SA Magazine - Issue 1

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Award-winning china New Science Centre An Olympic Q&A Friends reunited


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S/ A /for alumni and friends of Staffordshire University/


STRIP Creative talent on the Cartoon and Comic Arts degree

Reeling back the years Treasures of the Staffordshire Film Archive


At Staffordshire University we prepare our graduates for life beyond our four walls. Our close links with business and industry continually influence our courses, our teaching, and even our idea of what a successful graduate should be. It’s an approach that’s earned us a reputation for producing individuals who can truly contribute to the work place. And in times like these, a reputation like this is important. The Staffordshire Graduate is our pledge that every Staffordshire student will graduate with real-world skills and attributes beyond academic knowledge. To employers we promise graduates who will meet the requirements for any graduate-level job. And to students, we promise a set of skills and a degree that prospective employers will value and respect. To read about our Staffordshire Graduate commitment in full, visit


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CONTENTS Professor Michael Gunn Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive

W 06 Regulars


News 04

Comic heroes 06 Life on the Cartoon and Comic Arts degree

Profile 12 The reunion 14 International 18 Q&A 26 Opinion 38 Subject focus 44 Alumni news 46 Graduate family 49 Final word 50

Play it again 20 Exploring the Staffordshire Film Archive A centre of learning 28 The University’s new home for science

30 Crime scene house 30 Stoke’s unique resource for criminology More tea? 36 Graduate talent in the ceramics industry Country code 40 The unsolved riddle of Shugborough

14 Editor: William Ham Bevan Publisher: Andrew Riley Art Direction: Dan Black Design: Mark Sargent Published by: Publishing Ink Ltd, 5th Floor, Whitehouse, 111 New Street, Birmingham B2 4EU SA is published regularly in print and online editions. The opinions expressed in SA are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of Staffordshire University.

elcome to the first issue of SA, a new magazine for alumni, partners and friends of the University. In its pages, we shall be showcasing the very best of Staffordshire research, teaching and enterprise, and keeping you apprised of our latest news. Above all, we hope to provide you with an engaging and inspiring read. It is a difficult time for higher education in the UK, but Staffordshire University is in fine shape to meet those challenges. The greatest sign of our continued success is the new £30million Science Centre, which we introduce on page 28. For years to come, this will ensure that Staffordshire graduates are at the heart of the burgeoning science and technology sectors. On a personal note, it was a privilege to welcome back alumnus Andrew Triggs Hodge MBE, who came with his gold medal from the 2012 Olympics to open the landmark building. Elsewhere in SA, you can read about our pioneering Cartoon and Comic Arts degree, and view some of the artwork that has been produced by our talented students. Enterprise Reader Jon Fairburn discusses how we can involve senior citizens in good environmental practice, and we delve into the Staffordshire Film Archive – the remarkable achievement of Emeritus Professor Ray Johnson MBE. The University’s mission statement commits us to “transforming people and communities”, and I think we can be justly proud of our positive impact on Stoke-on-Trent, Stafford and the county as a whole. On page 36, we profile Flux, a company spun off from the MA Ceramic Design course. Its award-winning designs are entirely in keeping with Stoke-on-Trent’s proud heritage of fine bone china, but with a contemporary edge. Don’t forget that your relationship with the University is a lifelong one. Throughout this issue, we look at the success of Staffordshire alumni in all walks of life, and we were able to bring a group of friends back together to relive their undergraduate days (see page 14). Towards the end of this issue, you will find details of how to stay in contact with the University, and we would be delighted to hear from you. I hope you enjoy the magazine.


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NEWS Research helps smokers face up to quitting A novel way to help young women give up smoking has been trialled by scientists at Staffordshire University, in collaboration with colleagues at other universities and at Stoke Primary Care Trust. The researchers used computer ageing techniques to show smokers their facial appearance at the age of 72 if they continued with the habit – and also showed them a digital image of what they would look like if they stopped smoking. The results of the large-scale study suggested that women felt less addicted to nicotine after the intervention, and were more likely to make plans to give up smoking. Sarah Grogan, Professor of Health Psychology, says: “It is well documented that smoking ages the skin, but seeing the effects on their own faces had a marked impression on our respondents. The University hopes that this technology will be rolled out across the UK to make smoking cessation more effective for young people.”




New China Centre to boost global presence Staffordshire University’s plans for global expansion have received a major boost with the opening of a new centre in China. SU China Centre is located on the campus of GIST (Global Institute of Software Technology) in Suzhou – a city of more than four million inhabitants in the east of the country. GIST offers a range of Staffordshire business and computing programmes on a franchise basis. As one of a series of dedicated overseas centres, SU China Centre will act as a focal point for Chinese alumni, offer support to University partners and students, and explore the market potential for further expansion of degree programmes – including Global Award schemes that will see students study in two or more countries. The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Gunn, attended the opening ceremony, in the presence

of representatives from the Chinese government, partner institutions and the British Council. He said: “Our international partnerships are crucial to the future success of Staffordshire University, as they provide the opportunity for students in many countries in the world to study for our awards. The China Centre recognises the significance of China as an economic powerhouse and as the biggest student market in the world.”


Local entrepreneurs and business role models were among the figures to be honoured in Staffordshire University’s 2012 University Awards Ceremonies. The University conferred its highest award, an honorary doctorate, on Bet365 founder Denise Coates CBE, as well as entrepreneur Dawn Gibbins MBE, known for her appearances on Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire. Hugh Edwards, who turned around the fortunes of Moorcroft pottery, was also made an honorary doctor. Other award recipients included Philip Salt, chief executive of Salts Healthcare; counselling psychologist Alan Frankland; Vijay Aggarwal of the ASIA Pacific Institute of Information Technology; business leader Liz Jackson MBE; and Maggie Saxon, who helped create Staffordshire’s New Victoria Theatre. The late Lady Ann Fender, who served as a governor of Staffordshire University for more than 10 years, was granted a posthumous award.

Classic designs inspire wallpaper An elegant range of designer wallpaper has been launched by High House, the University’s interior design enterprise, at a prestigious London design show. The company, staffed by lecturers, recent graduates and current students, showcased the new collections at Tent London, which took place over four days in September. Its designs were inspired by wallpaper fragments discovered during the restoration of the Ancient High House – the Elizabethan town house in Stafford from which the company takes its name. Four different collections are currently available, incorporating traditional patterns, Stafford street scenes and local flowers and plants. Kay Dawson, the project manager, says: “We have future plans for new collections which will all have a historical theme – it’s heritage with a twist. Our next collection will be based on Stokeon-Trent.” • See highhouse/

Dr Hastings McKenzie

Honorary degrees

Appointments Dr Hastings McKenzie has been appointed Dean of the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Sciences. He was previously at Birmingham City University’s Faculty of Technology, Engineering and the Environment. Dr Peter Jones has become Head of School for Psychology Sport and Exercise in the Faculty of Health, coming from the University of Northampton and the University of Derby. Mark Hattersley has taken up the role of Director of Finance and Infrastructure. He has previously held senior positions at Land Rover and Birmingham International Airport.

Living walls take root in Stoke The Stoke campus has become a greener place, thanks to the installation of four walls made up of living plants. The “green walls” are part of an investigation into how plants can reduce pollution and promote biodiversity in towns and cities. Scientists hope to discover which

species are best at achieving these goals, and how they can be grown on a vertical surface. Each of the walls is made up of interlocking modules, with irrigation channels that provide water and fertiliser for up to 3,000 plants. The largest wall is almost two-and-a-half metres in height.

Caroline Chiquet, who is using them as the basis of her PhD, says: “Green walls can be fitted to both new and existing buildings – and even inside them, or as separate free-standing structures. They can provide a quick amenity for urban spaces, and have many benefits that are yet to be fully understood.”


