And still we lack the resolve our problems demand

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Illegally logged hard wood in Nigeria © Hard Rain Project / Mark Edwards

Mark Edwards is one of the most widely published photographers in the world. His pictures are collected and exhibited by museums and art galleries in Europe, the US and by private collectors. He’s recognised as the first photographer to focus on the environment and sustainable development issues.

Assignments for magazines, non-governmental organisations and United Nations agencies have taken him to over 100 countries during his 30 year career.

In 2006, he produced the Hard Rain exhibition, a collaboration with Bob Dylan. Hard Rain is one of the most successful environmental exhibitions ever created, attracting an audience of some 15 million people around the world.

Environmental refugees from rural Haiti going to school © Hard Rain Project

In 2017 Mark was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Arts (Hon DArt) by UWE Bristol in recognition of his commitment to communicating sustainability challenges through the medium of photography and via the Hard Rain and Whole Earth exhibitions.

Earlier this year he was awarded an OBE for services to Photography and to the Environment. Here he shares his response.

Swings and roundabouts, by Mark Edwards OBE

My phone rang just as I was starting to paint the banisters. It was my GP, sounding worried. My prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, a marker for prostate cancer, showed an elevated reading. She promised an urgent call from a specialist. “Right,” I thought, “get on with the banisters”. 

As I got to the newel post in the hall, a heavy letter dropped on the floor behind me. I saw with alarm that it was on Her Majesty’s Service. Even more worrying, it had ‘Cabinet Office’ printed above my address. I’d been critical of Boris Johnson, but surely he couldn’t write to everyone who’s been on his case; the Post Office couldn’t handle the volume. I tore open the letter and saw to my amazement that the (then) Prime Minister had recommended me to “Her Majesty The Queen for the honour of the Officer of the Order of the British Empire”. 

It must have been the Hard Rain Project (HRP) that caught the eye of the OBE nominator. I stepped into the arena with the Hard Rain exhibition in 2006 to show a vision of a world unravelling.  The exhibition was hard hitting, as it needed to be. Bob Dylan’s poetic masterpiece A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, illustrated with pictures of dead and dying life, could only be justified when there was still time to step back from the precipice.

The HRP outdoor exhibitions reached millions around the world and showed how our environmental problems are linked by cause and effect and need to be tackled together. Hard Rain was a thorn in the flesh of those who offer hope to gloss over the scale and complexity of our problems and the opportunities this crisis offers to people who are prepared to face facts. There is nothing wrong with hope that is contingent on us all working together to deal with the environmental crisis. But hope, offered as timid reassurance, does not cut through the inertia to bring about the depth of response this crisis demands. 

‘Heard the song of the poet who died in the gutter’ © Mark Edwards

In the early years of this century, we had that narrow window of opportunity to scale up solutions to deal with climate change and the interlinked problems now threatening to overwhelm civilization. In just the last few years, real-life news has overtaken the horror of the imagined future offered in Hard Rain. We are sleepwalking through heatwaves, droughts, floods, the destruction of habitats and species extinctions—and still we lack the resolve our problems demand. How stupid is that? Very.

There is a growing acknowledgement that it is too late to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees. In the face of this bleak assessment, a new generation of campaigners, school students, have found their voice. Will their uncompromising call for a radically new world-wide approach jolt political and business leaders and the silent majority into action? Our failure to respond adequately to our environmental problems so far shows that we do not really care about the prospects for children alive now, let alone future generations. We have put at risk the gains so painstakingly developed throughout our history for short-term advantage.

Children, Mexico City © Mark Edwards

I’m aware of being at the receiving end of many of those extraordinary developments. A few days after my GPs call, I was pushed gently into an MRI scanner. It brought to mind a sequence from a Woody Allen movie, and I started to laugh. I’m rolled out of the scanner and told off by a rather severe looking nurse. I quickly explain the joke; Allen’s character gets a headache, fears he has a brain tumour and demands a brain scan. He is rolled into a scanner, his face full of the crumpled despair he does so well. Next, the doctor greets him in the waiting room with the scan results: “There’s nothing wrong with you. Take an aspirin and have a lovely evening.”  You see him running down the hospital steps, but as he reaches the pavement, he freezes. Cut to him with his girlfriend in his apartment, wringing his hands, “And I suddenly realised: I don’t have a tumour now, but I could have one at any moment.” Now we are all laughing at the uncertainty of life. It’s a lovely moment then it’s back in the machine for a very special kind of selfie.

A couple of weeks later I meet the surgeon who gives me the news: “So, Mark you have prostate cancer. But you’re an exceptionally fit 75-year-old man, you cycle to your hospital appointments, you’re gregarious and I have absolute confidence I will be able to operate successfully.”

