INTERNATIONALLY renowned artist David Hockney received an honorary doctorate from the University of York to mark its 50th birthday.

More than 1,200 people gathered at York Minster yesterday to celebrate the university’s 50th anniversary, at the place where it was inaugurated in October 1963.

Residents, former students and staff saw the university’s chancellor Greg Dyke confer honorary doctorates on David Hockney and four others who have made outstanding contributions to York and Yorkshire in the last half-century.

The other recipients were Janet Barnes, chief executive officer of York Museums Trust, chairman of York Science Park, Robert Brech, John David, master mason of York Minster, and Dianne Swiers, former deputy chief nurse with Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Healthcare NHS Trust.

On receiving his doctorate, Robert Brech said: “One of my favourite sayings is ‘every project needs a driver’. Progress isn’t made unless there is someone ready to champion an idea, to overcome obstacles, and to drive and to keep driving.

“The University of York would not have achieved the success that it has without a plethora of drivers, all of whom have left their mark, and, all of whom, I hope, have savoured and enjoyed the journey as much as me.

“The award of an honorary degree is the icing on what was already a splendid cake.”

The Dean of York, the Very Reverend Vivienne Faull, said: “York Minster, which was closely involved in the creation of the University of York, congratulates the University on its success over 50 years and looks forward to supporting its continued development.”

The crowd also heard the very first performance by the University of York orchestra and choir of music marking the anniversary, which was specially composed by Dr Richard Shephard, Chamberlain of the York Minster Fund, who is also an honorary graduate of the university.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Cantor said: “Since 1963, the University of York has inspired nearly 100,000 people to cross continents, embrace almost every imaginable job and profession.

“We are proud to work with all our friends and partners in the city, to ensure its economic growth and prosperity. We are honoured, through our research, our concerts, and our lectures to contribute to York’s cultural life.”