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Issue 11 – Summer 2016

University of Wolverhampton alumni magazine

OAR INSPIRING Graduate’s epic Atlantic row A GREAT YARN Wolverhampton as you’ve never seen it before FROM LIGHT TO DARK Read an extract from a truly amazing autobiography




Postgraduate Open Evenings Thursday 15 September 2016 Wednesday 23 November 2016 For more information and to register: email:

The University of Opportunity

Life. At Wolverhampton. After Wolverhampton. For Life. Welcome to the Summer 2016 edition of WLV Life – the magazine for graduates of the University of Wolverhampton. Alumnus Lee Felton, one of our cover stars, recently took on the greatest challenge of his life, completing a 4,800km transatlantic race. You can read more about his highs and lows on page 4. Back on dry land, there’s a distinctively arty feel to this issue. Artsfest created a buzz in Wolverhampton this summer and as part of the fun, the city was reimagined by a group of talented knitters (page 8). See how many landmarks you recognise. A more serious craft note sees one of our academics examine how the making movement is empowering communities and helping those with mental health issues (page 20). We also spoke to the incredibly talented Dean Melbourne (page 4), a Fine Art graduate whose striking paintings are in demand internationally. He’s had pieces selected for the prestigious Royal Academy Summer Exhibition three times and tells us more about what inspires him. On the subject of inspiration, you would be hard pressed to find somebody more inspiring than ‘Blind Dave’ Heeley, one of our honorary graduates. The story of how he came back from the loss of his sight to become the first blind person to complete seven marathons in seven continents, in seven consecutive days is incredible. So much so that he was asked to compile his autobiography, From Light to Dark. Life magazine was at the book launch and we have an extract for you to read on page 12.

Elsewhere, there’s news of an exciting partnership putting higher education at the centre of a drive for economic growth: the West Midlands Combined Universities (page 18), our return to the House of Lords (page 16) and much more. We’d love to hear your news and views – see page 10 for ways you can help us out and keep in touch with your achievements and updates. Emma Pugh Acting Editor 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 Wulfruna Street Wolverhampton WV1 1LY Email: Tel: +44 (0)1902 323 056 /wlvalumni @wlv_alumni


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Woolverhampton Our city in yarn


In the news


Beyond the Sea


Dean Melbourne


House of Lords event


Stronger Together


Making a Difference



From Light to Dark A brilliant autobiography


Research Feature Tackling brain tumours

A round-up of the latest goings on at the University

Lee Felton’s Atlantic crossing challenge

A Q&A with the in-demand artist

Showing a healthy outlook for the University

Universities unite to meet devolution demands

Academic commentary on the rise of the ‘craftivist’


WLV Life Summer 2016



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

We’re Business of the Year! The University of Wolverhampton was hailed as ‘truly outstanding’ when it was presented with the Business of the Year accolade at a city ceremony. We won the prestigious title at the Express & Star’s Business Awards 2016 thanks to our investment, impact on the economy and commitment to educational opportunities. Professor Geoff Layer, Vice-Chancellor, said: “This fantastic award is recognition for the amazing achievements of our students, the remarkable hard work of our staff and the ambitious vision of our governors. Last year we announced our biggest ever investment programme, Our Vision, Your Opportunity, committing to generating £250m of investment in five years to improve the student experience and boost the local economy.”

Record high for graduates in work or further study Latest figures show more graduates than ever from the University of Wolverhampton are going into jobs or further study. The Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) Survey, a national annual survey of everyone who has recently graduated from university or HE colleges, reveals graduates’ employment status six months after they complete their studies. Overall, 96% of students who graduated from the University of Wolverhampton in 2015 were in work or further study after they had left – outperforming the UK average and a record high for the University, positioning us as second in the UK for employability*. Wolverhampton students are also supporting the regional economy with 80% working in the West Midlands after graduation. The majority of Wolverhampton students also go into graduate level jobs with 66% being employed in professional or managerial roles. The survey results also highlighted that 63% reported earning £15,000 to £29,999 and a further 16% earning £30,000 to £59,999. We’d love to hear about your successes – contact us at: * Source: DLHE 2014/15. For Universities with 2,000–3,000 graduating students (full-time undergrad).

£10m investment paves the way for the future of engineering Pave Aways (a local Shropshire building contractor) has been appointed to build the new £10m development at the Telford Innovation Campus – part of its Our Vision, Your Opportunity £250m investment generation plan. Advanced, new engineering facilities and enhanced courses are a response to the national shortage of qualified engineering graduates and will focus on providing students with access to technology at the forefront of engineering developments.

Student makes Rio Paralympic team Jack Hodgson (19), a first year BSc Sports Coaching student based at the University’s Walsall Campus, has been named as part of the British Judoka that will compete at the Games in Brazil in September. He suffers from a rare-genetic disorder called Usher Syndrome, which has resulted in him being profoundly deaf and having a degenerative eye condition. Jack, who competes in the plus 100kg category, has already won a number of medals in top competitions this year, most recently taking bronze at the European Championships in Portugal. He said: “I’m incredibly proud to be selected to represent Paralympics GB for Rio 2016 and I’d like to thank everyone for their incredible support up to this point. I’d love to win gold but will be looking for a placing in the top five at the very least.” We wish him and the team the best of luck!


