Kent honorary degrees July 2024

Gary Hughes
Graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

The University is looking forward to awarding honorary degrees to five inspirational individuals during this summer’s graduation ceremonies at Rochester and Canterbury cathedrals.

The ceremonies will take place at Rochester on 17 July and Canterbury from 22 to 26 July.

NOTE: Journalists/media are welcome to attend but must liaise with the University’s Press Office beforehand.

The July honorary graduands are:

  • Alice Oseman (Rochester 17 July), who will be made Doctor of Letters in recognition of her inspirational contribution to art and literature, with a particular notable impact through her work to support the young adult LGBTQ+ community. Alice is an award-winning author, illustrator, screenwriter and creator of Medway-based LGBTQ+ YA romance comic Heartstopper. She also created, wrote and executive-produced Netflix’s Emmy Award-winning  adaptation of Heartstopper. Her books have been shortlisted or nominated for a number of awards, including the YA Book Prize, the Inky Awards, the Carnegie Medal, and the Goodreads Choice Awards. Alice was named the Attitude Person of the Year 2023, and The British Book Awards Illustrator of the Year.
  • Ben Roddy (Canterbury 23 July), who will be made Doctor of Arts in recognition of his services to the arts, most notably stage and screen, and in recognition of his fundraising and campaigning in support of local causes and charities. His stage and screen credits include The Royal Shakespeare Company, The Disney film Patrick, Call the Midwife, The Invisible Man, Absent Friends, Around the World in Eighty Days, Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie and The Hound of the Baskervilles. He has notched up an impressive 15 seasons as ‘Dame’ at The Marlowe, Canterbury for which he has twice been awarded Best Dame at the National Pantomime Awards in 2019 and 2024. He is also a proud Captain of the Kent Cricket Charitable Trust.
  • Rachael Burford (Canterbury 23 July), who will be made Doctor of the University in recognition of her inspirational contribution to rugby, both within the UK and internationally, with a particular notable impact through her work to support women in rugby. Rachael began her rugby life at a young age at Medway RFC in Kent, and has gone on to enjoy a remarkable career for club and country for over 30 years. A multiple Six Nations winner, she has appeared in four World Cups and two Sevens World Cups.
  • Jenny Sealey OBE (Canterbury 24 July), who will be made Doctor of Arts in recognition of her services to the arts and also disability rights, awareness and advocacy. Jenny has been the Artistic Director of Graeae, UK’s flagship disabled led theatre company since 1997. She has pioneered a new theatrical language and coined the term ‘the aesthetics of access’ where sign language, creative captions and audio description are embedded within all productions. The ‘aesthetics’ are now used widely by theatre makers in UK and internationally.

The University is also proud to award an Honorary Doctor of Arts to Carol Stewart during a universities of Kent and Greenwich joint ceremony for the Medway School of Pharmacy at Rochester Cathedral on Wednesday 24 July. Carol is the current Chair of the Medway African and Caribbean Association (MACA) and Chair of Creative Medway. MACA established the annual Young Black Achievers (YPU) Award, Young People United Diversity Awards and Inspirational Awards, the latter established in memory of Carol’s daughter Safiya Stewart, one of the founders of YPU who sadly passed away in 2015. She is also an active contributor to ensuring that Black History, Anti racism and Diversity are integral across all sectors and the school curriculum. Her award is in recognition of her services to the Medway community and the creative arts.

Carol’s award is part of the universities of Kent and Greenwich, Canterbury Christ Church University, Medway Council and Creative Medway’s celebration of the Medway cultural sector and its significant cultural figures during Medway Culture Fest 24. This special festival year takes the 40th anniversaries of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, the culture-led regeneration of the former dockyard and Medway African and Caribbean Association as a starting point.

Alice Oseman

Ben Roddy

Rachael Burford

Jenny Sealey

Carol Stewart