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Thursday 14 July 2005

 

Jim Blood

Public Orator, Professor John Feather presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony held on Thursday 14 July 2005 at 3.00pm


Chancellor,

Loughborough University grew from this town and in this community. We have always benefited from our roots. Not the least of the benefits has been in being able to call on distinguished local people to help us in conducting our business. The so-called ‘lay members’ of the University Council – who are laymen and women only in the sense of being experts in their fields rather than ours – are a vital part of the constitution of the University. This is no mere formality. As several people on this platform can testify, we work them hard!

Jim Blood, who stands before us today, is a comparatively recent recruit to Council, but has long been a figure of high standing in the community. He is, by origin, a man of the West Midlands. He was born at Stone in Staffordshire in 1934, and educated at Repton. From there he took one of the traditional routes into the legal profession, being articled to a solicitor. He had deferred his National Service to complete his articles; after he qualified he went into the Army. His newly acquired skills were put to good use in the Judge Advocate’s Department, a phase of his career which gave him great satisfaction.

Rejoining civilian life, he came to the East Midlands and to the Loughborough firm of Wooley Beardsley, one of the oldest established legal practices in the county. Making use of his experience in courts martial, he decided to develop the litigation side of the practice’s work. At first, this was not easy; anecdotal tradition in Loughborough Magistrates Court suggests that the only textbook to which he initially had access was the Manual of Military Law which was not always as helpful as it might have been in dealing with the finer points of the Road Traffic Act or the precise definition of drunk and disorderly! But his reputation was soon established; clients and courts alike appreciated his professionalism, his care in presenting his case and his unfailing courtesy to everyone even those who were under cross-examination, an art for which he had a fearsome reputation.

After he retired from practice, Jim Blood became chair of an Employment Tribunal. This complicated branch of the law has changed rapidly in recent years. The Tribunals lie at the heart of a system which is designed to give equitable treatment to both employers and employees. Jim Blood’s ability to combine fairness and firmness was an invaluable quality in this work. And the expertise he developed has been helpful to us. In what is always a sensitive area, the University has been able to make good use of his knowledge – always willingly offered – on a number of occasions. Such things are necessarily confidential, but it is right to put on record that he has made an immensely valuable contribution to our work.

There is a trick used by some management trainers in which they ask their clients to describe their company – or indeed themselves – in terms of the car which best represents them. For a solicitor, one might perhaps think of a brown Volvo. But not for Jim Blood. His current classic car – the latest of many – is an Alfa GTV. We can only hope that he never has to represent himself for over-using its power on the public highway! And of course he has had the support of his family, some of whom are here today and whom we welcome.

In his work and in his life, Jim Blood exemplifies the importance of our links to the wider world. Therefore Chancellor, I present to you and to the University, James Blood, solicitor and wise councillor, for the degree of Doctor of the University, honoris causa.

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Loughborough University - Degree Speeches 2005

H.D.McCullam@lboro.ac.uk, July 2005
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