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Issue 10 – Spring 2016

University of Wolverhampton alumni magazine

NO SUCH THING AS CAN’T Paralympian Gold Medallist, Danielle Brown MBE D IS FOR DEFICIENCY Reduced sun exposure and sports injury rates JOINING THE RACE Motorsport Engineering gains pole position




Life. At Wolverhampton. After Wolverhampton. For Life.


Postgraduate Open Evenings Thursday 17 March 2016 Thursday 23 June 2016 For more information and to register: email:

The University of Opportunity

Welcome to WLV Life – the magazine for graduates of the University of Wolverhampton. With the Olympic Games set to return this summer, we’ve decided to tip our hats to all things sport, exercise and health in this latest edition of your alumni magazine. Following her Honorary Degree ceremony last year, we met up with Paralympic Gold medal winner, Danielle Brown MBE, to learn more about her inspiring journey overcoming adversity (page 11). We also catch-up with former My Life feature, Jarryd Dunn, as he prepares to represent Team GB in the men’s 400m in Rio (page 6). Introducing a new Academic Commentary feature to the magazine, senior lecturer and UEFA licenced coach, Hannah Dingley, shares her thoughts on the increasing success of women in sport (page 20), and we talk to Professor in Dance Science, Matt Wyon, about his research into the increasing rates of injuries in dancers (page 14). In this edition’s My Life we hear from graduate in Illustration, Zoe Westwood, about her winning poster raising awareness for the British Obesity Society (page 24), and we learn more about Sensory Processing Disorder from graduate, Lucy Taylor, whose new business is determined to raise awareness of this typically misunderstood mental health issue (page 16).

Plus, you can find out about our new exciting development plans for Telford Innovation Campus (page 18) and the international success of our Centre for African Entrepreneurship and Leadership (page 22). With all the latest alumni and University news, you’ll be sure to find something of interest. Amy Roberton Editor, Alumni Relations Manager Keep in touch! Are your details correct? Update them online at: You can also contact us with any news, updates or enquiries you may have at: Alumni & Development University of Wolverhampton, MX Building, Camp Street, Wolverhampton, WV1 1AD Email: Tel: +44 (0)1902 323 056 /wlvalumni @wlv_alumni


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Alumni noticeboard News and events


14 Research focus: Matt Wyon D is for Deficiency


Mixed messages Making sense of sensory processing

In the news

What’s been happening at your University

Graduation 2015 Roll of honour

Graduate feature: Jarryd Dunn Going for gold

Graduation Ball in photos

Check out our photo gallery from the night

Graduate feature: Danielle Brown MBE No such thing as can’t

Campus developments: Telford

Motorsport engineering gains pole position

Academic commentary: Hannah Dingley Raising their game – the rise of women in sport

In Africa for Africa


Centre for Entrepreneurship and Leadership

My life

Zoe Westwood, Illustration (2015) WLV Life Spring 2016



In the news... A snapshot of what’s been happening at your University over the last six months. University marks Global Entrepreneurship Week

Satisfaction on the up at Wolverhampton

Business start-up project SPEED Plus marked the world’s largest celebration of creativity and innovation – Global Entrepreneurship Week – with a series of activities, workshops and talks. An Exhibition of Enterprise showcased some of the University’s business start-ups and we also welcomed Olympian Louise Hazel who talked about her journey from athlete to building a successful sports and fitness business and brand.

The latest results from the National Student Survey (NSS) have shown that satisfaction levels of our students have risen to 82% this year. The NSS asks students from all over the country how satisfied they are with their university, course, teaching, support, resources, personal development and Students’ Union. Our scores in six of the seven categories of the survey all rose, including those in teaching, assessment and feedback and academic support.

New University Centre brings business support to Hereford An award-winning business support service has opened in the heart of Hereford’s Enterprise Zone. The Hereford Business Solutions Centre – based at Skylon Park – will offer local businesses a wide range of support services and activities to help them achieve sustainable growth.

Cultural celebrations at International Academy Launch A packed cultural programme took place to celebrate the University’s new International Academy at Telford Innovation Campus. The Academy provides language and study skills support for overseas students, including summer and short courses, as well as social and cultural activities. Invited guests, including partners from the UK and overseas, enjoyed cultural dance performances and a diverse range of music from a steel band to a string quartet, as well as having the chance to have a henna tattoo.

New prototyping centre plans move step forward Construction of a new £10 million science, technology and prototyping centre at University of Wolverhampton Science Park has begun with a turf cutting ceremony held at the beginning of the year. The three storey development will offer 4,000 square metres of unrivalled specialist space for science and engineering based business, and feature a high specification laboratory for research and development activities.

University welcomes choirmaster Gareth Malone for BBC show Building students take on project with historic Wolverhampton church A group of ten final year students studying BSc (Hons) Building Surveying are giving valuable input into the protection, restoration and future of the historic SS. Mary & John’s Catholic Church in Snow Hill. The project will look at how the 160-year-old Grade II listed building can modernise its facilities, improve wheelchair access, and alter the Narthax (the entrance lobby) allowing visitors a better view when inside, and also contributing to the protection of its structure.

Musical maestro Gareth Malone was welcomed back to the Performance Hub at Walsall Campus as part of his latest TV series, BBC’s The Naked Choir. Gareth turned the Hub into A Capella School where the competition’s final six choirs trained intensively with experts for four days before performing in front of the judges and an invited audience in the Black Box Theatre.


Alumni news: Faculty High Flyers Faculty of Social Sciences Recent law graduate Deniece Greenidge, who completed her Legal Practice Course in 2015, has gone on to be admitted to practise law in her home country of Trinidad and Tobago. She says: “I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to my lecturers for being so very instrumental in my current success and for their encouragement and unwavering support toward me.”

