Countess Spencer to be awarded Honorary Fellowship

News Page 24th July 2018

Countess Spencer will receive an Honorary Fellowship from the University of Northampton at this year’s summer graduation ceremony.

Lady Karen Spencer will be presented with the Honorary Fellowship by the University’s Vice Chancellor Professor Nick Petford and Dr Eunice Lumsden during a ceremony at the Royal & Derngate Theatre, Northampton, at 2.30pm on Tuesday 24 July.

The University is recognising Lady Spencer’s dynamic work with Whole Child International, the charity she founded in 2004.   Whole Child targets the largely overlooked emotional needs of society’s most at-risk children, with cost-effective, sustainable, and replicable programs to improve the quality of care. They provide everyone from caregivers to government officials with the tools they need to help children become productive adult members of society.

Dr Lumsden, Head of Early Years at the University of Northampton, said: “Countess Spencer is a true ‘changemaker’ in every sense and a pioneer in her work with the world’s most vulnerable children.  Her contribution to enriching the life of others is immense and her knowledge about the importance of a holistic approach to early childhood is outstanding.”

As Founder and CEO of Whole Child, Lady Spencer leads an international team of trainers, researchers, and other staff to develop and implement programmes to change systems of care, to advocate and influence policy, and to conduct related research.

Whole Child programmes are currently being brought to scale with funding from USAID, the Inter-American Development Bank, and other donors. In 2010, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama travelled especially to Los Angeles to lend his personal support to Whole Child at the launch of its global initiative to raise awareness of the plight of institutionalised children.

Lady Spencer is a recognised social entrepreneur of 14 years standing, who has co-authored articles published in the peer-reviewed Infant Journal of Mental Health and Perspectives in Infant Mental Health. In September 2015, she was elected an Ashoka Fellow for her innovative work in identifying and filling a gap in care for orphans and vulnerable children. In 2017, she received the Pikler/Lóczy USA Founders Award, and People Magazine named her one of “25 Women Changing the World.”

In 2011, she married Charles, the 9th Earl Spencer and the couple share the responsibility of looking after the Spencers’ historic family home Althorp House, in Northamptonshire.

On learning she had been chosen for a fellowship by the University of Northampton, Lady Spencer said:  “To be recognised in this way is a wonderful and humbling personal honour, but I’m also proud that the work of everyone at Whole Child is being recognised in this way by such a fine academic institution as the University of Northampton.  My husband’s family has had the strongest of connections with the people of Northampton and Northamptonshire for more than 500 years, and I am delighted that my university fellowship adds one more bond in this centuries old partnership.”

For any media enquiries, or to arrange an interview with Countess Spencer, please contact news@northampton.ac.uk.

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