Thankyou. I just want to Thank you.

I have been oveScreen Shot 2015-06-24 at 11.50.08rwhelmed by the love and kindness of well wishers since the  announcement of my Chancellorship at The University of Manchester.  Please forgive me that I can’t reply to each one of thousands of messages via facebook  twitter and email. I wish I could. But I have read every single one.  I must thank the Alumni and The General Assembly of The University of Manchester. They are the voting constituency.


Firstly thanks to my good friend Dave Haslam.  Thanks to Vikas Shah and Andy Spinoza for believing in me. Thanks to Ellen Mclaughlin and everyone at The Students Union for nominating me. Thanks to Dean Brocklehurst of Rubber Goat Films for shooting the video for free. Thanks to my fellow candidates Lord Peter Mandelson and Sir Mark Elder. We three will contribute to the future of The University of Manchester.  RS14133_Aspects 2013 25-09-2013-11

A friend of mine is a Mancunian Rastafarian musician and caretaker.  His name is Kwasi Asante. Many years ago he shared this quote with me “Reach for the top of the tree and you get to the first branch but reach for the stars and you get to the top of the tree”.

I am the boy who walked barefoot from the children homes of Lancashire to Manchester in search of knowledge. Harry Potter was a foster child like me. But of the thousands of “looked after children” in popular culture it is a heroine whom I most adore – Lisbeth Salander, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. She was fostered adopted and institutionalized.

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About me: My name “Lemn” means why in Amharic. Why is an unusual name in any language. Another thing:  When University of Manchester  offered me an Honorary Doctorate earlier this year neither of us knew that I would be the Chancellor at the same ceremony.  The ceremony is on October 14th 2015.

steve mccurry

Tonight I will be speaking at the  achievement awards of  young people in care  (now called “looked after” children)  at The University of Bedfordshire.  On Saturday I fly to Washington DC where I will be at The Library of Congress. I will speak as a poet but also as the future  Chancellor of The University of Manchester. The journey continues.


The photographs:

Top: at Emirates Literature Festival 2015 in Dubai by then at the town hall in Derry londonderry, then discussing our childhood for BBC wiht a fellow care leaver, then at The Launch of the steve mccurry exhibition People and Places,  and finally at University of Huddersfield standing in for chancellor Patrick Stewart.

12 thoughts on “Thankyou. I just want to Thank you.

  1. Congratulations – your message of peace and your voyage of aspiration are both inspiring and I know you will change lives in this new role. Words and heart – you have them both!!

  2. So happy for you Lemn; why oh why; well why not? Congratulations I look forward to hearing you speak as Chancellor of Manchester University.
    You’ve done it and others will have got hope that it doesn’t matter where you come from, however difficult the start, with determination and love it can be done! X

  3. Lemn you are a source of encouragement to so many,Your expression of “scattering stardust”always makes me smile..please keep scattering and helping others make their dreams come truex

  4. I am thrilled for you Lemn and so happy that the deserving candidate won! I know you will do a grand job with Manchester forever in your heart! Keep reaching for the stars!!

  5. I have used all means to reach you, just to say “thank you for being you.” What a wonderful achievement! What an inspiration! Remember our first encounter in Dakar? 20 years on, you reached the top of the tree and still stretching to reach the stars. I’m proud of you Lemn.

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