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Sir Lenny Henry tells lockdown class of 2021 ‘we are all in awe of you’ at virtual graduation ceremony

UNIVERSITY NEWS LAST UPDATED : 08 FEBRUARY
Sir Lenny graduation news

Sir Lenny Henry has told hundreds of students that they should be proud of their awe-inspiring achievements over the last 12 months, which have seen them complete the final year of their degrees during the midst of a global pandemic.

Sir Lenny, Chancellor of Birmingham City University, sent a special message to students graduating from the University this week as part of virtual graduation celebrations taking place during the Coronavirus restrictions.

Sir Lenny Henry

Birmingham City University

The Chancellor, who was recently unmasked as The Blob on ITV’s hit show, The Masked Singer told students of the extra satisfaction they should draw from their academic achievements under unprecedented circumstances.

Sir Lenny said: “Let’s make one thing clear from the start, the circumstances do not change the magnitude of your achievement. 

“But whether you’re in your bedroom, your grandmother’s kitchen, or sitting in the garden with your family dog I want you to give yourself a great big cheer and raise the roof.”

Sir Lenny took on the role of Chancellor at Birmingham City University in 2016, and has since launched the Sir Lenny HenryCentre for Media Diversity, a £1.2 million education hub for young people in North Birmingham with IntoUniversity and been named a Visiting Professor with the University.

Having completed a degree and PhD later in life, the Dudley born actor, writer, comedian and charitable campaigner, has hailed the transformative impact of education on people’s lives.

He added: “It’s an honour for me to be here with you joining the celebrations as you mark the beginning of your professional lives. I’m looking forward to the time when I can see your happy smiling faces in front of me in a physical celebration.

“No one will ever take these things from you, not the achievements and pride in what you’ve done, nor the belonging you feel when you meet another BCU graduate. Because your BCU journey is not ending here, you’re going to be part of a community of people who are all proud of your achievements who all support each other and cheer each other on. The BCU community is very special indeed.”

The virtual graduation celebrations are being held this week for students graduating from all four of the University’s Faculties this month.

Special messages from other famous Birmingham faces have also been sent to the Class of 2021 including singer-songwriter Jamelia, BBC journalist Phil Upton and violinist Tasmin Little, celebrating the success of the students.

During the events Vice-Chancellor Professor Philip Plowden also spoke of the challenges students faced and the fact that each student will be given the opportunity to cross the stage at an in-person ceremony when restrictions allow it.

He said: “What you have achieved is special and it’s important. And that’s why normally we mark graduation with a great deal of pomp and ceremony where you come across the stage wearing the formal gowns and the caps which for centuries have recognised that important new status as graduates.

“We’ll make sure that you still have that moment, once we’re able to hold gatherings again, every single student graduating will be invited to an in-person ceremony to mark your achievement in the traditional way.

“But in the meantime we didn’t want to let the completion of your studies, the moment of your achievement pass by without celebration and without fanfare. And so I’m really glad that you’ve been able to join us from wherever in the world you may be.”

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