He left school at 15 and later dropped out of college, but TV presenter and style guru Gok Wan can finally put the ‘regret to bed’ after being awarded with an honorary doctorate.
The 39-year-old was presented with the accolade from Birmingham City University at a graduation ceremony at Symphony Hall in Birmingham yesterday.
Speaking to more than 200 graduates and their families, Gok, who has worked in the fashion industry for two decades, said he was ‘so proud’ to receive the award.
Having left school with no qualifications and dropping out at London’s Central School of Speech and Drama, the doctorate presented Gok with his first university recognition.
He said: “I didn’t feel clever enough and I didn’t feel confident enough for education.
“Education was a big hurdle of life so receiving this honour, I am so proud. I am beaming out of every part of my body.
“I have said never have any regrets, it is a waste of time and effort, but we are all human and we all have regrets.
“My regret was not competing my studying. I now feel like I am a graduate, it is precious to me because it feels like I am putting a regret to bed.”
After leaving his studies, Gok went on to take an interest in hair and make-up and worked as a fashion journalist.
He then worked as a fashion stylist and, after making a name of himself working for high profile names, was given his own television show, How to Look Good Naked, by Channel 4 eight years ago. He now designs glasses and clothes, while continuing to provide makeovers to people around the world. But, watched by his parents John Tung Shing Wan and Myra at the ceremony, it is the Midlands he still finds close to his heart, having grown up in Leicester.
He said: “Birmingham has always been a massive part of my life.
“Mum and dad would bring us here and we would eat in Chinatown, in late teens I would get drunk in bars and as an adult I would bring TV shows here.”
He added: “One little bit of advice I would say is to follow your dreams, nothing is too big or dangerous.”
Professor Cliff Allen, vice-chancellor at the university, said: “We are very proud to recognise the achievements made by Gok Wan in the fashion industry.”
By Alex Ross