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A new star team will run out onto the pitch at the Stadium of Light this July when stars of art, fashion, business, medicine – and sport – will be honoured by a North East university.

The University of Sunderland will give honorary awards to eight distinguished figures from July 4 to 10 at their annual Graduation Ceremonies.

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They are:

  • Kevin Maguire (journalist and political pundit)
  • Dr Chris Steele MBE (This Morning resident doctor)
  • Gareth Pugh (fashion designer)
  • Alyson Dixon (Olympic athlete)
  • Jill Scott (international footballer)
  • Lorna Moran OBE (businesswoman)
  • Professor Ian Fraser (leading authority in reproductive medicine)
  • Karen Walker (businesswoman)
  • Alice Hall (businesswoman and entrepreneur)

The honoraries will be joined by almost 3,000 graduates receiving awards from University Chancellor Steve Cram CBE, and this summer the University will also name its Alumni Achiever of the Year – recognising the outstanding achievements of a Sunderland graduate.

Close to 12,000 people are expected to attend the Academic Awards at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light, which are estimated to bring £1million annually to the region.

Sporting endeavour will be recognised at the awards with two of Sunderland’s greatest home-grown talents. Sunderland-born Olympian Aly Dixon graduated with a degree in Sports and Exercise Development from the University in 2000, and in the intervening 18 years has carved a name for herself on the UK, European and international athletics circuit.

Aly will receive an Honorary Fellowship alongside England Lioness Jill Scott. Jill also graduated Sports and Exercise Development (in 2005) and is now one of England’s leading women footballers. Jill will receive her award in recognition of her outstanding record as both a national and international footballer.

As well as women in sport, female business leaders are well-represented this summer with Lorna Moran OBE, Chair of NRG, whose award of Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration recognises her outstanding contribution to the North East business community, and her personal commitment to charitable causes.

International business will also take to the stage when Karen Walker, Senior Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer of Cisco will accept an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration, both in recognition of her international profile in technology and marketing, and as a role model encouraging women into leadership.

Another successful businesswoman will this year be announced as the Alumni Achiever of the Year. Alice Hall, a Sunderland graduate, founded online retailer Pink Boutique in 2012. It is now one of the UK’s fastest-growing private fashion firms.

Fashion on the international stage will be represented by designer Gareth Pugh who will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Arts. Sunderland-born Gareth is recognised as one of the great contemporary fashion designers, with acclaimed shows in London, and celebrity fans including Kylie Minogue, Beyonce and Lady Gaga.

Stepping into the spotlight will be South Shields-born journalist and broadcaster Kevin Maguire. A visiting lecturer at the University, and associate editor of the Daily Mirror, Kevin, a passionate advocate for the North East and for young people, will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Arts, in recognition his outstanding contribution to political journalism.

Thursday 5 July marks the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the NHS, and the University will celebrate with doctor, campaigner and This Morning broadcaster Dr Chris Steele MBE. Sunderland-born Chris will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Science, in recognition of his contribution to the medical profession and for his public health broadcasting role. Alongside Dr Steele Professor Ian Fraser will also receive an Honorary Doctorate of Science, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the disciplines of obstetrics and gynaecology. A leading authority in reproductive medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology, Professor Fraser’s parents, Dr Ellis and Dr Stewart Fraser, were both GPs in Sunderland, and the REACH Ellis Fraser Suite in the Children’s Centre in Durham Road, Sunderland still bears her name.

A full list of all honoraries and their awards follows below.

University of Sunderland Vice-Chancellor Shirley Atkinson commented: "We are proud to pay tribute to our honoraries at this year’s Graduation Ceremonies. They have all made a significant impact in their chosen careers and will be a tremendous inspiration to our graduates who are celebrating their academic success before beginning or continuing their own career.

“We are very proud to continue our life-changing work with the class of 2018, who, alongside all of our graduates, make a huge difference to our region and to wider society, both nationally and internationally. They are our tomorrow makers.”

University of Sunderland graduates have been identified as among the most employable in the UK in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). Sunderland won Silver in the TEF with excellent outcomes for graduates thanks to the University’s strong relationships with employers, enabling the Class of 2018 to begin their careers with relevant work-ready knowledge and skills.

