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We are celebrating Christmas with our students and staff around the world with a seasonal sing-along of 'Jingle Bells'. 

This year we are making a donation to the NSPCC (the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) a charity very close to our hearts.

At the University of Sunderland we believe that every young person deserves a chance to shine, no matter what their background.

Please donate and help to support the work of the NSPCC via our Virgin Giving account.

Thank you and Happy Christmas!

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DOSH Drop-In Sessions

Pop along to our drop-in session to find out more about scholarships available to current students with DOSH (Development Office Scholarships):

• Wednesday 19 December – David Goldman Building, Ground Floor seating area, 10am-12pm

DOSH scholarships currently available are:

The Futures Fund – open to all current students (up to £2,500)

The Hope Winch Scholarship – open to undergraduate Pharmacy students (up to £1,000)

If you would like to find out more about the scholarships available to current student from our Development Office go to:

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Dr Lynne McKenna, Dean of the Faculty of Education and Society, has been named a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA).

The achievement is in recognition of Dr McKenna’s sustained leadership in teaching and learning to improve the student experience, she joins a small group of HEA Principal Fellows at Sunderland.

The Principal Fellowship provides recognition of an individual’s distinguishable contribution and achievement of significant influence and enhancement of learning and teaching in higher education through the promotion of professional standards. Principal Fellows are typically highly experienced with wide-ranging strategic leadership responsibilities, in connection with key aspects of teaching and supporting learning. Today there are around 560 Principal Fellows across the UK.

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Dr McKenna’s bases the success of her fellowship on her continuous improvement and professionalism agenda, providing evidence of the impact she’s had within her own Faculty as Head of School of Education previously and since March 2018 as Dean.

Dr McKenna said: “I am delighted to be recognised as a Principal fellow of the Higher Education Academy. I am very fortunate to have had a very broad and interesting career that has allowed me to work with a range of amazing students and colleagues in the UK and overseas.”

Dr McKenna has worked in education since qualifying from the University of Sunderland as a teacher in 1991. Since 1997, the main focus of her work has been Initial Teacher Training (ITT) however, since 2003, she has been a senior higher education manager.

She explained: “My experience in higher education coupled with an ability to horizon scan, to integrate my research with learning and teaching and to provide strategic leadership and direction setting, has provided me with a wealth of experience in programme design and delivery, leadership in teaching and learning, pedagogic enhancement and curriculum development which has impacted on student experience and outcomes, making an outstanding contribution to knowledge and practice.

“My senior leadership roles in higher education have built upon these approaches and have enabled me to impact upon national policy in teacher training through my work with the Department for Education, and MillionPlus, and International Teacher training through my work with ETEN (European Teacher Educator Network) and TEPE (Teacher Education Policy in Europe) and currently with the (DIT) Department for International Trade.”

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Professor Michael Young, said: "Many congratulations to Lynne on her well-deserved success. Achieving HEA Fellowship at any level is a valuable personal experience and also benefits the University and our students. I encourage all staff, including our senior colleagues, to consider fellowship through our supportive CELT scheme."


Role of Principal Fellow

A Principal Fellow demonstrates effective strategic leadership in academic practice and academic development as a key contribution to high quality student learning. This includes:

  • Active commitment to and championing of all Dimensions of the UKPSF Framework, through work with students and staff, and in institutional developments
  • Successful, strategic leadership to enhance student learning, with a particular, but not necessarily exclusive, focus on enhancing teaching quality in institutional, and/or (inter)national settings
  • Establishing effective organisational policies and/or strategies for supporting and promoting others (e.g., through mentoring, coaching) in delivering high quality teaching and support for learning
  • Championing, within institutional and/or wider settings, an integrated approach to academic practice (incorporating, for example, teaching, learning, research, scholarship, administration, etc.)
  • A sustained and successful commitment to, and engagement in, continuing professional development related to academic, institutional and/or other professional practices.
Dry January

If you’re reading this, you’re thinking about your drinking. Lots of us feel like we’re drinking a bit too much, or too often, or just like we could do with some time off. Dry January is the perfect way to reset your relationship with alcohol. It only takes three weeks to break a habit, so this could be your route to happier, healthier drinking long-term.

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Reasons to try dry

  • New year, new you - do Dry January and feel healthier and happier as:
    • you sleep better
    • your skin improves
    • you lose weight
  • More money in your pocket (the average person spends £50,000 on booze in their lifetime)
  • Get healthier - through giving up alcohol for a month you do your insides a lot of good.
  • Amazing sense of achievement!