I cycled home elated. I’ve spent 30 extraordinary years with people at the sharp end of the environmental debate in a hundred countries. If the photographs I, and my fellow photographers, have taken have helped show the need to take healthcare, proper housing and education to all – and deal urgently with global warming so that we can pass on our gains to future generations – that is the only thanks any of us need.

But I am grateful for this unexpected recognition the OBE offers and for the Honorary Doctorate of Arts from the University of the West of England. It gives me a chance to renew our message and thank Bob Dylan and his team at Special Rider Music and Sony ATV Music Publishing for their generosity and support.

And a further unexpected vote of thanks to everyone at the Urology Clinics at Kings College Hospital and Guy’s Hospital! I’ve never been in hospital so I’m discovering, late in life, the generosity and skill of NHS staff. It prompts a final note to gentleman reading this; may the PSA be with you. And if you don’t know your PSA score, book a blood test. Prostate cancer is really cancer for beginners—provided it’s caught early. I was just in time.

Mark Edwards

Hard Rain Project

Mark receiving his Honorary Degree in 2017

‘I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow’ © Mark Edwards

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Making a film with our friend George Ezra

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Image: George Ezra and friends, courtesy of Lorton Distribution

George Ezra’s film End-to-End premiered in UK cinemas this August bank holiday. Swathes of music fans sat down to watch the uplifting documentary which captures Ezra’s walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats. The filmmakers – Adam Scarborough (BSc(Hons) Human Biology) and Christy Tattershall (BA(Hons) Filmmaking and Creative Media) – met George during their time in Bristol. Christy tells us more…

Tell us about End-to-End

The film is about friendship, adventure and music. We walked 1,200 miles over 95 days, doing between 20 and 30 miles a day. We reconnected with each other and the country after months of isolation, and met amazing musicians along the way.

George Ezra and friends on walk, image courtesy of Lorton Distribution

How did you meet George?

Adam and I grew up in Dorset together. Adam left to study and met George at a house party, then they started living together.

I was visiting Adam every weekend and we all just got on really well. We would go to open mic nights around Bristol, watching George play. The crowds got bigger and bigger until one day he got signed, leaving Bristol but always staying in touch.

During that time, I was commuting to work everyday hearing George’s song Budapest being played on the radio. It was hearing and seeing George achieve this success that inspired me to quit my job and study Filmmaking.

What inspired you and Adam to team up as filmmakers?

Adam has always been obsessed with cameras and will rarely be found without one on his side. Although he was studying Human Biology, he was also making money as a photographer around the city whilst studying.

We started our first film company, Paint Studios, in my first year of university with a couple of pieces of kit and a computer. In my second year, I won a National Royal Television Society award for a documentary I directed. I fell in love with the process of documentary-making.

Then, during a summer break, we decided to walk to a film convention that was taking place in Amsterdam – recommended to me by my lecturer Dave Neal. We had no money whatsoever (also, no prior hiking experience) but fancied an adventure. We walked the 500-mile journey from Bristol, camping and filming ourselves every day. We didn’t know at the time, but this would later open the door for us to make George’s film.

Did you experience peaks and troughs when making End-to-End?

There were two distinct low points. One was at the very start in Cornwall. We fully underestimated how hard it would be to get our mileage done each day on that terrain whilst trying to make a film. It was baking hot, we were carrying filming gear and supplies and genuinely wondering (with 1,200 miles in front of us) what we had got ourselves into.

George Ezra and friends on walk, image courtesy of Lorton Distribution

The second low point was walking across the Highlands when there was no real path – we were walking through wet bogs and mountains for up to 30 miles a day, whilst being eaten alive by midges. Then we’d step out of our tent the next morning, put on soaking wet socks and do it all again. Luckily that was at the end of the journey and not the start, because I’m not sure how long our morale would have lasted the other way around.

But after lockdown, just being with our mates, walking, talking and having a laugh together for 3 months meant there were so many highpoints. We went from camping in the field in front of the Pyramid stage on the empty Glastonbury site, to then filming an amazing Scottish folk band called Kinnaris Quintet at the foot of a mountain.

We had walked all that way and were listening to this incredible music, in a mind-blowing setting. That was a moment that stood out. It was overwhelming, but life-affirming.

George Ezra and friends on walk, image courtesy of Lorton Distribution

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Then and now: the story of a farm girl, a 900-year-old castle, and an executive coaching business

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Growing up on a dairy farm in rural Wales, special days out for Marian were spent at Llansteffan Castle. Steeped in history and bound up with her heritage, it captured her heart.  Years later, the same castle and estate is now her home and the base for her executive coaching business.

