Category Archives: Uncategorized

Alumna Miss Africa Great Britain fundraises for Nigeria

Alumna Sarah Jegede, and Miss Africa Great Britain recently got in touch to give us an update on the projects that she is currently working on.

I am undertaking a charity project in aid of the students of St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in rural Ifofin, in Osun State, Nigeria. St Mary’s is the oldest school in Ilesha, and one of the poorest schools too. St Mary’s school is in need of a new school sign board and the students are in dire need of stationery. I am raising funds in aid of this cause to provide a new school sign board, stationery, and school bags for the kids. This project is very dear to my heart as I have always wanted to help children in poverty, and winning Miss Africa GB has given me the opportunity to make a difference in lives that are often neglected. When I applied to Miss Africa GB, I was drawn by the amount of charity work that the organisation carries out. My desire to help children in poverty, particularly in Nigeria, was what drove me to win, even when I was tired or felt discouraged during the competition.

There are over 15 million children in Nigeria aged 5-15 who are not in education and it is mostly due to poverty. Their families cannot afford to send them to school and sustain their academic needs financially. This includes school fees but also supplies that are needed for school, such as books, stationery, school uniforms, and school bags. These children are forced to work on the streets, and it affects their mental and social development. They end up underachieving academically, and even worse – many eventually quit the school system because the financial challenges are too much to bear. They often grow up to live in poverty, and their own children inherit this struggle and are forced into the labour force at young ages. You would agree with me that this heartbreaking cycle must end.

In aid of St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, we are hosting a fundraising gala on the 29th of April at The Ripple Centre in Barking. Guests will be treated to an evening of stunning entertainment, great music, dancing, world-class food and drinks with the opportunity to win a wealth of exquisite money can’t buy prizes and experiences. The event will begin at 6pm with guests walking the Red carpet and taking brilliant photographs.

All proceeds from the fundraiser will go towards providing bags and stationery for the 200 elementary School students of this school.

To find out more, you can visit Sarah’s page.

£90,000 for Kent Opportunity Fund

This is Laura Thomas-Walters. She is investigating how behavioural research can be better utilised for illegal wildlife trade demand reduction strategies. Her PhD is funded by the Kent Opportunity Fund.

Over four weeks this autumn, a team of dedicated student callers spoke to over 1,000 alumni across the UK.  The team raised the record breaking total of just over £90,000 to support postgraduate research, student projects and hardship bursaries, as part of the Kent Opportunity Fund.

We are overwhelmed by the generosity of our alumni, who gave us 259 gifts, ranging from £5 to £2,000.

In 2016, for the first time, we also called our alumni in the United States and spoke to 221 US alumni, based across 30 states; from New York to Albuquerque to Lake Oswego, and raised almost $7,000 from 53 individual gifts. These funds will go towards the UKA-Fulbright Scholarships.

Our alumni community is a huge asset to the University, and many of the student callers commented on the positive and inspiring conversations that they had enjoyed.  The alumni also enjoyed hearing the latest news from Kent.

25 Years of Kent History

Every year, Kent hosts the 25 Year Lunch, which celebrates and recognises the contribution of staff members, who have been with the University for a quarter of a century!
This year, the Lunch was held on Thursday, 20 October, with the Vice-Chancellor hosting for the final time before her retirement next year. One of the invitees, Dave Pilbeam, Deputy Head Chef, cooked the lunch and then joined in the celebrations once service was over. The VC’s office reported that ‘a thoroughly enjoyable time was had by all.’

Do you spot anyone you recognise?

Picture shows (from left to right):
Back row
Tim Pryor (Estates), Dr George Conyne (School of History), Julie Martin (SHEU),
Lesley Lawrence (IS Library Collections), Angela Hewlett-Day (SHEU),
Professor John Fitzpatrick (KLS), Alex Watson (Estates)
Middle Row
Sue Casement (Office of the Master of Rutherford), Justine Abernethy (IS Finance),
Judi Rowbotham (IS Training Team), Angie Allen (School of Computing), Laetitia Gullett (EMS),
Nick Swinford (Estates), David Nightingale (Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost)
Front row
Professor David Ayers (School of English), Denise Everitt (Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer), Neil Oliver (Finance Division), Gill Warr (SSPSSR)
Dr Kathy Bennett (Finance Division Retired), Maddy Withers (Organiser),
Professor Dame Julia Goodfellow (Vice-Chancellor), Dave Pilbeam (Kent Hospitality),
Peter Lee (EDA), Tim Jenkins (IS Requirements), Alison Ross-Green (Director of HR & OD).