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COMIC HEROES Words by William Ham Bevan

In a studio at Staffordshire University, the star cartoonists of tomorrow are honing their skills on Britain’s only degree course dedicated to the art


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Artwork by Jack Baker, Esme Baran, Verity Hall, Alexandra (Lex) Harford, Millie Harrop, Henrietta Looms, Nigel Morey, Dominiqua Roberts, Claire Smith, Thomas (Tom) Stephens, Alice Urbino


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“If you look at newspapers and magazines, they’ll all have cartoons. Then there’s online content, greetings cards, computer games... you will see cartoons somewhere every day of your life”


here are few university courses that have their very own superhero for a mascot. But Captain Staffs – resplendent in skin-tight red Lycra, with the Staffordshire knot across his rippling chest – makes an appropriate emblem for the Cartoon and Comic Arts degree. Not that this has prevented the students giving him the rather less superhero-esque nickname of Stanley. Now in its second year, the course remains the only one of its kind in the UK. It aims to equip young illustrators with all the skills and knowledge they need for a successful career in visual storytelling.


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And as course leader Adrian Tooth points out, there are more and more opportunities opening up for accomplished cartoonists. “Everyone wants to draw for Marvel or DC Comics, and of course there are limited jobs there,” he says. “But if you look at newspapers and magazines, they’ll have three-panel cartoons, or one-off satirical frames. And then there’s online content, greetings cards, computer games... you see cartoons somewhere every day of your life.” The style of tuition is very hands-on, with most work taking place in a professional studio environment; and the exercises set for the students are designed to stretch their creative problem-solving. They


have included analysing and redrawing scenes from Hitchcock films, choosing a household object and portraying six different emotions with it, and the “stolen lines” exercise. “I’d give them a line from a famous novel, without telling them which book it was, and they’d have to base a story on it,” he explains. The course has also made good use of professional artists as guest lecturers. Tooth says: “One, Rob Pointon, visited with some rock climbers, and we went across to the sports centre to draw them climbing a wall. If you want to draw Spider-Man, there’s no better way to learn how!”

These sessions have proved popular. Second-year student Alice Urbino says: “I always enjoy our life-drawing sessions, especially when we get to take more unorthodox approaches. And I like Adrian’s relationship with us as an editor – he gives us useful feedback, and I enjoy hearing his opinions.” Just as important to the students is the studio camaraderie, and the ability to learn collaborative methods of working. Claire Smith says: “It’s lovely to meet other people just like me, and to trade ideas with them. Collaboration is very interesting: some people like writing, others may be good at storyboarding, or other parts of the creative ISSUE ONE

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“There’s an awareness that the market is very competitive, and that they’ll have to produce work at speed and under pressure”

process. This gives us insight into how things work in the industry.” Verity Hall agrees. “I’ve made some good friends on the course,” she says. “And I’ve really enjoyed the trips to comic conventions: one of my personal highlights was going to the London Super Con and meeting [Spider-Man and Hulk creator] Stan Lee.” There have been one or two teething troubles, as might be expected with a brand-new course. When it veered too far into graphic design territory, Tooth became aware of some grumbles from the students. “What they found frustrating was how long the process took,” he says. “With graphics, you’re doing lots of experimentation before 10

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coming up with the final design. With comic art, they’re happy to nail the story down and start producing artwork straight away. “In fact, one thing I found surprising is how fast they can turn work out. There’s an awareness that the market they’re going into is very competitive, and that they would have to produce work at speed and under pressure.” On this front, the course fulfils the Staffordshire maxims of employability, enterprise and entrepreneurship. As well as producing comic art, the undergraduates have been learning to promote and market it. At the University’s Fringe Festival, they


opened a “Pop-Up Comic Shop”; and when I speak to Tooth, he is preparing for a 24-hour Comics Day. The students will be locked in the studio overnight to produce an original comic, to be sold in a local store. For the original intake of students, the second year of the course will include a module in the politics of cartoons, plus options dealing with propaganda, mass communication and the film industry. Tooth says: “We’ve got some very interesting people from elsewhere in the University feeding into it: history lecturers, journalists, scriptwriters and so on.

“We’ll have people like Professor Mick Temple, a former BBC man who specialises in politics in the Journalism department: he’ll be talking about how cartoons were used in the World Wars and the Spanish Civil War.” And there is a new group of first-years, getting ready for their first research trip to London. “We’ll be going to the British Museum and the Cartoon Museum, and various other exhibitions of illustration,” says Tooth. “I’m looking forward to seeing what they can dig up, to see if they’ve developed a broader knowledge of cartoons and comics. I’ve given the lectures – now it’s up to them!” ISSUE ONE

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With interests that encompass football culture, race relations and the nature of celebrity, the Professor of Culture, Media and Sport has seen his field of study transformed by the rise of social media technology

Profile: ELLIS CASHMORE By William Ham Bevan. Photography by Howard Kingsnorth


hen I catch up with Ellis Cashmore, he is working on a new edition of Celebrity/Culture – a book that has become a standard university text since its publication in 2006. The task is proving more onerous than expected. “I’d thought it would just be a kind of tweaking, but it has been anything but that,” he says. “Celebrity culture moves so quickly that I’m finding a new edition involves completely rewriting the book from start to finish – all 13 chapters.” Now Professor of Culture, Media and Sport in the School of Health, Cashmore joined Staffordshire University in 1993. Before this, he held posts at Aston University and the Universities of Hong Kong and Washington, and a chair in sociology at the University of Tampa, Florida. His publications have included The Black Culture History, Sport Psychology and the Encyclopedia of Race and Ethnic Studies, as well as acclaimed volumes on David Beckham, Mike Tyson and Martin Scorsese’s America. As an academic concerned with the media and contemporary culture, Cashmore has been privileged – or perhaps cursed – to live in interesting times. He notes that in the time since the first edition of Celebrity/Culture appeared, the rise of social media has transformed his field of study. “We hadn’t realised


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just how vital it would be to everyone’s lives,” he says. “Now, we’ve seen it seep into our mindset, and the way we think of the world is – for want of a better word – mediatised. As soon as we log on to a computer or use a smartphone in the morning, we’re immersed in media. “This is something that interests me greatly

“I’m still very much a sociologist, and any sociologist who doesn’t recognise the media as an absolutely dominant presence in people’s lives really isn’t doing the job properly” in my research. I’m still very much a sociologist, and any sociologist who doesn’t recognise the media as an absolutely dominant presence in people’s lives really isn’t doing the job properly.” Cashmore continues to teach a popular undergraduate module on Football Culture – famously dubbed “Beckham Studies” by the tabloid press on its introduction in 2000. “We

were revising undergraduate programmes, and my brief was to innovate: to introduce new, exciting and current modules into the curriculum,” he says. “I thought the time was right for one on football culture, so I devised what I haughtily thought was an ingenious course, and had it validated.” He recalls that he first became aware of the media interest when a reporter phoned his home at six in the morning. “I was asked if I wanted to do a TV interview about my ‘new course in Beckham studies’. I asked them if they meant football studies, and they said, ‘Yes – it’s called David Beckham studies, isn’t it?’ I told them it wasn’t, and I’ve clarified this time and time again. But people still keep calling it that!” Though initially ambivalent about the volume of publicity, Cashmore believes that it has had a positive outcome – both in helping to raise the profile of Staffordshire University, and in suggesting some interesting avenues for his own research. “In the end, it wasn’t a bad thing, because Beckham did turn out to be an iconic character, and still is,” he says. “A very respectable academic publishing house, Polity, asked me to write a serious analysis of the whole Beckham phenomenon. I did so, and that was what got me interested in celebrity culture. And even today, barely a week goes by without someone, somewhere in


the world contacting me about the course.” In this and the other undergraduate modules he teaches, he draws upon his own research in the classroom, and urges colleagues to do likewise. “It’s one of the main principles of the Staffordshire University ethos, that research should inform teaching, and I think it’s a very good one,” he says. “Students benefit from it, and get excited by being at the cutting edge.” Many of the undergraduates Cashmore has

taught over the past two decades have gone on to success in the media, academia and other spheres, and have kept in touch with him; when we speak, he is planning to meet up with a former student who has become a professor in the United States. He admits, nevertheless, that his rigorous style of teaching does not always make him popular at the time. “I actually find that comforting,” he says. “If a student thinks, blimey, he was a hard

taskmaster but has made me a more robust competitor in the marketplace – because now I can think quickly and logically, and hold my own in any company – then that’s great. “When you’re educating people, you’re not there to be universally liked. The important question is this: will you be appreciated a few years down the line?”


