Alumni Volunteer of the Year Award 2022 – Vote for your Finalists!

Below are the stories of seven outstanding alumni who have been put forward by members of staff as deserving of the Alumni Volunteer of the Year Award for their exceptional voluntary contribution to the life of the University.

Read their stories and then vote for the alumni you feel is the most deserving of the award. Alumni votes will be counted to find this year’s three finalists (*please note we can only accept one vote per alumni and please include your full name, course studied/year graduated). Voting closes at midnight on the Friday 27th May.

The final three shortlisted nominations will be assessed by a panel of judges drawn from across the University, and the winner will be announced at the Alumni Volunteer Gala Dinner in June.

Nominee 1: Amber Vellacott

BA (Hons) Multimedia Journalism – 2017

Amber makes the daunting art of digital networking come alive. Working for a digital marketing company, Amber continues to support the University and final year students, sharing not only the reality of moving successfully from university to the workplace but also explains how to build and develop a career. Amber’s support includes:

  • Devising and leading inspirational and informative workshops for year 3 students
  • Being there to support, mentor and advise successive cohorts – this was of particular value at the height of pandemic lockdown restrictions
  • Flagging up current job and trainee opportunities for students, helping them to create powerful LinkedIn profiles and prompting students to start networking and interacting.

Amber is a shining role model for our students, who respond with enthusiasm and engagement to her workshops. Amber consistently identifies her multimedia journalism degree from CCCU as the launch pad for her continuing success story and makes impressive ambassador for us.


Nominee 2: Ibrahim Fofanah

BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy  – 2021

Ibrahim was one of the two founding members of ‘Bridging the Gap to Leadership placement’, aimed at improving the attainment/ awarding gap for our Black, Asian, Mixed heritage and Ethnic Minority students, in the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Social Care. The programme offers virtual placements, to create resources to encourage more inclusive and equitable learning environments within placement settings. Ibrahim involvement includes:

  • Representing CCCU at many national and local conferences on Closing our Attainment Gap and promoting the work of Bridging the Gap to Leadership
  • Being available to support current students on Bridging the Gap to Leadership placements
  • Working collaboratively with our partners from the University of Brighton and placement providers to improve the experiences of our BAME students within Practice Education.

Ibrahim’s presentations have received very positive feedback and have opened up conversations around race and equality within education for our students. Now a full time Physiotherapist, Ibrahim remains actively engaged in this project as well as contributing to the future direction of CCCU’s Closing the Gap programme.


Nominee/s 3: Maria Leonora Halas, Christian Smith & Sophie Grant

MariaBSc (Hons) Accounting & Finance 2011
ChristianBSc (Hons) Accounting And Finance 2012
Sophie – BSc (Hons) Accounting And Finance 2011

Unusually this year we have a nomination for a team of three alumni, all of whom volunteered to mentor our third year undergraduate accounting students as part of our mentoring pilot programme MASS (Mentoring Accounting Students for Success). All three alumni have been a critical component in delivering MASS at Christ Church Business School. Working together:

  • They have enhanced student employability, helping build confidence, and providing insight into the graduate market and the skills required to succeed in the accountancy profession
  • They have empowered our students by generously sharing their experiences – ‘’See it, Be it” –  and helping students grow their professional networks
  • The scheme has strengthened our links to the national professional accounting body ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), which has over 230,000 members. ACCA intends to build on this pilot scheme and use this as the model for other universities. 

All three alumni have made a big impact and are wonderful ambassadors for the Business School, inspiring our next generation of graduands.


Nominee 4: Ian Blackmore

BA (Hons) History– 1997

Ian graduated from CCCU in 1997 and runs his own successful specialist events management business. However, Ian has continued to offer his time, advice and support to both the University and Christ Church Students’ Union (where Ian was Captain and President of Men’s Rugby and Sabbatical Officer – Vice President). This includes:

  • Offering sound business advice to the University about running large events of high reputational profile e.g. Diamond Jubilee Light up the Night Launch event, working with both the Alumni Relations Team and the Vice-Chancellor’s Office
  • Utilising contacts to support practical elements of events, often at short notice e.g. hiring of equipment, people etc, and using business contacts to promote business development opportunities
  • Continuing to be engaged and involved in the SU, both supporting and mentoring individual Sabbatical Officers and Leadership Teams with advice and guidance, as well as co-leading the ‘Friends of CCSU’ Sabbatical Officer Alumni Group.

Ian is always willing to support the University in any way he can. His advice and knowledge of event management and local businesses, along with his absolute commitment to the Students’ Union is highly valued.


Nominee 5: Oluwatomisin (Tomisin) Olumoroti

BA (Hons) Media & Communications – 2021

Tomisin has been invaluable in supporting GradForce, an Office for Students (OfS) funded project created to help maximise students’ employability potential and access jobs in Kent and Medway. It has a particular focus on underrepresented groups within the University to level the playing field and ensure that all students leave CCCU with equal opportunity to move into graduate-level employment. Tomisin helped by:

  • Speaking at this year’s launch event for the GradForce: Get Hired programme, to advocate the programme to current final year students and recent graduates about the benefits of what was on offer to them
  • Encouraging sign ups to the programme – from feedback from the November launch, much of the 50 students in attendance found what Tomisin said of the programme was the contributing factor to why they signed up.

Tomisin has been a great ambassador for the GradForce Team, contributing to the conversion rate of attendees to the event/sign ups to the programme and enabling the team to reach its target of students enrolling on the programme this year.


Nominee 6: Syd Heather

Syd Heather

BA (Hons) Film, Radio And Television Studies –  2012

Since graduating, Syd has built a career as an independent director and producer. His list of nominated short films and documentaries is very impressive but it is the work he does for Film, Radio and Television (FRTV) and Film Production students that deserves recognition. This includes:

  • Leading as a Guest Speaker for Employability modules
  • Sitting as a panel member for our Industry Advisory Panel, helping to judge and provide feedback to year 3 students in their pitching assessments
  • Working hard to Involve CCCU students in his productions and providing work experience for many graduates over the years, along with helping others to find their way in the creative industries
  • Showing general commitment and willingness to help the University.

Syd is always ready to give back to CCCU. His commitment to CCCU and readiness to help our graduates, providing support, encouragement and advice has been invaluable to our media students.


Nominee 7: Ian Rowden

BA (Hons) Primary Education – 2004
Leadership Course – 2010

Within Ian’s role as the Headteacher of Blean Primary School, he has developed a strategic direction that is written into the school improvement planning, to work increasingly with CCCU in supporting and contributing to Initial Teacher Education (ITE). Ian considers this to be a moral purpose of schools in supporting the necessary recruitment, education and retention of those new to teaching. This commitment includes:

  • Leading an annual lecture for PGCE Primary students ahead of their placements advising on managing behaviour, strategies and expectations in the classroom
  • Enabling and funding teachers from Blean to lead an annual lecture on approaches to planning effectively – this was initially introduced during the pandemic to support final placement students when school placements were suspended
  • Welcoming additional students into school to enable them to carry out research and further develop their understanding of high-quality teaching and the impact on learning
  • Supporting student teachers on a range of ITE courses every year through providing multiple placements and mentoring support.

Ian has a nurturing approach to working with student teachers and is supportive in the way he advises and guides students in the sessions he provides. Ian has a passion for education and is committed to supporting and inspiring the next generation of student teachers.

If you have any problems using the auto-voting system, simply email your choice of winner to the Alumni Team