Twenty years after graduating I was back at my old university. Once again I was wearing a long black robe. But this graduation ceremony at Goldsmiths College was very different to last time.

I was there to receive an honorary fellowship. It was such a wonderful surprise when I found out that I’d been nominated. I was put foward by my lovely radio lecturer Tim Crook for services to journalism – my work as a BBC correspondent and this blog!

The ceremony was held in Goldsmith’s grand hall. One by one the students from my old course came onto the stage to receive their degrees.

I may be a little bit older than most of them but I felt like I should be sat where they were, rather than on the stage next to Warden and the Chair of the college.

I felt more nervous that I did two decades ago. Right at the end of the ceremony I had to give a speech. Hundreds of people were watching; this was much more scary than any live broadcast.

Then I was made an honorary fellow. With my mum and dad sat in the front row, it was one of the proudest moments of my life.

Being back at uni made me think about my career and my big foreign adventure. I realised that it if wasn’t for the cancer when I was 30, I probably wouldn’t have achieved half of the things I have. I also doubt that I would have got this honorary fellowship. It’s a strange feeling having brilliant things happen while at the same time as I have a killer disease.

It made me think about an incredible woman I recently interviewed. It was for a documentary I’m making for the BBC World Service about bucket lists. Susan Spencer-Wendel is terminally ill with ALS, a condition which destroys the nerves that powers her muscles. She wrote the bestseller, Until I Say Good-Bye: My Year of Living with Joy.

Reading the book has helped me to understand these kind of experiences. Susan talks about making the best possible outcome from the worst possible circumstances. That’s exactly how I feel.

14 thoughts on “Honoured

  1. Whilst it is cheesy I cannot resist the obvious comment….

    It brings a whole new meaning to ‘for she’s a jolly good fellow’

    Congratulations on your deserved award. We are all so proud of you . X

  2. Dear Helen, Congratulations, we’re very proud of you and all that you have achieved, personally and professionally. I’m sure your Mum and Dad must have been bursting with pride. Well done. Lots of love Julia x

  3. Many Congratulations Helen! Keep up the great work that you do. Like many others, I’m sure, your blog causes me to stop for a few minutes and reflect on all sorts of things. Thank you.

  4. Wonderful for you to get an honour like that. Well done Love Denise..x

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