Contractor appointed for £4m city centre campus redevelopment Building contractor, M3, has been appointed to start work on the redevelopment of the University’s City Campus. Plans were recently approved by Wolverhampton City Council to redevelop the food court at the Millennium City Building, improve the main courtyard area and create better access to the rear of the Wulfruna Building. Completion is expected in November 2016.

University race team celebrate a hat-trick of wins in their F3 Cup debut The only University race team competing in the first round of this season’s MSV F3 Cup have celebrated three first place victories and two fastest laps following their first round at Donington Park National. Engineering students in the University of Wolverhampton Race Team (UWR) have shown that they have mastered a winning race formula – and, coupled with the expertise and experience of driver, Shane Kelly – are now dominating the grid and look set to be strong contenders for the race title. The Race Team will be competing in all rounds across the season at world famous tracks including Spa Francorchamps, Brands Hatch, and the home of the British Grand Prix, Silverstone.

University investing in multi-million digital upgrade The University of Wolverhampton is revolutionising its digital infrastructure, to improve the learning experience for students. The Digital Campus programme is transforming the way the University uses technology for learning and teaching and its day-to-day business. The foundation phase is well underway, delivering innovative learning and teaching tools and providing a single access point into the University’s digital world. The University has committed £13m to the programme, which also includes £1.2m of funding for a rolling PC upgrade with 700 machines being replaced at Wolverhampton and Walsall Campuses.

International news... Hong Kong Alumni Association goes from strength to strength The social calendar for our Hong Kong Alumni Association is expanding, keeping members connected through a variety of events throughout the year. Following on from a successful graduation dinner attended by ViceChancellor, Professor Geoff Layer last year, alumni members organised several informal gatherings for friendship and networking. They were invited to a party by the Federation of Australian Alumni Association Hong Kong, a group of Australian university associations; a great opening for more crossover events with other overseas universities. In February this year, they also joined a Ma Wan hiking trip organised by the Open University of Hong Kong English Speaking Group, visiting an outlying island in Hong Kong, and enjoying a barbeque afterwards. The next event is the 2016 summer wakeboard boating party, which docks at one of the most beautiful islands in the Sai Kung area. Members will be able to enjoy all sorts of water sports such as wakeboarding, swimming and snorkelling.

Celebrating 30 years of work in Cameroon The University has been working with partners in Cameroon for three decades, and a recent event marked this milestone. Vice-Chancellor Geoff Layer hosted an Alumni Evening at the Mont Fébé hotel in Yaoundé for Cameroonian alumni in June with guests from the British High Commission. Cameroonian footballer Roger Milla, a roving ambassador for the University of Wolverhampton, gave a short speech and talked about his foundation which is supported by the University. The event was covered by Cameroonian television. Philip Dearden, Head of the Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT) gave a short presentation on 30 years of work in Cameroon. The University has been supporting forest governance and sustainability work, and championing the rights of indigenous people. CIDT has submitted a bid to continue its Forestry Governance capacity development work. An important Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Dschang University has also been signed to build on its Forestry Governance Curriculum Development work and continue Green Growth work. WLV Life Summer 2016


BEYOND Graduate feature

More people have climbed Everest than have ever rowed the Atlantic, so graduate Lee Felton’s achievement is truly remarkable. Luke McNaney spoke to him about the trials and triumphs of his once-in-a-lifetime experience.

You can’t blame University of Wolverhampton alumnus Lee Felton for his new aversion to the big blue; it comes after he and friend Sean Lannon completed the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in February 2016, having crossed the sea from the Canary Islands to Antigua in just 65 days. Since graduating in 2007 in BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science, Lee has travelled the world seeking new thrills but the so-called ‘world’s toughest row’ was a challenge all of its own. In a boat about the size of a Range Rover, the two-man team set off in December with 26 other teams to embark on the 4,800km transatlantic race. Lee credits his degree with informing the experiences that led him to the start line. After graduation, he taught human biology at a school in Tipton, where he also acted as the outdoor activities

coordinator with a focus on “getting children involved in sports and activities but throwing science in there as well.” He took his students to Africa to help build a school in a small village and for “back-to-basics” adventures through the National Parks, tracking game animals. His world travels took him to South Africa, where he landed a job educating tourists about conservation and taking them diving with great white sharks (“That gave me a feel for the sea,” he says), before moving on to Dubai three years ago for a teaching post. When his friend came to him with the idea of crossing the Atlantic, after three of his four-man rowing team dropped out, Lee overcame his initial reservations (he thought it was “possibly the worst idea in the world”) and joined Sean as the self-professed “underdogs” of the

competition. “I fancied a bit of a change and thought this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – so it was all go from there.” With only 10 months of preparation (most teams had at least two years), including garnering sponsorship from the University weeks before, Lee and Sean set off on the high seas. From an out-of-season hurricane to 50 foot waves, the voyage presented various trials – some of them unexpected. “Probably one of the hardest things, and I didn’t think at the start it would be, was the psychological side. It was mind-blowing how boring it was – you’d look around a full 360 degrees in every direction, and all you could see was blue. It was surreal.” Despite the isolation, including Christmas away from his beloved girlfriend AnneMarie, Lee and Sean experienced some unforgettable moments. “I was having a little break on the deck,” Lee says, “when

THE SEA Graduate feature

knew even a little bit of money would be a real big help to them.”

