ONE of the region’s leading philanthropists, a pioneering filmmaker and a children’s champion are being awarded honorary degrees by a North-East University.

Bishop Auckland investment banker, art collector and philanthropist Jonathan Ruffer, who is behind The Auckland Project and open-air show Kynren, is among those receiving a degree from Durham University during its winter congregations.

He said: “I’m delighted. Durham University is the pride of the county, and it is a pleasure to be more closely associated with it. My grandfather was professor of medicine there a century ago, and I am sure he would be pleased, too.”

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Also set to receive honorary degrees are Chris Terrill, an Emmy-award winning filmmaker and anthropologist and Wendy Shepherd, who has spent decades working to improving the situation of children, young people and vulnerable adults who have experienced sexual violence, exploitation and trafficking.

The degrees are set to be awarded during the university’s winter congregations, which take place at Durham Cathedral next week and will see around 1,300 students graduate.

Mr Ruffer, who is a fellow of the university’s St John’s College, is due to be made an Honorary Doctor of Letters on Friday.

Since purchasing Auckland Castle in 2012, Mr Ruffer has established the Auckland Project, which is transforming the venue into an arts, faith and heritage destination, with the aim of revitalising Bishop Auckland.

He is also working with Durham University to create a centre for research into Spanish and Latin American art and culture.

On Thursday, Ms Shepherd, who recently retired after 25 years leading the Barnardo’s Sexual Exploitation Children’s Outreach Service, will be made a honorary doctor of civil law.

And on Friday, Mr Terrill will be made an honorary doctor of science.

The pioneering anthropologist and author, who is a graduate of Durham, set up his own film company in 2004, focussing on communities in conflict zones or threatened by natural hazards.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart Corbridge said: “I congratulate all of our graduates and wish them well as they embark upon the next chapter of their lives.

“All three of our honorary graduates are great innovators in their field and I am sure our students will draw inspiration from them.”

Also attending will be a number of alumni who graduated 50 years ago.