One of the UK’s most successful athletes and a champion of the North East’s business community are to receive Honorary Doctorates from the University of Sunderland during next week’s Winter Academic Awards (December 1-2).

Eleven-time Paralympics Gold Medalist, Baroness Grey-Thompson, who is also the President of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and sits in the House of Lords as an Independent Crossbench Peer, will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Law onDecember 1.

Colonel The Hon James Ramsbotham, who has been Chief Executive of the North East England Chamber of Commerce for more than a decade is also being honoured during the ceremonies, held at the Stadium of Light. He will be receiving an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration on December 2, to celebrate his outstanding career in business and commitment to supporting the region’s economy and businesses.


University Vice-Chancellor Shirley Atkinson said: “We are delighted to be paying tribute to Baroness Grey-Thompson and James Ramsbotham at our Winter Academic Awards Ceremonies.

“Both have all made such a significant impact in their chosen careers and their own journeys to success will no doubt be an incredible inspiration to our graduates who are celebrating their own academic success.”

Acknowledged as one of the most gifted sportswomen of her generation, Baroness Grey-Thompson has competed in five Paralympic Games and won the London Wheelchair Marathon six times between 1992 and 2002. Following retirement from athletics she has played a prominent role in public life, and became Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE in recognition of her services to sport in 2005. In 2010 she was elevated to the House of Lords as a crossbench peer and takes an active part in debates, with particular focus on sport, disability, health, welfare, and youth development.

She also helps to coach other wheelchair athletes, along with her husband Ian, and develop better racing chairs, gloves and other equipment. Their protégés include paralympian Jade Jones from Middlesbrough, and marathon chair-racer Callum Hall from Leeds. And in her parliamentary and wider work, Tanni remains a staunch advocate for the combination of education with sport, and for fitness and exercise.

James Ramsbotham is leading The Chamber at an exciting time in its history. Having celebrated 200 years of championing business in the North East in 2015, the Chamber has almost 4,000 members and delivers a range of business support services, especially training and international trade advice.

Previously James was Vice-Chairman of the Esh Group – the award winning North East construction group. Prior to that James spent 14 years in Corporate Banking at Barclays Bank plc, based throughout the UK and latterly as Marketing Director. He had 12 years soldiering in the Royal Green Jackets, throughout the world, and benefitted from executive education at Harvard (USA), INSEAD (France), and Oxford University after graduating from Durham University.

He is Chairman of the Darlington Building Society, Honorary Colonel for The Rifles in the North of England, Chair of Trustees for the Durham Light Infantry Museum, Trustee for The Foundation of Light (SAFC) and a Deputy Lieutenant for County Durham. He also supports a number of charitable organisations. James and his wife, Carolyn, have two adult children and live in the Durham Dales.

Close to 600 University of Sunderland graduates will attend the Winter Academic Awards with over 1,200 of their guests across two days of ceremonies. Families of EU and international students from around the world, University of Sunderland in London, as well as those of home students in the North East and the wider UK will congregate at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light to celebrate the success of graduates before they move on to begin their career or embark on further study.