University of Sunderland’s Pro Vice-Chancellor Graeme Thompson enjoyed a Royal occasion as he was officially awarded an MBE.

Graeme, originally from South Shields, joined the University in 2009 after a successful career with the BBC and ITV.

Along with his family, he attended Windsor Castle on Wednesday where he received his MBE from the Princess Royal.

Graeme said: “It was a privilege to receive my award at Windsor Castle. A truly memorable occasion with all the pomp and ceremony we expect from an investiture.

“The Princess Royal was charming, and it was good to talk to her about her most recent visit to the National Glass Centre and the role of the University in culture-led regeneration.

“The award itself is tremendous recognition of the partnership approach to harnessing the power of arts, education and culture to change perceptions of the city.

“And it’s quite overwhelming to receive so many messages of congratulations – it’s taken me ages to reply to everyone.”

Graeme was accompanied to the ceremony by his wife Aly who works in media and communications at Hambleton and Richmond Councils in North Yorkshire. Others awarded at the ceremony included the fitness guru Joe Wicks, actor Adrian Lester and writer Philippa Gregory.

Graeme was founding chair of Sunderland Culture and is chair of the University-led Cultural Spring community arts project. He chairs the Royal Television Society Education Committee and is a council member for Creative UK. He’s on Arts Council England’s council for the north and is a trustee of a number of organisations including the Customs House, South Shields.

Graeme now lives near Thirsk in North Yorkshire with Aly. They have three children and one granddaughter.