Belfast Telegraph

Singer Katie Melua to be honoured in city close to her heart

By Lindsay Fergus

As a past vice-Chancellor of Queen's University Belfast he has handed out tens of thousands of degrees, but today the tables will be turned on Professor Sir Peter Gregson.

He will receive a doctorate for his services to Queen's and higher education.

The spotlight will also be shining on singer Katie Melua, who is more used to being in the headlines for her chart-topping music.

Melua, who is well-known internationally for her hit singles and her charity work, will receive a DLit (Mus) for services to music.

She came to Belfast at the age of eight with her family from the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

Her father, a doctor, took up a post at the Royal Victoria Hospital for six years before the family moved to England.

Melua attended the BRIT School of Performing Arts in London before her big breakthrough at the age of 19 with the hit single The Closest Thing To Crazy.

She is a committed supporter of a number of charities including British Red Cross, to which she donated the entire proceeds of her 2007 single What A Wonderful World.

Upon hearing of her honour today for services to music, Ms Melua said: "It was a complete surprise and really unexpected to be awarded this honorary degree and I am so delighted. I consider Belfast a city very close to my heart and to be recognised in this way in the field of music is phenomenal."

Commenting on his doctorate, Sir Peter said: "To be honoured by the institution where I have enjoyed so much of my career is a great privilege indeed.

"I am delighted to be returning to Queen's and very much looking forward to seeing old friends and colleagues on this special occasion."

Sir Peter was president and vice-Chancellor of Queen's University from 2004-2013. It was under his tenure that Queen's joined the Russell Group and received two Queen's Anniversary prizes for higher education.

A Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Professor Gregson served as Deputy Lieutenant of Belfast. He was awarded a knighthood in 2011.

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