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Honorary Degree Orations
Public Orator, Charlie Bethel presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony held on Monday 17 July at 10.30am
Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, Distinguished Guests, Graduands, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It was an honour to accept the role of orator today for the recipient. Having completed my degree some years ago here at Loughborough in Industrial Design I naturally went to work in disability sport. For the first few years of my job I was always asked, ‘do you know Tanni Grey?’, another Loughborough Alumni. I am pleased to say that I am now asked, ‘ Do I know the black bloke off the BBC who dances?’ That Black bloke is Adedoyin Olayiwola Adepitan MBE, and I am pleased to inform you that he can do a little more than just dance.
Ade Adepitan was born in Maryland, just outside Lagos, Nigeria in 1973. Ade was a bouncing baby boy, sadly six months later he had contracted Polio, but he survived this debilitating disease and three years later Ade and his family moved to Britain and made their home in Newham, London.
Whilst at school Ade gave up the calipers which helped him walk and picked up a basketball having seen the Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball Team in action, since then he has never looked back. Ade has competed on every continent and at every level. He played professionally in Spain for two years for Zaragossa and he has taken up presenting. Ade’s television debut was again as a dancing wheelchair user for Play Station and since then you may have seen him on Sportsround, Tiger Tiger, Xchange, and Holiday.
Television has allowed Ade to help those less fortunate than himself and he has campaigned against racism and disability discrimination as well as being a patron for Scope and the Association for Wheelchair Children. Ade is a Sporting Champion and he has just accepted the position of Patron for the Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball Association. So whether traveling to Ghana with Comic Relief or re-enacting the BBC ident with Peter Kay, Ade continues to support good causes.
In 2005 Ade was honoured by the Queen for services to Disability Sport following his efforts that saw Great Britain win the bronze at the Athens Summer Paralympic Games. The highlight of the Games for everyone in wheelchair basketball was the quarter final against the World Champions, USA. With less than a minute left the USA were beating GB, a loss would mean GB would finish no higher than 7th, and the team losing it’s Lottery funding. Ade received the ball from a great defence and whilst flying toward the basket, 150lbs of American ploughed into him, knocking him out of the court, but at that instant he put up a shot. The result was two free-throws and possession.
With his shoulder hurting and thousands in the arena watching, let alone the home crowd on the BBC, Ade made the baskets. With possession it saw GB progress to the Semi-finals and finally win the bronze.
Ade’s last major challenge was in Nicaragua when he and the rest of the Beyond Boundaries team crossed the country to meet a five thousand foot mountain. When the pulley system failed BBC2 viewers saw Ade drag himself up Óné Pepé in the blistering heat which saw more than just his legs burnt. He had a slightly raised voice for the next few weeks. One little known secret is that when the cameras were off, Ade disappeared away with the locals to go to the toilet; unbeknown to the rest of his team mates who had to go behind the bushes.
A more important achievement of Ade’s to us was again in a team, in Singapore, on the 6th July, 2005. An ambassador for London 2012, Ade was one of those beige suited delegates sitting in front of Jaques Rogue as we all saw the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games coming home. For Ade, his road to the Paralympics began at school when he had the opportunity to watch the then GB Wheelchair Basketball Team. Ade has become the role model for many youngsters, and an ambassador for sport, and the cycle has come full circle. Now we see many new athletes coming into sport thanks to him.
Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you and the University Adedoyin Olayiwola Adepitan MBE for the Degree of Doctor of the University honoris causa.