Date of release: Monday, November 6, 2017

BOU CeremonyAn Olympic gold medallist and an England cricket legend were among hundreds of exceptional women – and one man – who received honorary degrees from the university last week.

The awards celebrated the outstanding legacy of the university's predecessor, Dartford College of Education, and the considerable academic and professional achievements of its students.

Dartford College was a ground-breaking pioneer in physical education, sport and the advancement of women's rights. Founded by Madame Martina Bergman Österberg in 1885, it was the first women's physical education college in the UK.

Thousands of women gained Certificates in Education at Dartford College. Many went on to make great contributions to society, influencing the development of physical education, both nationally and internationally.

Alumnae from as far afield as the USA, Hong Kong and South Africa attended the graduation ceremonies which took place on the Greenwich Campus. The oldest graduand present was 98-year-old Dorothy Devitt, who gained her qualification in 1940.

Also attending the ceremony was Olympic gold medallist Ann Brightwell (nee Packer) who qualified in 1963, the following year she achieved a gold medal in the 800 metres in the Tokyo Olympics.

Many other international sportswomen are Dartford College alumnae, including Baroness Rachel Heyhoe Flint, England cricket captain between 1966 and 1978, international tennis player Sue Mappin and England cricketer Enid Bakewell.

There was one man among the graduands, Philip Jones, who travelled from Canada for the ceremony with his wife Stephanie, whom he met while they studied together at Dartford College. The college opened its courses to men in its later years.

Anne Stuart, Chair of the Bergman Österberg Union says, "Dartford alumni have always felt their courses were worthy of degree status and we are delighted, extremely proud and grateful to the university for this award."

Dartford College closed in 1986 but its tradition of teacher training and sport continues today at the university, which offers programmes in Physical Education & Sport and Sports Science. Greenwich is making a long-term investment in sports facilities with its multi-million-pound, all-weather facilities at Avery Hill.

Story by Public Relations

Photo: Dorothy Florence Devitt and her granddaughter Jane Devitt