We talked to Marian and found out why the drive that won her such success has now brought her home again.

From farm-hand to top entrepreneur

Marian has never been scared of hard work. Mucking out cows on the farm is perhaps what gave her grit and determination. Coming from a family of ’home birds’ she was first to fly the nest and ’escape’ to university in England.

She arrived at UWE Bristol and soon settled in to her new home. She wasn’t sure where her course in Geography and Environmental Management would take her, or what her future held. But she took every opportunity.

“I think the biggest lesson I learnt at UWE was that if you work hard at anything and take every opportunity, you’ll progress and move in the right direction. You’ve got to learn resilience and how you work best. My time at UWE definitely set me up for the future.”

Marian says.

Not one to sit back, Marian began her property portfolio at 18 years old and had her first job before university results were out. She soon launched an impressive sales career, quickly making a reputation as an Expert Risk Manager.

To her surprise, in 2019 Marian was named Women in Business’ Inspirational Woman of the Decade. Now she runs her own company Elevate BC, coaching and mentoring business leaders.

Supporting women in business

Despite her clear success’ Marian admits to struggling with imposter syndrome. She finds it uncomfortable talking about her achievements. But her time at UWE Bristol taught her to be comfortable in her own skin and understand what her strengths are. And that’s the lesson she’s passionate to pass on to other women in business.

Marian pictured in Cardiff

Marian works with Women on Boards, who aim to help women achieve higher positions in male dominated areas, just as she did.

“I feel duty bound to share my story, give back and say, you can do this too! There are so few women pushing through to those higher levels in business, we’re not giving them the support to crack on to the next level.”

she explains.

And what of the castle?

Llansteffan Castle, on the river Tywi estuary in Carmarthen Bay

Despite her high-flying career, Marian’s attachment to Wales never left her. Perhaps it’s the same passion that led her to study Geography – a love of the natural environment, her heritage and her home land.

Marian and her Welsh husband quietly took a leap of faith when they saw that their beloved castle was for sale. They’ve since made the Llansteffan Castle Estate their family home and a base for business.  

The castle is in safe hands – keen for it to remain at the heart of the local community, and be used for events, they’ve set about the restoration.  It’s rich history and beauty will be protected and shared for future generations.

Tell us your story

What journey have you been on since studying with UWE Bristol? What are you passionate about?

We’d love to hear your story. Tell us what you’re doing now, share an old photo.

You can get in touch through our memories form or post on social media – tag us and use #30yearsofUWE

Seriously good prizes for a great cause

Play our 30th anniversary prize draw for your chance to win one of 30 fantastic prizes, kindly donated from alumni and the wider UWE Bristol community.

100% of funds raised from ticket sales will go to the UWE Bristol Fund to support Student Hardship Grants.

Buy a ticket and find out more about other ways we’re celebrating 30 years of being a University.

30 years of UWE Bristol, win in our prize draw
Win in our prize draw

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10 stories of love and friendship found

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Kathryn and Matt Colledge on their first date

University life is about the people as much as the studying. A time for creating memories and making lifelong relationships whether romantic or platonic.

Here are 10 stories from people who met a soulmate at UWE Bristol, told in their own words.

1. Kathryn and Matt Colledge

Kathryn Colledge (neé Williams) BA(Hons) Business Studies (1996) and Matthew Colledge BA(Hons) Business Studies (1996)

“I started at UWE in Sept 1992, making many new friends. I featured in the 1994 prospectus, alongside friends Sam and Matt. The three of us and three others then all lived together in our 2nd year.

I started going out with Matt in January 1994. Another friend Mark started going out with Vanessa and another friend David starting going out with Danielle. The six of us had an amazing time at UWE; we all graduated in 1996.

We’re all now happily married, with six children between us. We meet up regularly and always have a laugh. I cannot believe that our eldest son is now about to embark on his University life – time flies!”

Kathryn Colledge
Kathryn and Matt outside 2B025 on Frenchay Campus 1992 and at a reunion in October 2022
Kathryn and Matt revisit 2B025, the lecture theatre where they first met
Kathryn and Matt in 1994 prospectus (Matt pretending to be a lecturer)

2. Clare and Dave Melton

Clare Melton (neé Lee), BA(Hons) History (1999) and Dave Melton BA(Hons) English (1999)

Clare and Dave end of 1997 summer term, at the 1997 ball and in 2022 with their twins

“My husband and I met at UWE. We started in 1996 and were both in Bishop Monk Halls of residence on St Matthias Campus. We married in 2009 and had twins in 2015. We now live in North Somerset. Still in touch with others from our very happy years at UWE.”

