A retired fire officer who organised and led 50 humanitarian missions to Eastern Europe for almost two decades has been awarded an Honorary Bachelor of Science Degree by Aberystwyth University.
Eric Harries, former Station Manager at Aberystwyth Fire Station, coordinated the missions from Aberystwyth to Bosnia, Croatia, Belarus and Romania between 1994-2013.
Compelled to help the innocent victims of war, he started a campaign engaging with the local community and the media to raise awareness of the vital need for humanitarian assistance and supplies, and co-ordinated collections and fundraising across Ceredigion.
He then used his annual leave to drive his van on the 3,500 mile journey to take food, toiletries and medical supplies to the areas affected by war.
Eric Harris’ humanitarian efforts benefitted the lives of countless people.
He was presented for an Honorary Bachelor of Science Degree by Dr Elin Royles from the Department of International Politics on Friday 20 July 2018. The full presentation is available below, in the language in which it was delivered.
Presentation of Eric Harries by Dr Elin Royles:
Ganghellor, Diprwy Is-Ganghellor, ddarpar raddedigion, gyfeillion. Pleser o’r mwyaf yw cyflwyno Eric Harries am radd Baglor er Anrhydedd yn y Gwyddorau Prifysgol Aberystwyth.
Chancellor, Pro-Vice Chancellor, prospective graduates and supporters. It is an honour and a privilege to present Eric Harries for an Honorary Bachelor of Science Degree of Aberystwyth University.
During the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 1995 over a million Bosnian Muslims and Croats were driven from their homes in ethnic cleansing, and over 100,000 died. Many graduating from the Department of Inernational Politics today may have studied aspects of this inter-ethnic conflict. Tragically, we see images in the media of civilians, often women and children, at the frontline in conflicts of this sort and feel a deep sense of helplessness. In Bosina, Western states failed to intervene and there were substantial questions regarding the effectiveness of UN peacekeeping. What on earth could ordinary citizens do?
Mae’r sefyllfa yng nghân Dafydd Iwan ‘Hawl i Fyw’ yn rhy gyfarwydd – rydyn edrych ar y llun mewn cydymdeimlad. Rydyn ni’n gofyn pam fod hyn yn gorfod bod, weithiau’n colli ambell ddeigryn o dosturi gan feddwl beth mewn difrif allwn ni fel pobl gyffredin ei wneud i gynorthwyo.
In response to the most atrocious war in Europe since the WWII, Eric Harries was compelled to help the innocent victims of war. Station Manager of Aberystwyth Fire Station at the time, he used his annual leave each year to organise trips in liaison with the Red Cross to take food, toiletries and medical supplies to areas affected by war. A 3,500 mile round trip in his van each time. Indeed, he organised and led 50 humanitarian missions from Aberystwyth to Bosnia, Croatia, Belarus and Romania over an 18 year period from 1994 onwards. This substantial effort involved gaining the support of local communities in Ceredigion and beyond and is quite a feat of organisation and logistics.
Mae’r gwaith sydd yn mynd y tu ôl drefnu, cydlynnu a chasglu bwyd a nwyddau i lenwi fan 7.5 tunell i fod yn orlawn ar gyfer tripiau o’r fath yn aruthrol. Anogwyd ystod o gymunedau i gyfrannu i’r ymdrechion dyngarol. Wedi dychwelyd o yrru’r fan draw a dosbarthu newyddau, byddai Eric yn codi ymwybyddiaeth yn lleol a thrwy’r wasg am y sefyllfa yn Bosnia a’r angen am gefnogaeth ddyngarol.
Eric also managed to develop a huge amount of local interest and involvement in the missions and raised awareness through media outlets and by speaking to local groups to demonstrate how their collections had a positive impact. Eric has seen the tragic and profound implications of the horrors of war. His philanthropic activities have benefitted many hundreds of lives. He has had a positive impact on Aberystwyth, its image and its contribution to the Bosnian humanitarian war effort. Mae cyfraniad Eric yn esiampl wych o ymdrechion o ardal Aberystwyth a’r tu hwnt i geisio cynorthwyo dioddefwyr rhyfeloedd a gwrthdaro, ymdrechion sydd yn parhau heddiw wrth gynorthwyo teuluoedd o Syria.
Mae’n fraint fawr i ni fel Prifysgol i gael y cyfle i gydnabod a dathlu cyfraniad Eric i waith dyngarol.
It is a great honour for the University to be able to recognise and celebrate Eric’s services to the humanitarian effort.
We seek to inspire our students to make a contribution of whatever size to making the world a better place. Eric is a fantastic example of how this can be put into action. As you move onto the next chapter in your lives, I’d encourage you to consider Eric’s example and think deeply about how best to use your skills, education and commitment to contribute to a better world.
Canghellor/Dirprwy Is-Ganghellor, mae’n bleser gen i gyflwyno Eric Harries i chi am radd Baglor er Anrhydedd yn y Gwyddorau.
Chancellor / Pro Vice-Chancellor, it is my absolute pleasure to present Eric Harries to you for an Honorary Bachelor of Science Degree.
Aberystwyth University Honours 2018
Nine individuals are being honoured by Aberystwyth University during the 2018 graduation ceremonies, which take place at the University’s Arts Centre from Tuesday 17 July until Friday 20 July.
Six Honorary Fellowships are being presented to individuals who have, or have had a connection with Aberystwyth or Wales, and who have made an outstanding contribution to their chosen field.
One Honorary Doctorate is being presented; recognising an individual who has been outstandingly successful in their field, or who has a long record of renowned research and publication.
Two Honorary Bachelor degrees are being presented. These are presented to individuals who are members of Aberystwyth University staff without an entry-level degree in recognition of long-service, contribution and dedication to the Institution; and members of the local community who have made a significant contribution to Aberystwyth and the area.
Honorary Fellowships are being presented to:
- Professor Ann Sumner – art historian, exhibition curator and museum director
- Bonamy Grimes MBE – web entrepreneur and co-founder of flight price comparison website Skyyscanner
- Euryn Ogwen Williams – broadcaster and seminal figure in Welsh media
- John Dawes OBE – former international rugby union player and coach
- Professor Menna Elfyn – award-winning poet and playwright
- His Honour Judge Milwyn Jarman QC – leading judge.
Author and scholar the late Professor Meic Stephens was presented with an Honorary Fellowship of Aberystwyth University on Thursday 3 May 2018 at a special ceremony in Cardiff. Sadly, Professor Stephens died on Tuesday 3 July 2018.
- John Thompson – technology entrepreneur and software designer.
Honorary Bachelor Degrees:
- Eric Harries – retired Station Manager of Aberystwyth Fire Station, who organised and led 50 humanitarian missions to Eastern Europe to help the innocent victims of war.
- Sue Jones-Davies – actor, singer, town councillor and former Mayor of Aberystwyth.
Photo: For selfless humanitarian work, Eric Harries was presented with an Honorary Bachelor of Science degree from Aberystwyth University at Graduation 2018.