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29 May 2012
Congratulations Helen Allen (Nursing 2001)!

The founder of the PEPAIDS (Peer Education Programme Against Aids) charity, Helen Allen, will be the first member of The University of Nottingham alumni community to carry the Olympic Torch.

At 6.18pm tonight Helen will carry the torch through her native Chester at the end of the Beaumaris to Chester leg on day 11 of the 70-day journey around the UK.

You can watch Helen on her historic journey tonight via the BBC’s torchcam coverage at

Nurse Helen won a University of Nottingham Alumni Laureate Award in 2008 and was the British Journal of Nursing magazine’s Nurse of the Year in 2011

She graduated from the University in 2001 and has since dedicated her working life to the charity she founded, which aims to contribute to the reduction of poverty and HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa and to raise awareness, both within the affected communities and internationally, of the issues surrounding poverty and HIV/AIDS.

Helen was born in Zambia one of twins, but her twin sister Mary was stillborn. Her parents returned to the UK with her as a baby but as she grew up Helen had a powerful urge to return to the place of her birth and to visit her sisters' grave.

She chose a nursing degree at The University of Nottingham because it offered her the chance to study abroad and in her final year she did indeed return to Zambia. She learned more about HIV/AIDS working with a local team of health and social workers operating in a rural part of Zambia and was inspired to do more to make a transformational change in the country of her birth.

"I resolved to go home and do something to help. I thought I would send some money over and that would be it - thanks very much," said Helen. "I did come home but I was impacted to the core and I had to do more. I ran the Nottingham half-marathon and raised money as an unregistered charity. Two weeks later an anonymous donor gave us £10,000 and that's how the registered charity PEPAIDS began.

"I'm so grateful to The University of Nottingham because they were there at the start and without the University I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing now. It was the University which sowed in me the knowledge that I could do it, I could reach for the sky and my alumni award just inspired me to do more."

You can find out more about PEPAIDS at  and if you like what they do please like the charity’s Facebook page!/PEPAIDS and keep up to date with new developments and get involved with PEPAIDS.

As the Olympic Torch approaches Nottingham and the East Midlands at the end of June, a research fellow and two students from The University of Nottingham will also carry the symbolic torch. On Friday 29th June the torch will pass through the University’s Jubilee Campus.

If you’re one of The University of Nottingham’s alumni  and you’re carrying the torch or you’re involved in the London 2012 Olympics then please let us know via

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