SINGING sensation Emeli Sandé has said a special ‘thank you’ to her parents as she was officially made a university chancellor.

Having moved to the North-East from Zambia, her father, Joel, met her mother Diane while they were both at what was then Sunderland Polytechnic.

Today, the whole family returned to their Wearside roots as they attended the University of Sunderland’s graduation ceremonies, at the Stadium of Light.

The new chancellor, now a multi award-winning artist, took to the stage to present her parents with their official graduation certificate, which they were unable to collect after they graduated in 1987, due to the birth of their daughter.

Emeli said: “My parents studied here together and I was born here, so I have a deep connection to Sunderland.

“Both of my parents were the first in their family to study for a degree. Education for them, as for so many people, was life changing.

“I am thankful for so many things and so many people, but my greatest thanks go to my mum and dad who made sure my sister and I knew the importance of having access to education.”

Emeli moved with her family to Aberdeenshire when she was four and attended the University of Glasgow, graduating with a degree in neuroscience.

Writing her first song at the age of 11, she showed a keen talent for music.

Her passion for music ran alongside her studies while at university, where she continued to write and perform at gigs across Glasgow, honing her talent.

Emeli’s debut album Our Version of Events, hit Number 1 in the UK charts and has sold over 5.4 million copies to date.

It was the biggest selling album in the UK in 2012 and 2013 and is certified platinum seven times.

Her memorable performances at the opening and closing ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympic Games brought her to the attention of almost a billion viewers and led to a performance at the White House for Barack Obama.

She said: “I want to use my time as chancellor to break down barriers to education, to ensure that people see their worth and that they aspire to reach their potential. This university is committed to ensuring that education and opportunities are accessible to all, that anyone can follow their passions.”