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The University of Bath alumni blog

Posts By: Martin Cornish

BA2 - Bath Uncut - the full interviews

📥  BA2, Uncategorized

For our 50th birthday edition of BA2 magazine, we interviewed former student journalists from across the decades about their experiences writing for and editing our University newspapers. Here are their full interviews:

Tony Kerpel MBE (BSc Sociology 1968)

1. Why do you think student newspapers are important?
In the case of Bath the student newspaper was of particular importance because of a) the geographically split site nature of the college and b) the placement/sandwich nature of degrees which meant that at any one time a large proportion of the student body was not on campus but scattered around the UK. So the student newspaper provided a means of establishing a Bath student identity by transmitting information and also reflecting student opinion back to the authorities.

2. You came across as being a very single-minded editor! What motivated you to do the job?
I entered my degree with the sole intention of entering the BBC as a radio news and current affairs producer. So contributing to the student newspaper was a method of developing relevant journalistic skills.

3. How much work was involved in putting the newspaper together?
It was always a collaborative effort with friends. But when copy was in short supply I have to say that I would bash out up to 25% of the content myself on my portable Hermes typewriter. That is why the paper often contained more opinion than news!

4. What were you most proud of in your time as editor?
I don't do pride. But I am pleased that we championed free speech for all shades of opinion ( Enoch Powell came to speak in November 1968 ), and also helped create an atmosphere of constructive student engagement with the university authorities. We also developed good relations with The Bath Evening Chronicle and through that with the city. That was very important in the early days of town-gown relationships being developed.

5. Did what you publish ever change anything at the University?
You need to recall that Bath University was being created while I was there. There were no traditions, no proper student facilities, and so to a great extent we could work with the Vice Chancellor to create the basis for future generations. Through the newspaper we articulated student demands for both facilities to be built and representative structures/committees through which the student voice could be effective.

6. Is there anything you regret publishing?
Not that I can recall although I'm open to having my memory jogged.

7. Some of the stories published were quite close to the mark! Did you ever get in trouble? Were ever asked to pull a story?
Yes. In the interests of fearless expose journalism I visited a Soho stripclub and wrote an unexpurgated account of the delights on show. Our printers refused to publish this article on the grounds of obscenity. So we went ahead with our own version rolled out on a duplicating machine and inserted this loose leaf article into SUL. It caused both offence and amusement. How ironic that four years later I joined the British Board of Film Censors as its youngest film examiner!

8. How important was it at the time to push the boundaries?
This was the 1960s after all. So pushing boundaries was part of the zeitgeist.

9. What was the dominant issue of the day when you were writing for SUL?
This was the time of student revolt and many campuses were experiencing serious disruption over the issue of student representation in the running of universities. In the case of Bath the then Vice-Chancellor, George Moore, was surprisingly open minded about granting a limited degree of student representation on university committees thereby defusing the sort of resentment and protest one saw at other universities.

10. How much of a role did your political views play when you were editor?
None at all. I was completely non party political.

11. If you read one of your editorials today, would you recognise yourself in the writing?

12. What would your advice be to anyone thinking about getting involved in student publishing?
Do it, but always with the aim of making a public service contribution to the wellbeing of your fellow students.

Nick Savage (BSc Sociology 1971)

1. Why do you think student newspapers are important?
A student newspaper in the context of the 1967 to 1971 period ( a new campus location, new univ., no radio station, no TV station, pre-web) .... very important. The only other undergraduate channel for comms was the student noticeboard and screen-printed posters. In the context of 2016 - probably not important - how often do you see an 18-year old student with a paid-for print newspaper ?

2. How much freedom did you have? 
Editors had a lot of freedom. At the direct level, the Bath Students Union Finance Committee held the purse strings, but did not try and influence. However, we ran 'SUL' on a responsible journalism basis, according to what we imagined were Fleet Street principles, so aimed to be serious about news, verifying sources etc. University authorities expressed displeasure occasionally, but the academic commitment to freedom of speech was pretty strong then. We were pretty impervious to pressure anyway.

3. How much work was involved in putting the newspaper together?
The technology involved was so different then : the amount of work required was substantial with a fortnightly print deadline - probably 4 or 5 days cumulatively out of every 10 days. The joint editors carried a lot of the workload. A life-size layout had to be done, marked up the way the printers wanted it : copy was type-written and then had to be set in letterpress type fonts at the printers, pictures had to be sourced hard copy, and photographic printers blocks manufactured.

4. What were you most proud of in your time as editor?
I was proudest of the fact that the paper made it to the students' hands every fortnight on-time, and that students paid cover-price money for it : a source of wonder and astonishment at the time to me. Aside from that, the satirical pieces that Keith and I collaborated on for the spoof gossip column, 'Mortimer Honey', originated by a previous Editor, Tony Kerpel.

5. Did what you publish ever change anything at the University?
Did we try to change things ? Yes. Did we actually change anything ? No.

6. Is there anything you regret publishing?
Any regrets ? Yes, a particularly florid and grossly over-written Editorial I wrote early in the Editorship which I cannot now contemplate without a severe cringe of embarassment. See also Q.11.

7. Some of the stories published were quite close to the mark! Did you ever get in trouble? Were ever asked to pull a story?
I cannot recall ever being asked to pull a story, and I don't recall getting into trouble, though we were pretty thick-skinned then.

8. How important was it at the time to push the boundaries?
The journalistic principle is to reveal facts that other people want to conceal. We drove the paper on that basis. I can't say we thought about pushing any boundaries even if it appeared so in hindsight.

9. What was the dominant issue of the day when you were writing for SUL?
The dominant issue was the build-up of a New University on a new campus (i.e. opening a wondrous University Library building, which had a tiny number of books - the consequence of two separate & disconnected sources of funding - Construction Budget and Facilities Budget). Student politics and the wider controversies of student revolution in 1968 proved to have little connection with a wildly technocratic Univ of Technology.

10. How much of a role did your political views play when you were editor?
I was never conscious of my own political views (such as they were) having any influence on what I wrote.

11. If you read one of your editorials today, would you recognise yourself in the writing?
Most unfortunately, yes. See answer to Q6. In fairness, that was one of the first things I had ever written for print, and I did manage to improve my writing style as I went along.