University of Sunderland Honorary Awards 2018

Alyson Dixon – Thursday 5 July

Athlete and Olympian

Honorary Fellowship, in recognition of her outstanding record of achievement in long-distance running in UK, European and international athletics.

Professor Ian Fraser (awarded in Professor Fraser’s absence)

Leading Authority in Reproductive Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Honorary Doctorate of Science, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the disciplines of obstetrics and gynaecology.

Alice Hall – Tuesday 10 July


Named Alumni Achiever of the Year. Alice founded online retailer Pink Boutique in 2012. It is now one of the UK’s fastest-growing private fashion firms.  

Kevin Maguire – Wednesday 4 July

Journalist and Broadcaster

Honorary Doctorate of Arts, in recognition his outstanding contribution to political journalism, and as an advocate of the social mobility agenda.

Lorna Moran OBE – Tuesday 10 July

Chair, NRG

Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration, in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the North East business community, and her personal commitment to charitable causes.

Gareth Pugh – Wednesday 4 July

Fashion Designer

Honorary Doctorate of Arts, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the international fashion design industry.

Jill Scott – Thursday 5 July

Footballer, England Lioness

Honorary Fellowship, in recognition of her outstanding record of sporting achievement as both a national and international footballer.

Dr Chris Steele MBE – Thursday 5 July

Doctor, Campaigner and Broadcaster

Honorary Doctorate of Science, in recognition of his contribution to the medical profession and for his public health broadcasting role.

Karen Walker – Friday 6 July

Senior Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer, Cisco

Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration, in recognition of her international profile in technology and marketing, and as a role model encouraging women into leadership.

Degree Show 2018

Stunning final year Degree Shows from artists at the University of Sunderland have gone on display.

From glass stags to children’s books; evolution inspired glass work to environmental sculptures, the exhibitions highlight the array of artistic talent from final year art and design students.

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Professor Kevin Petrie, Head of the School of Art and Design at the University of Sunderland, said: “I am really excited and proud to see nearly 200 students presenting their art and design work in these exhibitions.

“The exhibits you will see are the result of three years of hard work and represent the individuals’ personal take on art and design. This is a distinctive aspect of art and design education in that the each student ‘invents’ for themselves what kind of artist or designer they want to be. Therefore, this exhibition is extremely diverse.

“It’s also important to remember that this exhibition is an ending in some way but also the beginnings of something as these students embark on their creative careers.”

Among those exhibiting their work at this year’s shows are:

Ignotas Kuprys. Photography Video and Digital Imaging student.

Inspired by mythology, 24-year-old Ignotas has created a series of wood shields.

The photographer has used satellite imagery of places in England, Sweden and his home country of Lithuania before burning them onto plywood with a specialised laser cutter to create the final, stunning pieces.

Ignotas said: “I wanted to do something that spoke about mythology, culture and our heritage.”

Jonathan Michie, Glass and Ceramics student

Jonathan’s impressive glass stag beautifully combines nature and digital technology.

The 26-year-old, from Durham, said: “I wanted something to represent my generation, to reveal how we are more likely to see such a beautiful creature on the internet or video games. I wanted to show the positive side of technology, how it can teach us all so much.”

Annabelle Preston, Fashion, Product and Production student.

Inspired by a botanical theme, Annabelle has created her own fashion brand, incorporating men’s and women’s wear. The 21-year-old from Hartlepool was involved in every aspect of the work from the design process to the finished articles.

Annabelle said: “I was really inspired by the botanical theme which I know has become increasingly popular now. I’m hoping to work in London or Manchester once I graduate this summer.”

Chloe Violet Sandy, Illustration and Design student

Chloe, 21, has written and illustrated a beautiful children’s book called ‘A Greedy Bear Who Does Not Care’. Inspired by her love of bears, the book is targeted towards children aged four to six.

Chloe, of Sunderland, said: “The idea was to create a children’s book that educated and talked about the importance of sharing with each other. I’m hoping to go on to create more books after I have finished my degree.”

William Ramsay, Fine Art student

William, 26, is a recipient of a special Roche Continents Award which will see him travel to Austria this summer to meet others artists, musicians and scientists at a gathering in Salzburg.

William, of Murton, County Durham, said: “My creative intention is to develop the use of line, form, colour, space, perspective, dimension and scale to explore, interpret and communicate the architectural surroundings and cityscapes that I experience.”

