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Honorary Degree Orations
Public Orator, Jon Walker presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony held on Thursday 19 July at 10.30am
Chancellor, Pro-chancellors, Vice-Chancellor, Loughborough Students, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen….
Peter Davenport is a Loughborough graduate of whom we are rightly proud. Ever since his arrival in 1951 at the then Loughborough College, he has been doing what Loughborough people do: working hard, playing hard and getting involved in all that life at Loughborough offers. He was Rutland Hall chair and a 200m and 400m competitor in the College Athletics team. He gained a DLC Honours in Civil Engineering – later converted to a BSc – in 1955 before completing national service with a commission in the Airfield Construction Branch.
Peter’s career in construction saw him specialising in foundations and ground engineering. Now I know most people like the bits of a building that they can see or use – but Civil Engineers are a breed apart! Trench fill; piles; concrete pours; foundations: these are the things to get Civil Engineers really excited! Interestingly, Peter’s firm was responsible for the foundations of many of the buildings just across Epinal Way – at Loughborough College, the School of Art and Design and the Cope Auditorium.
During the 1970’s Peter seized the opportunity to develop a new career, mixing consulting, teaching and business advice. He needed a basis for this new career; where better than Loughborough? So he returned here gaining an MSc in Industrial Management in 1977.
His new portfolio life developed - teaching Management in the Built Environment at Leicester Polytechnic; consulting for a Swedish construction group, and from 1986 being widely engaged in DTI programmes, such as the groundbreaking Enterprise Initiative, supporting new and growing companies in the region.
Peter has been unstinting in his support for this University. He served as President of the Guild, which later became the Alumni Association – to which all current and past Loughborough students belong – before returning 20 years later for a second term leading the new Association. He has served twice on University Council, is Chair of the Hazelrigg Rutland Association and it was his vision and determination that led to the ‘Loughborough Experience Awards’ that celebrate all that is good about Loughborough. He has played a central role in laying the foundations for the dynamic and successful organisation that the Loughborough University Alumni Association has become.
Peter’s life, it seems, has been all about this laying of foundations.
Peter has, of course, needed foundations in his own life. One has been his family – Eileen his wife, and children Paul and Jill – and we are delighted that you are here today.
Another has been Loughborough, not once but twice in Peter’s case, helping to provide the foundation for all that was to follow.
As you graduate today you can, like him, take the strong foundation you have gained here to go on to build amazing things!
Chancellor, it is a great honour to present to you and to the University Peter Davenport, Loughborough graduate, Vice-President of the Alumni Association, man of foundations, for the Degree of Doctor of the University, honoris causa.