Faculty of Education, Health and Wellbeing Emma Johnston, graduate in primary education, has won the prestigious undergraduate Critical Writing Prize 2015 for best student essay demonstrating a high level of critical thinking. She won the national prize for her essay entitled Children’s Engagement with Talk to Enhance Learning in the Primary School Classroom: Literature Review and received Critical Publishing books worth £200.

University scheme to raise aspirations for children in care The University launched a new scheme designed to encourage more lookedafter children into higher education. Aspire2Uni, spearheaded by the University’s Access and Outreach department in collaboration with Creating Chances Trust and Virtual Schools, aims to raise the educational aspirations of children from care backgrounds by engaging with carers, educators and young people.

Faculty of Science and Engineering Rebecca Fleming, quantity surveying graduate with first class honours, has received high profile recognition by winning Best Woman Quantity Surveyor at this year’s Women in Construction and Engineering Awards (Europe). After graduating in 2011, Rebecca joined leading engineering company Costain, where she now manages a team.

Faculty of Arts Sandeep Rai, graphic design graduate; Kulwinder Ghataore, film graduate; and Raj Riat, media graduate, have been commissioned to film an educational series for BBC’s Bitesize. The team, who are all part of Moving Water Media, visited the fashion and textiles department to film scenes using student fashion pieces for a BBC Bitesize Maths episode about geometry.

WLV Life Spring 2016


Graduation 2015

Roll of Honour



Danella Bagnell Honorary Degree of Doctor of Technology Vehicle Programme Director at Jaguar Land Rover. Lord Kenneth Baker Honorary Degree of Doctor of Education Former Chairman of the Conservative Party and champion for education. Alexandra Joanne Bell Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters Award winning poet.

Our annual summer graduation once again proved to be the highlight of the academic year, with over 4,000 students collecting their degrees at Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre.

Paul Birch Honorary Fellowship Music mogul and record label owner. Danielle Brown MBE Honorary Fellowship Paralympic gold medalist.

The two-week long event ended with the University’s first ever graduation ball and you can see our photo gallery from the night on pages 8 and 9.

George Clarke Honorary Degree of Doctor of Technology Architect, TV presenter and Creative Director.

This year we were also delighted to award honorary degrees to respected individuals from across a variety of sectors – including some faces you’re sure to recognise!

Rashid Gatrad OBE Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science Renowned physician in paediatrics and child health. Danielle Brown, MBE

John Hay Honorary Fellowship BBC See Hear Researcher and retired lecturer in Deaf Studies and BSL/English Interpreting. Tan Ikram Honorary Degree of Doctor of Law Alumnus, District Judge in the Magistrates’ Courts and ambassador for equality and diversity within the law. Anthony Kam Honorary Fellowship Alumnus and Chairman of the Hong Kong Alumni Association. Jane Nelson Honorary Fellowship Retired Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Wolverhampton. Clare Teal Honorary Degree of Doctor of Music Alumnus, jazz musician and BBC Radio 2 presenter. Clare Short Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters Former MP, author and charity aid ambassador.

George Clarke

Clare Teal

Janice Stevens CBE Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science Chief Nurse at Barts Health NHS Trust.

Naming Ceremony

CHANCELLOR UNVEILS NEW UNIVERSITY BUILDING NAMES To round off 2015, we were honoured to welcome back University Chancellor, The Rt Hon. Lord Paul of Marylebone PC, for an official naming ceremony of two of our iconic buildings at City Campus.

Joined by Lady Paul and his daughter Anjili, along with friends and civic dignitaries, he formally named The Wulfruna Building and The Ambika Paul Building – previously known as MA and MD buildings. Grade II listed, The Wulfruna Building in Wulfruna Street has been named after Lady Wulfrun, the founder of what has become Wolverhampton. It is the University’s oldest building and opened in 1931 as the-then Wolverhampton and Staffordshire Technical College. The building acts as the official main entrance of the University and its foundation stone was laid by HRH Prince George.

The Ambika Paul Building, which is home to the Learning Centre, Students’ Union and a variety of student services, has been named in the memory of Lord and Lady Paul’s daughter, Ambika, who died from leukaemia in 1968 at the age of four. Following her death a charitable foundation was set up in her name, which promotes the wellbeing of children and young people worldwide through education. The Ambika Paul Foundation donated funds towards the refurbishment of the University’s Students’ Union in 2010 and earlier this year gifted £1 million to help enhance the student experience at the University.

These are the latest University buildings to be renamed as part of the University’s approach to giving its campuses and buildings an identity and presence. Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Geoff Layer, said: “We want our buildings to reflect the University’s values and give them a distinctive identity. Both of these new names do exactly that for different reasons, but ultimately they both represent our strength and are all about giving opportunity.”

WLV Life Spring 2016


Graduate feature


We caught up again with graduate and 400m World Championship medallist Jarryd Dunn, to find out what life is like running ‘the man killer’ – and how he’s determined to survive it all the way to gold in Rio and beyond. You’ve had an amazing season this year. What was the highlight? “I’ve had such a busy season it’s hard to pick just one highlight! Winning a bronze medal in the 4x400m relay at the World Athletics Championships in Beijing was a huge achievement, and my two silver medals also added to my success. But I think it has to be my run in Russia last summer, as I ran a new personal best which brought me to the forefront of European 400m running, and because it was such a big stage I’m now a much more recognisable name. A year ago I didn’t make either the individual or relay team, but it’s my name that’s first on the team sheet.”

How does it feel to be a World Championship medallist?

“It’s quite surreal and it took a while to sink in – the day I arrived back in the UK I had to get an MOT for my car so it was straight back into normal life. I’m lucky to have great people around me though. My family keep me grounded and I’ve known my coach since I was 10 years old. My training group still see me as the same person and because they’ve seen all the hard work and dedication I’ve put in, they’re all really supportive and pleased for me.”

