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