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Congratulations to Dr Mike Knowles, Senior Lecturer in Engineering, who has been appointed Chair of the IET Northumbria Branch.

The Institute of Engineering Technology (IET) work to engineer a better world, supporting technology innovation to meet the needs of society. The IET is one of the major professional bodies for Engineering, has local branches across the UK and indeed the globe. 

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Dr Knowles says: “Local networks organise evening lectures, industrial visits and other events of interest to those in the profession. The Northumbria branch also organises a competition for Final Year project students across the four Tyne and Wear universities – one of our students, Joseph Birks, won this for 2018.”

BEng Electronic and Electrical Engineering final year student Joseph won first prize at the IET Northumbria 2018 Students' Projects Competition for his poster presentation, ‘Robotic Manipulation of Fragile Objects using Tactile Manipulation’.

Mike continued: “The group is also supporting the Great Northern Engineering Experience which is associated with the Great Exhibition of the North – one of our graduates (2016 BEng Electronic and Electrical Engineering graduate Blaine Huntington, who now works as a Manufacturing Engineer at Hitachi Rail Europe)  is one of the ‘Invisible Superheroes’ who will be featured in material at the event at the Mining Institute.”

You can find out more about the Great North Engineering Experience here:


Cracking the skills code

The University of Sunderlandis on a mission to develop the next generation of digital talent.

The University is a member of the Institute of Coding (IoC) consortium of universities and employers, which was formally launched at a special event in the House of Lords. 

Working as part of the IoC partnership, the University will bring together the worlds of academia and industry with a remit to spread digital skills across the UK.

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The IoC organisation will work specifically to develop specialist skills training in areas of strategic importance and boost equality and diversity in digital education and careers. This will be delivered through degrees, degree apprenticeships, short courses, continuing professional development, innovative learning facilities and other outreach activities.

As part of its role, the IoC will also produce research, analysis and intelligence to anticipate future skills gaps across the UK workforce.

The Institute of Coding is a £20million Government investment funded through the Office for Students, and is matched by £20million pounds of investment from partners.

Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said: “The Institute of Coding will play a vital role in ensuring we can continue to generate the world-class pipeline of digital specialists the UK needs and improve education for everyone.

“Backed by £20 million of Government investment, this consortium of over 60 universities, businesses and industry experts will help people of all ages gain the skills they need to secure a range of exciting careers in fields such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.

“This is central to the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy, which aims to make sure we are all equipped for the jobs of the future.  I would like to thank everyone involved for their work so far and I’m looking forward to hearing how the Institute of Coding progresses.”

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the Office for Students, said: “The Institute of Coding is a fantastic example of universities and businesses working together to develop the digital skills needed for the UK economy. I am delighted that the institute will also encourage and support groups who are traditionally underrepresented in the digital sector, including female school leavers and women returners.”

Dr Rachid Hourizi, director, Institute of Coding, said: “We have a clear commitment to tackling the digital skills shortfall by making it easier for students, people at work and potential learners that we have not previously reached to access higher education and improve their technical abilities.

“We believe every person, whatever their background, deserves the opportunity to improve their digital skill sets through flexible learning convenient to their needs, whether that be face-to-face or online, full or part-time and as a stand-alone activity or part of an existing job.

“The IoC has already established a network of 25 academic institutions and 60 businesses to deliver these programmes. We are working closely with our partners in industry to help equip new entrants and experienced professionals with the skills they need to thrive in the digital economy.”

Professor Alastair Irons, Academic Dean for Faculty of Technology at University of Sunderland, said: “We are delighted to be an active partner in the Institute of Coding and contribute to the opportunities and challenges in developing digital skills for future and current workforces. The Faculty looks forward to working with partner universities in the North East and nationally to enhance the digital skills provision."

As millions prepare to cheer on England this Sunday, one man’s World Cup loyalties may well be put to the test.

England fan and Sunderland academic Dr Derek Watson has just found himself appointed at the first European ‘Visiting Professor’ to the Technological University of…….Panama.

While it is a great honour, it does present Dr Watson with a bit of a dilemma this weekend as England take on the Central American country in the latest group stage of Russia 2018.