12. What would your advice be to anyone thinking about getting involved in student publishing?
I'm sure that I would not be thinking about a printed-paper medium at Bath University today. My advice would be : while you are there, step back and look for the larger issues - is it quality and personal impact of the lecturing ? am I getting value for the fees I pay and the cost of my 3 or 4 years ? is there a connection between the way the University administration makes decisions and what the student population wants ? In other words, get stuck in and make sure at the same time that you learn how to communicate in a language that everyone can understand.

Nick was editor along with Keith Cameron (BSc Sociology 1971)

Sue Ryan (BSc Sociology 1972)

1. Why do you think student newspapers are important?
They are a necessary tool for providing information and provoking debate on campus. But they are also essential as the first step for a career in newspapers. Nearly every journalist started out on a student paper. I recruit graduates to become trainee journalists interviewing over 100 every year and if it's not on the CV I want to know why.

2. How much freedom did you have as editor?
Complete freedom - though I fear I failed to take advantage of that.

3. How much work was involved in putting the newspaper together?
It was a team effort and we all worked hard but university papers were not as strong then as now and while we all wrote pieces there was a not a lot of digging going on, so there was a not a lot of burning the midnight oil.

4. What were you most proud of in your time as editor/writer?
I seem to remember that getting it out on time, with enough advertising to pay the printers, was always the main achievement. I have written so many thousand words since then so I am afraid most of what I wrote or commissioned is lost in the mists of time.

5. Did your work ever change anything at the University?
I think we may have contributed to ending the University beauty queen contest. Yes really, universities had them.

6. Is there anything you regret publishing?
I do remember using the whole of the front page for a colour picture of Che Guevara. I have no idea why. It looked very striking but we didn’t even try to write copy to justify it. Its not what we published that I regret but what we didn’t publish. Students were centre stage on the public arena. Tariq Ali, Grosvenor Square riots, Enoch Powell were headline news and I don’t think we really engaged. What a golden period to be a student editor, and what a missed opportunity.

7. Some of the stories published in the late 1960s and early 1970s were quite risqué! Did you ever get in trouble? Were you ever asked to pull a story?
I never got into trouble – at least not to do with the newspaper – which given it was the peak time for investigative journalism– means I must have been a very tame editor.

8. How important was it at the time to push the boundaries?
It was the sixties, boundaries were being pushed all over the country and we just went with the flow. we didn't really feel we had boundaries.

9. What was the dominant issue of the day when you were writing for SUL?
The University was tiny - as indeed was the population of Bath, and the pace of growth was the source of most ‘home’ news. Nationally, the IRA were planting bombs all over the country, but not in Bath. The city did stage some student marches, the chant was Maggie Thatcher, milk snatcher – in reference to her policy of stopping free school milk in schools. Enoch Powell came to the University – or at least a hall close by – and some students staged a protest and rocked his car until it almost turned over.

10. How much of a role did your political views play when you were editor?

11. If you read one of your editorials today, would you recognise yourself in the writing?
Absolutely not. I wince at what I might have written.

12. What would your advice be to anyone thinking about getting involved in student publishing?
Do it to have fun, to have your voice heard, to work in a team, and to further you career . Try everything - polemic, interviews, features news stories, investigations, sub-editing , production. And aim to be the editor.

Martin Nesirky (BA MLES German 1982)

1. Why do you think student newspapers are important?
Student newspapers serve several purposes; informing and entertaining students in a style they understand, providing practical information and news that other outlets are unlikely to cover and offering a training ground for would-be journalists, graphic designers, editors and others. Of course the advent of social media, to give just one obvious and pervasive example, has allowed people to deliver and consume news and information in many other ways beyond a printed newspaper.

2. How much work was involved in putting the newspaper together?
It was a small but dedicated team and we worked many hours on the reporting, writing, photographs, typing up, layout and distribution. It was tremendous fun. Some of us were intent on becoming journalists but not all by any means. And one kind soul had to drive to Bristol to deliver the layouts to the printer and bring back the newspapers.

3. What were you most proud of in your time writing for and editing Spike?
As editor I think I was most proud of producing Spike in newspaper format and trying, with my friends and colleagues, to cover stories in a way that would appeal to our readers.

4. Did your work ever change anything at the University?
That's difficult to judge and probably for others to say. I hope it encouraged others to take up journalism and to think critically. And if not, I hope it made the fish and chips taste better.

5. Is there anything you regret publishing?
Of course, with hindsight, some of what we thought passed for satire or gossip probably missed the mark.

6. Some of the stories published were quite risqué! Did you ever get in trouble? Was your editor ever asked to pull a story?
One issue of the newspaper had to be withdrawn because a photograph was considered to be too risqué. Probably not our finest hour, but no lasting damage, I believe.

7. How important was it at the time to push the boundaries?
My main aim, and the aim of the team, was to produce Spike as a "proper" newspaper.

8. What was the dominant issue of the day when you were writing for Spike?
Student politics and the anti-apartheid movement were certainly major themes.

9. How much of a role did your political views play when you were editor?
I was not particularly politically active and I tried to separate my own views from editing and writing, not least because I knew this would be important in a future journalist career and more immediately to try to ensure Spike appealed to as wide a readership as possible.

10. If you read one of your pieces today, would you recognise yourself in the writing?
I certainly recognise myself in the writing and recognise also how much I still had to learn about journalism - and the world!

11. What impact did student journalism have on your career after graduating?
My student journalism and my studies at Bath had a direct impact on my career. I joined Reuters news agency (now Thomson Reuters) as a graduate trainee in September 1982 and remained with them until March 2006, having had postings in London, Moscow, The Hague, East Berlin and Seoul and reported from many other places. It also helped me when I subsequently joined the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and then the United Nations in public information and spokesman roles.

12. What would your advice be to anyone thinking about getting involved in student publishing?
Times have changed dramatically since we struggled with sticking bits of copy on to layout sheets and developing photographs in the darkroom. Websites and social media were of course unimaginable at the time. But the core skills of reporting, writing, editing and critical thinking as well as news photography and graphic design are useful not only if you wish to enter journalism. Student publishing helps to open a window on to university life and fosters teamwork as well as individual skills. And of course it's highly enjoyable. Embrace this and any other similar opportunity at Bath University while you can.

