Red carpet day celebrates outstanding achievements of Burnley graduates
The community of Burnley came together to celebrate a momentous day in the borough’s proud academic history with the inaugural University Courses Burnley graduation ceremony.
Held at the Mechanics Theatre, university leaders, civic dignitaries, graduates and their families processed through the centre of town ahead of the ceremony.
Emma Hurst, Dean of University Education at University Courses Burnley, said the graduation day was one of huge pride for the new graduates and marked a milestone in their lives.
She said: "It is the culmination of years of study and commitment and is the start of a whole new chapter for them as they launch successful careers and become future leaders with the drive and innovation to shape their chosen sectors.
“This year we were proud to celebrate the achievements of our Class of 2019 at University Courses Burnley with our new university partners, Buckinghamshire New University and the University of Bolton, who join the University of Central Lancashire in accrediting degree-level courses taught by industry-expert lecturers in Burnley.”
Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords and renowned social reform campaigner Baroness Helen Newlove was the
guest speaker at this year’s graduation, joining Principal of University Courses Burnley Karen Buchanan and
Criminology and Criminal Justice graduate Courtney Dillon in congratulating the new graduates, who have their
sights set on shaping industry across the region.
In her speech to a packed auditorium filled with family, friends and colleagues of the graduates, Baroness
Newlove, Pro Vice Chancellor of the University of Bolton, said: “It is a pleasure to be here in Burnley, a town rich in diverse history and the culture of the people who live, work and study here.
“Industry has been the foundation of this town, making Burnley one of the most prominent mill towns and, at its peak, the largest producer of cotton and a major centre of engineering. More recently, the town has sought to harness the power of its diverse population through education and innovation.
“In keeping with the town’s spirit of aiming higher, University Courses Burnley has partnered a
number of prestigious universities to bring premier education to a town which has shown its potential, like the Clarets, in becoming part of the premier league.”
Entertainment during the ceremony was provided by former Burnley College Sixth Form Centre Advanced Level
Music student Sean Toms, an accomplished musician and singer.
The graduation ceremony at the Mechanics followed a champagne reception at Burnley College’s £100 million
Princess Way Campus.
At the ceremony three special awards were presented for outstanding achievements.
The Academic Excellence Award recognised outstanding performance and achievement of a student completing
a UCLan Burnley programme was awarded to Fiona Sharples (54), from Burnley, who completed a Foundation Degree in Health and Social Care (Mental Health Pathway). Fiona works in the field of palliative care at Airedale Hospital and is committed to lifelong learning and gaining additional qualifications.
Fiona, who worked in the catering industry before switching to a career in the health sector, said:
“I wish I had had the chance to do this years ago, when I dreamed of becoming a social worker but
the opportunities and support were simply not there for me at that time.
"I have loved returning to learning and have really enjoyed my degree course: I’m certainly going to carry on learning now.”
The Employer Project Award recognised the student who has produced a project with the most impactful
contribution to a business and was awarded to former St Augustine’s RC High School student Georgia Burrows (22), from Burnley, who achieved a first-class BA Hons degree in Community Theatre and Performance. She has returned to University Courses Burnley to gain a PGCE qualification which will allow her to teach within further education.
Georgia said: “I’m passionate about performance: it’s like taking yourself to another world and exploring all the
different characters you can become. I’m really looking forward to sharing my love of theatre with a
new generation of students now.”
Ambitious Georgia created a unique piece of children’s theatre that was staged at a local nursery, entertaining
the children and introducing them to new foods. The piece, based on the popular children’s book The Hungry
Caterpillar, so impressed nursery leaders they have asked to be informed of all future performances created by
The Dissertation Award recognised the student with the highest standard of exposition, wide reaching research
and who made a noteworthy contribution to their subject.
It was awarded to Stacey Green (28), from Weir, who earned a first-class BA Hons degree in Education Studies,
topping up her original Foundation Degree in Children, Young People and Their Services. Stacey is baby room
leader at Puddleducks Nursery, in Rising Bridge, and believes her high level qualification will help her progress
up the career ladder and shape future provision for children.
For more information on how you could make a difference through degree-level study in Burnley and start your
studies soon, contact 01282 733333 or email [email protected]