Second round of honorary degrees awarded at St Albans Cathedral includes Zombie Jim Rodford and Lady Verulam

Jim Rodford with his honorary degree. Picture: Pete Stevens.

Jim Rodford with his honorary degree. Picture: Pete Stevens. - Credit: Photo: Pete Stevens -

More of the district’s great and good have been commended with honorary degrees by the University of Hertfordshire.

Jim Rodford with The Bluetones at the Pioneer Club in 1961

Jim Rodford with The Bluetones at the Pioneer Club in 1961 - Credit: Archant

Honorary doctorates were presented in St Albans Cathedral alongside 4,000 students who successfully completed their degrees.

Bass player Jim Rodford, a musician for The Kinks, The Bluetones, The Zombies, and Argent, said he was honoured to be chosen.

Jim started out his career in the 1950s with a local band called The Bluetones and their success was documented by this newspaper at the time.

The band began as an acoustic group playing American style folk and blues, with Jim on an double bass fashioned from a tea chest, but evolved to perform rock ‘n’ roll.

Lady Verulam recieving her honorary degree. Picture: Greg McClamon

Lady Verulam recieving her honorary degree. Picture: Greg McClamon - Credit: Archant

Jim and his cousin Rod later enjoyed hits in the UK and the US as part of the band Argent, while also supporting The Beatles at Hammersmith Apollo, and backing Dusty Springfield, Gene Pitney, Elkie Brooks and P J Proby.

While playing with The Kinks, Jim was awarded a Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Services to British Music.

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He met his wife at The Pioneer Club in St Albans. Receiving the award, he said: “Having been born and bred in St Albans and lived here all my life, it gives me great pleasure to be honoured this way by the University of Hertfordshire.”

At the age of 76, Jim is still recording and touring internationally with The Zombies, and plays locally with The Rodford Files.

The Countess of Verulam, the first woman to become Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, was also among the lucky few receiving an honorary degree.

Dione Grimston was the Lord Lieutenant from 2007 to 2017, but has always played an active role in St Albans life, and is also a successful artist. Her creative career started in 1980 when she co-founded Verona Stencilling.

Her paintings have since been exhibited in the Fleming Gallery, the Sladmore Gallery, and the Rebecca Hossack Gallery in London.

Lady Verulam has

also founded the Gorhambury Group and for many years was involved in the running of the Gorhambury Estate - including penning and

illustrating the Gorhambury Gardens guide.

She is the patron of both Youth Talk and Home-Start St Albans, and supports numerous local and national charities and organisations, including the Fraternity of the Friends of St Albans Abbey, the St Francis Hospice in Berkhamsted, the St Albans and Hertsmere Domestic Violence Forum, The Counselling Foundation, the National Trust Regional Committee, and The British Polio Foundation.

Lady Verulam said: “When the invitation came it was a great surprise. I am honoured and delighted to accept this award.”

Secretary and registrar at the university, Sue Grant, said: “Alongside our fantastic student graduates, we are also

delighted to be awarding honorary doctorates and fellowships to fifteen inspirational individuals.

“It’s an honour to recognise the great contribution to society that our honorary graduates

have made and to celebrate their exceptional achievements. They are all important role models

and mentors for our

students as they look to the future and graduate from the University of Hertfordshire this week.”​

Last week the Herts Ad highlighted others receiving an honorary degree - St Albans artist Diane Maclean, Harpenden businessman Philip Waters, and Elaine Paige.

This paper was told critically acclaimed St Albans playwright, film director, and screenwriter Jez Butterworth still received his honorary degree despite being ill - but in fact it cannot be awarded if he does not attend the ceremony.