One of eight children, Steve was born and raised in Kirkby to a stay-at-home mum and forklift truck driver dad. After leaving school with few formal qualifications, Steve began a bricklaying apprenticeship and went on to study as a mature student at LJMU in 1994. He went on to run his own building company before working for the Learning and Skills Council.
Since then, Steve has served communities across the Liverpool City Region in a variety of public roles: he was elected as a ward councillor for Fazakerley in 2002; served as Lord Mayor of Liverpool during the city’s year as European Capital of Culture in 2008; elected as the MP for Liverpool Walton in 2010; and became Mayor of the Liverpool City Region in 2017.
Steve has campaigned on issues affecting local communities, including justice for the Hillsborough families and survivors, support for blacklisted workers, compensation for people suffering from mesothelioma and asbestosis and a change in the law on the use of old tyres on buses and coaches.
“Going to university wasn’t a realistic option for a lot of young, working-class people like me growing up in Kirkby in the 1960s. The opportunity to study later in life allowed me to make the improbable journey from bricklayer, to Parliament, and now Mayor of the region I love. In many ways, my time at LJMU was catalytic in taking my career in a new direction - one that I never thought would be possible.”
– Steve Rotheram
Steve has always maintained a close relationship with LJMU and most recently attend the launch of the university’s Centre for Educational Leadership, which was developed in partnership with him and the Combined Authority he leads. He is regarded by the university as a relatable role model and inspiration for current and future students and graduates. It’s for these reasons that he has been selected to become one of the first Alumni Ambassador Fellows of Liverpool John Moores University during this bicentenary year.
When the honour was announced, LJMU Vice-Chancellor Professor Mark Power said: “Steve’s commitment to public service and to supporting communities across the Liverpool City Region is immense and perfectly reflects the values of our university and our aim of making a positive difference to people’s lives. His dedication and tireless campaigning on issues that really matter to people in the city region and beyond is an inspiration to all LJMU students and graduates.
“Steve has always been a great champion and supporter of LJMU, and it is fitting that we should honour him in this way during our historic bicentenary year.”
The honour will be bestowed at the spring graduation ceremonies in March 2023.
Steve said: “Going to university wasn’t a realistic option for a lot of young, working-class people like me growing up in Kirkby in the 1960s. The opportunity to study later in life allowed me to make the improbable journey from bricklayer, to Parliament, and now Mayor of the region I love. In many ways, my time at LJMU was catalytic in taking my career in a new direction – one that I never thought would be possible.
“But for far too long, too many people in our area have been held back from fulfilling their potential – not by a lack of talent, but by a lack of opportunity. Thankfully, institutions like LJMU are building a legacy that our region can be proud of, by helping to break down the barriers that had previously stood in the way of people realising their ambitions.
“For nearly 200 years, this university has played a significant role in our area’s history and success – attracting people from all walks of life to come and study in the Liverpool City Region. Their students and researchers enrich our culture, enhance our economy and improve all our lives – making us one of the most vibrant, diverse places to live, study or work.
“Although I already feel part of the LJMU family, I’m looking forward to starting a new chapter in my journey with a university that has not only played a big part in my life – but in our region’s long and illustrious story.”
Alumni are being introduced to the role of Ambassador Fellows as part of LJMU’s celebration of its people over the last 200 years. It is a special acknowledgement of former students who embody the university’s values of being student-focussed, inclusive, engaged with the community and courageous.