Clare Melton

3. Fatema Deere and Nicole Jefferies

Fatema Deere, BSc(Hons) Biomedical Sciences (2005) and MSc Medical Microbiology (2010) and Nicole Jefferies (neé Dempster) BSc(Hons) Biomedical Sciences (2005) and MSc Medical Microbiology (2010)

Fatema and Nicole at UWE in 2003, at Fatema’s wedding in 2009 and Nicole’s wedding in 2017

“I studied here for both my BSc(Hons) Biomedical Sciences (2005) and my MSc Medical Microbiology (2010). I remember both times fondly – the great food, the great bar and great fun on campus on a Friday night!

I made great friends during my time at Frenchay Campus, one of whom, Nicole, is still a ‘bestie’. We were bridesmaids at each other’s weddings.

I achieved so much here and I’m still studying. I’m currently training to be a Consultant Clinical Scientist. Thank you UWE for setting me up both academically and personally”.

Fatema Deere

4. Dija and Hammed Ayodele

Dija Ayodele (neé Akpata) BA(Hons) Business Administration (2005) and PG Cert Personnel Studies (2006) and Hammed Ayodele BSc(Hons) Computer Science (2008)

Dija and Hammed at their graduation in and again in 2021

‘In 2002, our eyes locked in P block, travelled the world, got married and two children later and we’re still best friends. The vast majority of our friends are alumni too!”

Dija Ayodele

5. Clare Melton and Sara Macbeth

Clare Melton (neé Lee), BA(Hons) History (1999) and Sara Macbeth (neé Peters) BSc(Hons) Psychology with Health Science (1999)

Clare and Sara pictured in shared kitchen in halls in 1996, and in September 2022

“I met Sara when we both lived in Bishop Monk Halls of residence at St Matthias Campus. A great and enduring friendship was made between us and many others in Bishop Monk. Old friends are definitely the best!”

Clare Melton

6. Jamie and Natasha Warwick

Jamie Warwick, BSc(Hons) Forensic Computing and Security (2014) and Natasha Warwick (neé Winter), – BA(Hons) Education in Professional Practice (2014)

Jamie and Natasha at graduation in 2014, and with their daughter in 2022

“I met the wonderful Natasha while we were both working as Student Ambassadors in our final year in 2014. Nearly 8 years later, we have just celebrated one year of marriage and have also welcomed our daughter into the world!”

Jamie Warwick

7. Laura Corry and Kim Barnard

Laura Corry, BA(Hons) Marketing (2006) and Kim Barnard, BA(Hons) Marketing (2006)

Laura and Kim pictured at graduation in 2006, Laura’s wedding in 2011, and still friends in 2021

“I’m lucky that my two best friends are the friends I made on my course and in my first year house. I also met my husband on the patio outside Traders (now Starbucks)!

Kim and I were on the same course and met through mutual friends on a night out. Everyone else wanted an early night, but we both wanted to go dancing, so stayed out together. We ended up in Chicago Rocks on the waterfront (just to age us). The night ended with us swapping shoes, we have been best friends ever since.

We lived together in our final year, have travelled together, were bridesmaids for each other and are god parents for each other’s children. This year marks 20 years since we met! We might even go dancing and swap shoes to celebrate!”

Laura Corry

8.Toni- Marie and James Bonser

Toni-Marie Bonser (neé Jarvis), BA(Hons) Philosophy and Criminology (2012)
James Bonser, BA(Hons) Media and Cultural Studies and Philosophy (2012)

Toni-Marie and James Bonser pictured in 2012 and 2022

“I met my Husband at UWE. We were on the same course but mostly got to know each other through the centre for performing arts. We were both in the Showstoppers choir and did singing lessons. We met in our second week and finally got together right before graduation 3 years later.

We celebrated 10 years together in April 2022 and were married in September 2021 after postponing twice due to Covid. I have no idea where my life would have gone without UWE and I couldn’t be more grateful for my time and opportunities there.”

Toni-Marie Bonser

9. Peter and Charlotte Rhodes

Peter Rhodes, BA(Hons) Initial Teacher Education (Primary) (2004) and Charlotte Rhodes, BA(Hons) Initial Teacher Education (Primary) (2004)

Peter and Charlotte Rhodes

“My wife and I met at UWE Redland campus in 2002 while both in the third year of a four year Qualified Teacher Status course. We both were in teacher training and were on final placement together in 2003. We have been married 20 years this year!

