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Granada Reports presenter and award-winning journalist Elaine Willcox said she was “overwhelmed” to receive an honorary degree from the University of Bolton on the first day of graduation ceremonies.
Elaine, who lives in Bolton, was awarded the degree of Doctor of Social Science for her outstanding contribution to broadcasting and journalism in the ceremony at the Albert Halls in Bolton Town Hall.
She told graduands: “This is a huge honour for me, as well as to be able to celebrate with you all today.”
Elaine received the honour on the same day that BBC News journalist and Mastermind presenter Clive Myrie was installed as University of Bolton Pro Chancellor at the first graduation ceremony of the week at Bolton town hall.
Elaine is currently ITV Granada’s Lead News Correspondent and Deputy Editor. During her 30-year career with the BBC and ITV, Elaine has covered some of the biggest stories at home and abroad.
After graduating from the University of Sunderland with a Distinction in Broadcast Journalism, Elaine began her professional journey in BBC Radio in Cumbria.
Five years later, she joined ITV, where her outstanding reporting was recognised. After the Morecambe Bay Cockling Disaster, Elaine’s exclusive interviews with bereaved families in China won both national and international awards – including the first and only BAFTA victory for a regional news programme.
As a reporter, Elaine has covered other significant issues such as human trafficking across Europe, and the challenges faced by women and girls in Afghanistan. Closer to home, Elaine was part of ITV Granada’s coverage of the Hillsborough inquests and the Manchester Arena inquiry.
Elaine’s accolades include two Royal Television Society awards, and she was recognised as the Best News Reporter at the 2017 O2 Awards.
Today, Elaine combines a management role with reporting and presenting at ITV Granada.
She said: “I’m very passionate about Bolton and over 15 years I have watched the transformation of the University and it is an incredible University and leads in many fields and it something you should all be very proud of.
“Thank you very much for this honour.”
Other honorary degree recipients on Tuesday included:
Dr Saif Al Seiari - Doctor of Engineering for his outstanding contribution to Transnational Education.
Dr Al Seiari, who is Senior Advisor at the Abu Dhabi Executive Office, was recognised for his considerable contributions to academia, the energy industry, and sustainability initiatives and was also awarded a professorship.
Professor George E Holmes DL, President, Vice Chancellor, and Member of the Governing Body at the University of Bolton, and Professor Zubair Hanslot, Professor of Engineering Mathematics and Provost at the University of Bolton, were among the university’s representatives to honour the Emirati Professor at the event.
Professor Al Seiari, Senior Advisor at Abu Dhabi Executive Office, said: “I am deeply honoured and humbled to accept the professorship position from such prestigious academic institution.
“I feel determined more than ever, to use my knowledge and skills to combining and complementing academic research with practical experience in the fields of energy, water and sustainability and I look forward to more diligent work and perseverance to contribute to achieving our wise leadership's vision and consolidating our beloved country's pioneering position.”
Professor Holmes said: "The UAE is one of the world’s most significant economies for the development of the future of the globe, and we as a university are so proud to work with colleagues from the UAE to develop knowledge exchange, international transfer of staff and students and the opportunities for both economies to learn from each other, because the world is about learning together and connecting, and there is nothing more important than the opportunity we have been given today by sharing this professorship in engineering to connect cultures, connect the future and enable the world to prosper.”
Professor Hanslot said: "We have great plans to work with Professor Saif, and today we are recognising him by granting him the professorship position. We feel that he is special to us and his ability and connections are helping the university. In the University of Bolton, he is the first UAE national to be installed as a full Professor of Engineering, and that in itself is a significant milestone that brings our two nations much closer together.”
Professor Al Seiari is a distinguished scholar and influential leader with more than 23 years of experience in the energy sector, having started his career as a Petroleum Engineer, his experience spans various roles, from technical and managerial, to strategic and policymaking. Professor Al Seiari served as an Executive Officer for Energy Solutions at Abu Dhabi National Energy Company - TAQA, pioneering the company’s growth in renewable energy and sustainability sectors. He also served as the Director-General of Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority, launching mega projects, including the world's largest independent solar plant, Noor Abu Dhabi. Presently, Professor Al Seiari is serving as a senior advisor at Abu Dhabi Executive Office.
Dr Jason Challender – Doctor of Engineering for his outstanding contribution to Engineering.
Dr Challender isa highly accomplished Visiting Professor and the Director of Estates and Facilities at the University of Salford. For more than three decades, he has led and overseen transformational masterplans, predominantly in the education sector, completing countless medium to large-scale capital programmes on time and within budget. He is currently leading on the University of Salford’s £500m campus masterplan. He has completed many successful masterplans for the likes of Leeds City College, Stockport College and Manchester College. He has given guest lectures for students on Construction and Engineering programmes at the University of Salford and University of Bolton.