As she accepted one of The University of Nottingham’s special excellence awards at the 2012 Alumni Laureate Awards last night, Mary Williams OBE (English 1989) turned to the Vice-Chancellor Professor David Greenaway, and thanked him for his perfect University.
“I am absolutely wedded to this University,” she continued. “Anything I wanted to do, I could do here. It’s a place that’s got its feet firmly on the ground and its brain in the sky and that’s what makes it such a perfect University. I praise you to the skies with everyone I meet and I will continue to do so.”
Former transport news journalist Mary founded the charity Brake in 1995 and has grown it to become one of the leading road safety organisations in the UK. Brake supports families bereaved and injured by road crashes and lobbies to defend and support key roads safety measures.
Introduced in 2007, The University of Nottingham Alumni Laureate Awards provide a tangible way for the University to recognise alumni who have achieved excellence in their chosen field. The 2012 awards ceremony in the Trent Building provided yet more evidence of alumni achievement in a diversity of fields.
Distinguished alumnus Edgar Wallner (Pharmacy 1958), himself an Alumni Laureate award winner, was compere and he brought the ceremony to a close by saying: “I’ve rarely heard so many inspiring stories in the course of one evening. One thing is clear, all our winners seem to think they have to give something back, both to Society and to the University, and they are clearly as grateful as I am for the start this great University gave them.”
There were two Lifetime Achievement awards. One went to the founder of the Future Hope charity Tim Grandage (Social Administration 1981). In 1987 Tim Grandage was working in India for HSBC when he arranged for one sick street child in Kolkata, India, to get medical help. His kind gesture opened the floodgates and turned his life upside down. Twenty-five years later and Tim continues to work tirelessly to provide homes, develop facilities, create opportunities and support the street children of India.
A second Lifetime Achievement award went to David Ross (Law 1987) co-founder of Carphone Warehouse and co-chair of the University’s largest ever fundraising appeal, Impact: The Nottingham Campaign.
A successful businessman, David Ross is passionate about developing opportunities for young people, both as a trustee of Uppingham School and via the David Ross Foundation which sponsors academies in Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire and is supporting Impact: The Nottingham Campaign through Nottingham Potential, an ambitious new programme helping some of the most deprived young people in the East Midlands to reach university.
David said: “I have been hugely impressed by the diversity of what University of Nottingham graduates get up to after university and hugely impressed by a common and consistent theme of giving something back and making a contribution to their communities. It says something about the University that it is creating graduates who are so committed not only to their day job but also to that broader responsibility that we all have to our communities.
“Having left here with a Law degree and having had three incredibly happy and enjoyable years at the University nothing has given me greater pleasure over the past few years than to re-engage with this University and to make my own small contribution to the way it goes forward. I’d like to thank and congratulate Professor David Greenaway, his predecessor and his current management team for the amazing vision they are displaying both in Nottingham and internationally in the development of this fine institution.”
Recent graduates celebrated
Among those who have more recently left the University, Recent Graduate awards went to the Daily Telegraph’s award-winning Digital Media Editor and Digital Journalist of the Year 2011, Emma Barnett (History and Politics 2006); Kevin Hard (Architectural Environment Engineering 2002, Sustainable energy Technology PhD 2005) the CEO of Nottinghamshire-based EvoEnergy Ltd now a national leader in solar power systems and Alex Tate (Zoology 2003) who won a BAFTA award for his part in the developing the successful Channel Four series Inside Nature’s Giants.
Special excellence awards were made to the following:
Liz Burnley CBE (Psychology 1981, Occupational Psychology MSc 1994)
Former Chief Guide of Girlguiding UK, the UK’s largest voluntary organisation for girls and young women, Liz has spent a lifetime in guiding and been an inspiration for many young people
Owain Evans (Medicine 2001)
Rebecca Leslie (Medicine 2001)
Daniel Magnus (Medicine 2001)
These three alumni were still studying at the University when they first set up the Kenyan Orphan Project (KOP) to support orphaned and vulnerable children. KOP has just celebrated its 10th anniversary and now supports 1,400 Kenyan children every day with access to better health, nutrition, education and psychological support.
Peter Kendal (Economics/Agricultural Economics 1982)
President of the National Farmers’ Union since 2006, Peter is widely regarded as one of the NFU’s most dynamic and successful leaders. He has been instrumental in raising the profile of farming in UK society.
Sharon Laws (Biology 1996)
The 37-year-old professional road race cyclist is still only in her third pro year but has achieved major success on the international circuit and is still hoping for a place on Team GB for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
David Mercer (Law 1970)
As a sports broadcaster and journalist since 1979, you will know David’s voice if not his name as he has guided us through iconic events such as the Olympics, Commonwealth games and more often Wimbledon. He is one of the most senior and highly respected members of his profession.
Rob Moore (Industrial Economics 2003)
Rob is one of the most capped Team GB and England hockey players with more than 200 appearances for both and is still hoping to be part of the men’s hockey squad for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Patrick Obath (Mechanical Engineering 1976)
Patrick’s leadership in the transformation of the public and private sector organisations in Kenya, especially on the promotion of HIV/AIDS interventions in Kenya, has won him international recognition.
Mary Williams OBE (English 1989)
The former transport news journalist formed the Brake charity in 1995 to support families bereaved and injured by road crashes and to campaign to prevent road deaths and injuries.