Charlotte is currently Acting Head of a primary school in Greenwich and I am CEO of a Multi Academy Trust of 6 schools in Bexley and Bromley.”

Peter Rhodes

10. Lizzie Fear and Adam Jenkins

Lizzie Fear, BSc(Hons) Psychology (2021)

Lizzie and her partner

“For my third year at UWE I had the option to go on a year abroad with Erasmus to Radboud University in The Netherlands. So I took that opportunity and had the best year of my life!

I learnt so much about the culture and myself and made some great friends with people of all different nationalities. I also met my soulmate on the front steps of our student accommodation there, and we’ve been in a relationship together since.

We now live together in a flat in Sheffield and I’ve never been happier. I feel so lucky to have had the chance to go on a year abroad with UWE and would definitely recommend it to anyone else!”

Lizzie Fear

Tell us your story

Did you find a soulmate during your time studying with UWE Bristol? We’d love to hear your story. Tell us what you’re doing now. Share an old photo, share a new photo!

You can get in touch through our memories form or post on social media – tag us and use #30yearsofUWE

Seriously good prizes for a great cause

Play our 30th anniversary prize draw for your chance to win one of 30 fantastic prizes, kindly donated from alumni and the wider UWE Bristol community.

100% of funds raised from ticket sales will go to the UWE Bristol Fund to support Student Hardship Grants.

Buy a ticket and find out more about other ways we’re celebrating 30 years of being a University.

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A safe space in a neurotypical world

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It is estimated that 1 out of 7 of the UK population are neurodivergent – that’s almost 15%*. A high percentage of people with neurodivergence are unemployed**. We need more solutions to make learning and workplaces more inclusive.

Angharad Davies’ designs are just that. Her MSc Computational Architecture final year project is a desk-based modular screen, designed to address neurodiversity in the workplace.

She’s also designed the Joey Pod. The calming pod is a solution for schools, hospitals, and public spaces. It’s a safe space for someone to retreat to, before experiencing sensory overloading.   

Digital drawing - design for sensory pod
Digital design drawing for Joey Pod

Designing for neurodiversity

Named after Angharad’s son Joey, the idea for the pod was born during the second year of her BSc(Hons) Architecture course, when Joey received an autism diagnosis. That diagnosis changed Angharad’s whole perception of architecture.

“I realised his outbursts were due to his surroundings. In my final project, I reached out to the autism community and realised I wasn’t the only person who felt isolated due to poor building design and a lack of understanding of autism.”

Angharad said.

There has been a lot of research about separate Special Educational Needs (SEN) rooms at schools, but Angharad’s concept offers the child a pod in the corner of a room – like a den.  The pod uses audio-visual effects and provides a ‘safe zone’ for people with sensory processing problems.

It’s a place to rest and reset, something which is often necessary when interacting with the neuro-typical world. Crucially, this safe space can help avoid an oncoming anxiety attack or an exhausting and alienating meltdown.

“I want to see these solutions everywhere: workplaces, schools, hospitals, airports, festivals, concerts, commercial and sporting events – any busy or public spaces”

she explains.
Joey Pod


Angharad’s story is one of firsts. An entrepreneur at heart, Angharad has grabbed every opportunity available to her at UWE Bristol.

She founded the Inclusive Design Network (IDN) whilst studying for her undergraduate architecture degree. Thanks to donations from alumni, the UWE Bristol Fund supported IDN to host a series of talks on equality, diversity and inclusion within the built environment. The network has also been supported by The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Bristol and Bath.

As one of the first students on the new MSc Computational Architecture course at UWE Bristol, Angharad hopes to go on to complete a PhD in designing for neurodiversity, to enable her to become a Sensory Design Consultant.

Angharad’s modular screen will be on display at the Faculty of Environment and Technology’s degree show in 2022 (our first physical degree show since the coivd-19 Pandemic), alongside many more innovative ideas for products and services which aim to fill gaps in the market.

Degree Shows

Emerging talent at UWE Bristol will exhibit work at the annual graduate degree shows for the Creative Industries and Faculty of Environment and Technology. The events will celebrate the University’s ambitious and creative graduating students, through a mix of physical exhibitions and a digital showcase.

The degree shows kick off on Thursday 9 June with The Faculty of Environment and Technology (FET) Degree Show – covering architecture, creative technologies, computing, engineering, geography and the environment, and product design. The free event takes place between 17:00 and 21:00 at UWE Bristol’s Frenchay campus.

The Creative Industries Degree Show, covering art, design, animation, drawing and print, fashion, media, performance, photography and filmmaking, opens to the public at the University’s vibrant City Campus – Bower Ashton, Arnolfini and Spike Island – on Saturday 11 June. The week-long showcase features a series of events including live music, drama performances, a festival stage and outdoor art gallery.