Anastasia Manentzou, Fine Art student

Originally from Cyprus, Anastasia has spent the past three years studying in Sunderland. Her work is inspired by the complex beauty of nature and animal life. Her sculptures aim to connect people with the environment, sealing that important bond between humans and their homes.

Anastasia, 22, said: “I want my work to have an environmental message, revealing the beauty and frailty of nature.”

Emma Goring, Glass and Ceramics student

Emma’s Degree Show work is derived from a concept of irregular evolution and the idea of the discovery of a new environment.

The 21-year-old took swab samples from pipes, wood and various objects around the National Glass Centre (NGC) to help create her work ‘Spore Study’.

She said: “I already work here at NGC but I would also like to learn more from other artists in different parts of the world.”

Andy Griffiths, Glass and Ceramics student

Inspired by ‘sound mirrors’ from different parts of the country, Andy’s work is impressive in sheer scale alone.

The 52-year-old’s work takes about three months to complete from conception to completion.

Andy said: “I hoping to pursue a career in the architectural side of glass making; something on a large scale for buildings and public places.”

Degree Show opening times

Opening times

Shows open Saturday 16 June 10am to 4pm

Monday 18 to Friday 22 June 10am to 5pm

Closed Sunday 17 June


City Space Studio, City Campus

Animation, Advertising,

Games & App Design,

Fashion, Product & Promotion,

Graphic Design, Illustration

Priestman Building, City Campus

Fine Art & Photography, Video & Digital Imaging

Opening times for Glass & Ceramics only 

Show opens 9 to 18 June 10am to 4pm 


National Glass Centre, Sir Tom Cowie Campus 

Glass & Ceramics

These two best friends will be cheering on England on Monday night as the Three Lions kick off their first match of Russia 2018.

But University of Sunderland students Connor Smith and Connor Wallace actually have a lot more in common than just a love of football.

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Aside from sharing the same name, the friends are both 21 and both currently studying Sports Coaching at the University.

And from the age of six, the two lads’ lives seem to have run in parallel:

  • They first met in the same class at Eppleton Primary School, aged just six
  • They both attended Hetton School together
  • Both then went on to study at Bede College in Sunderland
  • Both live in the same street
  • Both played for the same college and university football team
  • Both want to become PE teachers after graduation

The double-act has so much in common they have now joined forces to go into local schools to show pupils how they can improve their footballing skills. The lads have received a glowing report from Monkwearmouth Academy in Sunderland where they have been coaching students during recent months.

Connor Smith said: “We have been going into Monkwearmouth every Tuesday to advise and support the children in their PE lessons. It’s been brilliant fun and a great learning experience.”

Connor Wallace added: “We’re helping improve their skills and teamwork. The kids are amazing and it’s been a brilliant opportunity.”

Speaking about their ‘shared lives’, Connor Smith said: “We did actually get a break from each other when we first left school.

“I went to Eppleton School to get involved in teaching PE, while Connor Wallace started another course at university. But it wasn’t long before we were back together.”

John O’Leary, Senior Lecturer in Sports Science at the University, watched both Connors coach in one of their level 4 modules and so was confident in putting them in touch with Martin Johns, from Monkwearmouth Academy.

Mr O’Leary said: “It is one thing completing modules were you normally coach your peers but gaining real life weekly school based experience working under the guidance of higher level coaches/ teachers and seeing them interact with pupils is where real gains can be made.”

World Cup moments to remember

Gazza’s tears

 An entire nation cried alongside Paul Gascoigne in England’s semi-final against West Germany in 1990 when he cried after realising his yellow card for a foul on Thomas Berthold would rule him out of the final if the Three Lions went on to win

The hand of God

At the Mexico World Cup in 1986, at a time when tensions were running high between Argentina and England, the stage was set for a fiery encounter.

Following a frantic, bed-tempered first half in which both sides spurned chances, Maradona saw an opening a few minutes after the restart. A miss-hit clearance was heading toward earth and the hands of England goalkeeper Peter Shilton when the diminutive Argentine No. 10, already at full steam, jumped, punched and scored....the rest is history. 

Maradona’s dream goal.

