Posted: 11th November 2021 | Back to news feed

Carl Hester among equine industry figures awarded Hartpury University honorary degrees

Leading figures from equine and sport received honorary awards at last week’s Hartpury University graduation ceremony at Gloucestershire Cathedral.

Leading British dressage rider and five-time Olympian Carl Hester MBE has been awarded an honorary degree in recognition of his extensive contribution to equestrian sport and education. Having produced many horses to Grand Prix level, Carl became the first Honorary Patron of British Dressage in November 2016 and is one of Britain’s most successful dressage riders, holding 68 national dressage titles.


An advocate of Hartpury’s educational programmes and supporter of Hartpury’s Equine Academy programme, Carl periodically trains students as well as welcoming them to his yard for training opportunities. 

Community worker Imran Atcha received his honorary degree in recognition for extensive community work and promoting equine and animal education.

As a founding member of St James City Farm Riding School and manager of St James City Farm, Imran provides inner-city children with a taste of the countryside and access to affordable riding lessons. Imran’s enthusiasm and passion for horses and animals and his determination to bring the benefits of the countryside to under-privileged children, particularly those from minority ethnic backgrounds, was recognised at the graduation ceremony.

Former Principal of Hartpury College Malcolm Wharton CBE was recognised for his contribution to education and Hartpury. Appointed to the post in 1990, he took Hartpury from 69 students to a thriving community of around 3000 students on a range of equestrian, animal management, sport and land management programmes. By his retirement in 2012, Hartpury College was graded Outstanding by Ofsted.  

Malcolm’s wider contribution to the equine industry and sport is also significant. He is currently Chair of the British Equestrian Federation, an Honorary Vice President of the Riding for the Disabled Association, one of only five life members for Gloucester Rugby, a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society and former Director and Council Member of the RFU.

Rosie Scott-Ward, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Hartpury University, said: “It was a privilege to be able to celebrate and recognise the achievements of these remarkable people at our Graduation Ceremony last week.

“Carl’s incredible role in the development of British dressage, Imran’s unrelenting commitment to making riding more accessible to inner city children, and Malcolm’s passion for Hartpury, education and British equestrianism are all reasons why these are exceptional honorary degree graduates.

“While their roles within the equine industry are very different, they each share a common belief with us at Hartpury; that education is a vital foundation for unlocking future opportunities.

“I’d also like to pay tribute to our students who graduated last week. We are so proud of the resilience and determination they showed in the face of unprecedented challenges owing to the pandemic. We sincerely wish them well for the future.”

Ghanaian international and professional football player Majeed Waris was awarded an honorary degree for his work in education and his local community.

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