Why sign up?

People who sign up are more likely to stay dry for the whole month. That’s because when you sign up you:

  • Get access to our free app, which helps you keep track of your month with features like a calorie calculator, unit tracker and tool to show how much you’ve saved.
  • Receive regular support emails with tips, tricks and information from experts in alcohol to make your month easier and more fun.
  • Have help on hand: if you’re struggling, we’ll support you.
  • Can fundraise for charity or give what you save. Make your Dry January make a difference. Find out more about doing Dry January for charity.

A highly experienced broadcast journalist with ITV News has been announced as a visiting professor at the University.

Vidar Hjardeng is the new Visiting Professor of Media Inclusion and Diversity at the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries.

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For more than 10 years, Vidar has brought his wealth of knowledge and experience to ITV newsrooms across the country – knowledge which he now intends to share with media students at the University.

Vidar, who is fluent in French, German and Norwegian, was awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours 2012 for services to broadcasting and visually impaired people.

And returning to the region will be nothing new for experienced public speaker who grew up in the North East, where he still has family today.

Speaking about his new role at the University, he said: “I was invited to become a visiting professor to Sunderland. While I have spoken at the University before, to be given this opportunity is a great honour.”

During the next three years, Vidar will be sharing his knowledge of working in newsrooms, as well as addressing the changes that have happened in how news is communicated over the past three decades.

As part of his role as a senior ITV News Executive and Inclusion and Diversity Consultant, Vidar, along with his team of colleagues, is responsible for ensuring the content of the programmes is relevant, diverse, inclusive, uses the right language, and is communicated in the most effective way possible.

Vidar added: “Of course, the way we communicate now with things like social media, is very different to how we have done it in the past.

“I’m looking forward to coming back up to Sunderland and getting the chance to speak to both students and staff.”

Currently based in Birmingham, Vidar spends much of his working career visiting different ITV regions of the UK to share his knowledge.

Professor Arabella Plouviez, Dean of Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries, said:  “We feel very honoured to have Vidar as our new Visiting Professor for Media Inclusion and Diversity.

“This is such a vital area for everyone working in the media to understand and engage with and for our students having such a significant figure in our academic community is a real inspiration.

“We look forward to further strengthening and developing our links with Vidar and benefiting from his wealth of knowledge and experience.”

All a bit of a Dog’s Brexit

In 2017 the former Greek Finance Minister Yannis Varoufakis aptly described the Brexit negotiations as a ‘Dog’s Brexit’ and it would appear little has changed, says Dr Derek Watson from the University of Sunderland

As Theresa May delays a Parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal, a University of Sunderland academic is warning of the consequences facing a £28billion UK industry.

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While fears among financial traders over Brexit’s business impact are well documented, often overlooked is the ramifications of exiting without a deal on the country’s food and drink industry.

Dr Derek Watson, an expert in the sector and senior lecturer at the University, warned today of the “huge implications” of a failure to secure a future deal with the EU.

Dr Watson said: “The food and drinks sector is a key player in the UK economy, contributing over £28bn a year. It accounts for 13% of national employment, is the UK’s largest remaining manufacturing sector, and its dependence on Europe is critical.

“A stark reality is that the UK only produces approximately half of what we eat and it is reliant on European imports for a quarter of our consumption.

“Secondly, if Parliament rejects Theresa May’s agreement with Brussels, the rights of millions of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU may be called into question in terms of free movement and rights to work.

“Such a scenario has huge implications for food and drink manufacturing, who have become heavily dependent on European migrant workers, so much so, that without them it could collapse as it employs over 3.8 million people.

“The threats of Brexit are clear and present for the food and drink sector. They face a complex conundrum in trying to devise a viable strategy, as the Brexit waters are clearly uncharted. Questions remain unresolved about what guise future trading relations will take.  

“They may have to manage within Economic Arena Arrangements, under a bilateral agreement or operate within World Trade Organisation agreements. Further unknowns, such as undefined customs borders, the renegotiation of supply chains, adjusting to legislative and regulator requirements also cloud the future.

“Equally concerning is the diminishing food and drink work force which is witnessing a slow but steady exodus of its EU employees resource base.  In response, the food and drink sector is focusing on factoring out inefficiencies while there is evidence of stock piling ingredients to buffer potential product delays and in the scoping of relocation and recruitment feasibility studies.