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Dr Watson, a senior lecturer, admits he’ll be watching the match and cheering on his home nation, but confesses there may be a few calls of encouragement for their Panamanian rivals in his household.

The lecturer came into contact with the Technological University of Panama during his time in the country helping growing restaurant chain SUVLAS break into the North American market by applying his innovative food safety cultural compliance model.

Dr Watson has been investigating how food industry manufacturers can develop a positive food safety culture by adopting the industry-based model ‘totrain enlighten’; which puts their own business practices under the microscope and lays the foundations to run them more effectively and efficiently.

After spending a week introducing ‘enlighten’ to the 80 staff, management team and directors, bosses at the multi-million pound company were impressed with the immediate changes they saw.

Dr Watson was then invited to the Technological University of Panama to give a key-note speech on his research work at Sunderland.

He explained: “I very much look forward to working with my fellow Panamanian academics on food culture and more specifically embedding and testing the 'totrain enlighten model' with food manufactures in both Central and South America.

“To demonstrate our collaborative commitment we have already presented a joint paper on food culture in New York and currently finalising a journal paper on the 'Suvlas enlighten experience’.”

He added: “The only thing we cannot agree on is who will win Sunday’s football match.” 

Gareth Southgate's side got off to a strong start with a late 2-1 win over Tunisia, thanks to Harry Kane's double. Now it's on to Panama this Sunday, before their final group game against Belgium.

Professor Aris Castillo, Director of International Affairs at the Technological University of Panama, says she’s delighted by Dr Watson’s appointment - despite any footballing rivalry.

She said: “We are delighted to receive Dr Watson again at our campus as a Visiting Professor and to develop research projects together in the area of food safety, which is a topic getting a lot of attention lately in Panama.”

The totrain enlighten model enables food manufactures to measure its food safety cultural compliance, which is in line with anticipated requirements by the British Retail Consortium’s Global Quality Standards.

Dr Watson is no stranger to international partnership working, having been selected to be part of a global team working with a new Centre for Business Research in Cyprus. He is the first Senior Research Fellow at the new centre, set up by the Cyprus Institute of Marketing Cyprus Business School, the island’s top business school. The Centre’s primary aim is to facilitate, generate, and promote business research in Cyprus and abroad, establishing itself as a world leader in research and actively sourcing experts globally.

This is a reminder that our Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peters will be closed to students and staff from Saturday 7 to Sunday 15 July 2018, to allow the prime riverside site to become a key part of the Tall Ships event.

Other than National Glass Centre, there will be no access to any University buildings from close of business on Friday 6 July.

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Sunderland will welcome the world-famous Tall Ships Races from 11 - 14 July. As well as the majestic sight of Tall Ships berthed at the Port and in the Wear, the colourful four-day festival has a packed programme of culture and entertainment for the hundreds of thousands of expected visitors to enjoy. Our Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter’s will be central to all the action – providing excellent views of the ships themselves and the many activities planned for the event, including the Parade of Sail, packed stage programme and Cirque Bijou’s epic performance on Friday night. The four-day spectacular will run from 10am - 10pm each day. 

Much of the event sites will be open from 10 July meaning roads in and around the City Centre, as well as Metro stations are expected to be busy; everyone is advised to allow more time for travelling from Tuesday onwards.  

Does the closure include car parks?

Yes, University car parks are included in the closure. Event organisers will  be using the spaces for event activity or Blue Badge parking, which can be pre-booked at £10 a day or is £20 on the day.

Does this include National Glass Centre car park?

Visitors to National Glass Centre can use the centre’s car park from 7 - 9 July and on 15 July.

Are there more details for managers and staff on the closure?

Details of the closure of Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's and what this means for our University community can be found here.

Can staff and students have books moved from Prospect to Murray Library?

The last Library book run from St Peter’s to Murray Library will be on Friday 6 July, please make requests for books to be transferred as soon as possible as there will be no access to Prospect Library between 7 and 15 July.

Where can I work at City Campus?

Specific relocation arrangements have been made for those who have requested it.

