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HRH The Princess Royal awards University of London honorary degrees and fellowship to five notable figures


Five highly esteemed individuals from the worlds of business, food, social work, broadcast, and higher education have been awarded honorary degrees and fellowships by the University of London at its Foundation Day event. The ceremony, which was held on 22 November, was presided over by HRH The Princess Royal to commemorate the establishment of the University of London in 1836.

Back row (from left to right): Dr David N Jones, Professor Paul Layzell CBE DL, Simon Reeve, Baroness Ros Altmann CBE. Front row (from left to right): Claudia Roden CBE, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal , Professor Wendy Thomson CBE


The 2023 honorands are:  

  • Baroness Ros Altmann CBE becomes a Doctor of Science (Economics) honoris causa.  
  • Dr David N Jones becomes a Doctor of Science (Social Sciences) honoris causa.  
  • Professor Paul Layzell CBE DL receives an Honorary Fellowship.  
  • Simon Reeve becomes a Doctor of Literature honoris causa
  • Claudia Roden CBE becomes a Doctor of Literature honoris causa.  

Foundation Day is an annual celebration of the University of London’s first royal charter, awarded by King William IV in 1836, and an occasion to confer honorary degrees to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to all spheres of life. The first honorary degrees were presented in June 1903. 

University of London Vice-Chancellor Professor Wendy Thomson CBE said: 

Foundation Day is a very special date in our calendar when we gather to celebrate the establishment of the University of London and remember the achievements of all those people who, since 1836, have worked so hard to make this a world class institution. 

We also use the occasion to honour those who make valuable contributions to society, and today’s honorary award winners join illustrious names including Sir Winston Churchill, Dame Judi Dench, T.S. Eliot, Dame Margot Fonteyn and Henry Moore. I’m pleased to congratulate Ros, Claudia, David, Paul, and Simon on the great achievements they have each made in their respective fields, and which are being recognised by the University of London in this way.

Full biographies

Baroness Ros Altmann CBE

Ros is an award-winning pension expert and renowned consumer champion focussing on long-term investment and savings. After academic work as a Harvard Kennedy Scholar and her Ph.D. in Economics at LSE, she moved into asset management, heading international pension investing for Chase and Rothschilds, then started her own consultancy advising pension funds, corporates and governments. She is a widely-respected conference speaker, pensions policy thought leader, national press writer and appears frequently on radio and TV. Ros received a CBE in 2014 for services to pensioners and pension provision, was Government Business Champion for Older Workers, 2014-2015 and Pensions Minister 2015-2016.

Dr David N Jones

Dr David N Jones is a social worker, recognised in the profession worldwide as an effective spokesperson and advocate.  He specialised in child protection before appointments to national and international roles, including General Secretary, British Association of Social Workers (1985-94); professional roles in government departments, Audit Commission and Ofsted; President, International Federation of Social Workers (2006-10); founding Board member of the Commonwealth Organisation for Social Work (1994-present); Governor, Northamptonshire Healthcare Trust; and service on many committees (e.g. URC, CFAB)].  He steered consultations on the Commonwealth Charter for Young Carers.  Among many publications, he edited the first UK multi-professional textbook on child protection (1982).  

Professor Paul Layzell CBE DL

Paul Layzell has been an information technology and education leader for over 30 years, specialising adaptable software systems and cloud computing.  He managed the merger of UMIST and the Victoria University of Manchester (2001-2004) and later, was appointed as Principal of Royal Holloway, University of London (2010-2022).  He served as Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of London (2019-2023).   Paul was a long-serving chair of AQA (2010-2017), the UK’s largest GCSE and A-level awarding body and has held other chair and non-executive roles in IT and education businesses, including HFL Education and University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust.  

Simon Reeve

Simon Reeve is an author, adventurer and broadcaster who has made multiple award-winning TV series exploring and explaining the world. They include North America, South America, Indian Ocean, Tropic of Cancer, Equator, Russia and Mediterranean. His documentaries combine travel and adventure with global issues, including poverty, conflict, the environment and conservation. He has travelled to more than 130 countries, across jungles, deserts, mountains and oceans, and to some of the most beautiful, dangerous and remote regions of the world. His books have been in the bestseller lists of both The Sunday Times and The New York Times.  

Claudia Roden CBE  

Claudia Roden is a food writer with a special interest in the history and cultural background of food. Born in Egypt, she specialises in the cuisines of the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean, and in Jewish food. Previously, she has taught cooking, presented a BBC TV series on the Mediterranean, and worked on improving food in hospitals. She is President of the Oxford Symposium of Food and cookery. Her books are said to have influenced what we eat in Britain today and to have sparked an interest in the academic study of food. She received a CBE in 2022 for services to culinary culture.