Dan Walker

Alumni notes and news

Celebrating your successes and keeping you up to date with what alumni from across the decades are up to now.

Alumni successes

We are always interested to discover what our alumni are doing now. Here is a selection of news from people who have been in contact with us or who we have spotted in the media.

1950s and 1960s

Richard Stephen Ash (BSc Geography 1965, Dip Ed 1966) was awarded an MBE for services to the community in Bearsted, Kent.

Roger Croft (BA Economics 1955) published the fifth book in his Michael Vaux spy series.

Sir Richard Roberts

Professor Annette Kuhn (BA Sociology 1969, MA Sociology 1975) gave the guest speech at our 50th Anniversary Reunion Luncheon.

Sir Richard Roberts FRS (BSc Chemistry 1965, PhD Chemistry 1968, Hon DSc 1994) has stepped down as the Chair of the University of Sheffield in America Board of Directors having served in the role for over 15 years (pictured).


Richard Bennett (BA Economics and Business Studies 1971) is a Deputy Lieutenant for the Royal County of Berkshire.

Professor Julia Clare Buckingham (BSc Zoology 1971, Hon DSc 2013) was awarded a CBE for services to biology and education.

Anne-Louise Ferguson (LLB Law 1977) was awarded an MBE for services to NHS Wales.

Martin Rees (BA Economics 1972) was recognised by the National Trust for 20 years’ service as a volunteer ranger in the Brecon Beacons (pictured).


Stephen Daldry CBE (BA English Literature 1982, Hon LittD 2001) won the Outstanding Directing For A Drama Series Emmy for the Paterfamilias episode of the Netflix series The Crown.

Kate Harcourt (BA Natural Environmental Science 1984) was named as one of the 100 Inspirational Women in Mining 2018.

Penny Hughes

Penny Hughes (née Davies) CBE (BSc Chemistry 1980, Hon LLD 1994) was appointed by Aston Martin Lagonda as their first female chair (pictured).

Dr Colin Melville (MB ChB Medicine 1983) received an Honorary Fellowship from the Academy of Medical Educators and was appointed Honorary Professor of Medical Education at the University of Manchester.

Anne Obey (BA English Literature 1983) was awarded an OBE for services to financial reporting and sustainable energy.

Dr Susan Margaret Whipps (PhD Pathology 1980) was awarded an MBE for voluntary services to people affected by Parkinson’s disease.


Helen Louise Clarke (BA Business Studies 1992) was awarded an MBE for services to girl guiding.

Dr David Crichton Craig (MMedSci Surgical and Anaesthetic Sciences 1992) was awarded an MBE for services to dental patients.

Spiros Kitsinelis

Dr Spiros Kitsinelis (MChem Chemistry 1999, PhD Chemistry 2003) won the British Council Study UK Alumni Awards 2019 – Social Impact Award (Greece) (pictured).

Nick Murray (BSc Zoology 1990) won the Outstanding Directing For A Reality Program – 2018 Emmy for RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Michael Palin CBE (Hon LittD 1992) was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George for services to travel, culture and geography.

Krish Raval (LLB Law 1995) was awarded an OBE for services to leadership education and interfaith cohesion in the UK.

Sudipta Seal (MMet Metallurgy 1992) received a Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.

Vicky Smith (BA French and Business Studies 1995) was named one of the UK’s Ambassadors for the Year of Green Action by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Dan Walker (BA History 1998, MA Journalism Studies 1999, Hon LittD 2019) took on the challenge of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief.


Param Singh Bhatia (MEng Mechanical Engineering 2001) was awarded an MBE for voluntary service to minority communities.

David Cawley (BA Management 2008) was named the 2019 Young Accountant of the Year at Insider’s Young Professionals Awards.

Professor Gina Higginbottom (née Awoko) MBE (PhD Health and Related Research 2004) received the title of Emeritus Professor from the University of Nottingham.

Tim Key (BA Russian Studies 2000) reprised his role as ‘Sidekick’ Simon Denton, alongside Steve Coogan in This Time with Alan Partridge.

Margaret Ann Kitching (MMedSci Nursing Practice 2002) was awarded an MBE for services to nursing.