In addition there is generic space for staff to work in from midday on Monday 9 July in room 005 on the ground floor of Dale. Students can study in the IT zone on the ground floor of Pasteur Building as well as Murray Library.

What about City Campus Car Park?

With extra staff and students working at City Campus it is likely that the main car park spaces will be full by about 9.30am. If the main car park is full you can try Tech Park, Precinct or Foster car parks. Some visitors to Tall Ships may park at City Campus car park, however there are closer, cheaper car parks to the event as well as park and ride arrangements in place across the city.  

The Tall Ships event sounds exciting, are there opportunities for me to volunteer?

Yes we need volunteers! This is a great opportunity to be involved in a momentous event for Sunderland and to be part of the team showcasing what our University has to offer.

Staff volunteers will welcome visitors in the University's marquee on the riverside and at National Glass Centre, signposting visitors and helping to keep crowds moving through the venues safely. A rota will be created and tasks allocated to staff, the shifts are as follows:

In the University's marquee there will be three shifts per day: 9.30am - 2pm / 2 - 6pm / 6 - 10pm

National Glass Centre will have two shifts per day: 10am - 4pm / 4 - 10pm

Training and briefings will be provided and all staff involved will receive a branded polo-shirt and LinkedIn endorsement.

If you would like to volunteer to help out during what will be one of the city’s largest event of the year, please submit an expression of interest to staff.development@sunderland.ac.uk as soon as possible, advising if there are any times or dates that you are unavailable. In your response please also confirm that your line manager has approved that you can be allocated time away from your normal duties to support the event.

Tall Ship will be in Sunderland between Wednesday, 11 July and Saturday, 14 July. Ellie Lyall, the University's Tall Ships Ambassador, who is in the final year of her BA Journalism degree, believes it doesn't have to be the end for Sunderland once the tall ships leave. But what else is out there for any would-be sailors?

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Once the tall ships pull away from Sunderland as they head to Denmark, you may be thinking: "That's it, that's the end of that. This festive week of maritime appreciation and celebration was just that: a week."

After that, life will go back to normal.

But it doesn't have to be that way. There are still more things you can do in Sunderland if you've caught the sailing bug.

Sunderland City Council has said from the word go that they want this event to create a "lasting legacy" for the city. What do they mean by this?

Victoria French, head of events at the council, explained that there is an expected revenue of circa £35 million for city and regional businesses following the event.

"Using The Tall Ships Races as an initial attraction, we aim for a legacy of developing tourism and repeat visits to the city," she explained. "The latest statistics received by the City Council through the STEAM (Scarborough Economic Activity Model) reveals that in 2016 8.24 million people visited Sunderland. Visitor expenditure now stands at £399million, and supports 5,040 jobs. It is anticipated that these figures will continue to increase as a direct result of the event in July."

But this lasting legacy is expected to stretch beyond just the economy.

Ms French added: "We aim to highlight not only the benefits to young people of sail training but also hope to see an increase in the take-up of marine opportunities offered by Sunderland Yacht Club and The Marine Activity Centre but also skills, education community and optimism."

Sunderland Yacht Club also hopes more people will get involved in activities down by the marina.

Alan Dixon, former commodore of Sunderland Yacht Club between 2010 and 2015, said: "What I do hope sincerely is that the Tall Ships Race raises the profile of sailing and it gives people the idea that ‘hey, maybe we should try this, it looks great’."

The club offers two free sailing sessions for anybody who wants to give it a go before committing to membership fees. For a single adult sailor, club membership costs £195 for the year, with family memberships on offer for £222. They also have reduced fees for juniors (£24) and students (£30), as well as a graduated membership scheme for new members.

"There are people that have this massive misconception that sailing is really expensive," said Simon Wilkinson, vice-commodore at the club. "It can be, but we try to make it as affordable as possible for everybody."

But, as with any sport, it can be daunting to take the first leap.

Lynn Wilkinson, training principal, responds: "You don’t have to be a very sporty person. You don’t have to be good at sports to be able to sail."

Any nautical novices are assured by club volunteers that support will be there for them every step of the way on their sailing journey.

