Professor Steve West, Katherine Bennett CBE and Professor Elena Marco in graduation gowns.
UWE Bristol Vice-Chancellor Professor Steve West (left); HVM Catapult CEO Katherine Bennett CBE (centre); and Professor Elena Marco, UWE Bristol Pro Vice-Chancellor and Head of College of Arts, Technology and Environment (right).

The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) is pleased to announce the four recipients of Honorary Degrees awarded at the graduation ceremonies at Bristol Cathedral this November.

Spanning areas of expertise and leadership across the aerospace industry, law, banking, healthcare research, public health, sustainability and climate change, they were all recognised for outstanding achievements in their chosen fields, and for their significant contributions not only to the university, but to the wider Bristol region.

The Honorary Graduates were conferred during UWE Bristol’s graduation ceremonies held at Bristol Cathedral between 21 and 25 November. They are:

Mrs Katherine Bennett CBE FRAeS - Katherine Bennett CBE joined the HVM Catapult as CEO in June 2021 following a 16-year career at Airbus, including as Senior Vice President leading the company’s external engagement and strategy in the UK. In November 2019, she was appointed as Chair of the Western Gateway, a cross government and local authority initiative which will aim to promote and maximise economic growth across south Wales and the West of England. Katherine was awarded the Order of Commander of the British Empire in January 2019 for services to the aerospace and aviation sector.

Dr Angela Elizabeth Raffle – Dr Angela Raffle specialised in Public Health, practising mainly in the sphere of health screening programmes and services to help those affected by cancer. As well as her role in Bristol, she has worked as a Consultant to the UK National Screening Programmes since 1996. She campaigned to improve information-giving and ethics in relation to screening; researching, writing, and speaking about the need to recognise the full and diverse consequences of any programme, and the need for high quality delivery.

In 2008 Angela became involved in the Transition Towns movement, which lead to her work on climate change, resource depletion, and social justice. She commissioned the ‘Who Feeds Bristol’ report and helped set up Bristol’s Food Policy Council of which she was vice-chair. She helped create The Community Farm in the Chew Valley and currently chairs its management committee. She is a qualified trainer in innovative methods of problem solving and conflict transformation, and has helped numerous groups and projects, working to bring peaceful and non-violent methods of opposing oppression.

Miss Pamela Richards – Pam Richards had a successful career in banking as a manager. Due to developing severe rheumatoid arthritis, Pam had to retire from her much-enjoyed profession. It left her physically unable to return to work as the debilitating condition affected every area of her life.

20 years ago, Pam was asked by the Academic Rheumatology team at the Bristol Royal Infirmary to help them better understand the impact of rheumatoid arthritis on day-to-day life. Since then, she has collaborated with researchers based in the UK at UWE Bristol, University of Bristol and institutions further afield. Many research projects have benefitted from her generously sharing her experience of the everyday impact of rheumatoid arthritis and she has co-authored the resulting research papers.

It is important to Pam that people with long-term health conditions are enabled and empowered to have their experiential knowledge included, not just as research participants but as research partners, in every stage of the research process from identifying topics of importance through to the management of the projects. To this end Pam has helped train and facilitate patient research partners locally and internationally.

His Honour Judge Stephen Wildblood KC – Stephen Wildblood was called to the bar at aged 21. He practised in Family Law for 27 years from Albion Chambers in Bristol, the last 8 ½ years being as Queen’s Counsel. He wrote his first legal textbook at the age of 34 and has contributed to over 20 legal textbooks since. He began sitting as a part-time judge at the age of 37 and was appointed as a Deputy High Court Judge in 2004. In 2009 he became a Circuit Judge and, for the first seven years after his appointment, he sat in Devon and Cornwall, hearing Family, Criminal and Civil cases. In 2013 he was appointed as the Designated Family Judge for the five counties in and around Bristol.

Stephen has worked closely with UWE Bristol for many years. He has organised a number of lectures on Family Law issues for students, lawyers and the wider community. Since returning to sit in this area, he has worked closely with UWE Bristol in some of the many innovative measures the University has put in place to assist students and those who need legal support. In November 2023, he will be retiring from the judiciary and, thereafter, will be working with the highly respected psychologist, Dr Freda Gardner, offering non-court-based dispute resolution for people who might otherwise find themselves involved in litigation in the Family Court.

Vice-Chancellor of UWE Bristol, Professor Steve West, said: “We are delighted to have welcomed these exceptional individuals to receive their Honorary Degrees alongside all our outstanding graduates this year, and I'd like to send my warmest congratulations to them all. It is clear they are extremely passionate about the communities they serve and having a positive impact on people’s lives. I’m sure they will inspire and encourage our graduates as they take their first steps into their chosen careers.”

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