Local singer and Olympic athlete honoured

Honorary degrees awarded at Wolverhampton ceremony.

A Birmingham-born soul singer and a a three-time Olympic medal winner, have been honoured by the University of Wolverhampton.

Jaki Graham has scored six UK top 20 singlse, two top five singles in the US dance charts and at a ceremony held at the University’s School of Sport, Performing Arts and Leisure, on Monday, 9th September , she was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Music, in recognition of her outstanding international contribution to music, especially to R&B, soul and dance music Jaki said: “I’m overwhelmed. I never thought that my voice could one day lead to receiving an academic degree. The fact I have been recognised for my international contribution also, not only for what I have achieved in the UK, speaks volumes. Due to my childhood and upbringing, my education is something that unfortunately suffered heavily and I’ve always been conscious of this, which is why it makes receiving this degree that extra special. I will treasure this dearly. I hope it inspires others to realise that no matter what background you come from as long as you believe in your talent and have people around you who believe in you too, the sky’s the limit.”

At the same time, former Commonwealth gold and 3 x Olympic bronze medallist Kathy Smallwood-Cook, was presented with an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters. The honour from the University’s School of Sport, Performing Arts and Leisure was made in recognition of Kathy’s outstanding contribution to sport, her standing as a role model for athletes, and her contribution to sport education.

Since retiring as a professional athlete, Kathy has gone on to teach PE at Mayfield Preparatory School in Walsall and said of her award: “I’m absolutely delighted to receive this honour. The University boasts world class sports facilities at its Walsall Campus, and as a PE teacher in the Black Country I’m extremely pleased to see such focus being put on this area by the University.