Graduates Giving Back – the story of Keith Donkor

Keith Donkor (Keynes 2012) is a Mathematics and Accounting & Finance graduate.  Keith worked as a student caller on several Telephone Campaigns and has recently committed to a regular donation to the Kent Opportunity Fund.  We caught up with him to ask why he chose to donate back:


‘I was always going to give back to the Kent Opportunity Fund, given my experiences working on three telephone campaigns. The two main reasons behind my donation though.

‘Firstly, the cause itself is something I really believe in. I’ve been lucky enough to speak with PhD scholars who have been given the opportunity to carry out work they’re passionate about. It’s special because it gives these students an opportunity that wouldn’t have been available to them but for the KOF. It’s helps so many people so everybody should really help.

‘Secondly, being involved in the campaigns has had an indirect positive effect on me and my career. It has opened doors for me and allowing me to become a Business Development Manager for a recruitment company. I’m eternally grateful to the telephone campaigns.’

You can read a little more about Keith on his profile.


This November, our focus has been on the power of giving.  Rebecca Monteleone was the 2014 UKA Fulbright scholar and here she updates us on where life has taken her since Kent.

“I spent the year after I completed my MA at Kent as an intern with a federally-funded non-profit in Washington, DC that undertook research and training developing best practices for youth with disabilities transitioning into the workforce. During that time I published a policy brief on employment policy for people with disabilities in the US and published a version of my MA research in the Journal for Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities with Professor Rachel Forrester-Jones.

Over the summer, I received funding to present my research at the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities’ World Conference in Melbourne, Australia.

“I am currently finishing my first semester as a PhD student at Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society. My current work is focused on the differing ways disability is conceptualized between individuals with intellectual disabilities and researchers in medical genetics and assistive technologies. I am a Fellow in a program funded through the National Science Foundation entitled the Alliance for Person-Centered Accessible Technologies.”

Help the Homeless Week!



In spring 2016, the Canterbury Homeless Outreach Society received funding to run a Help the Homeless Week – events raising awareness and funds for homelessness, including quiz nights, art exhibitions and a sponsored sleep-out! This project encouraged students to take action in the local community and engage with different lifestyles to bring about change.

The funding for this project came from the Student Projects Grant Scheme, and it embodies the values for which his scheme was established; to create opportunities for students at Kent to improve their employability, reach out to the community and increase the quality of their university experience.

President Luke Bridle said “Well done guys HHW is over and we all survived the sub-zero temperatures on the sleep out!”

A Wonderful Week of Words


As part of the 2016 Student Project Grants scheme, the UKC Hogwarts Society and Kent Union applied for funding to support J.K Rowling’s charity, Lumos.   Lumos works with underprivileged families abroad and in the UK to help them get back on their feet and build solid foundations for a better future. The goal was to raise monehogwartsy but also make an impact in the community.

Local primary schools with a high percentage of underprivileged children, were targetted and invited to a day at the university to listen to a children’s author and participate in workshops designed to inspire and boost their confidence, and encourage a love of reading.

Three days of children’s authors and workshops took place, and ticketed events with authors to raise money for Lumos. Other Kent Union Societies also got involved and ran music, poetry and other workshops run by to help raise money, and so the whole university involved.

 Rebecca Chidgey of St Stephen’s School said “all the children that attended the workshops during World Book Week at the UKC thoroughly enjoyed it and found it all very interesting and informative. I would like to thank you for inviting us, it was a real privilege.”

A Year 4 student from St John’s School commented; “My favourite part was when we went to the drama room.”

Applications for the 2017 Student Project Grants Scheme are open until 16 December 2016! Apply now!


Alumni Profile: Swapna Sundar (Brussels, 2002)

IP smart toolkit launch in Chennai

IP smart toolkit launch in Chennai in April 2016

Swapa Sundar studied at Brussels School of International Studies, graduating in 2003 with a Masters in international Law with International relations.

She is now the CEO of IP DOME, and in 2015 was awarded a grant by the UK Intellectual property office to write a toolkit and resource document for intellectual property-owning UK companies to operate profitably in India. UK companies have traditionally been reluctant to invest in India due to the stringent Intellectual Property Rights laws, and so the Toolkit, which launched in April 2016, is a potential game changer, removing barriers between British and Indian companies.

Swapna says: “This is an exciting time for Indian industry with the government launching new initiatives targeting specific sectors such as the start-up sector, manufacturing sector and infrastructure. These initiatives are bound to ease the process of entering into business of different types in India, and also to engage in technology-led collaborations. Entities from several countries are looking forward to the opportunities in India. My team and I hope that we will be able to be of service to industry and in the long run create value for ourselves and our clients.”

You can read more about the launch here:

A Girl Called Flotsam: One alumni’s watery tale…



John Tagholm (Eliot, 1965) has a new novel out!  A Girl Called Flotsam is John’s fifth novel and here he gives us a fascinating insight into his inspiration.

