GRADUATION ceremonies are set to honour some of Sunderland’s highest achievers.
Paralympic sportsmen and women are among thousands of graduates receiving their degrees as the city celebrates 21 years of its university.
North East athletes Hazel Robson and John Robertson join leading Wearside businessman Ralph Saelzer as recipients of honorary degrees.
Washington-born sprinter Hazel Robson is one of Britain’s most successful Paralympians and has become one of the country’s most decorated athletes of the past decade.
At the Athens Games in 2004, Hazel brought home the silver medal in both the T36 100m and T36 200m and she followed this up with a double bronze in Beijing 2008, again in the T36 100m and T36 200m.
The 33-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, has also competed and won medals at European and World Championship level. In last year’s London Olympics she finished fourth in the final of the T3 6200m.
Sunderland-born sailor John Robertson began sailing at the age of 11. The Paralympian became the first skipper in the history of disabled Sonar Sailing to helm his crew to back-to-back IFDS world titles in 2005 and 2006.
John, who was disabled as a result of a motorbike accident in 1994, has taken part in three Paralympics - Athens, Beijing and London, finishing 6th, 6th and 5th respectively – narrowly missing out on a medal in London.
Hazel and John will receive Honorary Fellowships in recognition of their outstanding contribution to sport.
Ralph Saelzer is managing director of German-owned Liebherr Sunderland Works Ltd on the River Wear.
German-born Ralph moved to Sunderland in 2002 to join the Liebherr Group as works manager of their Sunderland plant. In 2008 he was promoted to MD. Under his leadership the company has enjoyed tremendous growth.
Ralph Saelzer will receive an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration for his outstanding contribution to the North East economy, particularly as a major employer committed to developing the manufacturing skills base in Sunderland.
The week-long graduation ceremonies, beginning on Monday, are an opportunity for graduates to celebrate their success with friends, family and loved ones.
This year also marks the 21st birthday of the University of Sunderland.
Peter Fidler, University Vice-Chancellor, said: “Our honoraries have all made highly significant contributions within their fields and will inspire our graduates as they celebrate their academic success and embark on their careers.
“We look forward to welcoming them and are proud to pay tribute to them.”