ILLUSTRATOR and former Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell was honoured by the University of Brighton yesterday.

Chris, who also created the Costa-prize winning Goth Girl series, received an honorary doctor of arts degree in recognition of his major contribution to children’s literature and encouraging visual literacy.

The award was presented as more than 2,000 University of Brighton students graduated, with many attending ceremonies at the Brighton Centre.

Students aged 19 to 66 and from 72 countries were involved and families from around the world attended or watched via Livestream.

Professor Debra Humphris, the university’s vice-chancellor, said: “We are proud of the diversity of nationalities that make up our institution – and long may it continue to be so.”

The role and value of universities currently are being challenged, but Professor Humphris said: “Just look at the world-changing impact of our research, our overwhelmingly positive social and economic impact and our crucial role in developing the professionals, innovators and leaders of the future.”

Chris Riddell, winner of the university’s Alumnus Award in 2013, graduated from the university in 1984 with a degree in graphic design, studying under The Snowman illustrator and former University of Brighton teacher Raymond Briggs.

Chris is a renowned political cartoonist with his work appearing in the Economist, Independent on Sunday, Guardian and Observer. He has also provided cover art for the New Statesman and Literary Review.

Chris, who lives in Brighton, has retained close links with the university and created the character of Professor C Gull which acts as a guide to university for younger children as part of the its efforts to widen participation in higher education.

The programme has engaged thousands of children in the area and has even been taken up by a university in Texas.

In 2015, Chris became the UK’s ninth Children’s Laureate and in this role he championed creativity and the importance of visual literacy, encouraging everyone to enjoy the “joy of doodling” by drawing every day. He was awarded an OBE in the 2019 New Year’s Honours for his illustration and charity work.

Keynote speaker at the awards ceremony was university graduate Sonia Cargan who last year was appointed chief diversity officer for American Express. Sonia, who lives in Brighton, is responsible for the company’s global diversity and inclusion strategy.

Sonia graduated from the then Brighton Polytechnic in 1991 with a degree in social administration.