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Pipe Major and veteran BBC NI Broadcaster honoured by Queen’s University Belfast

Richard Parkes MBE and Mark Carruthers OBE will today (Monday 1 July) be awarded honorary degrees by Queen’s University Belfast.

Richard Parkes

Richard Parkes, who is Pipe Major of the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band, will receive a Doctor of Literature (DLit) for Services to music.

An engineer at Bombardier by profession, Parkes has been leading the grade one (top level of competition) pipe band as a hobby. His band achieved their 12th World Championship title in August 2018, making Richard the second person in history to have led a pipe band to 12 World titles.

He has won many prestigious awards including seven All Ireland Senior Solo Championships, eight Northern Ireland Piper of the Year titles, and nine Ulster Senior Championships. In 2004, Parkes was awarded an MBE for services to Piping in Northern Ireland.

Commenting on receiving the honorary degree, Parkes said: “I am honoured and humbled to receive an Honorary Doctorate from Queen’s University Belfast. This is the first time that someone from the pipe band world is being recognised within academia in Northern Ireland for services to music. I hope that this may lead on to more opportunities for a wider spotlight to be shone on Northern Ireland’s wealth of talent in this musical genre.”

BBC Northern Ireland broadcaster and political commentator, Mark Carruthers, will receive a Doctor of Literature (DLit) for Distinction in broadcasting.

Carruthers joined BBC Northern Ireland in 1989 and since then he has presented countless radio and television programmes. In September 2011 he became the main politics presenter and currently fronts the weekly flagship programme The View and Sunday Politics.

He is a passionate advocate of the arts and served as Chairman of the Board of the Lyric Theatre in Belfast for eight years, and was a leading figure in the successful campaign to rebuild the theatre at a cost of over £18m.

He has also published two books – Stepping Stones: The Arts in Ulster 1971-2001 and Alternative Ulsters – Conversations on Identity, published in 2013.

In 2011, Carruthers was awarded an OBE for services to the arts in Northern Ireland.

Speaking ahead of the ceremony, Carruthers said: “It’s a complete delight to be recognised in this way by my alma mater – a very special and unexpected honour. My five years at Queen’s were immensely happy and rewarding – and I’m sure I use something I learned during my time there just about every day I go to work. I’m thrilled to be formally renewing my connection to Queen’s in this way.”