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Game of Thrones star, Scottish Ballet’s CEO and groundbreaking classical musician receive honorary doctorates at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland graduation

Global stage and screen actor and RCS graduate Kate Dickie, dance visionary Christopher Hampson CBE and pioneering musician Garth Knox shared life and career advice to the graduating class of 2023 at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland today.

The trio – who were bestowed with honorary doctorates at RCS’s summer graduation – inspired the next generation with their words of wisdom and encouraged them to make the most of every opportunity.

Watch the RCS summer graduation ceremonies 

“Be brave and bold. Be true to yourself and own that space you’re in,” said Kate Dickie, the East Kilbride-born film, theatre and television star whose stellar career has taken her from Glasgow’s Red Road to epic TV smash Game of Thrones and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

“I wish you all so much luck. Make the most of it, enjoy it, and know that there are a lot of kind people out there, keen to welcome you into the industry.”

Kate Dickie is wearing a graduation gown and hat and is holding her honorary doctorate. She is face on to the camera and smiling.

© Robbie McFadzean

Due to filming commitments, Kate was presented with her honorary doctorate at RCS in June, which was filmed and shown during one of the day’s three ceremonies. Recalling her RCS studies, Kate added: “RCS was probably the first place that I came to that I didn’t feel like a square peg in a round hole. I had my heart set on this place and I wouldn’t think of anywhere else. I came here and it was like finding this community of people like me who wanted to be actors, who wanted to do drama. It was formative for me. Receiving this honorary doctorate is truly an honour for me.”

Under CEO/Artistic Director Christopher Hampson CBE, Scottish Ballet has made a name for itself as one of the world’s most innovative dance companies, recently winning the award for Outstanding Company at the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards in London.

Addressing students, Christopher said: “Lots of people say to me ‘what you do is such a privilege’ or ‘working in the arts, it’s such a privilege’ – well, everyone in this room – graduates, professors, tutors, parents and friends – know just how hard you’ve had to work on that talent. But let’s ensure you don’t become privileged. To do that, you must understand that having such a gift carries a big responsibility. The ‘privilege’ comes from keeping the gift exclusively for yourself, so your great responsibility is to share your gift –and, to continue to share it for as long as you can.

“That, of course, can be through performance, through practice and rehearsal. Share your gift in a place which is unfamiliar and, importantly, share your gift with people that don’t resemble you – that way, you begin to learn all over again.”

Christopher Hampson is photographed full length. He is wearing a purple graduation gown and is holding his honorary doctorate in a scroll at his waist.

© Martin Shields

Accepting his honorary degree, Christopher added: “I really must say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ for this recognition from such an amazing and inspiring organisation. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is simply one of a kind and I feel so honoured to be recognised in this way.”

Garth Knox is one of the most prominent violists of his generation and at the forefront of contemporary music. In his speech, he said he was honoured to share the day with graduands and spoke about the importance of listening.

“Standard advice is usually saying a mixture of talent, ambition, hard work and good luck, but I will talk about something that has guided me: listening. This is not just for musicians, we all can learn how to listen better – listening to what people say, with a view to understanding what they mean. Listening to what is going on around you, to understand it. And listening to yourself to recognise what is genuine and what is your place in the world. Good luck with your lives and your careers.”

Garth Knox is wearing a graduation gown and holding his hat in front of him

Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, Principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, offered his warmest congratulations to this year’s graduates: “It’s always so special to come together to celebrate our students’ achievements. We’re so proud of our class of 2023 and wish them all the very best as they embark on this new chapter of their lives.

“Graduation is also an opportunity to recognise exceptional artists who are leaders in their field. In Kate Dickie, Christopher Hampson and Garth Knox, we have a trio of inspiring and influential individuals who have made such rich contributions to the arts throughout their careers.”