Harpenden Paralympic footballer receives honorary doctorate

Paralympic blind footballer and one of Britains top goal scorers, David Clarke, has been given an ho

Paralympic blind footballer and one of Britains top goal scorers, David Clarke, has been given an honorary Doctor of Science at this week's University of Hertfordshire graduation ceremony in St Albans - Credit: Photo: Pete Stevens - CreativeEm

One of Britain’s top goal scorers has been honoured at a university’s award ceremony in St Albans, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to football and the wider community.

Paralympic blind footballer David Clarke, of Harpenden, has received an Honorary Doctor of Science from the University of Hertfordshire.

He joined over 4,400 new graduates celebrating academic success at a ceremony held yesterday (Monday) at St Albans Cathedral.

A spokeswoman for the university said: “As the backbone of Britain’s blind football team scoring 128 goals in the 144 games he played, David has never let his visual disability stand in his way.

“Despite losing his sight at an early age, he has excelled as an international footballer while developing a successful career in banking. Although now retired from competitive sport, David continues to inspire young people to be the best they can be through his involvement both with the university and the wider community.”

David, 43, said he felt honoured to receive the award.

He added: “The skilled staff and state-of-the-art facilities at the De Havilland sports village campus were fundamental to my Paralympic preparation.”

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David was born into a football-mad family. After losing his sight at the age of nine one of his teachers encouraged him to join in the sport by creating a ball that made a noise.

He said that one of his biggest achievements was participating in the London 2012 Paralympics. David captained Britain’s five-a-side team, and was a torch bearer.

Nick Brooking, director of sport at the university, described David as a role model whose positive thinking and tenacity had driven his sporting success.

David was one of 20 “pillars of the community” awarded honorary degrees and fellowships for outstanding contribution to academic disciplines, charity, professions or public service.

Recipients included comedian and broadcaster Helen Lederer and Faye White, former captain of Arsenal Ladies. People have travelled to St Albans from all over the world to take part in the ceremony.