King Charles’ first New Year Honours list features UWE Bristol alumni

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Alumni featured in New Year Honours list - photos of Nicole Sapstead (top left), John Akomfrah (top right), Edson Burton (bottom left) and Nura Aabe (bottom right)

Some of our inspiring alumni have been recognised in the King’s first issue of the New Year Honours list and we couldn’t be prouder.

Take a moment to celebrate with us the hard work and dedication of these members of the UWE Bristol community.

John Akomfrah CBE

John Akomfrah CBE (Honorary Graduate) received a knighthood for services to the Arts. John is a widely respected artist and filmmaker, whose work explores memory, post-colonialism, and the experiences of migrant diasporas globally. His show, Mimesis: African Soldier is sponsored by UWE Bristol and is on at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery until 8 January 2023.

Siân Griffiths OBE

Siân Griffiths OBE (Honorary Graduate) received a CBE for voluntary and charitable services, particularly during Covid-19. Deputy Chair of Gamble Aware, and Chair of both the Global Health Committee and Public Health England, Siân is an expert on global public health. She was active during the pandemic on local and national media as well as volunteering in the community.

Nicole Sapstead

Nicole Sapstead (LLB(Hons) Law) received an OBE for her services to sport.  As Chief Executive Officer of UK Anti-Doping, Nicole delivered significant developments in the mission to protect the right to enjoy doping-free sport. Nicole is now Senior Director Anti-Doping at the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA).

Nolan Smith

Nolan Smith (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants Stage 2) received an OBE for services to Higher Education. Nolan is currently the Director of Resources and Finance at Office for Students.

Dr Edson Burton

Dr Edson Burton (Doctor of Philosophy – History, Church, Race and Social Inclusion) received an MBE for services to the Arts and to the community in Easton, Bristol. A writer, academic and curator, Edson has written for radio and theatre and is currently the Heritage and Engagement Curator at Trinity Centre, having led a fundraising appeal to save the centre in 2018.

Nura Aabe

Nura Aabe (BA(Hons) Early Childhood Studies) was awarded a BEM for services to people with autism. Nura founded Bristol charity Autism Independence and has raised awareness of the condition in the Somali community as well as campaigning for better support for all children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.


Please let us know if we’ve missed someone who has been recognised in the 2023 New Year Honours list and is a UWE Bristol alum or member of staff. Email the team on

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