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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

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Double the delight for singer Maddy Prior at Cumbria university graduation

It is a double celebration for folk musician Maddy Prior – scooping two awards in a week.

Maddy was presented with an honorary fellowship from the University of Cumbria just two days after it was announced that she is also to receive a prestigious gold medal from the English Folk Song and Dance Society.

Both are for her outstanding and lifelong contribution to folk music.

The 66-year-old veteran singer and founder member of the legendary English folk-rock band Steeleye Span said:“It’s funny – when you get one award you tend to get another. It has just been announced that I’m to get the gold medal too.”

Maddy, who lives in north Cumbria, chose to sing a song instead of deliver a speech during Wednesday’s graduation ceremony at Carlisle Cathedral, where her fellowship was presented.

Somewhere Along The Road was written and composed by her former husband Rick Kemp.

She first sang it in 1997 when Rick graduated from the Cumbria Institute of the Arts, one of the university’s predecessor institutions that is now better known as its Brampton Road campus.

“Years ago I was asked to sing the song as part of the ceremonies at Brampton Road. I thought it was suitable to do it here,” she said.

“I think there are people who have been here long enough who would have remembered it too.

“It was also perfect for the occasion for the students who were here because this event is all about the future, and so is the song.”

Maddy was joined at Wednesday’s ceremony by Rick, children Alex and Rose and her grandchildren.

Maddy is one of nine key figures to be given honorary fellowships by the University of Cumbria this week.

Others included Professor John Ashton, retired public health chief, and Holocaust survivor Ben Helfgott, who was among a group of around 300 children to be airlifted to RAF Crosby-on-Eden before they were taken to the Lake District where they enjoyed their first days of freedom. Mr Helfgott received a moving standing ovation.

By the end of today almost 1,500 people will have taken part in graduation ceremonies held over four days.

They are celebrating academic achievements in a range of different subjects and fields including the arts, education, science, sport, health and forestry.

Drama graduate April McCabe almost missed out on her moment – after she and her mum Bonnie Wilson got stuck in motorway traffic – but was quick to thank university staff who helped her slip seamlessly into Wednesday afternoon’s proceedings.

April, 21, said: “We were over an hour late, we got stuck in Preston and then on the motorway. I had to run down to the cathedral with my heels in my hand.

“Then I got myself upset because my mum hadn’t got in the cathedral to take her seat and see it and I couldn’t do it without her there.

“I got into the cathedral with just two or three people to go before I should have gone on but my mum had to be there.

“My mum got in and then the staff were able to get me to join at the end of my group just as they were going up onto the platform.”

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