What made you choose the 400m distance?

“I don’t think anyone chooses the 400m – it chooses you! In the athletics world it’s known as the ‘man killer’ as it combines

both speed and endurance, which you tend not to associate together in running. It’s basically a long distance sprint and no-one willingly opts to put their bodies through that much pain! When I started running in 2011, I was originally an 800m runner but would run a few 400m just to build up my strength. The team coaches saw me and suddenly I was being asked to join the junior team.”

So what does your training involve these days?

“A lot of grass-rep running, which is sprinting for anything from 30 seconds up to 90 seconds but with only a short recovery break in-between. Then there are circuit sessions that involve barely any recovery time and end with a 50m sprint. The aim is to build up lactic acid so that you learn to mentally overcome the pain, as well as train your body to perform through increased oxygen debt. The actual race isn’t as hard as the training, but that’s the idea – the training pushes you past where you need to be, so that when it comes to the race you know you can do it.”

It must require a great deal of self-motivation?

“Yes it does, but I always look to the end goal. In the UK this is the toughest event at the moment because of the number of competitors and if you slip up you won’t get selected for the team. That’s what mainly drives me – I want to be the first choice, not just there to make up the numbers.”

You suffered injury in 2012, how did that affect you?

“It was in 2012 that I made my breakthrough, but then it was discovered I had stress fractures in my spine so I missed the whole of 2013 and 2014 recovering and getting back into shape. It was hard, but I think the challenge actually gave me more drive, and although I technically lost two years of the sport, it also changed me mentally. I’ve grown up a lot and I think my success this season –

Graduate feature

watch athletics when I was younger and the Olympics really are the pinnacle. We genuinely think the relay team can make gold this year, and the teams we’ll be competing against are the same when we won bronze at the World Championships so we know we are up there with the best. It would be an honour to come out onto home soil at the World Championships in London 2017 as reigning champions.”

Do you have a lifetime ambition in terms of your athletics?

“My lifetime ambition has naturally evolved as my career in the sport has progressed. It started off with making the team, then winning medals, but they have turned out to all be steps along the way. I have about another 10 years left in my career which means there are potentially three Olympics I can enter – three bites at the cherry.”

How do you think the increasing success of British athletics is influencing younger generations?

“The media plays a huge role and athletics doesn’t get the same coverage as the mainstream sports, but successful athletes like Jess Ennis-Hill and Greg Rutherford are raising the profile of the sport and are positive role models for young people to aspire to. Right now there are a lot of junior athletes coming through the ranks who are incredibly determined, and their abilities are already making them serious contenders to be the next generation of leading British athletes. They are fast becoming the core nucleus of athletics and they are not just there to get the t-shirt.”

How do you feel about the comparatively limited funding in athletics? my medals and my three consecutive personal bests – is partly down to my more mature attitude now.”

Do you have any particular strategies to ‘psych’ yourself up? “You definitely need mental as well as physical strength in this sport, but I also get to say that my hobby is my job and when you enjoy what you do you perform better. I also never forget that athletes don’t really have a long career

and they miss it when they retire at what is a comparably young age. So I’m determined to enjoy my time as much as I can because at the end of the day, that’s ultimately why I got into the sport.”

Your ambition is to represent Team GB at Rio 2016. What will be going through your head if you succeed in getting to Brazil?

“Money draws many people into the mainstream sports but people who go into athletics know that they are never going to earn that sort of money. They do it purely for the love of the sport – true sportsmen.”

And finally...will we be seeing a Jarryd Dunn victory pose? “The relay team likes a pose so let’s see what we can do for Rio 2016!”

“Making it to Brazil would be the realisation of a dream for me. I used to

WLV Life Summer 2015 WLV Life Spring 2016

09 07

Graduation Ball

Graduation Ball To round off this year’s graduation season, we threw a glitzy bash to welcome our newest alumni to the global family. With live music from local up-andcomers Miss Fortunes, a hot buffet and free bubbly – all in the swanky surroundings of Molineux’s WV1 bar – it was a night of celebration to remember. Take a look at our photo gallery from the night…

Graduation Ball

WLV Life Spring 2016


Graduate Alumni events Feature


events Hong Kong Graduation: School for Continuing and Professional Education (SCOPE) The Hong Kong Alumni Association welcomed its newest members following this year’s graduation ceremony at our Transnational Education partner, SCOPE, based at City University, Hong Kong. The ceremony was followed by a celebratory dinner hosted by the Chairman of the Association, Mr Anthony Kam, who was also awarded an Honorary Fellowship in recognition of his long-standing work with the University and our alumni out in Hong Kong. He said: “This is the greatest honour that I have had in my whole life, and without a doubt I shall cherish it for all the years ahead of me.”

Lecture curries favour with chemistry cooking display Science graduates got to sample the culinary skills of ITV’s Food Glorious Food winner, Chef Rahila Hussain, when she visited the University last December to give a live demonstration lecture. Chemistry of Curry explored the science behind the nation’s favourite food dish, including the molecular reactions and medicinal benefits of spices. At the same time, Rahila gave a practical demonstration on how to combine the ingredients to produce the flavour of curry dishes as she cooked samples of Tarka Dahl, Channa Chaat and Pilau Rice.

Nigeria Alumni Association launch We were delighted to host a special celebratory dinner for our alumni in Nigeria at the end of last year. The event marked the formal launch of the Nigeria Alumni Association based in Lagos and was hosted by the University’s Associate Dean for the Faculty of Education, Health and Wellbeing; and the Head of Outreach and Development for the Faculty’s Institute of Sport. Joined by over 40 alumni from past years, the evening included the official appointment of the Association’s Executive Committee.

