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2020 winners Bridget Garrood (top) and Barbara Schudel-Simpson (below)

2020 Volunteers of the Year named!

After a tough decision making process, the Alumni Volunteers of the Year for 2020 have been announced.

Staff, students and fellow alumni all came forward to nominate alumni volunteers involved in an array of projects both in the UK and internationally. The judging panel, made up of representatives of all the above groups, are delighted to announce this year’s winners:

Debbie Hill Award for the Exceptional Support of Students

The 2020 winner is Bridget Garrood (Sociology, 1984) for being instrumental in helping set up the LGBTQ+ and Law Exeter student action project. She provided guidance, support and helped connect the group with a network of fantastic LGBTQ+ lawyers. It was Bridget’s passion and commitment, invaluable advice and support with which she helped make the LGBTQ+ and Law Exeter student action project a resounding success, which led the panel to choose her as the overall winner.

Bridget said: “I got in to Exeter on clearing (to do Sociology – which I loved) and can’t imagine life if I had not been encouraged on the phone via the lovely clearing person at Exeter to apply there. I turned up day before term started and saw the beautiful campus for the first time and I’ve never looked back. This award is lovely news. We may be in lockdown, off campus, in furlough, challenging COVID-19 on the frontline or behind it, but as students, staff and alumni of the University of Exeter, we are all connected by our Exeter links. This connectedness holds us together across generations and around the globe. As a matter of community care and individual self-care, it may never have been more important to close the social and geographic and virtual distance which separates us, especially for those in our more marginalised communities."

Nicholas Bull Award for the Exceptional Support of the Alumni Community.

2020’s winner is Barbara Schudel-Simpson (French and German, 1968) thanks to her for her many years service as an outstanding Country Contact for the South of France. Her passion, enthusiasm and commitment to Exeter’s flourishing alumni community in France, Germany and the UK stands out as she has tirelessly organised events and mentoring as well as developing the online alumni network.

Barbara said: “‘I have lived abroad for most of my life, which made my four years as a University of Exeter Student (1964-1968) all the more important. On retirement - both as a mother and a teacher - I renewed contact with the University and, in 2013, I became a Country Contact for Exeter University Alumni in France. With the University’s support, events have been organized in France, Germany and the UK and there I have met up with old friends and made new ones. A little work for a lot of pleasure, always worthwhile. I am a firm believer that you get as much, if not more, out of any ‘investment’, as you put in and as far as Alumni ‘work’ goes, this is very true, as far as I am concerned! Over the years, Alumni events have been highlights in my life, not only because I met old friends, from my time, but because I also made new ones - our University was the binding factor. On each occasion, I was made to feel that I was ‘family’ and this is reward enough. This is what motivates me - and this is how I hope others will feel, too.The Nicholas Bull Volunteer Award 2020 came as a surprise, in the midst of the present pandemic and I’m absolutely delighted. It is an encouraging acknowledgment. My thanks to all.”’

Congratulations also go to the other shortlisted nominees. In the category of exceptional student support:

  • Andrew Bishop for being an outstanding mentor to Exeter students on the Career Mentor Scheme;
  • Carolina Ordonez-Gaete (MSc International Management, 2005) for being an outstanding mentor to Exeter students on the Career Mentor Scheme;
  • Dr. (Michael) Mick Jackson (Chemical Engineering, 1979 and PhD Chemical Engineering, 1984) for being an outstanding mentor on the Career Mentor Scheme, and for his support in developing the Jackson-Grime-Davies internship programme for Exeter students;
  • (Rebecca) Becky Pike (BSc Sports & Exercise, 2012 and MSc Human Resource Management, 2018) for contributing and supporting the Pathways to Law programme for Exeter students, and for being the placement supervisor at Michelmores;
  • Ruth Briggs (Biology and Geography, 1976) for being an outstanding mentor to Exeter students on the Career Mentor Scheme;
  • Terry Webster (Mathmatical and Statistical Research, 1992 and MBA 2017) for being an outstanding mentor to Exeter students on the Career Mentor Scheme;
  • Trevor Worth (MBA, 2014) for supporting and facilitating on numerous MBA Exeter events; for annually sponsoring an award for MBA graduands; and for mentoring Exeter students.

And for exceptional alumni support:

  • Jonathan O’Brien (Economic and Political Development, 1989)  for serving as Secretary and Treasurer of the University of Exeter US Foundation Board from its inception through to 2019;
  • Chris Tang (Law, 1996) for his outstanding and varied contribution to volunteering in Hong Kong since 2011;
  • Yingwei Liu (MSc Finance and Investment, 2012) for his outstanding and varied contribution on the committee of the Exeter China Alumni Association (ECAA);
  • Yue Cai (MSc Accounting and Finance, 2013)for her role as ECAA WeChat Ambassador, and her consistent and outstanding support to alumni through a variety of activity.

The awards are named in honour of two long-standing alumni volunteers, formally recognising the commitment and support that they have given the University over many years. For more information visit the website.



Date: 29 May 2020

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