IT is not often you see an 85-year-old don a graduation cap, but then Sir Roger Bannister is no ordinary pensioner.
Sir Roger, who was the first person to run a mile in under four minutes on Oxford’s Iffley Road track in 1954, moved graduates and guests to tears during the ceremony at Oxford Brookes yesterday.
The guest of honour who was awarded an Honorary Doctorate, gave a speech to his fellow graduates from the faculty of Health and Life Sciences.
His wife, Lady Moyra, said: “Everyone said it was a good speech, and several had tears in their eyes.”
Talking to the Oxford Mail after the ceremony, Sir Roger, who lives in North Oxford, said: “I have a lot of respect for Oxford Brookes and the reputation that it’s gained over the last 30 years.”
The former master of Oxford University’s Pembroke College said: “I feel close to Oxford Brookes as a university and I’m sure that it’s going to continue to grow in popularity, especially as there are some very ambitious plans.
“I’m very proud that I was selected to have an honorary degree.”
Paramedic graduate Chris Moy, 23, said: “It was a great honour to meet him, he’s a sporting hero and an inspiration.
“In his speech he told us about his four-minute mile and his work in medicine and gave us an insight into that.
“He also told us to take care if we’re doing the Ice Bucket Challenge because it shocks the nervous system.”
In May the Oxford Mail revealed that Sir Roger, who dedicated his life to understanding neurological disorders, himself suffers from Parkinson’s disease.
He said: “Perhaps it’s an irony that I’m a neurologist and I have a condition like this.
“There are about 120,000 others who have it in the UK and for them I feel sympathy and I hope neurological researchers – sooner rather than later – find out enough about it so people can have effective treatment.”
Speaking of his decision to go public with his condition, he said: “I felt that it was obvious to anyone meeting me that I had problems, particularly in walking, so I felt that it was wrong to hide it.”
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