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Dragons’ Den star Sara Davies receives honorary degree from the University of York

A recognition of her “outstanding contribution to society”

Dragons’ Den star and entrepreneur Sara Davies has received an honorary degree from the University of York.

The businesswoman holds a degree from the university, after graduating with first-class honours in 2006.

The University of York alumna attended a graduation ceremony on Tuesday this week where she received an honorary degree for her “outstanding contribution to society”.

Sara Davies studied business management at the University of York, where she founded her company, Crafter’s Companion, while still a student. By the time of her graduation in 2006, the company was turning over half a million pounds and now has a net sale of £34m a year, employing more than 200 staff across the UK, USA, and Europe.

According to the report, the university has said that Sara Davies was honoured for “leadership and entrepreneurship and for inspiring and showing opportunities to young female entrepreneurs”.

Before the ceremony, Sara Davies told BBC Radio York that she had chosen to study at the Uni of York because she felt she could “really love living” in York, stating “At the open day I thought, ‘yes this is the one for me’ – and they had a course that seemed perfect for me.”

She explained how, when she received the letter from the Chancellor, she was in “complete disbelief” and how it is “such an honour to have all these academics acknowledge the work you have done.”

Sara Davies also spoke about how she started running her business in October of her third year, alongside studying, volunteering, and being the president of the ladies cricket team, whilst sill having fun “doing the Micklegate run and ending up in Ziggy’s.” She said how this meant she “learnt to be a busy person and cope with it, which is again a great life skill.”

She highlighted her success as she added “by the time I came to graduate my business was turning over more in those nine months than my mum and dad’s wallpaper and paint shop that they had been running for the last 25 years.”

Sara added that receiving the letter from the university’s chancellor inviting her to the degree ceremony “felt almost like it was coming full circle”.

Professor Bob Doherty, Dean of the School for Business and Society, spoke at the ceremony, praising Professor Lynne Baxter, a leading academic and a senior lecturer in management systems at the University of York, “who was very instrumental in Sara’s career.”

As Sara gave a speech she said, “What an absolute honour it is to be here. I can’t put it into words.” She mentioned how Central Hall “brings back so many memories” and how she spent “three of the happiest years of my life here” as a proud “Derwent D Blocker.”

She said, “My time here that really shaped my career and drive as a business owner and entrepreneur.” She ended by speaking directly to the students, saying, “You all have what it takes to achieve whatever it is you want to achieve in your life, you just need to have that drive, determination and more important than anything else, that self-belief.”

Professor Doherty also spoke directly to Sara, praising her as he said, “you are a great role model, a young entrepreneur flying the flag for females in business.” Indeed she is.

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