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Cardiff Met honours Leading Figures with Honorary Fellowships

BBC broadcaster Jamie Owen and renowned rugby referee Nigel Owens MBE are two of those who have been honoured at the University's annual degree ceremonies. 

Several business leaders, international influencers and leading academics were among the eminent individuals to be named Honorary Fellows alongside Cardiff Met's President & Vice-Chancellor  Professor Tony  Chapman, who will be succeeded by Professor Cara Aitchison from the University of St M​​ark and St John in Plymouth. 

Other Honorary Fellows include influential businesswomen Laura Tenison MBE, Dame Mary Lesley Perkins, DBE and Professor Heather Stevens, CBE; British designer Thomas Heatherwick CBE, Jonathan Wilks CMG; Sandra Harding, Health Education England's Head of Quality and Commissioning; esteemed businessman Adrian Piper and Cardiff Met's own Dave Cobner and Professor John Fairclough. 

Jamie Owen anchors BBC Wales Today, the country's most viewed news programme and has fronted the corporation's high profile election campaigns, referendums, royal visits and breaking news stories for twenty years as well as well as advising international news stations. 

He said: "I am delighted to have been honoured by Cardiff Met  - I am not sure what I have done to deserve this special award  - but I accept it on behalf of all the programme teams I have worked with over many years at the BBC in Wales and beyond. In my job you are only as good as the team behind you so I accept this on their behalf - this is to acknowledge their efforts."

An Honorary Fellowship is one of the highest honours that the University can bestow, and is awarded to those who have brought great distinction to the University or region.


Thomas Heatherwick CBE, RDI, is Founder and Principal of Heatherwick Studio. He is a designer whose prolific work is characterised by its ingenuity, and inventiveness. He founded Heatherwick Studio in 1994 to bring design, architecture and urban planning together in a single workspace. Based in London, the studio is currently working in four continents on projects valued at over £2 billion.

He has been hailed as one of Britain's most imaginative designers, having studied three-dimensional design at Manchester Polytechnic and the Royal College of Art, where he went on to win several prizes In 2012, he was chosen to design the cauldron for both the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games. In 2013, he was awarded a CBE for his services to the design industry.


Laura Tenison MBE is founder and Managing Director of maternity and baby clothing retailer JoJo Maman Bébé, which, since being founded in 1993, now has 75 stores nationally, employing over 700 people in the UK. With sales via UK and USA websites, social networking platforms, catalogues and boutiques across the UK and Ireland, the multi-award-winning company boasts trade sales to over 40 countries.

With start-up capital of just £50K and two part time staff, Laura has developed the company to a forecast gross turnover of £55M. Laura is a trustee of the company charity, Nema, based in Mozambique and initiated this tie-in in order to ensure company donations make a difference to the lives of less fortunate children and to reduce infant mortality.

Professor Heather Stevens CBE is co-founding manager of insurance group Admiral ­­­and Chair of Trustees at her independent charitable trust, The Waterloo Foundation (TWF).

TWF is an independent grant-giving foundation based in Wales, dedicated to global projects particularly in the areas of water and sanitation, female education and environmental issues. Heather also founded the Size of Wales project, aiming to help protect an area of rainforest the size of Wales.

Heather read Psychology at Wadham College, Oxford and is an Honorary Visiting Professor in the School of Psychology, Cardiff University.

Heather has become an active supporter of the global divestment management movement and is a member of the Divest Invest Europe Steering Group.  Heather  held the office of High Sheriff of South Glamorgan during 2015/16.

Entrepreneur Dame Mary Lesley Perkins, DBE, is co-founder, with her husband Doug Perkins, of Specsavers. She studied Optometry at Cardiff University, before establishing her first business - a chain of opticians around Bristol. She was the first female optician in the UK to receive the title of Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 2007 after establishing Specsavers in 1984. The Specsavers Partnership is now the world's largest optical retailer with 1,800 stores operating in 10 countries and over 30,000 employees. She is patron of several charities, Hon. Vice President for Vision Aid Overseas and President of Age Concern, Guernsey. She is Ambassador for Sightsavers and Action Aid and an Officer of the Order of St John.

Appointed in 1998, Professor Tony   Chapman   is   President   &   Vice-Chancellor   of   Cardiff   Metropolitan University.  He was  a  Senior  Lecturer in  Applied  Psychology in  what  became  Cardiff  University  before  joining  the  University  of  Leeds  in 1983  as  Professor  of  Psychology.   He was later Dean of Science in Leeds, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Visiting Professor. 

At the time of his appointment to the then UWIC, Tony joined a recently-independent higher education institution,   He will leave behind him a strong, vibrant and diverse university with global reach, sound finances and high aspirations. 

 At the national level Tony Chapman has held a number of major leadership roles.  He is a Past President of the British Psychological Society, a former Vice-President of Universities UK and a former Senior Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wales.  He was a member of the teams which separately developed the approach to academic quality assurance which characterises the audit work of QAA and the start-up agenda for the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education.   Tony is a former Board member of UCAS and UCEA and former Chair of the Academic Council of the Higher Education Academy.  Currently he Chairs the QAA-Wales Committee and sits as a Council member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Universities. 

