Aston University congratulates Honorary Graduates

16 July 2007 – for immediate release

Aston University will present the following honorary degrees at its degree ceremonies this week:

Khurshid Ahmed: Tues 17th July at 11am

Khurshid has had extensive involvement in community development, demonstrating his strong personal commitment to tackling discrimination and disadvantage. He joined Dudley Community Relations Council in 1974 and chaired this from 1997-2002.

He was Assistant Chief Executive and Head of Race Relations and Equal Opportunities at Birmingham City Council from 1984. He was appointed a Commissioner at the Commission for Racial Equality in April 2002 and Acting Deputy Chair from August 2002 - April 2003 when he was appointed the CRE’s Special Ambassador to the Muslim Community.

He was a participant at the Berlin conference which decided the outcome of the Earth Summit in Rio and resulted in the establishment of Agenda 21 initiatives in relation to Europe. He has worked with the European Commission and the World Bank.

He is currently the Deputy Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality and Chairman of the British Muslim Forum, the Dudley Muslim Association and the Dudley Community (Strategic) Partnership.

Diane Thompson CBE: Weds 18th July at 11am

Dianne Thompson is Chief Executive of Camelot Group Plc, operator of the UK National Lottery.

She is an Executive Committee Member of the European Lotteries Association and chairs its New Media and Distribution Channels Committee.

In 2006, she joined the Executive Committee of the World Lotteries Association and she now chairs its Responsible Gaming Committee. She also chairs Camelot’s Social Responsibility Board, which champions corporate social responsibility throughout the company.

Dianne is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, the Marketing Society, and the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

In September 2006 she was awarded the Chartered Management Institute’s Gold Medal for her strategic direction and leadership.

Simon Topman - Weds 18th July at 11am

Simon Topman’s early career embraced the Civil Service, the jewellery trade and the steel industry. He was attracted to management and marketing and became C.E.O of Acme Whistles in 1989 and Owner / Manager in 1991.

Acme is famous for its Corporate Social Responsibility, employing people only from the Aston, Lozells and Handsworth areas in Birmingham.

The Acme C.S.R. program supports Young Enterprise and local schools and Simon plays a full part in the area’s decisions and development. He became the Chairman of Aston pride New Deal for Communities in 2003.

He was President of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce in 2006, is National President Elect of The British Chambers and has had a number of government roles.

Simon is the author of publications on pensions, flexible working and whistle collecting. He is also a public speaker for charity fundraising and still has a great affection for all things Aston which is the place of his childhood and his upbringing.

Cllr Sir Albert Bore - Weds 18th July at 2pm

Albert Bore was awarded a PhD in Physics by the University of Birmingham in 1973, before taking up a post as lecturer at Aston University in 1974.

He was elected a member of Birmingham City Council in 1980 and has played a major role in the regeneration of the City. He was Leader of Birmingham City Council between 1999 and 2004.

From 1984 to 1993 he chaired the City’s Economic Development Committee, which helped bring forward such transformational schemes as Brindleyplace, and Centenary Square.

Since the mid 1980s, he has held company directorships of both Aston Science Park and the National Exhibition Centre.

In January 2002 he received a knighthood in the New Year’s Honours List for his services to local government.

In June 2005 he was appointed as the West Midlands Local Government Association’s European and International Affairs Portfolio Holder, and in this role he chairs the West Midlands Regional Assembly’s European and International Affairs Partnership.

Doug Ellis OBE - Thursday 19th July at 11am

Herbert ‘Douglas’ Ellis was born on the Wirral in Cheshire. He moved to Birmingham after his War Service and formed his own travel company. He was Chairman and owner of well-known travel companies such as Mato and Ellis travel. He sold all his travel companies in 1976.

Doug was Chairman of 19 companies before relinquishing the majority to concentrate on Chairmanship of Aston Villa Plc, for which he is perhaps best known today.

He was Chairman of Aston Villa Football Club for 35 years and is now the Club’s Honorary Life President.

During his tenure as Chairman, he built three new stands and one of the largest conference centres in Birmingham at the Club.