I’m back us ed to living on dr y land and don’t w ant to go anywhere n ear open water for q uite a while.

Sean started shouting. I thought I was having a dream, shot up and there were six or eight dolphins right next to our boat looking at us.” The dolphins were joined by dorado fish and birds in accompanying the pair on parts of their journey, bringing a smile to their faces in the absence of friends and family – or dry clothes! However, the biggest highlight for Lee was when the end was in sight. “Just knowing we were only 20 or 30 miles away from dry land at the end was really cool,” Lee recalls. “1km before, the photographers came out and we lit flares – that was intense, we were so full of adrenaline. There were probably 250 people there in total, on boats sounding off horns and flashing lights, people cheering and shouting. It really was like something out of a film, it was magical.”

The scale of the achievement began to hit home as Lee was met by his mother in Antigua – a long way from his hometown of Dudley. After 65 days, 13 hours and 20 minutes at sea with only Sean and wildlife for company, Lee was back on dry land and those moments where the two of them felt like giving up were far behind them. “When times got really tough, it spurred us on that we were doing this for other people as well – we’d come so far, we’d be letting people down who’ve gone through a lot worse than we have, so we just needed to suck it up and get on with it.” Here, the people Lee is referring to are the victims of rape and trafficking that Rape Crisis and Sport for Freedom seek to help; for the duration of the extreme rowing challenge, he and Sean chose to raise funds for these specific UK-based charities partly because, he says, “We

Now that it’s all over, what advice would Lee give to any WLV students or graduates looking to embark on the next Atlantic Challenge or a similar odds-defying pursuit? “My first piece of advice would be: don’t do it! No, I’m only joking, my advice would be if you want to do it, go for it – it’s life-changing and inspirational but really do some research, make sure it’s what you actually want to do and that you’re prepared to give 150% so you get it done.” Although it feels like a “lifetime” ago, Lee continues to grasp opportunities that have come his way after the race. As well as acting as ambassador for sports company Sun & Sand Sport and judging the 2016 Daman Corporate Health Awards, he has been inspired by his time at University to establish his own company, LTF Sports, which offers sports coaching and more to kids and adults in Dubai. The most important thing for Lee though is the chance to carry on raising the profile of his and Sean’s selected charities, with the total amount raised to be confirmed following the sale of the boys’ boat. “It’s been very worthwhile,” Lee concludes. “It was tough and hard, and there were points where I thought it was too much, but looking back it’s one of those things that will never be able to be taken away from me.” WLV Life Summer 2016


Graduate feature

DEANMELBOURNE Artist and alumnus Dean Melbourne was raised in the West Midlands. He studied BA (Hons) Fine Art at the University, and his work is now in demand internationally.

Graduate feature

me massively. I was delighted to get both prints in and was in the same booth as Tracy Emin and Paula Rego. I expected that would be the pinnacle of my art career really. The third time was really special as it was the first time I exhibited a painting. Again, I was in amazing company and was showing alongside Lisa Wright and Henry Hussey who are now gallery stablemates. The piece was picked out by Andrew Lambreth in the Spectator as a highlight, too.

Image courtesy of Express and Star

What did you enjoy most about your course? Did you find anything particularly helpful? I think the sense of belonging to something; being a fine art student was important to me as a Black Country lad. I felt safe there. Also having the time to be in the studio and work. My engagement with a couple of members of staff has been really influential in my practice. Would you say your surroundings growing up have informed your work? Absolutely! We are a product of our environment, aren’t we? I grew up on a 1970s housing estate in Kingswinford. That estate and the green belt that was attached became my world. It was safe enough to allow me freedom to explore. The relationship between the civilised and nature was always fascinating to me. Tell us a bit about your career path after you graduated. I lectured at Stourbridge College for eight academic years before moving into gallery education and finally the corporate world. I always kept a studio and never worked more than three days a week, giving me time to paint. There were many highs and lows in those 15 years and that continues now. Many people love teaching alongside an art practice, but I found it very difficult. I am now working freelance as a consultant and coach and paint full-time.

What brings you inspiration? Are there any particular artists you admire? Many things, books and stories, the natural world and my internal emotional and psychological landscape are the main drivers I think. I’m also interested in history, theology and philosophy. I admire artists in general. I love their stories and journeys. I was in love with the idea of being an artist before I was in love with art. I just wanted to be a name in that canon. My first loves were French Fauvism and German Expressionism, in later years I have grown to love British painting much more. You’ve had work selected for the prestigious Royal Academy Summer Exhibition three times – how did you feel? The first time, I came to make the prints here at WAG as part of the Artists Access to Art Colleges (AA2A) scheme. Tom, the technician, was really great and helped

What does a typical day involve for you now? It very much depends on where I am in my creative cycle. There is a long phase at the start that is pretty vague. And then coming towards the end there are 12 hour days in the studio painting and framing. There is also admin to do for my coaching and mentoring clients. I spend most days working between my studio in Stourbridge and a local cafe, I collect books about painting too so I spend a lot of time scouring charity bookshops! What’s next? I want to revisit some of the themes that dominated my work while I was at WAG about gender and my relationship with masculinity and femininity. I am playing with the idea of painting using a different persona. I also hope to collaborate more with performers of different kinds to create new scenes and characters. I am beginning to think about some kind of contemporary art space for the area. What advice would you give to our aspiring artists? It is not a race! All you do is keep moving towards your vision. Be relentless, be committed to improving. Build great relationships (be nice). Think beyond your geographic location. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice.

