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Film makers and musicians, business leaders and entrepreneurs, athletes, actors and a TV presenter to collect honorary degrees and awards from NTU

Nottingham Trent University (NTU) has announced the latest recipients of honorary degrees and awards to be presented at graduation ceremonies at University Hall from 12-28 July 2023.

Seckou Keita by Elly Lucas
Seckou Keita by Elly Lucas

Those collecting honorary degrees:

Hamish Anderson is an insolvency lawyer working for Norton Rose Fulbright LLP currently as a Consultant and previously as a Partner.

He specialises in cross-border cases involving insolvency laws of other jurisdictions, including United States laws, common law and civil law systems and off-shore jurisdictions.

Hamish has published numerous books on insolvency law and is a past President and founder member of the Insolvency Lawyers’ Association.

He is an Honorary Professor of Nottingham Law School at NTU.

Nick Beighton is Chief Executive Officer at MATCHES, one of the biggest global destinations for online fashion. He is also Chair of Secret Sales, the online fashion retailer, Non-Executive Director to clothing brand Raging Bull Limited, clothing and Advisor to Scale AI, a leading global artificial intelligence business.

As Chief Exec of ASOS he helped grow a business with £3.9bn revenue and 15,000 employees. As a founding trustee of the ASOS Foundation, Nick has helped to raise £10m and to break down barriers for young people working in the fashion and technology industries. Nick studied Accounting and Finance at NTU, graduating in 1989.

Rosalie Craig is an English actress, writer and performer with a distinguished career in musical theatre, stage and television. Since securing her first leading role in the stage adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, she has become a mainstay of the West End and National Theatre. She has appeared in multiple hit TV shows such as 1889 and Truthseekers and in films such as Sulphur & White and The Pod Generation.

Anne Davies is a highly distinguished journalist and broadcaster, most recognised as the face of BBC East Midlands Today.

Working as a journalist and presentation coach both within and outside the BBC, in 1993 Anne launched the ITV breakfast programme GMTV where she spent 8 years presenting the news, Lorraine and many special projects

Anne was a main presenter on Central News, fronted the Travel Channel, as well as producing and presenting several ITV fashion specials. Anne has worked on the BBC’s flagship current affairs programmes Panorama and Question Time and also in local radio.

In 2016, Anne founded Fashanne – the Fashion Designers of the Future Awards, championing design talent in UK universities and promoting diversity on the catwalk.

Anne is a Deputy Lieutenant for Leicestershire and the patron of several charities.

Carolina Giammetta is an award-winning actor, writer and director. She has directed many high-profile television drama series including episodes Casualty, Agatha Raisin and Vera.  Her first authored piece – The Drowning - became CHANNEL 5’s biggest ever drama to date and she went on to directing Hollington Drive (ITV), Before We Die (Ch4) and later this year, she will direct Season 2 of Suspect with BAFTA winner Anne-Marie Duff and James Nesbitt.

Carolina has won several awards and been selected to appear at film festivals across the world, including the SXSW in Texas, Edinburgh International Festival, and the London Film Festival. Her feature film - Pizza Face (nominated for the IMDB Script to Screen Award) – is currently in development with The British Film Institute (BFI). Its pilot - Holy Cannelloni - made the BAFTA long-list.

Carolina has developed a new initiative called shortFLIX, nurturing young filmmakers form socially diverse backgrounds to develop their skills, produce a film and reach a sizeable online audience.

Dr Clea Harmer MBE is the Chief Executive of Sands, the UK pregnancy loss and baby death charity. She is also currently the Chair of the National Bereavement Care Pathway, Co-Chair of the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group, Chair of the Baby Loss Awareness Alliance, and Chair of the Pregnancy and Baby Charity Network.

Clea studied at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, and qualified with a MB BS in Medicine. She graduated from the University of Bedfordshire with a BA in Educational Studies, Adult Education. She also studied at NTU from 2012-2014 and gained an MSc in Theory of Constraints (Health and Social Care Management). In the late Queen's Birthday Honours List, Clea was awarded an MBE for services to the baby loss community.