Doug has been a member of the FA Council for 18 years, is a Member of its International Committee and was inaugural Chairman of the Technical Control

Board. His is currently Chairman of the Ellis Group of Companies, Chairman of Ellmanton Construction and Chairman of Aston Manor Brewery.

Lord Paul Drayson - Thurs 19 July at 2pm

Paul Drayson took a BSc (Hons) in Production Engineering at Aston University sponsored by BL Cars at Longbridge, followed in 1985 by a PhD in Robotics.

From 1986 - 1991 he was Managing Director of Lambourn Food Company. In 1993 he co-founded PowderJect Pharmaceuticals Plc in Oxford and was Chairman and Chief Executive until 2003.

Between 2001 and 2002 he was the Chairman of the Bioindustry Association and was Chairman of the Oxford Children’s Hospital Fundraising Campaign from 2002 to 2005.

From 2003 to 2005, he was Science Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Said Business School, Oxford University.

He was raised to the peerage as Baron Drayson of Kensington in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in May 2004.

Lord Drayson was appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Defence Procurement and as Government Spokesman for Defence to the House of Lords in May 2005.

In March 2007 he was promoted to Minister of State for Defence Equipment and Support at the Ministry of Defence.

Dr Ashok Kumar - Friday 20th July at 11am

Dr Ashok Kumar was born in 1956 and has been Member of Parliament for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland since 1997.

Before this he was a Research Scientist at British Steel between 1985 and 1997 and a Research Fellow at Imperial College, London between 1982-1985.

He was educated at Rykneld School for Boys in Derby and at Aston University. He holds a BSc in Chemical Engineering, an MSc in Process Analysis and Control Theory and a PhD in Fluid Mechanics.

He is a Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, a Chartered Engineer, and a Member of the Institute of Energy.

He has been Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Rt. Hon. Hilary Benn, Secretary of State, Department for International Development since 2003.

He has held roles in various high-profile Parliamentary Offices, Committees and Groups including Chair of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) and Vice-Chair of the Parliamentary Group for Energy Studies.

Dr Paul Golby, Friday 20th July at 2pm

Paul Golby is the Chief Executive of E.ON UK plc.

He was was educated at Hinckley Grammar School and at Aston University, where he graduated with a first class honours degree in Mechanical Engineering.

He went on to gain a PhD, again at Aston, as a result of research into offshore oil structures. Following a series of management appointments with Dunlop and BTR, he joined the Board of the ‘mini conglomerate’ Clayhithe plc in 1992.

He joined East Midlands Electricity in 1998 and became Chief Executive of E.ON UK (formerly Powergen) in 2002.

He is a Top Executive member of E.ON AG, the world’s largest investor owned power and gas company and is a Non Executive Director of AEA Technology plc.

He is co-Chair of the Energy Research Partnership and a fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and Energy Institute.

Dr Michael Oglesby – Friday 20th July at 2pm

Dr Michael Oglesby DL, LLD, BSc, High Sheriff of Greater Manchester was born in Scunthorpe in Lincolnshire. He received a degree in building from Aston University.

In 1978, Michael founded the Bruntwood group of companies, of which he is is now Chairman. Through Bruntwood and the Oglesby Charitable Trust, which was established in 1992, Michael currently awards in the region of £1m each year to arts and charitable causes.

He is currently Chairman of the Steering Board for the Manchester Cancer Research Centre, MIDAS (the inward investment organisation for Greater Manchester), the Board of Governors of the Royal Northern College of Music and the Oglesby Charitable Trust.

He was the founding Chairman of the Manchester City Centre Management Company and in April 2007 he was installed as High Sheriff of Greater Manchester for a year’s term of office. In 2006 he was voted Businessman of the Year in the North West by the CBI.


For further press information please contact Sally Hoban on 0121 204 4552 or Hannah Brookes on 0121 204 4549.

Notes to editors: If you would like to send a photographer or arrange an interview with any of our honorary graduates please contact the press office in advance for details of location and security arrangements. Honorary graduates will be available for photos/interviews on request directly after the ceremony in which they receive their awards. Each ceremony will last for approximately one hour and media calls will last for around 15 minutes.

Employable Graduates; Exploitable Research