What gave you the confidence to make the leap to being a full-time artist? It was nothing to do with confidence really. I was driven to try, and frightened of time passing by. When offered my first solo show with Coates and Scarry I felt it was now or never. I had started selling more work but it was still a huge leap. I closed my eyes and started flapping! WLV Life Summer 2016


In the region

Woolves We visited the National ales Wool Museum in W ed er ov in 2014 and disc sh el W a a knitted map of ul ys nd Lla village by the so re we e W Tysul Knitters. ed cid de we inspired by it to create our own ‘Woolverhampton’ version.

For the second year, the University brought together a myriad of organisations and events under the banner of Artsfest – a summer celebration of poetry and literature, performing arts, film and media, and art and design.

The group is regularly involved in ‘yarn-bombing’ – when urban areas are decorated with ‘knit-graffiti’. However this year, they set about creating something a little more permanent in the form of a knitted map of Wolverhampton.

Among the star-studded shows at The Grand Theatre and the niche art exhibitions in Chapel Ash, there have been new and established ventures to get people joining in with hands-on activities. The Wool-verhampton group brings together yarn enthusiasts – both novices and nifty knitters, to learn how to knit and crochet, share knowledge and tips, and socialise with like-minded people.

Inviting members of the public to get involved in knitting and stitching sessions, the map has taken shape over the course of several months – growing in size several times as more important landmarks were included. The finished piece was unveiled on International Yarn Bombing Day, Saturday 11 June, and is being displayed at the Light House. WLV Life’s Asia Mela approached the group to tell us a little more…



7 1

8 4 2



In the region

Tell us about Woolverhampton. “Woolverhampton is a knitting and crochet group meeting at the Light House (Chubb Building) every second Tuesday evening of the month, 6pm-9pm. We first met in October 2012, and have been knitting in the Light House cafe every month ever since! The group is a great way of swapping skills and knowledge about these crafts as well as making new friends. Each year we do a joint project for International Yarn Bombing day. This is where we choose a location in the city and decorate it with knitted and crocheted items. The aim is to make urban spaces more beautiful and bring a smile to the faces of passers-by. In the past we have adorned the Light House with a Black Country flag, given West Park a woodland-themed bandstand, and livened-up railings at the University of Wolverhampton with brightly-coloured woolly bunting. We even took part in Birmingham’s Street Art Festival in 2014! The Woolverhampton map is our most ambitious yarn bomb yet!”

What made you come up with the idea of a knitted map? “We visited the National Wool Museum in Wales in 2014 and discovered a knitted map of a Welsh village by the Llandysul Tysul Knitters. We were so inspired by it we decided to create our own ‘Woolverhampton’ version.

project here! A local home education has got involved too, with the children making strips of canal and pompoms for trees. The whole idea of the project was to get as many local knitters and crocheters involved in stitching their city, as well as complete beginners. So our Newhampton sessions were great for teaching people how to knit/ crochet, while for others, it rekindled a longforgotten interest in the craft.”

After kicking the idea around for a while, we were approached by Creative Black Country about some seed funding for our group. We felt this was the perfect opportunity to get the map going, as the extra funding would help us buy the materials and reach out to crafters across the city. It’s a big project so we needed lots of help!

How long has it taken? “We kicked off stitching for the project on 12th March and the project is being installed on 11th June so that’s 3 months of work and around another 3 months of planning. By the time we have finished, we will have spent around 24 hours in project workshops, but each individual crafter has added many more hours of their own time on top of that.”

We were successful in our funding application and were awarded an Open Access Grant from Creative Black Country, as part of the Creative People and Places Scheme. The scheme aims to get more people involved in the arts in places across the country where this is lower than the national average.”

Your final thoughts? “The best part of making the map has been the enthusiasm that people show when they hear about the project, and the dedication from our stitchers! We hope it’s encouraged a few more people to pick up their needles and get knitting.”

How many people have been involved? “We have a core group of around 25 knitters and crocheters who have been working on the map. We also had around 25 people stop by when we had a stall at an arts fair at Newhampton Arts Centre, early on in the project. They each had a little go at knitting some of the ring road and crocheting some of the canal. We also recruited some new stitchers for the

1. Newhampton Arts Centre 2. The Grand Theatre 3. Mander House 4. Lindy Lou (19 Victoria Street) 5. UoW Wulfruna Building 6. West Park 7. UoW, School of Art, George Wallis Building 8. Wightwick Manor 9. The Chubb Building 10. Wolverhampton Grammar School 11. First automated traffic lights in the world: 1926 12. Molineux Stadium 13. Woolpack Alley 14. Lady Wulfruna 15. Central Library 16. Arena Theatre








WLV Life Summer 2016


Graduate Alumni events Feature

Get Involved As a valued alumnus of the University of Wolverhampton, there are lots of ways you can stay connected to us and show your support to your alma mater. Mentoring and volunteering opportunities give you a chance to support the next generation of graduates, while promoting your own expertise. How you can get involved: • Mentoring current students • Talking to prospective students at Open Days • Careers talks • Workshops • Blogging • Donations • Contribute to this magazine!

