In 2017 Gyles Brandreth succeeded the late Duke of Westminster as Chancellor of the University of Chester: 


Gyles speaking at the University of Chester

Former Chester MP Gyles Brandreth was officially installed as Chancellor during the institution’s graduation ceremony at Chester Cathedral this morning, Friday, March 17, 2017. He was awarded his Honorary Doctorate by the University in 2014. 

Quoting Nelson Mandela: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” Dr Brandreth spoke of his honour, excitement and delight at his appointment. He referred to his time as MP in the 1990s, when he was a committed campaigner for the institution (then Chester College) to be granted university status. This ambition was eventually realised in 2005 and he has followed the University’s progress since with keen interest. 

He acknowledged the vital role at the University of everyone from the Vice-Chancellor to the cleaners and maintenance staff. He saluted the students for their hard work and invited them to give their parents and partners a round of applause for their support during their studies. 

Having researched the position of Chancellor, Dr Brandreth said he had discovered that: “essentially there are really only two requirements of a university Chancellor: enthusiasm and a good handshake.” 

Over the course of the day, the new Chancellor is likely to shake hands at least 500 times, including congratulating each of today’s 465 graduands individually, as they receive their well-deserved awards. Speaking to them in particular, he mentioned the history associated with the hand that they would be shaking. During his time in Parliament, Dr Brandreth was a Lord Commissioner of the Treasury and – with the same hand that greeted each graduate - he signed the Government’s cheques, many of which were for billions of pounds. 

Gyles at the University of Chester

He also said that fellow chancellors had suggested he shared an optional word or two of advice. 

He talked about his correspondence as a 20-year-old with Field Marshal Montgomery, one of the great wartime generals, and commander of the British Eighth Army, who would meet other military leaders during the Second World War at what is now the University’s Queen’s Park Campus in Handbridge. The student Dr Brandreth had asked ‘Monty’ what qualities he believed to be essential for success in life and the reply came: 

Moral courage – always do what you believe to be right. Complete integrity – no lies, no deceptions, honesty and transparency. Ceaseless hard work. Addressing the congregation, Dr Brandreth said: “Moral courage, complete integrity, ceaseless hard work. In seven words, the secrets of success – and I think they chime with the values of the founding fathers of this University.” 

He ended by quoting advice given by Christopher Robin to Winnie-the-Pooh: “If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something that you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.” 

Dr Brandreth concluded: “I hope the University of Chester will always be with you – the degree you have worked hard to achieve here, the friends you have made here, the memories you take from here. May they always be with you.” 

This echoes the promise with which Professor Tim Wheeler, the Vice-Chancellor, always closes his own speech to graduands, that as new alumni they will always be a part of the University of Chester and that the institution will always be a part of them.