‘Shakespeare has been a passport through my life’: celebrating the 2024 Alumni Award winners

In celebration of Bristol’s 2024 Alumni Award winners, the University hosted a special dinner in The Orangery at Goldney Hall, bringing awardees and their guests together to honour the remarkable achievements of these Bristol graduates. 

Kimberly Prado (BSc 2020) thanked the women she employs at her café and catering organisation Houria, many of whom have experienced modern slavery, ‘for their bravery, trust and faith in me as a leader’. To try Houria’s amazing, culturally diverse food you can visit them at Easton Community Centre.

Also based at Easton Community Centre is awardee Sherrie Eugene-Hart (Cert 1990) who hosts her show ‘Real Women’ at BCfm. Having worked across television, news, stage and radio, Sherrie dedicated her Alumni Award to her parents who travelled from the UK from Domenica as part of the Windrush Generation. Sherrie’s parents instilled a legacy of hope and promise to Sherrie and her six sisters and ‘worked day and night to give us what they didn’t have’.

Justin Basini (BSc 1995) likewise acknowledged the impact of his parents on the success of his global organization ClearScore. Justin’s parents, who both worked in education, were immigrants to the UK and his mother was a refugee born in Jaffa to Ukrainian parents. Justin said ‘I’m doing what I do now – building a business and trying to give back – because of the generosity of the British state.’ His family history has inspired Justin to support refugee and asylum-seeking students at Bristol through the Sanctuary Scholarship programme, and he and his wife Elizabeth Day, best known for her popular How to Fail podcast, were delighted to meet some Sanctuary Scholarship students on the evening.

From further afield, Jonathan Levin (BSc 2012) returned to Bristol from his home in New York to accept the Alumni Award for Innovation and Enterprise. Founder of Chainalysis, Jonathan described the proudest moment of his career to date, when his company worked with international crime agencies to help take down ‘Welcome to Video’, the most prolific child abuse website at the time. He recognised his Alumni Award as one of the first formal acknowledgments of his work and thanked his family and co-founders for helping instil the resilience to build his company.

Jonathan Webb (MB ChB 1987), former English rugby union fullback and specialist knee surgeon, described his time at the University as a ‘profound influence’, while Siyan Ruan (MSc 2014), Chair of the Beijing Alumni Network reflected on her Bristol degree as ‘the beginning of a new chapter’. Since graduating, she has helped bring hundreds of Bristol students and graduates together through the network and supports study abroad students travelling between Bristol and Beijing.

Sir Gregory Doran (BA 1980, Hon DLitt 2011), meanwhile, accepted the Alumni Award for Lifetime Achievement and turned to poetry as a means to reflect on a remarkable life and career in the arts. Inspired ‘at every stage’ by William Shakespeare, Sir Gregory described the moments he has turned to the great playwright – from a childhood inspired by ‘the witches and fairies and shipwrecks’, through to coming out at university, losing his religion and profound grief when his husband Sir Anthony Sher died. He closed a spectacular speech on a poem, ‘Happy the Man’ by John Dryden:

Happy the man, and happy he alone,
He who can call today his own:
He who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
Be fair or foul or rain or shine
The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
Not Heaven itself upon the past has power,
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.

For more inspiration from our 2024 Alumni Award winners you can read their stories here.

Images from top (c) Dave Pratt Photography:
1. Alumni Award winners Sherrie Eugene-Hart, Sir Gregory Doran and Kimberly Prado (left-right).
2 and 3. The Orangery at Goldney Hall.
4. Alumni Award winner Jonathan Levin and Elizabeth Day.
5. Saranya Thambirajah, Equality and Liberation Access Officer from the Student’s Union and Alumni Award winner Justin Basini.
6. Alumni Award winner Jonathan Webb and Dr Alison Tavaré.
7. Alumni Award winner Siyan Ruan.

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