Lenny Henry presides over first Birmingham City University graduation.

“In moments of great change, there are always opportunities,” new Chancellor tells graduates.

Sir Lenny Henry has presided over his first graduation ceremony as Chancellor of Birmingham City University.

Wearing ceremonial robes, the actor, writer, comedian and charitable campaigner addressed over one thousand graduands from the University’s Faculty of Arts, Design and Media at a ceremony in Symphony Hall, Birmingham.

In his inaugural graduation speech, Sir Lenny said: “We live in uncertain political times, but in moments of great change, there are always opportunities. I hope that the skills, capabilities and knowledge with which you are all now equipped will enable you to seize on these opportunities; to create new jobs, new types of jobs and to build a new future for all of us, as your career and personal development goes forward. This really is your time – so go ahead and change it.”

Almost 4,000 students will graduate from Birmingham City University this week, with honorary doctorates being awarded to prestigious figures including international violinist, Tasmin Little, founder and CEO of Teach First, Brett Wigdortz, and acclaimed barrister, Sallie Bennett-Jenkins.

During his speech to the graduating class of 2017 on Monday 24 July, Sir Lenny also said: “Each and every one of you graduating today has shown dedication and personal commitment to be here. You stand at the threshold of the next chapter of your lives and what a fantastic way to begin. You should be proud of what you have achieved and you should be proud of Birmingham City University.

“I know how hard you have had to work because I have been there myself – the late nights, the early mornings and three thousand episodes of Bargain Hunt.”

As Chancellor, the Dudley-born star has made several visits to the University’s City Centre Campus where he has seen for himself how the institution opens doors to the creative arts for young people from a range of backgrounds.

Earlier this month, Sir Lenny launched a new networking group for the University in London. BCU in London is open to graduates of the University – from senior leaders and up-and-coming professionals – who are based or have business interests in the capital. Sir Lenny was installed as Chancellor of Birmingham City University in November 2016 when he stressed that “education is a right, not an accident of birth” in his inaugural speech.