If you’d like to support one of our forthcoming Open Days, the dates are as follows:

Open Days: Undergraduate

pen Evenings: Postgraduate O

Saturday 8 October 2016 Saturday 19 November 2016 Saturday 4 February 2017 Saturday 17 June 2017 Saturday 19 August 2017

Thursday 15 September 2016

See more at:, where you can update your details and areas of interest, follow us on Twitter @wlv_alumni or email us at:

Wednesday 23 November 2016 Thursday 23 March 2017 Thursday 29 June 2017

u! o y m o r f r hea o t e v o l We’d

Graduate feature

TRULY INSPIRATIONAL A zest for life and a drive to succeed in all he does makes Dave Heeley an unstoppable force. Emma Pugh meets him at the launch of his life story. I’ve got th is book here, and I’ pinching m m still yself. An o ld codger fro m the Blac k Country b etween the front and b ack cover, here in this book.

WLV Life Summer 2016


Graduate feature

WIN For a chance to win a signed copy of From Light to Dark, email with your name, address, and the subject line 'Light'. The competition closing date is 30 September 2016.




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Graduate feature

As ‘Blind Dave’ Heeley proudly holds up his autobiography he seems scarcely able to believe that it has actually come to fruition. He has achieved many ambitions over the years but writing his book, From Light to Dark, was one of his greatest challenges. The charismatic dad-of-three, who is renowned as the first blind person to complete the seven marathons in seven continents, in seven consecutive days, has chosen Wolverhampton’s Arena Theatre for the official launch of the book. As an honorary graduate of the University of Wolverhampton, who is passionate about the region, it seemed the perfect place. “I started writing my book so that my three girls would have some form of diary of my life,” he says. “I thought, ‘I’ve got a real story here’ and it grew from there.” Indeed, the story of Dave’s life is one to rival that of any author’s imagination. A promising young athlete, who smashed his town’s 1,500m track record at 11, everything changed when suddenly a shocking diagnosis put a halt to his sporting dreams. But after coping with the loss of his sight through a condition called Retinitas Pigmentosa, he returned to his love of running and has since achieved more than he could ever have imagined.

Challenges have seen him head from John O’Groats to Land’s End, undertake 700 miles of cycling across seven countries in seven days; and complete the 2015 Marathon des Sables, dubbed the ‘toughest footrace on Earth’. Dave’s let nothing hold him back. His efforts have raised awareness about blindness and thousands of pounds for charity. Now, his book is inspiring readers and receiving five-star reviews on Amazon: “‘From Light to Dark’ is truly inspirational and an excellent read which will probably have you crying and laughing all at the same time. Dave said he wouldn’t change his life and we can see why.” “One of the best books I have ever read.. Go read it now! Simply Brilliant!” As usual, Dave takes everything modestly in his stride. He seems genuinely pleased and surprised that he is seen as such an inspiration to others. The audience for his book launch, including others with sight problems, who have come to hear more about the challenges he has overcome, hang on to his every word and he answers their questions with grace and humour. So, having ticked another fantastic achievement off his list, is it time for this hard-working athlete to take a break? Not a chance.

I might hav e bitten off m ore than I can c hew this time.

At the time of this article going to press, Blind Dave Heeley, is preparing for what could be his toughest athletic venture to date – the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, an event which attracts World Champions and Olympic medallists. Attached to a cord for safety, he’ll swim across sharkinfested waters for 1.5 miles before undertaking a gruelling 18-mile bike ride, and a demanding eight-mile run through San Francisco. “I might have bitten off more than I can chew this time,” he grins. I seriously doubt it.

STOP PRESS We’ve had confirmation that Dave successfully completed the Alcatraz challenge. Amazing, well done, Dave but we never expected anything less.

WLV Life Summer 2016


Research feature


Research feature















The University of Wolverhampton has been at the forefront of both tackling the disease – with the work of its Brain Tumour Research Centre – but also in raising awareness of the urgent need for more funding into research. Most recently, the University put its weight and support behind the campaign calling for increased funding for brain tumour research to be debated in Parliament and co-signing an open letter published in The Times ahead of the debate. The campaign was instigated through an e-petition initiated by Maria Lester, whose brother Stephen Realf died from a brain tumour, and has been led by Brain Tumour Research. The petition gained more than 120,000 online signatures, so the report from the House of Commons Petitions Committee was debated in Parliament on Monday 18 April. The University’s Professor Tracy Warr was invited to give oral evidence to the House of Commons Petitions Committee inquiry, reviewing the reasons why the treatment of brain tumours presents a unique set of challenges based on their location and complex biology, which in turn means that research findings from other types of cancer are not readily transferable. Professor Warr emphasised the necessity of funding innovative, multidisciplinary research to improve treatment of brain tumour patients and reiterated that higher education institutions in the UK provide an ideal environment to host these collaborative programmes of research.



