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Award-winning actor and veteran politicians honoured at Bangor University graduation ceremonies

11 Dec 2023 5 minute read
Joanna Scanlan & Dafydd Wigley

An award-winning actor and two veteran politicians are among those being honoured by Bangor University as the institution celebrates its winter graduation ceremonies on 15 and 16 December.

Actor Joanna Scanlan, politicians Dafydd Wigley and Ieuan Wyn Jones, as well as musician Leah Owen and forestry professional Trefor Owen, will be recognised by the University at prestigious events this month.

An Honorary Degree is one of Bangor University’s most significant accolades. The University bestows Honorary Degrees on notable individuals who have made a significant contribution in their academic field and/or a particular and consistent contribution over a period of time to the life of the University, locally, nationally or internationally.

Notable contributions

Professor Edmund Burke, Vice-Chancellor of Bangor University commented: “It’s a pleasure and an honour to award Honorary Degrees to individuals who have made such notable contributions in their chosen fields. We welcome these individuals to our degree ceremonies in the knowledge that they will inspire our graduating students in their chosen fields.”

Ieuan Wyn Jones will receive a Doctor of Law (LLD) for his contribution to Welsh Culture, Language, Music, and the Arts.

A former Member of Parliament and Assembly Member for Ynys Môn, Ieuan Wyn Jones was appointed Deputy First Minister and Minister for the Economy and Transport in the Welsh Government from 2007-11, before stepping down to focus on his work in the Welsh Assembly, alongside leading Plaid Cymru from 2000-12.

Ieuan was previously the Executive Director of Bangor University’s Menai Science Park. Ieuan joined the MSParc Board in 2013, and was, until recently, the Chair of the Board.

Trefor Owen is to receive a Doctor of Science (DSci) for his contribution to Public Service (including Health).

Trefor Owen is a senior Welsh forestry professional and has previously been awarded a prestigious fellowship from the Institute of Chartered Foresters. His notable achievements include his appointment as Interim Chief Executive of Forest Enterprise Scotland, followed by Director of Land Management & Regions, where he was responsible for overseeing the Scottish Government’s entire national forests, land, and most of its people. Trefor is passionate about education, the student experience, and employability, and has always maintained close ties to his alma mater, Bangor University.

Notable achievements

BAFTA-winning internationally renowned actor and screenwriter, Joanna Scanlan receives a Doctor of Letters (DLitt) degree for her contribution to popular entertainment, and her contribution to learning through the Media.

Joanna Scanlan grew up in North Wales and both her parents graduated from Bangor University. She generously contributes to the student experience at Bangor University by sharing her insights and experiences from her acclaimed career and giving career talks to students.

In addition to winning a Best Actress in a Leading Role BAFTA in 2022 and being tipped as a future Oscar winner, Joanna’s work in series such as The Thick of It, Getting On, Puppy Love, No Offence and more recently Gentleman Jack, Y Golau and The Larkins have made her a household name and highlight her successful career.

Lord Dafydd Wigley is to receive a Doctor of Letters (DLitt) degree for his contribution to Welsh Culture, Language and Heritage.

Dafydd Wigley served as Member of Parliament for Caernarfon from 1974-2001 and as the Member of the Welsh Assembly for Caernarfon from 1999-2003. In 2010, Dafydd was granted life peerage by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, taking his seat in the House of Lords, as Baron Wigley of Caernarfon, on 24 January 2011. He served as the leader of Plaid Cymru from 1981-84 and again from 1991-2000. More recently, Dafydd was the President of the National Library from 2007-2011 and chaired the Wales Slate Partnership Steering Group and played a key role in securing UNESCO World Heritage Status for the Slate Mining Landscape of North West Wales in 2021.

Leah Owen is to be awarded a Doctor of Music (DMus) for her contribution to Welsh Culture, Language, Music, and the Arts.

Born on Anglesey, Leah competed in Eisteddfodau at a very young age, gaining success in a number of National Eisteddfodau during the 1970s. She has been a guest vocal soloist and conductor of several choirs, and between 1975-2001 recorded several solo albums for Recordiau Sain. After graduating from Bangor University with a Bachelor of Music degree in 1974, Leah taught at Hirael School, Bangor, Denbigh High School, Twm o’r Nant, Denbigh, the Denbighshire Language Centre and Cerdd Cydweithredol Sir Ddinbych.

Leah’s influence had a significant impact on new generations of musicians and actors, coaching some of Wales’ biggest stars of the moment, including Steffan Rhys Hughes, Mared Williams, Jade Davies, Angharad Rowlands, Celyn Cartwright, Ceri Haf Roberts and Amber Davies, and inspiring countless musicians to develop and refine their craft.

She has also published three volumes of songs for children which she composed herself. Leah has made significant contributions to music education and culture in Wales, particularly in Denbighshire.

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