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Tuesday 13 July 2004


Heather Crate

Public Orator, Professor Len Cantor presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony held on Tuesday 13 July 2004 at 10.30am

Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Honorary Graduands, Ladies and Gentlemen and Graduands. One way and another, we are nearly all of us greatly indebted to the many people who devote so much time and energy to charitable purposes, often with little or no thanks or acknowledgement.

There is no better example of such a person than Heather Alwine Crate. Born and educated in London, she moved to Leicestershire as a clergyman’s wife in 1960 and has lived here ever since. In the early 1970s, she obtained a Bachelor of Education honours degree of this university and for the next 20 years taught, first in a primary school and then as a peripatetic teacher helping children in the county with specific learning difficulties. During all this time she raised a family of 3 children and strongly supported her husband, the Reverend Canon George Crate, in his busy parish work.

Then, in 1995, inspired by a strong desire to help her disabled grandson, Shaun, and with the help of her husband and a group of Loughborough families, she was instrumental in setting up what was then known as Loughborough School for Parents, and has now become STEPS, the Leicestershire Conductive Education Centre. Conductive Education which originated in the Peto Institute in Hungary is a complex approach to educating children with Cerebral Palsy and allied conditions which, imparted by professionals can, and does, achieve remarkable results. STEPS today caters principally for children under 5; run by 4 professionals it is the only one of its kind in the county and paralleled by very few others in the country as a whole. Over the last 9 years, it has greatly helped hundreds of handicapped children and their parents and has become widely recognised throughout the county, being registered with OFSTED and deriving some funding from the local Primary Care Trust. Its operation necessarily requires substantial sums of money all of which have to be raised from grant-awarding bodies and through fund-raising events. As Project Manager, this is Heather’s principal task and she is indeed the hub around which STEPS revolves, having during the past nine years of its existence raised hundreds of thousands of pounds, an unremitting and continuing effort.

One of her great qualities is the charm with which she persuades others to help her in her great cause—and I speak from personal experience. She and George are sustained by a strong Christian faith and when faced year after year with the inevitable periods of difficulty and stress inseparable from their daunting tasks they will say “the lord will provide”. I am reminded of the vicar who, walking through his parish, came to the front garden of one of his parishioners, a keen gardener. Seeing him working in his garden, he commented “What a magnificent job you and the Lord have made of your garden.” To which his parishioner replied, “You should have seen it when the Lord had it on his own!”

Finally, the establishment and sustaining of STEPS is a major achievement bringing much needed professional therapy and education to handicapped children and support to their parents and families. The credit for this achievement lies principally with Heather.

Therefore, Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you and to the whole University, Heather Alwine Crate for the degree of doctor of the University, Honoris Causa.


Loughborough University - Degree Speeches 2004, July 2004
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