David Pond receiving his honorary graduate

Commodore David Pond, centre, with Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Chris Linton (left), and Professor Mark Lewis, Dean of School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences (right).

Wheelchair Rugby hero, now supporting humanitarian effort in Ukraine, awarded honorary degree

Commodore David Pond, the former Chief Executive of Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby (GBWR) and Loughborough alumnus, has been awarded an honorary degree by the University.

The award - in recognition of his outstanding contribution to sport – was presented at the University’s summer degree ceremony on Wednesday 20 July.

David joined GBWR in 2009 and over the next 12 years transformed the sport from a voluntary-led and delivered recreational activity, to a professional national governing body, with a ParalympicsGB team that took Gold during the Tokyo 2020 games - the first-ever wheelchair rugby Paralympic medal achieved by a European team, and the first gold medal for Great Britain in a team sport in the history of the paralympic games.

During his tenure, David developed significant partnerships to support wheelchair rugby, including here at Loughborough, with the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport. The facility has played a key role in the sport from the outset by using research to enhance the performance and well-being of the players.

David stepped down from his position at GBWR in September 2021 and has since been involved in supporting the humanitarian effort in the Ukraine. He travelled to Poland and then Ukraine in early March to help deliver critical supplies to those caught up in the conflict. Whilst there, David and his associates raised over £65,000 that was used to purchase four ambulances and life-saving medical equipment, medicines and supplies.

Now back in the UK, David continues to support the cause working as Director of Ukraine First, a group of NGOs working with the Ukraine resistance movement to provide medical, humanitarian and protective aid.

Rajiv Bajaj, a leading Indian businessman, has also been awarded an honorary degree, in recognition of his services to automotive and manufacturing engineering.

Rajiv is Managing Director of the Bajaj Automotive Company, one of the largest motorcycle and three-wheeler manufacturing companies in India.

Over the last 30 years, Rajiv has revived the fortunes of his family’s company through innovation and entrepreneurship, including the development of the company’s first motorcycle, the award-winning Pulsar.

Two former lay members of the University’s Council have also been recognised for their outstanding contribution to higher education and significant expertise provided when supporting the governance and development of local universities.

Alan Hughes, an experienced director with an impressive career in banking and finance, has played an active role in the life of the University, overseeing several significant investments made by the University, including the establishment of Loughborough University London, the refurbishment and creation of new halls of residence, the creation of teaching facilities such as STEMLab, and research infrastructure such as the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine.

Ann Greenwood, former Finance Director of Campbell Scientific Ltd, has been a dedicated supporter of Loughborough University and its Council for many years. She was also an important and early advocate of the University’s women’s network, Maia, helping to ensure that the network had visibility at senior levels within the institution.

Two former staff members, also returned to campus during graduation, to be awarded University Medals for their service to the University. Between them, Patrick Gallagher, a drainage technician with the Estates team, and Sue Bruce, a HR immigration adviser, have over 83 years of service at Loughborough.