Inspire Awards 2022 - Voting closed 09/12/22

The purpose of these awards is to inspire Guild members and CLC students by acknowledging and highlighting the contributions made to society by the varied and talented membership of Guild.

Two awards are made: one for members aged 30 and under and one for those over 30.   My congratulations go to all the nominees.  A shortlist has now been drawn up for members to vote on, with the winners being announced in the spring. Details will be published in Guild News 2023. All nominees have made a significant impact in their field or contributed in a distinctive way to improve the lot of those less able to help themselves.

Guild and Honorary members may vote only once in each category.  When voting, please consider the nominees’ actual achievements.  These may include:

  • overcoming personal adversity
  • championing a charitable cause
  • achieving outstanding academic or professional success with significant benefit to the community
  • driving environmental or social change
  • being a pioneer or achieving success in a challenging field with societal benefits.

Voting opens on Friday 16th September and will close at midnight on Friday 9th December 2022.  Please encourage fellow Guild and Honorary members to vote (members must be known to us and have a record on the Guild database).

Thank you for your support with this award in its second year.

Sam Culhane   (Ashworth, 1984, Farnley Lodge)
Chairman of Guild

Please make one vote per category, only your first vote will count and be verified with your email address (as recorded on our database of Guild and Honorary members).






ADÈLE COATES (COATES-LYON) – Founder of Medical Records UK
(1988-1995, Glengar/Bayshill)

Adèle had intended to go into the Army but in 1998, at the end of her Bachelor’s Degree, she suffered devastating pelvis and head injuries in a car accident that left her unable to walk, talk or to see properly. She underwent physiotherapy and acupuncture and used audiobooks to re-learn her language because she could not see well enough to be able to read. She was also unable to use her hands properly so could not write.

By 2000 Adèle was able to work and secured a position at Harefield Hospital with the goal of giving something back to the health service that had helped saved her life.

From Harefield Adèle was employed by Alexander Harris Solicitors to work on MMR vaccine/Autism cases, but was seconded as a research assistant to the research team. She attended United States Congress to present their data and this was shown on BBC Panorama.

After her secondment, Adèle went to work in Alexander Harris’s office. In order to prevent any opportunity to find fault with her, Adèle had to become very good at her job, learning to work as quickly, accurately and thoroughly as possible.  Consequently, when she was made redundant in 2003, she had skill, knowledge and experience that she could use for an enterprise of her own.

A succession of various temporary jobs enabled her to learn bookkeeping and payroll for her business idea.  This included working three twelve-hour days a week in a factory, managing their payroll while she completed a business course.

In 2005, 10 years after her accident, Adèle launched her business - Medical Records UK.

In 2006 Adèle was instructed on a birth injury case. The cost of the work involved was well above estimate but she accepted this loss as she was so moved by the plight of the family.  The case was successful.

As a result of Adele’s hard work and compassionate approach she was offered and accepted a huge multiparty military litigation caseload.

In 2008 her son, Michael, was born. Self-employed with no maternity benefits, Adèle was back at work two days after the birth.

Happily, also in 2008, Adèle began having operations on her eyes to try to correct the double vision caused by her car accident 13 years earlier.

The military litigation established Adèle as THE military medical records expert nationally and by 2012 she was receiving offers to buy her company.

As the company grew, Adèle became increasingly aware of the amount of paper being used and the environmental impact of transporting multiple copies of medical records around the country so Medical Records UK pioneered electronic medical records and these are increasingly becoming an industry standard.  Eliminating the requirement for paper or couriering has therefore reduced both the cost to and the environmental impact of the medical industry.

Adele has worked through great adversity to achieve much and she is an inspiration to others

DR ALEX FREEMAN - Executive Director Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication, Cambridge
(1985-1991, St Austin’s/Glengar/Bayshill)

I remember Alex most clearly in biology class at CLC when I was inspired by her curiosity and love of learning, and helping others to learn.  She wanted to make education accessible to women who were less privileged than us, including in third world countries. Alex pursued her passions in writing and the natural world that were so evident at College through to doctoral level at Oxford, then in the broader dissemination of science through the media as a director of science and natural history programming (eg Trust Me I’m a Doctor, Climate Change by Numbers). For every programme she made, she built a related website and, where possible, games and interactive media. 

