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Icon of the Army’s changing attitude towards homosexuality honoured

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A BRAVE soldier who became an icon of the Army’s changing attitude towards homosexuality when he came out as gay says he is “deeply honoured” to be among Glyndŵr University Wrexham’s Honorary Fellows this year.

James Wharton, who was born and raised in the town, said the prestigious accolade is evidence the North Wales university is forward-thinking and “celebrates” diversity.

“I am thrilled to be receiving this Honorary Fellowship from my home town university,” said the 28 year-old, a former Lance Corporal.

“I'm accepting it with great humility, and for me personally this is a clear message that Glyndŵr recognises diversity and more than that, celebrates it.”

He added: “I'm accepting it on behalf of anybody from Wrexham who identifies with being gay, bisexual or lesbian and has, with courage and uncertainty, faced telling loved ones, school mates or colleagues in the workplace that they are different.”

James became Britain’s highest profile gay soldier when the Army stopped banning homosexuals in 2000.

He has become an icon of the Army’s changing stance towards homosexuality and left the military in 2013 after a distinguished career as a member of the elite Household Cavalry regiment, the Blues and Royals.

He became the first openly-gay soldier to appear on the cover of the Army’s magazine, Soldier, in 2009 and went on to celebrate a civil partnership in 2010.

James will receive his award at the ceremony for Media, Art and Design, and Psychology having last visited the institution three years ago when he delivered a talk on his experiences and how life has changed since leaving the Armed Forces; he is now a respected author, consultant and campaigner, appearing regularly on TV and radio.

He was even awarded the Freedom of the City of London for services to Equality and the LGBT community of Great Britain and is a regular columnist for The Times and Independent online and in print.

Among the other Honorary Fellows at October’s graduation ceremonies are:

Health and Social Sciences: The Hon Lord Newborough of Rhug in Corwen, who has championed the organic food and breeding markets in Wales for many years.

Undergraduate Business: Architect Ben Johnson, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects who has exhibited nationally and internationally including in the Victoria & Albert Museum, British Museum, Government Art Collection and the Museum of Liverpool.

Education: Peter Davies, current Sustainable Futures Commissioner for Wales at Cynnal Cymru and chair at Climate Change Commission for Wales, was awarded the OBE in 1995 for work in establishing links between business and education.

Postgraduate Business and Computing: Artist Bedwyr Williams is renowned for comedic and poetic live performances and installations dealing with Welshness, otherness and difference. His sculpture, installations, text and photography based works and live performances explore subject matter ranging from growing up in Colwyn Bay with size 13 feet, to a mini bus crash with four other artists in residence (in which he is the only survivor).

Engineering: Prof. Sir John T Houghton is considered one of the most outstanding and effective environmental scientists of his generation. The best examples of Sir John’s work include his key role in the development of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - a still unique relationship between political policy and scientific rigour, where he led or co-led the Science Working Group of IPCC from 1988 until 2002; his advisory role with the UK Prime Minister; and his establishment of the UK’s Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, now regarded as a world centre of scientific excellence.

For more information on this year’s Graduation ceremonies from October 28-30 at Glyndŵr University Wrexham, visit http://www.glyndwr.ac.uk/en/AboutGlyndwrUniversity/Graduation

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