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David Attenborough: The man with the most honorary degrees in UK gets one more from Queen’s University


Sir David Attenborough is working on a music documentary with Bjork

Sir David Attenborough is working on a music documentary with Bjork

Sir David Attenborough is working on a music documentary with Bjork

He has amassed a legion of followers around the world thanks to his award-winning wildlife documentaries, but now it would appear that Sir David Attenborough also has a fanbase among academics at Queen’s University.

For the 86-year-old is to be awarded an honorary degree from the Belfast university for his services to science and broadcasting.

The accolade — at least his 31st — means he has more honorary degrees from UK universities than any other person.

Sir David, whose latest show, Africa, is currently being broadcast on BBC, has confirmed that he is happy to accept the award. However, it is not yet known whether he will be attending the summer or winter graduations.

The Cambridge graduate has previously commented that there is no honour he values more highly than one which comes from a university.

“It's a compliment from the academic world. It's a real compliment — it would be churlish not to accept one,” he said.

Sir David is among 16 people from the worlds of business, medicine, sport, academia, music and the arts being honoured by the university. He will be joined by Belfast film director and Oscar winner Terry George, who will receive an honorary degree for distinction in film and drama. His film, The Shore, won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film last February.

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Also being recognised, for exceptional distinction in sport, is Glengormley athlete Michael McKillop who won two gold medals in last year’s Paralympics, setting a new world record in the 800m T37.

Other recipients include the only woman to win the Man Booker Prize twice, writer Hilary Mantel; Dublin-born writer Colum McCann and composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.

They are joined on the list by Robert Ingram, former CEO of GlaxoSmithKline; Professor Avadhesha Surolia, director of India’s National Institute of Immunology, and Professor Jim Swindall from Queen’s Ionic Liquid Laboratories.

Also being honoured are businessman and entrepreneur Ed Vernon, who leads the Asset Management Group of the Strategic Investment Board; Dr Avila Kilmurray for her contribution to the community; Dr Len O’Hagan, chairman of the Belfast Harbour Commissioners, for services to business and commerce; Wejdan Abu El-Haija, the first female dean of engineering in Jordan; Professor David Hempton for outstanding services to history and divinity, and Sir Ken Robinson for exceptional services to education.

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