Reflections from our #TeamUoB 2024 London Marathon Runners

A massive congratulations to our six #TeamUoB runners who ran the London Marathon in April, raising an incredible £14,263 in support of the Healthy Minds programme!

Healthy Minds supports students dealing with mental health challenges by offering personalised physical activity plans and access to sports facilities. Students are paired with a mentor from the University fitness team with advanced mental health training to guide and support them throughout their participation in the programme.

Thanks to the money raised by our 2024 London Marathon runners, even more students will be able to feel the benefits of physical activity on their wellbeing.

Andrew Ford, member of the Healthy Minds team at the University’s Centre for Sport, Exercise and Health said: ‘I wanted to send a huge congratulations to all the runners who participated in the London Marathon. Hearing about your stories and experiences from the day has been truly inspiring and your generosity in supporting our program is remarkable, and it means that even more students facing wellbeing concerns will receive the support they need.’

Read on to hear our runner’s reflections from race day. (more…)

Bristol alumni recognised in the King’s New Year Honours list 2024

Wills Memorial building tower emerging from a row of trees against a blue sky

Every year, the New Year Honours list recognises the achievements and services of extraordinary people who have made a commitment to our society. This year is no exception, and 27 of our remarkable Bristol alumni have been recognised for their services to health, community, education, the arts and more. We are extremely proud to showcase their achievements and incredible impact. 

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‘You first need to understand what your fellow human beings are up against and try to empathise’ Latif Ismail on global development

Latif Ismail poses in honorary graduate gown while holding degree. Professor Professor Judith Squires stands on the left and Professor Eric Herring stands on the right, both wearing ceremonial robes.

We were fortunate to speak with one of this year’s esteemed honorary graduates, Latif Ismail (MSc 2014, Hon LLD 2023), CEO of Transparency Solutions and Co-Director of Somali First. Somali First is a joint initiative of Transparency Solutions and the University of Bristol, launched in 2014 to promote Somali-led development through impartial facilitation, research and education.

Latif is also Managing Director of Horn Risk Management, Co-Investigator & Hub Leader of Transforming Education for Sustainable Futures. (more…)

Scholarships nurture talent: Matthew’s story

The Futures Scholarship programme awards talented students with up to £4,500 and enables them to access guidance and careers support from a dedicated coordinator. The scholarships are funded by Bristol’s alumni and friends and the support they provide gives students the security to focus on their studies and pursue their interests with enthusiasm. Read on to hear from economics and mathematics student Matthew, who is among the first cohort of 33 Futures Scholars graduating this year. 

In my final year at the University, I secured a graduate position with Lane Clark & Peacock LLP (LCP), as a pensions actuarial analyst. My position involves a blend of analysing the financial costs of risk in pension schemes and liaising with clients. In this role I’ll be able to use soft skills whilst also having the opportunity to solve complex problems, which is why I was overjoyed with the offer.

Laura, the Futures Scholarship Coordinator, encouraged me to apply for opportunities within the University very early on which helped me develop all the skills I needed to succeed. In my first year, I was selected as the vice-president of Riverside Junior Common Room at the Students’ Union, representing over 600 students. In my second year, I became treasurer for the Economics, Finance and Management Society. Then, in my final year I became the secretary of the Bristol University Actuarial Society and the head of finance for Epigram, the University of Bristol’s student newspaper.

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Scholarships empower: Keeley’s story

In 2022, 33 Futures Scholars will graduate from the University of Bristol, many of whom have already secured their graduate jobs, internships and opportunities abroad. The Futures Scholarship programme is funded through the generosity of the University’s alumni and friends. It awards talented students with up to £4,500 and enables them to access guidance and career support from a dedicated coordinator. Graduating psychology student Keeley tells us how she has developed her career path with the help of the scholarship.

I am not from a wealthy background. In my area few people go on to higher education and I am the first person to go to university in my family.