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Matthew Buckley Age: 32 From: Milton Keynes Studied: BA Business Studies Profession: English teacher in Korea

Carly Smith Age: 30 From: Peterborough Studied: BA Sociology Profession: Primary school teacher


Craig Dodd Age: 32 From: Stratford-upon-Avon Studied: BA Interactive Multimedia Profession: Head of Development at BBH/Addictive Pixel

Louise Wilce Age: 31 From: Manchester Studied: BA Journalism Profession: Marketing Manager at Palmer Hargreaves

After graduation, these seven alumni started their own website to keep in touch. We brought them back to the campus bar for a more traditional get-together... 14 6

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NION David Wilce Age: 30 From: Rugby Studied: BA Interactive Multimedia Profession: Head of Design and Front-end Development at Propeller Communications

Rory McDougall Age: 30 From: County Mayo Studied: BA Broadcast Journalism and Politics Profession: Training instructor for Medtronic Ireland

Trevor Summers Age: 30 From: Stratford-upon-Avon Studied: BA Interactive Multimedia Profession: Art Director at London & Partners

Photography by Daniel Bosworth


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o you remember the time I nearly burnt the halls of residence down?” says Matt.

There were sound reasons to choose the Interactive Multimedia degree, Dave explains.

Dave adds: “And Jenny said, ‘Shut up – go and talk to my friend’. It was so romantic...”

“There weren’t many courses like it around.

After graduation, the group ended up

“That was after we’d been here to the

Back then, you either did design, which was

scattered across the country – and in some

comedy club, and I tried to cook bacon

print-based, or computers, which was too

cases, beyond. Rory moved back to Ireland in

sandwiches. A bit of a mistake.”

technical. This was one of the first courses that

2004, to seek a job in radio. Matt spent five

brought them both together.”

years in financial planning before being made

It is nine years since the group last gathered at the Students’ Union, but they quickly click

During their time at the university, the

redundant in the banking crisis, and decided

back into the old banter around a table in

three of them won awards for developing a

the Ember Lounge. Over pints (or Cokes for

computer game to teach numeracy skills in

designated drivers and expectant mothers) the

primary schools. Just as importantly, they met

year, volunteering in Cambodia and Peru,” he

reminiscences tumble out.

Matt and Rory, and later on got to know Carly

says. “I enjoyed it, so I decided to pursue that

and Louise – whose own first meeting began

instead of being a finance monkey. So I’ve now

fights, sprints around campus dressed only in

with a clothing coincidence on their first day

been teaching English in Seoul for a year and a

a shower curtain, and a life-size cardboard cut-

in halls.

half, and I’m going back there next month.”

There are stories involving baked-bean

out of Gandalf that was used to scare people

on a change of scene and of career. “I travelled in Asia and South America for a

Louise says: “We both had pink jumpers

All the while, Dave was using the skills

in the lavatory – as well as other tales that

on, and Carly said, ‘I want to be friends with

gained on his degree to help the group stay

are less printable. It’s clear that since leaving

that girl in pink’. We went on to share a house,

in touch. “He set up this website, Friends of

Staffordshire University in 2003 and 2004,

and I don’t think we’ve ever argued once.

Dave,” says Trevor. “It was an online forum

the seven have remained firm friends. But how

But we kept having to find new housemates,

where we could talk about stuff and swap

did they first get to know each other?

because no one would live with us. We were

pictures. It looked like Facebook – though

too messy!”

Facebook didn’t exist at the time.”

“Dave, Craig and I were friends before university,” says Trevor. “We were all at

She has now been married to Dave for three

The website is now defunct, but the seven

Stratford College, and we all ended up doing

years, and they are expecting their first child;

are seeing each other more often in real life.

the same course here. We came up for the

but their first encounter was inauspicious.

The next big reunion is already scheduled for

open day, and liked it – though in fact, Dave

“I’d seen him on campus before – he had these

Trevor’s wedding, next year. “You want to be

didn’t quite make it to the open day. We’d been

massive lamb-chop sideburns. Then I bumped

there for these big events, with these people

out the night before, and he was too unwell

into him in Liquid nightclub in Hanley, and he

who are such a big part of your life,” says

to attend. But he took it on trust that it was a

was trying to chat up another member of our

Rory. “And it’s just so easy to slip back into the

good place.”

group, Jenny.”

friendship, into the laughing and joking.”


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“Do you remember the time I nearly burnt the halls of residence down?”


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THE GLOBAL CAMPUS Students can work towards Staffordshire University awards at partner institutions all across Europe and Asia. Here, we profile one of the most successful partnerships, with Asia Pacific University in Malaysia


ver the past two decades, thousands of graduates have enjoyed the benefits of a Staffordshire qualification without ever setting foot in a British campus. Thanks to the University’s global partnerships, they have been able to pursue their studies in universities, colleges and other learning institutions all over the world. Last year, around 11,500 international students were enrolled on courses accredited by Staffordshire University, in locations ranging from Dublin and Madrid to Muscat, Singapore and Shanghai. One of the University’s longest-established partnerships is with Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation (APU), based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This private university was established as the Asia Pacific Institute of Information Technology (APIIT) in 1993, and began its association with Staffordshire a year later. It was granted university college status in 2004, won the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Award for Industry Excellence in 2011, and gained full university status earlier this year. At present, it offers 52 “dual” degrees that are awarded by APU but quality-assured and accredited by Staffordshire University, plus 32 “franchised” awards – ones that Staffordshire also offers in the UK. These are all in the fields of computing, engineering and




business, though there are plans to develop new programmes in design, journalism and creative technologies. More specialised computing courses such as digital security and forensics are also under proposal. From the beginning, the Malaysian college’s guiding principles were a good fit with those of Staffordshire University. Liz Hathaway, Staffordshire’s Associate Dean for Partnerships, says: “When they first set up as a private college, they had the same philosophy of developing graduates to be work-ready. In fact, all our partners have this as a strap line: it’s about applied scholarship, and ensuring that graduates are well prepared for employment.” Statistics suggest that APU has been extremely successful at achieving this goal, with 98% of students finding graduate-level employment within six months of completing their degree. Among them is Jaheen Hameed, a Maldives national who completed the BSc (Hons) in Business Computing, and now works as a social-media strategist. “The remarkable student experience helped me prepare for challenges in the workplace,” he says. “It opened doors to a world of opportunities: through the standards and processes in place at APIIT and Staffordshire University, I gained invaluable experience, exposure and knowledge.”

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“Among the top countries they’re recruiting from are Yemen, Iran and Kazakhstan... A UK degree has currency worldwide”

Kalai Anand Ratnam from Malaysia – a graduate of the BSc (Hons) in Computing – was inspired to continue his studies to doctoral level. “Deciding to study with Staffordshire University was one of the best things I’ve done,” he says. “I graduated, and then completed my Master of Network Computing at Monash, Australia. At present, I’m a senior lecturer, and pursuing my doctoral studies at Universiti Teknologi Petronas. But the first degree I obtained from Staffordshire began my academic journey to the level where I am today.” JAHEEN HAMEED Jaheen Hameed is a Maldives national who completed the BSc (Hons) in Business Computing, and now works as a socialmedia strategist. He says: “Little did I know that spending an active student life at Asia Pacific would transform me from a typical high-school graduate to what I am today, through its remarkable experience. Joining the university was simply one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.”


ents enrolled on courses accredited Staffordshire University last year

The student body at APU is particularly cosmopolitan, with 96 different nationalities represented. Malaysia is a popular choice for university applicants from the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa and the Indian subcontinent – meaning that the Staffordshire ethos has been spread far and wide. “Among the top countries they’re recruiting from are Yemen, Iran and Kazakhstan,” says Liz Hathaway. “A UK degree has currency worldwide: we provide trusted international benchmarks and quality standards.” And with vast expansion planned in Malaysia’s university sector, the future of the partnership looks bright. “Malaysia has the ambition to become an educational hub for South East Asia,” says Hathaway. “It’s part of the National Plan, and most of the country’s higher-education organisations, both private and public, subscribe to it. They have a target of bringing 200,000 international students to Malaysia by 2020; at the moment, there are about 70-80,000 in the country. “That’s a huge aspiration for the next eight years, and Staffordshire University will be at the heart of it.”


