In celebration of our fantastic Bristol scholars

On Tuesday 25 February the Development and Alumni Relations Office (DARO) hosted our inaugural Scholarship Celebration in the Great Hall of Wills Memorial Building.

The event brought together students who have benefitted from scholarships with some of the donors who made it possible. Celebrating with our students and donors was a poignant reminder of the significant impact scholarships have on our whole University community, as well as the individuals who receive them.

My story is one of the many lives you have touched and on behalf of all the scholars, we are eternally grateful – Omolola Funsho

Omolola Funsho, spoke about how receiving the Futures Scholarship eliminated her financial worries in her first year of studying Physiological Science:

It has also allowed me to completely immerse myself in university life. I have made many friends from different backgrounds, courses and walks of life. I’ve joined the African and Caribbean Society, I joined a dance class, I’ve joined the Neuroscience and PhysPharm Societies and I’ve been able to attend many talks led by professors at the University, quiz nights and Christmas balls.

Thanks to the scholarship, Omolola has been able to focus on her studies (rather than working multiple part-time jobs to support herself), join societies and purchase a laptop which has allowed her to study flexibly.

James Watts, whose PhD scholarship was funded in honour of Dr Ian Keil, an alumnus who had also benefitted from a studentship in the 1950s, also spoke about the difference a scholarship makes.

The support of Dr Keil’s family, given in his honour, has enabled James to further his career by supporting his research in an area where funding is scarce. If you’d like to find out more about our scholarship and PhD programmes, you can read about some of them in our latest impact report.

Celebrating our newest alumni: February 2020 graduation

Graduation at Bristol is one of the highlights of the University’s year: it’s when we celebrate the achievements of students and the support of their friends and family, and we welcome thousands of new graduates to the Bristol alumni community.  

This year, the drizzly February weather didn’t dampen the atmosphere at the Wills Memorial Building as postgraduate graduands prepared to cross the stage and reunite with their friends.

We set out to meet some of our newest #BristolGrads, and hear about their time at Bristol, their passions, and their plans for the future 

Michelle Windle, MSc Strategy, Change and Leadership 

I worked part time during the two years of my MSc, but to be honest, as the chief executive of a charity, it was more like a full time job. I found the days I was studying or attending seminars were almost like a holiday: I loved the intellectual stimulation, the chance to explore different threads, and studying alongside an inspiring cohort of people from different sectors and backgrounds.  

My dissertation was challenging: my first degree was in History, so adapting to science research methodology was tough. I looked at collaboration within the third sector: how leadership across boundaries can enable charities to work together. My case study was a consortium of Bristol-based charities that my organisation was a part of, which worked together to tackle sexual abuse, and I explored why this consortium worked, when others have failed.  

What next? I’m hoping to move into consultancy, particularly for charities going into consortia together: I’d like to apply what I’ve learnt in my MSc and my professional experience to facilitate and coach organisations collaborating.

Leila Matavel, MSc Robotics 

What I loved about Bristol was the diversity, the friendships, the clubs and the beautiful views! 

The classes and the lecturers were very, very good too. I feel like everything I learnt here was relevant to my career and I’m now I’m actually working in robotics.

 

Lesley Silvester, Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa, and Dr Hayley Ellis (BSc 2014, Cellular and Molecular Medicine, PhD 2018) 

Lesley: I met Hayley with Dr Kathreena Kurian (head of the Brain Tumour Research Centre and Hayley’s PhD supervisor) before she had even finished her undergraduate degree at Bristol. What was really interesting was that Hayley had already published an important literature review at that point. I thought she was just so impressive, there was a really nice connection there.

Hayley: I would never have been able to continue my studies at Bristol without Lesley and Terry’s financial support. In my PhD research I was tracing genetic mutations through recurrent brain tumours, so when the same patient comes back and they have another sample taken, we could see the potential impact of different drugs.

Lesley: I feel privileged to have been able to support Hayley’s PhD. One of the most special things was when a copy of her PhD arrived, and it was dedicated to Terry and I – we were really gobsmacked!

Hayley: I’m so happy to be here to celebrate Lesley today as she receives her honorary degree.

Jasmeet Khalsa, MSc Advanced Computing, Machine Learning, Data Mining and High Performance Computing 

Since I finished my MSc, I’ve been living and working in Germany. I didn’t really know too much German beforehand, but I’ve found it really easy to integrate. In terms of what I’m doing there, it’s pretty similar to what I did my thesis on here in Bristol, so that’s great – it’s an area I’m really passionate about.  