Alex was driven by her desire to communicate science to the public, this later led to her becoming an executive director at the philanthropically-funded University of Cambridge Winton Centre, focused on communicating scientific evidence and risk to a wide audience. She described this as ‘the best job in the world’ when she first saw it advertised. She brought her intelligence, skills and ability to adapt to different scientific disciplines in working across the communication of medical evidence, forensic evidence in court and journalistic communication of numbers, as well as a particularly challenging project on communication of earthquake forecasts. She worked with professional practitioners and those with important decisions to make and understand.

When the Centre saw the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping across the globe, they started online surveys to assess risk perception and media messages internationally and who/what/why people trusted in different countries to explore public health issues and help journalists communicate issues accurately. Alex was involved in helping the government to communicate evidence through one of the SAGE subcommittees and in producing graphics around the Astra Zeneca vaccine and the risk of blood clots. She adapted from her BBC brief of ‘informing, educating and entertaining’ to enabling the public to understand and receive information sufficiently to make important decisions in areas within which they are already engaged and where the emotional experience is more ambiguous rather than entertaining (eg patient choice, the legal system or the pandemic).

During these demanding job roles she found time to invent a novel online scientific publishing platform, ‘Octopus’, to enable researchers to communicate more freely, both in terms of cost and bias, that could revolutionise the way scientific knowledge is disseminated.

I know Alex as someone who is kind, supportive and works largely ‘behind the scenes’ to contribute to scientific and human advancement, enabling others from all walks of life to appreciate the importance of science in our lives. I believe it’s time her hard work was rewarded.

DR GWEN ADSHEAD - Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist
(1971-1978, Farnley Lodge/Eversleigh)

When I first met Gwen Adshead as an 11-year-old starting at CLC I knew there was something very special about her. She had flown from her home in New Zealand on her own to start school. No mean feat in 1971! She went home only twice a year. After CLC she trained as a doctor and has two master's degrees: in medical law and ethics and in mindfulness based on cognitive therapy. Since then she has worked continuously in Mental Health. What I admire so much about Gwen is that she works with seriously ill patients while combining this with a huge amount of academic research, (she is Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Gresham College).  Gwen also trains other medical professionals and volunteers. She consistently promotes psychiatry to the general public, thereby enabling "Jo Public " not to be so frightened of mental illness.

Gwen has worked for over 30 years at the secure mental health unit at Broadmoor Hospital and also at a women's prison, treating what she describes as "not bad or mad but sad patients". In addition to this, she trained workers who volunteer with The Samaritans. This, she believes, is crucial as this is often the first contact individuals have when they think they or someone close to them has a mental illness. Gwen always approaches all her teaching with a huge knowledge base, compassion and the ability to see the patient as an individual. She is frequently an expert witness in court cases. As she herself says, these are some of the saddest scenarios possible.

I also think Gwen is incredibly inspirational in her media work. After her interview on Desert Island Discs on 1 July 2010, the BBC had so many compliments about the work she does that her interview was mentioned on Pick of the Week as one of the most inspiring programmes that week. Her book, The Devil you Know was chosen by Radio 4 as Book of the Week last year. In that book she makes the case for compassion over condemnation, empathy over fear. She shows that her patients are complex and vulnerable and, due to the combination of a set of circumstances, this could happen to any one of us.

Gwen combines all of this while finding time for her parents, children and friends.

RACHEL SPENCE (DR SUTTON-SPENCE) - Sign language poetry pioneer
(1978-1982, Bunwell/Fauconberg)

Rachel has spent her whole career developing the study of sign language literature and poetry, whereby the Deaf community celebrates their creativity, humour and metaphor in a visual medium, using visual signs rather than spoken words.

Rachel’s biggest contribution to Deaf culture has been to promote the folklore of sign language as the literature of that language. To do this she has had to persuade many hearing people and some in the Deaf community that their stories and poems counted as literature even though they were not written down or printed in books.

She believes that sign languages and their communities can make an important cultural contribution to both the Deaf and hearing worlds, and that Deaf people should be celebrated for their unique strengths, not dismissed as “people who can’t hear”. Celebrating the visual beauty and elegance of sign language poetry and encouraging the Deaf community to value their work is a key part of that process.

After her degree in Psychology from Oxford and her doctorate from Bristol, Rachel has taught sign language studies at the University of Bristol, as the Cornell Visiting Professor for 2011/12 at Swarthmore College in the USA, and, for the last decade, at the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Florianopolis, Brazil. 

