Grieving Kingsbury mother told she must wear black robe to attend graduation

Tracey Hanson, mother of murdered Josh (Picture credit: Jonathan Goldberg)

Tracey Hanson, mother of murdered Josh (Picture credit: Jonathan Goldberg) - Credit: Jonathan Goldberg

A grieving Kingsbury mother has been told that she cannot attend her university graduation if she doesn't wear the stipulated black gown.

Tracey Hanson has not worn black since the brutal murder of her only son Josh Hanson, on October 11, 2015.

She is due to attend her graduation after passing a masters degree in Criminology at the University of West London (UWL) with Merit.

But an email from the college on September  27 said: "You must wear academic dress when in the ceremony... [the] UWL gown is black with blue/grey colour hood."

Tracey, founder of The Josh Hanson Trust, would like to wear navy blue "because it's close to black but not black".


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The university told the Times they will work with Tracey "to find a solution" that will enable her to attend.

Tracey's adored 21-year-old son died after he was stabbed in the neck inside the RE Bar while he was out with friends.

His killer Shane O'Brien went on the run for three-and-a-half years launching an international manhunt and was eventually located in Romania in 2019.

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"Five weeks into my studies at University of West London Josh's killer was arrested," Tracey said. 

"While I could have deferred I did not want this man to take any more from me so I continued with my studies four weeks after the trial.

"Five months later I was diagnosed with ADHD coupled with PTSD and complicated grief."

The grieving mum, who spent years carrying a sandwich board around mainline train stations with fugitive O'Brien's Reward poster on it, now fought for more one to one support at the college.

"I have not worn black since Josh's death as I do not want to mourn him but instead celebrate his life.

"Sadly because of this I have been informed that I cannot attend the graduation ceremony.

"With universities all over the world pushing for change, equality, diversity and freedom of speech, would now be a good time to consider dress code options too?"

A spokesperson at UWL said: “We have reached out to this student to ensure her remarkable achievements can be recognised at graduation and to discuss any support she requires.

"Academic dress is governed by university regulations. It can only be worn by those who have successfully completed their studies and is an important part of the formal graduation ceremony. 

"However, given the circumstances, we will work with the student concerned to find a solution that will enable her to attend graduation and celebrate her achievements.”

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