"The vast majority of people that come to us as a complete novice will go out with an instructor first," said Simon. "We will take you out onto the water, we will teach you the ropes, so to speak, and how to sail the boat. Only when you are completely confident, and when we are completely confident in you, will we let you actually then go off on your own."

Newbies at the club start out on the water with an instructor, along with a powered safety boat always nearby.

Alan added: "It is as safe as it can be, but it is a sport not without its dangers, Simon knows only too well."

He chuckled as he said this, as Simon was at the time sporting a bruise around his left eye. It was the result of being hit by the boom of one of the dinghies. When you tack, turn the boat around with the bow passing through the wind, you have to duck your head as the sail swings to the other side of the boat. The sail is attached to a metal bar: the boom, which, as its name suggests, you want to avoid.

Despite this, they both insist there are ample safety measures in place for sailors.

Simon added: "We’re much more safety conscious now more than ever in the fact that everybody who goes out there in one of our club boats is not allowed on the water without a safety boat, and the crews that we have on them are very highly trained."

When it comes to Sunderland's future in sailing, it is not just Sunderland Yacht Club that is hopeful for more involvement. Wendy Podd, a senior lecturer in social studies and criminology at University of Sunderland with a wealth of research and practical experience in youth work, wants more young people in Sunderland to get into the sport.

Wendy, who took part in the Tall Ships Race as a youth worker in 1995, said: "I would really like to see more young people sailing down here. I’ve lived on both sides of the River Wear. I now live on the Roker side and inherently there has been a lack of youth and community work in that area, and I see the mouth of the Wear as a huge resource.

"And so what I would be looking at and thinking about is what sort of ideas young people have about what could be done around the areas of the river.

"I think all young people should be given the opportunity to go sailing, even if it is just once and even if they don’t like it. Because I think it is about the changing perception that I have seen in young people when they come back from sailing. So even if it has been a negative experience and they have vomited all week, they still had that opportunity to think outside of the area that they live in."

Alan agrees with the benefits sailing can have on peoples' lives.

He said: "It builds an awful lot of self confidence in you. You know, you’re sailing in a dinghy, just out there by yourself, and you’re always making decisions, like ‘should I tack? Is the wind going to shift?’. You’ve got all sorts of little decisions to make, and these decisions are what builds your confidence, especially when you think ‘I got that right’."

To those who say there is not much for people to do in Sunderland, Simon responds: "Give sailing a try. Come down and meet us. We run sessions for novices every other Saturday. Just come down.

"You have to go out and look for something. It’s not going to kick you in the backside. There is always something to do here. If people come to see us, to meet us, we will make sure there is something for them to do. We will make sure they go out and enjoy themselves and have an experience that they will never forget."

For more information on how you can get involved with Sunderland Yacht Club, give them a call on 0191 567 5133 or visit their website here.

By Ellie Lyall, BA Journalism, University of Sunderland Tall Ships Ambassor

Saturday 23 June, 9am-5pm - Hope Street XChange, City Campus - book via Eventbrite

We would like to invite you to attend Sunderland University’s first annual postgraduate history conference, hosted by the university’s current MA History students. We are very excited to bring you this event, where our students will present an aspect of their MA thesis topics, followed by our key note speaker, Dr Kevin Killeen from the University of York, who will present a talk on his own thesis. We are also pleased to present a talk by John Temple, a current MPhil student from Durham University

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Schedule of the day

9:00-9:15 – Arrival and Opening Comments

9:30-10:30 – Early Modern Panel

10:30-10:35 – Tea/Coffee break

10:35-11:35 – Violence and Crime Panel

11:35-12:35– Interwar Period and Remembrance Panel

12:35-1:35 – Lunch

1:35-2:55 – Local History Panel

2:55-3:15 – Tea/Coffee Break

3:15-4:15 – Key Note speaker – Dr. Kevin Killeen

4:15-4:30 – Final Speeches and Networking


Panels and Keynote Speaker


Shaun Parker: The effect of Puritanism on the concept of childhood in the 17th century

Faye Caroline: Old Bailey Court Cases: How a study of language can tell us about the views of the past.