Charlotte Henshaw MBE is one of the world’s leading Paracanoe athletes and 4 x Paralympian across two different sports. She is a 7 x Paracanoe World Champion and won gold at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in the KL2 200m.

Charlotte began her sporting journey as a Para swimmer – representing Great Britain for over a decade – during which time she competed at three Paralympic Games, winning silver at London 2012 and bronze at the Rio 2016 Games respectively.

Charlotte is passionate about disability inclusion and empowerment and promoting the Paralympic movement. After a 2020 diagnosis of endometriosis, she is also a keen advocate for women’s health issues.

Seckou Keita is an award-winning and multi-talented kora player, singer, percussionist, producer and composer. Since arriving from Senegal in 1999, Seckou has established himself as the UK’s foremost kora player. His accolades include three Songlines Music Awards, and several BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, including Musician of the Year.

Seckou’s UK career began when he performed with Afro-Celtic band, Baka Beyond. He also helped to set up the UK’s first kora examination course at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Overall, Seckou has released 12 albums as a leader and co-leader.

His collaborations include Cuban pianist Omar Sosa, Damon Albarn and the Africa Express, Paul Weller, and many other internationally-acclaimed artists.

Andy Rubin is Deputy Chair of the Pentland Group, a UK based private family-owned company operating in sports, outdoor and fashion.  He is also Chair of the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry, a Companion of the British Academy of Management and is an Honorary Professor in the Department of Entrepreneurship, Strategy and Innovation at Lancaster University. He is also a member of the Family Advisory Council for the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford.

An Enterprise Fellow of the Prince’s Trust, Andy is also an ambassador for Leaders Quest and served on the Board of In Kind Direct, the UK’s leading redistribution charity, for over 20 years.

Professor Edward Peck, Vice-Chancellor and President of Nottingham Trent University, said: “Graduation is always a special time of year at NTU. We celebrate our graduates’ achievements and feel their excitement as they begin to explore the many avenues open to them on their career journey.

“We also welcome returning alumni and Honorary Graduates who have been on their own path and are sharing their stories and advice for the future – every ceremony is inspirational and motivational for us all.”

Charlotte Henshaw MBE
Charlotte Henshaw MBE

The University’s Awards for Outstanding Alumni will be awarded to:

Arooj Aftab is a fashion creative and brand consultant who has been breaking down barriers in the quest for inclusivity within the fashion industry. Recently named in the inaugural Vogue Business 100 Innovators list, Arooj is recognised as an industry tastemaker and poses important questions about the language we use to promote real and meaningful diversity.

In January 2020, she launched #donewithdiversity, which combines her passion for inclusivity within the fashion world and her talent for illustration. The project aims to encourage brands and publishing platforms to rethink their language and consider if they are truly inclusive to all. Last year, she was announced as the new host for Tommy Hilfiger’s third Fashion Frontier, which saw her interview Tommy Hilfiger and CEO Martijn Hagman.

With acknowledgements from The Asian Media Awards, Vogue, Bustle, Stylist Magazine and more, Arooj has been navigating the way for meaningful and long-lasting conversations around accessibility in the fashion industry. These consultations aim to guide brands for better workplace practices internally and also in their outward-facing messaging.

Arooj studied Fashion Communication and Promotion at NTU, graduating in 2018.

Dr Michael Auer is a statistician and psychologist. He completed Masters Degrees in Psychology and Statistics at the University of Vienna, Austria.  He then undertook a PhD in Social Sciences with Professor Mark Griffiths at NTU.  Dr Auer has published more than fifty peer-reviewed articles in the area of online gambling on topics such as limit setting, personalised feedback, self-exclusion and pop-up messages.

This academic background and his commercial experience of more than fifteen years in the gambling industry led to the development of a player tracking tool called ‘mentor’ which is currently used by dozens of online gambling operators across the world. He is also a regular speaker at conferences and consults operators, regulators and policy makers around the world.

