Celebrity vicar Richard Coles to take up top role at Northampton's university

Rev Richard Coles has been named chancellor of the University of Northampton.

Rev Richard Coles has been named chancellor of the University of Northampton.

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A popstar-turned-vicar and broadcaster from Northamptonshire is set to take on a new role - as chancellor of the town's university.

BBC radio broadcaster, television presenter, Church of England priest and half of 80s pop duo The Communards - the Rev Richard Coles has accepted the ceremonial three-year role at the University of Northampton.

Rev Coles recently appeared on BBC's Celebrity Masterchef.

Rev Coles recently appeared on BBC's Celebrity Masterchef.

The presenter of Saturday Morning Live - who was born in Northamptonshire and is the vicar of Finedon, where he lives with his partner David - had three UK Top 10 hits in the 1980s.

The Rev Coles was one of the advisers for the BBC hit comedy Rev, and in the summer of 2016 took part in the BBC's prime-time programme Celebrity Masterchef. Most recently he co-presented The Big Painting Challenge on BBC One.

In addition he has an interest in social enterprise, particularly in the field of housing. He serves as a board member of Wellingborough Homes, which provides social and affordable housing in the area.

The Rev Coles - whose own father studied for a degree in Northampton after he retired - said: “I’m very excited about the role of chancellor and the opportunity to build relationships with staff, management and students at the University of Northampton which has a considerable track record in the field of social enterprise, a special interest of mine.

“The university is of particular significance in the lives of people who may be the first in their family to go to University and who come from a wide range of backgrounds - and in that sense it is a gateway to opportunity for people who have never really had that before.

“I am really keen on helping people make that step up into tertiary education through my work with the University of Northampton.”

University of Northampton vice chancellor Nick Petford, said: “As the only university in Northamptonshire, Richard's commitment to the county through recognition of the role higher education has to play in its future, both at home and internationally, is singularly impressive.

"The chancellorship demands an inspirational figure who shares our values and encapsulates our vision and mission to transform lives and inspire change. The Rev Richard Coles fits the bill perfectly and we are thrilled he has joined us.

“As the university prepares to make the move to our new Waterside campus at the heart of Northampton, myself and colleagues are immensely looking forward to working with Richard - who brings an unrivaled enthusiasm for the county and the role that higher education has to play in its future.”