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Crossrail chair Sir Terry Morgan awarded honorary doctorate by UEL

Construction site

Accolade completes remarkable year for man described as a 'tunnel visionary'

Sir Terry Morgan CBE, the Chair of Crossrail, said the award of an honorary doctorate by the University of East London (UEL) had rounded off “the most remarkable year of my life”.

Sir Terry, who began his career as a school-leaver apprentice in a rural town in Wales, has been described as a ‘tunnel visionary’ for his leadership of the ambitious and supremely complex project to construct a railway from the east to the west of London, passing below some of the capital’s most built-up areas.

He was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Architecture in recognition of his illustrious career in the field of engineering and his strong support for education.  

The award capped an eventful year for Sir Terry, who marked the 50th anniversary of his first apprenticeship as a 16-year-old and who received a knighthood in the Queens’ Birthday Honours List.

“I failed my 11-plus so had to go to a secondary modern school,” he revealed during his acceptance speech.

“There was a time when I would have been a little unsure about mentioning that as I thought it might disadvantage me, and I didn’t’ go to university until I was in my late 20s.”

Sir Terry, who was 29 when he graduated with a master’s degree in engineering production and management, has always been passionate about education and training.

He said, “At Crossrail we committed ourselves to having 400 apprentices, and right now we have 602. We count every single one. 

“What’s even more impressive is that 40 per cent of our apprentices are from Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) backgrounds.

“So it’s not only about a world-class rail service. It’s also about transforming lives and creating opportunities.”

The Crossrail project has provided numerous work placements and jobs for UEL engineering and architecture students and graduates, and will continue to do so in the future.

Terry is a long-standing supporter of UEL, giving numerous lectures and speeches for staff and students. Most recently, he was a keynote speaker at the launch of UEL’s new degree apprenticeships.

He said, “Whatever your goal might be, you can do it with hard and determination. I can’t tell you how proud I am today to receive this recognition from UEL.”