*reference from Local Government Association presentation.

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Queen’s birthday honours list recognises alumni

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Some of our amazing alumni have been recognised in the Queen’s Jubilee Birthday Honours. We’re incredibly proud to celebrate the hard work and dedication of these members of the UWE Bristol community.

Aisha Thomas (LLB(Hons) Law) has been awarded an MBE for her services to education. Aisha is the Founder of Representation Matters, whose mission is to challenge the lack of representation and the inequality in our current education system.

Mark Ryall Edwards (Doctor of Arts) has received an OBE for services to Photography and to the Environment. In 2017 Mark received an honorary doctorate for his work in the medium of photography and via the Hard Rain and Whole Earth exhibitions.

Whole Earth? Aligning n Human Systems and Natural Systems, by Mark Edwards and Lloyd Timberlake (book cover)

Zara Nanu (PhD Social Science) has received an MBE for services to tackling global workplace inequalities and promoting fairness and inclusion. Read our blog post about Zara to find out more.

Dr Zara Nanu
Dr Zara Nanu

Paul Phillips (Doctor of Education) was knighted (received a KBE) for services to Further Education. Paul is the Principal and Chief Executive of Weston College. In 2016 Paul received his honorary doctorate for his service to education across the South West.

Laura McMillan (BA(Hons) Drama) received an MBE in recognition of her services to culture and to the community in Coventry. As Director of Audience Strategy at Coventry City of Culture Trust, Laura was critical to the success of Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture 2021.

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Kit’s top five tips for learning more about LGBTQ+

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To mark LGBTQ+ History Month, we interviewed Kit Million Ross, LGBTQ+ Editor of Bristol 24/7, an independent online newspaper for the city.

We talked about queer culture in Bristol, what’s still to be done to promote inclusivity, the importance of LGBTQ+ History Month and we get their top five tips for learning more.

What pronouns do you use?

I use they/them pronouns.

What do you love about your job?

First of all, I just love writing. And I love feeling really deeply connected to Bristol’s wider LGBTQ+ community.

There are so many awesome queer people, groups and communities doing wonderful things in Bristol, and the fact that I’m constantly discovering these things is such a joy. Bristol has a uniquely broad and diverse queer culture that I think few cities can match.

What responsibility do you feel in your job as LGBTQ+ Editor at Bristol 24/7?

I feel a real responsibility to the grassroots aspects of the LGBTQ+ community. I feel incredibly lucky to have access to the Bristol 24/7 platform, and I want to use that to tell the stories of those who don’t get heard.

I also want to bring light, uplifting things to people. Share things that people can enjoy and gain benefit from and hopefully put some good into the world.

Why is it important for universities to celebrate LGBTQ+ history month?

I think it is really important for universities to celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month because so much of queer history has been buried and hidden.

We need to bring our history to light and celebrate the role that queer people have had. It’s an opportunity to bring more understanding to people, and that should be seized.

Kit studied both BA(Hons) Drama with Creative Writing and MA Radio Documentary at UWE Bristol.

How were LGBTQ+ role models important to you whilst you were a student?

Role models within university and generally within queer culture have always been important to me and my friends – to have LGBTQ+ role models who are able to be out and proud within all of sort of the academic areas – queer people doing awesome things not just in the arts but in science, medicine, engineering. In fact, doing anything and everything.

It comes back to the phrase you can’t be what you can’t see.

I realised I was non-binary, I was trans, when I was in my final year of my undergraduate course. I was scrolling through Tumblr blogs and I saw a definition ’genderflux’ and it connected with me deeply. At university I was introduced to trans people and it showed me that being non-binary was okay, it was ‘a thing’.

Can you describe a time someone made you feel especially included or supported?

When I was doing my masters, I was writing cover letters and I was quite hesitant to mention that I was non-binary and also that I’m autistic, because I worried that it would look like I was ‘playing the diversity card’ or trying to make myself look like a ‘diversity hire’.

I was speaking to Dr Anne Harbin from the Journalism department and she encouraged me to mention these things, because they represent a unique and valuable perspective that should be shared and heard. That made me realise that these aren’t just details about me, they’re things that are valuable to the world.

The theme for LGBTQ+ History Month this year is Politics in Art: The Arc Is Long, which prompts us to think about the journey, how far we’ve come and also what is still to be achieved.

What do you see as the greatest achievements of the LGBTQ+ community in the last few years?

It’s really hard to say because so much has happened. In terms of achievements, the first thing that springs to mind is the change to the marriage laws.

