ONE of the UK’s most successful athletes and a North-East business leader have received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Sunderland during the Winter Academic Awards.

Eleven-time Paralympics Gold Medalist, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, who is also the President of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and sits in the House of Lords as an Independent Crossbench Peer, received her Honorary Doctorate of Law during the graduation ceremony at the Stadium of Light.

She said: “To be sitting on that stage and looking at the faces of all those graduates’ parents, friends and families faces, who are hugely proud, is a lovely place to be."

Acknowledged as one of the most gifted sportswomen of her generation, Baroness Grey-Thompson of Eaglescliffe, County Durham, competed in five Paralympic Games and won the London Wheelchair Marathon six times between 1992 and 2002.

Following her retirement she became Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE in recognition of her services to sport in 2005.

In 2010 she was elevated to the House of Lords as a Crossbench Peer and takes an active part in debates, with particular focus on sport, disability, health, welfare, and youth development.

She also helps coach other wheelchair athletes, along with husband Ian, and develop better racing chairs, gloves and other equipment. Protégés include Paralympian Jade Jones from Middlesbrough.

The University also honoured Colonel The Hon James Ramsbotham, who is Chief Executive of the North East England Chamber of Commerce.

He received an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration to mark his outstanding career in business and commitment to supporting the region’s economy and businesses.

He said: “My message to today’s graduates from the region is to use all the phenomenal experience, knowledge and wisdom that you’ve gained at University to the benefit of the North-East."

Close to 600 graduates attended the awards with 1,200 guests across two days of ceremonies.