Doctorate for a diva

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SOUTH Yorkshire’s very own opera star is set to take to a stage of a different kind when she collects an honorary degree from Sheffield Hallam University later this year.

Lesley Garrett CBE, who has won critical acclaim and industry awards in a musical career spanning several decades, will collect her degree for services to the arts.

The much-loved soprano is known for her work with English National Opera and has performed across the world, starring in countless productions with leading opera companies.

Her CD Soprano in Red received the Gramophone Award for best-selling classical artist of the year in 1996.

Lesley is an active supporter of the Sheffield-based charity Lost Chord, which aims to improve the quality of life and well-being of those suffering with dementia, using musical stimuli to increase awareness and self-esteem.

She will return to Hallam to collect her degree having performed there earlier this year during an In Conversation event, which raised money for the charity.

Her varied career has included major television appearances such as Lesley Garrett... Tonight for the BBC and The Lesley Garrett Show.

She was a semi-finalist in the first series of Strictly Come Dancing and also appeared in The BBC’s geneology show Who Do You Think You Are?

More recently the Doncaster diva was a regular member of the ITV Loose Women panel and made regular appearances on Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff.

Lesley said: “I am thrilled to have been awarded an honorary doctorate by Sheffield Hallam University.

“For many reasons Sheffield has a very important place in my heart and I look forward to returning to South Yorkshire to celebrate with the graduates on the day.”

Lesley was awarded a CBE in the 2002 New Year’s Honours List for services to music.

Also set to be honoured at the university’s degree ceremonies in November are World Cup final football referee Howard Webb, from Rotherham.

He will be joined by the former headteacher of Firth Park Commumnity College Mo Laycock.