With Bencie Woll, she wrote the standard text in their field, The Linguistics of British Sign Language: An Introduction. Published in 1999, it was the first detailed explanation of how British Sign Language works. Then, in 2016 she published (with Michiko Kaneko) Introducing Sign Language Literature: Folklore and Creativity. Both books were written to be accessible to non-academic readerships.

Her view is that creative artistic sign language can be called literature in the same way as poems or performances in any spoken language. She was a pioneer of sign language poetry in Bristol, organising events, encouraging poets, and recording their work, and has continued that work in Brazil.

The internet has made all this much easier. During the Covid pandemic, Rachel’s live online events attracted thousands of viewers.

Her connection to Brazil links directly to her time at CLC, as she attended College while her parents lived and worked in São Paulo. When the opportunity arose to return as an academic, she jumped at the chance. In Florianopolis she has become something of a flag bearer for Deaf culture and has relished working with a talented and enthusiastic community of Deaf and hearing researchers and teachers in a well-respected academic department.

During lockdown in Brazil, Rachel wrote her latest book, in both Portuguese and the sign language of Brazil (known as Libras): ‘Literatura em Libras’. It is available free to download and watch here


CELIA HENSMAN - Founder and Director of The Disability Policy Centre (DPC)
(2010-2015, Farnley Lodge/St Hilda’s)

Despite the challenges of living with Loeys-Dietz syndrome, a rare chronic condition, Celia Hensman has committed herself to improving the lives of disabled people. Celia is the Founder and Director of The Disability Policy Centre (DPC), the first think-tank of its kind, dedicated to the development and advancement of policy that ensures accessibility and disability are at the heart of legislation.

After leaving CLC, Celia completed her law degree, and entered the world of political campaigning and governmental policy advisory. From this point, Celia’s health has spiralled out of control and she is constantly in and out of treatment, battling to save her life. Having worked in policy and the charitable sector for several years, Celia experienced how the formation of policy and legislation occurred without the correct consultation and consideration of disabled people.

Drawing on her own lived experiences of battling against damaging legislative strongholds,  Celia is dedicated to establishing a system of correct care, access, equality, and opportunity for all disabled people, encouraging awareness to improve care, accessibility, understanding and equality of medical opportunities for patients around the world.

“Disabled people are not only being limited by their conditions but also by the inaccessible and unequal environment in which we live. My experiences living with a rare condition are driving me to see this eradicated. The Disability Policy Centre firmly believes it can make an impact through collaboration. One in five people in the UK is disabled. For too long, their voices have been under-represented in the formation of policy and implementation of accessibility, and the DPC is working hard to change this. We are working to find practical solutions to change the lives of disabled people for the better, working with government and policy leaders to implement inclusive change.

Society seems to dictate a set path, a journey we must all follow, with our lives planned out by age, promotion, partnership, and purchase. Yet living with a chronic condition completely alters our pathway, seemingly steering us in a direction opposite to that taken by those around us. We are stereotyped as hindered, unable and incapable. Yet, having such a disease, despite the daunting negatives and the associated labels, does not mean we should be unable to live life to the fullest. Ability and talent cannot be assumed based upon whether an individual has a medical condition or not.

I cannot emphasise strongly enough that we can still follow our own journeys, set our own pathways, and achieve against our genetic odds. Chronic health conditions endow an individual with a unique set of attributes, such as resilience, empathy, determination, and the ability to think differently from others. We are unique, both genetically and in our characteristics, and our uniqueness must be protected, cared for and celebrated.

My condition is me. It is who I am, and it has made me what I am today.  I am determined to ensure that I leave this world in a better place than I found it.”  

HARRIET LESTER - Founder of Vitaegum (2012, Bellairs)

Vitaegum is a multivitamin-infused chewing gum that prevents malnutrition and improves oral hygiene in refugee and homeless populations. Harriet says, “I came up with the idea for Vitaegum whilst working in refugee camps in the Calais jungle. Toothache due to poor oral healthcare and malnutrition were two major problems that caused huge amounts of suffering to these populations. I saw that the usual methods of tackling these issues were very ineffective and were in dire need of innovation. The standard food rations for refugees usually focus on providing only calories instead of vitamins. Oral hygiene is also a big issue because there is often no source of clean water or a place to store a toothbrush in a refugee camp or for people sleeping rough. It is not good practice to give out vitamin tablets because they look like medicine or pills and it's unsafe to normalize these being given out by people who aren’t doctors, especially with a language barrier.

