Footballer and MP receive honorary doctorates from UEL
- Credit: Archant
A former Hammer and the MP who helped bring the Jubilee line to Stratford were among those to attend the University of East London’s graduation ceremony.
Former transport minister Steven Norris and footballer Bobby Barnes received honorary doctorates at the O2 this week.
Mr Norris, who retired from politics in 1997 after 14 years as a Conservative MP, played a key role in transforming east London’s public transport infrastructure.
“I had to convince the government and all the decision-makers to extend the Jubilee line to Docklands,” he said. “At the time it was a fight. There was astonishing resistance put up.
“Today you can get on the Jubilee line at any time and it is packed, never mind the morning and evening peak. Docklands could not have happened if it wasn’t for the Jubilee line.”
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For Mr Barnes, who grew up in Leytonstone, receiving his honorary doctorate in science was like a homecoming.
He began his 16 year career at West Ham and went on to make over 300 appearances in the Football League.
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Since retiring, he looks after the off-pitch interests as the deputy chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association.
He said: “People think that when a footballer retires he is going to go off into the sunset, to play golf and sail his yacht.
“But the reality is that for a lot of footballers, when they retire they have to go back into the workplace and find another profession.”
He also took the chance to praised the opportunities the university, which has three campuses in Newham, offers its thousands of students every year.
“UEL opens up opportunities for Higher Education to people of all backgrounds, and that to me is the message to young people – that regardless of your background, if you have the desire and the motivation and the work ethic, you can achieve those dreams,” he said.