From the BBC’s Ali Vowles to Bath Rugby’s John Hall, and Gold Scholar Ciara Sherlock, we celebrated the achievements of individuals making a difference locally.
Individuals whose contributions have made a significant and lasting difference to the University, the City of Bath and the wider region were recognised last week at the University of Bath President’s Awards dinner attended by HRH, The Duke of Edinburgh our Chancellor.
At a packed event at the Guildhall, following the University’s summer graduation ceremonies, individuals spanning local and regional media, sport, as well as a current student and prominent alumni were each recognised by Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian White with a President’s Award.
The University of Bath President’s Award is a new accolade and a mark of distinction conferred upon individuals who have made a sustained or distinctive contribution to the University, the city of Bath or the region in a way which reflects our objectives as defined in our Royal Charter and enduring values.
This year’s President’s Award recipients were: BBC TV and radio presenter Ali Vowles; former Bath Rugby captain and current Club President John Hall; University Gold Scholar, Ciara Sherlock; University alumnus and co-founder and CEO of Bath-based Storm Consultancy, David Kelly; and New York alumna and member of the University’s US Charitable Foundation, Hollis (Holly) Anzani.
Commenting, Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Ian White said: "It was a real honour to recognise and celebrate the achievements of five individuals who in different ways have each played such an influential role for the University, the City and wider region over the years. Recipients of a President’s Award have each demonstrated their own impact through their sustained contributions and the award is a true reflection of the importance the University places on that."
For over 30 years Ali Vowles has been at the centre of telling the stories that matter to the people of Bath. As BBC Points West’s Bath Correspondent, Ali has reported on major events and decisions that have shaped the City and told countless stories about the people who make up the fabric of our community.
Over the years, Ali has also helped to tell our story to the region. In 2016, she was instrumental in ensuring our 50th Anniversary made headlines. She was also the only journalist to interview HRH The Earl of Wessex in his capacity as our Chancellor.
Through her reports for TV and her Saturday morning BBC Radio Bristol Breakfast show, Ali is a loved and respected figure throughout the City and beyond. A natural empathetic and engaging -people person-, she has helped many small, local and community groups reach a wider audience and influence change.
By bringing out these stories from across the City and wider region, including our own at the University, and helping to tell them to a wider audience, Ali has helped to enhance local democracy.
John Hall is a Bath man, educated at Beechen Cliff School, who was an outstanding rugby player for Bath and England and now enjoys success and recognition in business and charitable work for the young and disadvantaged with his professional leadership programmes run from his Corsham business.
John proudly wore the Blue, Black and White jersey of Bath 277 times over a 14-year senior career, captaining the Club from 1993 to 1995 and appearing in five winning Cup finals and numerous Premier League titles.
He was capped on 21 occasions for England before being appointed Director of Rugby at the coming of the professional era. Bath Rugby has currently honoured John Hall as Club President.
John’s association with the University during his time as player, captain and Director of Rugby was a significant influence in the development of sport at the University and the City. Using the developing University sports facilities was a major factor in the success of Bath Rugby and in turn the burgeoning growth of University sport too.
At the time of the European Youth Olympics, which came to Bath in 1995, John organised and led the schools and youth of Bath in the -Olympic Fun Run- around the campus, which together with the Games themselves were influential in creating the now significant sharing of the University sporting facilities with young people in Bath.
Ciara is a current Gold Scholar and School of Management undergraduate student. Inspired and motivated by her own circumstances, Ciara is incredibly driven to maximise opportunities, destigmatise disadvantage and inspire others.
She has committed to a wide range of roles across the University that promote equality and diversity, enhance student experience and promote skills and employability. A superb role model and an outstanding example of widening participation and diversity, she has driven change within many areas of the University and her placement organisation, and inspired students, staff and young people through her fearless authenticity, dedication, tenacity, and positivity.
Rather than being held back by the challenges she has faced, Ciara is inspired by them to make the most of every opportunity and strive for a better world for everyone. She openly talks and writes about the challenges she has faced: helping to destigmatise disadvantage, signpost support and encourage others to see what can be achieved - for example, her blogs on seeking support after a dyslexia diagnosis - so that students who are experiencing similar challenges feel more confident and empowered to access support and pursue opportunities.
Ciara’s incredible work in the Widening Participation and Outreach Team led to their successful nomination of her for the national recognition of NEON Student of the Year.
After graduating from the University, David launched his career as Co-founder and CEO of Storm Consultancy, a Queen’s Award Winning, B-Corp certified tech agency based in Bath. In 14 years, Storm has delivered hundreds of projects for international clients, many of whom David has coached and mentored through rounds of investment, growth and exit. Along the way he has joined many of their boards occupying a variety of executive and non-executive positions, helping them deliver quality and excellence. Having a company based in the city centre, Storm has become a cornerstone of the creative and tech community, supporting financially many of the community networks such as Creative Bath, Bath Digital and TechSPARK.
David is also founder of the highly successful University of Bath-spinout CiteAb and is the driving force behind local carbon-offsetting scheme, Co-forest. David sits on the board of a number of Bath based Startup/Scaleup companies. Hecontinues to give back to the University by sitting on the University of Bath court, chairing the Business Plan and App-s Crunch competitions, sitting on panels or mentoring Enterprise society students.
Demonstrating longstanding commitment to Bath, New York alumna Holly (Hollis) Anzani has been a member of the University’s US Charitable Foundation since it was first established nearly 20 years ago.
Drawing on her extensive US career experience in investing for educational and charitable organisations, Holly puts excellence and ethical standards at the forefront of her voluntary role for the University. She is one of only two women on the Board. Holly is seen as part of Bath’s -home team- in New York - an excellent ambassador, supporter of current students and role model for the US alumni and donor community.
Holly’s contribution to the University of Bath signals the value of an active alumni community to the University and to its students. It also highlights the lifelong connection that can be maintained with the University and the role that Bath graduates can play internationally, in both voluntary and philanthropic capacities.