University of Leicester to honour prominent figures from Leicestershire life

Posted by fi17 at Mar 30, 2012 09:34 AM |
Honorary degrees to be presented to Sir David Samworth and John Florance

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office, Friday 30 March 2012

Images of Sir David Samworth and John Florance available from

Two prominent and distinguished figures from Leicestershire are to be honoured by the University of Leicester.

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir David Samworth CBE DL and BBC Radio Leicester presenter John Florance are to be awarded honorary degrees at the University’s summer degree congregations.

They will receive their awards from Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Robert Burgess at ceremonies in De Montfort Hall, Leicester, attended by people from across the world.

Professor Burgess said: “We are delighted to be able to give Honorary Doctorates to worthy local recipients. 

“This year, we are honouring John Florance and David Samworth.  John, who is best known for his Radio Leicester shows, has worked  in the media for many years.  He has had a long connection with Leicester, having worked at Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth I College in his early career and has become a household name in Leicester and Leicestershire. John is also heavily involved with music at De Montfort Hall, often giving pre-concert talks, and is a stalwart of Leicester Cathedral. 

“David is a very successful businessman who has developed Samworth Brothers (including the Ginsters brand) from small beginnings and now employs over 5,000 people locally.  He also has a great interest in education, setting up three academies, including the Samworth Academy in Leicester.  He works tirelessly to support the local economy and to provide young people with the best opportunities which we applaud. 

“We are always pleased to award Honorary Degrees but even more so when we are able to clearly recognise the work that local people do and highlight their importance to the local community.  These two candidates highly deserve their awards and I look forward to presenting them in July.

Sir David Samworth will be awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. He said:  “I am both honoured and delighted to be awarded an Honorary Degree by the University of Leicester as it is a major seat of learning and research in the county where I live and a large part of Samworth Brothers Limited is based.

“The University contributes through research to many areas of life which affect our understanding of how to improve the world we live in.   Education is one of the most important elements of the development of the individual to enhance both their own lives and those with whom they live and work.   The University of Leicester also makes a positive contribution to the multi-cultural city of Leicester, and to the wider community, both national and international, from which it is drawn.”

John Florance, who is presently BBC Radio Leicester’s Faith Producer, will be honoured with the degree of Doctor of Laws.  He said: “I am thrilled by this great honour. It also reflects the work BBC Radio Leicester has done since 1967 in providing a focus for the city and county and holding our politicians, local and national, to account. The University of Leicester has always meant a great deal to me. I have taught and lectured, used the marvellous library and attended countless meetings and lectures there. That Leicester has such a splendid centre of academic excellence is one of the many things that makes the city such a good place in which to live.’

Sir David Samworth is President and former Chairman and co-founder of Samworth Brothers Limited, a major food manufacturer supplying the quality retail market and also owners of the Ginsters and Dickinson & Morris brands.   David has sponsored three Academies in the East Midlands, in Leicester and in Mansfield with the Dioceses of the Church of England, and in Nottingham with the University of Nottingham.   He is a former High Sheriff of Leicestershire, a Deputy Lieutenant, and through the Samworth Foundation supports many charitable organisations both locally and abroad.

John Florance has been involved in programmes on BBC Radio Leicester for over 30 years and he has been a tutor at the University of Leicester Arts Centre, Embrace Arts.

He came to Leicester as a Sixth Form College teacher in the late seventies. In 2002 he published a book called Getting Started in Radio and has also published an anthology of poetry in 2003. He has also presented countless programmes on BBC Radios 2, 3 and 4. He is a warden at Leicester Cathedral and a committed teacher for the Workers Education Association. He holds a PhD for his work on 20th century theatre.

The University of Leicester will also be presenting awards to a number of distinguished national and international figures whose details will be announced in due course.


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