World Cup star and distinguished CEOs celebrated by Stirling

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Lilian Thuram (middle) received his honorary degree from Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Gerry McCormac (left), and Chancellor, The Rt Hon Lord Jack McConnell (right).

Lilian Thuram – France’s most-capped footballer and a World Cup winner – says he is “deeply honoured” to receive an honorary degree from the University of Stirling.

The former defender received the recognition during today’s (June 26) graduation ceremonies, which also saw Alison Brittain CBE, CEO of Whitbread, and Pete Cheema OBE, CEO of the Scottish Grocers Federation, celebrated for their achievements in their respective careers.

Mr Thuram – who starred for Barcelona, Juventus, Parma and Monaco during his illustrious club career – is the most-capped France player, with 142 appearances for the national team between 1994 and 2008. He has an impressive list of honours, including winners’ medals from the 1998 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2000.

In 2008, at the end of his football career, the former defender – a Unicef ambassador – set up the Lilian Thuram Foundation, which educates against racism and promotes equality.

Mr Thuram – who received his doctorate for his outstanding contribution to football, as well as his commitment to tackling racism through education – said: “Sport – especially the world’s number one sport, football – is a wonderful way of progressing equality. It helps us to come closer to each other because – whatever the colour of our skin, our sexuality, or our religion – we share the same emotions.

“I feel deeply honoured to receive this award.”

Alison Brittain

Alison Brittain CBE, CEO of Whitbread, also received an honorary degree from the University.

Mrs Brittain – a Stirling graduate – is one of the UK’s pre-eminent business leaders and influencers. She is one of just five female chief executives listed on the FTSE 100. Throughout her career, which also included a highly successful time in the banking industry, Mrs Brittain has championed diversity. In 2017, Veuve Clicquot named her Businesswoman of the Year, praising her as “a role model for women striving to reach the top of large organisations across a range of traditionally male-dominated sectors”.

Mrs Brittain – recognised for her outstanding contribution to business and leadership – said: “I’m delighted and honoured to receive this award from the University of Stirling.

“I studied business as an undergraduate at Stirling and have many happy memories of my time there – and am very grateful for the strong academic foundation it provided for my future career.

“Over the years, I have been privileged to have had the opportunity to work with many talented teams and individuals and, on accepting the award of honorary doctorate, I’d like to thank them and my family and friends for their invaluable support.”

Pete Cheema

Pete Cheema OBE, CEO of the Scottish Grocers Federation, is recognised for his outstanding contribution to the convenience store sector in Scotland.

Mr Cheema has vast knowledge and experience of the retailing sector, having owned and managed a number of award-winning stores over the years. He was appointed to the role of Chief Executive of the Scottish Grocers Federation in 2015 – having previously served as President between 2006 and 2008 – and has transformed it into a modern, relevant and highly influential trade body.

In addition, Mr Cheema is a board member of the Scottish Retail Consortium and Scotland’s Town Partnership, and also sits on a number of Scottish Government committees.

Mr Cheema – recognised for his outstanding contribution to the convenience store sector in Scotland – said: “It is a heartfelt privilege to be receiving this honorary doctorate.

“The University has achieved international recognition and status for academic excellence and this award shows that people from all backgrounds can have their contribution recognised and celebrated at the very highest level.

“This is also an honour and recognition for my family and colleagues, who have worked with and supported me over the past 30 years.’’

Mr Thuram and Mrs Brittain received their honorary doctorates at this morning’s ceremony, celebrating the achievements of students from the Faculties of Arts and Humanities and Health Sciences and Sport; while Mr Cheema was recognised at this afternoon’s ceremony, for students graduating from the Faculty of Natural Sciences.

students graduating

More than 2,000 students will graduate over Stirling's three-day graduation.

This summer’s graduation marks an important milestone for the University, with The Rt Hon Lord Jack McConnell installed as its sixth Chancellor, succeeding BBC journalist Dr James Naughtie.

In total, 2,113 graduating students – and six honorary graduates – will celebrate at Stirling’s three-day graduation. Yesterday (June 25), double-BAFTA award winning director Hamish Hamilton received an honorary doctorate, with Outlander star Sam Heughan and retail expert Professor John Dawson to be recognised tomorrow (June 27).