Special guests celebrate with graduates

05 July 2017

Special guests celebrate with graduates

Doug and Dame Mary Perkins with Harry Benson.

Students from Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU)’s Glasgow School for Business and Society today celebrated their graduation with a group of special honorary guests. 

Award-winning photojournalist Harry Benson CBE, the founders of the world's largest private optician chain, Doug and Dame Mary Perkins DBE, and global anti-landmine campaigner Jerry White joined students graduating in two ceremonies at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

Scottish photojournalist Harry Benson CBE received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters. He has marched with Dr Martin Luther King Jr, photographed the Los Angeles Watts Riots, was next to Robert Kennedy when he was assassinated, and has photographed countless luminaries including Sir Winston Churchill, President Charles de Gaulle, Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones, Elizabeth Taylor and Jack Nicholson.

Harry was introduced by University Secretary and Vice-Principal Governance, Jan Hulme, who called him an artist of integrity.

Harry entertained a packed auditorium with tales of the Beatles before they were famous. He described how he was reluctant at first when he was told by his editor to travel with the band to Paris when, in fact, he was a serious journalist.

He said: “I want to thank those that helped me and those that didn't. I've had a wonderful life chasing a camera, following it, and trying to put it in interesting places.”

Doug and Dame Mary Perkins DBE are the founders of Specsavers, the world's largest private optician chain, selling more than 19 million pairs of glasses and 400 million contact lenses each year from nearly 2,000 stores in 10 countries. Specsavers has raised more than £5 million, across the world for charities and good causes. The couple received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science.

Jerry White, who received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws, launched the Landmine Survivors Network − later Survivor Corps − with co-founder Ken Rutherford. Working closely with the late Princess Diana, and then King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan to address the humanitarian crisis caused by tens of millions of mines buried in more than 80 countries, he shared in the 1997 Nobel Prize for Peace awarded to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

He told students that "life is a minefield" before sharing his five-step recipe for survival, advising students to face facts, choose life, reach out, get moving, and give back. "It's the givers who inherit the earth - be here now."

Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Pamela Gillies CBE FRSE said: “I am delighted to be able to celebrate the work and achievements of these individuals, who are outstanding examples of our University’s enduring commitment to work for the Common Good.”

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