Argentina striker Diego Maradona will forever be vilified for his ‘Hand of God’ goal in the team’s 2-1 quarter-final win over England in 1986. But if ever he needed to make up for it, he did so just four minutes later with a 60-yard, 10 second dash, past Peter Beardsley, Peter Reid, Terry Butcher (twice) and Terry Fenwick, before putting it past Peter Shilton, for what became known as the ‘Goal of the Century’. 

Hello Pele

A 17-year-old from Brazil named Pele burst onto the scene with the winner against Wales in the 1950 quarter-final and a match-winning hat-trick over France in the semi, before a decisive brace in the final against hosts Sweden. It was the first of his record three World Cup wins with follow-ups in 1962 and 1970.

Baggio nightmare

In 1994 both Italy and Brazil had been neck-and-neck during the tournament and all it was going to take was an individual error to separate the two sides during one of the closest finals to date. Step up Baggio, who for all his hard work to get that far was the cruellest of scapegoats to miss Italy’s fifth and decisive penalty. He didn’t just miss but belted it well over the crossbar.

Roger’s joy

Italia 90 was one of the classiest editions of the World Cup, and was definitely improved by the dance moves of Cameroonian legend Roger Milla. Prior to his joyous, finger-raised dance at the corner flag or in front of the fans, goal celebrations tended to be wild, unstructured affairs. But for Milla's four goals for Cameroon in the competition, he injected class and humour into his one-man tango rendition.

The Faculty of Computer Science and Faculty of Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing will transition into one new Faculty of Technology, with Professor Alastair Irons as Academic Dean. This transition began on 1 April and will complete by 31 August.

Siobhan Devlin the Head of the School of Computer Science and Dr Rebecca Chandy is Head of the School of Engineering. A new Director of Research and Industry Engagement is being appointed to lead the Faculty of Technology’s research agenda and major projects including the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (CESAM) and the Institute of Coding.

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Professor Michael Young, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, commented: “Merging two small faculties and the Institute for Automotive and Manufacturing Advanced Practice (AMAP) into one entity will enable the University to present a unified, strategic and sector-leading position in the delivery of technology-related courses, industry engagement and research development.

“My congratulations go to Professor Alastair Irons who will bring his extensive experience to the role, including his research expertise, his membership of industry groups such as DYNAMO, his successful alliances with industry partners and collaborative programme development.”

Professor Alastair Irons said: “The new Faculty of Technology will open opportunities for collaborative research internally and externally as well as expand our work with industry partners. Bringing together the two faculties into one will marry the digital and manufacturing agendas - linking what we do to the objectives in the Government’s Industrial Strategy.

“I’m excited about the opportunities the new Faculty will create - to grow our undergraduate, postgraduate and international recruitment, develop our global links with our transnational education partners and to build our research income.”

The Faculty of Technology will be based in Goldman on the Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter’s. Plans are in place to redevelop and update the space to meet the needs of students and staff.

The merger will:

  • create a regionally and nationally recognised centre of excellence in technology that is aligned to the local and national skills agenda and the Government’s Industrial Strategy
  • meet economic, industrial and research-led agendas by developing an integrated approach across technology-led subjects - including Industry 4.0; automotive and advanced manufacturing; digital skills; cybersecurity; artificial intelligence; data science; and robotics
  • provide representative leadership in external engagement activities for research and innovation and strategic TNE development
  • facilitate cross-disciplinary collaboration within the Faculty
  • ensure all industry and SME engagement and services are integrated with the Faculty’s academic offer, to the benefit of students

Professor Irons concluded: “There are many positive opportunities for collaboration between the Schools and we need the building to encourage that cross discipline exploration and shared endeavour.

“In one larger faculty we can better align management and governance to focus resources where we really need them - to support the learning and experience of our expanding student numbers as well as to grow our industry engagement and research.

“The excitement is in the space where engineering meets computer science - that’s where the innovation is, that’s where businesses, particularly in this region, needs our University’s focus. The ambition is to equip our graduates and academics with the skills and knowledge to find solutions to industry challenges - including robotics, the internet of things and computer engineering. This is a very positive step forward for our University.”

A dramatic rise in deaths from respiratory infections among alcoholics in the North East has led to calls for the introduction of a vaccine that has the potential to save lives.

