AN Olympic gold medalist is one of six people who will be awarded with an honorary degree by the University of Essex next month.

Max Whitlock, Britain’s most successful gymnast, will be celebrated at the university’s Colchester campus during a ceremony on Thursday, July 18.

Whitlock, 26, became a double Olympic champion on the pommel horse and floor during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil, while he also claimed the all-around bronze medal.

Following his success he was awarded an MBE for services to gymnastics and he has also set-up a network of gyms for children across the country, including one based at the Colchester campus which opened in January 2018.

Hotelier Harry Murray, stroke survivor and inspirational speaker Bruce Galleway, charity boss Tony Sewell, gender activist Betty Makoni and technology company founder Phil O’Donovan will also have their achievements recognised.

Mr Murray, a former Cateys Hotelier of the Year, is one of the figures behind Edge Hotel School which offers hospitality and event management degrees at the university. He picked up an MBE for services to the hospitality industry in 2006.

Elsewhere, Mr Galleway suffered a stroke and aphasia at the age of 32 but is using the experience to help those in a similar situations by working with the university on teaching programmes.

Betty Makoni founded the Girl Child Network in Zimbabwe in 1999 at the age of 28, to support young victims of sexual abuse.

She was forced into exile from Zimbabwe, but continued her work in the UK supporting several African nations to establish networks.

Charity boss Tony Sewell and Phil O’Donovan, founding director of Bluetooth technology start-up company CSR, will also be recognised.

University registrar Bryn Morris said: “Graduation is the highlight of the university’s calendar where we have the opportunity to celebrate the amazing achievements of our students from around the world.

“We are delighted to be welcoming such an inspirational group of honorary graduands to Graduation 2019 to share their success.”

The six will pick up their awards during four graduation ceremonies which are due to take place in July.