministry in China for more than ten years.  He has also served as President of Huazhong University of Science and Technology – one of the institutions at which he received his own education – and his book University As I See It includes articles on education published in magazines and newspapers.


Baroness Pinnock of Cleckheaton Baroness Pinnock of Cleckheaton – Kath Pinnock – moved to West Yorkshire 40 years ago from Birmingham to take up a history teaching post in a secondary school.  She quickly became involved in the local community was elected as a councillor for the Cleckheaton ward in 1987.

She was leader of Kirklees Council from 2000 to 2006 and was leader of Kirklees Liberal Democrat councillors from 1991 to 2014.  

Between 2001 and 2011, she served on the Board of Yorkshire Forward, the Regional Development Agency, and since 2008, she has been a non-executive director of Yorkshire Water.

Politically, she has been the national chair of the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors, a member of the Liberal Democrats’ Federal Executive and, in 2014, she was appointed to the House of Lords.


Malcolm Walker CBE Malcolm Walker CBE is the founder of Iceland Foods.  He grew up in Grange Moor, Huddersfield, and began his entrepreneurial career as a dance promoter while still at school.  He entered retailing as a trainee manager with Woolworths in Huddersfield.  He founded Iceland as a sideline in 1970, opening a single small shop in Oswestry with a starting capital of just £30.  Mr Walker was Chairman and CEO of Iceland through 30 years of continuous sales growth, in all but one of which the company also increased its profits. 

Malcolm Walker left Iceland in 2001, but returned as CEO in February 2005.  Over the next seven years he achieved a transformation in performance and morale, with like-for-like sales increasing by more than 50 per cent.  In 2012, he led a £1.5 billion management buyout and significantly accelerated Iceland’s store opening programme in the UK, developed a new Iceland retail business in the Czech Republic, acquired the formerly franchised Iceland stores in the Republic of Ireland and substantially expanded the Iceland brand in new export markets.

Iceland’s Charitable Foundation has raised more than £11 million for good causes and Malcolm Walker was awarded the CBE in 1995.

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