Inspiring University of Leicester alumni shine at glittering awards ceremony

A women’s football pioneer, a student who overcame a life-changing illness and a prime minister’s aide were all recognised at a ceremony to celebrate the achievements of inspirational University of Leicester graduates.

The 2023 edition of the University’s annual Alumni Awards Dinner saw Leicester alumni from across the decades enjoy a glittering night of celebrations in the City of London, on Thursday 18 May.

The highlight of the evening, which was sponsored by Leicester wealth management firm, Mattioli Woods, was the prize giving for alumni who have gone on to great things.

The coveted Lifetime Achievement Award was clinched by national sports administrator Baroness Sue Campbell, who completed an Educational Studies Diploma and Education Studies MEd at Leicester, in the 1970s. Sue has been a Director of Women’s Football at the Football Association since 2018, having spent the two previous years as Head of Women’s Football. She was Chairman of UK Sport from 2003 – a position she held during the planning and execution phases of the 2012 London Olympic Games. In 2013, she was included in the BBC Woman’s Hour list of the 100 Most Powerful Women in the United Kingdom.

The incredible story of Criminology student, Lucy Dawson, captured the award judges’ attention, as she landed the Alumna of the Year Award. In 2017, during her third year of study, Lucy contracted a rare brain disease that robbed her of her speech, memory and other functions. Being left permanently disabled didn’t hold her back, as Lucy returned to her studies in 2018, from which she graduated a year later. She is now a public speaker, disabled model, and content creator, and campaigns for the awareness of medical trauma and encephalitis.

The Future Leader Award went to 2016 Law graduate, Dorin Frasineanu. Following an internship at the Embassy of the Republic of Moldova to Romania and the Russian Federation, Dorin progressed to roles with the European Commission, the European External Action Service and finally, to the Government of the Republic of Moldova. Until February 2023, when Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita resigned, Dorin was her foreign policy adviser and deputy chief of staff.

Dr Angela Stienne (Museum Studies MA 2015, Museum Studies PhD 2018) landed the Dr Mark Sims Memorial Award for Public Service. Angela, who is disability expert at Leicester’s Research Centre for Museums and Galleries and the Wellcome, has a strong track record in the industry as a cultural historian and museologist, with a specialist interest in the issues surrounding human remains in museums, particularly Egyptian mummies.

She has founded three internationally-acclaimed projects, including The Lyme Museum, which is the first online museum to explore invisible illnesses and disabilities through materiality and storytelling.

The Alumni Association Graduating Student of the Year Award went to Law student, Tendo Sebuyira, while 1977 Geography graduate, Ian Johnson, scooped the Mary Attenborough Award for Volunteering. The Rhoda Bennett Philanthropy Award was awarded posthumously to 1954 Latin grad, Reginald Barnes.

The awards featured a keynote speech from Leicester’s new Chancellor, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, and was hosted by BBC Radio 5 Live presenter, Chris Warburton, a 1998 Leicester Politics graduate.

Maggie said: “It was incredible to be in the company of such amazing people. Their stories and achievements are truly inspiring and it has been a privilege to witness them at first hand.

“The world needs real models as role models – and not individuals who are not representative or you cannot emulate. Role models should be real people; if you have a role model who is, or is perceived as, a superwoman, then people think, ‘Well, that’s not me, I can’t aspire to be that.’” What I have seen today are incredible people – and the world needs people like them.”

Mattioli Woods joint founder, Bob Woods, said: “It was an honour to join the Alumni Awards Dinner once again; celebrating the significant contributions of individuals and hearing the many impactful stories.

“As a contributor to the Centre for Environmental Health and Sustainability, I am proud to work with the University and, in my own way, stand with those who have become a citizen of change. Whether through financial contributions, sharing of intellect or the giving of time and passion, we all have the potential to be part of this community and see breakthroughs that will be celebrated for years to come.

“It is a privilege for Mattioli Woods to sponsor this event, and I look forward to following avidly the significant steps the University of Leicester will continue to make now and in the future.”