“Despite efforts of being proactive, the future is at best fraught with unknowns.”

On Monday the Prime Minister called off Tuesday's crucial vote on her Brexit deal because it would be "would be rejected by a significant margin".

She said MPs backed much of the deal she has struck with the EU but there was concern over the Northern Irish backstop.

Dreams come true for Alison

Student Alison Stiles Johnson took on the fight of her life after being diagnosed with a chronic brain condition, and has achieved her graduation dream.

Alison had just started her MSc Tourism and Events at the University of Sunderland when she received news that was set to change her life forever.

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A section of the 44-year-old’s brain was pushing down on her spinal canal, causing her horrific pain.

But despite that pain, the student, from Wideopen in North Tyneside, has managed to beat the odds to complete her Masters, and has now graduated during the winter Academic Awards at the Stadium of Light.

The former nursery nurse has come a long way since she first started feeling ill during the Autumn of 2016.

Alison, 44, had a flu jab on October 15, 2016 and a few days later she began to feel unwell.

She said: “At first I thought it was a reaction to the injection but then it became obvious something wasn’t right. It was like someone had switched a pressure switch behind by right eye.

“I went and got my eyes checked out and they said there was nothing wrong.

“Then I started having problems with my speech and seemed to be having stroke-like symptoms with lots of headaches.”

For the next few weeks, Alison spent her time going from doctor to doctor, drop-in centres to medical wards, without any resulting diagnosis.

Eventually, in November 2016, she got to see a neurologist at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

“I thought I had a tumour but they said they would send me for an MRI scan to see exactly what the problem was.

Alison, originally from Sunderland, underwent the scan just a few weeks before Christmas. Then, during the holidays her partner, Michael, 38, asked her to marry him.

“Three days later I got a letter from the hospital telling me I was suffering from Chiari Malformation, a condition where the lower part of the brain pushes down into the spinal canal,” said Alison.

“The letter said I was being referred to a neurosurgeon but that was about it, it didn’t tell me anything about the condition, there were no details.”

Alison Googled her diagnosis in the hope of better understanding exactly what was wrong with her.

“Of course, I looked up the worst case scenario and started panicking,” she recalls. “I knew the fact I’d been referred to a neurosurgeon was not good. My parents were trying to calm me down while all this was going on.

“It was around this time I was due to go to New York with the university as part of my MSc in Tourism and Events.

“I had no idea if I’d be able to fly due to the potential pressure build up inside my head. But I’d paid my money and nothing was going to stop me from going.”

Alison underwent a consultation at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) where her surgery was due to take place.

“To be honest, I didn’t take much in,” she said. “I just remember them saying that part of my brain was like a cork in my spine that needed to be pulled out.”

On March 13 2017, Alison underwent her operation in which surgeons removed a section of her skull, going through muscle before helping “uncork” the trapped area.

She said: “I was in hospital for five days before undergoing a three month period of recouperation at home.”

But despite the operation, Alison is far from free of the condition. Instead, it is something she has to manage on a day-to-day basis, using pain-numbing medication.

She said: “I just have to get on with it. I’m going to pain management and seeing what can be done to stabilise it. From day-to-day I have to cope with a lot of pressure behind my eyes, numbness in my arms and legs, pressure build up on my neck and swelling of my eyelids.”

During this time, all of Alison’s studies at the University of Sunderland were put on hold. She had managed to complete the first module of her MA.

But her illness meant she would have to take time out and Alison was grateful for the help she received from the University.

“I couldn’t fault them, they were really supportive and I always knew I’d be able to go back and complete the MSc.”

And complete it she did, graduating at the University’s winter Academic Awards at the Stadium of Light on November 30 this year.

“My condition means that I look fine, so I get a lot of people saying they’re glad I’m over the illness, when the reality is I just have to live with it.”

Alison and Michael did manage to get married in June this year, in front of both sets of parents who have supported the couple, family, and friends in Sorrento.

Wednesday 12 December, 7.30pm-10pm - The Peacock, 287 High Street West, Sunderland - book your tickets

The Six Twenty present...MIXTAPE XMAS

Tickets £10.00 / £8.00 (conc)

Part comedy sketch show and part music quiz, Mixtape is one of the funniest concepts around.