Public health researchers at the University of Sunderland are recommending the Department of Health trials the use of the pneumococcal vaccine to treat people who are alcohol dependent as part of their prevention measures. Alcoholism suppresses the immune system and is the most important risk factor for invasive pneumococcal disease, a serious and often life threatening infection.

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Researchers argue that alcoholism should be considered an ‘indicator condition’ for receiving the pneumococcal vaccine in the North East, alongside other at-risk groups – including children under age two and adults over 65. The North East has the record highest rate of alcohol related deaths in England and the latest figures suggest nearly half a million adults in the North East are drinking enough alcohol to increase the health risks – with the majority under-estimating their intake and most not aware of alcohol guidelines. The figures also show that it is not young people who are most likely to be drinking above the “low risk” guideline of 14 units per week – but adults aged 45-54.

Lead researcher John Mooney, Senior Lecturer in Public Health, says: “Given that alcohol dependence is long acknowledged as one of the strongest risk factors for deaths from the invasive pneumococcal disease, we feel there is an increasingly compelling case to look again at UK vaccine guidance which conflicts with that of the World Health Organisation and the Centre for Disease Control in the USA, who recommend alcoholism as an indicator condition that would potentially benefit from receiving the vaccine.

“A re-think would represent a responsible evaluation of vaccination guidance and have the potential to save lives in a very marginalised and vulnerable section of the population.”

John adds that given the high burden of alcohol related diseases alongside the increased cases of invasive pneumococcal disease, a properly evaluated regional revision in vaccine eligibility, even for a trial period, would be highly informative around the benefits of the vaccine.

Other factors for using the vaccine include data that links those who misuse alcohol being notoriously difficult to engage within mainstream health services. To overcome barriers to receiving vaccinations would be to target those who are referred to specialist alcohol services and those identified as being at risk of moderate to severe Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).

In terms of cost effectiveness, economic comparison studies in the USA found that the vaccination was cost effective and in some cases a cost saving strategy.

John says: “Most vaccine are not 100 per cent effective, but the pneumococcal vaccine we are highlighting does give enough protection for the World Health Organisation, as well as a number of other European countries to recommend its use for people who misuse alcohol.”

To read the full report, published in Vaccines — Open Access Journal, click here

Prospect food court

The Food Court in Prospect Building has now closed to allow the University’s new catering contractors, Elior UK, to begin the refurbishment of the space ready for reopening in mid-August.

The new food court, which will be known as ‘The Riverside’, will offer an extensive and innovative menu covering breakfast, lunch and evening meals, together with grab and go items and a salad bar.

The evening offer will be a call order food service, together with a bottle bar selling an assortment of bottled beers and wines.

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Hannah Sly, BA (Hons) Media, Culture and Communication, is one of the University's new team of student bloggers. Below she shares her top places to visit in our region over the summer - proving that you don't have to travel very far for fun, culture, and shopping!

‘Uni Life: Unlocked’ is a platform for current students to write about student life, study tips, advice for new students, living away from home, getting out and about in Sunderland and the region and much more.

The aim of the new site is to 'unlock' some of the mysteries of university life for potential applicants. 

Any current student can apply here: digital.content@sunderland.ac.uk

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Hannah's top spots:

The University of Sunderland is close to both the coast and the countryside and the North East has its fair share of well-known attractions to visit. Various big cities can be easily reached by public transport, meaning there’s always something to do in the region, as well as further afield. In this blog, I will share some of my favourite places to visit during the summer months.

You can read the full article here.


Would you like to write for 'Uni Life: Unlocked'?

You can find out more here.

until 20 June - National Glass Centre - book here

Make yourself a part of the history of our city by creating a permanent glass installation at Hylton Castle - using your own DNA!

Join MA Glass graduate Zoe Garner between 16-20 June for one of the last remaining workshops. You can book your place at:

Ticketsource: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/event/246433

The Hylton Castle Project is hosting a number of flame working workshops at the National Glass Centre taught by artist Zoe Garner. Workshops last half a day with participants working in small groups to learn the basics of flame working with an expert tutor. As part of the workshop you will also make glass rain drops which will become part of an illuminated glass sculpture on permanent display in Hylton Castle.

