Giles Watkins, author and legacy pledger, on Bristol’s ‘magnetic force’

Giles Watkins (BSc 1986) spent some of his formative years at Bristol writing for the University paper Bacus and has since gone on to write a sell-out book on sleep Positive Sleep: A holistic approach to resolve sleep issues and transform your life, via a career that spanned sales, marketing, oil trading, learning development and general management. Giles credits Bristol with giving him a wide breadth of experience and the confidence to pursue his passions. After working overseas in many different countries, Giles can now be found living back in Clifton where he started out as a student many years ago.


Eminent Historian and legacy pledger Professor Ronald Hutton on Bristol

Professor Ronald Hutton, Department of History, University of Bristol

Ronald Hutton, Professor of History in Bristol’s Department of History, is a renowned and beloved academic and author of multiple books and publications. He is a leading authority on the history of the British Isles in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, on ancient and medieval paganism and magic, and on the global context of witchcraft beliefs.

Professor Hutton shares with us his views on Bristol, why it’s so important to him, and why he’s left a gift in his Will to the University. (more…)

Legacy Pledger Kathryn Moore on the circular nature of giving


Kathryn Moore (BA 2005) has fond memories of sitting in the quad at Wills Hall in the summer sunshine, with her fellow students of English at the end of term. While everyone else was busy with exams, Kathryn and her classmates could enjoy some freedom as the university year ended because at that time, English students were continually assessed throughout the year, rather than having an intense period of exams at the end. Like many of our alumni, Kathryn is still in close contact with the friends she met while studying, and is a regular visitor back to the city.

‘Studying at Bristol was such a happy time in my life. I picked a subject I really enjoyed and met like-minded people wherever I went – on my course, in halls and in the various societies.’ (more…)

Legacy Pledger Alastair Hodge believes in giving back

Barrister Alastair Hodge (LLB 1996) is determined that those following in his footsteps will benefit from everything his Bristol education afforded him, by pledging a gift in his Will to the University.

Graduating with a degree in law & german, Alastair went on to take the Bar Vocational Course, followed by his one-year pupillage, and today is a successful barrister working in London. Alastair regularly returns to Bristol to speak to current law students and offer career advice, something he says he benefited from when he was a student. “If I derive a benefit from something I always try to give back,” says Alastair. “I love to see the enthusiasm of students when I come back to give talks, all those interested and expectant faces in the audience.” (more…)

Legator Dr Marett looks back while planning ahead


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.


Championing PhD research

(c) David Pratt

Lucy Parnall, Head of Bristol Doctoral College and Research Strategy, illustrates the way legacy gifts have helped PhD students during the pandemic.

Part of my role as the Head of Bristol Doctoral College is to enhance the experience of postgraduate researchers and to make sure our PhD students have a positive time at Bristol. We run the PGR Hub, a dedicated space for postgraduate researchers to meet up with colleagues and attend training sessions. We also work to equip our students with the skills and experience they need to be successful during and beyond their PhDs, in academia and in other careers.


A Bristol life: Dr John Reeks (MA 2010, PhD 2015)

For over 12 years Dr John Reeks has been a part of the University of Bristol: first as an MA student, then as a PhD researcher and now as a lecturer in the Department of History. Here he tells us more about what makes the University such a special place for him.


You’re expanding postgraduate opportunities

Olivia sits on a beach smiling at the camera. She is wearing an orange top and dark trousers

Olivia Kinsman was able to take up a place at the University of Bristol this year having been awarded the Keil Scholarship, which supports PhD students in the Department of History.

I can remember taking my A-levels and knowing how much I wanted to go to university. Even then I knew that eventually I wanted to do a PhD. I’m from a single parent household with a low income and there are lots of us in the family, so growing up was really challenging at times. I’ve always been determined that I wasn’t going to let my background or finances get in the way of what I wanted to do – even if that meant saving up until I was 50 to do my PhD. For me, applying for scholarships and being proactive about reaching out for financial assistance has been really important.


Alumnus legacy gift helps acquire stunning manuscript leaf

With help from a generous bequest by the late Anthony John Edwards (BA 1952), the University Library’s Special Collections has acquired a beautiful manuscript leaf from a thirteenth-century Latin Bible. The manuscript almost certainly originated from Glastonbury Abbey, one of the greatest Benedictine monasteries in medieval England. Alumnus Mr Edwards was a History graduate who went on to become the first librarian of Canterbury Christ Church University.

Abbeys played a key role, alongside universities, in the growth of higher education in the thirteenth century and beyond and Glastonbury was especially famous for its vast library of books and manuscripts. When King Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of the abbey in 1539 and the execution of its Abbot on Glastonbury Tor, the library and its contents were destroyed, dispersed or sold.


Theatre alumnus’ work lives on: the Kevin Elyot in memoriam award 2020

Kevin Elyot Archive at Bristol's Theatre Collection
Part of the Kevin Elyot archive

We are delighted with the announcement of Lucy Bell as the 2020 recipient of the Kevin Elyot Award for writer-in-residence at Bristol’s Theatre Collection. The award will support Lucy in creating a new dramatic work inspired by Elyot’s archive, which was donated to the Theatre Collection by his sister following his death in 2014. The archive comprises scripts, correspondence, manuscripts and publicity material, detailing Elyot’s working process from initial idea to finished product.

The Award is an annual award of £3,000 made in memory of Department of Theatre alumnus Kevin Elyot (1951-2014), and the influence he has had on writing and the arts. It has been generously funded by an endowment gift given to the University of Bristol by Kevin’s family.