Caroline White, the former Chief Executive of the Youth Hostels Association (YHA), has received an Honorary Doctorate from Leeds Beckett University.
She has been awarded the Honorary Doctorate for her dedication and commitment to helping improve young people’s lives through sport and recreation.
Caroline, who this month has been appointed to the Board of Directors of Sport and Recreation Alliance for a three-year term, spent nine years as Chief Executive of YHA, and throughout her time there she transformed it into a modern, vibrant charity with hostels in 160 locations across England and Wales.
Over the course of her tenure, she refocused the charity’s strategy on young people and the huge opportunities and impact that a stay at a youth hostel can have. Her approach worked and resulted in record numbers of guests, with over one million now staying per year, including half a million people under the age of 26.
Caroline developed a range of partnerships whilst at YHA, with organisations including Leeds Beckett University and Carnegie Great Outdoors, who together now deliver an outdoor education programme for young people.
Caroline also oversaw the creation of hundreds of volunteering opportunities for young people, including Leeds Beckett students, and helped to provide learning opportunities for 8,000 school, college and youth groups to meet the requirements of the National Curriculum, as well as giving thousands of disadvantaged young people a part-funded trip as part of the YHA’s Breaks for Kids scheme.
She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of the University for her contribution to helping improve young people’s lives through sport and recreation.
Leeds Beckett University Chancellor, Sir Bob Murray CBE, said: “Caroline has led YHA to a position that provides great opportunities – including sport and recreation – for young people, including our University students, staff and partners.
“She passionately believed in the life‐changing opportunities that YHA could give young people through travel, education and engagement with others of different backgrounds, and used her leadership and transformational skills to ensure the charity re-connected with that audience and delivered for them.
“The number of young people who have benefitted from Caroline’s commitment to transforming the organisation is a huge testament to her vision and drive, and I am delighted that Leeds Beckett University is recognising her success with this Honorary Doctorate.”
Speaking about receiving her Honorary Doctorate, Caroline said: “I’m delighted to be a part of Leeds Beckett and it was such a surprise when the letter came through the post. I wasn’t expecting it so I’m thrilled, excited and just really pleased to be part of such a great institution, so thank you very much for giving it to me.
“The key message I would give to today’s graduates is to be brave. In your life people will open doors for you, and I’d say be brave and walk through them no matter how scary the other side might seem.”