Honorary degrees for distinguished trio

A charity leader, a business leader and a senior manager of Glasgow Women’s Library are to receive honorary degrees from the University of Strathclyde this month.

The awards are to be made to Olivia Giles OBE, CEO and Chair of the 500 Miles prosthetics and orthotics charity, Susan Aktemel, founder of national charity Impact Arts and the Homes For Good social business, and Adele Patrick, Lifelong Learning and Creative Development Manager of Glasgow Women’s Library.

They will be presented with their honorary degrees during Strathclyde’s graduation ceremonies, which will be held from 7-10 November.

Around 1200 students will be graduating from the University this month.

Ms Giles’ charity supports the development and delivery of prosthetic and orthotic services in Malawi and Zambia. She was inspired to found 500 Miles after contracting meningococcal septicaemia and requiring her hands and feet to be amputated to save her life.

She decided not to resume her career as a lawyer but instead to establish her charity, which has since supported the training of prosthetists and orthotists and worked on the long-term goal of making prosthetic and orthotic devices as affordable and accessible as possible.

Ms Aktemel studied languages at Strathclyde before going on to found Impact Arts, which aims to help people transform their lives through creativity and the arts. In 2015-16 alone, it engaged with more than 6800 people through 119 programmes and projects in nine local authority areas.

In 2012, she stepped down as Chief Executive of Impact Arts and went on to establish Homes For Good, a social enterprise aimed at creating secure, quality homes for tenants and enabling landlords to manage their investments successfully. She is also a guest lecturer with Strathclyde’s Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship.

Ms Patrick was a co-founder of Glasgow-based design agency Graven Images and initially worked as a volunteer at Glasgow Women’s Library when it opened in 1991. She went on to become a Lifelong Learning Development Worker before taking up her current managerial role.

She was named the Evening Times Scotswoman of the Year in 2016, for her “hard work and passion (which) has made a difference to the lives of thousands of women.”

Strathclyde students graduating this month will be joining an international community of more than 150,000 alumni, more than a quarter of whom are based overseas.