Sir Ian Botham, the sporting great known mostly for his exploits on a cricket pitch, has been celebrated and rewarded for his relentless charity work by the University of Lincoln.

He received an honorary doctorate for science at Lincoln Cathedral on Thursday, September 9th.

Even before fans’ favourite Beefy showed his face at the Cathedral Centre, groups of supporters waited with smiles on their faces and shared their memories to The Linc.

“He’s just a lovely man and with a big heart,” one elderly fan said. Another spoke of great admiration for the man who’s helped to arrange many charity walks in aid of leukaemia research: “I’ve never met the man, but what he’s done for many is a fantastic thing and we all should be proud.”

Sir Ian’s connection with Lincolnshire is strong and he spoke of great delight at how he used to visit Lincoln when living in nearby Epworth, North Lincolnshire.

On receiving the award he said: “It’s a great honour. I think it’s wonderful living many years just up the road, up in Epworth. Lincoln was the big town that we used to come to. I used to come down here with my wife and we used to do a lot of shopping. It’s a lovely town, and it’s a pleasure to come back.

“It’s always nice when you live in an area to be honoured by the people in that area, and to be asked to come and do this is tremendous and I would just like to say to everyone thank you very much for inviting me.”

His sporting history is near faultless, but his honours are mostly for his charity work, including a knighthood from the Queen in 2007. This latest recognition is something he feels tops off his career.

“I think the OBE was a great moment, the knighthood was a great moment, and the doctorate is the icing on the cake.

It’s nice to be recognised for what you’ve achieved and it’s not just myself, it’s acknowledgement for the whole family because most of the walks, most of the dinners we do, the family are always involved with the organisation, if not doing it with me,” the 54-year-old said.

Lincolnshire-born Botham insists that there are many more brilliant events in place for the future.

He said: “The charity work never stops. The weekend after next we’ve got a big golf tournament, a two-day tournament myself and Darren Clarke up at Archerfield in Scotland. There’s balls, there’s walks again, and we’re planning another walk in next April so there’s plenty to keep me going.”