My course was intense: I needed a strong work ethic during my time here. But there were so many highlights of my yearthe music scene in Bristol is great, and so are the bars, museums and restaurants. I particularly loved spending summer days down by the harbourside, ideally with a pint of West Country cider! 

Venexia Walker, PhD Medicine 

I submitted my PhD last year and moved into a post-doctoral role here at Bristol. Right now I’m on a one year placement at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia: there’s a key dataset for my research which can only be used within the United States.  

My work looks at disease progression. I’m using a statistical method called Mendelian randomisation to explore how, once someone has a disease, we can prevent progression. Lots of studies focus on the period before disease, looking at risk factors or preventative medication. For those sorts of studies, you can use general population data, but the statistical work becomes more complicated when we’re looking at disease within an individual.  

My PhD at Bristol was funded by Roger and Kate Holmes, two donors who have given generously to research into Alzheimer’s Disease at Bristol. I met them a few times during my PhD; having the chance to talk to people outside of academia who were really interested and invested in my work was very meaningful for me.

Rujie Sun, PhD Advanced Materials.

I really enjoyed the five years that I spent in Bristol. It’s such a nice city to live in! The environment is great, there are so many beautiful buildings in the city and around the University – like the Wills Memorial Building!  

Now that I’ve graduated, I plan to stay in academia. I’m already doing some postdoctoral research in London.

Sulagna Ghosal, MSc Management (Marketing) 

I’m from Kolkata, and I came to Bristol initially because of its strong reputation among employers. My year here has gone so quickly. As an international student, it can be a steep learning curve to understand the academic system here: the assignments and assessments, for example, are quite different to in the Indian system. It almost felt that I’d finally got the hang of it, and then the year was over!  

A highlight of my time here has been the friends I’ve made on my course. We’ve shared lots of experiences together. I’m heading back to India next month, and I hope that I might move into a PhD programme.

Alexander Palmer-Walsh, PhD Aerospace Engineering 

My time at Bristol was definitely made by the people I met here and the things that I’ve learned along the way.  

I know that working on a PhD can be quite an independent process but the fact that, here at Bristol, you can be in an office with lots of people going through the same thing really helps. You can chat to people, bounce ideas around and, to be honest, everyone just gets behind you and are really willing to help you out.  

Doing a PhD can be a bit of a rollercoaster so being able to persevere through the tough bits and having people there to talk to is really useful 

For anyone starting at Bristol this year, I’d say to make the most of your time here and the community around you. If you feel like you’re getting into a rut and closing in on yourself, know that there’s so many people here to support you and make sure you utilise that.

Meet our #TeamUoB London Marathon Runners

Five Bristol alumni, staff and students are going the extra mile and running the 2020 London Marathon in support of Healthy Minds, a physical activity programme at the University which utilises the benefits of exercise to support students affected by mental ill health .

Congratulations and thank you to our 2020 London Marathon team! We wish them the very best of luck with their training and look forward to cheering them along on the 26 April.

See how #TeamUoB are getting on with their fundraising here

Meet the team


Dr Bex Lyons, Staff
‘I’m Bex,  a Teaching Associate in English and Personal Development in the Department of English , where I was named a Best of Bristol Lecturer 2019.
I completed my PhD at Bristol in 2017, which investigated women readers of Arthurian literature in fifteenth – and sixteenth – century England. In 2015 I ran the York Marathon, and I am so excited to be taking on my next marathon in my hometown – the London Marathon route goes through the neighbourhood that I grew up in! This challenge is also particularly meaningful for me because my role at the University. It is deeply involved with student development, and I am enthusiastic to support Healthy Minds and their important work at Bristol.

 

 


Robert Reay-Jones, Alumni

‘I’m Rob, I’m 39 and I work as a translator. After growing up in southwest France, where I became a keen middle-distance runner among the vineyards of Bordeaux, I returned to the UK after around 15 years ago for work and studies before completing an MA in Translation at Bristol in 2013. I’m now married with three children and live in Wiltshire. I recently set myself a challenge of training seriously again with a view to beating my teenage PBs over the shorter distances and one day completing the Marathon du Médoc (to celebrate or drown my sorrows!) Along the way, the (wonderful and totally unexpected) opportunity to run the London Marathon for such a great cause was too great to miss. Having had personal experience of the impact of mental illness, I cannot wait to run in support of Healthy Minds and in memory of my father, who was my hero.’

