Honorary Graduates 2010
James Caan – Doctor of Business Administration (honoris causa)
James Caan is best known as one of the all-powerful investors in the successful BBC series ‘Dragons' Den’, promoting awareness of entrepreneurship and business skills in the consciousness of the UK population. His own life is a compelling example of the transformative power of the entrepreneur. Arriving in the UK aged 2 as an immigrant from Pakistan; James left school at 16 with no qualifications. He has since gone on to establish an international recruitment and head hunting empire and private equity investment company. James is committed to education and the development of talent, through leadership of the Ethnic Minority Business Task Force and contribution to the Prince's Trust Enterprise Team. In addition to many ambassadorial charity roles James holds, his own charity, The James Caan Foundation, supports the education of disadvantaged children in Pakistan and the UK. James’ award is in recognition of his success as an entrepreneur and business leader, and his generosity in using his experience to advise other businesses and entrepreneurs, especially those from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Valerie Taylor – Doctor of Health Sciences (honoris causa)
Valerie Taylor is a physiotherapist who went to East Pakistan with Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) in 1969. She became aware of the great need for rehabilitation services for the disabled and returned to the new state of Bangladesh in 1975 to work at the Government Orthopaedic Hospital in Dhaka, where she founded a rehabilitation centre. This pioneering work was so successful and the impact so great that an independent trust was formed and named the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP). CRP is now a permanent, well-equipped training hospital and rehabilitation centre, funded through international charitable funding. The Centre has built an international reputation for excellence and regularly welcomes volunteers from overseas, including occupational therapy students on placement from York St John. Valerie’s work has been recognised in Bangladesh by the conferring of citizenship by the Prime Minister and the highest civilian honour of the country (The Shadhinota Dibosh Podok). In the UK, she has been awarded an OBE and a fellowship of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists. Valerie’s award is in recognition of her long and distinguished career and service to the poor and disabled people of Bangladesh.
Janakiraman Ramachandran – Doctor of Education (honoris causa)
Janakiraman Ramachandran is currently the Chancellor of AMET University in Chennai, India, which he founded in 1993. It began as the Academy of Maritime Education and Training and has expanded rapidly from 14 students to a current population of 2,700 undergraduate and postgraduate students. Mr Ramachandran identified the need to provide training and employment opportunities for young people in the state, ploughing considerable resource from profits from other commercial enterprises to found the New era Association of Educated Self Employed Youth (NAESEY). NAESEY projects range from kiosks selling tea and snacks, to courier services and a lending library for train journeys. The NAESEY vision extended into rural India, offering free industrial training schemes in villages and self-help groups to develop local enterprises. Since its foundation in 1976, NAESEY has benefited over 1.5 million people, their families and communities, by providing self-employment opportunities for educated but unemployed young people to earn a regular income and achieve social status. Mr Ramachandran’s award is in recognition of his distinguished contribution to education and social development in India.