Bangor University has awarded honorary degrees to public figures including Dafydd Iwan and Steve Backshall MBE.

This year's graduation ceremonies started on Monday, 10 July, and conclude today, Friday, 14 July.

Former Gwynedd councillor Dafydd Iwan received his honorary degree earlier this week. Other public figures who have now received theirs include the wildlife presenter naturalist, writer and adventurer Steve Backshall MBE. An honorary lecturer at Bangor University, he teaches students about conservation, zoology and the wildlife filming industry. His lectures are among the most popular with plans afoot for live feeds from Steve’s filming locations and field trips.

Bangor alumna and plant geneticist Dr Tina Barsby OBE, renowned for her scientific achievements and experience in the agricultural crop sector, and businessman, conservationist, and philanthropist Richard Broyd OBE who founded Historic House Hotels have also been chosen to receive honorary degrees.

Steve Backshall MBE
Steve Backshall MBE (Bangor University)

Richard donated the entire company and its assets to the National Trust, the largest single gift ever received by the charity.

He maintains strong ties with north Wales and is an ardent supporter of Welsh charities, notably the Ffestiniog Railway and the reconstruction of the Welsh Highland Railway.

Dr Salamatu Jidda-Fada, a former research fellow at the Centre for Evidence-Based Conservation, and visiting researcher in the School of Natural Sciences at Bangor University, is still based in Bangor, working as a conservation consultant in promoting a greener Wales.

Salamatu is active in promoting environmental awareness amongst ethnic minority communities and the wider Welsh society.

Stemming from her work as founder of the North Wales Africa Society, Salamatu contributed to the Welsh Government Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Group as a member and is the vice chair for Adult Learning Wales.

She is also an advisory member of the RSPB Cymru and is the first black person to be elected as a councillor for Bangor City Council.

Emeritus professor Gareth Ffowc Roberts, is a former pro-chancellor of Bangor University and a former member of its council.

A mathematics graduate from Oxford University, Gareth worked extensively in education in Wales before becoming principal of Coleg Normal, Bangor. After the college merged with the University of Wales, Bangor, Gareth became a pro vice-chancellor and professor of education.

He played a key role in establishing the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol and oversaw Welsh medium provision at the university.

Dr Pauline Cutting OBE, a veteran war-zone surgeon who has lived in north Wales for the last 40 years; Professor Iwan Davies, vice-chancellor of Bangor University from 2019 to 2022 who steered the university through the unprecedented challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic; Gwyn Evans, a former conductor of Beaumaris Brass Band; Caradog ‘Crag’ Jones, the first Welshman to reach the summit of Everest in May 1995, aged 33; and Dr Dafydd Owen, who led the multidisciplinary preclinical team that discovered PAXLOVID, the first FDA-approved oral treatment for Covid-19, have also been selected for honorary degrees.

Bangor University vice-chancellor, professor Edmund Burke said: ‘“Graduation ceremonies are the highlight of the academic year, celebrating the achievements and hard work of our students.”

He added: “We are really delighted to award honorary degrees to individuals who have made highly valued contributions to public life and who serve to inspire today’s young graduates as they embark on their careers.”