COMING SOON 50 years of English This year will be the 50th anniversary of our BA (Hons) English degree, and to mark the occasion we will be hosting a commemorative event at the University with our alumni, staff, and some special guests from the world of English Literature and Language – watch this space for more information on our plans coming soon.

School of Art and Design reunion In March we’ll be welcoming back art and design graduates from our Polytechnic days as they take a trip down memory lane with a reunion in Wolverhampton. We’ll be taking them round the Wolverhampton School of Art and showing them how we’ve changed over the last 20 years – and how we haven’t!

If you’re interested in hosting an alumni reunion with your old uni chums and would like the Alumni and Development team to give you a helping hand, then get in touch at:

Graduate feature


Danielle Brown MBE is a double Paralympic Gold medallist and three times World Champion in Archery.

As a teenager she was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), a condition that changed her life forever. No longer able to take part in all the sports she loved, she found a lifeline after joining a local archery club. Within three years she was representing her country – and from there began her seven year journey dominating the field across the world. Now an Honorary Graduate of the University, we took the opportunity to hear Danielle’s inspirational story of strength, determination and courage. Congratulations on your recent Honorary Degree. Did you enjoy your day? “Yes, it was amazing thank you. It was so unexpected and a real honour to be recognised by an institution that is passionate about helping people progress.” continues overleaf...

WLV Life Spring 2016


Graduate feature

You’ve overcome a great deal of adversity in your life from a young age. Have you always had such strength of mind and character? “I think you never know how strong you truly are until you face something. I owe a lot to my family as I grew up in a very supportive environment and already had a determined mentality. My mantra since I was a child has always been “there’s no such thing as can’t” so when I was diagnosed I instinctively told myself that I just have to find a way around it.” At the height of your career, how did it feel to know you were best in the world at your sport? “It’s a bit of a double-edged sword. It feels rewarding and of course winning medals is an unforgettable experience, but when you are the best in the world it means you can never rest on your laurels. Staying at the top is harder than getting there, and you have to constantly find ways to improve yourself so that no-one knocks you off. The pressure is definitely worth it though.” So did you worry about your opponents and who might be the one to beat you? “No, because to be the best it’s always important to keep looking forward and pushing for new goals. If you’re focussed on your opponents then you’re not focussing fully on your own game – especially with individual sports like archery.”

What was it about archery that attracted you to it when you were 15 years old? “I grew up playing lots of sports and I wanted to carry on with one, but my disability meant most were no longer an option and the majority of information around Paralympic sports was telling me what I couldn’t do instead of what I now could. In the end I had a choice between archery and swimming – but I figured playing with arrows would be much more fun!” You became so good you joined the able-bodied GB squad at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, winning gold. Was it always your aim to not be defined by a disability and strive beyond it? “I don’t really consider myself as having a disability and I’m always being told off for doing too much – in fact an able bodied person wouldn’t willingly do some of the things I do! I think because I have been decreed as having a disability, I tell myself I need to over achieve and go that one step further. If you allow yourself to mentally take on board a label like that then you give yourself unnecessary,

and often non-existent, restrictions and limitations. You risk behaving with that expectation and it almost becomes a self-fulling prophecy.” Your diagnosis meant your entire life changed overnight. Was your sport training as much about overcoming mental barriers as well as physical barriers? “Being an elite athlete is a lifestyle – you can’t just pick and choose. It dictates what you eat, when you eat, when you socialise. You live the sport and eventually it becomes engrained in you. It can be mentally tough at times, and I remember in particular when I was training for the London Olympic Games that I hardly got to see my family because the journey would’ve been too tiring and I’d risk affecting my performance.” You were awarded an MBE in the Queen’s 2013 New Year Honours. What was going through your head when you received your award? “I was so nervous – not because I was going to be in front of Prince Charles – but because I had to do two curtseys. My family were taking bets on whether

Graduate feature

I would fall over! I was given the option of bowing instead, but that would’ve meant me saying “I can’t curtsey” and there is no such thing as can’t. It was exciting to shake hands with royalty, but I’ve also attended the Queen’s garden party at Buckingham Palace and that was a fantastic experience.” Your sporting career was cut short in 2013 when it was deemed your disability no longer qualified you to compete at Paralympic events. Was there more you wanted to achieve if you had been given the opportunity? “I was training for Rio when I got the news and it was a very hard time for me. My identity was tied to my sporting career and I’d been dedicated to a strict programme for nearly a decade and then suddenly it all just stopped. It took me a while to adjust, but now that I can look back, I feel like I achieved what I wanted to achieve, and I’m proud of the career I had.” You now dedicate yourself to motivational speaking to inspire and encourage others. Do you feel this was the natural career change for you given your own personal experiences?

“Yes I suppose it was. When I was thrown off the programme I did a lot of soul searching and realised that there was a real lack of support for athletes who needed to build their mental resilience. Some were really good at it, but others weren’t and it would affect their performance irrespective of how good their skill level was. When I was competing I taught myself how to cope and I wanted to help others learn to cope as well.” So what does a typical day look like for you now? “Every day is so varied for me. I am asked to speak to so many different types of audiences who all have different life experiences. It’s not just people from the sporting world either – it could be anything creating a restriction or limitation for them that they need greater mental strength to overcome. I get messages from people saying how much I have helped their confidence and self-belief and I find that incredibly rewarding knowing I’m helping other people to strive to get the most out of their lives.”