Dr Zoë Ayres is an analytical scientist and Head of Laboratory Facilities at The Open University. Having studied Forensic Science at NTU, Zoë then undertook a Masters Degree at the University of Warwick where she specialised in using analytical instrumentation from UV-Vis to mass spectrometry.

In 2014, she received the SWIG Early Career Researcher Competition for her pioneering work into detecting heavy metals in aqueous environments. She then went on to do a PhD in electrochemical sensor development. In 2016, Zoë received the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Ronald Belcher Award.

Zoë is President of the Royal Society of Chemistry's Analytical Science Community Council – only the fourth woman to hold this position since it was founded in 1875. As a trustee of the Analytical Chemistry Trust Fund, Zoë helps to manage a multi-million-pound charity portfolio, designed to support analytical scientists across the UK and Ireland.

Zoë is also a passionate advocate for the promotion of mental health and disability awareness.

Adam Burgess is a C1M British slalom canoeist who has competed at international level since 2008. Adam graduated from NTU in 2015 with a BSc in Sport Science Management.

He represented Team GB at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020, finishing in fourth place at just 0.16 seconds off receiving a bronze medal. He is also a three-time World Championship Finalist, Vice-European Champion, U23 World Champion, Multiple World Cup Medallist, four-time British Open Champion, and now has his sights set on competing in the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics.

Following a shoulder injury in 2017, Adam founded the Inspired Breath Academy, where he coaches athletes, performers, and those dealing with anxiety or recovering from injury or illness to learn how to breathe in any given moment.

Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis are the founders of Amazing If, an award-winning company with a mission to make careers better for everyone. Their podcast Squiggly Careers has had more than 3 million downloads, and their TEDx talk The best career path isn't always a straight line has been watched by over 1.7 million people. Together they are also the authors of two Sunday Times bestselling books The Squiggly Career and You Coach You.

Both Helen and Sarah graduated from NTU in 2004 with a BA (Hons) in Business Management.

Alex Goulding has extensive forensic and voluntary work experience in diverse criminogenic, psychological and sociological based environments. Currently, he is Community Wellbeing Champion/Social Prescriber for Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity, connecting those who are struggling to access services/activities based in the local community.

Previously, Alex worked as a Forensic Operational Support Officer for Cambridgeshire Constabulary producing Forensic Intelligence Packages among other duties. Alex graduated from NTU with a BA (Hons) in Criminology before undertaking an MA in Criminology, with a thesis on public opinion of capital punishment in the UK.

He is also 14 times Guinness World Record Holder for push ups as well as being a qualified Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer.

Akil Hunte is a trainee solicitor, public speaker, socially conscious entrepreneur, consultant, author and motivational influencer. Akil graduated from NTU with an LLB (Hons) in Law and will be joining PPL as a Legal and Business Affairs Executive in August 2023.

He has years of experience guiding and inspiring young professionals on their career journeys. Outside of law, supports the African Caribbean heritage community, low-income households and vulnerable communities whilst improving the culture within institutions holding aligned values.

Akil has spoken at various universities, law firms, community organisations and institutions. He has facilitated workshops nationally and internationally in Tanzania, helping young professionals to develop personally and professionally.

Oliver Jacobs is an entrepreneur from North London. He is the co-founder and CEO of UniTaskr, a job marketplace platform that connects students and businesses for a wide range of tasks.

Oliver's entrepreneurial journey started while he was pursuing his Degree in Architecture at NTU. He developed UniTaskr, an app to make it easier for students to find work suited to their skills and interests. Now with 270,000 members on UniTaskr, Oliver employs a team of 20 people, and is a tireless advocate for the importance of work experience and the value of flexible work arrangements.

Oliver has received numerous awards, including being named UK Student Entrepreneur of the Year, as part of the Founders 30 competition created in association with Ernst & Young.

Uzair Merchant is a multiple award-winning filmmaker, designer, and the founder of bKreativ productions. He is believed to be Hollywood’s first film production designer from India. He studied BA (Hons) Design for Film and Television at NTU.