A Girl Called Flotsam was written at a desk in Islington, after an uncertain birth on a kitchen table in Provence.  Mind you, before that it was conceived over the course of year, the  time it took for two ideas to meet and get together.  Let me explain.

I was volunteering for the Charity Thames21, whose near impossible mission is to clean the foreshore of the River Thames and its tributaries, when the first of the events occurred that would lead to this book, although not directly.  Not at all.

I was on the southern tip of the Isle of Dogs and about a hundred of us were picking up the detritus of generations that the departing tide had left behind:  supermarket trollies, scaffold poles, plastic bags, old tyres, panty liners and rusting metal.  The work wasn’t pretty, but it was in a good cause.  We had protective clothing, of course, and we toiled for hours as the river slowly came back towards us.

And then I was aware of a commotion to my right and a group of my colleagues were clustering around an object.  I wandered over to see what the fuss was all about.  I found them staring down at the barrel, or what remained of it, of a sawn-off shotgun.  What excitement.  The police had to be called and two constables duly arrived and with a stick picked up the gun by its trigger guard, as we’ve seen done in many police dramas on television, and took it away.


John Tagholm

Well, for me as you might imagine, this was manna from heaven.  A few days later I called the press office of Thames21, who told me that after examination the police thought that the gun had been thrown into the river about fifty years earlier and that as far as they could see it wasn’t associated with any outstanding crime.

Fascinating.  But I didn’t want to write about sawn-off shotguns.  Too obvious, perhaps.

By now my juices were running and I enquired after any other unusual findings.  I was told about two suitcases washed up near Battersea, both containing designer clothes wrapped in protective polythene.  One of the bags also revealed several passports for the same person but under different names.  Honest.

By now my mind was racing.  And then there was the skull, I was told, almost as an afterthought.  My senses were alerted.  It turned out to be a thousand years old, I was told. I was on the edge of my seat by now.  The press officer explained that it had been sent to the Museum of London for further examination and was later dated back to the Anglo-Saxons.

A thousand year old skull.  I couldn’t wait to find out more.

However, when I phoned the Museum the trail ran out.  They had no record of such a skull but told me the previous year a near-perfect skeleton, still in its grave, had been uncovered at an unusually low tide and had been dated back to the fifteenth century.  Perhaps it was being confused with this one.

Well, never let the facts stand in the way of a good story.  Like a jackdaw taking a piece of silver foil back to its nest, I stored the imaginary Anglo-Saxon skull away for future use.

A year would pass before the next stage in the creation of Flotsam.  I had been hoping to write the biography of the celebrated food writer and restaurateur, Robert Carrier but it seemed that no one was particularly interested in the man who did more than most to transform our attitudes to food in the 1960s and 70s. My proposals found no takers and I was disappointed.  I had worked with Robert, making several television series and later become a friend.

But all was not lost.  I can remember being in the south of France, staying just below the hill village of Bonnieux and scribbling in my notebook an entry I still have.  Could I write a fiction in which a charismatic and flamboyant foody would play a significant role?

In that curious alchemy that takes place before a book is born, I began the process of linking the find on the Thames with a celebrity from the world of food.

I needed an overall story, however.  I had long wanted to write about a particular sort of  modern women, one who had taken advantage of the hard fought rights that her sex had achieved over the last forty years.  She would be successful in a field that had once been the almost exclusive domain of men, in this case that of being a TV director.  And she would be sexually liberated and free of the compulsion to marry and have children.

But somehow she wouldn’t be happy and I wanted to explore why.  So Flotsam was born and even before I had left the cicadas and rosé wines of Provence, I had begun to sketch out a plot and when I returned to England I had a head of steam sufficient enough to begin the book.

I was to learn a lot along the way, particularly about the Anglo-Saxons, who were both creative and enlightened.  And about skeletons. For example, I discovered you can’t tell the sex of a pre-pubescent skeleton, an important fact for the development of the book.  And I came across a new word:  osteoarchaeologist, an expert in old bones.

I wanted to write about history near and far and just how difficult it is to establish the real truth about why things happened, about how the passage of time obfuscates, covers and distorts facts.  I immersed myself in the back streets of Marseille, the German war archives and the fate of collaborators in immediate post-war France.

And so my heroine, who is part of a group who discovers a small skull on the foreshore of the Thames one grey day, is prompted to find out more about this ancient remnant of, as she discovers, a child.  She is also about to make a documentary about world famous restaurateur Joseph Troumeg and become embroiled in the truth of his own background.  Layers of truth waiting to be uncovered.

The search for the provenance of both the skull and the restaurateur leads her to discover more about herself.

I hope that if you choose to read A Girl Called Flotsam, it gives you as much pleasure as it gave me to write.