Born and raised in Leek, Queen of the Staffordshire Moorlands, Anna Watkins took her first rowing strokes towards Olympic Gold with Newnham College Boat Club while studying Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge.
Competing in many disciplines, Anna moved onto the World Class Start talent identification programme run by UK sport, before making her international debut, winning a gold medal in the Coxless IVs at the World under 23 Championship Regatta in Poznan, Poland in 2004.
In 2006, Anna switched to sculling and began competing in the double scull, going onto win bronze medals at both the World Championships and at the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 with her rowing partner Elise Laverick.
Joining forces with Katherine Grainger in 2010, the pair celebrated an unbeaten season culminating in their victory at the World Championships in New Zealand before being named World Rowing Female Crew of the year.
Individually, Anna Watkins became Champion of the Thames in the annual championships, the Wingfield Sculls, a title she would go on to retain the following year, setting a new record time.
Anna and Katherine joined forces again in the double scull and continued their unbeaten run, finishing the 2011 season with World Championship gold before the pair achieved Olympic Gold at London 2012, setting a new Olympic record in the semi-final.
Anna is celebrating her second award of the year having received an MBE in the 2013 New Year Honours List, for her services to rowing.
Outside rowing, Anna has remained committed to higher education and attended the University of Reading as a PhD student in Mathematics.
The award of Honorary Doctor of Staffordshire University is bestowed upon Anna in recognition of her phenomenal sporting achievements and her continuing journey through education, which combined with her performance on the water, makes her an inspirational role model for a generation.