Former Chancellors

Lord Ashley of Stoke, CH

Lord Ashley of Stoke

Jack Ashley, Baron Ashley of Stoke, CH, (1922-2012), was a Labour member of the House of Lords. He was Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent South for 26 years, from 1966 to 1992.

Lord Ashley was born in Widnes in 1922 and educated at a local elementary school. He left school at 14 to work in the chemical process industry and by 22 he was a shop steward.

He served in the Army during the Second World War and then won a scholarship to study at Ruskin College, Oxford, where he received a Diploma in Economics and Political Science in 1948. He continued his studies at Cambridge University, where he was president of the Cambridge Union Society in 1951.

After graduating he worked as a television producer for the BBC and served on Widnes Borough Council as a councillor from 1946.

He was elected as Labour Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent South at the 1966 general election. In December 1967, at the age of 45, he became profoundly deaf as a result of complications during a routine ear operation to correct a mild hearing loss. He was the UK's first totally deaf MP.

Lord Ashley became a tireless campaigner on many issues, most of them affecting under-privileged people and matters of palpable injustice.

He played a leading role in the Thalidomide campaign which led to increased compensation and improvements in drug safety. He has also campaigned on similar compensation issues, such as vaccine damage, and the arthritis drug, Opren.

He was a campaigner for women's rights, being the first MP to raise the issue of domestic violence in Parliament. Disability has been a major interest and he has campaigned over the whole field with emphasis on employment and social security.

In 1985, Lord Ashley and his wife, Pauline, founded Deafness Research UK (The Hearing Research Trust). He retired from the House of Commons at the 1992 general election and was made a life peer and awarded the title Baron Ashley of Stoke, the same year. He received a cochlear implant in 1994 which restored much of his hearing.

He married Pauline Kay Crispin in 1951. His wife died in 2003. They had three daughters, including Jackie Ashley a national journalist.

Lord Ashley sadly died in 2012 aged 89, after contracting pneumonia.

Lord Bill Morris

Lord Morris of Handsworth

The University’s Chancellor, Lord Bill Morris of Handsworth OJ, stepped down in July 2011 following 7 years' service. As a working peer Lord Morris pledged to champion “those without a voice” and his well informed opinions are sought at the highest level.

Lord Morris’s full title refers to Birmingham’s Handsworth district, the area where he lived on arrival from Jamaica to the UK in the 1950s.

He was given a warm farewell at the Chancellor’s Reception, which took place during the University’s Graduation Week celebrations and saw Bill being thanked by staff and students alike for his contributions to Staffordshire University.

View a picture gallery and celebration video of Lord Bill’s leaving party

Former Pro Chancellor

Tanni Grey-Thompson

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE was installed as one of Staffordshire University’s first Pro Chancellors in 2004.

Spina bifida meant that Tanni has been in a wheelchair since the age of seven but she has become one of the world’s most admired and respected sportswomen and is regarded as Britain’s greatest ever Paralympian having won a total of 11 gold medals.

Born in Cardiff in 1969, Tanni made her debut for Wales at the Junior National Championships aged just 15.  Her first Paralympic success was in 1988 when she won bronze in the 400m at the Seoul Games.  Four years later in Barcelona Tanni claimed four gold medals, including world records in the 100m and 400m.  In 1996 in Atlanta she settled for silver in three of her four disciplines with gold in the 800m, whilst in Sydney 2000 she achieved victory in the 800m which was followed by success in the 100m, 200m and 400m.  Tanni has rounded off her gold medal tally by triumphing in the 100m and 400m in the 2004 Athens Paralympics.  However, it is not only over short distances that Tanni, as achieved such success; she has also won six London Marathon titles. Her latest, in 2002, came just three months after giving birth to baby Cerys. 

Tanni has been recognised by sporting organisations worldwide for her sporting achievements.  She was one of only four female athletes to appear in the top 50 British Sporting Greats poll undertaken by publishers Cassell Illustrated.  She is also a member of The Laureus World Sports Academy alongside sporting legends such as Pele, Jack Nicklaus, Michael Jordan and Ed Moses. Tanni, who also won the BBC Wales Sports Personality of 2004, has decided to end her Paralympic career, but is not yet ready to retire; she will maintain a close interest in the sport by nurturing the next generation of British Paralympians.

Already a holder of the OBE and MBE, Tanni, a double Paralympic champion was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2005 New Years Honours List.