Leanne Smith: Reasons behind the attempted uprising, in 1657, led by a Fifth Monarchist Thomas Venner against Cromwell’s Protectorate.

Chaired by: Dr Simon Mills


Emma Shepherd: Slavery in the modern day – reflecting on a history of slavery

Claire Wilkinson: Prohibition and The growth of organised crime and the rise of the American gangster

Eustace Ntailianas: New Zealand land wars from 1840 to 1872.

Chaired by: Prof. Peter Rushton


Ami McAllister: Anti-Semitism in Germany during the interwar period

Brogan Fannen: The role of the Socialist Sunday Schools in the inculcation of the British Working-Class Youth.

Nicole Hamilton: The ways in which France and Germany commemorate the Holocaust, especially after 1987.

Chaired by: Dr James Koranyi


Gary Richardson: The perils and pitfalls of researching local history

Anthea Mercer Lilley: Female consumerism in Sunderland during the period 1750 – 1900

Jessica Milbanke: The miner’s strike of 1984/85 in North East England – political or economical nature

John Temple: How Labour’s plan for post war housing reconstruction emerged.

Key Note Speaker

Dr Kevin Killeen

Dr Killeen has lectured at Birkbeck, London, the University of Reading and the University of Leeds before going to York. His most recent book, the Political Bible in Early Modern England looks at the political uses of the biblical kings and the Old Testament during the renaissance. He organises the Thomas Browne Seminar which is an annual symposium looking at mid-seventeenth century history of science and scholarship, religious and antiquarian thought, natural history and the history of trivia. He is also on the council of the Society for Renaissance Studies.

He is going to talk about method and the subject matter of the Bible in the seventeenth century itself.

28 June to 23 September - Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art (National Glass Centre)

John Kippin’s work is already housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum and British Council Collection.

Today he is Emeritus Professor in Photography (link is external) at the University and chair of the visual arts organisation Locus.

Based on a True Story examines 40 years of making art by John Kippin.

Kippin has been a central figure in the emergence of photography as an independent art form in the UK from the 1970s and 80s through to present day.

Nine contributors select work from Kippin’s 40-year archive to provide new insights into the way he sees the world through a lens.

Kippin’s work has contributed to debates about the nature of post-industrial landscapes, national and regional identity and the power of the state to reshape the world.

The exhibition includes 33 new monumental prints of work made across four decades, that collectively reveal the state of the nation over the artist’s lifetime. Across the panoramic range of subjects from tourism to cold war militarism, Kippin has consistently asked: what we have become? What of ourselves is visible to the naked eye?

The new Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art reopened in March 2018 at the National Glass Centre, part of the University of Sunderland.

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DEVELOP Graduate

28-29 June - Hope Street XChange, City Campus - book via the online store

Are you a recent graduate from a UK photography course? Are you about to graduate and thinking about next steps and career planning?

DEVELOP Graduate is a two-day professional development event organised by graduating students from the Northern Centre of Photography with NEPN.

Supported by the Higher Education Academy, NEPN and University of Sunderland.

The confirmed programme includes:

Thursday 28 June 6:30-8:30pm
Photographer keynote talk with Hannah Starkey

Friday 29 June 9:30-6pm
Talks by Sarah Pickering and Liza Dracup

Advance registration is essential.

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Armed Forces Day

Friday 29 June, 10am-4pm - The Quad, City Campus

All welcome to this special event featuring:

• 251 Medical Regiment - medical tent, simulation and field ambulance
• University Air Squadron Northumbria
• HMS Calliope

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Tuesday July 3, 2.30pm-3.30pm - Hope Street Xchange* - The event is free but must be booked in advance

Oscar-winning film producer and parliamentarian Lord David Puttnam addresses one of the most divisive issues of our time.

Drawing from his experiences as a House of Lords policy-maker and his insights as a film-maker and educator, Lord Puttnam offers his thoughts on how to help bridge the increasingly troubling division that’s opened up between Leavers and Remainers. He asks: Where will that healing come from?

Lord Puttnam will conclude his talk with an informal Q&A session.

This is the final of four free summer lectures at the University of Sunderland, open to all.

The event is free but must be booked in advance.