Deborah Hargreaves (BA MLES German 1983)

1. Why do you think student newspapers are important?
Student newspapers are a great way of getting started in journalism and honing some skills in an informal environment before being thrown into the competitive world of real journalism. It is much easier now to set up your own blog and contribute online to get some journalistic experience, but in the 1980s when I was writing for Spike, student papers were one of the only ways to prepare for a career in journalism.

2. How much work was involved in putting the newspaper together?
It was a fairly straightforward process of putting the paper together, although at times it could involve a last-minute rush and a few all-nighters.

3. What were you most proud of in your time writing for and editing Spike?
I enjoyed covering some of the political events of the time. I was writing for Spike in 1982-83 and there was a lot of political upheaval going on. We interviewed some of the politicians involved and went to political rallies.It made me feel part of the political process.

4. Did your work ever change anything at the University?
We campaigned against proposals by the then education secretary, Keith Joseph, to introduce student loans or fees. He dropped these plans in 1984, so collectively, student protest had maybe worked.

5. Is there anything you regret publishing?
I can't remember anything we regretted publishing.

6. Some of the stories published were quite risqué! Did you ever get in trouble? Was your editor ever asked to pull a story?
I was writing for Spike for just one year 1982-83, and I don't remember any pressure to pull a story.

7. How important was it at the time to push the boundaries?
We were keen to be provocative and campaigning, but equally eager to be taken seriously. So while we did take risks and push the boundaries, we also wanted to be a voice that would be listened to, so couldn't go too far.

8. What was the dominant issue of the day when you were writing for Spike?
Interestingly, one of the dominant issues at the time echoes today's concerns in that we were campaigning strongly against any introduction of student fees or loans or even any top-up payment for tuition fees. We were lucky enough to benefit from government grants for our tuition and maintenance and we strongly felt these should remain.

9. How much of a role did your political views play when you were editor?
I was very interested in left-wing politics at the time. In another striking echo of today, there was a lot of disarray and upheaval in the Labour party. The Gang of Four politicians had left the Labour party in 1981 to set up the SDP which later merged to become the Lib-Dems. I interviewed Shirley Williams at a rally in Devizes for the 1983 election and I think I gave her a very sympathetic hearing. I met her recently in the House of Lords and reminded her, she predicted I would have a good career in journalism!

10. If you read one of your pieces today, would you recognise yourself in the writing?
I think my writing at the time was a bit naiive. I went on to become a business journalist so maybe I am now a lot more cynical.

11. What impact did student journalism have on your career after graduating?
Student journalism was instrumental in launching me into my career. It gave me some cuttings and experience to talk about at interviews. My first job was with a trade magazine and I then went to the Financial Times for 19 years, working in the US, London and Brussels. I then went to the Guardian as business editor for 4 years. In 2012 I set up my own think tank - the High Pay Centre to research top pay and inequality.

12. What would your advice be to anyone thinking about getting involved in student publishing?
As someone who has recruited young graduates into journalism and was involved with the FT graduate recruitment interviews for a couple of years, I would say that student journalism - or at least some experience of writing, blogging and commenting - is essential for anyone considering a career in newspapers. It is a very competitive environment and it helps to stand out in any way.

Ellie Barker (BSc Sociology 1996)

1. Why do you think student publications are important?
I think they are important for two main reasons. They give students their own voice, but it also gives those with an interest in journalism a chance to have a go and see if it is for them. When I was at Bath there was Spike, but also a radio station and television station.I saw people who never thought they would be any good at radio, turn into fabulous presenters, the same with writers for Spike. It was the main reason why I wanted to go to the University. The practical experience I gained helped me immensely with my next step into the world of journalism. It also showed the hard work involved.

2. How much freedom did you have as editor?
There was lots of freedom. I am sure if you did something that wasn't correct or reflected the University in a bad light, this would not be allowed, but other than that we were given pretty much complete freedom.

3. How much work was involved in putting the magazine together?
There was lots of work involved! I hope it is not rude to students to say our hours in lectures were much less than just a normal working week. I soon realised there was a huge amount of hours involved in getting to deadline - although this reflects the media world. If you want a 9-5 job, don't work in journalism.

4. What were you most proud of in your time as editor or writing for Spike?
I was extremely proud when we won the Guardian Media award and collected it from Peter Preston. Of course it was all thanks to everyone else and their hard work, but to be the Editor was a great honour.

5. Did your work ever change anything at the University?
I wouldn't say it dramatically changed anything but I do believe it helped the magazine continue to evolve.

6. Is there anything you regret publishing?
My favourite colour is pink - and one issue was pretty much entirely pink. I am not sure I would do that again today, much as I still love the colour.

7. Did you ever get in trouble? Were ever asked to pull a story?
No (not that I can remember!)

8. How important did you feel it was to push the boundaries?
I felt it was very important to give all contributors their voice as much as possible. We had incredible people working with us and this meant huge variety in the magazine.

9. What was the dominant issue of the day when you were writing?
It was mainly about students - coming to university - many of them leaving home for the first time. It was about them finding their way - whether it was a music review, a piece about their travels, a piece about their hopes. Top tips to get through campus life. We tried to make the content as relevant to as many students as possible.

10. How much of a role did your political views play when you were editor?
Although in the past Spike had been fairly political - it was less so under my editorship. I believed very much in letting everyone have their opinions, meaning their was something for everyone.

11. If you read one of your editorials today, would you recognise yourself in the writing?
I would - but I would almost definitely cringe. I would like to think I have become more confident now and have a greater self-belief. I have worked in journalism since the day after I finished my finals... which is a long time ago now!

12. How did your experiences affect your own career path, and do you have any advice for anyone thinking about getting involved in student publishing?
Honestly, I was asked more about my time as Editor at Spike than I ever was about my degree. Journalism is all about experience, about being able to connect with a whole range of people and being able to communicate in a simple, engaging way. I learnt the basics for all of this at university, but most of all I learnt what I always thought I knew.. that journalism was the correct career path for me and fingers crossed, I have not been proved wrong since.

