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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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Academic honour from Cumbria university for ex-England rugby star

It's hard finding an honour which compares with captaining your club and country on the rugby pitch.

Steve Borthwick photo
Steve Borthwick

But one Carlisle native thinks he has just managed it.

Former England rugby union international lock forward Steve Borthwick has been conferred an honorary fellowship of the University of Cumbria.

The 32-year-old lock forward received the honour at a graduation ceremony in Carlisle Cathedral yesterday.

“It’s my first time in Carlisle for some time,” said Steve, who currently plays for London club Saracens.

“It feels incredible. The sun is shining, it’s a beautiful day and I think this is a fantastic setting being here in the cathedral grounds. I feel happy and very proud to be here and to share this day with my family.”

Steve was born in Carlisle and went to Belle Vue Primary School.

He moved away from the city to Preston as he grew up but still has many relatives in Cumbria.

This new honour means a lot.

He said: “It’s extra special. Rugby’s something I have done for more than half my life and I work hard because I want to be the best rugby player I can be.

“To have this honour given to me from a different realm to recognise my achievements in professional sport is wonderful.”

The day was a family affair for Steve, with 11 of his relatives at the event. The oldest was his grandmother, 80-year-old Margaret Rawes, whilst the youngest was his niece Grace Wall, who is just 20-months-old.

Steve comes from a sporting family.

Dad Bill, 59, was a keen amateur footballer, and was proud to see his son conferred.

He revealed this event wasn’t the end of the family reunion: “After this we’re off to a family wedding in the Lakes,” he said.

His mother’s cousin Colin Jackson, 49, is a coach and former player at Carlisle RFC.

“I’m extremely proud of him,” he added.

At the ceremony Steve gave a short speech about his career and how the graduates need to always look forward in life.

The ceremony saw degrees from the university’s school of health and well-being handed out.

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