Scriptwriter Jack Thorne and ex-Hatters manager Nathan Jones received Honorary Doctorates as they joined hundreds of students at a graduation ceremony in Luton.
Jack, who is one of Britain's most successful scriptwriters whose work moves between radio, film, television and theatre, was awarded with an Honorary Doctor of Arts for his outstanding contribution to theatre and literature.
Jack's early writing career started right in Luton, where he lived for eight years, and wrote plays under the tutelage of the Royal Court Young Writers Programme.
Most recently Jack is the writer behind the hit BBC drama adaptation of Pullman’s classic literacy trilogy ‘His Dark Materials’ starring James McAvoy and Ruth Wilson.
Jack’s commitment to his work has been recognised within the industry where he has won a number of awards including; 5 BAFTAS for his work on This is England’s ’86, ’88, and ‘90, ‘The Fades’ and ‘National Treasure’. His play ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ has also won multiple Olivier Awards including Best New Play and multiple Tony Awards including Best Play.
On receiving his award, Jack said: “I love Luton, I’ve always loved Luton so to be connected to this place thanks to the University of Bedfordshire is really, really special.
“The most important thing you can do is make. Whatever field you’re in just make and keep making because that’s the thing that will really get you the connections that mean something.
"If you want to write, act or whatever just do it as I think that will hold you in good stead."
Former Luton Town manager, Nathan Jones, was also awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science in recognition of his outstanding contribution to sport.
Nathan, whose first professional contract as a player was at Luton, guided the Hatters back into League One in 2018 after a 10-year absence.
He said: “It’s a wonderful accolade and I’m very proud to receive it for the work that we did here along with the all the staff, players and members of the club.
“I knew from an early age that I wasn’t going to excel academically so I found a pathway where I could achieve something.
"If I could give advice to anyone it is to find something you’re very passionate about, find something you want to excel in, and then give it everything. If you believe in something go for it as you never know what might happen.”
Emily Bolton, founder and director of APPEAL, a legal action charity that specializes in fighting miscarriages of justice, was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Business Administration for her outstanding services to the UK legal profession, civil rights and work against the death penalty in the USA.
Emily said: “To get this honorary doctorate is a very moving experience because it is not just my work that is being recognised, but that of all the other people who have worked to make miscarriages of justice recognised in this country and who fight the death penalty in the United States.
"I’m here not only to pick up an award, but to accept the university’s recognition of the work of all the other people who work in this area.
“My advice for the students graduating today, whether they are graduating in business administration or in law, is that the problems of the world can be solved by organisation.
"If you create an organisation targeted at solving a particular problem, you will get that problem solved.
“Burning issues of our time relate to protection of our environment and borders, and those are two areas where students from Bedfordshire can make a huge contribution by setting up organisations that will deliver solutions to the problems around protecting our environment and how borders are handled in an uncertain future.”