Each glass raindrop will hold DNA or living ashes from those taking part. You will be invited to provide a hair sample which you will encase in two glass droplets, one of which will form part of the sculpture and the other for you to take home. The final glass sculpture will be a ceiling mounted rain wall consisting of many clear glass rods and tubes, containing the DNA rain drops. The completed rain wall will be a visually stunning sculptural piece incorporating glass, light and sound in the newly re-developed Hylton Castle.

If you would like to include your DNA in the sculpture but are not able to take part in a workshop, please email elanor.johnson@sunderland.gov.uk (link sends e-mail) or call 07774 823311

16+ only

All participants must wear closed toe shoes and short sleeved tops.

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Saturday 23 June, 9am-5pm - Hope Street XChange, City Campus - Tickets are free but must be booked in advance 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.

As the World Cup gets under way two of the UK’s most successful commercial ice sculptors have a very unusual reason to celebrate every four years. In 2002, young Sunderland student Mat Chaloner created a life-sized Subbuteo model of England legend David Beckham and his then baby son Brooklyn – and changed his life forever.

Mat Chaloner and Matt Foster launched Glacial Art in 2006, four years after they both graduated with degree in Model Making and Design at the University of Sunderland. Their business, ice sculptures for corporate events, birthdays, wedding and even film sets, has been phenomenally successful, with clients including Bentley, Jaguar, Sony, Gucci, Rolex and Adidas – they even created a life-sized Iron Throne for HBO”s Game of Thrones.

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Matt Chaloner, 38, said: “We both loved making things.   We dreamed of working in Film and TV doing model making and special effects – and that dream did come true.

“It all started with my Degree Show at the University of Sunderland, when I created a life-size Subbuteo David Beckham as my main piece in for the final show. At my first (and only) job interview after the degree show, I showed the interviewers a clipping from a newspaper, and that secured me a job as an apprentice ice sculptor in London.”

Matt Foster, 37, added: “Without that happening neither of us would be where we are today. We both ended up working in London, Mat as an ice sculptor, me doing model-making and liquid effects. Over the next years we learned an incredible amount of skills and knowledge from some of the masters of the trade.

“We decided to take a year out and go backpacking around the world. It was on our travels that we decided when we got back to the UK, we would set up our own business.  At Ayres Rock in Australia we came up with the name ‘Glacial Art’.”

That was 12 years ago now Mat and Matt have never looked back. Their day to day work involves mostly ice sculptures for weddings, birthdays and corporate events, but, Mat Chaloner admits, it’s the big PR events where they have the most fun.

“We have carved a life size horse with an ape on its back for War for the Planet of the Apes. We’ve made lots of ice sculptures for TV shows. Creating a full Ice set for a Game of Thrones episode over in Belfast was a great highlight. And we still have a lot in the pipeline right now. This winter is looking very exciting.”

As a new class of students graduate from the University of Sunderland this summer, with their Degree Show launching this Friday (15 June) Mat and Matt have some advice for them as they put the finishing touches to their final show, and prepare to move on to the real world.

“Just keep going. You can’t work too hard, but like any commission you will get in your future career, once it’s finished, put it behind you and move on to the next. You can always do better and you can always learn more. So give this everything, then let it go and find something else to sink your teeth into.

“Let’s see how good you can really be.”

Degree Shows 2018: When and Where:

The shows have their launch night on Friday 15 June for invited guests.

They officially open on Saturday, 16 June (10am to 4pm) and run until Friday 22 June (weekdays 10am to 5pm). No shows on Sunday 17.

They take place at:

Priestman Building: Fine Art and Photography

CitySpace Studio: Animation; Advertising; Games & App Design; Fashion, Product and Promotion; Graphic Design; Illustration.

National Glass Centre: Glass and Ceramics (9-18 June).

Professor Roz Anderson

We are very sad to announce the death of Professor Roz Anderson after a long battle with cancer.

A Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry Roz joined the University in 1987. In her 31 year career as a researcher at the University she worked on the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, diagnosis of bacterial infections, psoriasis and cancer, but her particular passion was the battle against the rare genetic disorder Cystinosis. Typically, Roz’s work was not confined purely to the lab, and she made a point of meeting and discussing her work with the children affected by this illness and their families, which she maintained was an essential aspect of her work.

