Two high-flying CEO's have been recognised for their achievements with honours from Sunderland University.
Heidi Motram, OBE, the chief executive officer of Northumbrian Water Group, received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Sunderland today.
Formerly the managing director of Northern Rail, Mrs Motram received her award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the business community in the North East.
The award also recognised her commitment as a role model in supporting diversity within the field of engineering and environmental sustainability.
She said: “I have the huge privilege of leading a company like Northumbrian Water and this award is a reflection on what we do together as a team.
“I was the first in my family to go to university and not many from my school had gone either.
"For me, university was transformational.
“I believe it is critical that universities and their students and graduates remain steadfast as beacons in the constant search for facts and truths.
"Education is a joy and a pleasure and none of us should ever stop learning and absorbing knowledge all through our lives.”
Mrs Motram’s success at Northumbrian Water Group follows on from an impressive career in the traditionally male-dominated rail industry.
As managing director of Northern Rail she led a team to deliver multi award winning service, significant rises in passenger satisfaction and volume growth ahead of industry trends.
She was awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours 2009 for services to the rail industry.
Mrs Motram also played a leading role in shaping Government thinking in sector as a member of their Green Economy Council and was Chair of the North East CBI Council from 2012 to 2014. She remains a member of CBI national board.
In 2016, her commitment to the community was recognised when she was selected to be the Prince of Wales’ Business Ambassador to the North East, in conjunction with Business in the Community.
In the same year she was also named North East Business Executive of the Year, recognising her significant contribution to business in the North East of England.
Meanwhile Ken Bremner, the chief executive officer (CEO) of City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust received an Honorary Fellowship from the University of Sunderland.
Mr Bremner, who is also the CEO of a second health trust, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, received his award in recognition of over 35 years of service to the NHS in the North East.
He said: "I feel this award is really recognition of the work of the 8,500 members of staff who work so hard to provide the very best of hospital and community care for the people of Sunderland and South Tyneside.
"I have seen many changes in the health service over the years, but what has remained constant are the many wonderful prospects there are for graduates.
"These are roles where a difference can be made both now and for future generations.
"We need more people with both skills and education in a number of disciplines, and I am hopeful that by working with the University of Sunderland we can develop programmes and courses which will help us resolve some of those problems.
"With the development of the Sunderland School of Nursing we are optimistic that over the coming years nursing shortages will be eased by employing nurses who have enjoyed their time in the city and want to remain here.
"By helping our students and graduates succeed we will also succeed."
Ken Bremner became chief executive of City Hospital Sunderland in 2004 and in 2016 became CEO of South Tyneside.
The Trusts jointly employ over 8,500 people, and have a combined turnover of £554 million.
During his 35 years working for the NHS in the North East, Mr Bremner has championed closer links with the University of Sunderland, collaborating with the University’s long-established work in pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences.
Mr Bremner was instrumental in the foundation of the University of Sunderland’s School of Nursing in 2016.
He also has a community-wide role as chairman of the Sunderland Partnership, which works to foster improved opportunities for skills training, jobs, economic growth and culture.