The University of Wolverhampton’s Professor of Neuro-oncology John Darling further explains: “While significant strides have been made in treating many types of cancer, for example acute leukaemia in children and breast cancer, over the last 30 years it has been harder to deliver significant improvements in survival in the most common types of malignant brain tumour. The survival of patients with the most malignant brain tumours remains stubbornly high. Despite the best efforts of neuro-oncologists there has been no breakthrough moment that at a stroke has improved patient survival. In other areas of clinical neuroscience, radical new therapies are promised that will change the outlook for those suffering from some forms of dementia, stroke and Parkinson’s disease in the next decade. However, brain tumour researchers remain frustrated, not because of the lack of ideas, but with the difficulties in funding research and the lack of opportunities to translate laboratory findings into new, effective, therapies. There are too few people seriously interested in brain tumours and too few opportunities for young scientists and clinicians to stay in the field in the UK.” The debate in Parliament highlighted that more investment is needed if we are to make strides in treatment. Professor Warr gave us an update on the Centre’s current work: “Research carried out at the Brain Tumour Research Centre is focused around molecular profiling of



BRAIN TUMOUR tumours to identify new druggable targets. We are working towards developing personalised medicine for brain tumour patients by using this information to find combinations of different drugs that will be effective against their specific tumours. We have also identified aberrations in metabolism in brain tumour cells, eg. energy production. Treatments which change tumour metabolism are likely to be effective in a higher percentage of patients, whilst sparing normal cells and reducing negative side effects. We are using patient-derived tumour material to develop better models of brain tumours that are more representative of the tumour in the human brain. Assessing drug response in these types of systems will greatly assist in accelerating the translation of our laboratory research from bench to bedside to directly benefit patients.”

How you can help You can support the work of the Brain Tumour Research Centre by making a donation. Contact: Professor Tracy Warr, The Brain Tumour Research Centre University of Wolverhampton, Wulfruna Street, Wolverhampton, WV1 1LY Email: If you are a UK tax payer, ask for a Gift Aid form so the Centre can reclaim tax on donations.

WLV Life Summer 2016


House of Lords

A HEALTHY OUTLOOK FOR THE FUTURE To celebrate our position as one of the leading healthcare education providers in our region, the University took to the nation’s capital.

We returned to the House of Lords in May this year for a prestigious event highlighting our achievements in healthcare. Among the successes celebrated on the evening was our contribution to over 11% of the national growth required for health visiting across 10 NHS Trusts in the West Midlands, as well as our extensive research into brain tumours, cancer, diabetes and more. Nearly 200 students, staff and guests attended the reception, including local politicians, healthcare providers, partners, and clinical and medical researchers. The special occasion was hosted by the Chancellor of the University, the Rt Hon. Lord Paul of Marylebone, PC.

Professor Geoff Layer, Vice-Chancellor of the University, said: “It’s wonderful to be able to celebrate our collective achievements at this very special venue. As one of the leading healthcare education providers in the region, we are educating and training the region’s medical and healthcare professionals. “We pride ourselves on our partnerships and work closely with the NHS, various health and hospital trusts as well as care and patient groups and we are proud of the contribution our students and graduates make to the wellbeing of the region and the country.” Previous University events at the House of Lords have included our 21st birthday as a University, and last year’s celebration of our arts heritage.

House of Lords

HOUSE OF LORDS RECEPTION HO USE O Wednesday 11 May University of Wolverhampton F LORD Wedne sday 11 S May Un iversity

University of Wolverhampton Wulfruna Street Wolverhampton West Midlands WV1 1LY The University of Opportunity


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Please note photographs may be taken during this event and used for promotional purposes.

WLV Life Summer 2016


Business feature

STRONGER TO Ambitious plans are underway to tackle unemployment in the West Midlands and compete with London in terms of economic growth. Rising to this challenge, the University of Wolverhampton has teamed up with two other regional universities to meet the demands of devolution. Together with Birmingham City University and Coventry University, we have launched the West Midlands Combined Universities (WMCU) initiative – a partnership which brings together applied research and training expertise to develop skills and foster innovation across the region.

Ambitious objectives set by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) include creating more than 500,000 jobs by 2030, with a target rate of growth to match that of the London economy. With the help of WMCU, a powerful resource of like-minded institutions, we’re confident that this can be achieved by putting higher education at the centre of those ambitions. We will aim to close the skills gap with the rest of the country. Our new partnership spans the combined authority area and is ideally placed to support the industries that are so important to the growth of the region.

Business feature

GETHER The WMCU will also support the devolved body’s stated priority of tackling a significant shortage of lower and higher end skills – particularly in the health and advanced manufacturing sectors – in a renewed effort to address the high level of unemployment (9.3%) across the region’s seven metropolitan authorities. The collaboration of the three universities is a major vote of confidence for the region’s devolution deal, and signals a significant development in the way higher education institutions can contribute to increasing productivity, wealth creation, and job opportunities across the West Midlands.

“At the moment no single university can offer a geographically comprehensive range of services available in one place, and it’s our aim to provide our customers with a seamless journey whilst at the same time providing value for money and economies of scale which benefit our partners.” “Health, advanced manufacturing and associated supply chains are just a few of the sectors which will benefit from our institutions’ collective drive to educate more local young people, upskill more local workforces and engage more deeply with local employers to support innovation and meet their specialist training needs.”