Roz was awarded a WIN Award in the STEM Category at the Network North East Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in 2016. Her win was due in part to her strong belief in teamwork and making a difference in society by inspiring future generations. Despite her intense research work, Roz insisted on working alongside undergraduate and PhD students and post-doctoral scientists, working to ensure that young people are advocates for the advancement of medicine and society.

Professor Tony Alabaster, Academic Dean in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing, said: “Roz is one of the most inspirational research scientists I have ever worked alongside, always putting the needs of her students first.

“In her 30 years of working at the University of Sunderland she made such a strong, sustained and significant contribution to the Faculty's research, especially in the field of Cystinosis. She devoted so much time and effort to supporting scientific research designed to improve the lives of others and her contribution to Sunderland is something for which we will be eternally grateful.

“She was an inspiration to her colleagues and students alike, as well as many distinguished researchers across the world who are proud to have worked alongside Roz.

“She will be greatly missed by all who knew her and our deepest sympathies go out to her family.”

The Vice-Chancellor Shirley Atkinson said: “Roz embodied the philosophy of the University of Sunderland, that research should be undertaken to advance our society and inspire future generations of researchers and practitioners. She had an inspirational and passionate belief in supporting other researchers and students to look for solutions to today’s health issues.

“Roz was a true role model to students and colleagues as the embodiment of an active, engaged, impactful researcher. We were honoured and proud to have Professor Rosaleen Anderson’s pioneering work at the University of Sunderland. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family at this difficult time.”

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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, looks back STS Lord Nelson, a tall ship created for people who love the challenge of the sea, regardless of their abilitiy.

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Everybody gets a chance to go up the masts on STS Lord Nelson, regardless of ability.

Wheelchair-bound Jamil Khan was one of those brave enough to venture up the 30-metre mast. He was sitting in a makeshift chair, slightly resembling a hammock, attached to several lines being held by two separate teams on opposite sides.

As he was being hauled up, he broke the silence by bursting into song.

"I believe I can fly," he bellowed at the top of his voice. At this point everyone erupted into laughter and Jamil became a legend on board from that point on.

Moments like this are why ships like Lord Nelson exist: to bring together people of all abilities through sail training.

STS Lord Nelson, also known as Nelly, was the first ship designed by Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST), a charity dedicated to its mission to "promote the integration of people of all physical abilities through the challenge and adventure of sailing tall ships on the open sea".

She is named after Britain's most prolific disabled sailor: Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson, famed for his naval victories during the Napoleonic wars that resulted in the loss of sight in his right eye as well as his right arm.

Nelly comes with a variety of features giving access for disabled crew. This includes wider decks and powered lifts for wheelchair users, Braille signs and a speaking compass so visually impaired crew get a chance to steer at the helm, an induction loop and vibrating alarms for hearing impaired crew members, as well as special cabins and bathroom facilities.

Jamil, who was born without legs and only three fingers on one of his hands, had never sailed on a tall ship before, so he had no idea what to expect when he joined the ship in April last year.

"It was a real eye-opener," he said. "I couldn’t really imagine it at first how accessible it would be. But, honest to God, when we carried out our first evacuation drills, seeing how organised that was, it was reassuring that, in the case of an emergency, you would be out straight away. They really took pride in that. It was amazing.

"I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life. I’ve been through school, college, university, work, and the accessibility is always kind of there but you never really feel like they’re taking your side as seriously. But it was completely different on that ship.

"The core crew were amazing. They were really interactive and very inclusive, encouraging us all to have a go at things, like the climbing, which nobody had really done before. They didn’t molly-coddle us, which I noticed. They treat us like individuals."

That sense of individuality and independence was something Jamil particularly loved about the ship.

"Very few people in wheelchairs work," he explains. "I’m one of two people in a wheelchair who work in my office. So, we’re a bit of a novelty in that sense anyway, but on the ship that wasn’t the case. There were three or four of us. Since there were more of us in wheelchairs, it meant we all had our own individuality as part of the group.

"I wasn’t really aware of opportunities like this or organisations like JST before. I had lived in the mainstream all my life, having this disability from birth. It is great to know these things are out there for people."

That being said, Jamil doesn't think he will return to Nelly, as he only wanted to test himself to see what he was capable of and believes that kind of experience is "once in a lifetime".

But for some people, once in a lifetime is just not enough. Sunderland sail training ambassador Brandon Barker, who also uses a wheelchair, has sailed twice on Nelly, and plans to return again this summer.

