Jay Blades said he is “proud and honoured” to have been appointed the first chancellor of a university that shares his “passionate belief in the power of education to transform lives”.
The Repair Shop host, 52, was a student at Buckinghamshire New University (BNU) before becoming a broadcaster and social entrepreneur which saw him receive an MBE for services to craft.
Blades left school at 15 with no qualifications but got back on track studying for a degree in criminology and philosophy at BNU from 2001, where his dyslexia was identified and supported.
The regular favourite on the BBC show, which sees members of the public bringing in worn-out family heirlooms to be restored by a team of experts, said he believes “everything including furniture and people can be repaired, restored and rejuvenated”.
He added: “At BNU I learned to make the most of every opportunity to be the best version of myself.
“That’s why I’m so proud and honoured to be appointed as the first chancellor for a university that shares my passionate belief in the power of education to transform lives.
“It’s great to come full circle and now do my bit at BNU to ensure that every student reaches their full potential.
“This is an exciting partnership that’s going to make a real difference because BNU and I share a mission to remove barriers to education for all and boost social mobility.”
Following his graduation, Blades co-founded the Out of the Dark charitable social enterprise that recycled and revamped furniture to train, educate and employ young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Blades is now working with the university to develop future furniture-related programmes which will launch in 2023.
Professor Nick Braisby, vice-chancellor of BNU, said: “Jay is an inspiring individual and a shining example of the transformative power of the education we provide at BNU, and we’re enormously proud of all that he has achieved.
“Our long-term collaboration of creativity and social conscience will build on High Wycombe’s furniture tradition which matters greatly to both Jay and BNU.
“Jay’s insight and expertise will be key to developing an exciting range of creative, innovative furniture-related courses that offer something really different to our students, all backed up with excellent teaching and industry-standard facilities.”
Maggie Galliers CBE, pro chancellor and chair of Buckinghamshire New University’s Council, said: “Jay is an excellent ambassador for all we stand for at BNU and proof of how we take pride in supporting our students with whatever they need to be successful in reaching their full potential.
“From retraining ex-servicemen after the First World War in woodcarving, furniture-making and upholstery through to our current bursaries to support under-represented groups get into higher education including refugees, asylum seekers, care leavers and students estranged from their families.”