The WMCU – what we plan to do: • fill predicted nursing shortages in the region by offering flexible, region-wide courses tailored to WMCA skills needs, and with greater access to facilities; • close the skills gap in the automotive sector by working with local businesses to provide higher apprenticeships alongside existing degree programmes; • retrain industry workers with new skills and in new technologies, as well as inspire young people to follow careers in these areas; • stimulate new ideas and innovation in priority sectors to reduce costs and increase productivity; • apply an unprecedented level of resource and expertise to focus on the challenges facing the West Midlands economy.

Professor Geoff Layer, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton, said: “Our ambition through our collaboration is to build on existing assets across all three universities focusing on product leadership and priority industries for the region including health care, construction, digital and creative and professional services.

WLV Life Summer 2016


Academic commentary

Making a


Creative making has seen a growth in popularity in recent years with a wealth of people uncovering hidden talents. From guerrilla knitters to covetable Pinterest mood boards, handmade efforts are displayed with pride. But there’s a serious side to the art of making. Whether it’s bringing communities together, developing new start-up businesses or helping people with mental health problems, developing craft skills can have a dramatic impact on well-being and esteem. Professor of Fashion, Textiles and Theories, Fiona Hackney has seen first-hand how being a craftivist can make a real difference. I am passionate about creative making. Whether it’s knitting, sewing, photography, model making, crocheting or digital, it is fascinating to see what can be achieved. There are many incredibly skilled makers who just don’t realise the value of their skills and where it could take them.

Through work I have done bringing creative making to communities; I have seen positive changes. People come together, feel they have a voice and become more ambitious and more active citizens. I believe the value of developing these skills should not be underestimated. If they are recognised and nurtured they can lead to opportunities such as volunteering, training, community activism, or social enterprise. Craft skills bring people together; by contrast when people are isolated, it deskills them and leads to anxiety. There has been a significant reemergence in craft recently and both traditional and new techniques have taken on an increasing importance. Creative hobbies are an important area of activity because they embody individual, family and community knowledge and modes of social engagement, as skills are exchanged and passed down the generations. Most importantly, perhaps, these activities have the capacity to absorb people and draw them together because they can be both fulfilling and fun. I am currently part of a team hoping to secure funding for a new project to support young people who have suffered mental health issues. It’s something which doesn’t get talked about as much as it should but many teenagers self-harm or suffer from anxiety, depression, eating disorders or OCD.

We will link them with researchers, gamers and designers to create products which have creative value. The proposal is to make computer games which are fun and creative but have a serious message about mental health issues. We will then take these into schools and give workshops to raise awareness and encourage people to seek support at an early age, with our participants as mentors. It will be the first time we’ve used a digital medium for this type of project and I think that will work well for our target group. Giving young people the chance to collaborate with professionals boosts their self-esteem and seeing their work come together to create something worthwhile empowers them. Making can have a strong therapeutic element and help them grapple with the bigger issues that affect them in life.

Academic commentary

Projects like these are part of a kind of ‘quiet activism’. Creative making really can help people find a sense of worth and achievement. The Open Design Movement and the Maker Movement, where people share ideas and create and market products from any discarded or broken raw material, are growing considerably. As people develop their skills and confidence, they see that they can become makers. And in doing so, they can make a difference.

WLV Life Summer 2016





Together with West Bromwich Albion, we’re creating opportunities around the world for young people to learn new football skills. In the year that brings us Euro 2016 and the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics, interest in sport on a global scale is as great as ever.

avenue and a business avenue and bring it all together, giving me the fundamentals to comfortably do my job. It’s a great credit to the Foundation and the University.”

Of course, the chance to compete or work in sport at a professional level begins with the opportunities an individual gets at a young age to develop skills and pursue their interests – wherever they are in the world.

The enterprise partnership has been set up with the Delhi Government, local football team Delhi Dynamos, and Youth Football International, the local delivery partner in Delhi. Through work in after-school clubs and development centres, our students are helping to nurture the talent and skills of young people who may not otherwise get the chance to engage in football.

An exciting new sporting initiative from West Bromwich Albion Football Club, cofunded by the University of Wolverhampton, is providing those opportunities to disadvantaged young people thousands of miles away from the West Midlands. Pass it Forward is teaching football and coaching skills to young people in India, with a focus on grassroots football in the more deprived areas of the country. The Albion Foundation’s aim to “Inspire to Achieve” has successfully made a difference in raising aspirations at home, and is already managing to open gateways of opportunity halfway around the world – and not just for children. As part of the project, our Sports Coaching Practice degree students are accompanying Albion Foundation coaches all the way to Delhi, where they will provide school-based football coaching for around 35,000 children between the ages of 5 and 14. The project has already proved a hit with students. Arun Chander, a Sports Coaching student, said: “I grabbed the opportunity straight away. I thought this would be a good experience; I can’t ask for anything better to start my coaching career, to coach internationally.” Among the Albion Foundation coaches accompanying students on their trip to Delhi is one of our own: WLV graduate, former Physical Education student Jonathan Ward. He said: “Coming to the University enabled me to look at sport from a different

