University of Exeter: Inspiring diversity and refugee campaigners and pioneering media and election experts amongst those being honoured at University of Exeter graduation ceremonies

Expert election number cruncher Professor Sir John Curtice, pioneering campaigner for diversity in publishing Margaret Busby and Chief Executive of Migrants Organise Zrinka Bralo will be awarded honorary degrees at the University of Exeter this week.

Also honoured during graduation ceremonies will be former Royal Marine turned entrepreneur and fundraiser Mark Ormrod, businessman Andrew Brownsword and President of the British Board of Film Classification Patrick Swaffer.

Mr Ormrod grew up in Plymouth and joined the Royal Marines aged 16. While serving in Afghanistan he stood on and detonated an improvised explosive device resulting in him losing both of his legs and his right arm. After many months of rehabilitation, he made the decision to leave the military and start a new adventure as a civilian.

Mark, who is married to Becky and who has three children, Kezia, Mason and Evelyn, is now an entrepreneur constantly working on numerous different projects and enjoys keeping fit, personal development and trying to raise awareness and funds to help other veterans and their families who find themselves in times of need.

Mr Ormrod said: “I’m both honoured and humbled to be receiving an honorary Doctorate from such a prestigious establishment. Having the opportunity to not only receive the honour but also to be able to share a day with a group of the University’s most recent graduates is a real privilege”

Mr Brownsword is head of a family business that employs nearly 1,000 people and incorporates property development, hotels, farms and retail enterprises. He is best known for his greeting cards and gifts publishing business, which included the Forever Friends brand. He now chairs Brownsword Hotels, Paxton & Whitfield, several farming enterprises and two family Charitable Foundations one of which secures important works of art for the nation, and the other which supports heritage and health in the South West of England.

Margaret Busby was born in Ghana and educated in the UK. She became Britain’s youngest and first black woman publisher when she co-founded Allison & Busby in the late 1960s. A writer, editor, broadcaster and literary critic, she has written drama for BBC radio and the stage.

Patrick Swaffer studied for a law degree at the University of Exeter in the 1970s. Alongside his role at the BBFC he sits part time as a judge in the Crown Court. Mr Swaffer was a founder director of the press regulator Independent Monitor for the Press (IMPRESS), is a partner in Media Compliance Services and currently Chairs the Board of Trustees for The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum and the Public Interest News Foundation.

Mr Swaffer said: “I was delighted to receive this honorary doctorate from Exeter the university I attended so happily many years ago. Its award is, I am sure, a reflection of the importance cinema and the moving image play in the cultural and academic life of our society.”

Migrants Organise is an award-winning grassroots platform where migrants and refugees organise together for dignity and justice. Ms Bralo is a refugee from Sarajevo, where she was a journalist and where she worked with leading war correspondents during the siege of Sarajevo in the 90’s. She is a founder of ‘Women on the Move Awards’ that celebrates achievements of migrant and refugee women and winner of the ‘2011 Voices of Courage Award’ by the Women’s Refugee Commission in New York. As the Commissioner of the Independent Asylum Commission, Ms Bralo successfully negotiated the end of immigration detention of children in the UK in 2010.

Ms Bralo said: “I am delighted and grateful to be recognised with an honorary doctorate. I congratulate all who earned their degrees under very challenging conditions. Education was the most useful thing I took with me fleeing the war in Bosnia. It saved my life and helped me start a new life in the UK. Anything that expands my knowledge still drives me and has only ever been matched by the excitement and energy I feel when campaigning for justice. I accept this honour as a recognition of my refugee and migrant community’s quest for dignity, freedom and justice.”

Professor Sir John Curtice was born and brought up in Cornwall. He is Professor of Politics at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland and is a regular contributor to British and international media coverage of politics in the UK, and since 1979 has been a member of the team providing the BBC’s coverage of general and local elections, most recently leading the conduct and analysis of the BBC/ITV/Sky general election exit poll.

Professor Curtice said: “As someone born and brought up in Cornwall, I am touched to be honoured by an institution that has done so much to develop the provision of higher education within the county – and thereby make living and studying in the county possible. To be recognised in this way is something I could never have imagined happening when I first visited the Exeter campus as a teenager over 50 years ago.”

The University of Exeter’s new Chancellor, Sir Michael Barber, will preside over the events for the first time, which will see awards handed to honorary graduates from the arts, sciences, music, journalism, the charity sector and law. More honorary graduates will be announced in the coming days and weeks.

This year over 14,000 people will be graduating during 58 ceremonies in June and July in Exeter and Cornwall. They are the first full-scale summer graduation ceremonies to be held since 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic.