Tribute to Glyndŵr University as James Wharton collects Honorary Fellowship
2 November 2015
A BEST-SELLING author and former soldier who played a major role in the Army’s changing attitude towards homosexuality paid tribute to Glyndŵr University Wrexham for celebrating difference and cultivating change.
James Wharton, from Wrexham, received an honorary fellowship at the ceremony for Media, Arts and Design, Psychology, and Sport Science today (Friday).
Watched by mum Pauline, step-dad Phil and sister, Liza, a Glyndŵr graduate herself, the 28-year-old, who hails from the town, said: “I’d like to say a huge thank you to Glyndŵr University. This means a lot.
“But this isn’t about someone going out into the world and achieving a little bit of success or making a difference. This is about an institution, and a very traditional one, underlining its commitment to equality and diversity.
“People can change and organisations can change, and when those two things go together entire nations can change.
“Earlier this year the Army was ranked by Stonewall as one of the top 50 employers for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender staff. In 15 years it has gone from criminalising people to actively celebrating the fact that it has LGBT people serving in its ranks. It has changed.
“Anyone can change and that’s what this Honorary Fellowship is about. It will always shout very loudly from my mantelpiece at home that change is always inevitable – and it’s brilliant.
“I will always work with this university to continue the momentum of celebrating difference and those people who are shapeshifters in cultivating change. We have come so far but we have so much further to go.
“To everyone who is graduating today, congratulations. Now please go into the world and change it.”
Earlier in the day, esteemed scientist Sir John T Houghton, former Director General of the Meteorological Office and chair of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, picked-up a fellowship during the graduation ceremony for Applied Science and Engineering.
Presenting the award, Professor Peter Excell said: “Few areas of life are subject to so much focus as the weather but for over 160 years the UK Meteorological Office has been applying scientific analysis to predict it.
“Sir John’s work here led to him being appointed Chair of the IPCC’s Scientific Assessment and we are greatly honoured by his presence here today.”
A delighted Professor Houghton thanked the University and had a message for the graduating students.
“It was while I was working as a scientist at Oxford that we started to discover the effect which burning coal and gas was having on the Earth – its effect is that it acts like a blanket, keeping the Earth warm,” he said.
“The atmosphere and landscape is changing and threatening our existence. All of us in this world must do all we can to combat this threat.
"As you young people here today start out in your careers, I’d encourage you to follow your dreams – do what you value and enjoy and try to get paid for doing it.”