First Female Commander Sarah West Receives Honorary Award
The University of Hertfordshire has awarded Commander Sarah West, an Honorary Doctor of Science in recognition of her outstanding achievement in becoming the first woman to command a major warship in the five-hundred-year history of the Royal Navy.
Earlier this year senior naval officer Sarah became the first woman to take command of a major British warship and this marks a new chapter in the history of the Royal Navy, which first allowed women to go to sea in 1990. Being selected to take control of the Plymouth-based HMS Portland - a Type 23 frigate regarded as a bulwark of the fleet - is the highlight of Commander West's sixteen year career with the service.
At the ceremony on Friday 23 November – held in the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Albans – Sarah received her Honorary Degree alongside over 4,500 new graduates celebrating academic success.
Commenting on receiving her Award, Sarah said: “The award of this honorary degree is a great honour and privilege, particularly because it is from an institution that I hold in high regard and one that developed my interest in learning, which I have maintained throughout my Naval career. It is especially enjoyable to be able to share the graduation day of so many students, who have been successful in their studies.”
In reading the citation, Graham Galbraith, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Hertfordshire, said: “Sarah’s swift rise through the ranks is a testament to her personal qualities and dedication, and a reflection of her considerable experience and expertise in underwater warfare and large-scale naval planning.”
Graham added: “Her successful naval career and her recent appointment are a great source of pride for our University and an inspiration to our students and I am delighted to present this award to her.”
The University has also shown its appreciation to fourteen other pillars of the community by awarding Honorary Degrees and Fellowships for outstanding contribution to academic disciplines, charity, professions or public service – presented by Lord Salisbury, Chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire; Mrs Jo Connell, Pro Chancellor of the University; Professor Quintin McKellar, Vice-Chancellor and Professor Graham Galbraith, Deputy Vice-Chancellor.