Tom Vincent (MEng Automotive Engineering 2004)

1. Why do you think student publications are important?
The traditional line is that the student press provides an independent voice for students, and is uniquely placed to hold Universities and Students’ Unions to account. Depending on the publication and the restrictions placed upon it, I think most manage to do this to some extent.
However, that overlooks other reasons why student publications are important. Obviously, they inform and entertain the student community – surely the only reason they’re picked up and read. But most important, to my mind, is that they allow people to go and have a go at journalism. University is all about trying new things and gaining experiences, so I think it’s absolutely appropriate that any student with an interest has the opportunity contribute to a newspaper or magazine. I’m not sure where else you’d have the chance to do that.

2. How much freedom did you have as editor?
The level of influence the Union tried to apply varied during the three years I was on the editorial team. We enjoyed a good bunch of Sabbs during the time I was editor, and unlike in previous years I don’t think we ever had an article pulled. That said, every issue of the paper had to be approved by the Union prior to publication, and they paid the bills, so we weren’t truly independent.

3. How much work was involved in putting the magazine together?
A lot. The total of everyone’s contributions must have run to hundreds of hours per issue, which came out fortnightly. We had around 60 or 70 contributors, and an editorial team of around 12 people. Each of the section editors would coordinate content for their pages, which was an ongoing task taking a few hours per week. On production week, they would lay up their pages themselves, which took several hours. The sub-editors, photo editor and I would do our bit to tidy the pages, add photos, proof read articles and generally get the paper together. Depending on how we were feeling, that either took place overnight on a Thursday, where we’d finish around 9am on Friday, or we’d stop at 2am on Friday and finish it off during the day. That was less tiring but more stressful, as we’d be running close to the printer’s deadline.

4. What were you most proud of in your time as editor or writing for impact?
I can’t really think of a single stand-out article or issue that I wrote or contributed towards. I am proud to have been a link in the chain that kept the paper going, however, and very pleased to see it still in print 13 years later.
I am proud also to have been part of something that provided such a great opportunity for people, whether they simply enjoyed contributing to the paper, or were helped in some way into a career in the media.

5. Did your work ever change anything at the University?
Nothing significant that I can think of! impact was a young publication when I was involved, and certainly not a campaigning newspaper. We did run a story where, depending on whose view you took, the University was trying to solve a shortage of teaching space by encouraging departments to cut teaching hours. That got quite a lot of attention, including from national media, but I’m not convinced it really changed anything. Another time we helped some students to get their deposits back from an unscrupulous letting agent, which I was pleased with.

6. Is there anything you regret publishing?
Only one article comes to mind, a crass and insensitive piece which certainly shouldn’t have been printed. It offended a good number of people, but we dedicated a page in the next issue to the feedback we received – I felt it was important to admit we’d got it wrong and to try to address that.

7. Did you ever get in trouble? Were ever asked to pull a story?
It never happened while I was editor, but in previous years when I was on the editorial team stories were certainly pulled. Never with just cause, it was always very frustrating, and gave us a real problem with what to fill the gap with at short notice.
We never got in trouble in the legal sense, fortunately. Certainly people were quite regularly angry for various reasons, but you can’t please all the people all the time.

8. How important did you feel it was to push the boundaries?
We weren’t interested in pushing the boundaries just for the sake of it, but everyone involved in the paper believed it was important for it to be a truly independent publication, so we were always pushing back against interference from the Union.
On a wider level, we also felt that the Students’ Union should have been a more democratic organisation – the feeling was that the Sabbatical team and student members had little real control, and that the management team were making decisions with minimal oversight. We did manage to publish a story to that effect – with the approval of the Media and Communications Officer, to his credit – which was probably about as far as we pushed what we could get away with.

9. What was the dominant issue of the day when you were writing?
Tuition fees – the increase to £3000 per year (from around £1000) was being discussed by Government. The invasion of Iraq took place while I was editor, although that perhaps received less coverage in our pages than you might imagine. It often felt that items that were getting lots of column inches in the national press were less interesting in a student paper, unless they had a specific bearing on us.

10. How much of a role did your political views play when you were editor?
Very little, really. I didn’t have particularly strong political views at the time, and we weren’t a particularly political paper.

11. If you read one of your editorials today, would you recognise yourself in the writing?
I’d imagine so – I hope so. I don’t think I’ve changed that much!

12. How did your experiences affect your own career path, and do you have any advice for anyone thinking about getting involved in student publishing?
I wasn’t interested in pursuing a career in the media, so it didn’t help me get a foot in the door in that respect, but I think it must have helped in some ways. I was exposed to lots of situations that I wouldn’t have been otherwise: just to be heading up a team of 70 and having the responsibility to produce the paper every two weeks was terrific.
My advice for anyone wanting to get into student publishing would be to do it! It really takes very little effort or commitment to start contributing, and, unless things have changed, the publications are always looking for new contributors. You might find you get hooked, like I did, and end up spending more time in the newspaper office than in lectures. You might also make some great friends – the team were a diverse bunch from all years and subjects, and the social scene was always good.


ACE graduate, Katy Murray, wins Achiever of the Year award

📥  Architecture

Press release from Constructing Excellence regarding Katherine Murray (Architecture 2011).

Katy Murray wins Young Achiever of the Year in the 2016 Constructing Excellence in London and South East Awards

This coveted award was presented on the 30th June at the annual awards dinner at Lancaster London. Over 560 construction industry professionals attended the awards ceremony which has quadrupled in size since the team took over in 2011.

“There’s no doubt, said Tim Whitehill from sponsors Project Five, “that Katy will be an effective champion for architect-led design and build.  In the role of designer and site manager, Katy showed impressive levels of collaborative working and demonstrated how the dual role complimented the project – delivering value to the client and other stakeholders.”

Katy Murray

Katy Murray

Katy Murray joined the family design & build business, Directline Structures, and has already made an outstanding difference to the company. Although combining an intensive and onerous workload, with final studies and exams for RIBA qualification has been a challenge, she has come through it with well-deserved praise from all parties.

While her contemporary Part 3 architects may be handling small parts of large projects, she has been at the forefront of projects, involved from tender design, client discussion, planning and, to top it all, she took on the role of site manager to complete the experience.

Her ability to apply her knowledge of construction to her design work, and vice versa, sets her apart from other architects and contractors. She has become fundamental to delivery of all projects – her architectural vision, talent and presentation skills have brought a new dimension to the company’s ability to win work.

