Cambridge awards board member with honorary doctorate


Board Members

Huge congratulations to Victoria Brignell who has been awarded an honorary doctorate from Anglia Ruskin University. Victoria has received this honour for her inspirational and high-achieving approach to life.

Since 2011 Victoria has been one of our local board members, helping to improve the lives of Catalyst residents. She originally joined the board because she wanted to use her experience as a resident to enhance the services Catalyst provides and contribute her thoughts and ideas on behalf of other residents.

Victoria studied classics at Downing College, Cambridge.  After graduating, she undertook journalism training at Cardiff University and has worked as a producer for BBC Radio 4 since 2002.

Victoria has been tetraplegic since she was six years old, when a tumour in her spinal cord left her paralysed below the neck. She is now a disability champion, raising money for a variety of charities including:

  • Motivation, a charity which helps people with mobility disabilities around the world
  • Save the Children for which she undertook a sponsored poetry reading marathon
  • Comic Relief where Victoria asked people to sponsor her to sing as many songs as possible by the great duo Flanders and Swann


Victoria Bignell, Dr Rowan Williams and Prof. Michael Thorne

Alongside all this activity, over the years she has also found time to serve as Governor of a Primary School in West London, becoming Chair of the governing body’s Curriculum Committee, and has written widely and engagingly about disability and social-care issues.

Her particular interest has been to help increase the number of disabled employees in broadcasting.  In recent years, she has mentored three young disabled people who wanted to pursue a career in the media, all of whom went on to successfully obtain posts at the BBC.

Victoria believes that becoming tetraplegic has given her a determination to accomplish as much as she can in her life.  She feels that if she were not disabled, her life would certainly be simpler and she would have more opportunities, but she wouldn’t be any happier.  Her positive outlook means she feels her quality of life is higher than that of 99% of people on this planet.

Victoria said:

“I was completely stunned when I found out I had been given this award. In fact, I rang the vice-chancellor’s office to check that they hadn’t made a mistake. I don’t feel I’ve done anything to deserve this award but I’m glad to have the opportunity to present a positive image of disability. I hope that my experience will encourage other disabled people to apply to be on the boards of housing associations.”