Awards for graduates to mark successful careers.
TV’s Catherine Tyldesley and Tom Lister were just two of the famous faces welcomed back to Birmingham City University’s Royal Birmingham Conservatoire last week as part of the institution’s annual Prize-Giving ceremony.
The two soaps stars, both Royal Birmingham Conservatoire graduates, were awarded Honorary Fellowships from the music and acting college, while alumnus Corey Campbell was given an Honorary Membership.
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire has a long and established tradition of awarding Honorary Fellowships and Memberships at the end of each academic year. Honorary Fellowships are given to those who act as an inspiration for the University’s students, as examples of people who have forged an outstanding career in music, acting and the related arts.
Alongside alumni Catherine and Tom, Honorary Fellowships were also awarded to singer Christine Cairns, jazz composer and musician Nikki Iles, double bassist and luthier Thomas Martin and Chinese guitarist Xuefei Yang.
Graduating from Birmingham School of Acting in 2006 – the School merged with Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in 2017 – actor Catherine Tyldesley is best known for her multiple-award-nominated portrayal of Eva Price on Coronation Street, a part she has played since 2011. She said: “My training at Birmingham School of Acting was priceless. I use the techniques I learned there every day as a working actor. The tuition was second to none and I remain ever grateful for the time and belief the tutors invested in me. A life changing experience.
I’m truly honoured to be receiving this fellowship. Something I’ll hold dear always.”
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire students compete for a varied range of prizes over the course of the academic year and the annual Prize-Giving ceremony also provides the opportunity for them to be formally presented with these awards.
Following a reception in the Organ Hall at the new £57 million college, the ceremony took place in the Bradshaw Hall in front of a gathered audience and overseen by its Principal, Professor Julian Lloyd Webber and Professor Stephen Simms, Vice Principal – Acting.
Appearing in between performances of current West End smash 42nd Street was actor Tom Lister, who played Carl King on ITV’s Emmerdale for nine years from 2004. Since graduating from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in 2001, Tom has appeared in various screen and stage productions, while also raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity by carrying out extreme sporting challenges.
He commented, “I am so proud to say that I trained at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, or Birmingham School of Speech and Drama as it was once known when I studied there. I arrived through the doors on day one literally knowing nothing and not professing to have any plans other than to learn. Over the course of three years I soaked up all the skills and experience the tutors had to offer and I am fortunate enough to say that I was able to go out into the industry and put all those lessons to work.
“There is a lot in this industry that confounds me as to why some people are successful and some equally talented people are not. But one of the most valuable lessons I have learnt from studying in Birmingham and working for the last fifteen years, is that hard work, skill and perseverance – with a little sprinkling of good fortune – will get you a long way. Oh, and be nice; it costs nothing and makes you a lot easier to work with.”
An Honorary Membership is awarded to graduates of Royal Birmingham Conservatoire who have achieved notable success in the music, theatre, screen or broadcast profession in the early years after graduation. Composer and co-founder of the Young Composers Project, Kirsty Devaney, and founder of theatre company Strictly Arts, Birmingham-born Corey Campbell, were both recipients this year.
Corey Campbell said: “My career journey and achievements to date are testament to Birmingham School of Acting and the late David Vann in particular. I am one of the students who started on the part time courses and travelled through until graduating from the BA Acting course. The passion and vision instilled in me has never left me till this day.
“I continue to aspire to achieve further successes as Artistic Director of Strictly Arts, and I am proud to continue this exciting journey with the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire as Honorary Member.”