*Please note that venues may be subject to change.

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A step too VAR?

There were three letters on the lips of supporters following England’s World Cup opener against Tunisia this week – VAR.

It had been hoped the Video Assistant Referee’s role in Russia 2018 would paper over cracks in referees missing specific on-pitch incidents.

But a series of contentious decisions – or lack of decisions – in Volgograd on Monday raised questions among supporters over refereeing inconsistencies and the overall efficiency of VAR.

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University of Sunderland academic Dr Paul Davis, a Senior Lecturer in the Sociology of Sport, argues that we need to manage our expectations when it comes to VAR.

Dr Davis said: “We need to recognize and live with the fact that, although it should increase the chances of just outcomes, VAR doesn't guarantee them.

“The obvious reason it doesn't guarantee them is that the officials need to decide which incidents to review.

“The penalty incident in the England – Tunisia game arguably should have been reviewed and would arguably have resulted in no-penalty. But, again it’s important we realise that a review doesn't guarantee correct judgement.”

VAR will be in use at all times during every World Cup game, with a team of four referees always reviewing incidents in a studio away from the stadium.

They would then consult the on-field referee to tell him whether they deem an incident worthy of a review. Should they do that then the on-field referee then stops the game to view the incident pitch-side before making a decision whether to alter his original decision.

Dr Davis said: “If you look at FIFA’s Decision Process guidelines for this World Cup, then you see that officials need to decide what counts as 'leading up to' a goal or a penalty.

“Since everything that happens in a match is causally related to everything that happens afterwards, then arguably it is all part of the lead-up to a (possible) goal or penalty.

“As long as we are happy to live with its limitations, then it is probably better to have VAR than not. However, there are no guarantees of justice.”

5 facts about VAR

  1. A video assistant referee team supports the match officials during all 64 matches.
  2. The video assistant referee team is located in a centralised video operation room in Moscow.
  3. The video assistant referee team has access to all relevant broadcast cameras and two dedicated offside cameras.
  4. The video assistant referee does not take any decisions; he supports the referee in the decision making process and the final decision can only be taken by the referee.
  5. Football fans will be informed about the review process by broadcasters, commentators and infotainment.
Tall Ships launches onstage

Stories of Sunderland’s past, present and future will dock on stage as part of this year’s Tall Ships celebrations.

Five Performing Arts students from the University of Sunderland have created a new play for the stage called Mackems Through Time which focuses on stories which have helped to shape Wearside’s rich cultural, social and industrial heritage.

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The city has been handpicked as the start port for the 2018 Tall Ships Races, with the University’s St Peter’s Campus expected to be a key viewing point for many visitors, it’s also the location of the students’ exciting new 30-minute production.

Taking place over three days (July 11,12, 13,) Mackems Through Time is a celebration of the city, inspired by voices across the area throughout history, from the folklore surrounding the Lambton Worm, the heydays of shipbuilding on the Wear to working on the production line at Nissan.

The students, who graduate this summer, have spent several months researching content for the performance outside of their own academic studies, which will be used to enhance their own CVs.

Adelle Hulsmeier, Senior Lecturer in Drama and Performing Arts, explained: “As part of our drama club, and aligning ourselves to the Tall Ships, the students came up with the idea that they would be inspired by voices from around the area throughout history, looking at lots of different stories in terms of what is the best about the city, and where the regeneration is coming from, what has put us on the map.

“It’s not chronological, however, as the play focuses on the discovery of a book of Sunderland, and we have a narrator at each point while the students physically project and react to what the story is around them. We are trying to appeal to a diverse audience of children as well as adults. Some of the stories, have significance for the older generation, whereas others are just entertaining within themselves.”

She added: “The students have all done this on a voluntary basis and put so much effort into their rehearsals, we hope the audience will enjoy it as part of the Tall Ships celebrations.”

Each performance will last 30 minutes, at 2pm in the afternoon on July  11, 12 and 13.

Four of the students are in the final year of their degree, while the fifth is a part-time Year 2 student.

