Monthly Archives: December 2014


Cycle app wins Innovation Day

More than 60 people gathered at Woolf College at the University of Kent last weekend for the Kent Connects Transformed by you Innovation Day to find the final winner of this year’s challenge.

There was a strong field of competition and very innovative ideas so the judges had a tough decision to make.

The winning idea is an app called MyCycle and the winning team had three Computer Science students, Max Harris, Matthew Boakes and Jamie Pont, assisting with the development.

The MyCycle app aims to connect less confident cyclists with experienced riders in their community and pair up novice cyclists looking to set out on bike rides around Canterbury and Kent with similarly intrepid locals.

Whether for fun or as a means to speed up commuting and running errands in town, everyone would be able to use MyCycle-Kent to build up their expertise and confidence with the help of a more proficient rider, enjoying a safer and more relaxing time.

People will use the app to discover local cycling buddies, find the safest routes to their destination and track their progress over time in comparison with other new cyclists.

Plans for future development include a school-cycle section to organise ‘cycle to school’ groups, which are safety checked and responsibly co-ordinated.

The MyCycle team came together on the day, and worked brilliantly together to develop and present their final idea.

Team members are local resident Frederica Lowndes, Simon Langton Grammar School student Sam Gooch and his mum Sarah who came along with the idea for developing a cycling app and Pedro Romano. They were supported by University of Kent students Max Harris, Matthew Boakes and Jamie Pont who started work to develop the app.

The MyCycle team has won a package of support, worth £20,000, to help make the product idea reality. Support is provided by organisers Kent Connects and sponsors Cisco, Barclays Bank, Kent IT Consultancy, Canterbury Christ Church University and the University of Kent Makerspace (The Shed). The team will benefit from development, business and marketing advice over the coming year.

The day was hosted by the University of Kent who sponsored the challenge as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations and it day included a visit to The Shed, a MakerSpace which is part of the School of Computing. The space is equipped with a wide variety of machines (eg 3D printers and laser cutters) and development equipment (eg the Oculus Rift and Raspberry Pi to support new kinds of innovative teaching and learning by taking advantage of the increasing accessibility of electronics and engineering with a rapid prototyping capability. It was great to see 3D printing and digital laser cutting in action.

Image of students and staff

Christmas Party for Age UK

A group of students and Kent Union staff volunteers spent last Friday afternoon chatting, singing Christmas songs and sharing stories with a group of senior citizens from the local Age UK Day Centre.

Over a cup of tea or coffee, the volunteers enthusiastically entered the spirit of the afternoon and the centre users were thrilled to share stories of their lives and hear all about what our volunteers are studying, where they work and about their lives in general.

The chatter was only interrupted by outbreaks of singing to accompany the beautiful piano played by a student volunteer from the music society.

As the centre users were bussed home they were waved off by our smiling volunteers with a promise from both sides to come back and visit again very soon.

Student Volunteer Nikita Sunkari said, ‘It was amazing to hear the stories they had to tell us and it was really inspiring. We all got into the Christmas spirit and I definitely would love to go again.’

Such was the success of this session at Age UK Canterbury that Kent Union hopes to run similar sessions regularly next term. Email if you’d like to take part.

What makes literature last? A lecture in memory of Helen Wheeler

The Tonbridge Centre welcomed approximately 40 guests, and members of Helen’s family, to listen to a fascinating lecture by Agnès Cardinal on 12 November.

With additional readings by Denyse Straker and Janet Mace, the lasting resonance of literature was presented from the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Greeks and Romans to Charles Dickens, James Joyce and W H Auden. Pictorial artistic connections reinforced the inspirating nature of great literature. There were also many anecdotes about Helen shared, who was herself an inspiring tutor and will continue to be remembered by so many students.

£216.60 was raised for the Alzheimer’s Society.

Local charities and businesses join forces for Kent’s first ‘Alternative Christmas Market’

A host of local businesses and charities are joining forces for Kent’s first ‘Alternative Christmas Market’.

The ethical Christmas fayre will take place from 12.30-5.30pm on Wednesday 10 December in the Keynes Atrium and will boast an array of the best ethical cupcakes, clothing, food, and beauty products that Kent’s local businesses have to offer. Student groups and local charities will also be attending in order to raise funds for important causes locally and internationally.

Confirmed businesses and charities include:

  • Pearl & Hemingway
  • Level Up Games
  • Marie’s Nails
  • Body Shop
  • Coco and the Butterfields ‘Clothesline’
  • Compassion Cakes
  • Living With Warmth
  • Canteen
  • Whatever Comics
  • Oxfam
  • Kent Against Human Trafficking
  • Books to Africa
  • Kent’s Environment Campaign
  • UKC Amnesty International
  • No-Wave
  • Bell Bottom Vintage

Local residents and students alike will have the chance to play games, like our all-day Mario Kart Tournament, enter raffles, and win multiple prizes from local businesses!

A percentage of funds raised from the Alternative Christmas Market will help towards UKC Amnesty International’s local campaign to release victims of human trafficking and torture from Dover’s Detention Centre.