 

 


Lucy Delamere, Student
‘I am a final year Law Student at  Bristol, and a student Activator for Sport, Exercise and Health in which I get involved in promoting B:Active programmes and encourage participants to use physical exercise for all the physical and particularly mental health benefits that exercise brings! Being a final year student with graduation so imminent, I turn to exercise and in particular running for those times in which there is immense pressure, as physical activity has been proven to boost the mood and reduce feelings of anxiety, stress and depression. I am excited to be taking my love for exercise to the next level by running the London Marathon for Healthy Minds. I look forward to the challenge of training for such an event, and also raising awareness and money for Healthy Minds’ incredible work in using exercise to improve well-being and particularity mental health.’

 


Ken Khaw, Alumni

‘I’m Ken, based in Singapore and a husband to a wonderful wife and a father of three young girls. I graduated from the University of Bristol with a LLB (Hons) in 1992 and am a career banker by profession. I was never very active in sports, but have tried to be since entering my 40s. I have done three half marathons in Singapore, however my running has been inconsistent.  By chance I came across the Bristol alumni email to run for Healthy Minds at the London Marathon. I strongly believe in the empowerment of education. By teaching students about how building exercise into their daily routine can grow their confidence, identity and community, it encourages them to make a positive, long-lasting lifestyle.
I am honoured to have been chosen to run for this worthy cause and by the Grace of God I trust I will complete this challenge to support Healthy Minds.’


Bethany Marris, Student

‘I’m Bethany, a final year history student originally from East Yorkshire. Alongside being an avid runner, I fill my free time with listening to, reading about and reviewing music! My motivation to run the marathon for Healthy Minds came from the way in which I’ve seen first-hand the monumental impact that sport and exercise can have on your mental health. Moreover, as a student, It’s easy to solely concentrate on uni, therefore having a challenge like running the London Marathon is an amazing opportunity towards a non-academic, physical challenge.’

Eastern Canada Reunion Weekend 2019

Heater Proctor (BSc 1964):

Our 2019 reunion was convened in Niagara-on-the-Lake at the Pillar and Post Inn, 17 to 19 September. This is a deluxe hotel with a great variety of amenities and wonderful food, in a very picturesque small Ontario town near Niagara Falls.

14 of us enjoyed fine dining at the Inn, lunch at a local restaurant, and dinner at Trius Winery, one of many delightful wineries in the Niagara area. Some of our group visited the heated outdoor pool and the hot springs at the Inn. At the local Shaw Festival Theatre we took in a performance of The Ladykillers, a hilarious farce.

During our first evening Heather Proctor (BSc 1964) brought greetings from the Development and Alumni Relations Office at Bristol, giving us an update on the new buildings at the University. George Plant presented an interesting talk about his examination of lunar rocks from the first moon landing in 1969.

Our reunion dinner at Trius Winery was exceptional. After an outdoor champagne reception, we were seated in a private room, and each course was explained and presented with theatrical precision by a flight of waiters!

This was a reunion to remember. Sefton Haisz (BSc 1967) and George Plant did a wonderful job organising this, and we thank them very much.

Next year’s event has been planned for 21 to 23 September in Kingston Ontario. We look forward to welcoming as many alumni as possible to the 2020 reunion. We plan on inviting particularly those alumni in our area who graduated between 1970 and 1990.

A celebration of all your support

Grace Kendrick (BA 2017, MA 2019) and Julius Ogayo, International Students Officer (Bristol SU), at the event

On Saturday 9 November the Development and Alumni Relations Office (DARO) had the honour of being the first team at the university to hold an event in the beautiful newly refurbished Fry building. The occasion was our Supporters’ Celebration, where we took time out to thank our alumni and friends who support, donate, mentor, volunteer or otherwise give back to the University.

It was a fantastic afternoon hosted by the Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Hugh Brady, and ably supported by many academics, students and staff who gave up their time to showcase their work and how alumni and friends’ support makes a big difference.

In the year 2018/19 £15,824,502 new philanthropic funds were raised for the university. In addition, over 1,300 alumni and friends volunteered through DARO to support students and the university.

The impact of the support given by alumni and friends continues to grow and flourish and we’re proud to feature just some of the staff and students who’ve benefited from this support in our latest Impact Report.

If you’d like to see the photographs from the event they are available now on Flickr.

