Alumni Award 2021 Winner: Georgie Twigg MBE (LLB 2012)

Olympian Georgie Twigg MBE (LLB 2012) made history as a midfielder for England’s hockey team in the 2016 Rio Olympics, when the team stormed to gold after winning all eight matches in the tournament.

Juggling fulltime training at Bisham Abbey while studying for the final year of her law degree at the University of Bristol, Georgie knows a few things about ambition and working through challenging and stimulating times. As the youngest player in England’s squad at the time, Georgie helped win Bronze at London’s 2012 Olympics the same year she graduated, making her a double Olympic medallist.

Now an Associate at Bird&Bird law firm, Georgie uses her experience as an athlete to advise on sports-related commercial issues. As she accepts the University of Bristol’s 2021 Alumni Award for Achievement in Sport, Georgie shares her insights on the highlights of her sporting career and some life lessons she’s learning along the way.

You can also hear from Georgie at the Alumni Festival in May. Click here for more information on the Alumni Festival and to book your place. (more…)

Alumni Award 2021 Winner: Dr Tom Carter (MEng 2011, PhD 2017)

While studying for his undergraduate degree in Computer Science at Bristol, Tom developed an interest in how humans interact with computers. As his knowledge in the area progressed, he began investigating how ultrasound waves could allow people to interact with virtual objects using nothing but their bare hands.

Tom decided to develop the idea as part of his PhD research. During this time, in recognition of the technology’s commercial viability, Tom formed the company Ultrahaptics with two colleagues from the Department of Computer Science. Within two years, the company had 22 employees and £11.3 million in funding. In 2019, Ultrahaptics and Leap Motion joined to create Ultraleap, combining the world’s most advanced hand tracking solution with the only haptic technology that creates the sensation of touch in mid-air.

This year’s winner of the 2021 Alumni Award for Innovation and Enterprise, Dr Tom Carter reflects on what he’s learnt about himself during the pandemic, the advice he’d give to his younger self and the importance of the connections he’s made in his life. (more…)

‘Enjoy the journey’: From criminal defence law to inspiring kindness, Zahra Afshar (LLB 2005) shares her eclectic insights

After working as a criminal defence lawyer in London, Zahra Afshar (LLB 2005) is now in-house counsel for her family business, Ahmad Tea. In this role, Zahra works with charitable organisations all over the world as part of Ahmad Tea’s commitment to philanthropy.

As part of the company’s ethos of giving, Ahmad Tea have recently established a fully funded scholarship for a Black medical undergraduate student at the University of Bristol. This initiative complements the University’s recently launched Black Bristol Scholarship programme, which will create 130 scholarships for Black and mixed-Black heritage students over the next four years.

We speak to Zahra about what motivated Ahmad Tea to make this gift, her fascinating career journey and the other ways she gives back to Bristol. 
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The view from here: Hillary Gyebi-Ababio (BSc 2019)

Hillary Gyebi-Ababio (BSc 2019) was elected Vice-President (Higher Education) for the National Union of Students last summer. She is the former Undergraduate Education Officer for the University of Bristol’s Students’ Union and a passionate advocate for education. Here, Hillary reflects on how students have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, and how the national student body are responding to these major global issues.

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Travels beneath the earth: University of Bristol Spelaeological Society

Image: Linda Wilson and a team of cavers explore the GB Cave in the Mendip Hills.

The University of Bristol Spelaeological Society (UBSS), founded in 1919, is the longest-running student society at Bristol. As the society celebrated their centenary in 2019, husband-and-wife duo, Bristol alumni and UBSS members Linda Wilson (LLB 1982) and Graham Mullan (1972) reflect on the magic of caving and the significance of alumni and student partnerships for sustaining a society. (more…)

‘We make sense of the world through stories’: Tim Gregory (PhD 2020) on life as a scientist, writer and TV star

Tim Gregory (PhD 2020) is a man of many talents. At any moment you might find him teaching children through BBC Bitesize revision classes, presenting BBC4’s The Sky at Night, or hosting online stargazing events for Bristol alumni.

Since graduating from the University of Bristol last year with a PhD in Cosmochemistry, Tim has worked as a postdoctoral research associate at the British Geological Survey, published his first book Meteorite: The Stones From Outer Space That Made Our World (2020), and started a new job as a nuclear chemist. He’s achieved an astonishing amount, no doubt helped along the way by his infectious enthusiasm and passion for his subject.

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Alumni interview: Hillary Gyebi-Ababio (BSc 2019), Vice President (Higher Education), National Union of Students

Recently elected as Vice President (Higher Education) for the National Union of Students (NUS), Hillary Gyebi-Ababio (BSc 2019) has taken remarkable steps since running as Undergraduate Education Officer for Bristol’s Student Union.

Empowered by her new role and inspired by an increasingly vocal national student body, Hillary shares unique insight into her experience at Bristol, the importance of her role on the Alumni Association Committee, and the integral role she believes alumni have in shaping the University and student experience.

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‘Knowing that there are people willing and generous enough to help me is huge’


Rhea Griffiths, studying Politics and International Relations, tells us about the difference having a Futures Scholarship has made during her first year.

My school’s catchment came predominantly from the council estate where I grew up – there were only 12 of us in my sixth form. I took a year out after A Levels because I needed to work. I’m the oldest of four children and my mum had lost her job so I was helping to pay for rent.

When I said I wanted to go into higher education my mum was sceptical because she always saw it as a huge expense. When I found out I had got the Futures Scholarship it felt like such a relief. The Scholarship funding has helped with my deposit for next year’s rent – I wouldn’t have been able to afford that otherwise. I also enjoy going to public lectures on topics relevant to my course. Some of these are in London so I’ve been able to afford to travel down there so I can attend.

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‘It’s opening so many doors for me, thank you’

Praxciana dos Santos is a first year studying Psychology. Her Futures Scholarship helps her balance her studies with her caring responsibilities.

I’m the oldest of three children. My brother, who’s a year younger than me, has cerebral palsy. Because my mum is a single mum, I like to think I’m kind of a second parental figure for my siblings. My other brother is only 12, so if mum needed someone to be in the house while she took my brother to the doctors then I would usually take on that role. As she’s a full-time carer herself, my mum can’t really have a job, so I used to do waitressing work as well, which meant that if my brothers needed anything they could let me know and I could buy it for them.

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