England cricketer Ian Bell awarded an honorary degree

England cricketer Ian Bell was awarded an honorary degree by Coventry University today in recognition of his contribution to sport and of his recent work with the West Midlands-based Acorns Children’s charity.

Ian Bell honorary graduate

Ian Bell honorary graduate

The star batsman was made an Honorary Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) during the University’s awards ceremonies in Coventry Cathedral, which are taking place every day this week as part of the annual graduation events.

Prior to receiving the award Mr Bell met with Coventry University’s Team Phoenix cricket squad, whose players won the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) national indoor cricket championship in 2010/11 and are through to the final again this year.

Born in Coventry’s Walsgrave hospital in 1982, Mr Bell showed promise as a sportsman from an early age, demonstrating a special talent for cricket.

After becoming Warwickshire County Cricket Club’s youngest ever centurion at 19-years-old, he went on to make his test debut for England in 2004 and a year later was part of the team which regained the Ashes from Australia for the first time since 1987. He has since played a pivotal role in sealing England’s status as the number one test team in world cricket.

Last year Mr Bell was awarded a Benefit Year for 2011 by Warwickshire County Cricket Club for his loyalty to the club over the past decade.

Over 50 students from Coventry University have volunteered to help run events as part of Mr Bell’s Benefit Year celebrations, and in December several of the University’s Events Management undergraduates will help organise the cricketing ace’s Christmas Benefit Ball which supports the Acorn Children’s Hospice.

Ian Bell and Team Phoenix

Ian Bell and Team Phoenix

Mr Bell said: “Having lived in the region throughout my lifetime, it’s a massive honour to be presented with this Honorary Doctor of Business Administration, and I would like to thank everyone at Coventry University for making this presentation today.

“It’s great to be recognised for my work off the field, as well as for my performances with England and Warwickshire. Acorns Hospice does a fantastic job in supporting thousands of children and their families across the Midlands, and I feel very privileged to have been made one of its Patrons. It’s the nominated charity for my 2011 Benefit Year with Warwickshire and I’m hoping that the funds raised can make a big influence on the great work that this charity does in the future.”

Professor Madeleine Atkins, Vice-Chancellor of Coventry University, said: “We are delighted that Ian Bell was able to join us at Wednesday’s award ceremony in Coventry Cathedral to receive his honorary degree.

“Ian’s continued support of Warwickshire County Cricket Club, his subsequent success on the world stage with the England team and his recent work with the Acorns Children’s Hospice in the West Midlands make him an outstanding example not only of British sporting excellence, but of a successful athlete giving something back to his local community. It is with great pleasure that we are awarding Ian this honorary degree in recognition of those accomplishments.”