ONE of the nation’s best loved writers and the man behind Liverpool One were awarded honorary degrees from the University of Liverpool.
Frank Cottrell Boyce, who wrote the script for this summer’s Olympic opening ceremony, was made an honorary Doctor of Reading alongside Rod Holmes, the Grosvenor’s former project director behind the city’s £1bn shopping complex, who became a Doctor of Laws.
The ceremony took place yesterday at the Philharmonic Hall where both men made speeches to hundreds of graduates who were receiving their degrees.
Mr Cottrell Boyce, a former script writer for Coronation Street, said: "Having an honorary degree from your home town, with your mum and your dad in the audience, that’s an amazing thing."
Despite describing the job of devising a story for the ceremony with Danny Boyle as a "poisoned chalice", he said the honorary degree topped off a year of personal achievements.
Mr Cottrell Boyce also won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize for his novel The Unforgotten Coat in October.
The writer, who was born in Blundellsands and educated in St Helens, managed to include his Merseyside upbringing in the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony.
He said: "Danny [Boyle] loved the motto of St Helens, Ex Terra Lucem [From the Ground, Light], it’s even in the official Olympics souvenir brochure."
Professor Kelvin Everest, the University’s public orator, praised the genius of the Shakespeare- inspired ceremony and said he was "proud to honour a native Liverpudlian".
Mr Holmes said it was "very special" to be recognised for his achievements, adding: "My heart is very much in Liverpool. I’m as Scouse as anybody else."
The shopping and leisure complex was opened in Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture year in 2008.
Mr Holmes said: "Liverpool One was one part of many things that happened that year, along with the Arena and Capital of Culture. We made this transformation together, it wasn’t one project."
Professor Everest, described the development as having "heralded a rebirth of the city".
He added: "It is fitting that we recognise such outstanding contributions."
Mr Holmes, who recently retired as chairman of The Mersey Partnership, oversaw the merger of investment body The Merser Partnership (TMP) into the region’s Local Enterprise Partnership earlier this year.
He was also named Business Person of the Year 2012 at Regional Business Awards held by The Liverpool Post.