What’s next for you then? “I’ve just finished writing my first book which I’m hoping to get published. I’ve always wanted to be an author and thoroughly enjoyed sitting down and sharing my experiences on paper. It was actually very therapeutic and helped me to adjust to no longer being a professional athlete.” You’re clearly passionate about wanting to help others who may be facing adversity. If you could give someone just one piece of advice, what would it be? “Get yourself a purpose that you are passionate about. You have to be prepared to work as there are no shortcuts, and putting 100% dedication into something is always easier when you love what you do. It’ll also help you cope with the challenges and curve balls that will inevitably come your way, thanks to this wonderful thing called life.”

WLV Life Spring 2016


Research feature

D IS FOR DEFICIENCY When you compare the grace and elegance of a ballet to the fastpaced, hard-hitting intensity of a rugby game, it can be difficult to believe that professional dancers are significantly more likely to suffer injuries than rugby players. Dance isn’t usually a contact or combative sport, and performers are not engaged in a competitive battle on stage. So why do they suffer such a high rate of injury? This is a question that the University’s Professor Matt Wyon first asked in 2008 and since then, his research has gone on to uncover that the answer is in fact a very simple one: Vitamin D – or rather, a lack of it.

The sunshine vitamin Vitamin D is crucial for adequate bone and muscle health in any human body, and it is produced through exposure of the skin to the sun. This means athletes that train indoors, such as dancers, are vulnerable to Vitamin D deficiency, and as such are at greater risk of injury. Professor Wyon, who heads up the Dance Science and Medicine Research Group at the University, is a leading expert in the field of dance science, as well as exercise physiologist for the Birmingham Royal Ballet and English National Ballet. To test his theory, he monitored dancers’ Vitamin D levels over the course of a year during reduced and increased exposure to sunlight and then compared it to their bone metabolism to assess the subsequent impact on bone regeneration. The results unequivocally showed that reduced sunlight exposure, particularly during the winter months, did lead to low vitamin levels and that furthermore, these dancers also suffered a higher rate of injury during that time.

Professor Wyon says: “The first stage of the project allowed for a much more in-depth examination of the causes of injuries experienced by dancers, and the findings showed a clear link between low levels of Vitamin D and impaired exercise performance. This then paved the way for further investigation into preventative measures that would reduce the risk of injury from the outset.” To determine the link further, the second stage of the project looked at whether the introduction of an oral Vitamin D supplement actually improved the dancers’ physical fitness and muscle function. Over a period of four months, dancers were given a daily dose of Vitamin D which not only resulted in significant increases in muscle strength but also a reduced injury rate. The same positive effect was found on judo athletes – who similarly train indoors. In a separate study by Professor Wyon and his team, a group of 22 athletes were given either a Vitamin D supplement or a placebo and then tested twice, eight days apart, before training

Research feature

commenced and after two days of rest. The group who received the Vitamin D supplement demonstrated a significant increase in the vitamin level, and in turn an increase in muscle strength. Prevention is better than cure While the findings of the research may be considered unsurprising, the implications within the sporting and performing arts arena actually have a significant impact. When you consider that performance is centric to athletes, and that they depend on being injury free to even compete, a daily Vitamin D supplement to help maintain strength and reduce risk of injury is not just a feasible preventative measure, it is an essential one. Professor Wyon adds: “For athletes who train indoors, the value of this research is substantial – not only for professional athletes who need to safeguard their physical health, but also for amateur athletes, and less well-funded sports, that rely on prevention rather than cure due to limited access to expert treatment.” Higher on the health agenda It’s not just athletes who need to be aware of the effect of reduced sunlight exposure. The research raises questions about whether in fact any of us are getting enough Vitamin D in our daily lives to ensure sufficient bone health. Professor Wyon explains: “Even during the summer the average person in the UK does not get enough exposure to sunlight due to spending most of their daylight hours indoors either at work or at home. When we do venture into the sun we are advised to wear sunscreen to protect our skin against harmful UV rays. Of course this protection is important, but it is also preventing our bodies from producing a sufficient amount of Vitamin D.” Indeed it is a growing concern within the healthcare profession with bone diseases such as osteoporosis on the rise, and now affecting younger as well as older people. Professor Wyon concludes: “Increasing our Vitamin D intake as part of our normal daily routine needs to be higher on our agenda. A healthy diet can help to compensate for reduced sun exposure, but with modern day living and working drawing us ever more indoors, the role of vitamin supplements as part of this may well become progressively important.” WLV Life Spring 2016


Business feature

Mixed messages Our sensory system gives us the information we need to be able to go about our daily lives. Sound, sight, touch, smell, taste – plus the lesser well-known balance and body awareness – all work together, sending messages to our brain for it to interpret. The process is called sensory integration and is responsible for how we feel emotionally, how we react in situations, and how we interact with others, based on the sensory input we receive from the world around us. For us to function effectively, all seven senses need to be adequately balanced. For the majority of us this is something we learn to develop as we progress through childhood, yet there are some children who find it a much tougher challenge, one made harder by the fact that parents, teachers, and health professionals often don’t even realise the reason behind it is actually a medical condition – specifically, a sensory processing disorder (SPD). Sensory processing disorders exist when sensory integration doesn’t develop as efficiently as it should during standard childhood development. The messages the brain receives become mixed up and the nervous system has difficulty organising them into appropriate responses. To the onlooker, they may simply see a “problem child”, but children

with the condition have a constant struggle to process and appropriately act upon sensory information. It can affect attention and behaviour, social skills and self-esteem, play skills, motor skills and even daily living and routines such as sleeping and eating. It was through volunteering with French Squared, who support children and young people with complex needs, that graduate Lucy Taylor realised her own son’s behaviour difficulties were similar to the characteristics of SPD. Having gained a first class honours degree in Special Needs, Inclusion Studies and Education Studies, she decided to apply what she had learned. She says: “I started initially by including various sensory movement and play strategies into his home life, and gradually we started to see really positive changes in his behaviour as well as positive feedback from his school.” Witnessing the benefits first-hand, Lucy became determined to raise awareness of SPD so that others who were experiencing similar concerns with their children could start to get the support they needed. With links to health, education and social care professionals through her degree, as well as families from her volunteering, Lucy approached the University’s SPEED Plus programme to help her start her own business – Sensory Wise.