 

London Branch Annual Lecture: Sir Paul Nurse, ‘Science and the public good’

Sir Paul Nurse delivers the 2019 London Branch Annual Lecture

 

Scientific research is aimed at generating knowledge of the natural world and of ourselves, and also at developing that knowledge into useful applications, including driving innovation for sustainable productive economic growth and better public services, improving health, prosperity and the quality of life, and protecting the environment. – Sir Paul Nurse

Robert Dufton (LLB 1983, Honorary LLD 2014):

The London Branch of the University of Bristol Alumni has organised an annual lecture every year since 2006. This year it attracted a record crowd of 209, no doubt because of the speaker, Sir Paul Nurse, Chancellor of the University of Bristol since 2017, Director and Chief Executive of the Francis Crick Institute, and 2001 Nobel Prize winner for his research on protein molecules that control the division (duplication) of cells in the cell cycle.

The evening was hosted by London Branch Committee members: Chair Julian Metcalfe (BSc 1978); Treasurer Martin Lunnon (BSc 1973, PhD 1976) and Secretary Alan Ingham (MEng 1999). A brief AGM, involving the presentation of the annual report by Julian, the annual accounts by Martin and a vote of thanks given by Alan about outgoing branch committee member David Snoxell (BA 1966), who chaired the London Branch from 2005 to 2010 and who had inaugurated the annual lecture, was ably chaired by Julian and lasted 6 minutes, which may have contributed to his being re-elected for a second term as Chair!

Jonathan Phillips (BSc 1994), Chair of the Alumni Association Committee, spoke about the work of the association, and his aim that the association will in time become one of the reasons why students choose Bristol over other universities.

Sir Paul welcomed the audience to the Francis Crick Institute, the UK’s leading biomedical research institute which focusses on the fundamental biology underlying health and disease. The state-of-the-art building opened in 2016.

His lecture ‘Science and the public good’, (science meaning research of all disciplines) emphasized the importance of combining discovery research and its translation which then directly helped people. Great research required excellence, academic freedom and diversity of thinking/institutions and a determined curiosity about big questions. In addition to his current work at the Crick Institute, Sir Paul drew on his experiences at the universities of Sussex, Oxford, Harvard and Rockefeller, and his time as President of the Royal Society for five years.

Questions from the audience followed and conversation continued over a reception.

London Branch Annual Walk: Secrets of the Famous Square Mile Part III, 30 April 2019

London Branch Annual Walk: Secrets of the Famous Square Mile Part III
Alan Ingham (MEng 1999)

On 30th April 2019 a group of 30 London Branch of University of Bristol Alumni gathered for the third installment of our Secret London series of London Walks, guided by a Blue Badge Guide.

Chris Green, a fellow Bristol Graduate, led our group on an informative walk around the City of London. Starting at Trinity Square Gardens (near Tower Hill) and ending in the Williamson Nicholson’s pub on picturesque Bow Lane, we heard about trade, architecture and characters spanning from Roman times to the modern day.

It is too easy to take one’s city and surroundings for granted as we go about our daily business, paying little attention to the history around us. Our walks aim to highlight the details we so often miss, thus keeping this hidden knowledge alive.

Although we walked streets which were familiar to many of us, it is always inspiring to hear of those feet who walked before us and look up to see the marks they left on the city we love.

The event concluded with a chance to socialise over food and drinks and appeared to be enjoyed by all.

Congratulations to our London Marathon team

On 28 April 2019, seven Bristol alumni, staff and students ran the London Marathon in support of Healthy Minds, a physical activity programme at the University which taps into the benefits of exercise to support students affected by mental ill health. 

Thank you to Chloe, Chris, Grace, Jack, Marissa, Sam and Verity, who raised a fantastic total of £15,276.31. We are delighted to congratulate them on their success, and share their thoughts about the experiences they had running for Bristol.

 

Chloe Parsons

“I couldn’t have been more proud to represent the University at such a fantastic event. It was unforgettable.

The moment I found out that I had received a Golden Bond place I was overjoyed and overwhelmed and filled with happiness. I have always wanted to run a marathon, but not just any marathon; for many years my eyes have been set on London. The London Marathon was absolutely incredible. It was such a special and momentous experience and I will never forget it.

Before I ran the marathon, I said that it would be the first and the last purely based on the commitment to the training plan alongside other commitments. Not even a week after running it, I have not only entered the ballot for London next year, I have also entered the Manchester Marathon in 2020.

