HUNDREDS of students graduate this week from York St John University in six ceremonies held in York Minster.

Today they were joined by Lady Benjamin, best known to millions as former children's TV presenter Floella Benjamin, who presented Play School and Play Away, became a peer in 2010 for her work as a children's campaigner. Baroness Benjamin was presented with an honorary degree.

Also recognised were the Yorkshire Rows, the oldest all-female crew to row across the Atlantic who started learning to row at the Guy Fawkes Boat Club in York. They were all given honorary degrees by the university.

Tomorrow recipients of the honour will include the Downton Abbey actress, Dame Penelope Wilton, and Chief Executive of York Conservation Trust, Philip Thake and Campbell Robb, the chief executive of the York-based Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust.

Professor Karen Stanton, Vice Chancellor of York St John University, said: “This year’s honorary graduands are an especially motivational group of people.

“We are delighted to recognise the incredible impact they have made in their respective fields with an honorary degree.

"We hope their inspirational stories will further encourage our students to achieve their potential and to make a positive contribution to the world.”

Chancellor of the university and Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said: “I am honoured to be presenting honorary degrees again this year.

"They are always joyous occasions - a celebration of each person’s hard work and achievement in their chosen field.

"I am sure that they will be truly inspiring to those students graduating with them as examples of hard work and excellence in their professions."