His first voyage was in June 2016 as part of the Tall Ships Race.

"I found it very accessible, especially the clamps for your wheelchair if the ship gets too rocky," said Brandon, who has spastic paraplegia.

"I had no sailing experience before that. Nelly gave me opportunities to try new things that I hadn't done before, like being at the helm and climbing the rigging."

The climbing was one of Brandon's favourite parts of sailing on Lord Nelson, especially when the weather is as warm as it was when they sailed from Cadiz to La Coruna in Spain.

"The first time I climbed the rigging I only made it to the first platform but the second time I made it to the second platform and I was up there for two hours.

"I was given two options: to pull myself up in a seated sling or be hoisted in my chair but I requested to just climb normally and they let me. It was tiring but once you're up there the view is great."

And this year Brandon will be returning to Lord Nelson for the 2018 Tall Ships Race, but this time as a watch leader, in charge of his own team on board.

Sailing on a tall ship was something Brandon never considered a possibility, never mind becoming leader of his own team on board.

"It wasn't something that I thought I could do or was really interested in," he said. "It's one of those things where you have to do it to find out what it's like and I always try anything."

Lord Nelson was purpose-built in Southampton during the mid-1980s, undertaking her maiden voyage in October 1986. By 1989, JST were competing in the Tall Ships Race.

A spokesperson from JST said: "Our mission is to empower people of mixed abilities and circumstances, and unlock their potential through adventures at sea. It's brilliant that we’re able to bring the JST’s inclusive ethos to the Tall Ships Races."

But, as they say, a smooth sea never made a skilful sailor.

"What we do is not easy," they added. "Sailing across oceans with diverse, mixed-ability crews on a totally unique tall ship might sound crazy to many people. But it wouldn't be pioneering or as rewarding if it was easy.

"When our voyages are at their most challenging, is often when our crews achieve things they never thought possible. The more adventures our ships embark on, the more maintenance that is required to keep them in 'ship shape’ condition. This is often expensive and we rely on volunteering, donations and generosity from our supporters.

"We’re extremely proud of our tall ships - they’re unique and the only accessible ships of their kind in the world. But it’s the people who join our crews that make it so rewarding and worthwhile.

"Our voyages change lives, whether someone has a disability or not. We break down barriers and create an environment for people to discover what they can do, rather than what they cannot. We have a lot of fun too, and see many incredible friendships form."

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


Due to an upgrade to the timetabling system, ePortal and the University of Sunderland Application (the systems you use to access your personalised teaching timetable) will be unavailable from:

9am on Monday 25 June until 9am on Thursday 28 June, 2018.

During this time you will not be able to view your personalised teaching timetable.

If you have any concerns please email - timetable@sunderland.ac.uk

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Welcome to the Class of 2018

Join the University's Alumni Association today - and we will offer you practical support and guidance for your life after graduation and beyond.

 Class of 2018 

In a globally connected world, it is great to stay in touch with the institution that has played an influential role in your life.  No matter whether you are a liker, a tweeter or a connector, there are a plethora of ways to keep updated.  Please log in to the on-line Alumni Association community to hear more about our events, reunions and alumni news.  Spread the word and let us know what you want to hear from us.

And don't forget to login soon to discover more about our Graduation celebrations - and for the chance to win a bottle of bubbly!

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Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peters will be closed from 7-15 July 2018 to allow the site to become part of the Tall Ships Event.

Whilst the site closure will occur at a time of year when there are fewer students and staff on campus it is understood that some relocation of student and staff activity will be necessary.

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The following buildings will be closed from Saturday 7 July to Sunday 15 July 2018:

  • St Peter’s Library
  • Reg Vardy
  • Media Centre
  • David Goldman Informatics Centre
  • Prospect
  • Rear of NGC Faculty space*

If you have any teaching scheduled between 7-15 July, your lecturers/supervisor can inform you of any arrangements for relocation of lectures.

Murray Library is open throughout this period.

Please note that from 7-15 July there will be no student or staff parking available at St Peter’s Campus.

For more information on what is happing during Tall Ships please go to our ‘Everything you need to know’ Tall Ships 2018 site.


*The main building of National glass Centre – including the shop and café – is open as normal – check their webpage for any further details closer to the date.