Wendy Hickling OBE, JP, DL (1936-2017)

“In our rooms, with outstretched arms you could touch each wall. You were allowed five items on your dressing table and nothing on the radiator. If you contravened this rule your surplus items were confiscated and you had to pay to get them back.”
Wendy Hickling, 2008

In 1958, students who had spent three years studying at University College Leicester received their degrees in the first graduation ceremony of the newly established Leicester University. The impersonal vagary of alphabetical order dictated that Wendy Baldwin was first across the stage, becoming the University’s first ever graduate.

Under her married name of Hickling, Wendy was an integral part of the University throughout her life. She served on the University’s two main governing bodies, Council and Court, for more than 20 years and also for 16 years served on the Convocation (predecessor to the Alumni Association). 

Her public service extended far beyond the University, including serving as Chair of three NHS Trusts, as a Justice of the Peace and as Deputy Lieutenant of Leicestershire. Initially working as a teacher, Wendy ran a nursery school in Leicester for 25 years and also worked for Vista, the local charity supporting blind people.

In 1998, Wendy Hickling received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws and in 2008, on the fiftieth anniversary of her original graduation ceremony, she was named a Distinguished Honorary Fellow – the highest honour which the University can bestow. She passed away in May 2017, after a lifetime of devoted service to University and city.

"As the first student to graduate with a University of Leicester degree Wendy set a very high standard for the thousands who have followed.”
Bridget Towle, Chair of Council

Painted by Megan McMullan

A portrait painter born in Leicester in 1989, Megan McMullan studied at De Montfort University where she achieved a first class honours in her fine art degree and also gaining a masters the year after. After leaving university Megan joined Knighton Lane Artists so that she could continue with her artistic practice. Megan paints in a realist style creating the illusion that the sitter is there in person. She not only tries to capture the likeness but also the personality and warmth of the sitters. Megan currently works full time as a Porter at the University of Leicester.

“This is a brilliant project to be part of not only helping to introduce a new portrait but also assisting to make the University of Leicester’s art collection more diverse.”