Graduation ceremonies to take place in splendour of Town Hall

27 March 2009


Aston University will hold its latest graduation ceremonies in the splendid surroundings of Birmingham’s Town Hall on Tuesday, 31st March 2009 at 11am and 2.30pm.

Students, their families and friends will join in the celebrations and the University will also present two honorary degrees to Harriet Lamb, Executive Director of the Fairtrade Foundation and Perween Warsi CBE, Founder and Chief Executive of S&A foods.

Harriet Lamb has been Executive Director of the Fairtrade Foundation since 2001. She has guided the Foundation through a period of staggering growth, which has seen estimated sales of Fairtrade products in the UK increase from £30m in her first year to £750m in 2008. Sales have been increasing by over 40 percent year-on-year since 2002. The number of products carrying the FAIRTRADE Mark has grown from 80 to more than 4,500 licensed products. This enables some 7.5 million farmers and workers and their families across the world to participate in Fairtrade. A flourishing grassroots social movement has also grown across the UK. There are now almost 500 Fairtrade Towns – towns where a commitment to Fairtrade has been made by the council, shops and businesses – together with 87 Fairtrade universities and nearly 5,000 Fairtrade Places of Worship.

Harriet came to the Fairtrade Foundation from Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (FLO) in Germany where she was Acting Director and Banana Co-ordinator. Before this, she worked as Head of Campaigns at the World Development Movement (WDM) and with other non-governmental organisations, always with an interest in international development issues. 

Harriet spent part of her childhood in India when her businessman father went to work there.  Later as an adult, she returned to work with farmers in rural villages and landless labourer cooperatives. Harriet was educated at St.Mary’s Calne in Wiltshire and then Cambridge.  She later studied for an MPhil in Development Studies from the Institute of Development Studies in Sussex. As well as travelling extensively in India, Harriet has travelled in Sri Lanka, Africa and Central America.

In February 2008 Harriet’s book ‘Fighting the Banana Wars and Other Fairtrade Battles’ was published through Ebury. The book is a fascinating story about the rise of Fairtrade and what that means for producers in the developing world. Harriet says the battle has only just begun. “With each purchase, we are helping build that living, more humane alternative,” she says. “And, at the end of the day, I am a mother who wants mothers the world over to realise the same dreams for their children as mine.”

Harriet lives in south London with her partner and two children and can often be seen cycling around London. Harriet was awarded a CBE in the New Year’s Honours List 2006, in recognition of her work in building Fairtrade in the UK. In 2007, Harriet was awarded the prestigious title of Credit Suisse Outstanding Woman in Business, and, named eco queen at the Ultimate Women of the Year Awards by Cosmopolitan magazine. 

Perween Warsi CBE, Founder and Chief Executive of S&A Foods, began her business making ethnic finger foods from her kitchen. In 1986 she founded S&A foods, winning her first major contract to supply chilled and frozen dishes to ASDA and Morrisons stores, having secured the contract via blind tasting and much perseverance.

In 1989, the first S&A Foods factory was built in Derby, creating over 100 jobs for the area. By 1996 the success of S&A had led to the need for larger premises, and a new bespoke factory was built next to the original site.  In the same year Perween received the Woman Entrepreneur of the World award.

Perween was appointed to the Department of Trade and Industry Advisory Committee and Competitiveness. In the same year, Perween was awarded an MBE in the British New Year’s Honours list.

In 2002, Perween received the prestigious CBE award in the Queen’s Jubilee Honours list and the Ashridge International Leadership Conference accolade for outstanding leadership. 

In May 2004, Perween regained 100 per cent ownership of Derby-based S&A Foods with the acquisition of the shareholding from venture capitalists 3i.

Most recently, Perween was awarded the First Women Lifetime Achievement Award alongside Baroness Hogg, chairman of 3i (sponsored by the CBI).


For further press information or to arrange press photography please contact Sally Finn on 0121 204 4552.


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