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A fond farewell to Sir Thomas Allen

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Opera star Sir Thomas Allen took his final bow as Chancellor here at Durham University during this year’s Summer Congregation.

Sir Thomas, whose life story is said to have inspired the hit film and musical Billy Elliot, has been one of the longest serving Chancellors in our history, serving for more than ten years.


Sir Tom has won worldwide acclaim for his many singing roles and received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Durham University in 1988. He has been awarded the prestigious Queen's Medal for Music, is an honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music and holds a Fellowship of the Royal College of Music. 

Speaking about his time as Chancellor, Sir Thomas said:

From day one, ten years ago, I’ve been trying to summon the words to best describe this experience. I’m still trying, though I can say briefly that a great part of being Chancellor has been a kind of further education process in the people I’ve met and the things I’ve experienced. It has been the greatest honour and privilege, and I shall miss the people and the role terribly.

Sir Thomas Allen’s legacy

The Sir Thomas Allen Appeal Fund has been established to support the University’s initiative to become an ‘All-Steinway School’, offer music and choral bursaries and provide scholarships to students of all backgrounds and disciplines from around the world.

As a thank you to Sir Thomas for his years of service, we have also dedicated a new state-of-the-art Steinway Spirio piano in his honour.

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