Rebecca Ball, Creative Director Sunderland Culture, said: “It is fantastic that students from the University of Sunderland will be performing as part of Tall Ships. The Tall Ships is a brilliant platform to showcase the huge amount of creative talent in the city. Mackems Through Time will tell Sunderland's story to visitors from across the North East and beyond.”


Fiona Walker, Alex Armstrong, Catherine Black, David Frith and Mahri Smith

About the performers

David Frith, 22, from Washington, hopes to find work within the theatre once he graduates. “I've loved the Tall Ships since I was a child,” he said. “Visiting it with my family it always seemed like an amazing experience and I'm glad to be able to be a part of that experience with this performance,”

Alex Armstrong, 23, from Sunderland plans to complete a Masters degree in Applied Theatre and work within the community on social issues by facilitating in drama workshops. She said: “I am really honoured to be part of the Tall Ships with growing up in Sunderland. The research has helped me learn more about the place I was born and made me proud of the heritage and history of Sunderland.”

Fiona Walker has worked in music for a number of years and is currently a part-time Year 2 student, expanding her knowledge of the other performing arts disciplines. She hopes this will lead to her having a greater diversification in the industry after graduation. She said: “The Tall Ships project has allowed me to delve into the archives of Sunderland's rich history and reflect its important heritage with a dramatic flare.”

Mahri Smith, 23, from Fife, Scotland, is hoping to continue her studies with a Postgraduate degree in teaching, in order to bring her love of drama to future generations and inspire them to continue making high quality theatre, something the North East is well known for. She said: “I have loved working on Tall Ships as it has given me the opportunity to learn more about Sunderland and create a piece which reflects the rich history of the city.”

Catherine Black, 21, from Northern Ireland, says: “I have found working on this project both rewarding and interesting.” Catherine has now finished her degree in Drama and is furthering her education next year with a Post Compulsory Education and Training (PCET) in English and Drama. Her future ambitions include being her own boss and continuing work with the Fireborn Theatre Company and teaching all aspects of performing arts.

Free Surfing/Paddleboarding

Friday 29 June, 3.45pm-6.15pm

Our monthly surfing session (paddle boarding if weather doesn’t allow) allows you to explore Sunderland from the sea! The activity is run by fully qualified instructors and all equipment is provided for free from Adventure Sunderland at Sunderland Marina. Just bring your swimming costume and a towel!

To book your spot email Laura.Lines@sunderland.ac.uk

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New Paige for Brand Beckham

In the fast-moving world of fashion, Paige Mooney is making a name for herself with all the right brands.

The University of Sunderland graduate may still be only 23, but she has worked for some of the biggest names in the industry.

And few get any bigger than her new boss – Victoria Beckham.

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Life has moved into the fast-track ever since Paige left University following her three year degree in Fashion Journalism.

“Since being 16 I knew I wanted to work in fashion and I knew I wanted to work in London,” said Paige. “Of course, my mum would just nod and smile and say ‘yes dear’.”

Spurred on by her University tutors, Paige spent the last few months of her final year emailing some of the world’s most well known fashion magazines, determined to secure an internship for herself working on the beauty pages.

And it paid off, when she heard back from Marie Claire magazine offering her an internship.

“I was buzzing,” said Paige. “I knew it would only be for six weeks, but when I got there, I just worked as hard as I could.

“By week four, one of the beauty editors asked what my plans for the future were and I just said I wanted to get as much experience as possible. She had a friend who was an assistant at Vogue and would see if I could get a place there.”

Within a few weeks, an email landed from Vogue and Paige secured herself another internship.

“Obviously that was the highlight of my life,” she recalls. “I love Vogue and it was right around the time they were celebrating their 100th anniversary, so there was this incredible buzz about the place.

“Kate Middleton was on the cover of the centenary issue and there were lots of things happening. It was an exciting time, meeting Kim and Kanye at an event and lots of parties; just seeing life from a whole new angle.”

During all the excitement, Paige was slowly starting to build up her contacts and make a name for herself in the industry.

During the course of nine months, she spent time working other well known publications including Grazia, Red, Glamour and In Style magazines.

“It quickly dawned on me how crucial it was to get internships,” said Paige. “The fashion world might seem like a big place, but in reality it wasn’t and everyone knows everyone else. You have to prove yourself.”

