Two business women who have both set up organisations to help children in difficult circumstances have been awarded honorary Masters Degrees. They joined over 300 Open University graduates receiving their degrees at a ceremony in Milton Keynes.
Improving care for young people with neurological conditions
Leaving school at the age of 15 with no qualifications, it wasn’t until her daughter was born with a disability that Jan Flawn was inspired to train as a nurse, eventually becoming a senior manager in the Department of Health.
Combining her background in nursing and business, and seeing the struggles of young people with neurological conditions in inappropriate accommodation, Jan set up the award-winning company PJ Care which is a specialised provider of neurological care and neuro-rehabilitation for young people. The company is now nationally and internationally recognised as a leader in quality of care and service to young people with brain or spinal injuries.
Jan is also passionate about encouraging and supporting women into business and leadership and has mentored many professional women in both the public and private sector. She is the founder of Women Leaders and works with the CBI First Woman Awards. Jan has won many accolades for her innovations in healthcare and her business acumen.
Professor Jan Draper, who presented Jan Flawn with the award. said: “Like many of our own students, Jan is someone who returned to study later in life, whose passion has seen her overcome numerous obstacles, and whose determination to change her own life has been matched with selfless dedication to the lives of others.”
Helping teenagers get back on track
Rachel Medill left her city career to combine her professional skills with her personal passion of horses, working for the British Equestrian Foundation. It was through this role that she visited a riding centre in Brixton which was helping inner-city children through the opportunity to ride and take care of horses.
Rachel was inspired and determined to reach out to young people in her own area. She founded Ride High, a charity which has helped hundreds of disadvantaged children cope with difficult personal circumstances and gain confidence and optimism. The Milton Keynes-based charity welcomes over 100 teenagers each week and many are helped back into education, apprenticeships or work placement as a result of their time in the stables.
Also honoured at the Milton Keynes ceremonies were business expert Clayton Christensen, who received an Honorary Doctorate, and champion of local Athletics and former Open University staff member Dr Mick Bromilow who received an Honorary Masters.
The Open University makes honorary awards in line with its mission to be open to people, places, methods and ideas, and the promotion of social justice through the development of knowledge and skills.