He was awarded a University of Leicester honorary DSc for his contributions to Psychology.  He is one of 60 founding Academicians to become a Fellow of the UK Academy of Learned Societies for the Social Sciences (FAcSS.)

Sandra Harding is Head of Quality and Commissioning at Health Education England-South London​. She joined the NHS in 1985 as a pupil nurse, and, after qualifying she returned to Cardiff to work as a theatre nurse before becoming a Registered Nurse. Sandy specialised in the ophthalmology at Bristol Eye Hospital. In 1998 she took up the post of Ophthalmic Nurse Practitioner at East Glamorgan Hospital, where she worked within Cwm Taf's LHB Education & Training Department. The department supported her in​ studying for a Post Compulsory Certificate in Education at the then UWIC. She went on to become a Skills Co-ordinator where she developed training courses for students. She then worked as Senior Education and Contracting Manager at National Leadership and Innovation for Healthcare in Wales.

Adrian Piper read History at King's College, London, then Industrial Relations and Personnel Management at the London School of Economics. He joined the Bank of England in 1971 and headed the  team responsible for issues relating to the financing of small and medium sized businesses. In 2001, he was seconded for three years to the Department of Trade and Industry, and  was appointed as the Bank's Agent for Wales in 2004,

Following retirement from the Bank of England he served as a Non-Executive Director at Julian Hodge Bank.  In  2006 he was appointed as an independent member of the Board of Governors, becoming Chair of the Audit Committee. Since retiring as a governor in 2012 he has been an external co-opted member of the University's Audit Committee.   

Jamie Owen anchors BBC Wales Today, the country's most viewed television news programme. He has fronted the corporation's election campaigns, referendums, royal visits and breaking news stories for twenty years and provided anchor coverage of the NATO summit, The Olympic Torch ceremony and The Ryder Cup. He also hosts his own live show on Sunday mornings on BBC Radio Wales. As a documentary maker, his notable series have included projects as diverse as ­sailing around the coast of Western Britain and investigating Britain's addiction to sugar.

He has worked extensively overseas for BBC World Service Trust and BBC Media Action advising television news stations in Libya, Egypt, Jordan and Berlin. He is the author of five books about sailing voyages and the landscape of Wales.

Dave Cobner's career at the University  started in 1978 as a teacher of PE and liberal Studies.   He was appointed Head of the  School of Sport in 1993 and  in recent years was Director of Sport.  Dave's contribution to strategic planning has led to the development of one of the most popular programmes in the UK, raised the RAE/REF status of the School and established Cardiff Met as one of the pre-eminent British sports universities.

Many key players, coaches and backroom staff at the WRU have benefited from his tutelage and many champions from across the world of sport attribute their success to his coaching.  This resulted in his being awarded the prize for  Outstanding Services to Welsh Sport by the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame. 

Professor John Fairclough is an Orthopaedic surgeon specialising in knee surgery, arthroscopy and sports medicine. Named as one of the best 50 surgeons in Britain by the Times Newspaper, he is Professor of  Exercise and Sports Medicine at the University and a  Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust. Professor Fairclough is Honorary Professor at Swansea, Cardiff and Malay Universities and has been  President of the British Orthopaedic Sports and Trauma Association. In his early career John worked as a medical office in Papua New Guinea where he ran a leper colony and was responsible for managing a polio epidemic. He has been  Chairman of the Football Association of Wales Medical Committee, medical officer to Glamorgan Cricket and surgeon to the Welsh Rugby Union.

Nigel Owens MBE is a world-famous Welsh International Rugby Union referee as well as an international and European Rugby Champions Cup referee.

He was recently recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours list and appointed an international referee in 2005. He officiated in his first international between Ireland and Japan in Osaka and made his World Cup debut in Lyon, France, in 2007 in the Argentina v. Georgia match.

A Welsh speaker, he was born and raised in Carmarthenshire and was the only Welsh referee at both the 2007 and 2011 Rugby World Cups.

Shortly after the 2007 Rugby World Cup Owens was named Gay Sports Personality of the Year by Stonewall and was named Gay Sports Personality of the Decade in 2015.

Jonathan Wilks CMG was appointed Her Majesty's Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman in 2014 after several visits to Oman in the past 20 years. Jon joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1989 and held two previous Ambassadorial level postings: as UK Special Representative for Syria and as Her Majesty's Ambassador to Yemen. He  studied at the University of Durham, where he gained his BA in Natural Sciences and later a distinction in his MA in Near and Middle Eastern Studies in 2000. He went on to gain a Master of Philosophy in International Relations and Affairs from Oxford University in 2002. Recently  he supported and celebrated the launch of an official Transnational Education partnership between the University and Gulf College, Oman