The Mixtapers bring their infamous sell out Christmas show to Sunderland for the first time!

Featuring a mash up of Mixtape favourites from throughout the eras, as well as a stocking load of sketches inspired by classic Christmas tunes, it’s not to be missed.

Play in quiz teams to be in with the chance of winning one of the highly coveted Golden Mixtapes.

Be sure to kick off this festive season with The Mixtapers. It's the perfect night out for a Christmas party!

"An absolute corker of a night with a gaggle of mates"

Ed Fringe Review

Supported by Live Theatre and Sunday for Sammy Trust.

Suitable for 14 years and over (strong language and adult content)

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Carols and Cider...Part 2

Sunday 16 December, 7.30pm-11.30pm - The Peacock, 287 High Street West, Sunderland

Join us for yet another Carols & Cider event! Starting the night at The Peacock before moving on to Hadrian's Tipi in Sunderland City Centre!

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Christmas Lunch

Tuesday 25 December, noon-3pm - St. Mary's Parish Hall

If you find yourself alone this Christmas, spend the day at St. Mary's Parish Hall in the City Centre. A delicious Christmas dinner will be served at midday.

Come and meet new people and spend time with others this festive season.

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Monday 31 December, 9pm-1am

Got no plans this New Years Eve?

Our wonderful Chaplain is hosting a New Years Eve Party in his own home and welcomes anyone who wishes to attend!

Come down. Eat, drink, be merry and see in the New Year with a group of fantastic friends!

Contact Chris/Catriona on for details.

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A new UK-wide campaign aims to show how universities are making a real difference to our everyday lives.

The launch of the MadeAtUni initiative shows how our University, and others like it, are having a real impact on the communities we live in.

The University of Sunderland is at the forefront of some of the most important issues of our time, from the technology we use every day, the medicines that save lives, and the teachers who inspire future generations.

Visit here to see how we are supporting the campaign

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One way in which we change lives on a daily basis is through widening access. In January 2017, Sunderland joined 14 other universities by signing the Stand Alone Pledge and promising to support students who have become permanently separated and estranged from a support network.

Students are now given a personalised package of support, including guaranteed accommodation for the whole year, secure storage for belongings during vacations or while studying abroad, someone to act as a guarantor if required, as well as a £1,500 scholarship and other forms of pastoral support.

Keiran Cull, 21, is in the final year of her degree in BSc Physiological Sciences at the University. She has pursued her studies, with the eventual aim of becoming a neuroscientist – despite a difficult childhood and a life spent independent from her family.

“I’ve been estranged from my family for three years,” she says. “My dad died when I was 14, and my mum’s mental health declined. She decided she didn’t want any relationship with me.

“I chose to come to university because I always thought I could do more. I was always told I couldn’t, but I want to prove I am intelligent, though people have told me all my life that I’m not. I’m here, and I’m still going, and after my degree I’m going to study for a Masters degree.

“I believe I can do it, and I’m going to prove that I can.”

Last month the University won the Stand Alone Excellence and Innovation Award in the category ‘Engaging with Estranged Students’ for their work with students like Keiran.

While earlier this year the team received two national award nominations, a Guardian University Award and a WhatUni Student Choice Award for their efforts in this area.

Wendy Price, Access to Higher Education and Scholarships Manager at the University of Sunderland, who heads up the Estranged Student Support Team, said: “Our estranged students are among the most committed, resilient and ambitious people I have ever met.”

Improving access to Higher Education is just one way the University of Sunderland is changing lives. The national campaign, coordinated by Universities UK, is supported by the hashtag #MadeAtUni, and lists the other ways lives are being changed at institutions across the UK.

The list captures the depth and breadth of the impact of universities and demonstrates how they are at the forefront of some of the world’s most important discoveries, innovations and social initiatives, including the creation of the internet, work tackling plastic pollution, ultrasound scans to check the health of unborn babies and the establishment of the Living Wage.

The list also highlights the less celebrated breakthroughs that transform lives, including a specially-designed bra to help women undergoing radiotherapy; a toilet that flushes human waste without the need for water; the development of a new scrum technique to make rugby safer; a sports initiative that aims to use football to resolve conflict in divided communities; – and even work to protect the quality of the chocolate we eat.

Here, at the University of Sunderland, our commitment to changing lives continues.

