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Loughborough University

Loughborough University Medal


Val Onsworth


I am grateful to the Vice-Chancellor for allowing me, as Registrar, to present Mrs Onsworth for the Loughborough University Medal.

Peter Knight, the retiring Vice-Chancellor of the University of Central England, had the following to say about making mistakes:

“.... it is inherent in the nature of Universities that even medium-sized errors are not usually too serious in the long run. The entropy of equally bad decisions by other people hides them. The system bails you out; or, in the case of vice-chancellors, the registrar does, as that is what they are there for.”

This, of course, begs the question of who bales the Registrar out and thus saves the university’s bacon. The person in question stands before you.

Val Onsworth joined the University on the 29th of June 1970 at the age of 22 at a salary of £710 per annum. The yellowing papers on file indicate that the appointment was ‘Permanent’. At points during the following 36 years it must have seemed like that.

Val began life at Loughborough as a copy typist in the typing pool under Mrs B.Brown but within 4 months moved on to become Secretary to the Dr David Spikins, Managing Director of Loughborough Consultants. In August 1982 she was appointed Secretary to the University Registrar, a post she has held for through thick and thin for 24 years. She has served three out of the University’s four registrars thus far – the thick and the thin.

For a huge range people she has been the human voice and face of the University – the distressed, the brereaved and the homicidally angry; the great, the good (the two do not invariably co-incide), shy students and elderly residents –she treats them all with equal care and consideration. She has nerves of steel, poise and presentation, and the wit to deal faultlessly with complex matters of great sensitivity. She has contributed greatly to the success of graduation events like todays – providing the friendly face that ensures that the wives and families of those receiving honours feel properly at home.

Lest you think we are dealing with Mother Theresa here, I should also add that she has a wicked sense of humour and enjoys the company of the wittier and more charming of her male colleagues, sometimes to the detriment of the typing.

Michael Pearson, the Bursar, has said to me more than once that it is the secretaries who really run the place. That will come as something of a disappointment to those sitting on the platform, but it is undoubtedly true.

Therefore Chancellor, I am delighted to present to you and the University, for the award of the Loughborough University Medal for outstanding service to the University, Val Onsworth.


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