Page last updated at 19:19 GMT, Wednesday, 19 July 2006 20:19 UK

Honorary degree for opera couple

Graeme Danby and Valerie Reid
Graeme Danby and Valerie Reid were honoured together

Two of opera's leading singers, who also happen to be husband and wife, have been awarded honorary degrees from Northumbria University.

County Durham-born Graeme Danby, and his wife Valerie Reid, from Scotland, each received a Doctorate of Civil Law at a ceremony on Wednesday.

It is the first time the university has bestowed two honorary degrees on a husband and wife on the same day.

The couple say they are delighted to receive the awards.

The university said it was in recognition of their enormous contribution to opera and also to charities in the north east.

When I received the call to let us know were being awarded the honorary degree, I thought it was an April fool
Valerie Reid

Graeme Danby was born in Consett and studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He is Principal Bass with the English National Opera.

He met Valerie, originally from Pitlessie near St. Andrews, when they worked together on The Marriage of Figaro at the Scottish Opera.

She considers herself to be an honorary Geordie and loves spending time in the region.

'Absolutely delighted'

She said: "When I received the call to let us know were being awarded the honorary degree, I thought it was an April fool.

"Graeme had just been awarded the professorship by the university and I thought it was someone phoning up to give us a laugh."

Her husband added: ""The great thing about us both receiving the honorary degrees is that it honours us as a partnership and we are both absolutely delighted."

Professor Kel Fidler, Vice Chancellor at Northumbria says: "Graeme and Valerie are both magnificent ambassadors for the North East and help promote the region worldwide.

"Despite their huge success, they have never forgotten their roots and they devote a great deal of their busy schedule to working with charitable trusts and with schoolchildren, encouraging them and sharing with them their love of music."



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