Dame Sheila Hancocl

Dame Sheila Hancock was Chancellor of the University from 2007 to 2012.

  • 07 January 2021
  • 2 min read

The former Chancellor of the University of Portsmouth, Sheila Hancock, has been made a Dame in the New Year Honours.

The actor and author was Chancellor of the University from 2007 to 2012.

She was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for services to drama and charity. She was previously awarded an OBE in 1974 and a CBE in 2011. She won an Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical for her role in Cabaret (2007) and was nominated for five more Olivier Awards.

She was succeeded as the University’s Chancellor by her friend Sandi Toksvig OBE (2012-2017) and Karen Blackett OBE (2017- present).

We look back with great affection to her time as Chancellor of the University and are so pleased that her contribution to society and the life of our country has been recognised and rewarded.

Professor Graham Galbraith, Vice-Chancellor

Dame Sheila, 87, who was born on the Isle of Wight, received an honorary degree from the University in 2005 in particular recognition of her services to drama.

The University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Galbraith welcomed her award.

He said: We pass on our heartfelt congratulations to Dame Sheila. We look back with great affection to her time as Chancellor of the University and are so pleased that her contribution to society and the life of our country has been recognised and rewarded.”

Dame Sheila began her career by studying at RADA (the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts).

She became a household name in 1962 when she won a role in the TV comedy series The Rag Trade. This was followed by more roles in television, theatre – both London and Broadway – film, documentaries and appearing on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special 2012.

She was the first female Artistic Director at the Royal Shakespeare Company, and the first woman to direct on the main Olivier stage.

In addition to her performing career, Dame Sheila is a successful author, winning the British Book Awards Author of the Year in 2005 for her second book The Two Of Us, an account of her life with her late husband, fellow actor John Thaw. This was followed by her 2008 book, Just Me, an account of coming to terms with widowhood, and her first novel, Miss Carter's War in 2014.

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