But in terms of societal changes and shifts, I think the community is just getting a lot more attention and traction. I think that the way LGBTQ+ representation in the media has changed is a really significant achievement. It’s something that ripples outwards and feeds into popular understanding.

What work do you think is still to be done to promote inclusivity and understanding?

As a trans person, I think trans rights in this country have a long way to go.

The rise of narratives that trans and queer people are a threat is deeply concerning. For me, if your feminism doesn’t include all women, including trans women, it is incomplete.

I think we need to think more about intersectionality, about the layers of difficulties that marginalised people face. Within queer culture we need to think about people of colour, disabled people, and other groups, and the way that these things stack and intersect and how that actually impacts upon people’s unique experience in the world.

We should ask ourselves – are the things we’re doing for queer rights actually available, applicable and accessible to large groups of people within the population?

There’s a lot of learning still to be done. What are your top 5 recommendations for where our readers can learn more about LGBTQ+ issues?

Logical Family – A Memoir by Armistead Maupin, Harper 2017.


Quick and Easy Guide To They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson, Oni Press 2018.


Gender Reveal by journalist and educator Tuck Woodstock, explores the vast diversity of trans experiences through interviews with a wide array of trans, nonbinary and two-spirit people.


Out with Suzi Ruffell, is a podcast all about the inspiring lives of LGBTQIA+ people. Comedian Suzi Ruffell talks about coming out, being out, and finding one’s place in the world as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community.


Bristol24/7 Queer Catch-UpAn eight episode podcast series by Kit and Lowie Trevena exploring all things Bristol and LGBTQ+.

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For information and FAQs on support at UWE Bristol please see our policy and guidance referring to trans and non-binary staff or students.

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The host of engineering past, present and yet-to-come

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Our landmark building marks a new era for engineering at UWE Bristol. Designed to revolutionise the way engineering is taught, it’s equipped with the latest digital technology.

So what are the roots of engineering at UWE Bristol and how has the way we teach engineering changed over the years?

Where we started

Although UWE Bristol is a modern university we can trace our educational roots back a long way.

In 1894 the Merchant Venturers’ Technical College occupied a premises in Unity Street, Bristol city centre. By 1909 the basement was a motor car engineering workshop run by England’s first professor of motor engineering and housed a collection of equipment including a 12-14 horsepower Talbot car*.

 This college divided and in 1949 the Bristol College of Technology in Ashley Down was born, later becoming Bristol Technical College (college engineering workshop pictured above, from an early prospectus circa 1950 – 60).

By 1974 construction was underway to build Bristol Polytechnic at Frenchay, housing the new Engineering department. N block was the home of engineering up until last year.

Photo of machining workshop, N block Frenchay campus
N block machining workshop

Photo of the exterior of N block, Frenchay campus
N block exterior

Our new building

Officially opened on 19 November 2021, our School of Engineering sets new standards for the industry. It won Project of the Year at the British Construction Industry Awards where judges praised its intelligent and sustainable design.

The new School of Engineering

It also achieved an “excellent” rating for its sustainability credentials from the international scheme BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method).

The building is home to specialist laboratories equipped with the latest digital technology, including engine test cells, driving and flight simulators, a virtual and augmented reality cave, and ‘smart factory’ testing facilities. Watch a short video tour on twitter of the new facilities by MSc Mechanical Engineering student Emaan.

New light-filled workshop

Tod Burton, Executive Dean for the Faculty of Environment and Technology at UWE Bristol, said:

“With our fantastic new contemporary building, fit for the 21st century and the digital era, we now have one of the top engineering facilities in the South West that will inspire the engineers of the future.”

Engineering the future

The new building has been designed to attract a new more diverse engineer. The department actively seeks to enrol more students with neurodiversity and double the numbers of female engineering students.

Lisa Brodie Head of the Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics at UWE Bristol explains why we’re aiming to produce more ‘non-standard’ engineers in the coming years, and attract different types of people into the profession. She says,

“If we keep having the same type of people, we’ll keep having the same types of solutions.”

Brodie is clear that to solve tomorrow’s problems, we need to embrace different ways of thinking and doing, and celebrate differences.

“Engineers will need to be far more creative and innovative over the next decade, particularly with some of the challenges we face in areas such as the climate crisis. We aim to be the difference,”

she explains.

Your memories

Did you study engineering at UWE Bristol? We’d love to hear about your memories. Share your stories and photos with us.

*taken from ‘University of the West of England, A Family History’ by William Evans.

