Keele University Announces Honorary Degrees for July 2011 Ceremonies

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Peter Coates

Posted on 03 June 2011

Peter Coates, chair of Bet 365 and chair and owner of Stoke City FC, will be among six distinguished people who will be awarded Honorary Degrees by Keele University during this summer's graduation ceremonies. The awards will be made to a group of people who have made outstanding contributions within their fields of expertise.

They are key figures who have made a major impact with significant work over many years in the local community and local economy, to Keele University and higher education, to health and medicine, to primary medical care and academic history.

The University will award six honorary degrees at ceremonies in the University Chapel on July 5th, 6th and 7th.

Honorary award recipients are: 

Mr Peter Coates will be awarded a Doctor of the University (DUniv) in recognition of his enormous contribution to the local community and the local economy in North Staffordshire.

Born and brought up in Stoke-on-Trent, he left school at 14 to work in an office and served in the Middle East with the Parachute Regiment during National Service.  On his return to Stoke-on-Trent he worked as a regional manager for the franchise of Wimpy Restaurants before founding Stadia Catering, which delivered catering outlets at 40 football grounds in the UK.  Merging with Lindley Catering, he chaired the company from 1968 until he sold a controlling stake in the business in 2001.

In the early 1970s he bought three betting shops, increasing this to fifty until he sold the business in 2005.  In 2000 he followed the advice of his daughter Denise to found the online gambling business Bet365, of which he is Chair.  This has grown to employ 1,500 people in Stoke-on-Trent and has 2.6million customers in 140 different countries.  Bet365 Group Limited is in the top 20 largest companies in the UK.

A lifelong supporter of Stoke City Football Club, he joined the Board in 1985 and became Chair in 1986.  During his first term he took the club to the new Britannia Stadium.  The club was sold to an Icelandic Consortium in 1999 but Mr Coates bought the club back in 2006 and he has since taken the club into the Premier League and to the FA Cup Final.

He has a keen interest in local secondary education and he has been a member of the Court of Keele University for the last nine years.

Professor Dame Janet Finch, DBE, DL, BA, PhD, AcSS, the former Vice-Chancellor of Keele University, will be awarded a Doctor of Letters (DLitt) for her distinguished contribution to the University and to higher education. Dame Janet was Vice-Chancellor of Keele for 15 years until her retirement last year. Since leaving Keele she has become the Chair of the Ombudsman Services Limited, covering telecoms and energy, and she is a Main Panel Chair for the forthcoming Research Excellence Framework.

Professor Dame Sally Davies will be awarded a Doctor of Science (DSc) in recognition of her of her distinguished contribution to Health and Medicine. Professor Dame Sally Davies is the Chief Medical Officer, advising the UK government. She holds responsibility for research and development, and is the Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Health.

Mr Mike Reynolds will be awarded a Master of the University (MUniv) for his distinguished service to the local community. Mike Reynolds has played a major part in the community of Newcastle-under-Lyme and is a great advocate for Keele University. In 2009 he was presented with the Certificate of Outstanding Service for services to the community by the Mayor and Council of Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough and the Customer Award from Aspire Housing for contribution to diversity.

Professor Stephen Field will be awarded a Doctor of Science (DSc) in recognition of his contribution to primary medical care at a national level. Professor Stephen Field is the immediate past chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, current chairman of the Department of Health’s Inclusion Board and has recently been appointed by the coalition government to chair the NHS Future Forum that will support the huge change agenda underpinning NHS reforms. 

Professor Richard Blackett will be awarded a Doctor of of Letters (Dlitt) for his distinguished career as an academic historian. Richard Blackett, a graduate of Keele University, is the Andrew Jackson Professor of History at Vanderbilt University. Professor Blackett is a historian of the abolitionist movement in the US and particularly its transatlantic connections and the roles African Americans played in the movement to abolish slavery.