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PLAY IT AGAIN With footage dating back more than a century, the Staffordshire Film Archive provides a compelling insight into the county’s eventful history By Chris Alden

Below: A 1904 film of Stoke playing Notts Forest (and winning)

Above: A 1918 film of a horse-drawn fire engine turning out in the middle of the town


ne of the most rewarding things about watching clips from the Staffordshire Film Archive – from early football matches to scenes of horse-drawn fire engines rushing through the streets – is how even the most remote history can suddenly seem so tangible on film.


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It’s a phenomenon that archive curator Ray Johnson MBE, Emeritus Professor of Film Heritage and Documentary at Staffordshire University, likens to “travelling in a time machine”. And when asked to name his favourite clips, it is the timeless, accessible examples of human interaction that leap into his mind.


Above: The famous film of Titanic captain Edward Smith, on the deck of the Olympic in June 1911

“There he is: Captain “He’s just to-ing and fro-ing,” says Johnson. “The For example, there is a moment during a ceremony to cameraman’s sort of saying, ‘Can you just walk down install the new mayor of Newcastle under Lyme, back Smith, a potter’s son there, look at the camera, look this way’. You can tell in November 1914, when a little boy holds his dog up born in Stoke – and he’s just putting up with the cameraman. to the camera. And then there’s the rough-and-ready the greatest sea “But there he is – Captain Smith, son of a potter, shoulder barge in a Stoke v Forest football match in captain of his day” born in Stoke, as far away from the sea you can get. The 1904, which looks, he says, as though it comes straight greatest sea captain of his day.” from a modern match. The Titanic has been a recurring theme in Johnson’s One poignant highlight is footage of Edward Smith, career. He bought the 1911 film, he says, when he met a collector at the captain of the Titanic, simply walking up and down the deck of sister 1982 Edinburgh Festival, for which he had co-written a Titanic-themed ship Olympic in June 1911 – just 10 months before the liner went down. ISSUE ONE

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Right: The “exotic and magical” Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway. Far Right: A council meeting

RAY JOHNSON’S PICK OF THE ARCHIVE A 1904 film of Stoke playing Notts Forest (and winning) “with one of the best, roughest tackles, a Stoke player shouldering someone off the ball”. The “unintentionally hilarious” 1918 drama, A Pottery Girl’s Romance – made for the Burslem Picture Palace because films were so scarce in wartime. Includes a horse-drawn fire engine turning out in the middle of the town. The famous film of Titanic captain Edward Smith, on the deck of the Olympic in June 1911. Footage of Sir Stanley Matthews in his youth, and at his testimonial in 1965, when the great Ferenc Puskas and Lev Yashin shouldered him off. George V making Stoke a city in 1925 – “there are so many shots just going along the crowd”. Film of the “exotic and magical” Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway.




An interview with her, of course, has now play. Then, in the early 90s, he went to New been added to the archive. York to interview Eva Hart, a survivor of Another audience member, watching a the maritime disaster. He took a cameraman film of workers at the Twyford factory in from the university with him, and the Etruria in 1929, spotted his father stacking resulting documentary is now also part of sinks on to shelves. “And he came up and the archive. said, ‘That’s my dad!’” This year – the centenary of the sinking, Other commentary has been added from and more than 15 years after Hart’s death – the archives of local newspapers. “Films his interview is included as an extra on the were usually taken of a special event, say BluRay release of the 1958 classic disaster a royal visit,” says Johnson. “So I go to the film A Night to Remember. Such a highnewspaper report, and that can be heard profile release is a far cry from the archive’s while we’re watching the pictures. It’s origins in 1980, when one of Johnson’s marrying two kinds of archive.” students found some boxes of 35mm film As the film archive began to grow in the in the basement of a town hall while doing 1980s, he started to make compilations of some telephone wiring. Staffordshire history through the decades. “Our Film Theatre at the university From the earliest pre-1930 compilation, he had opened in 1974,” he says. “I had 16mm even retrieved 35mm still images – including negatives made at my own expense, which one of a royal visit by George V on June 5, 1925. was quite a lot of money. I hired the room, “I presented to the and put on a showing Lord Mayor on June 5, which I advertised as “One audience member, a photograph of the Stoke on Film. watching a film of workers 1985, king in his lovely grey “I was inundated. I at the Twyford factory in top hat, stepping down actually had to rebook from the horse-drawn the Film Theatre seven Etruria in 1929, spotted carriage outside the town times to get everybody his father stacking sinks hall, where he made the in. But what that did surprise announcement on to shelves. And he was to bring enough that he was conferring the money to pay to make came up and said, that’s title and honour of city new negatives and on the county borough prints, with some spare.” my dad on the screen!” of Stoke-on-Trent. That Over the years he photograph has been not only added to the on the wall of the Lord archive, but enhanced Mayor’s parlour ever since.” it with commentary and interviews. These As might be expected, scenes of the pottery included reminiscences of people featured industry are a major strength of the in the films or connected with their events, archive. They have proved to be an earner, such as Eva Hart, in a process he calls too, with film companies often asking for “touching history”. typical scenes of bottle ovens, canals and Some of the earliest film captures a 1930 the Potteries’ industrial past. Most recently, historical pageant in Stoke, with a costumed film from the archive was used in the BBC cast of 5,000. One participant, now in her documentary Ceramics: A Fragile History, mid-90s, even saw her 15-year-old self on and Johnson continues to interview people the film. “She walked across – I rewound it, about the state of the pottery industry today. and there she was in her costume,” he says.


Right: The “unintentionally hilarious” 1918 drama, A Pottery Girl’s Romance


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Above: The royal visit to Stoke in 1925

The archive was originally kept at his home before the university agreed to house it, and the benefits of having such a resource available to students and staff have been great. In one example, a student was able to use scene-setting footage as part of a drama she made about the disappearance of Agatha Christie in 1926. Another broadcast journalism student used the Titanic (or rather, Olympic) footage in a mini-documentary about Captain Smith. Beyond that, MA students who are studying 20th-century filmmaking have been encouraged to do practical projects with old cameras, to get a sense of the technologies that limited and inspired the art. The archive has now been moved off campus to a new temperaturecontrolled facility at the Media Archive for Central England. However, students can still access copies of material, and Johnson’s film screenings still take place every week in the University’s Film Theatre during term time. And with the Film Theatre open to the public, the screenings


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continue to inspire a large cross-section of people – from aspiring filmmakers at the University to members of the local community – to engage with the heritage and future of Staffordshire film. • Watch extracts at FILM STUDIES AT STAFFORDSHIRE UNIVERSITY The Staffordshire Film Archive is just one of many resources helping to enrich the experience of film students at Staffordshire University. As well as the independent, on-campus Film Theatre, facilities include a green-screen studio, digital TV studio and both production and postproduction resources. Staffordshire University offers many degrees involving film. Undergraduate courses include film, radio and TV studies, experimental or commercial film production and film technology. Joint courses are available, so lovers of film heritage can combine film studies with subjects such as history.


Above: “I presented to the Lord Mayor on June 5, 1985, a photograph of the king in his lovely grey top hat, stepping down from the horse-drawn carriage outside the town hall, where he made the surprise announcement that he was conferring the title and honour of city on the county borough of Stoke-on-Trent. That photograph has been on the wall of the Lord Mayor’s parlour ever since.”

