January 2021

Leeds alumni recognised in New Year Honours

A number of Leeds alumni have been recognised in the New Year Honours 2021 lists.

Peter Wanless (International History and Politics 1986), Chief Executive Officer of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), has been awarded a knighthood for services to children, young people and to the charitable sector.

Professor David Stuart FRS (Hon DSc 2011) has been awarded a knighthood for services to medical research and the scientific community.

Professor Wendy Burn (MMedSc Clinical Psychiatry 1989; Hon. DMed 2018), former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, has been awarded a CBE for services to mental health.

Hugh Rolo (International History and Politics 1975), founding member and chair of the Key Fund Yorkshire, has been awarded an OBE for services to social investment and enterprise in the Midlands and North of England.

And Dr Matthew West (Chemical Engineering 1975; PhD 1981) has been awarded an OBE for services to information management in business.

Speaking about the awards, Professor Simone Buitendijk, Vice-Chancellor, University of Leeds said: “These honours are richly deserved, and we are immensely proud of these alumni who form such an important part of our global community. Each award is a result of years of hard work and perseverance, a journey which often begins here at Leeds in a community of research and teaching excellence.

“Now, these individuals truly make a difference around the world. They are the perfect reflection of the global impact of our University community.”

Peter Wanless (International History and Politics 1986)

Since joining the NSPCC as CEO in 2013, Peter Wanless has led a successful strategy to protect children today and prevent abuse tomorrow.

Peter said: “It is a great privilege to lead the NSPCC and I am delighted on behalf of all our volunteers and staff to see our vital work to prevent abuse and neglect recognised in this way.

"This incredible honour comes as the end of a year that has taken its toll on children. We need to come together to make sure 2021 is a better year for our young people.”

Prior to joining the NSPCC, Peter ran the Big Lottery Fund for five years. He also worked as a director at the Department for Education having begun his career at the Treasury.

Professor David Stuart FRS (Hon DSc 2011)

As a world leader in structural biology, Professor Stuart has played a pivotal role in establishing effective therapeutic management of Covid-19 – as well as other human viruses throughout his career, including poliovirus, HIV-1, hepatitis A and B, SARS and Ebola. He has been recognised for the profound impact of his work upon human and animal health.

"I am deeply honoured by this recognition,” Professor Stuart said. “I have worked to understand the structure and function of pathogenic viruses for many years. This past year has been challenging for many all over the world, and I am amongst the large number of scientists applying their knowledge and expertise to help fight this pandemic.”

Professor Stuart is currently MRC Professor of Structural Biology at the University of Oxford, and Head of the Division of Structural Biology at the Department of Clinical Medicine. He has been Director of Life Sciences at Diamond Light Source, the UK's Synchrotron, since 2008.

Professor Wendy Burn (MMedSc Clinical Psychiatry 1989; Hon. DMed 2018)

Professor Burn, honoured for her services to mental health, is a regional and national leader in dementia care. She has been co-clinical lead for dementia for the Yorkshire and the Humber Strategic Clinical Network, was elected President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2017, and in 2018, was awarded an honorary degree by the University.

Since becoming a consultant old age psychiatrist in 1990, Professor Burn has been heavily involved in postgraduate training. She set up the Yorkshire School of Psychiatry, where she served as the first Head of School. In addition, she co-chairs the Gatsby Wellcome Neuroscience Project, an initiative aimed at transforming the core training curriculum for psychiatry trainees to ensure this vital area of NHS provision continues to offer world-leading services and care in an ever-changing environment.

Professor Burn continues to work part time as an old age psychiatrist in Leeds.

Hugh Rolo (International History and Politics 1975)

As a founding partner and chair of Key Fund Yorkshire, Hugh Rolo has been recognised for services to social investment and enterprise. Key Fund invests in social businesses with the aim of supporting new enterprises, creating new jobs and re-invigorating communities.

Hugh leads for Locality – the UK's leading network for community-led organisations – in developing the market for community shares, and other methods of raising social equity finance such as crowdfunding. He remains active in his own community of Manningham in Bradford as a Director of The Cellar Trust.

Dr Matthew West (Chemical Engineering 1975; PhD 1981)

Dr West has dedicated his career to information management. His OBE follows contributions to the National Digital Twin Programme run by the Centre for Digital Built Britain, set up by HM Treasury in 2018 to improve how infrastructure is built, managed and operated through high-quality, secure data.

Dr West is able to draw on his vast experience to support the project, having worked at Shell for many years before forming his own company in 2008, Information Junction. He also joined the Keyworth Institute as a visiting professor for a period from 2001.

In 2020 a number of Leeds alumni were also recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours including Professor Cath Noakes (Mathematical Engineering 1996; PhD Mechanical Engineering 2000), Olivia Strong (Politics and Sociology 2015), Francis Rainsford (Textile Management 1974) and Dr Linda Pollard (LLD 2013).