Image of the graduation procession inside the Liverpool Cathedral

Darren Henley

Oration

Presented by: Vasily Petrenko

Honourable Chancellor, I have pleasure in presenting Darren Henley for the award of an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University.

This is a truly civic university, firmly rooted in this extraordinary city, and its defining ethos comprises three deceptively simple yet very powerful words: Dream. Plan. Achieve.

Each year at Graduation, the University's highest honour - an Honorary Fellowship - is bestowed upon a select band of individuals outside the University, in recognition of their outstanding achievement in a given field or profession, and who personify and inspire others to 'dream, plan, and achieve.'  No-one personifies this ethos more perfectly than Darren who we present today for an Honorary Fellowship in recognition of his outstanding contribution to arts and culture.

Darren has been with Classic FM since 1995 and Managing Director for the last eight years.  He began his career as a journalist after graduating from the University of Hull and progressed into news broadcasting for a variety of stations.

His talent as a journalist and popular writer translates into every aspect of his work and with a passion for introducing new audiences to classical music he is able to use his position at Classic FM - and his talent as an author - to bring the world of music to life for the digital generation.

He also authored two independent government reviews into music and cultural education, which resulted in England's first National Plan for Music Education, new networks of Music Education Hubs and Heritage Schools, the BFI Film Academy and the new National Youth Dance Company. He is currently the chair of the government's Cultural Education Board.

He is a prolific author - I don't know how he finds time for his day job!

Among his 27 books about classical music and musicians he wrote the first official history of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic reflecting his enormous interest, passion and commitment not only to the orchestra but to the city of Liverpool as well.

Darren has worked with LJMU through its partnership with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic to broadcast Classic FM live from the University, as part of the Liverpool International Music Festival, opening up exciting cultural experiences for its students and the city. His latest book 'The Virtuous Circle' argues that cultural and creative activities should form a vital part of the everyday lives of young people - that they are academically, physically, socially and emotionally enriching.

Together with his co-authors, Darren is seeking to provide a template for a renewed approach to cultural and creative education. He argues that the creative arts are not just entertainment - far from it - the arts matter in our society now more than ever.

Earlier this year, he took part in the welcome events for this university and spent an afternoon greeting new students at St Georges Hall alongside my colleagues from the Philharmonic - signing copies of a special edition of his book "Everything you wanted to know about classical music - but were afraid to ask".

Darren is a true pioneer, he is a great friend to us at the Philharmonic and to the University.  Darren truly lives by the University's motto - to dream, to plan and to achieve - his aim to give everyone a chance to share in his own love of classical music mirrors the aims of the University, to give all of the students a chance to experience a world class symphony orchestra - and it is truly inspiring.  

So - Chancellor, it is with great personal pleasure that I present Darren Henley, this most distinguished adopted son of our city, for admission to our highest honour, as an Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.