Katy’s input is pushing Directline Structures forward to a new era of BIM and modern processes. This fits well with the company’s ethos of collaboration, fairness, value and sustainability. Directline have always used an integrated team of designers and managers, but Katy’s architectural input provides a new level of style and attention to aesthetics.

The Constructing Excellence awards exemplify both best practice and innovative thinking within the industry” says Roland Lloyd, Senior Construction Manager of Headline sponsors, Westfield .  I believe that such a forum provides real benefits for both Westfield projects and the wider construction industry.”

The Constructing Excellence Awards are unique in their recognition of some of the best teams and organisations in the region and we aim to inspire others to learn and benefit from their stories which are published in the Awards Brochure.  “The key actions they took, results achieved and lessons learned make an interesting read” says Derek Rees, Regional Director for Constructing Excellence.  Click here to download the full brochure.



Alumni support helps student launch an exciting new startup


📥  Bath

University of Bath student, James Courtney, has launched a business which he hopes will replicate the success of loyalty programmes like Air Miles, but in the restaurant market.

His app-based business, LUX, which was developed with support from alumni, has already signed up a number of Bath restaurants, been accepted into two accelerator programs (SETsquared and Entrepreneurial-Spark) and raised in excess of £60,000 in crowdfunding.

James had the idea for LUX when he noticed a gap in the market for professionals who dine out regularly on business, but whose loyalty wasn't being recognised. After winning the University's Business Plan competition (twice) and taking home top prize of £3,000 in the alumni sponsored Dragons' Den competition, James began to develop his idea as part of his placement.

He gave us his 'elevator pitch': "LUX does for restaurants what Air Miles has done for airlines. It's a premium rewards scheme that allows customers to earn high quality rewards for money that they are already spending on dining out, and allows restaurants to fill spare capacity with their perfect customers (high spending, business or affluent customers). There is also a social good element, as LUX helps to raise money for local charities. All this, and LUX delivers a high growth, cash-flow positive opportunity to investors."

As well as financial support, James also received valuable insight from alumni on a trip to New York and Boston last year.

James says: "I really can't thank the University enough. The support I have received has allowed LUX to have a real chance at success. We have now been able to hire four University of Bath graduates, launch the app and are gaining increasing interest from angel investors. We want to prove the concept in Bristol and Bath, before we scale up and expand into London in 2017."

James is joined on the project by fellow graduate, Josh Maynard, and Richard Godfrey.

If you would like to learn more about James or LUX, you can contact him at james@luxrewards.co.uk

You can find the app on both Android and Apple app stores.



Alumni support for Cancer Research at Bath (CR@B)

📥  CR@B

Rob Middleton (BSc Economics w Econometrics 1994) is Executive Director of Fidelity International Asset Management.

He talks here about why he supports CR@B, the importance of their work and why, if you can, you should support them too.

Rob Middleton

Rob Middleton

What is your link to the University of Bath?

It’s my old stamping ground. I spent five happy years living in Bath, three of them studying at the University and two of them commuting to work in Bristol. I read Economics with Econometrics, graduating in 1994, which seems like yesterday in my memory but my calendar assures me otherwise! Since moving to work in London I have been involved with campus recruitment activities for a previous employer (JP Morgan Investment Bank) and my current employer (Fidelity International Asset Management).

How did you find out about CR@B?

As I recall, I think I originally read about the University’s programme of cancer research in an alumni newsletter of some sort, many years ago. I think it then came up in conversation with a member of University development staff over a keeping-in-touch cup of coffee.

How long have you been involved?

I have been contributing to the University for many years, but have been steering my contributions towards the CR@B work for the last three or four years.

What made you decide to support them?

I was diagnosed with bone cancer a few years ago and embarked on a six year journey of fear and discomfort involving prolonged in-patient chemotherapy, intrusive surgery and phased reconstruction. Thankfully, five years have now passed without incident or recurrence and normal life has resumed. Others that shared my predicament were not so fortunate, either because their diagnosis was less swift or the treatment less effective. During the harrowing period of initial discovery, I remember being alarmed and disturbed at the imprecision of the imaging techniques available to support diagnosis or assess progress. Chemotherapy treatments were worryingly indiscriminate and assertions about their effectiveness seemed largely based on crude ‘outcome’ statistics.

How important is the work of CR@B?

We may well look back in 20 years and be horrified at the way we treated cancers in the early part of this century. In fact, the extent of this horror should be a measure of the progress I hope we will have made in the intervening years. The more we invest to improve imaging, diagnosis, treatment etc. the more stark the historical contrast will become.

What would you say to any who may be considering offering their support?

We are all likely to be touched by cancer at some point in our lives, either personally or through the suffering of a close relative or friend. Charitable giving is a vital source of funding helping to accelerate the medical breakthroughs that I hope and expect to see in my lifetime. I am proud to support this important work and would encourage others to do the same.

If you would like to support CR@B, please visit lookfurther.bath.ac.uk/make-a-gift


Working with languages in the football industry

📥  MA Interpreting & Translating

University of Bath Graduate Daniel Lane is a self-employed Interpreter and Translator in the football industry. Working with an agency, Daniel has contact with a variety of clubs and football institutions in Europe and around the World.
Daniel graduated from BA Modern Languages and European Studies in 2012 and went on to complete the Masters in Interpreting and Translating at Bath with Spanish and Italian. We asked Daniel about his career as a freelancer in the private sector.

Daniel Lane

Daniel Lane

Tell us about your work as a Freelance Interpreter and Translator

“The main body of my work is written translation for football clubs in Italy. This can include translating content for their website into English, press releases, match reports and minute-by-minute commentary for their Twitter and Facebook.

I also provide interpreting services for the same agency in England with football clubs in London. This can involve going to the training ground to assist a player who may have an internal media interview, or an interview with a newspaper, or Match of the Day or Sky Sports who want an on screen interview. I am there to help players who don’t speak the languages.

Alternatively I go to the stadium on match day, or to the charities and partners of these football clubs with players to help those who don’t speak English.”

Why did you specialise working in the football industry?

