Degree Speeches
Summer 2003

The Rt Hon the Lord Dormand of Easington

Public Orator, Professor Harry Thomason, presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony held on Tuesday 15 July at 10.30am.


Communities involved in heavy industries – such as coal mining - have strong ties of comradeship that support them in their dangerous and demanding physical work. Less well known, perhaps, are the equally strong traditions of self-improvement and giving something back to the community that has helped improve you.

One activity held in particularly high esteem, to these ends, is education.

Many working class communities have been served by individuals of distinction over the years. A few achieve distinction not only within their communities but beyond them. One such person stands before us today.

John Donkin Dormand - better known as “Jack” Dormand - was born in the North East of England. After School he trained as a teacher at Bede College, Durham University, and took a PGCE course in PE at Loughborough College. He also attended Oxford University and obtained a Fulbright Scholarship to Harvard in his second year, where one of his contemporaries was the future Senator Edward Kennedy.

From 1940 to 1948 he was a teacher within the mining community of Easington, rising to Education Advisor then Education Officer for Easington Rural District Council.

In 1970 he was elected as MP for Easington taking over from the renowned Manny Shinwell. His main interests were the welfare of his mining constituency, and the wider brief of education and its importance in the life of the working men and women.

He became Opposition Whip from 1979 to 1987, chairing the Parliamentary Labour Party from 1981 to 1987, demonstrating his standing within his own parliamentary community. In 1987 he was created a Life Peer. In 1991 he was a member of the Select Committee on Committee Structure of the House of Lords, was a member of the House Liaison Committee and Procedure Committee, then became Labour Peer’s Representative on the Parliamentary Committee (the Shadow Cabinet).

He married his wife, Doris, in 1963. He is a keen film goer and a lifelong lover of jazz and classical music. His love of sport has always been pre-eminent and coming from such a hot-bed of sporting activity as the North East one can understand why. He was a good sportsman, cricket and rugby being his main sports, and is still an avid follower of both. It is said that he played rugby into his early 60’s and the only injury he ever sustained was when he refereed a match.

He attends the House of Lords on a daily basis and is very definitely a working Peer. The respect shown to him from fellow Parliamentarians is further testimony to his unique and respected character.

Therefore, Chancellor, I have much pleasure in presenting to you John Donkin Dormand, the Rt Hon the Lord Dormand of Easington, educationalist and Parliamentarian of rare distinction and Loughborough alumni, for the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.

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