The Futures Scholarship is exciting because you receive funds along with guidance and employability support. If I had just been given money, I may not have known how to spend it in the best way. But having the support of the Futures Scholarship Coordinator meant that I got so much more out of this scholarship. It set me up for making long-term plans and helped me to really think about what I can achieve.

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Alexandra Hearth (BA 2014): Succeeding in the digital world

Bristol alumna, Alexandra Hearth (BA 2014) is a young powerhouse bursting with ambition, discipline and creativity. She is an extremely successful digital marketing specialist, having worked with top brands including Uber, British Airways and Audi. Alongside her current role at Nike, she manages her own online magazine called Cleaopatras which explores navigating success as a woman, and runs a podcast series called Hot Girls featuring MOBO award winning guests and music industry elite. To top it all off, this year, Alexandra has signed her first record deal as a music producer.

We interviewed her to learn more about her career journey, the secrets to her success and communicating in the digital world. (more…)

From the archives: alumnus meets Churchill

Seventy-five years ago [Friday 8 May], Sir Winston Churchill announced the end of the Second World War, now remembered as Victory in Europe (VE) Day. Michael Wemms (BA 1963) remembers his encounter with Sir Winston Churchill, who not only led Britain to victory, but led Bristol as its longest standing Chancellor from 1929 – 1965.

It was, I think, 1956. I was still at school and met the local MP (Humphrey Atkins). A long story, but the result was a call to meet him at the House of Commons. When I arrived, there were five of us, all from different schools. None of us quite knew why we were there.

We were ushered to a smallish room and, completely by chance, I was the first through the door. Sitting alone in an armchair was Winston Churchill. He jumped up to welcome us like long lost friends, poured our tea and offered cakes.

It took a while for even the bravest of us to get our wits together, but he quickly charmed us into a very relaxed and free flowing chat. We asked lots of questions, especially about the War, and even ventured a few views about the state of the nation and our politicians. I remember that we all held strong political views.

Towards the end he said how much he had enjoyed the chat, but we hadn’t asked him the most important question – why had we gone to War and why had it all mattered so much? If only I could remember his actual words. He spoke a little about honour and decency and how we couldn’t stand by, but then he began to gaze out the window – for a moment I think he was in some other time and place.

He explained that we had fought for our identity, our heritage and our history. He went on to talk about beauty in all its forms and I particularly remember how he described the beauty of outdoor things created by man, but changed by time and nature, how we had to preserve beautiful things as well as the way we live our lives. He talked very sadly about there being no choice, but what a terrible price we had paid.

Suddenly, he turned directly to me and asked what I was studying. ‘Literature, Economics, Latin and History Sir,’ I managed to say. ‘Do History my boy,’ he replied, ‘at Bristol.’ So I did!

With thanks to alumnus Michael Wemms. This piece was originally published in 2015.

World Book Day 2020: Alumni Authors

As part of a special new feature celebrating amazing alumni authors, we explore three recently published books penned by talented Bristol graduates.

From bringing up teenagers in today’s challenging world, to children working in mines and a family saga that plays out on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, these authors present some compelling new narratives for your bookshelf.

How to Grow a Grown Up 2019
Dr Dominique Thompson (MBChB 1995) and Fabienne Vailes

Whether you are supporting a young person struggling with academic pressure, school or university life, or you are curious about what lies ahead for your child, How to Grow a Grown Up will help you to build your child’s confidence and resilience, so they can become a strong, happy and independent adult.

Co-authored by Dr Dominque Thompson (MBChN 1995) and educational expert Fabienne Vailes, How to Grow a Grown Up reveals the ways parents can help teenagers and young adults navigate contemporary pressures. The book gives invaluable insight into the challenges facing this generation of young people – from the all-pervasive nature of social media, to the pressure of constantly living their ‘best lives’. How to Grow a Grown Up offers a refreshing and practical new take on mental health, exploring pastoral care in universities and workplaces and giving advice on how to recognise signs of mental health distress.

