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Honorary degree for inspirational city leader

11th July 2022

Newcastle City Council’s former Chief Executive Pat Ritchie CBE has received an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law from Northumbria University in recognition of her remarkable achievements for the city and the wider region.Pat Ritchie in academic dress on the University's City Campus before receiving her Honorary Degree

Pat joined Newcastle City Council in 2013 becoming their first female Chief Executive.

During her eight and a half years in this role she oversaw a period of growth and renewal in the city, playing a key role in securing the multimillion-pound investment deal to bring Legal and General to Newcastle’s flagship Helix city quarter.

She was also pivotal in the creation of the North of Tyne Combined Authority, where she was the first Head of Paid Service. 

Pat was instrumental in the formation of Collaborative Newcastle; an innovative initiative bringing together the NHS, local government, Higher Education and the voluntary and creative sectors to improve the health, wealth and wellbeing of the city.

Pat started her career in Newcastle in the late 1980’s as an Employment Development Worker in the west end of the city helping people start up business and access training at a time of very high unemployment. She was Deputy Chief Executive of The Wise Group, a leading social enterprise working to lift people out of poverty and into employment.

She then moved to the regional development agency One North East. As Assistant Chief Executive and Director of Strategy Pat was responsible for leading both the regional economic strategy and action plan for the North East. She went on to be Chief Executive of the Homes and Community Agency (now Homes England), where she was responsible for the delivery of the government’s Affordable Homes and Regeneration programmes.

As a result of the major impact she had on housing and regeneration throughout her career, Pat was appointed as Chair of the Government Property Agency and a Board Member of Homes England, where her positive influence will continue. 

Speaking about her honorary degree, Pat Ritchie said: I have worked in Newcastle and the North East for most of my career. Collaboration and partnership working is in this City’s DNA. I am privileged to have played my part in shaping and developing this great City. I have worked closely with Northumbria University throughout, and I am proud to receive this Honorary Doctorate in recognition of my contribution.”

Pat received her honorary degree during the University’s summer graduation ceremonies, which are being held on Northumbria’s Newcastle City Campus. 

The ceremonies celebrated the achievements of almost 6,000 students and a number of other honorary graduates, including Chief Medical Officer Professor Sir Chris Whitty and newsreader Moira Stewart, across five days.  

Honorary degrees are awarded each year to inspiring people who merit special recognition for their achievements, their links to the University and for inspirational qualities. 

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