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John Kirkby receives honorary degree

calendar03 December 2015

John Kirkby's avatar John Kirkby

John Kirkby receives honorary degree

CAP's Bradford-born Founder and International Director reflects on being honoured by Bradford University

Today Bradford University is presenting me with an honorary degree (a doctorate, no less!) for my ‘contribution to the alleviation of poverty and problem debt’.

My family will be there to witness this astonishing event, at the university just down the road from our headquarters at Jubilee Mill.

It is actually difficult to express just how much this means to me. My parents would have been so proud, especially my Dad who died when I was 18, before I had amounted to anything.

This is a great achievement for CAP. Here is an academic institution, irrespective of faith, telling us our work is right up there with the most significant achievements of this city.

I want to acknowledge Matt Barlow who has been with me in this for 16 years, and CAP's CEO for ten years, and my world-class management team, who are simply stunning.

Personally speaking, degrees, universities and academia are really something from an alien environment. Looking back, no one in our family went to university.

To say I was rebellious at school is an understatement – I was positively anti-school. How I scraped out of there with a handful of O-levels is… amazing. I left school at 16 and my first job was banging lids on paint pots! I was young and angry and messed up.

But today that doesn’t matter.

This is my home city and this says, I’m a son of Bradford who they’re proud of and I am so humbled.

I’m going to accept this on behalf of the tens of thousands of people this charity has helped. They are the real heroes – the people who have been and are battling away to transform their lives.

I want everyone, but especially them, to know this:

It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.

It’s not who you were, it’s not the mistakes you made.

It’s having a resilient character and seeking a cause more worthy than anything you could personally seek to achieve. That is what counts.

 

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