Pioneering MK Dons Chairman Pete Winkelman yesterday received an Honorary Doctorate from The Open University to mark his contribution to education through the world of professional football.
The Honorary Doctorate was presented to the Chairman for his services to the educationally underprivileged. The citation, read out at Milton Keynes Theatre, in front of more than 250 new OU graduates, invited guests and business leaders, states how Mr Winkelman “worked tirelessly with the public and private sectors to deliver the city’s 30-year ambition to host professional league football and to develop a landmark multi-purpose sports and spectators events complex”.
A regular speaker at educational institutions on entrepreneurship, Mr Winkelman can turn to his own “back story” as a prime example of how to achieve your goal. He identified that MK was the biggest population in England that was not represented in football, the national sport. A football stadium was in the original plans for MK, but 30 years on, this had still not been addressed. After putting in personal money and obtaining other major investment he wanted to make this dream a reality. It took £150 million worth of deals and 10 years of focused drive to create stadiummk
Mr Winkelman first came to Milton Keynes in 1993 when he established Great Linford Manor as one of Europe’s leading residential recording studios, after a successful and varied career in the music industry in London. It was while in Milton Keynes that he was inspired by the footballing exploits of his son Bobby to realise the creation of stadiummk, home of MK Dons Football Club, of which he is chairman.
Speaking after the presentation of the Honorary Doctorate Martin Bean, Open University Vice-Chancellor said: “For many years Pete has been a great friend, not just to The Open University and to Milton Keynes, but to hundreds of people who could use a little extra support in their education.
“Like The Open University, the MK Dons Sports & Education Trust is making a real difference to the lives of children, young people and adults right across the region, and I was delighted to recognise that by honouring Pete today.”
The Chairman said: “I am delighted and flattered to have been recognised by The Open University for this Honorary Doctorate. The Open University is an iconic institution which has made higher education accessible to a whole new audience and allowed people to achieve their dreams. I am honoured to be associated with their fantastic history.”
The Honorary Doctorate was presented by Open University Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research, Scholarship and Quality) Professor Tim Blackman. Among those in attendance at the ceremony were Mark Lancaster, MP for Milton Keynes North, David Hill, Chief Executive of Milton Keynes Council and Dr Philip Smith, Chairman of MK Business Leaders Partnership.