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Dr Zara Nanu – women’s economic rights activist and visionary entrepreneur

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Dr Zara Nanu is passionate about creating Fair Pay globally. She’s an unstoppable campaigner in workplace gender equality, and an entrepreneur at the forefront of women in business in the South West. She believes business can drive social change.

“The World Economic Forum predicted it would take 217 years for the global gender pay gap to close! We thought that this was too long,”

says Zara.

She started her career combatting human trafficking and campaigning on women’s rights issues. Inspired from years spent working for women’s charities in Moldova, the U.S. and the UK, she identified an opportunity to use technology to break down gender bias in the workforce.

She’s now CEO and co-founder of Gapsquare, leading the drive for technology to build more inclusive workplaces. Launched in 2017, her pioneering tech company is transforming pay equity, using data science and technology to help companies narrow their gender pay gap faster. Gapsquare offers diversity and equality data intelligence, report generation, and expert consultancy.

 “We know for many businesses transparency around compensation, fairness, and pay reporting is high on the agenda,”

Zara explains.

Zara as campaigner

Dr. Zara Nanu is an expert on how diversity and inclusion can shape more dynamic and productive teams and a more engaging and empowering workplace. She is Chair of the Women in Business Task Group and a member of the Global Future Council on Equity and Social Justice at the World Economic Forum.

She can be seen speaking at international events, sharing her ideas with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and through her recent TED talk, as well as in a range of reports and publications. Zara believes in putting the power and responsibility of equality and diversity in the hands of employers.

Gapsquare is acquired by XpertHR

Gapsquare was this year acquired by global organisation XpertHR. Together they’re dedicated to creating a fairer world of work.

Scott Walker, Managing Director of XpertHR:

“I am excited to bring Gapsquare into the XpertHR family. Our mission is a simple one: to create purposeful workplaces for every person in every organisation. Both businesses are dedicated to improving the experiences of millions of working professionals around the globe.”

Gapsquare’s innovative software FairPay® Pro provides businesses with instant insights into wage gaps across various demographics such as gender, race, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation. They count organisations such as Vodafone, Conde Nast and The London Metropolitan Police among their clients, and their software has analysed the wages of more than 270,000 employees in the UK.


Dr Zara Nanu studied a PhD in Social Science at UWE Bristol.

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Eva Watkins: The photography graduate making waves in the UK and beyond

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From winning prestigious awards to having her work shown on billboards across the UK, UWE Bristol photography graduate Eva Watkins is quickly establishing herself as a rising star in the world of photography.

Despite only graduating in 2020, Eva already has a number of awards under her belt, including the prestigious Portrait of Britain Award. More recently, it is Eva’s images of synchronised swimmers which have been making waves.

Henleaze synchronised swimmers project

Photographed at Henleaze swimming lake in Bristol, Eva was introduced to the synchronised swimming group by one of her UWE Bristol tutors who also features in the images. While many people may feel apprehensive about being photographed in their swimming costumes, Eva put the swimmers at ease by getting to know the group and even braved the chilly waters herself.

‘‘I love getting to know the people who I’m making a project with and making sure they feel as comfortable as possible in front of the camera. I also love to get involved in what they do. I went swimming with the synchro team and they taught me synchro moves while they sang ‘Her bathing suit never got wet’ by the Andrew Sisters, it was such a great experience. ’’

says Eva

The images have gone on to secure a multitude of awards for Eva, including the 2020 British Journal of Photography: Female in Focus Award. As part of her prize, Eva’s photography will be exhibited in New York City in July; the first time her work has been shown internationally.

Swimmers pictured pre dip, at Henleaze lake, Bristol

Billboard campaign

Closer to home, Eva was one of 20 graduates selected for a recent UK billboard campaign run by Free Range and Clear Channel. Her image of swimmers emerging from the water on a ladder has been viewed by thousands of people, appearing in cities such as London, Bristol, Cardiff and Birmingham.

‘‘It’s been a great experience walking around London finding my photograph. The synchro team have been finding billboards around Bristol as well. Neither me or the team thought the photo would be around the UK, it’s wild! I’ve loved receiving photographs from people around the UK of the billboards. It’s been surreal.’’

All images ○ Eva Watkins

UWE Bristol and beyond

Reflecting on her time at UWE Bristol, Eva says ‘going to university has to be one of the best decisions I’ve made’ and she credits her tutors and university technicians with helping her to develop her photography style which she describes as ‘documentary portraiture.’

Looking to the future, Eva has recently moved to London and hopes to further her photography career. She also plans on revisiting her synchronised swimming project which was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘‘I plan on making more photographs with the team, swimming with them more and having a fabulous time with them when it’s safe to do so!’’

For more about Eva and her work visit

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