Outstanding Sheffield Alumni
LLB Law 1977, Honorary LittD 2009
Jim Grant, better known by his pseudonym Lee Child, is a worldwide bestselling crime author. Lee is the creator behind the Jack Reacher novels which span 19 books to date since starting in 1997, and most recently has made the transfer to the big screen.
Lee studied Law at Sheffield, but had no intention of being a lawyer, preferring to see law as a way to see and understand a snapshot of the current times. Whilst at Sheffield Lee spent much of his time involved with the University’s theatre group. This led to a career working in television production, before turning his hand to writing.
From the success of his writing Lee has given a huge amount back to Sheffield through over 50 ‘Jack Reacher Scholarships’, as well as often returning to the city that he loves to take part in discussion events and to share his literary knowledge.
Lee now spends much of his time writing in his Manhattan home but sticks to his Midlands roots through his love of Aston Villa.
Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill
BSc Psychology 2007, Honorary LittD 2010
Born and raised in Sheffield, Jessica is best known for her athletic prowess. Having been introduced to athletics during her school holidays, Jessica met her long-time coach Toni Minichiello at the age of 13, and together they have risen through the ranks of British sport. Jessica continued her training through her school days and whilst studying Psychology at Sheffield.
Since graduating from Sheffield in 2007, Jessica has been a full time athlete, winning medals at competitions around the world, including the Commonwealth games and World Championships. At the London 2012 Olympics Jessica cemented her position as one of the best athletes in the world by winning Gold in the Olympic Heptathlon. She went on to defend her title at the Rio 2016 Olympics and narrowly missed out on retaining her title, bringing home a Silver medal instead.
Jess remains very close to the city, still living here, as well as being a patron for the Children’s Hospital and of our Elite Sport Performance Scheme. The scheme, which launched in 2010, provides financial and non-financial support to talented student athletes at the University.
In 2010 Jess was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Sheffield. In 2011 she was awarded an MBE, and in 2013 she received a CBE for services to athletics and was made a Dame in 2016.
Former student, Honorary LittD 2006
Eddie was born in South Yemen and first came to Sheffield in the early 1980s. At the end of his first year he decided that the Accountancy & Financial Management course he was studying was not the direction he wanted to follow. During this year Eddie had spent much of his time with the University Drama Studio, and established the Alternative Productions Society in the Union of Students with the aim of promoting fringe-based arts.
On leaving Sheffield Eddie and took his act to the street, performing in London, Europe and the US before getting his break in 1991. From there Eddie soared as one of the most highly regarded stand-up comics, performing numerous world tours. Most recently Eddie has taken his performances to the stage and screen. He has also been highly active in campaigning on various political themes, and famously ran 43 marathons in 51 days in support of Sport Relief in.
In 2006 he was awarded an Honorary Degree of Letters by the University of Sheffield, and in 2010 was elected as the Honorary President of the Students’ Union.
BJur Law 1973, Honorary LittD 2005
Hilary graduated from Sheffield with a Law degree in 1973. Though never having practiced law, she has a fascination with its working which has woven its way into her writings ever since. Her novel ‘An Experiment in Love’ draws on her experiences at University, and gives an insight into University life at the time.
Following her graduation from Sheffield, Hilary moved with her partner to first Botswana and later Saudi Arabia, which is where she started her professional writing. Upon her return to the UK, Hilary wrote for the Spectator as their film critic, and as a reviewer for several UK and US publications.
In 2009 Hilary won the Man Booker Prize for her novel concerning Thomas Cromwell. Set during the court of Henry VIII, ‘Wolf Hall’ was described as an "extraordinary piece of storytelling". Not to be outdone, the sequel, ‘Bring Up the Bodies’ won her a second Man Booker Prize, the first Briton and Woman to do so. Currently Hilary is writing the concluding chapter of the Henry VIII saga.
Hilary was awarded a CBE in 2006 and a DBE (Dame of the British Empire) in 2014 for services to literature.
BA English Literature 1982, Honorary LittD 2001
Film and Theatre Director
As a student, Stephen split much of his time between the English Literature Department’s Theatre Workshop and the University’s Drama Studio, and this set him on his way for his career in Theatre.
Upon graduating from Sheffield, Stephen trained as a clown’s apprentice in Italy learning how to 'walk the tightrope, swallow fire, ride a unicycle and blow a duck through a souzaphone'. Returning to Sheffield he worked as the artistic director of several theatre groups, including at the Crucible, before transitioning to work with several theatres in London.
