2022 Alumni Award winner for Community Engagement and Impact: Ben England BEM (BA 1998)

We spoke to Ben England BEM (BA 1998), recipient of the 2022 Alumni Award for Community Engagement and Impact, to hear about his time at Bristol, his desert island disc and how he used music to keep people connected during the COVID-19 lockdowns. (more…)

2022 Alumni Award winners announced!

Alumni Awards 2022: Climate Scientist, Olympian and Charity Champion among this year’s winners

Each year, the University of Bristol recognises alumni who have made remarkable contributions to society through the Alumni Awards. From highly successful tech entrepreneurs to an award-winning journalist, this year’s winners are all inspirational leaders in their fields.

The winner of this year’s Lifetime Achievement award is Professor Dame Julia Slingo FRS OBE (BSc 1973, PhD 1989, Hon DSc 2010), who served as Chief Scientist of the UK Met Office from 2009 to 2016.

Speaking about her award, she said: “It is wonderful and rather surprising to receive this recognition. It is up there with the very best of all the special things that have happened in my life, including becoming a Dame and the Chief Scientist at the Met Office – and of course a mother.”

Also recognised in this year’s awards is Ben England BEM (BA 1998), who won the Community Engagement and Impact Award for his work with Homechoir. This global digital choir provided solace and helped thousands of people to stay connected throughout the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Ben said: “It is a huge honour to be the recipient of this year’s Alumni Award for Community Engagement and Impact. Throughout my life I’ve tried to share what I learned in Bristol with the people I teach.”

“Going to Bristol was a hugely significant turning point in my life and this award acknowledges what Bristol has given me more than anything else.” (more…)

Alumni Interview: Paul King (BSc 2008, MSc 2009), Environmental and Social Impact Consultant

Paul King works with start-ups as a chief financial officer, consultant and co-founder, with a focus on environmental and social impact. He is passionate about harnessing the power of technology for the greater good and using responsible and sustainable business practices.

After studying for an undergraduate in Biochemistry, he stayed at the University of Bristol to do an MSc in Management and went on to lead two major technology start-ups, Pentatonic and Masuku. Ahead of joining us for a panel discussion on responsible business, he shares his favourite things about entrepreneurial life and the best advice he’s been given.

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Legator Dr Marett looks back while planning ahead

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Dr Valerie Marett MBE, (BA 1950, Cert Ed 1951) 93, has crystal clear memories of her time at Bristol, where she took up her place to read History in 1947, not long after the end of the second world war.

Resplendent in a bright sweater which was a gift from her late husband (Dr Marett refuses to wear the ‘uniform’ of a white cardigan, which is prevalent in her residential home) she tells us of her time at Bristol.

Dr Marett came to Bristol from a state grammar school in her native Wales and found herself surrounded by ex-service personnel and pupils of independent schools. She liked Bristol because it wasn’t the University of Wales where other members of her family had gone. At that time her halls of residence (Manor Hall) were female-only, headed by the warden Miss Morgan. Because of the austere conditions in post-war UK, she vividly recalls the gasps from her fellow students when one young woman appeared ready for a ball in a Christian Dior New Look dress, glowing from her holiday on a film star’s Caribbean yacht. Dr Marett appreciated the supportive atmosphere at Manor Hall, as at that time only 5% of the student population was female. For her, the drama students and those involved in their productions were the life and soul of the University at that time, in particular a Gerald Lloyd-Williams (Sub Lt), who had served in the navy during the war.

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In-person graduation ceremonies (and mortar boards!) return to the University

From Friday 8 to Thursday 14 of April, the Wills Memorial Building will be a sea of gowns and mortar boards as the first in-person graduations in over two years take place. Around 4,500 students will have their graduations conferred after ceremonies were postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

This year students will be wearing mortar boards, which have not been part of University of Bristol graduation dress since the 1960s.

Speaking about the occasion, Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor & President, said: “Graduation is the focal point of the University of Bristol calendar and a chance for students and staff to celebrate their considerable achievements. Many of those graduating left us during the pandemic, and I am truly thankful that we have this chance to see them again in person, and to congratulate them on their nous, tenacity and aptitude.

“Gaining a degree is challenging. It involves sacrifice and fortitude; intelligence and insight; and every one of the 4,500 new graduates deserve their hard-earned reward.”

The ceremonies will also see five distinguished guests (three of whom are alumni of the University) receive honorary awards in recognition of their outstanding achievements:

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Alumni interview: Gordon Richardson (BSc 1974), Co-Chair and Treasurer of Bristol Disability Equality Forum

Gordon Richardson (BSc 1974) was three years old when he contracted polio while living in Hong Kong. He was initially completely paralysed, save for some movement in his right eye, but over time he regained some muscle use in his upper body. While a young undergraduate student at the University of Bristol, he was told it was unlikely he would live beyond the age of 50.

Now in his 60s, Gordon is Co-Chair and Treasurer of the Bristol Disability Equality Forum and National Chairman and Chair of the Bristol Branch of the British Polio Fellowship. He has worked tirelessly to advocate for people with disabilities and this April is being awarded an Honorary Degree from Bristol in recognition of his achievements. We talk to him about his remarkable career, fond memories of being a student and his advice for students graduating this year.

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“It felt like the world was on my side”: David Afikuyomi on his scholarship journey

 

David Afikuyomi’s (BSc 2015) dream of completing a Master’s in Research (MRes) in Economics was almost ended because of financial concerns. But after securing an Opportunity Bristol studentship through the University’s Black Bristol Scholarship programme, David was able to start his course last year.

Here he explains the impact the scholarship has made on his life and his plans for the future.

When I got the email telling me that my application for a Black Bristol Scholarship had been successful, I was so shocked that I threw my phone across the room! I picked it up, read the email again, ran a couple of laps of my flat and then burst out crying. I just couldn’t believe it.

In the weeks leading up to that moment, I had decided that I’d have to defer my place because I couldn’t see how I would fund the year without a stream of income. The Economics MRes course is very rigorous and it would have been hard to earn enough in a part-time job to support myself while studying. When I found out I had a scholarship a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders; it felt like the world was on my side.

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A new Innovation Fund supports outstanding entrepreneurial students

The University of Bristol is celebrating a remarkable gift from the Wilkinson Charitable Trust which has established an innovation fund for entrepreneurial students. The Jim and Peggy Wilkinson Innovation Fund will award seed funding to support new student-led projects and will be managed through the University’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CfIE). (more…)

Liam White (BEng 2015): From investment banking to start-up success

After graduation, Liam White spent two years working in the world of investment banking before embarking on his entrepreneurial journey. Alongside co-founders Dr Will Breakey and Josh Rose, Liam launched Dr. Will’s, the UK’s first all-natural condiment brand. Now, the trio are leading a low-sugar revolution, with their products stocked in retail giants such as Tesco, Waitrose, Ocado and Selfridges. We spoke to Liam to find out more.

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Spring Showcase 2022: Dig into a weekend of fascinating events

A skeleton of a T-Rex dinosaur

Following the success of the inaugural event last year, the Bristol Alumni Network presents the Spring Showcase 2022, which will take place from 18 to 19 March 2022. During the weekend you’ll be able to take part in a series of digital events which all celebrate digging and dinosaurs. 

You’ll hear from the School of Earth Science’s Professor Mike Benton (OBE, FRS FRSE), who will introduce the science behind dinosaur biology. He’ll be joined by Tim Haines, the BAFTA-award-winning maker of the 1999 BBC series Walking with Dinosaurs, who will be speaking about how filmmakers have brought dinosaurs to life on our screens over the years.    (more…)