Sunderland 'Til I Die hero Lake Poets' Martin Longstaff gets honorary doctorate from University of Sunderland - years after missing graduation ceremony due to touring with Tom Jones

Sunderland music hero Martin Longstaff stepped onto the stage at his beloved Stadium of Light – but this time it wasn’t to play one of his famous songs.

Friday, 12th July 2019, 2:34 pm
Updated Friday, 12th July 2019, 4:30 pm
Singer, song writer Martin Longstaff receives an honorary doctorate from Sunderland University at the Stadium of Light

Martin Longstaff, better known as The Lake Poets, has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts by the University of Sunderland.

It comes after the singer-songwriter missed his chance to attend the graduation ceremony for his PGCE in Primary Education in 2012 – because he was on tour with Tom Jones at the time.

The University of Sunderland said Martin, whose songs have been taken to Wearsiders’ hearts, has played a pivotal role in the city’s cultural regeneration.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

He recorded his debut album in Nashville with another Sunderland legend, Dave Stewart of Eurythmics fame. His songs have been played everywhere from Madison Square Gardens to the Royal Albert Hall, from Buckingham Palace to - Martin’s personal highlight – on the pitch at the Stadium of Light on Boxing Day 2018 to 46,000 Sunderland fans.

But it was his most recent song, Shipyards, which has most captivated the world, reaching audiences of 170 million as the theme track to the Netflix show Sunderland Til I Die.

He said: "When I was asked to do this I couldn't quite believe it. My wife works in academia and I know how hard people work to achieve these qualifications.

"My message to all the students graduating today, as they prepare to take the next step, is to remember life is not linear. By getting a degree you are opening yourself up to many different options. So, go out and build on that. That's what I have done with my life; I have discovered one thing then many other avenues have opened up to me.

"And remember, keep up that work ethic. This is just the beginning. Go out and enjoy."

The Martin Longstaff was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts for his outstanding career as a musician, for championing Sunderland’s cultural transformation and for inspiring the next generation.