Above: The Stoke team in 1963. Above right: A Young Stanley Matthews. Far left: Matthews’ testimonial match in 1965 ISSUE ONE

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Q&A: ANDREW TRIGGS HODGE Interview by Cath Millman


e speak to the Olympic rowing champion, who won gold in the coxless four at both the London and Beijing Games, and first took up the sport as an Environmental Science student at Staffordshire SA Magazine: Congratulations on your performance at Eton Dorney. How did it feel to win in front of a home crowd? Andrew Triggs Hodge: Thank you very much! I won a gold medal in Beijing, but this brought a whole new dimension to it. To be honest with you, it added a lot of pressure. It’s amazing to compete in front of a home crowd, but it adds a whole new dynamic to competing. The stakes are a lot higher. SA: Since your victory, have people started to recognise you on the street more often? ATH: Sometimes, yes – someone will come up to me and shake my hand. It’s a rarity but it’s actually quite nice. A kid recognised me at Westfield in Stratford, and asked for a picture with the gold medal. I had it in my pocket but I didn’t want to get it out because it would hold up the whole shopping centre. But he was really sweet and asked nicely, so we went into a corner and tried to get a photo, but the dad was struggling to take it. Within about 30 seconds, someone had seen it, then someone else, and soon a crowd was holding up the whole of Westfield! A security guard had to move us all along. SA: What made you take up rowing at Staffordshire University? ATH: I fell into rowing by accident, really. In the first year, I played rugby; but it was more of a social thing. I was losing my fitness, and wanted to do something a bit different. I asked around my friends to see what they were doing, and a couple of people recommended rowing. I





“When I took up rowing, my academic side improved. In the first year I finished with a Third, but when I took up rowing in the second year, I started getting 2:1s”

started that on a social basis but soon it grew, and soon it was something I was really enjoying. SA: How did you juggle the training regime with the workload of your science degree? ATH: Actually, when I took up rowing, my academic side improved. In the first year I finished with a Third, but when I took up rowing in the second year, I started getting 2:1s. There was a direct correlation between rowing and my grades: when I was rowing, I felt incredibly motivated, and that motivation reached other parts of my life. I became more organised, and I was better at time management. It had a profound change on me. SA: At what point did you realise that you could excel at rowing? ATH: It was when my coach Ed Green said that if I ever learned how to row, I’d be all right one day. That was after about two years of rowing, but he meant it in the nicest possible way. As a coach and captain, he wanted to motivate me. Although our resources were limited, the club grew much bigger than we thought possible, and that was all down to him. It’s people like him that come to mind when I think of the 2012 legacy – the volunteers and supporters who fight to make their clubs successful. SA: Are there any episodes from your time at Staffordshire, on or off the water, that particularly stick in your mind? ATH: To this day, my fondest memory of rowing was at university. We were out early in the morning on Rudyard Lake. It was dark and frosty and the stars were still out. The water was still, and as we rowed out, the sun started to rise and lit up the frost on the trees. It was an astonishing moment. All of us coming down together, in that moment, while other students were probably still in bed nursing hangovers. It’s hard to describe how beautiful it was.


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After two years in construction, the state-of-the-art Science Centre has opened its doors to become the centrepiece of UniQ, Stoke’s regenerated University Quarter


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“The new Centre establishes our position as the leading teaching-led, vocational university offering academic study and access to commercial experience”

Above: Images from a Jeol scanning electron microscope of the kind housed in the new Science Centre. From top left to right, a beetle, polygonum pollen, mouse inner ear, salmonella bacteria, pond algae, fractured concrete, geranium pollen, an insect leg


t was a launch worthy of such a significant building. On October 12, Staffordshire graduate and Olympic gold medallist Andrew Triggs Hodge formally opened the new £30m Science Centre – and as befits a high-tech hub, there was no ribbon to cut. Instead, a simple push of a red button sent firework trails screaming into the sky, and signalled a new era of commitment to the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). With its brushed aluminium and glass exterior, the Science Centre makes a spectacular focal point for UniQ, the University Quarter. But it’s what’s inside that counts, and users will be able to call upon a whole raft of state-of-the-art facilities. They include specialist laboratories, a psychology suite, lecture theatres, a well-equipped IT section and a learning resource centre. The building will consolidate all the University’s science teaching and research under one roof, providing a home for forensics, environmental and biomedical sciences, psychology, sports science and biomechanics. There’s also a café – the aptly named Coffee Lab – as well as space for public exhibitions and outreach activities.

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Gunn, said: “The new Science Centre puts the University firmly on the map for science students. We have always had fantastic teaching staff within the school, but now we have the tools, equipment and teaching space to elevate Staffordshire as a must-see for science.” The Science Centre will also serve as a beacon for partnership and collaboration between the University and its UniQ partners. Members of the nearby Stoke-onTrent College and City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College will share the facilities, rubbing shoulders with University students and staff. And with regular public events taking place, the Centre will also be a symbol of engagement with the community. “The partnership with the local colleges will, I’m sure, encourage more students to connect with science at an earlier age,” said Professor Gunn. “This will help to cultivate the next generation of innovators, creators and thinkers. It’s a very exciting prospect indeed.” There are sound reasons for investing in STEM. An independent report was commissioned by the University to look at the

prospects for graduates in these disciplines. The results suggest that the science and technology industries are among the few star performers in the economic downturn, and that the sector will provide one in four new British jobs between now and 2017. According to the report, compiled by the Centre for Business and Economic Research, this will equate to 140,000 new jobs in the sector by 2017. STEM-related occupations will account for 7.1% of all UK jobs by 2017, and entrants with the right qualifications will find themselves at a notable advantage in the marketplace. Thanks to its new investment, Staffordshire University will be providing many of these graduates. “The new Centre establishes our position as the leading teaching-led, vocational university offering academic study and access to commercial experience,” said the Vice-Chancellor. “This can easily be transferred by graduates into science and technology careers that will provide them with sustained employment – and will fuel the economic growth of the West Midlands and the wider UK.”


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Left to right top row: Syringe-collection (ev understanding the size of objects in photogr the tape, jar of fluorescent fingerprint dust, k ISSUE ONE


Written by Lucy Jolin. Photography by Howard Kingsnorth and Daniel Bosworth

A woman lies sprawled and silent across the sofa, blood running from the wound in her neck. Upstairs, the contents of the bedroom are strewn around, as if a burglar has left in a hurry. In the neat suburban garden, all looks well – apart from a small disturbance on the lawn, where the grass grows over a fully clothed skeleton buried months ago...

vidence) tubes, tape for lifting dusted finger prints, unused swabs for blood and body fluid collection, disposable forceps. Second row: Scale ruler for raphs, evidence bag, jar of magnetic fingerprint dust for use with a magnetic brush, clear plastic sheets onto which fingerprints are transferred from knife tubes for evidence collection, general evidence sample tubes, fibre-based fingerprint brush, magnetic fingerprint brush ISSUE ONE

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“CSI is very good television. But we don’t all walk around in designer suits and sunglasses toting magic lights”


elcome to the Crime Scene House, scene of numerous murders and burglaries – all committed in the name of education. This anonymous redbrick house sits right in the middle of Staffordshire University’s Stoke campus, and the Department of Forensic and Crime Science uses it as a crime scenario backdrop for students of both policing and forensic science. When students come upon their crime scene – lovingly prepared by staff – they must exercise all their theoretical knowledge. They have to identify evidence, collect it, photograph it, sketch it, store it correctly, write up reports on it, and finally give evidence about it as an expert witness in a “courtroom”. That evidence could be anything: hairs, cloth fibres, a bloody handprint or a ballpoint pen. “CSI is very good television. But we don’t all walk around in designer suits and sunglasses toting magic lights,” says David Rogers, senior lecturer in the Department of Forensic and Crime Science and a former Metropolitan Police officer of 30 years’ standing. In his last seven years with the force, he worked as a crime investigations support officer for the National Crime Faculty. His team supported major crime enquiries on behalf of police forces dealing with murder, rape and abduction cases, including the Soham killings and the Lady in the Lake case in Cumbria.


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“Dealing with evidence at a crime scene properly is essential,” he points out. “If you don’t, then that evidence, which could be vital, could be thrown out at any subsequent trial.” Professor John Cassella of the Department of Forensic and Crime Science agrees. “The house helps students to learn how to do their job in a safe and controlled manner,” he says. “The stress and trauma of doing this work requires careful design of such areas of teaching, so that the learning experience is not reduced by the stress of the situation.” At first glance, it’s just an ordinary house. Downstairs is the lounge, the kitchen, the hall and the dining room. Upstairs, there’s a bathroom and three large bedrooms. But at the back of the house is a purpose built-control room, and the entire house is covered by CCTV and two-way audio so that staff can monitor and communicate with every room. The Crime Scene House’s scenarios are used by a wide range of people – from visiting schoolchildren and sixth-form pupils to undergraduates and Masters students. First-year forensic science students initially use it for learning crime-scene photography and sketching, through a burglary set-up. Over the next two years of their degree, they are presented with two more scenarios: a sudden death without a body, and then a sudden death where the victim is very much present.