The crowds and support in London on the day of the marathon were on a whole new level. The experience was so different to any race I had ever done before, and I would happily run the London Marathon each and every single year if I could. I managed to finish the London Marathon in a time of exactly 4 hours! Just 1 second off my target, but that’s the price that has to be paid for a perfectly paced and perfectly timed marathon – so I’ve been told! I’ll get it next time!”

 

Christiaan J. Knaup

“The marathon gave me a goal, an objective, something to strive for outside of a professional setting. It gave me an active lifestyle and embodied everything that Healthy Minds stands for, for myself. One week after the London Marathon, I woke up and felt strange for not having to go out and complete my Sunday long run – something that I had been doing for the past 5 months. I realised that the training has enforced a habit, which at its worst forces me not to look at a screen for a couple of hours and at best gives me a huge endorphin rush when I break a personal best. I have now signed up for the London Triathlon, Olympic distance, at the end of July. This should theoretically be easier than the Marathon, but is another venture to seek out.

It is quantifiable how much running the marathon has helped me with dealing with my grief, but I recognise that I am now in a better mental position than I was in before I started training, and that exact opportunity is what I want to thank Bristol for.”

 

Grace Kendrick

“It was an incredible experience, and I was overwhelmed by the support of the crowds! I managed to see Jack and Chris also running for Bristol at the start line, but ran for most the way with another alumni student who I’d been at University with. I was honoured to be running for such an important cause.”

 

 

Marissa Guiang

“The whole London Marathon experience is one that I’ll never forget. For every mile of the race (and every mile during training), it felt so meaningful to do it for a cause that was much greater than just my own personal athletic goals. The work I put into training was fuelled by my motivation to give back to the University of Bristol’s Healthy Minds Programme – an initiative that I care deeply about and resonates with me. The marathon race itself was like a victory lap around the great city of London, to celebrate months of training and generous funding from all my supporters.”

 

 

Sam Collier

“It was an incredible day, the crowds were fantastic and the atmosphere like nothing I’ve experienced. I set myself three goals for the day: 1. Finish. 2. Try to do this in under 4 hours. 3. Try to do this without walking.

Everything was going well and I was exceeding expectations up to mile 19 in Canary Wharf, but nothing prepares you for the physical and mental anguish of hitting ‘the wall’. I’d experienced glimpses of what I thought was the wall in the training. Forcing your body to keep moving when every signal it’s giving you says it’s a terrible idea is really tough.

When I stepped over the finish line I felt an enormous sense of pride in what I’d accomplished, not just over the past 3 hours and 50 minutes, but over the whole 6 month period of training. I honestly can’t think of a more appropriate way to raise money for the University’s Healthy Minds Programme than by taking on the mental and physical battle of the marathon, and would encourage anyone, particularly those who struggle with their mental health, to take on the challenge in the future.”

 

Feeling inspired? The University of Bristol has five places in the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon, and applications for the places will open in Autumn this year. For more information, please contact alumni-marathon@bristol.ac.uk.

‘Get engaged to save planet’ Sir David Attenborough urges young people as he receives a Lifetime Achievement award

Sir David Attenborough has urged young people to ‘get engaged, come together and do something’ about the threats facing the natural world.

The much-loved broadcaster was speaking at the University of Bristol’s inaugural Alumni Awards, where his achievements were celebrated with a Lifetime Achievement award in recognition of his exceptional career which has spanned more than six decades, inspiring and educating millions by bringing the natural world into our homes.

Sir David has a long association with the city of Bristol through his work with the BBC’s Natural History Unit, which was honoured by the University awarding him an honorary degree in 1977.

He has subsequently worked with Bristol academics for his television series, given talks at the University and opened its £56.5 million Life Sciences Building in 2014, where students are studying the very subjects highlighted in his documentaries.

Sir David said: “Young people are much more aware of how important the natural world is than they were 60 years ago when I began my career. The natural world is under greater pressure than it has ever been, not just in my lifetime but since humans existed.

“This is the first time ever in the history of Homo sapiens that we have had the power to actually transform and protect the world – or to destroy it.

“Your generation knows that, and your children and grandchildren will either be thanking you or blaming you. To an extent we do not have any excuse.

“The history of humanity is a disaster – of arguing, of quarrelling, of wars. That’s got to come to an end. My message to young people is ‘get engaged, come together and do something about it’.”