making sense of sensory processing

She says: “I’ve always wanted to start my own business, but I lacked confidence in my ability to cope with such an enormous task. I saw SPEED Plus as a way of building my confidence and resilience so that I could turn my ideas into a reality and overcome my fears about going it alone.” Based in Dudley, Sensory Wise raises awareness of SPD by providing expert advice, information and resources to families, schools and educators. “There’s such little understanding out there of SPD even though it affects nearly 20% of the UK population and exists across a person’s entire lifespan,” Lucy explains. “It is often misunderstood as a behavioural problem, and because it’s only recognised as a condition within a condition and not a stand-alone one, without assessment and correct diagnosis it is very hard to access appropriate support. I’m eager to get schools and healthcare organisations to start acknowledging the needs of people who live with SPD.” This is particularly important given the long term impact the condition can have. Not only can it hinder learning in the classroom, and in turn affect educational achievements and career choices, but it also has wider social impact in how people with SPD interact with other people and their perception of self-worth.

Business feature

Lucy’s business includes an online shop which sells a wide range of sensory toys, play items and equipment. She says: “I want Sensory Wise to be affordable and inclusive to enable families to have access to resources normally only found in schools and therapy sessions.” Customers already include parents, teachers, occupational therapists and day nurseries and they have also expressed a desire to use the Sensory Wise website as a learning resource for parents and educators to help teach them about sensory integration, sensory processing disorder, and ultimately how to be sensory wise. Lucy says: “It’s important that SPD is identified early, and teachers as well as parents are in the best position to observe children over extended periods of time. One of my ambitions is to get

Sensory Wise involved in national Teacher Training Programmes; that way I can better equip teachers to spot children who are struggling and they can get the support they need more quickly.”

and fitness and larger sensory room equipment. Plans to grow the education side of the business are also underway through organised events, workshops and training sessions.

The success of Lucy’s business has been so significant that in July last year, less than a year after launching, she won the Graduate Start-up of the Year award at the University of Wolverhampton Business Achievement Awards 2015.

Lucy concludes: “I now have the confidence in my abilities and the worth of my business to make the most of this opportunity. I want to use Sensory Wise to help children and families who often ‘fall through the net’ to be supported. Sensory processing difficulties must be taken seriously, and then hopefully I can start to make a change to the lives of many children and help improve the wellbeing of them and their families.”

She says: “I was up against strong competition so it felt fantastic to win. I used the money to get branded Sensory Wise items like our uniform, and the next step is to redevelop the website.” Looking to the future, Lucy will be exhibiting at more community and fundraising events. She will also continue to build the Sensory Wise range of products to include more sports

Find out more about sensory integration, sensory processing disorder and how to be sensory wise at:

WLV Life Spring 2016


Motorsport Engineering

Motorsport engineering gains pole position at Telford Innovation Campus. Part of our £250 million Our Vision, Your Opportunity investment programme.

With the University of Wolverhampton Racing Team securing a podium finish for the first time at last year’s 2015 Mono2000 Championships, it is fitting that the latest multi-million pound investment to be announced by the University is for development of the engineering provision at Telford Innovation Campus. The £12 million venture will see the Campus extended with a state-of-the-art facility, including specialist equipment for the University’s new range of motorsport, chemical, aerospace, and electronic and telecommunications engineering courses. This will include creating a Formula 1 specification wind tunnel, engine test facilities, a design and visualisation facility, 3D printing facilities, and laboratories dedicated to electronics and telecommunications, metrology and materials testing. The remainder of the investment will be spent on facilities for chemical engineering which will be based at the new Rosalind Franklin Science Building at City Campus.

The University of Wolverhampton Racing Team will be based in the newly built space, which is due to begin construction this year and will come complete with a dedicated pit lane, plus the team’s former racing car driving inspiration as a permanent piece of decorative art on one of the walls.

Shane Kelly, gives students from across motorsport, automotive, mechanical and mechatronics engineering degrees the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put theory into practice – creating a car that can race the fastest laps and compete against international racing teams with world-class drivers.

The team, comprising engineering students, staff and motorsport professionals, including professional driver

Their latest challenge has been to enhance the car’s performance by trialling new parts. Taking to the track

Motorsport Engineering

for an engineering test day at Lichfield’s Curborough Sprint Circuit in December, the team trialled a selection of newly designed prototype parts, including a lightweight lithium battery which is 6kg lighter than the conventional lead acid race batteries.

skills of students from across the full range of engineering courses, testing was performed to determine the long-term effects of the lithium battery, performance levels and data traces under high load in order to assess the impact on power-toweight ratio.

Students were given the task of running the car as a simulation exercise in preparation for the upcoming race season. Calling on the knowledge and

In addition to the latest plans, the University invested ÂŁ500,000 last summer in the engineering facilities at Telford to include new workshops with two car

bays, as well as benches and professional tools to support the students’ work on the racing car.

Keep up-to-date with the UWR Team and follow their progress: /UniversityWolverhamptonRacing /UWRacing /uwracing

WLV Life Spring 2016


Academic commentary

Raising their game

Lecturer in Sports Coaching, H annah Dingley, sh ares her thoughts on the recent successes o f Great Brit ain’s sportswom en and why they should no lo nger be hidden from view.