Shaun Lowthian (BA Politics 2007, MA International Studies 2008) and Tim Grewcock (BA Geography and Politics 2009) received Best Online Comedy nominations at the 2019 Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Awards.

Squadron Leader Steve Morris (BEng Aerospace Engineering 2002) started his second tour with the Red Arrows, the RAF Aerobatic Display Team.

Lucy PrebbleLucy Prebble (BA English Literature 2002) was part of the team that won a BAFTA for their work on the US satirical drama Succession (pictured).

Dr Christopher Paul Stanley (MSc Health Economics and Management 2002) was awarded an MBE for services to general practice.

Stefanie Katherine Stead (MArch Architecture 2006) was awarded an MBE for services to architecture and the construction industry.

Dr Nousheen Zakaria (MSc Human Resources Management 2007) was nominated for a British Council Study UK Alumni Award 2019 – Entrepreneurial Award (Pakistan).


Beverley Barnett-Jones (PG Dip Integrated Practice with Children and Their Families 2015) was awarded an MBE for services to vulnerable children in Coventry.

Faye Savory (BMedSci Speech Science 2012) won the Hello Magazine #HelloToKindness Award. Discover more about Faye’s achievements here.

Lucia Puricelli (BMus Music 2014) won her second British Powerlifting Championship in the 63kg weight category.

Alex Usborne (MBA Business 2014) was awarded an MBE for services to exports in media and promoting disability in film.


Dr James Weinberg (PhD Politics 2018) received the University’s Chancellor’s Medal for his work in advocating citizenship education and civic participation (pictured).

Honorary degrees

The University of Sheffield confers honorary degrees (or degrees honoris causa – as a ‘mark of honour’) on people who have given distinguished service or brought distinction to the University, the City of Sheffield or the region. This year, Honorary degrees were awarded to the following alumni:

Lisa Burger (BMus Music 1983, Hon LittD 2019), Executive Director of the National Theatre.

Ann Cairns (BSc Maths 1978, Hon LittD 2019), Vice-President of Mastercard.

Ciara EastellCiara Eastell (MA Librarianship 1995, Hon LittD 2019) award-winning public librarian (pictured).

Dr Wayne Garvie (PhD Economic and Social History 1989, Hon LittD 2019), President of International Production for Sony Pictures Television.

Dan Walker (BA History 1998, MA Broadcast Journalism 1999, Hon LittD 2019), broadcaster and journalist (pictured at top of page).


For details of how to nominate someone for an Honorary Degree, contact Claire Rundström, Head of Alumni Relations

Commemorating one of the great figures in our University’s history

Mark Firth

Mark Firth, one of the founders of the University of Sheffield.

This year the University of Sheffield celebrates the double centenary one of the great figures in Sheffield’s history – Mark Firth. Born 200 years ago on 25 April 1819, he is considered one of the founders of the University of Sheffield.

The eldest of ten children, Mark Firth built one of the leading steel firms in the world. He was successful as an entrepreneur, businessman and leading citizen. He used his fortune to give back generously to Sheffield as a major philanthropist. Both Firth’s benefaction and vision created the embryonic University of Sheffield. His name is commemorated around our University and the City: Firth Court, Firth Hall, Firth Homes and Firth Park.

He became Master Cutler for three years from 1867 to 1869 and in 1874 he was elected Mayor and Alderman. In 1875 he hosted a royal visit from the Prince and Princess of Wales. In 1871 Sheffield’s manufacturing and steel industry was booming and the population had doubled over the previous 30 years to around 240,000. Firth had been inspired by a new vision of higher education and decided to bring it to Sheffield. In 1877, Firth bought a city centre site on the corner of what is now Leopold Street and West Street to build new premises for the classes.

Firth College was opened in 1879 by Prince Leopold, the youngest child of Queen Victoria.

The College has come to be considered the forerunner to our University’s faculties of arts and pure science. Within 25 years of Mark Firth’s initial efforts, the College, along with the Technical School and the Medical School amalgamated under a Royal Charter as the University of Sheffield in 1905.

Home Back to top