In his acceptance speech, Sir David acknowledged that the University was a great source of zoological expertise, as well as a talent pipeline, for the BBC’s Natural History Unit.

The University of Bristol Alumni Awards, held at Mansion House in London, celebrated the exceptional achievements of the University’s alumni. Other winners included Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo and many other works, gold medal-winning netball player Eboni Usoro-Brown (nee Beckford-Chambers), and recent graduate Chanté Joseph, who has championed the importance of diversity and equality through a variety of roles.

The 10 winners represent national and international success in science, literature, business, sport, social justice, public health, journalism and broadcasting.

Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bristol, said: “There’s no one more deserving of a Lifetime Achievement award than Sir David Attenborough. Throughout his incredible career, he has educated, guided and inspired generations to care about our planet – achievements which are synonymous with our own mission at Bristol.

“All the pioneers, innovators and leaders we’ve celebrated through these awards are inspiring role models for our students and we’re thrilled to honour them all at our inaugural Alumni Awards.”

Professor Brady co-hosted the event alongside alumnus Peter Estlin, the current Lord Mayor of the City of London. Peter studied Economics and Accounting at the University of Bristol, graduating in 1982 before embarking on a 30-year career in finance.

Sabbatical Officers Vanessa Wilson and Stanford compered the evening, presenting the awards in front of a 245-strong audience, who also enjoyed live entertainment from the University of Bristol Gospel Choir.

Full list of winners:

Alumni Awards for Arts and Media
Recognises significant achievements of alumni in the world of arts and/or media

Julia Donaldson CBE (BA 1970, Hon DLitt 2011) is one of the UK’s best-loved children’s authors, famed for writing favourites such as The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom and Stick Man. Having studied Drama and French at the University of Bristol, Julia’s varied career has seen her create 184 published works and in 2011 she was appointed as Children’s Laureate.

Alumni Award for Achievement in Sport
Recognises significant achievements or contribution by alumni to the field of sport

Netball player Eboni Usoro-Brown (LLD 2009, MSc 2011), known as Eboni Beckford-Chambers before she got married, secured a place in sporting history as part of the England team who won gold at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. She made her international debut for England in 2008 while studying as an undergraduate at the University of Bristol Law School, where she also completed an LLM in Commercial Law in 2011. Eboni is captain of the Team Bath netball team.

Alumni Award for Business and Industry
Recognises the outstanding success of alumni in the world of business

Nigel Wray (BSc 1970, Hon LLD 2005) studied Economics at the University and is now a director of over 50 companies, as well as the owner of Saracens rugby club. He has been described as ‘Britain’s most successful living investor’. While he is known for his business acumen, he is also renowned for his ability to spot potential and talent in people and his commitment to investing time in them.

Alumni Award for Community Impact
Recognises the personal contributions alumni have made to the enrichment of society through services to their community

Annie Hudson (BSc 1972, Cert 1997) received her BSc in Politics and Sociology and returned nearly 25 years later to study for her certificate in Advanced Urban Studies. She is a prominent social care leader in the UK, who has made a significant impact through her previous role as Director of Children’s Services in Bristol and now at the London Borough of Lambeth. She also held the position of Chief Executive of The College of Social Work and is one of the most admired leaders in UK children’s services. A truly extraordinary person who has been passionate, vocal and integral to improvements in her profession for the last 40 years.

Alumni Award for Innovation and Enterprise
Recognises the outstanding achievements of alumni in the field of innovation and enterprise

Dr Harry Destecroix (PhD 2014) co-founded University spin-out company Ziylo whilst studying for his PhD at Bristol.  As part of a team led by Professor Tony Davis in Chemistry, he helped to develop a glucose binding molecule which could be the key component of ‘glucose-responsive insulin’ which brings genuine hope to diabetes patients of a ground-breaking treatment. In August last year, pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk purchased Ziylo, providing investment and commitment to the team to conduct further research and clinical trials. He has also established Unit DX, a science incubator in central Bristol which ensures that scientific companies in the South West now have access to the facilities they need and are part of a burgeoning science community.

Alumni Award for International Impact
Recognises the significant impact made by alumni internationally

Andrew Sheng (BSc 1989) is a chartered accountant by training and holds a BSc in Economics and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Bristol. He has had many achievements in global finance which have been acknowledged and recognised around the world. In 2013, Time Magazine named him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. His career began in Bank Negara, Malaysia, where he rose through the ranks to become Chief Economist and Assistant Governor. He has published widely on monetary, economic and financial issues and he is a regular contributor to leading economic publications throughout Asia. He is deeply committed to the development of his native Malaysia. He and his wife have a passion for the role of higher education in providing opportunities for young people in their home states.

