Jennifer Saunders awarded honorary degree by Edge Hill university

Jennifer Saunders
Image caption Jennifer Saunders was recognised for her contribution to the arts

Absolutely Fabulous star Jennifer Saunders has been awarded an honorary degree by a Lancashire university.

Ms Saunders, 53, from Lincolnshire, received an honorary doctorate in literature at a graduation ceremony at Edge Hill University in Ormskirk.

The comedian, recently treated for breast cancer, told students: "You have been working very hard for your degree and I'm getting mine for free.

"You have studied hard and I have had some lovely lunches - get over it."

The award recognised her contribution to the arts as a writer, actress and comedian.

The mother-of-three told the assembled graduate she had written her speech by going onto the "interweb, Googled and set about cutting and pasting".

'Wonderful things'

She added: "Why change it? If the stuff is out there, why waste the time changing it into your own words?"

Ms Saunders shot to fame as a member of the Comic Strip collective, where she met husband Adrian Edmondson and comedy partner Dawn French.

French and Saunders worked together for 30 years until bowing out with a series of live shows in 2008, although they reunited last year for a series of BBC Radio 2 shows.

Saunders also created and wrote Absolutely Fabulous, in which she starred as fad-obsessed Edina Monsoon alongside Joanna Lumley.

Her cancer treatment, which ended in March, saw her undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy after a number of malignant lumps were found.

She told students at the university to be confident and not be afraid of change.

"Keep an open mind, work hard, play a lot, be kind and wonderful things will happen to you," she said.

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