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Graduations 2024: Acclaimed author Richard O’Neill receives University honour

Home / More / News / Graduations 2024: Acclaimed author Richard O’Neill receives University honour

Published on 8, July, 2024

Richard O'Neill in graduation gown and cap
Richard O'Neill

Internationally acclaimed performance storyteller, author and playwright, Richard O’Neill, has been awarded the conferment of an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of Sunderland.

Richard, born in Peterlee, was brought up in a large traditional, fully nomadic Romani Gypsy family – travelling throughout the North of England and Scotland with his two brothers and two sisters, grandmother and parents.

Richard O'Neill with Vice-Chancellor Sir David Bell and Chancellor Leanne Cahill

Richard’s roots can also be found in the coal mining communities of the north-east having family members who worked down the pits. It is this co-cultural upbringing, which is reflected in Richard’s creative work, as he says: “Gypsy in my heart and coal dust in my veins.”

Richard has had several children’s storybooks published, winning literary, cultural and diversity awards in the UK, Europe and USE, including being awarded National Literacy Hero status for his work with excluded communities.

As an activist, Richard has worked hard to positively promote Gypsy Culture and inclusion.

His passion for storytelling is something he is keen to share nationally and internationally in a range of settings from festivals and the workplace – to schools and universities, including here at the University of Sunderland. He is also the co-founder of the community publishing company Trails of Tales.

Richard O'Neill with his wife Louise

Richard received his honour at the Stadium of Light today (Monday 8 July) during the University’s Summer Graduation Ceremonies, which he attended with his wife Louise.