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Issued:10/11/15

Musical pioneer Jerry Dammers, founder of Coventry ska band The Specials and the 2 Tone record label, has been awarded an honorary doctorate by Sheffield Hallam University.

Jerry Dammers is a founder member, keyboard player and primary songwriter of the ska revival band The Specials. Dammers formed The Specials at the same time as Rock Against Racism, which was first organised in 1978.

Dammers' role in Artists Against Apartheid and the Mandela Tribute Concert contributed to huge international pressure to bring apartheid to an end in South Africa. It is a contribution for which Dammers was recognised by the South African government, through the award of the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo in April 2014.

Professor Roger Eccleston, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University's Faculty of Arts, Computing, Engineering and Sciences, presented the award to Jerry, in front of hundreds of students from the faculty, and their guests.

On receiving the award, Jerry said: "I'd like to thank everyone involved in awarding me this. It really is very much appreciated that people appreciate some of the things I've tried to do."

Jerry, who studied a fine art course before forming The Specials, gave students some words of advice during his acceptance speech. He said: "Whether you're working in art, design, music, fashion – whether you're trying to be completely original or do something traditional – try and do it properly. Pay attention to detail and make sure it's how you intended it to be.

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"Ultimately, as always, you may have to fall back on the enjoyment you get from being creative and, if you enjoy it, there's the best chance that will communicate to other people."

10,000 students will graduate this year at ceremonies in Sheffield City Hall. Nine inspirational figures from a variety of sectors will join them on the stage this year, receiving honorary doctorates for outstanding contributions in their field.

Sheffield Hallam's graduation ceremonies are taking place at Sheffield City Hall from 9-20 November 2015.

For press information: Joe Field in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 2811 or email pressoffice@shu.ac.uk