Our teams consult with Students’ Union, and with estranged students on an ongoing basis, to ensure the student voice is central to our work. As a result of widely communicating with students and staff Sunderland is now working with 53 estranged students and that figure is growing, with more students coming forward each month.

The University is seen as a national leader in making a difference to the higher education experience and outcomes achieved by estranged students.

Senior Lecturer Alan Charlesworth looks at why it pays to register your domain name - even if you don't become famous...

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Back in 1996 - 1999, I spent a lot of time selling domain names to those organisations which recognised that the web wasn't a fad that would soon go away (historical note: in 1997 'fad' was the most common belief). That led me into advising organisations on which domain name was right for them – something I have continued to do ever since.

As the century moved into its final throes I was also teaching part time in higher education, and would advise my students to register their own name as a domain name. I did this up until around 10 years ago when I assumed – wrongly as it turns out – that internet-savvy students already knew that it was a good idea without me telling them. Fast forward to the present when I mentioned the idea in a class – and the students sat with puzzled looks.

So... why register a personal domain name?

Well, you never know... you might become famous. Aside from that, I would suggest that it will aid any job seeking you might do now or in the future. Another thing that started back in the '90s was recruiters making online searches to check the background of job applicants. They will find your LinkedIn profile – you will have one if you're job seeking – which is good. They will also find your other social media pages, which might not be so good. But how impressed will they be if they find your web page on your domain name? That’s your CV complete with carefully scripted bio, a professional photo – plus a couple of images that will enhance your employability... you on that mountain top or helping folk as part of some voluntary work you did. Important note: NO SELFIES.

It might take a while – a good reason to do it now – but if you have an unusual name it’s relatively easy to get your page to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPS) for a search on your name. How impressed will recruiters be at that?

What personal domain name should you register?

If your name is different then you have no problem. If your name is George Clooney or Miley Cyrus, you are struggling. If your name is less common, simply register your name. If it's more common, register your full name including a middle name or just its initial. Whilst all one word is preferable as a domain name, a dash can also be used between fore and family names.

The other way of securing your name as a domain name is the use of the suffix (the bit after the dot). Ideally, .com is the one to go for – which means it will almost certainly be gone if you have an anything-like popular name. A good second choice is .name with .info and .net also being sound alternatives, and .me is for personal websites so is worth consideration.

New suffixes are coming out at what seems like a weekly basis – you could check them out. However, unless you have a particular career in mind, I would avoid the likes of .sexy. If you're from the UK, avoid – it sounds too much like a business – .uk is better.

A choice of suffix is probably the way to go in securing your actual name as a personal domain name – at the time of writing even GeorgeClooney was available as a .uk, .info and .me. Bizarrely, although it is registered, is not in use. Maybe the coffee machine salesman and part-time movie star is famous enough not to have his own domain name? is, however, the official site of the kiddies’ favourite come raunchy songstress.

How do you go about registering a personal domain name?

This is actually the easy bit – just put ‘domain name registrars’ into a search engine. The sites all have search facilities, just select your domain name and ‘buy now’. Most domain names are available at most registrars – so you can shop around for the best deal on the name you have decided on.

And a website on your domain name?

Most domain name registrars will offer some kind of web presence for your domain name. The most basic will be part of the domain name fee – offered as being 'free' – and will probably be one page of WYSIWYG design, which might be enough if you just want to put a basic CV online. Other deals with more web space will cost more – but offer more. Take a while looking through what is available and choose what is best for you.

A footnote to this sage advice should be filed under; do as I say, not as I do. You see, back in the day I never dreamed that I would ever have need of a website under my own name. Oh sure, I did have a fancy for, but that had been snapped up by a New York DJ in 1994. But ... nah. So, when I became an author and needed my own website, was owned by, yes ... another Alan Charlesworth. I used a .eu suffix for a few years, but one condition of that suffix is that that owners must reside in the EU. So with Brexit looming I’ve taken the plunge and bought from Alan Charlesworth... for 500 USD. That's around 500 dollars more than I could have registered it for back in 1997.

Alan Charlesworth is a Senior Lecturer and been involved in what is now referred to as digital marketing as a practitioner, consultant, writer, trainer and educator since 1996. Alan also writes about and consults on the phenomenon commonly known as the Digital Transformation, a subject that transcends marketing into all aspects of business and management. Read more about his teaching and research interests and studying Business and Management at the University of Sunderland.   