Above: The exterior of the house where thousands of crimes have been committed

“Some of the students get quite fazed at crime scene three, because it’s the first time they will have a body in the room,” says Rogers. “The body is a second-year student who poses as a murder victim – we have staff qualified to do makeup for bullet wounds, knife wounds and suchlike. But nobody’s ever fainted on us yet.” After leaving a career in banking to pursue the BSc in Forensic Science at Staffordshire University, Daniel Ward graduated with first-class honours in July 2012. “Walking into the house for my third-year exercise was pretty scary,” he says. “I didn’t know what to expect, and also we were being timed. “We were in a group of four and we found the body of a young woman on the sofa in the living room, lying down with a cut on her neck. It was quite exciting, but the pressure was really on. We had to make sure we didn’t miss any evidence and work together to beat the clock and not mess anything up. The Crime Scene House was an excellent experience and really set me up for dealing with these situations in the real world.” It’s not just forensic science students who benefit from the Crime Scene House. The policing and forensic investigation students also use it. “We integrate our policing students into the process by getting them to go to the scene before the forensic students come in, and they will do the initial officer attending at a death or murder scene,” explains Rogers. “They have to write up that report. Then the forensics students come in and process the crime scene.” Research is also an important function. “It’s like one of our science laboratories,” says Cassella. “In


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Above: A comparison microscope used to compare cartridge cases and tool mark impressions


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the lab we conduct controlled experiments to answer questions and move forward with our theories. The garden at the Crime Scene House is just like that. “For example, we can run experiments to look at how quickly things decompose, and what chemical fingerprints they give off. We hope that these chemical fingerprints will allow us to more quickly identify where bodies are buried, so that we can assist with police investigations in the future. “Our collaboration with Keele University has allowed our Burial Research Group to be one of the first groups in the UK to run a fiveyear-long experiment to see how well you can see something hidden in the ground by using geophysics, with the kind of kit you see used on telly, on Time Team.” It may not be a particularly desirable residence. But the value of the Crime Scene

House to the students, the department and the University is enormous. It helps students bring their knowledge from the classroom to where it really counts – the crime scene. “You can sit and read a book, watch TV or listen to lectures,” says Rogers. “But you are better equipped to become employable if you have been put under the pressure of a realistic crime-scene situation. “Your employer in a forensic arena will want to know what you experienced at university. Have you had the opportunity to examine issues like integrity of exhibits and contamination? How would you pack items like syringes, drugs, knives or imitation firearms so that you don’t get hurt and nobody else handling them at a later date gets hurt? The house gets students to put into practice what they’ve learned in theory. That’s vital in our field.”

Above: A stateof-the-art Raman microscope used to analyse scattered light from objects. It gives an indication of their composition and is commonly used in the laboratory on samples of paint, inks, drugs, and fibres

Left: A set of blood stain swabs in containers, marked-up and annotated, ready to be sent away for analysis


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MORE TEA? With its acclaimed range of fine English bone china, Flux is showcasing young talent and breathing new life into Staffordshire’s ceramics industry By Rin Simpson


or more than 200 years, companies such as Spode, Wedgwood and Royal Doulton have made Stoke-on-Trent

ceramics famous throughout the world.

lot of patterns that come from different

in England. It will be the first bone china

students, and that has driven the success of

collection from England that they’ve had in

the project.”

the past decade.

The aims of Flux go beyond success in

“The bottom line for us is we’re using local

And anyone visiting this summer’s major

the marketplace. Sanderson hopes that the

manufacturers. The most important thing

trade fairs – such as Paris’s prestigious

company will have a positive effect on the

is the provenance of Stoke-on-Trent and its

Maison et Objet, or Tent in London – will

University, the British ceramics industry and


have seen a new name from the city making

the community at large.

an impression with its bone china collection. Flux was formed in 2010 by Staffordshire

“It has great academic benefits to the

The ongoing challenge will be to keep the growing company integrated into the

students because they’re getting real-life

academic programme, and to balance

University, with a mission to combine Stoke’s

experience of a company in operation,” he

the day-to-day pressures of running a

proud tradition with cutting-edge design and

says. “They’re therefore contributing to the

business with the needs of the students. But

modern manufacturing methods. Its design team is drawn from the MA Ceramic Design Course, headed up by Professor David Sanderson. It is already enjoying both critical and financial success. Flux won the Ceramic and Glass category in the Homes & Gardens Designer Awards, and the order book is looking very healthy indeed. All Flux

Sanderson is confident that Flux is up to the

“The bottom line for us is we’re using local manufacturers. The most important thing is the provenance of Stoke-onTrent and its authenticity”

tableware is designed around a collection of

expansion. “It’s good for the University because all universities have to be business facing, so we’re an exemplar of that,” he says. “The vision is to grow the brand of Flux. We’re using bone china as a flagship material but we’ll start to add crystal, stoneware, table-top accessories in wooden materials and so on.

patterns that can be mixed and matched. At

Now we’ve established the brand, we will

present, there are three ranges – Cobalt, Gold

projects, their name goes on the back stamp

and Platinum – and 12 different designs.

and they get a 4% royalty on the sales.

“I had a feeling there was a gap in the

task, and has ambitious plans for further

“In terms of the community, we’re putting

grow it.” One last thing: where did the name come from? “It was a student competition,” says

marketplace for classic Staffordshire bone

employment and revenue back into our

Sanderson. “As well as being a technical term,

china, but of a contemporary nature,”

industry, which is the commercial benefit.

it’s an integration of minds fluxing together;

says Sanderson. “Blue and white is

We did a project with Marks & Spencer, and

we’re always in a state of movement, evolving

synonymous with traditional bone china

that’s driven them to also develop a pattern

and developing. And it needed to be a small

from Staffordshire. We decided if we kept

in conjunction with us – a collection for next

name so we could put it on the back stamp!”

with these colours, we could integrate a

year which they’re promoting as being made


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A GREENER AGE By Jon Fairburn

Saving energy and reducing emissions is not just the concern of younger people, and the University is at the heart of a new project to spread the message to senior citizens


nergy efficiency is everyone’s business. It’s one of the key objectives outlined by the European Commission in its bid to achieve long-term energy and climate goals. And with an ageing population throughout Europe, it’s essential that we educate not only the younger generations about energy efficiency, but also older people. This is the aim of See Green – a scheme in which Staffordshire University is collaborating with five partner organisations across Europe. Using a lifelong learning approach, we are promoting techniques and changes that will help senior citizens to save energy, reduce carbon emissions and even improve their health.


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Energy savings can happen in two main ways. First, there are changes in technology, such as moving from electric fires to groundsource heat pumps, which draw energy from underground heat. The second way is through behaviour change – actually altering how this energy is used. We are developing learning materials to support and inform these two main actions; and by drawing on expertise across Staffordshire University’s education, engineering and

business schools, we can employ a varied approach to the learning. Our first task on the project was to research the existing literature. It raised some intriguing questions: why do senior citizens in general find it colder than the general population? Do we know why women feel the cold more than men? And why do residential homes have problems saving energy? (The answers: senior citizens often have slower metabolisms and are less active, so produce less heat; women in general have lower blood pressure than men, so less heat reaches the hands and


Solar panels don’t need direct sunlight to work – they can still generate some electricity on a cloudy day. A typical home solar system could save more than a tonne of carbon dioxide per year. After the initial installation, electricity costs will be reduced and customers can sell surplus power back to the grid.

feet; and residential homes usually charge a fixed amount for accommodation, so there is no financial reward for saving energy, and no restraint on those who waste energy.) We then needed to find out how senior citizens would prefer to learn. We devised a simple questionnaire, and working with local partners such as the Beth Johnson Foundation – a charity that works to increase the life quality of older people – we distributed it to the target demographic in paper and email format. Thanks to our association with energy suppliers E.ON, we were able to encourage participation by offering five energy-saving TV shut-down units as prizes. The results showed that senior citizens prefer to learn in groups, from booklets and leaflets, and online with interactive resources such as quizzes and simulations. The questionnaire also identified a wide

Forty per cent of all the wind energy in Europe blows over the UK, making it an ideal country for domestic turbines (known as ‘microwind’ or ‘small-wind’ turbines). A typical system in an exposed site can easily generate more power than lights and electrical appliances use in the average domestic dwelling.

range of green technologies that older people would like to know more about, and found that a significant number had problems understanding their bills. Based on the results from the literature review and the survey, we are now devising modules for senior citizens and associated stakeholders which will be available on a distance-learning online platform. They will include films, quizzes, podcasts, simulations and games, as well as leaflets that can be printed off. It’s worth noting, too, that even though the material is hosted on an IT platform, it can still be engaged with in groups – and we are producing a set of ideas and notes to show how this can be done, as well as carrying out some of the education ourselves locally. We will be collaborating with local University of the Third Age groups, registered social landlords, estate mangers of residential homes and E.ON.