Prashant Argawal, President at Delhi Dynamos FC, said: “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with a Premier League club and a leading UK university which has a genuine ambition to make a difference in India in terms of football development and mentoring for youngsters.” The Pass it Forward programme complements other enriching activity that is aiding the development of our sports coaching students. For example, in February 2016, a group of Institute of Sport students travelled to Jaipur in India to deliver a coaching programme for disadvantaged young girls, some of whom had never even kicked a ball before, as well as training school and university teams. “A shining light that will serve as a beacon across countries.” These words from our University Chancellor, the Rt Hon. Lord Paul of Marylebone PC, highlight the lasting positive impact all involved with the Pass it Forward project are hoping for – aligned with the University’s philosophy of being the ‘University of Opportunity’, creating opportunity and life chances for young people from all sorts of backgrounds. Search ‘pass it forward’ at to find out more and watch Arun and Alex in action.

WLV Life Summer 2016


My Life

My Life Pioneering President

Habiba Amjad is something of a pioneer at Wolverhampton – being its first Muslim female sports student, then going on to become its first Muslim sports graduate female President of the Students’ Union. Life Magazine caught up with her to find out more. How have your experiences shaped you and where does your ‘can’do’ attitude come from? From a young age I have always seemed to put myself forward. Whether I was the first one to put my hand up in class to try and answer a question (even if I didn’t know the answer), being the head girl in secondary school and helping out on Open Days at university. I would say I’m a sociable person and I guess I get this trait from my father. Somehow and I don’t quite know how because this wasn’t planned but I seem to be a revolution in many areas. I was the first Muslim female who attended prom in Year 11, may I add in my hijab (headscarf), and I ended up winning prom queen. I was then the first Muslim student at the University studying sports and became the first female Muslim president of Wolverhampton’s Students’ Union. I never really saw myself as someone who had the ‘can do’ attitude; even though I seemed to be oozing with confidence I somehow still doubted my ability from a young age. Because faith is a big part of who I am, I established what I would describe as the ‘go with the flow’ attitude. I’ve never been hesitant to try new things and have always been quite adventurous; I grew up playing with my older brother so I was use to getting mucky in the park and trying out new things. What, if any, challenges have you faced along the way and how have you overcome these? Challenges – I guess there have been many. From the moment I started my undergraduate degree in Sport Studies and I walked into my class it was apparent that stereotypically I was in a misplaced environment and I had doubts. Slowly I thought to myself, ‘what am I going to do with this degree? How will I ever be able to teach physical education with a hijab on?’ I let these thoughts eat up inside me as I’m a massive over-thinker. However, I did not let them stop me. I completed my degree and graduated and I was approached by my lecturers to consider doing an MPhil, so I thought ‘well this is a great opportunity and it allows me to think about what I actually want to do in my future’.

My advice to any person is to never limit your horizons an d think ‘I cannot do this’.

I was then approached by an officer to consider running in the elections. Elections? This whole concept seemed bizarre to me as I had little to no knowledge around this. I ran in the elections as Academic Vice President not thinking I would stand a chance. I was wrong! I even said to myself after winning that I wouldn’t run again for another position or even the same one, but that is just what happened! And here I am as President – I would never have known! Once I completed the challenge I was faced with I felt a great deal of satisfaction and happiness, which would boost my confidence. I soon started to realise that I was now thriving off challenges and learning a great deal about myself. Overcoming barriers for me has been always sticking firm with the decision I have made. If I have tried my best and it doesn’t work out then I am satisfied. I’m the type of girl who can’t live with the ‘what ifs’, what if I tried harder? What if I did this? So I always give it my best! How has the University helped you to develop, both academically and personally? Academically the University has helped me to develop incredibly. I completed my undergraduate degree with a 2:1 with the support of several staff. I was ready to give up a number of times but they didn’t let that happen. They then showed me the opportunities available to me as a postgraduate and made me believe in my abilities; and they now want me to do a PhD, that is still playing on my mind and God knows best what will happen. Personally, I have developed in ways I can’t even explain. Working as the Academic Vice President at Wolverhampton Students’ Union has made me grow into the person I am today. I have learnt more about myself in a year than I have over the years growing up. My confidence has grown, my self-belief has grown and I fully believe I am equipped to be able to walk into a new job and learn how it all works. What are your ambitions for the future? I have so many plans for my future and I pray that God blesses me to see them come to fruition. I am an individual who holds faith dearly to my heart. I have always believed God has great plans for me as long as I work hard. I would like to embark upon my journey within the sports industry, as someone who young girls can look up to as a role model. I would love to do some outreach in sports, getting more females involved. I also have an entrepreneurial side, but that is my long term goal, which is to set up my own business in the sports industry in some way. I know that whatever I do my job will involve some sort of caring element because deep down I just care about everyone. I just hope and pray that whatever my future holds people remember me with good words. My advice to any person is to never limit your horizons and think ‘I cannot do this’. If a role model is missing then become your own role model. Someday you’ll be inspiring to others. And never give up without trying.

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 Summer 2016


WeLoVe Alumni Association – benefits and services. We offer you great benefits and services long after you’ve left the University. • • • • • • • •

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Join us online You can join thousands of fellow alumni online. /wlvalumni @wlv_alumni

Life by email If you have an email address and would like to receive future editions of WLV Life by email, let us know at:

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