How would you raise money for a local charity, starting with just £25? The Children’s Foundation set this challenge to a group of students, sponsored by Station Taxis.

Twenty-five teams threw themselves into it with gusto, raising an amazing total of £3,538.49.

Professor Lawrence Bellamy the Dean of Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism said “I am so proud to see our students putting their developing enterprise skills to work for a great cause and demonstrating how their personal efforts really can make a difference.”

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The North East-based charity raises money and runs projects that directly benefit children and young people in the North East, including vital medical and lifestyle research. So the money raised will help sick children and prevent them becoming physically or mentally ill.

The teams had four weeks to turn their starting budget of £25 into a winning amount. The range of fundraising activities they took on was as eye-popping as the amount raised. They organised a night at the dogs, held a bake sale, had a raffle and many more fun and creative activities.

Student Jak Cunningham, from winning team Prestige Worldwide, said: "We are happy that our work goes towards a brilliant cause, and we would recommend the challenge to any student. It helps you to develop your skills, and it gives you a chance to work on a meaningful project as a team.”

Natalie Bland, Marketing Manager at Station Taxis praised the students’ work "it was great to see all the innovative ideas the students came up with to turn a small starting budget into a larger donation for a good cause. We are very pleased to have been able to support the students from the University and a local charity. Well done to all involved!"

All teams were invited to a special Prize Night held in Revolution in Sunderland, where prizes were awarded to the winning team, runners-up and Outstanding Individuals. The winning team was Prestige Worldwide, who raised an amazing £964.82. Runner-ups were Miracle Workers, raising £265.05.

In addition, TCF singled out a number of individuals, who they felt had gone above and beyond in their efforts to raise money for this worthwhile cause:

  • Eileen McKnight-Smith for being very conscientious and hard-working, keeping the group focussed and on track throughout the challenge and guiding her group through a logical process during the Take £25 challenge.
  • Zoe for perseverance.
  • Nabila Hussain and Mansoora for enthusiasm & supporting others.
  • Ines Da Silva Catrocho Tomas, Mwashita Tafadzwa, Andy Cheung and Marieta Michailidou were awarded Outstanding Individual Awards for being exceptionally supportive of their team and other team’s members.

Joel Arnott, Senior Lecturer and the Module Leader at the university highlighted the benefits of the challenge, "Our students were given the opportunity to demonstrate and develop their skills, make real-life decisions, faced real obstacles, and make a genuine and positive impact on children's lives.

The winning team was exceptional and their performance was incredible."

  • The Children’s Foundation was set up in 1990 with the vision of giving children and young people in the North East and North Cumbria the best health and wellbeing services in the UK. Over the years, the charity has raised funds to build a specialist children’s hospital in Newcaslte upon Tyne, installed 3D pain distraction units in the region’s hospitals, and awarded hundreds of small grants to community groups and organisations across the NE and North Cumbria.
  • In 2018, the charity is still focussing on the relief of distress, disability and disadvantage for children in this region, but especially the challenges associated with child mental health. Visit for more information and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


Sunderland journalism graduate Joe Nicholson has been crowned Trainee Sports Journalist of the Year at an awards ceremony.

The 21-year-old, who now works as a digital sports specialist for JPIMedia - which includes the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail - beat off strong competition for the title, presented by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ).

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Joe, who studied Sports Journalism, was praised by the judges for his level of research into his articles at their awards evening in Harlow, Essex.

His portfolio of work included his university dissertation project on issues on the ITF Tennis Tour and was hailed for the amount of detail he had put into the subject.

He beat an impressive shortlist of candidates to the award, with Richard Dore, from Sportsbeat, and The Sun's Jordan Davies finishing as runners-up.

Joe said: "I was delighted to win the award, and with the feedback from the judging panel.

"Two of the pieces I submitted were from my university dissertation project which looked at issues on the ITF Tennis Tour, including gender inequality and match-fixing.

"I want to say a big thanks to everyone who has supported me over the last few years, especially my family, university, tutors and colleagues at JPIMedia."

Joe, who has worked freelance while completing his studies, joined the sports team full-time in August and has been working across our titles covering Sunderland AFC, Newcastle United, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and tennis.

Editorial director Joy Yates said: "I'm delighted that Joe won such a prestigious award, up against such tough competition.

"He has continued producing first-class work for us on our digital and print platforms and hopefully has a great future ahead of him in journalism."