Press Release

29 January 2014

Honorary Doctor Jo Brand with Vice-Chancellor Professor Rama Thirunamachandran and Mental Health Nursing graduates Harriet Powolny, Sophie Warren and Hannah Christie
Honorary Doctor Jo Brand with Vice-Chancellor Professor Rama Thirunamachandran and Mental Health Nursing graduates Harriet Powolny, Sophie Warren and Hannah Christie

Renowned Kentish comedienne Jo Brand, Deputy Chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Sir Keith Mills and former Chair of the Governing Body for Canterbury Christ Church University, Peter Hermitage QPM, have all received honours from the University. 

After working in psychiatric nursing for ten years, Jo Brand began a career in stand-up comedy. Her experiences working as a psychiatric nurse are often incorporated into her routines, increasing awareness of the work done by nurses in the field of mental health. Jo has written and appeared in numerous television shows including BBC Four’s series Getting On, BBC One’s Have I Got News for You and ITV’s Splash.

Jo’s association with the University started with the development of the Buddy Scheme. This pairs second year Mental Health Nursing students with a buddy who is a current mental health user, to help them to understand their role and responsibilities as a mental health nurse. The scheme has won many national awards and commendations.

Jo received an Honorary Doctorate in a ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral on Thursday, 30 January.

She said: “I’m very flattered and honoured to receive this Honorary Doctorate and very pleased to come here and accept it, rather than doing what I would normally be doing during this time of the day which is banging my head on a computer and saying write a funny joke!

“I used to be a psychiatric nurse but I think even in this day and age, when people are becoming much more liberal thinking than they used to be, people with mental health issues still really suffer from the negative opinion of most of the general public. I think that is mainly because of ignorance rather than because of anything else and because people are frightened, but when I’m asked I like to give my opinion about how things are because I think it is important.”

Sir Keith Mills GBE DL
Sir Keith Mills GBE DL

The University also awarded a Doctorate to Sir Keith Mills GBE DL, an entrepreneur and marketing expert. Sir Keith has worked in marketing and advertising for over twenty years, introducing loyalty schemes such as Air Miles and the Nectar card, which has helped to transform British retailing.

In September 2003, he became Chief Executive and International President of the London 2012 campaign to bring the Olympics to London and then became Deputy Chairman of LOCOG (London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games). He was knighted in 2012 for his services to sport and is now involved in a new foundation called Sported, which aims to improve the lives of disadvantaged young people through sport.

Peter Hermitage QPM has been conferred an Honorary Fellowship. Peter has served as a Governor at Canterbury Christ Church for thirteen years and for four years served as Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the Governing Body.

During his time as a Governor, Peter has had a key role in shaping the University’s strategy and developing the necessary infrastructure, capability and capacity to achieve exceptional growth. Under his stewardship as Deputy Pro-Chancellor, the University not only achieved full University title but was able to establish network of campus locations throughout Kent and Medway.

Peter is a former Chief Constable, having served for over 30 years before retiring in 1999, and received the Queen’s Police Medal for distinguished service in 1996.

Vice-Chancellor of Canterbury Christ Church University, Professor Rama Thirunamachandran, welcomed the new Honorary graduates. He said: “We are delighted to award Jo Brand and Sir Keith Mills with Honorary Doctorates and Peter Hermitage with an Honorary Fellowship.

“Our Honorary Graduates have achieved great distinction within their chosen careers and we are proud to honour them for their work and the significant positive impact they have had upon different sections of society.

Peter Hermitage QPM
Peter Hermitage QPM

“Peter has been instrumental in the development and growth of the University, helping to make it the diverse and wonderful institution that it is today. We would like to thank him for his dedication and commitment to Canterbury Christ Church University and we look forward to continuing our work together.

“Jo has achieved great success leading the way for female comediennes. However, it is through her public standing, and her work, in raising awareness of mental health issues and challenging the stigma around mental illness where she has achieved true impact. We are delighted that she has accepted this award and continues to be an inspiration for our students.

“Sir Keith has been at the forefront of marketing developments for over two decades, changing the way the industry works and thinks. He has used all of his experience to now help change the lives of young people through sport. We are pleased to be able to recognise his achievements by awarding him with an Honorary Doctorate on behalf of the University. ”


Notes to Editor

Canterbury Christ Church University

Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.

With nearly 20,000 students across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.

  • 94% of our most recent UK graduates were in employment or further studies six months after completing their studies*.
  • We are the number one choice for local people looking to study at university in Kent (2012 UCAS).
  • We are one of the South East’s largest providers of education, training and skills leading to public service careers.

*2011/12 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey


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Last edited: 14/12/2018 22:16:00