FORMER Burnley MP Peter Pike has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the University of Central Lancashire.
Mr Pike, a Labour MP from 1983 to 2005, has since concentrated on numerous voluntary commitments, including setting up the Burnley arm of national charity for the homeless Emmaus.
Chancellor of UCLan Sir Richard Evans presented Mr Pike with his honorary degree following a speech by university orator Mr Will Kaufman, who said: “Peter Pike has served the Burnley community for nearly all his life.
“He has made a difference to countless people’s lives as a community activist, trade union leader, councillor, MP and governor of numerous schools, and since his retirement through his ceaseless activities in the volunteer sector.
“His work with Emmaus has been instrumental in the establishment of a residential home for the homeless.
“He chairs Burnley Credit Union, which ensures safe ways of saving and fair borrowing for the people of Burnley. As chairman of the Clarets Trust, he has not only worked to represent Burnley football fans, but has overseen the sending of football kits to deprived areas of South Africa.
“As a trustee for Furniture for Education Worldwide, he has helped ensure schools in poor countries are provided with decent furniture.
“His role in working with the unemployed, the homeless and most vulnerable poor people has had incalculable impact, not only in his immediate community, but also abroad.
“He is a selfless, dedicated and inspirational leader, who continues to work tirelessly for others, and his career has shown the impact of his work by changing people’s lives and society for the better.”
Mr Pike was born in London but was evacuated from the city’s suburbs during the Blitz, to Burnley, where his mother came from, and where his grandmother was still living.
Burnley was also the setting of his political awakening, during the election of 1945, which ushered in Labour’s first majority government under Clement Attlee.
Some 38 years later, he became MP, inaugurating a Commons career that lasted 22 years. Mr Pike said: “While much has changed for the better since I entered politics, regrettably some of the things I hoped to see achieved have not been fully delivered yet. Tragically, we still see lives lost in different conflicts in the world.
“When I spoke in the House of Commons against the Iraq war, I said it was a pity the world spent so much on developing means of war and destruction when if the same money was spent on eliminating poverty and illiteracy we could so much change the world for the better.
“Clem Attlee remains a great political figure to me, along with Nelson Mandela, who has set such a great example to the world in so many ways.”
Finally, addressing students receiving their degrees, he said: “It is important to remember we live in a world where we are dependent on each other and not isolated.
“Face the challenges that may face you in the years ahead remembering always to be concerned for the well being of others, and having a commitment to make this a better country and world in which to live.”