With 15 years in the film business, working in various countries on projects ranging from features and TV series, including Star Trek Beyond, Fast and Furious 7, Skyfall, Superman and Lois. Uzair has worked as a production designer for the world’s largest cultural theme park – Global Village in Dubai – for over six years.

His last short film – Chasing lines – has been screened in over 30 international festivals and won 13 awards, including the Los Angeles Film Awards and New York Film Awards. Uzair also production-designed the first Hollywood feature film shot in Abu Dhabi, The Misfits.

His feature script – The 8th Sin – won an honourable mention for Best Sci-Fi script at the Los Angeles Film Awards. Overall, Uzair has won 35 international awards with seven nominations in multiple categories, including best action screenplay and best sci-fi screenplay.  He has just released a music album also titled 8th Sin, which was created with the help of Artificial Intelligence.

Uzair also holds a fourth degree Black Belt in Shorin Ryu Seibukan Karate, from Okinawa, Japan.

Rehannah Mian is a globally successful children’s author and storybook podcaster, with 3 million subscribers in over 200 countries. She graduated with an MA in Television Journalism at NTU’s Centre for Broadcast & Journalism. She began her career as a television producer and director on high-profile productions including Inside Out and Countryfile. Rehannah also featured as a presenter on a local history programme Nottingham Now and Then.

She set up a professional company providing children’s parties – all based around the theme of classic fairy tales. By chance, during a business training day, Rehannah was encouraged to consider creating her own podcast. Launched in 2020, Magical Storybook: English Nanny Bedtime Stories features long-forgotten medieval fairy tales from around the world.Her first children’s novel – Mia and the Curse of Camelot – focuses on forgotten African folklore hero, Sir Morien – King Arthur's strongest knight.

Daniel Pikett is a career development practitioner and professional - working closely with schools and businesses, helping them recognise and address professional development and assessment needs regarding access to employment to improve equality, diversity, equity and inclusion.

As a young person, Daniel struggled with the multiple and complex challenges associated with his sexuality and undiagnosed neurodiversity; this impacted his early life both within and outside school. In his mid-20s, he took an access course and came to NTU as a Youth Studies learner and mature student. Quickly followed by a Masters in Career Development and Career Leadership at NTU, two separate courses which led him to take up a series of positions in career guidance: working with young people with autism and reviewing careers support and assessment needs for young people, especially those with SEND profiles and Education Health Care plans.

James Wells is a senior business professional, public speaker and former international athlete. During his final year studying Broadcast Journalism at NTU, James was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. Less than six months after battling blood cancer, James was representing Great Britain on the world stage; at the World Karate Championships in Las Vegas. But following a relapse in June 2011, James was forced back into hospital.

Despite being told he would never be physically capable of participating in competitive sport again due to serious lung damage, James would go on to defy the odds. As a highly successful martial artist, James is a double World Heavyweight Bronze medallist and a multiple English and British champion. He has achieved podium finishes in four continents and transitioned into Mixed Martial Arts and Kickboxing.

Since sporting retirement, James has launched a 24-hour health channel on Sky TV, hosted his own radio show, become a motivational speaker, and today, he is Managing Director for a CBD business. He has even presented a TED talk - The Courage to be Exceptional - held at TEDx in Nottingham.

The University’s Awards for Outstanding Alumni Fellow will be awarded to:

Rebecca Bull is aChartered Fellow CIPD member who founded MyHR Hub in 2016, driven by a strong desire to support SMEs with their unique HR and business needs.

Rebecca graduated from Nottingham Business School in German, Business and HR in 2001, and completed a PG Diploma in Personnel Management in 2002. With over 25 years’ HR and Business Management experience, Rebecca has helped many businesses turn their workplaces into people focused, compliant, engaging, great places to work.

Rebecca’s hard work and passion won her the coveted East Midlands Women in Business Award in 2018, while MyHR Hub has also received several awards from partners as well as Small Business of the Year in 2022 - Women in Business Awards East Midlands.

Rebecca Cassidy is a creative and solution focused practitioner providing personalised mental health support for children, young people and adults in both an online and face to face settings across the voluntary, charitable and business sectors for the past 13 years. Rebecca was a recipient of the Philip Lawrence National Award in 2012.