President of UKC Amnesty International, Maya Esslemont said: ‘Charities have argued for years that trafficking and torture victims are wrongly held in detention by the Home Office, and MPs are finally starting to listen. This Market will allow members of the public to spend their money ethically, as well as raise money for this important local cause.’

Remaining proceeds raised from the Christmas Market will go towards Amnesty International UK. AI is the biggest human rights charity in the world, and members have helped free thousands of prisoners of conscience since the organisation began.


Paul March-Russell’s expertise for Globe audiences

Dr Paul March-Russell from the Department of Comparative Literature has been invited to write the programme guide for the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London.

As part of its Christmas schedule, the theatre is putting on a series of short story readings under the theme ‘Winter’s Tales’. The stories are written by some of the world’s finest writers – Anton Chekhov, Katherine Mansfield, D H Lawrence, James Joyce, F Scott Fitzgerald and Daphne du Maurier. Each tale will be read by candlelight by some of the country’s best-known actors – Penelope Wilton, Aiden Gillen, James Norton, to name a few.

Paul will be providing 500-word commentary on the approach that each writer takes to their story.

The readings will begin on 21 December 2014 with Checkov’s The Lady with the Little Dog, with the final story, Daphne du Maurier’s The Birds, on 5 January 2015.

For details of ‘Winter’s Tales’, see the Globe’s website:

Lecture on philanthropy from archival research – 18 December

Triona Fitton, a Research Associate in the Centre for Philanthropy at Kent, will give a talk on how philanthropic gifts have helped shape our campus and individuality as a university, using primary research in the University Archive Collections. This research is funded as part of a Beacon Project, as part of the University’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

The culture of giving changes the culture of a university. Donations shape a university visibly, for example through named buildings, statues or bursaries. There is also an invisible impact, for example, alleviating hardship of students through the Kent Opportunity Fund. The University was founded, and continues to develop, with the support of the generous donations from both individuals and organisations.

Special Collections and Archives welcome all to our lecture series. The talk, on Thursday 18 December, will commence at 6pm, with refreshments available from 5.30pm in TR 201, East Wing, Templeman Library.

For more information contact

Have a merry and safe Christmas

Whether you’re out celebrating after assignment hand-in or having one final night out before you go home for Christmas, take note of the following safety tips to make sure your festivities aren’t spoiled.

Stick with your friends

The best way to stay safe at night is to stick with your friends. But if you find yourself on your own, here are some tips:

  • If on campus, use our night-time walking taxi service by contacting Campus Security (Canterbury only)
  • Get a registered taxi – save some money for the end of the night, so you can be brought straight home
  • Check the 24-hour bus timetable
  • Get a free personal safety alarm from Campus Security in Canterbury or the Medway Building reception in Medway
  • Go out with Medway Activities. The University-run Medway Activities team organises a range of social activities including night club trips which include transport from Liberty Quays (Medway only)
  • Be alert – don’t walk home listening to music or on the phone
  • Stick to well-lit and busy areas. Avoid car parks and underpasses
  • Keep your valuables hidden – cover-up expensive looking jewellery, mobiles, keys, cash and cards

There’s more safety advice on the Kent Police website.

Watch your drink

Avoid getting spiked by following these safety measures:

  • Don’t leave your drink unattended
  • Never accept a drink from a stranger or someone you don’t trust
  • If you feel ill, slightly drunk or wasted when you know you shouldn’t, your drink could have been spiked. If so, tell someone you trust and get to a safe place

Drinkaware also has some tips for limiting how much you drink on a night out.

Congratulations to academic and teaching staff

A record 96 members of staff have successfully completed the ATAP/PGCHE/PGDip/MA in Higher Education this year, offered through our Centre for the Study of Higher Education.

These programmes are undertaken by academics and other staff with busy and demanding working lives, and are testament to the commitment of our colleagues to excellent, research-informed teaching and academic practice.

The Academic Practice Team warmly congratulates all of our new graduates on their success.

Pictures of our graduation party, held on 4 December 2014, are on the UELT webpages.

For more information email

Lecture theatre

Public Speaker Programme: Wolfango Piccoli

The School of Politics of International Relations invites you to our second Public Speaker Programme event to be held next week.

On Wednesday 10 December we are delighted to welcome Dr Wolfango Piccoli to the University of Kent. Dr. Piccoli will be giving a talk on ‘Political Risk in Emerging and Developed Markets: Anticipating Global Challenges’ in Grimond Lecture Theatre 3 at 5pm.

The talk will draw on Dr Piccoli’s expertise as a managing director and head of research at Teneo Intelligence, a political risk consultancy firm.

The event will be followed by a drinks reception in the Aphra Foyer.

We look forward to seeing many of you there.

For more information email

Britain’s Got Talent heading to Kent, 9 Dec

Britain’s Got Talent is holding auditions at our Canterbury campus on Tuesday 9 December.

Auditions are open to any performer of any age, from any background and with any talent.

Please email to request an audition slot.

Auditions will take place in the Media Centre from 12 to 3pm. Each audition can last up to 10-minutes.

Under 18’s must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.

Image credits
Author: Ben Sutherland
Licence: CC BY 2.0
Source: Flickr