Sport-loving philanthropist and entrepreneur Barrie Wells has received an honorary degree in recognition of his contribution to society.
A successful financial services entrepreneur, Barrie established the Wells Sports Foundation in Lancaster’s CityLab in 2009 so that he could use his wealth to enrich the lives of others – particularly children - through sport.
He funded 18 of Britain’s best athletes in the lead up to the London Olympic Games in 2012, including Jessica Ennis, Beth Tweddle, Dai Greene, Holly Bleasdale and Katarina Johnson-Thompson.
In return, he asked the athletes to give up their time to inspire school children to take up sport under the Wells Sports Foundation’s Athletes 4 Schools scheme.
In total, the campaign benefited more than 35,000 school children nationwide.
Barrie attended Edge Hill University to receive the honour.
He was joined by British heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who he has supported throughout her career and who in turn is an active supporter of his foundation.
Edge Hill Vice-Chancellor Dr John Cater said: “Each year, we seek to recognise individuals whose outstanding achievements resonate with the ethos of Edge Hill University.
“In 2014, we are delighted to recognise Barrie Wells as a deserved Honorary Doctor of Business Administration and we are privileged and delighted to welcome him as part of the university community.”
Barrie and his Wells Sports Foundation are currently promoting ‘Box 4 Kids’ – a unique opportunity for seriously ill and disabled children and their families to enjoy a VIP day at key sporting events in an executive box.
Barrie created the first Box 4 Kids at Liverpool FC in 2010. It is through Barrie’s personal campaign that the scheme has now been rolled out to many other Premier League football clubs and Rugby League and Union grounds across the country, Club Wembley and now extends to other entertainment and sports at the O2, Royal Opera House, Royal Albert Hall, Wimbledon and Lord’s Cricket Ground.
To date, Box 4 Kids has enabled over 1000 seriously ill children to attend an event in a corporate box, as well as encouraging many corporate companies to offer their boxes free of charge to Box 4 Kids and thus engage with local communities and also directly benefit the lives of children through sport.