The 2015 rugby World Cup was hugely disappointing for England. Not only was it England’s worst ever showing in a World Cup but they also became the first host nation not to progress past the group stages of the tournament. In contrast England’s Women's Rugby team are the current World Champions, having won a hard-fought final against Canada 21-9 in front of a sell-out crowd in Paris last August. They also won 2014 BBC Sports Personality Team of the Year and the game is becoming more and more popular with record-breaking viewing figures of 1.6 million people tuning in to watch the World Cup semifinal between Canada and South Africa. What made England’s success even more remarkable is that all of their players had to take time off from their day jobs to play in the tournament. The team contained a plumber, a vet, a mother, a lifeguard, a few teachers, students and a guitarist. It was only after their success in France that England's women rugby players are now being paid to play. 20 players have been handed professional contracts, allowing them to train full-time. Rugby 7s will also now feature in the Rio Olympics in 2016 which means that England will be able to compete on a level with other countries that have fulltime players.

Women’s cricket in England has also celebrated the dawning of a fully professional era, with 18 players awarded contracts. Although they lost the Ashes in 2015, for the first time Sky Sports provided live television coverage of every ball, with the BBC covering it on radio. They also signed an historic sponsorship deal this year with Kia Motors, their first standalone sponsorship agreement. England women’s Hockey team also won the EuroHockey Championships for the first time in 24 years this summer as they defeated the Netherlands 3-1 on penalties to triumph on home soil. The side were also the only GB team sport to medal in London 2012 and three years after their Olympic success, the sport is flourishing. There are now 180,000 regular players turning out for the 900 clubs across the country, with 25% more women and 55% more under16s playing since 2011. For the elite players, that bronze medal also won the GB team a level of funding from UK Sport that means they can be paid as they train for their next major challenge – Rio 2016.

The England women's football team managed to secure a pay increase this season. Their central contacts with England are now worth £20,000 a year, an increase of £4,000, and it appears to be paying off as their bronze medal in the 2015 World Cup made them the most successful men’s or women’s England football team since 1966. While Wayne Rooney is on an estimated £300,000 a week, the best-paid women in England now earn around £50,000-£60,000 a year. The FA created the Women’s Super League (WSL) in 2011, and the players started making a living from their sport. Following this summer’s World Cup, women’s football in England has seen continued growth with attendance figures for the WSL up 48% this season. The BBC and BT Sport both covered the WSL as we saw Chelsea manager Emma Hayes, the only female manager in the top flight, lead Chelsea Ladies to their first title.

Academic commentary

The USA who won the World Cup in Canada have a long established professional women’s soccer league, but they too saw increases in attendances off the back of this summer’s tournament with nearly a 22% increase from the previous season. In September 2015, University of Wolverhampton Sport graduate Laura Harvey won National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season. Her Seattle Reign side won the NWSL Shield for the second year in a row. Laura is also one of four Britons, although the only female, in contention to be FIFA women's world coach of the year. Laura, and England boss Mark Sampson, are joined on a 10-person shortlist by Colin Bell (Frankfurt) and John Herdman (Canada). In 2012, on the Olympic stage, Britain’s female athletes won dozens of medals, and their successes prompted more interest in women’s sport. Not only was London 2012 the most gender-equal games in history (although there were 30 fewer medals for women to win), the country woke up to the fact that inspirational sportswomen had been hidden from view for too long. Young girls can now easily watch role models both live and on TV and be inspired by their skill level as professional athletes. What's more, they can actually make a living by playing team sports. Previously, this was only possible in individual events, such as tennis, golf or athletics. However, on a final note, although female sport is gaining more publicity, where are the female coaches? A UK Sport (2013) report stated that only 30% of coaches in the UK are women, and although Team GB had the most female athletes ever competing at London 2012, only 7% of the Performance Directors were female. Examples such as Laura Harvey and Emma Hayes are few and far between and National Governing Bodies need to do more to not only support and develop women coaches, but to give them opportunities to prove themselves at the top level of sport. Hannah Dingley BSc (Hons) Sports Coaching Practice Course Leader

WLV Life Spring 2016




FOR AFRICA Strengthening a continent through knowledge, innovation and enterprise. The focus of universities on the international market place is a logical and commonplace practice. However, not all efforts to link with the global community are driven solely by the objective to increase student numbers. Equally as compelling is the desire to join forces with a country’s educational and economic infrastructure, in order to share knowledge, inspire innovation and enterprise, and ultimately better integrate it within the global economy. It is on this premise that the University’s growing presence within Africa is based. While the continent has enjoyed a significant improvement in its socioeconomic landscape, challenges still remain in generating intellectual capital and making a contribution to the global knowledge community through research and innovation. To help tackle this, the University has launched a Centre for African Entrepreneurship and Leadership (CAEL). Dedicated to supporting businesses and individuals across Africa, the Centre’s aim is to help them develop the skills, processes and resources they need to survive, adapt and thrive. Focusing primarily on entrepreneurship, CAEL brings groups and institutions in Africa together with Faculties and business support units at the University. Through their combined knowledge and expertise, new ideas for sustainable schemes are being formed in areas such as SME growth, graduate and youth employment, and women empowerment. The Centre delivers capacity building programmes aimed at upskilling individuals through certified short courses, seminars and conferences and 'training of trainers' workshops. It also works with higher education institutions to help develop

and accredit their course curriculum in key business and management subjects. Supporting the research community in Africa, the Centre also conducts applied research into how entrepreneurship education and graduate start-up schemes can be enhanced. Seal of approval To celebrate the formal launch of CAEL, the University welcomed a delegation of partner visitors from Africa – including students and graduates who are already benefiting from the collaboration. Over 100 delegates travelled to Wolverhampton from Nigeria for the event including Senators, ViceChancellors, Directors of Entrepreneurship Centres, Special Advisors on tertiary education, Commissioners as well as the Deputy Governor of Bauchi State. The delegation was headed up by Her Excellency Oluremi Tinubu, former First Lady of Lagos State, and Senator on behalf of Lagos Central Senatorial District who was representing her husband, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the former Governor of Lagos and new patron of CAEL.

