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Honorary Degree Orations


Trevor Phillips

Public Orator, Professor Barbara Bagilhole presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony held on Friday 20 July at 3.00pm

Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, and Graduates.

It is a great pleasure and honour to introduce Trevor Phillips, chair of the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights, which will take over the work of Britain’s three existing equality commissions in October of this year, and oversee and promote equality issues across race, disability, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief and age.

Trevor was born in London in 1953. He attended secondary school in Georgetown, Guyana, and then returned to study chemistry at Imperial College London, where he became president of the student’s union. He then went on to become the first black president of The National Union of Students from 1978 to 1980.

Trevor pursued a career in broadcasting, becoming Head of Current Affairs at London Weekend Television in 1992. From 1987 to 2000, he was alternately the editor or the presenter of The London Programme. He received awards from the Royal Television Society in 1988, 1993 and 1998.

Trevor is a director of the independent production company, Pepper Productions, founded in 1995, and was the executive producer on the important television documentaries ‘Windrush’, ‘Britain’s Slave Trade’, ‘Second Chance’ and ‘When Black Became Beautiful’. The acclaimed ‘Windrush’ series, which chronicled the history of black people in Britain over the last 50 years, won the Royal Television Society Documentary Series of the Year award.

In addition to many newspaper articles and comment pieces, Trevor has co-written the books ‘Windrush: The Irresistible Rise of Multiracial Britain’, and ‘Britain’s Slave Trade’.

Between 1993 and 1998 Trevor was chair of the Runnymede Trust, an independent race relations think-tank and campaigning body, and he was awarded the OBE in 1999. He was elected as a member of the Greater London Assembly in May 2000 where he served as its chair until 2003, when he was appointed as chair of the national Commission for Racial Equality. A comment made at the time was that: “There are few more significant challenges in our society”.

At present, Trevor is a vice-president of the Royal Television Society, patron of The Sickle Cell Society, chair of the Young Adults Working Group of the Financial Services Authority, and a board member of the Almeida Theatre in Islington, Aldeburgh Productions and The Bernie Grant Centre in Tottenham.

On top of all these achievements, Trevor lists his special interests as arts and culture, democracy, health, housing and social inclusion. He is also reputedly a life-long Chelsea football club fan, and completed the London marathon this year in a very creditable 4 hours, 23 minutes and 31 seconds, which is almost half an hour faster than in 2006!

Trevor’s achievements speak for themselves.

He has campaigned tirelessly and robustly on equality issues throughout his career and has made outstanding contributions to society through the promotion of racial equality. I am pleased to predict that in his new role we can expect to see him continuing to fly the banner for equality issues in the future.

Therefore, Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you and to the whole University, Trevor Phillips for the degree of Doctor of the University, honoris causa.


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