It was around this time that Paige saw a fulltime job come up in public relations for fashion label Jimmy Choo. Knowing she had built up a strong book of contacts, she impressed the panel of interviewers and landed the role.

Over the next 12 months, the graduate dealt with designers, organised press meetings, worked on social media and got an incredible grounding in the industry.

“It was amazing,” said Paige. “I was doing a job I really enjoyed and getting paid too. It felt like all the hard work had really started to pay off.”

Often working 12-hour days, Paige built her reputation and has now landed herself a dream job with Victoria Beckham’s fashion label.

“It’s really focused on moving the brand forward, and an incredibly exciting opportunity.

“When I look back it seems like I’ve covered a lot of ground in a relatively short time.”

Life in London may seem like a long way from her university days in Sunderland, but Paige says her degree was vital in securing a foot in the door.

She added: “My tutors were incredibly encouraging and really pushed me in the right direction.

“I loved my time up in Sunderland. I’d looked at courses in Manchester and London but there was just this great feeling about Sunderland that made me want to go.”

So, does Paige have any advice for graduates trying to make their way in the industry?

“Get a degree and then put yourself up for as many internships as you can,” said Paige. “Then just spend your time building your contacts and working hard.”

Carole Watson, programme leader for BA (Hons) Fashion journalism, said: “Paige is an exemplary example of how important it is to use all the fashion journalism skills learned on our course, then be prepared to carry out several internships with a can-do attitude to build crucial contacts and land your dream job. I’m absolutely delighted for her.”

DNA key to the castle

The DNA of Wearsiders will be included in a glass sculpture created by a University of Sunderland graduate.

The project to restore 14th century Hylton Castle to the centre of community life is giving people the opportunity to have strands of their DNA encapsulated in glass to form part of a sculptural display at the castle when it re-opens.

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Sunderland graduate and city-based artist Zoe Garner is creating a large glass sculpture for permanent installation in the castle, which will include glass rods that people are being invited to add their DNA to with strands of hair, or even the ashes of a departed loved one.

Zoe, who graduated with an MA in Glass from the University in 2004, said: “I visited Hylton Castle and I was interested how the rain and weather had eroded the walls, and how that represented the passing of time.

I came up with the idea of creating a rain wall lighting sculpture using borosilicate glass (Pyrex) and the technique of flame working.

“The Pyrex factory was once located in Sunderland and I'm interested in keeping this dying art alive. I also decided on a lighting sculpture to pay homage to Joseph Swan who went to Hylton School. It was very important to me that locals left their mark on the castle.”

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Sunderland City Council the cultural heritage, The Hylton Castle project is part of the community engagement programme to have people’s shared memories of the castle through recorded interviews, family photographs etc, as a permanent part of the restoration project through exhibitions and displays with the opportunity now to share something even more personal and individual.

Joining Zoe on Sunday this weekend was Alyson Tate and her family who all grew up in Castletown in the shadow of Hylton Castle.

Alyson said: “Our dad left us with some great stories about his time in and around Hylton Castle and Dene, and adding our DNA to a sculpture that will be displayed there, will help recognise our and other local family’s parts in its history and it’s a great way to remember him.

“It was emotional but gave us the chance come together and do something long lasting and special in his memory.”

Member of voluntary group ‘Castle and the Community’ and local ward councillor, Councillor Doris MacKnight added: “The essence of this community led cultural heritage project is remembering the history of the people as well as the buildings, and this seems a good way to achieve both in one project.

“I really appreciate Alyson her family getting involved, and hope the sculpture will help remind everyone who sees it of the part local people like Mr Hall have played in keeping the castle alive for future generations to enjoy.

“Glass making is also part of our cultural and industrial heritage going back hundreds of years, so it’s appropriate that this will be recognised in the sculpture which will be the centrepiece of the castle.

“I’m sure that members of the USA Friends Group who have close family links with Hylton Castle will be very interested in sending over traces of their DNA to be incorporated into this work.”

There will be further opportunities later this year to get involved in this project and for people to share traces of their DNA to form part of the sculpture.