Mayor of Wolverhampton, Ian Brookfield, joining in with the evening’s entertainment

The visitors were given a tour of the University, attended lectures, met students, toured the new Business School and met the Mayor and Mayoress of Wolverhampton, Ian and Paula Brookfield, at a civic lunch where they discussed democratic governance and Wolverhampton’s longterm socio-economic strategy. To date, CAEL has successfully engaged more than 1,500 individuals and institutions from Nigeria, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe in the areas of training, research and curriculum provision, and in 2014 one of the Centre’s initiatives won both the prestigious Guardian Universities Award and PraxisUnico Impact Awards.

Her Excellency Oluremi Tinubu, former First Lady of Lagos State


Vice-Chancellor, Professor Geoff Layer; Her Excellency Oluremi Tinubu, former First Lady of Lagos State; and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Dr Anthea Gregory

Christiana Wakawa Christiana is from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State – epicentre of the Boko Haram conflict in northern Nigeria. Through the support of CAEL, she was able to initiate and develop her own business plan using locally sourced materials. “Civil unrest over the past few years in our State had led to insurgency, which destabilised the economy and left a lot of women and children displaced. Thanks to the training provided by CAEL, I now own my own tailoring company, DT Stitches, which has gone on to gain international recognition. I have acquired confidence and new skills and have been able to train over 1,000 women and young people in entrepreneurship. It has changed my life.” Members of the Nigerian delegation alongside University dignitaries

WLV Life Spring 2016


My Life

My Life Zoe Westwood BA (Hons) Illustration, 2015

According to the latest figures from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, obesity levels in the UK have more than trebled in the last 30 years, with one in four British adults classed as obese – a ratio that puts the UK at the top of Europe’s obesity league.* Helping to tackle the problem are societies such as the British Obesity Society, which last year launched a competition for students to design a new awareness-raising poster. The winner was illustration student, Zoe Westwood, who last September graduated with a first class honours degree. “I’ve always been passionate about art, but I discovered a love for illustration when I studied a BTEC Foundation Art & Design course. I like the playfulness of illustration and the broad range of styles it can encompass, and because it is usually created to a brief, with inspiration from narratives and articles, I can work with more direction. “When I decided to progress my studies to degree level, I looked at a number of local universities, but I chose Wolverhampton because out of all the illustration courses I’d researched, this one seemed to be the most nurturing, and the evident passion of the lecturers was very inspiring. “My time at the University was incredibly enjoyable, and I took as many opportunities as I could to start creating a portfolio of work, most of which has been inspired by various editorial articles

I have read. The biggest highlight was the undergraduate degree show. Seeing all your hard-work exhibited for your friends and family to see was lovely, and it seemed to collate the whole university experience brilliantly for me. “In the final year we were also encouraged to enter competitions. As well as improving your chances of getting your work recognised, they also provide experience of working to a brief within

strict deadlines, which is a crucial skill to have within the creative industries.” Eating your feelings “I think it’s important that everyone tries to live healthily, so when I found out about the British Obesity Society competition in my final year I was very much interested. They were looking for an innovative idea for a poster design that would catch public attention and encourage people to think about their behaviour.

“I like designing posters and the increasing obesity problem in the UK is a really important subject matter to promote. After doing a bit of research into the area, I noticed that the psychological issues behind obesity are often overlooked in campaigns. I therefore decided to focus my design on conveying a hard-hitting message that would make people think about the reasons why they over-eat. “I read numerous articles and thought about the emotional connection between people and food. I thought it would be interesting to show how your feelings often control your appetite, and it was from this I came up with the concept of “eating your feelings”. The finished design depicts a person eating biscuits with words such as ‘sadness’, ‘boredom’ and ‘worry’ written on them. “When I found out that my poster had won and was now going to be used nation-wide, I was completely overwhelmed. It is an honour to have been chosen to promote the severity of obesity and I feel very proud to be part of such an important campaign. I also received £100 which was a nice added bonus!” Just keep on creating “For me, my biggest achievement so far has been gaining a first class degree with honours in illustration. I worked very hard throughout university and it makes me proud to know that it paid off. I now work as a junior graphic designer for a small creative agency, but I still try to illustrate whenever I can. Working full-time makes it harder to dedicate as much attention to my illustrating as I would like, but my career ambition is that in 10 years’ time I’ll be working as a professional illustrator. “If I was to give one piece of advice to an art student today, I would say create as much as you can and enter as many competitions as you can. I’ve seen tremendous achievements in my illustration course, with my fellow students winning Penguin and Orion book competitions. I think it’s important to just keep going in art courses, don’t get dis-heartened when projects don’t go your way. Just keep on creating.” * Source: The State of Food and Agriculture 2013, United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization.

Where are you now? We love to hear about where life has taken our graduates – the next steps they have taken and the joys and successes they are experiencing. Why not tell us where you are now? You can be featured on our alumni website or maybe even in future editions of WLV@lumni e-zine and WLV Life magazine. You could write about your: • career success or further study since graduating • travel experiences and adventures • hobbies and interests • personal life such as marriage and children • any other fantastic experiences you have had! To find out how to send us your story, and to read where some of our graduates from the past 50 years are now, visit:

WLV Life Spring 2016


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WLV Life Issue 10 - Spring 2016  

University of Wolverhampton alumni magazine

WLV Life Issue 10 - Spring 2016  

University of Wolverhampton alumni magazine