“I was aware that there was a market for language professionals with my combination in the industry. Coupled with the fact that I was unable to apply to any of the institutions due to my lack of French or German, it seemed the most logical, and interesting, route for me to pursue. I was already knowledgeable about football so it was a ready-made specialisation for my translation work”

How has your masters helped your career?

“My masters helped me to turn my existing language skills into professional language skills. It has taught me how my skills can be useful. The weight of the name has opened doors for me, almost like a stamp of authority, that I’ve had good training from the University of Bath. It’s definitely been invaluable.”

Would you recommend the MA Interpreting and Translating course? 

“If you want to be an interpreter or translator the course is definitely worth doing. Although perhaps more tailored towards a career in the European Union and the United Nations, a postgraduate degree gives you credibility.

The training is second to none in terms of giving you expertise. I would whole heartily recommend it.”


Alumna becomes first female Sri Lankan civilian officer to earn military qualification

📥  International

University of Bath alumna, Jeevanthie Senanayake, is a civil servant in Sri Lanka. She completed her MSc International Public Policy Analysis (MIPPA) in 2012, and has since gone on to be the first female Sri Lankan civilian officer to earn the military qualification Passed Staff College (PSC).

Countries including the UK and Sri Lanka have joint staff colleges to train their military and civil servants. Jeevanthie’s college provided her with essential military training, a theoretical basis for war fighting, an exposure to the policy of war, all of which which helped her to attain this qualification.

Jeevanthie Senanayake

Jeevanthie Senanayake

Jeevanthie said of her achievement: “I feel proud of myself. It is not easy for even a military officer to obtain this qualification. It involves a lot of hard work.

“To be the first female civilian to have earned this qualification is something to be proud of. I also won the prestigious ‘Golden Pen’ award for the best research at the Defence Services Command and Staff College last year. That was the first time a civilian officer had won that award.

“Before I started my masters I was an officer of the Sri Lanka Administrative Service, which is equivalent to the civil service in many other countries. I was attached to the Ministry of Defence in Sri Lanka before I studied for MIPPA, and my duties involved working with the Department of Police. After MIPPA I went back to the Ministry of Defence and was posted in the Development Division. Whilst there I worked with the military educational institutions including the Defence Services Command and Staff College and the Sir John Kotelawala Defence University.

“MIPPA gave me a very good overall understanding of policies in different countries and regions of the world. In addition, it gave me the basic understanding of different approaches to policy analysis as well as the importance of evidence based policies. All of this has helped me to shape up my thinking process.”

Jeevanthie hopes to be part of the defence set up and policy community of Sri Lanka to assist in defence of the country from future threats.

Congratulations to Jeevanthie on this great achievement from all of us at the University of Bath.


Bath graduate translates award-winning Syrian Journalist

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📥  International, MA Interpreting & Translating

Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp completed the MA Interpreting and Translating programme with German and Russian at the University of Bath in 2004. Soon after graduating, Ruth was employed as a linguist and researcher in the UK civil service where she added Arabic to the languages she translates from. She is the co-translator (from Arabic) of The Crossing: My journey to the shattered heart of Syria, an account of the ongoing war in Syria by exiled Syrian writer Samar Yazbek, 2012 winner of the International PEN Pinter International Writer of Courage prize.

The Crossing has been described as ‘one of the first political classics of the 21st century’ by The Observer. Author Samar Yazbek, spoke to the Guardian about her powerful and moving account of her devastated homeland. She tells how she risked her life to cross illegally back into Syria, and how she has been an eyewitness to the unfolding chaos and misery. Read the article here.

Ruth Ahmedzai

Ruth Ahmedzai

Ruth commented, “It was a very difficult book to work on: because of the time-sensitive topic - the worsening Syrian crisis - there was a very tight deadline, which was tough with such a complex, lyrical text. But above all, it was emotionally challenging: it is a book laden with heart-breaking scenes, with shocking brutality but also much poetic beauty.”

“It has been a privilege to contribute to British readers’ understanding of what is going on in Syria, and I am glad that Syrians are finally being given a voice internationally. The book has led to other opportunities to translate Samar’s writing, including a comment on the refugee crisis for the Guardian.”

Ruth has run a successful freelance business as a translator and editor since 2009, working mainly with commercial, government and NGO clients, but increasingly in publishing. She is also the translator (from Arabic) of The Bride of Amman, a novel by Fadi Zaghmout and a book she is promoting this autumn. Ruth has a number of possible books in the pipeline for the future, and she is currently translating an academic text (linguistics).

She explains, “One thing I love about translating is that I never know where the next contract might take me. I’d be very happy if the next book is non-fiction, particularly history or politics. I love not knowing what’s round the corner, but it’s reassuring to know that with three languages (Russian, German and Arabic) covering so many countries, and particularly as a translator of German, there is always plenty of well-paid commercial work to fall back on.”


Professional Doctorate in Health graduate talks to Viva Survivors

📥  Uncategorized

Dr Denise Proudfoot completed her Professional Doctorate in Health from the University of Bath in 2014 while working as a nurse lecturer in Dublin City University. She has a background in mental health, primary care and sexual health promotion in nursing. Denise’s thesis is entitled ‘a narrative exploration of the experiences of mothers living with HIV in Ireland.’

She spoke about her research and Professional Doctorate experience with Dr Nathan Ryder from Viva Survivors. You can listen to the full interview and Podcast here.

Dr Denise Proudfoot

Dr Denise Proudfoot

Can you describe your research, and how you came to do a Professional Doctorate?

My research was a study with HIV positive mothers in Ireland. I set out to provide an understanding of their lives.

I originally worked as a Nurse in London specifically with people who are HIV positive and most of my case load were women. At this time there were limited options for drugs to be given to mothers during pregnancy that would have prevented the baby having HIV. In the mid-1990s the development of combination therapy, a combination of antiretroviral drugs had a significant effect on the health of people with HIV, and equally had a significant impact on the chances of a pregnant HIV positive woman having a HIV positive baby. So that’s had a huge effect on the lives of HIV positive mothers.

When I decided to do a Professional Doctorate I was trying to think about research, I wanted to do something I was passionate about and interested in. My background is in mental health nursing and general nursing, but I still had a huge interest in HIV.