At Staffordshire University, we will be involving senior citizens in producing some of the learning material from the start. In one example, film students will make short films with them that cover topics we are considering: we might have a film featuring a couple who have had a ground-source heat pump installed to tell us about their experience, and what to look for when buying a system. We hope that this will not only bring the generations together, but also encourage senior citizens to consider their responsibilities to future generations as they become more environmentally conscious themselves. Jon Fairburn is Enterprise Reader at Staffordshire University Business School. For more details about the scheme, which is funded through the European Commission’s Grundtvig lifelong-learning programme, see ISSUE ONE

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COUNTRY CODE By Anne Wollenberg





A view of the Shugborough estate and its former resident, Patrick Anson (1939-2005), 5th Earl of Lichfield and a renowned society photographer


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Left and far left: The monument which legend believes holds the secret to the Holy Grail. Above left: Portrait of Thomas Anson. Above and right: View of the Shugborough estate

Four miles from Stafford lies Shugborough, the historic working estate that was once home to the Earls of Lichfield. Each year, thousands of visitors come to tour the elegant 17th-century mansion house and its beautiful grounds – and to try to solve a 250-year-old mystery


ou might not expect the search for the Holy Grail to start in Staffordshire. But many of those attempting to crack the Shugborough Code, a cryptic inscription found at the historic Shugborough Estate, insist it reveals the exact location of this most elusive of artefacts. Or at least it would – if only someone could actually solve it. The inscription consists of the letters DOUOSVAVVM, carved into a monument in the Shugborough grounds. This combination has confounded a succession of great minds, from Charles Darwin and Charles Dickens, who are both believed to have tried to decipher it, to a group of veteran codebreakers who once worked on cracking




the German Enigma codes at Bletchley Park. Theories abound, many of them fanciful, outlandish or just plain absurd. Some are more plausible than others, but so far all of them have lacked the definitive proof needed to conclude the matter once and for all. Shugborough resident Thomas Anson commissioned the Shepherd’s Monument, as it’s often called, in around 1748. Carved by Flemish sculptor Peter Scheemakers, whose work also includes the sculpture of Shakespeare at Westminster Abbey, it’s a relief of an oil painting, Les Bergers d’Arcadie II, by the French painter Nicolas Poussin. Along with Thomas Anson and his brother, Admiral George Anson, Poussin was rumoured to be linked to the Knights

Templar, the Christian order that supposedly gained custodianship of the Holy Grail. This gave rise to the theory that Shugborough could hold the secret to its whereabouts, and even the suggestion that the Grail could be found somewhere within the estate’s grounds. The historian AJ Morton had different ideas. In 2011, he announced that the inscription was nothing more than lovers’ graffiti, a 19th-century missive between residents George Adams (Whig MP and nephew of Thomas and George Anson) and his wife, Mary Venables-Vernon. For the Shugborough Estate, which is regularly contacted by people claiming to have solved the mystery, this was yet another unproven


theory to be consigned to the “maybe” pile along with explanations that relied upon Roman poetry, Hebrew phrases and Nostradamus. While anyone can try their hand at cracking the code, most people visit Shugborough for the “upstairs downstairs”

experience. Four miles from the market town of Stafford and a half-hour’s drive from Stoke-on-Trent, it’s run as a fully working estate. The kitchens, farmstead, laundry, estate lodges and servants’ quarters are populated by staff wearing period costume. But while

“Visitors can watch Stoke-on-Trent’s Titanic Brewery produce such tipples as MiLady’s Fancy and Lordship’s Own – although the practice of routinely drinking beer for breakfast is (regrettably) something else that has been consigned to Shugborough’s long and eventful history”

their attire may be thoroughly authentic, their daily wages no longer include the eight pints of ale which, along with around £21 a year, once made up the pay packet of those working below stairs at Shugborough. That ale was made on site at the estate; and remarkably, brewing still goes on there today, at one of Britain’s two remaining logfired brewhouses. Visitors can watch Stokeon-Trent’s Titanic Brewery produce such tipples as MiLady’s Fancy and Lordship’s Own – although the practice of routinely drinking beer for breakfast is (regrettably) something else that has been consigned to Shugborough’s long and eventful history. • See for information, events and opening times ISSUE ONE

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Subject Focus:



ursing and midwifery have seen 50/50 split between theory and practice massive changes over the past in healthcare is crucial. “There is still a 20 years. Advances in medical misconception that healthcare programmes science, the rise of the nurse practitioner are very theoretical,” she says. “In fact, and nurse prescribing, the challenges of theory is absolutely crucial. I’m one of those a rising birthrate – all these factors mean people who think that nursing should be that those entering the field need more an all-graduate profession. Nurses need the skills than ever before. academic skills to pursue evidence-based So how is Staffordshire University practice, to understand research and to have preparing its nursing and midwifery the capability of making high-level decisions graduates for these challenges? Through around patients and their care.” a mix of theory, practice, placements and Roy Thompson, head of the School mentoring, says Hilary of Nursing and Jones, Dean of the Faculty Midwifery, agrees. “Our graduates are of Health – but always “Theory and practice special because they with an awareness of mould very well what’s happening in the together because you have the appropriate real world. “Our graduates have to understand knowledge and are special because they what you’re doing, skills, they deal with have the appropriate why you’re doing it, knowledge and skills, and how your actions people in a caring and they deal with people in a will impact on both compassionate way, caring and compassionate the patient and their and do their work way, and do their work relatives,” he says. professionally and with “For example, professionally and integrity,” she says. what if you have to with integrity” In particular, she break bad news to believes that having a a patient? How will




it affect their lifestyle, their family, and them as an individual? You’ve got to know the psychological, the sociological and the physiological aspects of care in order to pull them all together in an integrated whole.” So nursing and midwifery students do indeed spend time in the classroom; but then they take what they’ve learned and put it into practice. Students work in clinicalskills laboratories which can be set up for a huge range of tasks, from bedmaking to resuscitation. Mentors are always registered practitioners in either nursing or midwifery. They guide the students as they gain both practical and theoretical knowledge – for example, the physical motor skills needed to give an injection as well as the communication skills to put the patient on the other end of the needle at ease. On their placements, students put those skills to work in a variety of settings: in deprived and affluent areas, in patients’ homes, and in nursing and midwifery-led units. And in keeping with the Staffordshire Graduate ethos of employability, each module is designed with the input of both employers and practitioners. Difficult times lie ahead for healthcare, with more NHS budget cuts on the horizon. But Thompson believes that Staffordshire graduates are part of the solution. “These challenges have always been there,” he says. “The pace of change has just sped up. “We need to be wary of seeing things through rose-tinted glasses. We think of the good old days – but were they, really? Nursing is of its time and of the society in which it functions. We have to reflect the needs and changes of that society.”



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The next big thing An animated pop video created by Staffordshire graduates has become a worldwide internet hit. The promo film for the single Heart Sing by BIGkids has notched up more than 61,000 views on YouTube, and drawn admiration from celebrities including Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Diana Vickers. The video was put together by Gary Carse and Dan Waterman – whose studio, Carse & Waterman Productions, specialises in character animation and operates out of the University’s Business Village in Stoke-on-Trent.