University of Bristol Friends and Supporters Award
Recognises an individual’s service, advocacy and commitment to the University

John Rutley (Hon LLD 2013) is an entrepreneur and businessman who co-founded the hugely successful company A-GAS in 1993 and received an Honorary Degree in 2013. After many years of being at the helm of his burgeoning company, he chose to give back to his home city and work in partnership with the University. The community sports programme was co-developed and personally funded by Dr Rutley to benefit young people across the city, alongside University of Bristol students. Since its inception, in excess of 6,000 children have taken part in the annual Bristol Festival of School Sport and the programme has also helped more than 500 University of Bristol students gain nationally-recognised coaching and leadership qualifications.

Alumni Award for Transformative Philanthropy
Recognises significant strategic and enduring impact on the institution through inspirational philanthropic support

Hugh Sloane (BSc 1977) graduated from Bristol in 1977 with a First-Class degree in Economics and Politics and is today a highly successful businessman. He established one of London’s most successful asset management companies in 1993 and is renowned in particular for his knowledge of the Japanese markets. He and his business partner George Robinson went on to create the Sloane Robinson Foundation and made a commitment to support the advancement of the education of the public. In 2017, he and his Foundation gave a landmark gift of £10 million in support of the new Temple Quarter Enterprise campus – the largest philanthropic gift from an individual in the history of the University.

Vice Chancellor’s Award
Recognises the aspirational work and notable achievements of a recent graduate that benefits local communities and wider society    

During her time at Bristol, Chanté Joseph (BSc 2018) championed the importance of diversity and equality through a variety of roles. In her first year, whilst studying Social Policy, she was elected as the chair of the student council with the largest margin in the history of student council elections.  In her second year, she launched ‘Bristol is the New Black’ – a project dedicated to giving black students in Bristol a voice, which received funding from O2. During her final year, she founded the BME Powerlist which recognises Bristol’s 100 most influential Black and Minority Ethnic People. Her dedication to effecting change in such a positive manner brought national recognition with a place on the TAB Future 100 list, which describes itself as ‘a definitive list of women at UK universities who are set to achieve incredible things in the future’. Since graduating, she has written for numerous high-profile publications and has her own website with commentary on political and cultural issues.

Careers after English – alumni panel

Many thanks to our alumni, who all graduated with a degree in English, for returning to their department and sharing their career paths and experiences with current students.

After a welcome from Professor Helen Fulton, Chair in Medieval Literature and Head of the English Department, five alumni shared their journeys since Bristol and their insights into their current profession:

  • Cordelia Lodge (BA English 2014), Fundraiser at the RSPCA, highlighted how the skills you gain during your degree apply in many different roles – especially the ability to cut down a word count!
  • Faith Newcombe (BA English 2017), Production Editor at Intellect Books, shared how attending events and hearing from others is always helpful, even if it shows you what you don’t want to do – and spoke from experience having met a current colleague at a networking evening.
  • Sam Charkham (BA English 2010), Solicitor at Burges Salmon LLP, said his English degree was great preparation for his post-graduate degree in law and the skills you require in the profession. He is very happy working now on different projects within commercial law though encouraged the audience to stay resilient, you can apply for lots of different jobs before being successful.
  • Jim White (BA English 1980), Columnist at Telegraph Media Group, shared his vast experience and insights into journalism, and encouraged students to take advantage of the opportunities in front of you during your time at Bristol.
  • Nicola Yeeles (BA English 2002), Freelance Writer, Editor and Teacher, shared her varied career path and explained that now, a portfolio career is very common and not to worry about not finding your ideal job straight away.

Following the panel introductions, a number of questions covered whether to accept a job that’s not exactly in your area, whether you’re at a disadvantage if you transfer to another discipline without the relevant undergraduate degree, and how the landscape of works is always shifting. All panellists stressed the value of the transferable skills they gained from their English degree, including synthesising and summarising material quickly, writing well, and thinking critically. Students and alumni had a further chance to ask questions and share stories informally over a drink in the Department foyer.

Many thanks to our Bristol Volunteers for getting involved. Get in touch with alumni-volunteers@bristol.ac.uk if you’re keen to support the career development of current students.