People who have inspired the next generation, developed management skills and created outstanding educational facilities are among those recognised by the University of Cumbria at next week's graduation ceremony.
Four honorary fellows are to be presented with awards at Carlisle Cathedral and, for only the second time, the university will present a special award of ‘alumnus of the year’ which recognises the exceptional achievements of a graduate.
This year’s winner, Katie Slavin-Trower (27), was awarded the title for creating a children’s theatre school for disadvantaged children. Katie established the Shining Stars AS Theatre School in her home town of Coatbridge, Scotland shortly after graduating from the university with a BA (Hons) in Drama, Performance and Technical Theatre. She started the company because she suffered from a stammer when she was younger and wanted to give other children the chance to grow confidence from studying drama, as she did.
The school was set up on a shoestring using Katie’s wedding fund in her spare time while she worked as a special needs teacher in Motherwell. The school started out with only five children and now has a roll of over 100 children and adults attending a range of classes in the evenings, weekends and holidays. Katie was nominated ‘young scot of the year’ in 2016 for her endeavours.
Honorary fellows are recognised for their outstanding contributions to the university and a variety of causes linked to the work of the university. This year’s recipients have all made significant contributions to the areas in which they live and work.
After a career in the Merchant Navy, Tony Price C Eng FEI, became chairman and managing director of Sellafield Ltd. Instrumental in developing project management skills and knowledge in nuclear and engineering industries he receives his fellowship in recognition of his outstanding work.
Dave Williamson, along with his wife Susan, established the Derwent Water Marina at Portinscale, Keswick. Dave also serves on the board of a number of charitable and educational bodies and is recognised for his significant contribution to sailing and outdoor education.
Chris Batten devised the ‘aspiring leaders programme’ in association with the Brathay Trust and the university, which aims to give committed young adults from disadvantaged communities the skills, knowledge and self-belief to transform the prospects of those areas. Chris receives his award for his contribution to the charitable sector in Cumbria and North Lancashire.
Also receiving an honour is Mick Farley in recognition of his work to raise the aspirations of young people. As chair of Inspira, a leading career management and personal development organisation, he also worked to turn around a failing academy in Bolton. According to Cumbria Life Magazine he is said to have ‘greatly influenced life in Cumbria’.
“The figures we will be honouring at graduation this summer have all made substantial contributions which have enriched the communities in which they live and serve and are excellent role models to our students. We are very pleased to be recognising their significant contributions to date,” Professor Julie Mennell, Vice Chancellor at the University of Cumbria, said.