Buxton welcomed back 250 former students on Saturday as they returned to the town to graduate from the University of Derby Buxton at a glittering awards ceremony in the Devonshire Dome.
The students, dignitaries including the university’s Chancellor the Duke of Devonshire, Honorary Doctors and their guests took part in a procession from the Dome to a ceremony at St Anne’s Church, led by Fairfield Brass Band.
They then returned to the Dome for the ceremony, formal photographs and a meal, which was this year prepared by professional cookery students of Buxton College.
Two high-profile High Peak figures - former Labour MP for the High Peak, Tom Levitt and the Managing Director of the Heights of Abraham, Andrew Pugh - both received Honorary Doctorates at the ceremony.
Mr Levitt said: “To be honoured in this way is a unique experience and it is fantastic to be recognised by the university for my work in the area over the years.”
Mr Pugh added: “I am so happy to be part of such an amazing occasion. To receive this award in such vibrant surroundings is something I will remember forever.”
For 22 of the graduating students this was the first time they had visited the university’s iconic campus, as all had studied for their degrees online.
This included Heidi Thorne and Teresa Jones, who were also the first to achieve First Class degree grades on their programmes.
Teresa, 41, completed an online BA (Hons) Hospitality Management degree while living and studying in Berkshire, and Heidi, 35, studied towards an online BSc (Hons) degree in International Spa Management from Oxfordshire.
Teresa said: “This is the first time I’ve been to Buxton or met my tutors face to face. To do so on my graduation day is very special.
“I came with my husband and mother and we have all really enjoyed the occasion and a weekend in the beautiful Peak District.”
Cyprus, Bulgaria, Taiwan, Bangladesh, Canada, Slovenia, Korea and even the Seychelles were among the many countries represented by the university’s diverse graduating population.
Dean of the University of Derby Buxton, Dr Peter Dewhurst, said: “We were delighted to welcome back so many of our students for their awards ceremony.
Once again many of them have already experienced some real success in their careers, and it was fantastic to be able to congratulate and celebrate with them.”
Studying towards a degree at Buxton led to a new bakery business as well as to wedded bliss for graduating students Jennifer and Phil Hardy.
For talented BA (Hons) Sports Development and Sports Coaching graduate Justin Knox, 36, it has been downhill all the way to his dream career after he secured a coveted national scholarship with British Cycling soon after completing his degree.
Also collecting his degree award was up and coming motor racing driver, Matt Hamilton, 21, from Hemel Hempstead.
Matt is preparing to drive for TH Motorsport next year, and is currently working with the team to ensure their Skoda Octavia is ready for the grid on the Touring Car circuit.