I really wanted to look at what it’s like for women now, and in the last 15 years, what it’s like to be a mother. Increasingly the chances of your baby being born with HIV is very low as HIV positive woman now take medication in the second trimester of the pregnancy and this reduces the chance of having a HIV positive baby to less than 1%.

There’s been huge advances and developments in the area of HIV in the biomedical discourse. I wanted to examine at the social meaning of the process, and used a feminist mothering research approach to explore what it’s like to be a HIV positive mother, and maybe give voice to these women.

How did you make the transition from working in the area of mental and general health nursing to finding a supervisor and starting your research?   

Since the early 2000s I have been working as a lecturer in nursing. A lot of my colleagues had started PhDs or Doctorates and I knew it was inevitable I would want to do one so I started looking at options. I came across the Professional Doctorate in Health at the University of Bath and started in 2007 as a part-time student, combining this with my lecturing at Dublin City University.

What was it like carrying out the research?

There has been little research in the last 10-12 years around women’s experiences, that’s something that came up in my literature review.

My study was a narrative study. I interviewed 11 mothers who were attending a HIV peer support centre in Dublin about their experiences. The research was enjoyable, the actual data collection which was interviews with mothers and women was really interesting and relatively straightforward.

What was the impact of your research?

One of the key findings I summarise in my thesis is being a mother impacts on the HIV experience. And vice versa, being HIV positive impacts on mothering. A lot of the women when they’re diagnosed their priority is their children, the first thing they want to know is ‘is my child HIV positive’ irrespective of the age of the child. Some woman were pregnant, some had young children, and others had older children. They are very child centred and this impacted on their responses to their HIV result.

Did you feel there were differences between a PhD and your experience on a Professional Doctorate?

Yes there are quite a few differences. The reason I chose a Professional Doctorate was because I like structure and the peer element of the programme was quite strong. In the first couple of years we did a lot of research training looking at both qualitative and quantitate methods which I think is important.

We had assignments which is different to a PhD where you have a narrower focus. I enjoyed the structure, and as I progressed through the programme there were milestones to achieve.

Another difference is you’re journeying with other people. The majority of people on the doctorate were mature students and senior professionals across health disciplines so you have an interesting group of people to work with. Some were clinicians, whereas I came from an academic background in a practice discipline.

The thesis is smaller in the end compared to a PhD, but it’s very much quality as opposed to quantity at 45,000 words. One of the skills you develop is you have to be quite succinct, but I got a good overall research training, I feel I have a good understanding  of other research methodologies that I might have got if I’ve done a PhD.

I was working full-time as an academic while I was a part-time student and it was quite challenging, but because I was in an academic environment it helped, I had access to alot of resources. Probably the last three years were the busiest for me.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting the Doctorate?

My advice is to choose a topic that you’re passionate about and interested in to sustain your interest over a long period of time. You learn an awful lot about yourself throughout the process. Keep going, take breaks if needed, there are times when it’s straight forward and times when challenging. It’s definitely worthwhile.

Dr Denise Proudfoot, Nurse Lecturer in Dublin City University
Professional Doctorate in Health 2014



Getting reconnected with Bath


📥  Get Connected, International, Uncategorized

Action for M.E. CEO and Bath alumna, Sonya Chowdhury, recently volunteered her time and expertise at one of our ‘Get Connected’ events. It was the first engagement she’d had with us since she graduated in 1998, but within 24 hours of the event she had booked plane tickets to attend the World Health Assembly summit as a guest of the CEO of the largest cancer fighting organisation in the world. Read her story below. 

Being asked to speak on a panel at the ‘Get Connected’ event in London about working in the charity, NGO and policy sectors not only gave me a chance to share my experience, but opened doors that I would never have expected to be there for me.

The Chair of the Panel, CEO of the Union for International Control of Cancer and alumnus [and recent honorary graduate], Cary Adams, spoke with me after the event and invited me to Geneva. Little did I know that 24 hours later I would have plane tickets booked and four days at the World Health Assembly summit at the United Nations in my diary.

Sonya Chowdhury

Sonya Chowdhury

This was an incredible opportunity for me to develop a greater understanding of how policy and decision-making happens at a global health level. From a personal perspective, the insight and learning was immense and I couldn’t possibly have got as much from just reading about the systems or structures in place. Alongside this I received a masterclass in CEO networking from Cary (who was phenomenal to watch in terms of ‘working the room’) and benefited from being introduced to a number of influential and inspiring individuals.

I don’t know how much you know about M.E., but it’s an illness that quite literally steals lives; a long-term neurological condition that affects many of the body’s systems and leaves children and adults with extreme, persistent exhaustion and a range of nasty symptoms including cognitive dysfunction, sleep difficulties and pain amongst many others. Many of the 250,000 people in the UK will M.E. describe being trapped; existing but not living.

Politically, M.E. has a very low profile in the UK (it’s different in the Netherlands and the US) so finding a way to mobilise people and significantly increase the profile of M.E. is critical. Having the opportunity to gain a better understanding of how we might do this through engagement at World Health Assembly level, and exploring how to build networks and create a bigger collective voice, will ultimately benefit people affected by this devastating illness. Supported by Cary, I am now developing a proposal for a five-year plan to achieve just that, and build on the collaboration work we are already undertaking such as establishing an International Alliance of leading charities across the globe.

The Panel was my first real engagement with Bath Alumni since I left in 1998. I am surprised and delighted by what it has offered me, personally and professionally, as well as the potential for people with M.E. and the charity that I run. Hopefully, there will be more to come!


Galapagos Island trip


📥  International

PhD students Elisabeth Grey (Department for Health), Becky Mead and Dana Buchan (both Department Biology & Biochemistry) are doing evolutionary related research at the University, and have just returned from a trip to the Galapagos Islands.

Dana and Becky’s projects are investigating the teaching of evolution in schools as part of the GEVOteach (Genetics & Evolution) teaching project, whilst Elisabeth is looking into how evolutionary messaging can be used in diet and health advice.

Their trip to Galapagos was arranged and fully funded by Bath alumnus Dr Jonathan Milner, who is already funding their PhDs and has just donated £5 million to the University to establish the Milner Centre for Evolution, the first evolution science centre in the UK.

You can read the accounts of their life-changing trip below.

