Sunderland-born Emeli Sande's touching tribute to parents after becoming chancellor as pictures released of her childhood in Wearside

Sunderland-born singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé said a very special thank you to her parents after being made Chancellor of the University of Sunderland.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 10 July, 2019, 16:58
Emile Sande with her parents Joel and Diane

The multi-platinum-selling artist’s mum and dad Joel and Diane, who met when they were studying at what was then Sunderland Polytechnic, were due to graduate on the day Emeli was born – meaning they missed their graduation ceremony.

Now, 32 years on, their daughter officially bestowed their degree certificates as one of her first acts after being officially installed as Chancellor.

Emile Sande as a baby in Sunderland

Speaking at the ceremony, she said: "Today feels a lot like coming home – my parents studied here together and I was born here. So I have a deep connection to Sunderland.

"Both of my parents were the first in their family to study for a degree. Education for them, as for so many people, was life changing.

"I am thankful for so many things and so many people, but my greatest thanks go to my mum and dad who made sure my sister and I knew the importance of having access to education.”

Joel met and Diane after moving to the North East from Zambia. The whole family returned to their Wearside roots on July 10 as they attended the graduation ceremonies at the Stadium of Light.

Emile Sande with her dad Joel

The couple shared some family pictures their years in the city as they celebrated the big day.

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Emeli, who was announced as the successor to outgoing Chancellor Steve Cram in May, moved with her family to Aberdeenshire in Scotland when she was four.

Her passion for music ran alongside her studies at the University of Glasgow, from where she graduated with a degree in neuroscience.

Emeli’s debut album Our Version of Events, hit Number 1 in the UK charts and has sold over 5.4million copies.

Emile Sande's parents Joel and Diane

The 32-year-old said now everyone had the support network she had benefited from growing up, and wanted to help others achieve their potential.

"I want to use my time as Chancellor to break down barriers to education, to ensure that people see their worth and that they aspire to reach their potential,” she said

"I was deeply honoured to have been asked to take on this important role.”

Emile Sande's parents Joel and Diane
Emile Sande with her parents Joel and Diane