UEA honours comedian Izzard

He might not seem the most obvious of advocates, but today comedian Eddie Izzard was honoured for his commitment to a modern Europe.

The flamboyant comic was made an honorary Doctor of Letters at a graduation ceremony at the University of East Anglia.

Presenting him for the accolade, Dr Roger Baines, lecturer in the School of Language, Linguistics and Translations, thanked Mr Izzard for his contribution to promoting both modern languages and tolerance of other cultures and lifestyles.

He said that through humour he had “transcended national barriers”.

Clearly delighted by the occasion, Mr Izzard, who was accompanied at the ceremony by his dad Harrold, in turn thanked the UEA for giving him a degree more than 20 years after he dropped out of university.

“Wow! I was supposed to graduate when I was 21. My dad has had to wait 20 years so thank you very much UEA,” he joked.

And he was not the only distinguished guest to grace the stage at today's ceremonies.

The former Dean of Norwich, and now Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Rev Stephen Platten, made a welcome return to Norfolk to collect his honorary Doctor of Letters Degree for his contribution to the Cathedral, the city of Norwich and the UEA.

Before collecting his accolade he told the EDP: “I will never have anything other than love for Norwich - driving through the city earlier I thought what a marvellous place this is.”

The work of Sir Liam Donaldson, chief medical officer, was also recognised.

Sir Liam, who has worked in all sectors of health care, reminded those graduating from the School of Medicine, Health Policy and Practice, that medicine was all about the patient.

“If the humanity goes out of health care we will have lost a great deal - humanity and compassion are at the heart of what you are doing,” he said.

Earlier in the day, author Philip Pullman and chief scientist of the World Bank Dr Robert Watson received honorary degrees.

Children's author and illustrator Shirley Hughes should have attended the day too but had to cancel due to ill health.