We are lucky enough to have the Evolution Education Trust (EET), headed by Jonathan Milner, as our PhD scholarship sponsor. The EET was formed to promote a greater public understanding of evolution, and as such it is also involved with the Galapagos Conservation Trust, an organisation that supports scientific, educational and cultural initiatives aimed at conserving Galapagos (the famous archipelago that was an inspiration to Darwin’s theory of evolution). Dr Milner was keen for us to see the fantastic work of the GCT and arranged for us to join them on a 2 week trip to Galapagos.

The first week of our trip was spent visiting several of the eastern islands in the archipelago. This was a fantastic opportunity to see the great variety of environmental conditions on the different islands and how this is reflected in the species that inhabit them. Many of the animals we saw are unique to Galapagos, including, of course, the famous finches. It was possible to get very close to a lot of the animals since, having no natural predators, they are relatively unfearful of humans. Swimming side-by-side with wild sea turtles, was a particular experience we’ll never forget!

This tour also introduced us to some of the threats to these unique islands. We saw many invasive plants, such as blackberry, which have been introduced by man and are fast eliminating the endemic vegetation on which certain animals have come to depend. The sea-life is also at risk: among our fellow travellers were a couple of marine biologists who conducted bio-surveys of the sea water in different locations. In all the samples we found a high number and range of vital plankton, but also many microplastics.

Elisabeth Grey is completing a PhD Research Programme in Health

Every moment spent in the Galapagos was mesmerising, thought-provoking and life-changing. As soon as we arrived we were inundated with wildlife that showed no fear (and often took no notice) of humans. On landing at San Cristobel Airport I initially thought I had flown back through time: in the sky a huge, black, almost pterodactyl-like bird was circling above us. I was to see many other frigatebirds during my two week stay on Galapagos.

Male Frigatebird

Male Frigatebird

To follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin and visit the Galapagos had been a distant dream but, thanks to the overwhelming generosity of Jonathan Milner and the Evolution Education Trust, I have just returned from the trip of a lifetime. Along with two of my PhD student colleagues from the University of Bath I joined the Galapagos Conservation Trust’s (GCT) Supporter Cruise and spent time on Santa Cruz Island learning about GCT-funded education projects.


Seal basking in the sun

Life on board the Majestic was truly wonderful. We sailed by night, visiting a different island each day. Every island was unique with its own spectacular landscape and fascinating flora and fauna. I soon became accustomed to marine iguanas hiding among the black volcanic rocks, sea lions basking in the sun, Sally Lightfoot crabs with their startling orange shells bright against the dark coastal cliffs, and the finches, mockingbirds and lava lizards which all appear similar, yet vary between islands. It is easy to see how Darwin’s visit here helped shape his views on evolution.

I have so many amazing memories, but those prehistoric-looking frigatebirds really encapsulate the wonder, mystery and magnificence of the islands for me. Seeing the male frigatebirds on Genovesa Island, their mating calls reverberating through their enormous red throat pouches, is something I shall never forget.

I learnt to snorkel in the brilliant turquoise ocean. I entered a new world where I immediately became engulfed in schools of fish and then found myself the centre of attention of curious sea lions playfully darting around me. Snorkelling around Kicker Rock we were treated to turtles, sea lions, rays, sharks, an octopus and - somewhat tingly! - jellyfish. But perhaps the most poignant moment was seeing a turtle eating a plastic bag. Even in these glistening, remote waters, the impact of humans is inescapable.

Becky and tortoise

Becky and a Galapagos tortoise

On Santa Cruz we visited a school and an eco-club. I felt honoured to participate in a teacher workshop which included tortoise tracking in the highlands. I was impressed with the dedication of the teachers and trainers to the environment and sustainability. I was particularly encouraged by the positive attitude of teenagers at the eco club who viewed conserving nature as their responsibility. It gives me lots of hope for the future of these islands and really highlights why funding from organisations such as the GCT is vital.

I have been so inspired and motivated by this incredible adventure. I am very grateful to my sponsor, everyone at the GCT, those on board the Majestic, and those who I met during my time on the islands: you all made me feel so welcome and opened my mind to new ideas and ways of thinking. I hope I can use this experience to improve my research into how evolution is taught in UK schools, and I look forward to working with the GCT in the near future to develop teaching resources.

Becky Mead is completing a PhD Research Programme in Biology

The Galapagos education system currently serves just over 5,200 primary and secondary students through a network of 20 public and private schools on the islands of Santa Cruz (9 schools), San Cristóbal (6), Isabela (4), and Floreana (1). Some of these schools are extremely small and isolated.

Tomás de Berlanga School

Tomás de Berlanga School

During my second week in the Galapagos Islands I was extremely privileged to visit Tomás de Berlanga School on the Island of Santa Cruz. This fee-paying school offered bilingual primary and secondary education to approximately 130 students in a rural forest setting.

The school was situated four miles from the centre of town on the road to the highlands. Children and staff were bused in and out from the fairly remote site every day. The school itself was made up of several single story blocks integrated into the forest. The blocks (pairs of classrooms, art, administration/reception, canteen, toilets, music and library) were separate but close together and linked by crushed lava pathways lined with trees and shrubs.

The classrooms were fairly basic by UK standards, just desks and chairs, a white board and a few posters on the walls. There was no air conditioning, just fly screens in the windows. Resources seemed to be very limited but were reported to be much better than most other schools on the Islands. As a consequence of the school’s location the constant dampness meant that paper resources perish quickly. There was no evidence of any science equipment or lab in the school and so probably only taught in theory.

Pupils at Tomás de Berlanga School

Pupils at Tomás de Berlanga School

I was given access to 24 students in two classes (grades 6 and 7) ranging from 10 to 12 years old, who had not been taught about evolution. Evolution education in Ecuador is carried out in the 9th grade (13 years old). This is comparable with the students in the UK before the changes in the Primary National Curriculum were introduced in September 2014.

Both classes were given the same translated questionnaires I intend to use to collect data from year 6 students in the UK. The questions were selected from a large scale American study, part of the AAAS Project 2061 (Flanagan and Roseman, 2011). This research will form part of my thesis and allow me to compare the evolutionary knowledge of children from the Galapagos Islands, the USA and UK.

Dana Buchan is completing a PhD Research Programme in Biology