Rebecca is currently an emotional wellbeing practitioner at Kooth PLC where she is a wellbeing champion, contributing to published research around assisted moderation and working across the business to provide organisational improvements. Rebecca graduated with a BA (Hons) in Youth Studies from NTU in 2015 and received the Outstanding Contribution to the Wider Community Award.

Fiona Duncan-Steer describes herself as a conversation starter, introducer, facilitator, trainer, qualified coach, writer, speaker, storyteller, creative thinker. She has a creative background, having studied for a BA (Hons) in Theatre Design at NTU (2000-2003).

Founder of her business RSViP, she integrates this creativity into business events and interactive training sessions. With over fifteen years of experience in the sales, events, marketing, advertising and PR world under her belt, Fiona now shares her knowledge through skills training workshops, masterclasses and consultancy, specialising in the subjects of business networking and creativity in business, with a focus on communication, idea generation and storytelling and is asked to speak regularly on the topics for various organisations and businesses.

Brian Fairchild has over twenty-five years of experience in the training industry.

He is currently a Business and Career Coach at The Beeston Coach, providing training and coaching services to individual and corporate clients.

Brian has worked in a variety of roles in the private sector, civil service, voluntary sector and for both Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council. Since 2015, he has been an Alumni Fellow at NTU and is an active volunteer with a number of community organisations in Nottingham.

Brian studied Social Science Politics at the University of Leicester, an MA in International Relations at the University of Kent, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Personnel Management at NTU.

Emrys Robinson-Green has worked in leadership and influencing roles for over 15 years.

Currently Emrys is Director of Cloud Artisans Ltd – a consultancy-led digital and engagement agency.

He is also the Head of Development for Upstart Projects CIO – a charity he co-founded developing programmes championing young people’s voice and leadership.

He has served on multiple boards over the past 10 years, in both executive and non-executive roles including for The Mighty Creatives and as Chair of The Institute of Leadership.

Emrys graduated from NTU with a BA (Hons) in Business Management and returned to complete an Executive MBA with Distinction 11 years later.

He has achieved a Licentiateship in Management, Fellowship of the Institute of Leadership and Chartered Fellowship of the Chartered Management Institute.

He is a life Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

Nadina Wallis is a Chartered Accountant with over 30 years’ experience as a finance professional with a background of turnaround, merger and de-merger, integration and growth. She is a Board-Level Finance Director and Founder of Clipper Accounting Ltd. Nadina graduated from Trent Polytechnic in 1982 with a BA (Hons) in Accounting and Finance.

She is tri-lingual and used to large European and US company operations in Europe and the UK.

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    About Nottingham Trent University

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2021 for cultural heritage science research. It is the second time that NTU has been bestowed the honour of receiving a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its research, the first being in 2015 for leading-edge research on the safety and security of global citizens.

    The Research Excellence Framework (2021) classed 83% of NTU’s research activity as either world-leading or internationally excellent. 86% of NTU’s research impact was assessed to be either world-leading or internationally excellent.

    NTU was awarded The Times and The Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 2023 and ranked University of the Year in the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023. It was awarded Outstanding Support for Students 2020 (Times Higher Education Awards), University of the Year 2019 (Guardian University Awards, UK Social Mobility Awards), Modern University of the Year 2018 (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide) and University of the Year 2017 (Times Higher Education Awards).

    NTU is the 5th largest UK institution by student numbers, with approximately 40,000 students and more than 4,400 staff located across five campuses. It has an international student population of 7,000 and an NTU community representing over 160 countries.

    Since 2000, NTU has invested £570 million in tools, technology, buildings and facilities.

    NTU is in the UK’s top 10 for number of applications and ranked first for accepted offers (2021 UCAS UG acceptance data). It is also among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and was the first UK university to sign the Social Mobility Pledge.

    NTU is ranked 2nd most sustainable university in the world in the 2022 UI Green Metric University World Rankings (out of more than 900 participating universities).

Published on 4 July 2023
  • Category: Press office