They received the commission while working on another project with director Toby Ross-Southall – who told the pair that a friend wanted to produce an animated clip for his band in the style of Peter Gabriel’s classic Sledgehammer. Waterman, 23, says: “He asked if we could help. It turned out to be BIGkids’ management, and they wanted the video done in about three weeks, so we pretty much did it there and then. We did the storyboard in a pub in Camden.” The pair enjoyed their first commercial success while they were still students at the

Faculty of Arts and Creative Technologies, including work with dance-music act The Prodigy, and on a Santander advert featuring Formula One star Lewis Hamilton. For their project with BIGkids, they enlisted current undergraduates from the University’s animation course to help them out. Carse, 22, said: “Most of the animation was undertaken by them, and it was a great chance for us to meet students old and new and give them an opportunity to get their work seen.” • Watch the video at bigkidsmusic


Designs on the future “They wanted the video done in about three weeks, so we pretty much did it there and then. We did the storyboard in a pub in Camden”

Two graphic designers have made the leap from firstclass degrees to success in the workplace. Andy Taylor, 29, and Richard Evans, 27, set up Deadpixel Creative in the second year of their BA (Hons) in Graphic Design. This year, they both graduated with firsts, and also earned a commendation in the YCN Student Awards for creative excellence. Deadpixel’s work can already be seen on the streets, in their creation of a new brand identity for the charity Age Concern.

Welcome to the App Haus A web development duo are open for business after excelling through the University’s SPEED scheme, which offered accommodation, mentoring and training to student start-ups. James Stanley, 22, and Russell Hunt, 22, formed the company App Haus to develop mobile and web applications. Stanley says: “Our jumping off point was developing the Staffordshire Student Experience app for the Students’ Union, which was great experience and an important development for the company.”


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Graduates win at games Staffordshire talent is making a big splash in the world of computer games design – including a prestigious BAFTA nomination. Raptor Games, a team of five graduates and students, picked up the accolade for their game Project Thanatos at the Dare ProtoPlay international student game design competition in Dundee. They will now compete with two other teams for the “Ones to Watch” prize at the 2013 BAFTA Video Games Awards.

The team worked round the clock for two months to complete Project Thanatos, a 3D game in which players must flee the effects of an unleashed biochemical weapon. It proved so popular at the three-day festival – attended by more than 10,000 players – that they also won the Audience Award, and the prize of an Intel Ultrabook laptop each. Project leader Hugh Laird, a graduate of the BEng in International Games Programming, says: “It really justifies nine weeks of hard, hard work. And we didn’t

expect to win the audience award, which is just the icing on top.” Meanwhile, another group of games design students are gearing up to publish their first title for the PC. Ludorum Studios, which is supported by the University’s Enterprise and Commercial Development Team, released the trailer for Ascension: Arenas of War in October. Team member Benjamin Dixon, 22, who is in third year of a BA (Hons) Computer Games Design and Programming degree, says: “Our aim is develop a game to call our own, and build a studio which can support us and our future ideas.”

Success in store for Ashley When Debenhams wanted to open their new Chesterfield store in September, they chose a Staffordshire graduate to cut the ribbon. Designer Ashley Thomas, whose work is sold as part of the Debenhams Edition homeware collection, graduated from the Surface Pattern Design course in 2007. She has since worked on commissions for a range of top companies including Laura Ashley and Mamas & Papas, as well as Debenhams.


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t Staffordshire University’s 2012 awards ceremony, three members of the Foy family received their degrees: Frank, Jo, and their daughter, Kate. Her own daughter Robyn is a current student. We spoke to all four about their achievement and future plans

Kate Foy, 38,

Frank Foy, 65,

Josephine Foy, 65,

The variety of history that we were able to

BA (Hons) Fine Art I went to the university with my daughter,

BA (Hons) Drama, Performance and Theatre Arts

and before I knew it I was on my way to

I started work on my 15th birthday with

enrollment! I won a

no qualifications, so

scholarship at 15 to

doing a degree was

Stoke-on-Trent College

absolutely wonderful.

of Arts but my father told me to get a job like everyone else. The attitude then was that it wasn’t for the likes of us. Then, when I was 17, I joined the Army. I really enjoyed being a mature student. I was surprised to find I wasn’t the

“I loved my course. I would have stayed there for 10 years if I could have. The variety of history that we were able to study was great, and the lecturers were all fabulous”

It was three of the best years of my life: scary but exciting. on my course – 59 youngsters and me. But they just sort of took me in. I still can’t believe I’ve got a degree. It’s incredible for comes from a very

was strange at first

working-class family.

but I liked university life. As a family, it gave us plenty to talk

Going to university with my family was brilliant. It’s nice to have people around who understand the pressures you’re under. I loved my course. I would have stayed there for 10 years if I could have. study was great, and the lecturers were all fabulous. Now I’m doing an MA at Queen’s University Belfast in Irish History and a postgraduate diploma in business – I’m a sucker for punishment! There’s an old prison and courthouse here and my ultimate dream is to open it up as an openair museum and education centre for people who are interested in the Troubles.

There were 60 of us

someone like me who

oldest one there. It

BA (Hons) Modern History

Robyn Foy, 20, BA (Hons) Modern and International History My friends thought it was weird that my family were all at the same uni – and that my grandparents and my mum were doing a degree when they’re so old – but they think it’s quite cool, too! I’m proud of all my family. At the moment I’m taking a gap year. With

I do think my mum

my mum going to Ireland, I decided to stay

and dad would have

and look after the house, so I’m working

about. Occasionally we met up for lunch

been so proud. Since graduation, I’ve been

full time now to get some money. Part of the

but everybody made other friends too.

involved with a film and I’m directing a play

reason for taking a gap year was that she’s

Graduation was a proud day. I suddenly

for the Newcastle Players. We’re going to

going to be away and my grandparents will

thought, I’ve got a Bachelor of Arts degree!

Australia for a few months, so we’ll see what

be travelling in Australia, so I won’t have

It’s something I never thought I

happens when we get back. I’m definitely

that support. It will be weird going back to

would achieve.

not retiring!

do my final year and not having them there! ISSUE ONE

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Staffs on social media

Don’t be a stranger... As a Staffordshire graduate, you’ll always be part of the University community, and we’ll do our best to keep you informed of what’s happening. As well as receiving this magazine, you can check out our latest news and forthcoming events at We’re always keen to hear what former students are up to in the wider world. You can get in touch with Graduate Relations by emailing, calling 01782 294942 or writing to us at Graduate Relations, Staffordshire University, College Road, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire ST4 2DE.

There’s a dedicated alumni section of the Stafordshire University website at If you need to tell us about a change of address, or update any other details, you can do this online – and you can click through to our resources on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. What’s more, the official Staffordshire University Alumni LinkedIn group offers the chance to stay in touch and network with your fellow alumni worldwide, and to keep up to date with University developments. Join up at

DIARY The University will be hosting a range of public events over the coming months: December 12 Public lecture: The Advent of Christmas, given by Johnny Ball 2pm. Contact: Julie Smith (01782 294116, December 12 Wine and Crime Night with the Forensic Science Department. Includes talk by local crime writer and mock crime scenes 7pm. Tickets £5 – over 18s only. Contact: Sarah Buckley (01782 294489, January 28 Holocaust Memorial Day public lecture: Landscapes of Memory, given by Caroline Sturdy Colls. Contact: Julie Smith (01782 294116, February 5 – March 13 Women in Science events




March 7 Public lecture: The Green Earth, given by Joanna Yarrow Contact: Julie Smith (01782 294116, March 20 Varsity at Staffordshire University’s Stoke campus - Leek Road site. Staffordshire University go head to head with Keele University in a contest involving 15 sports. Tickets £3. Contact: Jonathan Pace, Students Activities Manager (01782 294629) April 17 Public lecture: Bad Science, given by Ben Goldacre Contact: Julie Smith (01782 294116, May 16-17 GradEx 2013: final-year show for students from the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Sciences. May 16 (Stoke) and May 17 (Stafford) June 7-15 Show and Tell - annual art and design degree show. Stoke campus


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HEAD START. START UNIVERSITY IN JANUARY If you want to get ahead, higher education is the way to do it. And at Staffordshire University you don’t have to wait until September to start. We have a range of courses starting in January from full degrees to degrees with a foundation year that could be your passport to higher earnings, better career prospects and a real sense of achievement. Previous qualifications may not be necessary, and flexible study options and financial support is available. So there’s nothing to hold you back. To learn more, please call 01782 294 400 or visit