Executive Chair of Everton in the Community, Professor Denise Barrett-Baxendale MBE, was this week recognised for her “outstanding contribution to charity and community engagement in Liverpool” when she received an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University.
Denise was a special guest at the graduation ceremony at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral where she was presented with her distinction and delivered a passionate, inspirational speech to the several hundred people in attendance.
During the month of July, Liverpool John Moores University will confer 13 Hononary Fellowships during its graduation ceremonies. The prestigious titles are awarded to those who have made an outstanding contribution to society or to recognise an outstanding achievement by an individual in a given field that resonates with the ethos of the university and city of Liverpool.
The Fellowship of the university is an association of individuals who are closely connected with their work and play an active role by delivering guest lectures, hosting events, helping with projects and, in some cases, mentoring and supporting individual or groups of students.
During her speech, Denise emphasised how she was keen to share the honour with all those who have helped Everton in the Community become one of the most reputable, pioneering charities in England, delivering over 40 programmes tackling social issues such as education, employment, mental health and youth engagement.
“To receive an Honorary Fellowship from LJMU is truly fantastic and I am exceptionally grateful and proud," she said. "Proud, too, that I was born and bred in Liverpool and that I have the privilege to direct and lead such a significant community programme that impacts our city.
“I’m really privileged to accept this award. It’s the highest honour the university can bestow on somebody so it is really prestigious and humbling.
“It’s very much shared with my staff and I’d like to say a personal thank you to the Board of Directors, (Everton Chief Executive) Robert Elstone and (Everton Chairman) Mr Kenwright for giving me the opportunity to be able to make the difference we have in the community.
“The students are here on the most magnificent day that many of them will have in their lives, surrounded by their friends, family and supporters. Hopefully I’ve shared with them some of the opportunities I have taken and highlighted that opportunities are there to be embraced.”
Denise is widely recognised for transforming Everton in the Community into the ‘best-in-class’ organisation it is today, with the charity winning almost 100 local, national and international awards in recognition of its ground-breaking work across Merseyside since her arrival at the Club in 2010.
Recent achievements for the charity include opening the doors to ‘The People’s Hub’ in L4; a base for the charity to service the needs and requirements of the local community, being recognised at The Times Higher Education Awards for its work supporting young people at risk of mental health issues, and engaging with young people to reduce reoffending rates in the city.
Three years ago, Denise was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for ‘Services to the Community of Merseyside’, an award presented to her by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in October 2014.
Other names joining Denise in being awarded Honorary Fellowships by Liverpool John Moores University this month include novelist Linda Grant, Founding Principal and CEO of LIPA Mark Featherstone-Witty and Whitechapel Chief Executive Mark Carter.