“As a PhD biochemistry student, I was able to produce a formula for a chewing gum that contained essential vitamins that could be absorbed in the mouth and that would also clean your teeth as you chewed. I took my idea to a social enterprise community at Oxford University and found a team of scientists and students interested in refugee healthcare. Together we set up Vitaegum and have won funding from many prestigious enterprising competitions including Oxford Foundry All-Innovate Competition, Hauge Business Network Pitching Competition, Oxford Inspires Pitching Competition and The Oxford Impact Award for Enterprise and Innovation. We have recently secured funding to run two pilot studies in Lesbos and Norway that will be running over the summer of 2022.

“I owe a lot of my success as an entrepreneur to my education at CLC. I am very grateful that my passion for science was always nurtured by my teachers who encouraged me to pursue a career as a biochemist. CLC helped my ambition grow and gave me the confidence at a young age to aspire to do whatever I wanted to achieve. Growing up with many intelligent and strong women as my peers has had a lasting impact on me.

“If you would like updates on our all-female biotech start up, follow us on Instagram @vitaegum and visit our website.”

PHOEBE O’HARA and AMIRA FATEH - Co-directors of EmpowerHer*Voice (EH*V)
(2008-2015, Glengar/Elizabeth and 2009-2015, St Clare/Bayshill)

Note: Phoebe O’Hara and Amira Fateh were nominated separately but, as co-founders of their organisation, they felt their work was an ongoing partnership and asked to be considered as a pair.  To make it equitable, votes received for this joint nomination will be divided by two.

 Phoebe O’Hara and Amira Fateh are co-directors of EmpowerHer*Voice (EH*V), a platform they co-founded while still at CLC in 2014.  Arising from their encounters with sexism, women's rights and grassroots activism, their belief that the status quo needed changing gave birth to EH*V, a platform that spotlights the innovative vision and lived experiences of people of marginalised genders worldwide.  EH*V brings together artists, creatives, activists, and academics who are all engaged in a common mission: to produce and discuss novel ideas with the potential to reshape our shared reality.  Through EH*V, Phoebe and Amira have raised over £25,000 to empower women, non-binary and trans communities, and provided an internship programme for over 400 young people over the past three years. 

Phoebe has played a key role in the expansion of the group and its activities, notably through the creation of EH*V chapters across a breadth of international and UK-based universities and schools.  Together with Amira, she has also sought to create opportunities for young people through EH*V’s ‘Big Sister’ programme, providing mentorship sessions to inspire and support students as they look ahead.

Amira began by selling EH*V T-shirts in order to fundraise for Omid e Mehr, an organisation based in Iran that provides educational opportunities for young women. This first project became the foundation of EH*V’s fundraising programme, working with educational charities in Iran, India, Pakistan and Palestine.  She has also launched and led another key EH*V project, ‘Spread The Word’, which seeks to engage young people with trail-blazing female academics.  Through doing so, Amira has used her access to leading educational spaces in Oxford and Cambridge to make academia more accessible, and has inspired young women to have the confidence to pursue higher education and research.

Besides her continued commitment to social justice, Amira is an accomplished linguist, fluent in more than five languages, who pursues translation and editorial work not simply because she has the skills but specifically for companies that care about issues that affect young people, including activism, mental health, education and refugeeism.

Having studied History and International Relations to a postgraduate level at Duke, Tel Aviv University and LSE, Phoebe holds beliefs that are not just feminist ideals acquired at CLC but those she has consolidated  through academic enterprise and learning. She has taken these principles to other areas of work, including the UN in Palestine where she worked on development projects in the state.  Her creation of Open Door Community Kitchen at the outset of Covid-19, is an organisation that provides 300 hot meals every week for people struggling with homelessness.

Both Phoebe and Amira have dedicated the past eight years to delivering humanitarian aid in a genuine and culturally sensitive manner, using the platform of EH*V to fundraise for and raise awareness of initiatives with the shared goal of educational empowerment, partnering with organisations in Pakistan, Colombia and Uganda.   Most recently, they have led educational workshops in schools in the UK, engaging with young people on topics like intersectionality, diversity and feminism.