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University honours Ashes hero and renowned professor


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The University of Reading has awarded an Honorary Degree to an eminent archaeologist and geologist, and recognised the sporting achievements of one of its alumni at this year's December Graduation Ceremony.

Professor John Allen was presented with the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science by Professor Michael Fulford, of the Department of Archaeology.

International cricketer Beth Morgan received Alumnus of the Year 2010 from Dr Graham Schafer, of the Department of Psychology at the ceremony which took place on Thursday and Friday, December 16 and 17, in the Great Hall on London Road.

Professor Allen spent more than 40 years at the University of Reading. After his retirement in 2001, he continued to work as a Visiting Professor in Archaeology.

He began reading geology at university, specialising in sedimentology. His interest in archaeology began in the early 1980s when he began researching the sedimentology and late Pleistocene-Holocene geological history of the Severn Estuary and inner Bristol Channel.

Since then he has developed a particular interest in the interaction between human and natural forces in the shaping of the landscapes and life of the estuary, from Mesolithic times to the present day researching a wide-range of sources including human and animal footprints and 20th century shipyards.

Recently Professor Allen's archaeological interests have broadened to include building materials and more specifically building programmes of churches constructed from the mid-18th century to the First World War in Berkshire and north Hampshire.

Beth Morgan graduated from the University of Reading in 2005 with first-class honours in psychology.  The same year she went on to make sporting history as a member of the Ashes-winning England Women's cricket team, beating Australia for the first time in 42 years.

Beth said: ‘I thoroughly enjoyed my three years at Reading and feel that I graduated with all the skills needed to succeed in the world today.

“Not only did I gain an excellent psychology degree which will stand me in good stead for my future career, I also grew as a person in many ways and feel I developed many crucial and transferable life skills.”

Beth went on to help her country retain the Ashes in 2008 and last summer scored a determined 58 runs in the second innings against Australia to set up a hard-fought draw and keep the urn in home soil for another year.

A natural all-rounder Beth is  now a regular in the England setup, and whilst her exploits with the bat have seen her promoted to the top of the order in recent years her bowling has been equally impressive taking 27 one day international wickets in her short career so far.

She added: "My experience at Reading gave me the confidence to chase my dream of playing international cricket and to realise it. It is a huge honour and privilege to even be considered for this prestigious award.

“I feel very lucky to have been given such great opportunities, both throughout my sporting career and also in gaining a superb education from the University of Reading."

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