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18 May 2011

5th Alumni Laureate Awards

University honours its special achievers

“You may ask what the University has ever done for us . . . and I’ll say ‘everything’ “

The words of University of Nottingham alumnus Edgar Wallner (Pharmacy 1958), a former President and CEO of Orthofix International and Life Benefactor of The National Theatre.  

Mr Wallner, who has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in the healthcare industry and is a major donor to the University, was one of a number of graduates to receive awards at the 5th University of Nottingham Alumni Laureate Awards dinner held at the East Midlands Conference Centre.


“This University really started my business career,” he said. “I became an entrepreneur here. My father loaned me £50 with which I bought gowns from departing students. I stored them with the hall porter at Hugh Stewart over the summer for a fiver and when the new students came back I sold them on to them. That year I made £150 profit – a small fortune in the 1950s. I am very grateful indeed to this University – it set me on my way.”

Mr Wallner was one of two Lifetime Achievement Award winners with the other being the Chief Executive of Nottingham City Council, Jane Todd (Social Administration 1973), whose father Norman graduated from the University with a degree in Pharmacy back in 1942.

She said: “This award is very special to me. The University has been one of the enduring threads through my life. My father came to the University as a scholarship boy and met my mother here so I really can say that if it weren’t for the University I probably wouldn’t be here at all!


“When I was a student here the tutor Bill Silburn was an inspiration and I got Social Policy the way he did it and that’s been the bedrock all the way through my career. Since then the University has been such an important influence on the city. The prosperity of the city is largely due to the University and the University is a tremendous friend to us.”


The compere at the awards ceremony was Sky news presenter and Editor at Large of the Daily Telegraph Jeff Randall (Economics 1979) who told an audience of more than 200 people:

““From day one of my arrival at the University I fell in love with this place, I got it immediately and my affection remains as strong today as it was then. Apart from my family, no living body has had a more profound or positive impact on my life than The University of Nottingham.

“For me, the most remarkable people tonight were the student winners of the Vice-Chancellor’s Award, students who bothered to do great things while they were here. During those awards I told my daughter, who’s just finishing her studies here, that it was a minor triumph if I simply got out of bed in the morning. The students today work hard, they play hard, they have a vision, they have ambition and my goodness, they’re going to go out there and get on with it and I doff my cap to them.”

The Vice-Chancellor’s Achievement Awards for exceptional achievement by current  students went to Sam Follett (Physics and Astronomy), the youngest member of the General Synod of the Church of England; Sophie Horsley (Business School), an outstanding member of the University’s Student Telephone Fundraising Team, contacting alumni staff and friends; Heba Khafagy (Electrical and Electronic Engineering) who is soon to represent England in the Karate World Championships; Jerry Kuo (Architecture and the Built Environment), promoter of environmental sustainability awareness across the campus; Olympic swimmer Jess Sylvester (Biochemistry) and Matt Wicks (Economics), a Special Constable with Nottinghamshire Police.


  See photo gallery of the awards ceremony.

Lady Anna Curzon, a violinist who graduated with a first class degree in music in 2009, provided a musical interlude during the evening.

The full list of alumni award winners is as follows:

Recent Graduate Awards:
David Florence (Mathematical Physics 2005) – Olympic slalom canoeist
Sandra Lawton (MSc Advanced Nursing Practice 2003) – Nurse Consultant Dermatology at the Queen’s Medical Centre
Dr Hezron Mc’Obewa (Medicine 2003) – Executive Director of the Ogra Foundation in Kenya.
Alistair Murray (MPharm Hons Pharmacy 2002) – Senior Partner and co-founder of Green Light Pharmacy

Special Excellence Awards:
Air Chief Marshal Sir Simon Bryant KCB CBE (Geography 1977) – Currently Commander-in-Chief, Air Command.
Professor Sue Lyons OBE (Production Engineering and Production Management 1975) – former Managing Director, Defence (Europe) at Rolls Royce.
Graham Fitkin (Music 1984) – British composer, pianist and conductor.
Caroline van den Brul MBE (Chemistry 1975) – BBC producer and executive director

Lifetime Achievement Awards:
Jane Todd (Social Administration 1973) Chief Executive of Nottingham City Council.
Edgar Wallner (Pharmacy 1958) – entrepreneur


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