Dominique is an award-winning GP, young people’s mental health expert, TEDx speaker, author and educator, with over 20 years of clinical experience caring for students. She was most recently Director of Service at the University of Bristol Students’ Health Service and was named Bristol Healthcare Professional of the Year in 2017.

Fabienne Vailes is French Language Director at the University of Bristol and is an educational expert who coaches teachers and students of all levels. Fabienne has 20 years experience teaching.

How to Grow a Grown Up is published by Penguin.

Bearmouth 2019
Liz Hyder (BA 2000)

Newt works in Bearmouth, living a life of strict routine and submission as a child worker in the mines. Characterised by oppression and quiet acceptance, Newt’s life changes dramatically when the mysterious Devlin arrives and starts to ask questions.

Written phonetically, Bearmouth is an original exploration of the power of reading, language, creativity and gender amidst a dark and claustrophobic setting, centred on a protagonist who hasn’t seen the light of day since the age of four. As well as examining the issue of child exploitation, this book celebrates the power young people have when they dare to challenge the status quo and is a bold new story for all generations.

I am different see. I am not one thing or the uvver. They call me YouNuck for I am not a boy nor yet a wimmin an they hold no truck for gels down here.

Liz Hyder is a writer, creative workshop leader and freelance arts PR professional. She graduated from the University of Bristol with a BA in Drama in 2000 and worked in BBC publicity for six years. She is on the board of Wales Art Review and is currently Film Programme Coordinator at Hay Festival.

Bearmouth is published by Pushkin Press.

Beautiful Place 2019
Amanthi Harris (BSc 1992, MA 1994)

As a young girl, Padma is sent by her father to live with an elderly Austrian architect, Gerhardt, at Villa Hibiscus on an exquisite patch of Sri Lanka’s southern coast. Growing up in a spectacular tropical landscape, she learns to love her seaside home.

Failing her university exams, Padma decides to open a guesthouse at the villa, introducing her to all sorts of weird and wonderful visitors. Inspired by her new vocation and the friendship and love of her guests, Padma’s world turns upside down when her father, Sunny, arrives to reclaim his daughter.

A novel about leaving and losing home, family, oppression, ambition and the struggle for independence, Beautiful Place uses a global cast of characters to explore the intricate ways individuals and communities build a sense of belonging.

This novel began after a holiday to Sri Lanka some years ago, when I travelled along the south coast, staying in rural guesthouses by the sea. My long restful days were reminiscent of my childhood home. I was keen to explore ideas of community, family and belonging, and to reflect on how friendship can arise among strangers.

Amanthi Harris was born in Sri Lanka and grew up in Colombo. A student of Chemistry and Law at the University of Bristol, Amanthi then studied Fine Art at Central St Martins and has since practised as an artist and author, living and working between the UK and Spain. She won the Gatehouse Press New Fictions award in 2016 with her novella Lantern Evening and has recently completed a book tour in India to celebrate the publishing of Beautiful Place.

Beautiful Place is published by Salt Publishing (UK) and Pan MacMillan India (India and Sri Lanka).

Be a part of our photo wall with #BristolAlumniForum

Our upcoming Alumni Forum on Friday 24 April 2020 is a fun conference-style event that celebrates all things Bristol and gets alumni involved in the conversation.

This year it’s taking place in Bristol… long way, huh?! If you can’t make it, we’re asking our international alumni to join this special project to help bring the Alumni Forum to life. We’ll display photos of our alumni from around the world on the day so that a part of you can be with us in person, and so that Bristol’s global reach and impact is proudly on show.

To take part
Ask a friend to take a photo of you, or send us a selfie, with something ‘Bristol’ – a colour, a piece of clothing or something that reminds you of your university city AND a word that best describes your Bristol experience.

Send your photo, along with your name and degree information, to alumni@bristol.ac.uk or use #BristolAlumniForum to share your photo on Twitter.

Not sure what we mean? See the photo of our Engagement Officer and Bristol graduate, Ann O’Malley (BSc 2013) above. We look forward to seeing your smiling faces!

If you are able to join us, you can book your place at the Alumni Forum here.

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