A solicitor who has dedicated more than half her life to her home city has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Bradford.

Ruby Bhatti OBE received her award for her unstinting work across many areas, not least the many hours of pro bono work she carries out in her legal role. Besides, she sits on a dizzying array of boards and trusts, which she benefits from her varied experience.

Commenting on the award, she said, “Being born and raised in Bradford, it’s so important to be able to put something back into the community and to help young people gain the kind of opportunities I had when growing up”.

“The award recognised all my hard work and achievements that I have done for both the University and for my city. It is a true honour to accept the award from an educational institute which has supported and given opportunities to thousands of students who have completed their degrees from here, “ she added.

Ruby, who turned 50 last week, is a highly successful solicitor with over 27 years’ experience in the legal field and over 25 years’ experience in various non-executive directorships in the housing, education, youth and health sectors.

She is chair of the Wolfson Centre for Applied Research, Deputy Lay chair for Bradford District & Craven Clinical Commissioning Group, a trustee for Bradford Youth Development Board, chair at three primary schools and a secondary school (and a board member of over 25 schools) and she is the National Leader for Governance for Education for Yorkshire and the Humber.

Earlier this year, she was inducted into the Bradford Hall of Fame, taking up her place alongside such greats as politician Baroness Barbara Castle, playwright Andrea Dunbar and comedian Ade Edmondson.

She has supported the University of Bradford since 2007. Ruby sits on the Service User and Carers Advisory Board, advising on strategy and policy for the involvement of service users and carers in the Faculty of Health Studies. She is a Patient and Carer Lecturer at the University of Bradford with an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy status.

She has also recently been appointed a Faculty Community Fellow for the Faculty of Management, Law, and Social Sciences. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce.

She was awarded an OBE by the Queen in the New Year’s Honours list 2019, recognising her work in housing and helping young people.

She said, “Bradford is a great city with great people and huge potential and I want to do all I can to facilitate that. Wherever I travel in the world, whenever I return to Bradford, it’s with a sense of relief. This city has so much to offer”.

“As a youngster, my parents placed a great onus on education and that’s why I am so passionate about giving young people the opportunities they deserve. To the students of today, I would say no matter what obstacles come in your way, never give up. It does not matter where you come from, what background you are, if you want to achieve anything in your life you can do it,” Bhatti added.

Both her parents were inspirations in her life – her father, a hardworking electrical engineer who on one occasion went from his hospital bed to help restore electricity to a local business and her mother, whose hard work and diligence saw her six children achieve their goals in life.

Commenting on her pro bono work, she said, “It is a privilege in the legal profession to be able to offer pro bono work to those who are disadvantaged, being an advocate for those who do not have a voice, making a change to the system and people’s lives”.

“In the legal profession, I can help others. The feeling of accomplishment defending those who are innocent is amazing. As a solicitor, it has also opened doors for me to other sectors as a non-executive director,” she said.

She further added, “I am where I am today because of my husband and daughter. They are my inspiration and they have supported me at every turn, whether that meant me going to meetings in the evening, weekends, or early in the morning.

“What excites me for the future is that I can continue to give support to people in all walks of life and make a difference to their lives.,” she concludes.