University of East London awards doctorates to TV and Paralympic stars

Jimmy Doherty and Martine Wright with Lord Noon, Chancellor of UEL, and Professor John Joughin, Vice

Jimmy Doherty and Martine Wright with Lord Noon, Chancellor of UEL, and Professor John Joughin, Vice-Chancellor of UEL, collecting their doctorates - Credit: Archant

Students from the University of East London’s School of Health, Sport and Bioscience graduated in a glittering ceremony at the O2 Arena in North Greenwich.

The Docklands based university also conferred Honorary Doctorates of Science to two UEL alumni - celebrity farmer Jimmy Doherty and Paralympic athlete Martine Wright.

Martine, 41, lost both her legs in the July 7th bombings in London in 2005.

She is now captain of the Paralympic GB women’s sitting volleyball team.

Martine studied Psychology and Communications Studies at the University of East London, graduating in 1996.

“I spent three very good years at UEL,” she said.

“I remember my graduation where one of my heroes, actress Alison Steadman, collected an honorary degree. It’s very surreal that years on I am collecting one for me.”

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Martine was travelling to work on the morning of the 2005 London 7/7 bombings. She lost both her legs in the explosion at Aldgate Station.

She added: “There were quite a few stages where I thought, you’ve got two choices in life, you can either lie down and keep asking the question ‘why me?’, or you can get up and grab life with both hands. But really it was the day that I found out that 52 people died in the London bombings, like me on their way to work. I pretty much said to myself ‘Martine, pull yourself together. You just have got to go out there and grab every opportunity that you can, because you can.”

Television personality, Jimmy Doherty, is a pioneer of free-range food and an expert of in entomology.

“My degree took me in all sorts of directions. Academically, I went on to read for a PhD, and it really bolstered my academic interest,” he said.

“Going through the process of studying for a degree teaches you so many skills that you use later on in life, not only academically, but socially.”