Katie Slavincc

University honours individuals who give back to their communities

People who make the places they live and work a better, are being formally honoured by the University of Cumbria at its biannual graduation ceremony this July.

This year will only be the second time that the university makes the special award of ‘alumnus of the year’, which recognises the exceptional achievements of a graduate.

This year’s winner, Katie Slavin-Trower (27), was awarded the title for creating a children’s theatre school for disadvantaged children. Katie established the Shining Stars AS Theatre School in her home town of Coatbridge, Scotland shortly after graduating from the university with a BA (Hons) in Drama, Performance and Technical Theatre. She started the company because she suffered from a stammer when she was younger and wanted to give other children the chance to grow confidence from studying drama, like she did.

The school was set up on a shoe-string using Katie’s wedding fund in her spare time while she worked as a special needs teacher in Motherwell. The school started out with only five children and now has grown to over 100 children and adults attending a range of classes in the evenings, weekends and holidays. Katie was nominated ‘young scot of the year’ in 2016 for her endeavours.

Katie is not the only person honoured with an award at this summer’s graduation ceremonies. Honorary fellows are recognised for their outstanding contributions to the university and a variety of causes linked to the work of the university. This year’s candidates have all made significant contributions to the areas in which they live and work.

Coming from a background in the Merchant Navy, Tony Price C Eng FEI, later became chairman and managing director of Sellafield Ltd. He has been instrumental in developing project management skills and knowledge in nuclear and engineering industries for which he is being recognised with his fellowship.

Dave Williamson, along with his wife Susan, set up and run the Derwent Water Marina at Portinscale, Keswick, and he’s served on the board of a number of charitable and educational bodies.  He is being recognised for his significant contribution to sailing and outdoor education.

Chris Batten devised the ‘aspiring leaders programme’ in association with the Brathay Trust and the university, which aims to give committed young adults from disadvantaged communities the skills, knowledge and self-belief to transform the prospects of those areas. Chris is being awarded for his contribution to the charitable sector in Cumbria and North Lancashire.

Mick Farley will be honoured for raising the aspirations of young people with his work as director for Cumbria, chair of Inspira, a leading career management and personal development organisation and for turning around a failing academy in Bolton.  According to Cumbria Life Magazine he is said to have ‘greatly influenced life in Cumbria’.

“The figures we will be honouring at graduation this summer have all made substantial contributions which have enriched the communities in which they live and serve and are excellent role models to our students.  We are very pleased to be recognising their significant contributions to date.” said Professor Julie Mennell, Vice Chancellor at the University of Cumbria.

The ceremonies run from Tuesday 17 July to Thursday 19 July.

Katie Slavin

Tony Price

Chris Batten

Dave Williamson

Mick Farley