In 2000 Stephen made his cinematic directorial debut with Billy Elliot which was met with broad critical and commercial success. Stephen was also instrumental in bringing Billy Elliot to the stage in 2009. Since then Stephen has gone on to direct adaptations of several books, namely The Hours, The Reader and most recently Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, set amid the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
Stephen has always been a strong advocate for the arts - opposing Arts Council cuts and leading campaigns to save theatres and provide funding for more challenging forms of theatre. In 2001 he was awarded an honorary degree by the University for this work, and in recognition of his directorial work.
Dr Helen Sharman, CMG, OBE
BSc Chemistry 1984, Hon DSc 2017
Helen was born and raised in Grenoside in Sheffield. She studied for a BSc in Chemistry at the University, graduating in 1984. From here she worked as an engineer and chemist, investigating the flavouring properties of chocolate.
In 1989 Helen answered a radio advert which said "Astronaut wanted. No experience necessary". She was eventually selected as the successful candidate for Project Juno, a collaboration between a conglomerate of British companies and the Soviet Union, to send the first Briton into space. In May 1991, after 18 months of training, Helen became the first Briton in space, and the first woman to visit the Mir space station. During the mission Helen was involved in various experiments about the effects of weightlessness on physical, chemical and biological systems.
Helen has become a leading ambassador for science and in 1993 was appointed an OBE for her pioneering accomplishments, followed by a CMG in 2018. She has also overseen a range of specialist facilities and laboratories used for teaching and research, and is currently Operations Manager at Imperial College London’s Department of Chemistry. In October 2015 she was appointed as President of the Institute of Science & Technology (IST).
BA English Literature 1979, Honorary DMus 2012
Born in Stockport, Martin moved across the Pennines to study English at the University in the mid 1970s. It was during his time in Sheffield that his musical career began. Whilst writing for his fanzine, Martin was invited to join the band Vice Versa as their keyboardist. Vice Versa played their first gig at the Now Society at the University, supporting the Human League. In the following year Martin became the new singer for the band, which reinvented itself as ABC. The band became famous through the 1980’s for their synth-pop style and for Martin’s gold lame suit. Hits included ‘Poison Arrow’ and ‘The Look of Love’.
The band has continued releasing music with eight albums to date, and still regularly tour. The group experienced some unexpected attention in 2011 when their single (How to be a) Millionaire was co-opted by the Occupy Wall Street protests.
Martin has been a strong supporter of Action Medical Research, taking part in four charity treks to raise money and awareness for the charity which conducts research and treatment for a range of illnesses. In 2012 Martin was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music in recognition of his musical and charity work, and for his support of the University.
BA English Literature 2002
Lucy began her studies at Sheffield in 1999. As well as her studies in English Literature, Lucy had a strong interest in theatre and spent much of her time around the University Drama Studio. As well as being a talented actress, she was also a dedicated writer, though uncertain of her ability. In 2002 she convinced herself to enter the National Student Drama Festival, and won the Production Managers Association Most Promising Playwright Award for her short play ‘Liquid’.
After graduating from Sheffield, the same play managed to secure her a place on a course for young writers at the Royal Court, despite having missed the application deadline. After the course and whilst working at the National Theatre Lucy wrote her first play ‘The Sugar Syndrome’ which won her numerous awards and solidified her belief in herself as a writer.
Since then she has created the television series ‘Secret Diary of a Call Girl’, which starred Billy Piper, and has written for the Guardian newspaper. Lucy is best known however for her play ENRON, telling the story of the rise and fall of a worldwide energy company, which resulted in one of the most infamous scandals in financial history. She is currently working to adapt her play for the big screen.
BA History 1998, MA Journalism Studies 1999
Born in Crawley, West Sussex, Dan made the journey north to study history, graduating in 1998, and continuing to complete a master’s course in journalism the following year. It was at the University that Dan started his broadcasting career, presenting the midweek sports-themed evening show and 'Dan & Edd In The Afternoon' on the University’s Sure FM. From here Dan worked at Hallam FM and Manchester's Key 103 radio as a sports commentator, before making the transition to television.
In 2005 Dan started working for the BBC on North West Tonight, before moving to London in 2006 to work as a sports presenter on BBC News and BBC World. Since then Dan has worked covering a huge range of sports, and in 2009 became the face of the BBC’s Football Focus. Dan continues to be a familiar face at sports events, covering events including several World Cups and Wimbledon tournaments. Most recently he has made the transition to current affairs, becoming one of the main presenters on BBC Breakfast.
Dan still lives in Sheffield and has given talks at his old department. Alongside Jessica Ennis-Hill, he is a patron of Sport Sheffield’s Elite Sports Performance Scheme, and is a patron of The Sheffield Children's Hospital Charity. He also works with TASTE, a Christian water charity operating in Nigeria.
BA Archaeology & Prehistory 2001, Honorary DMus 2013
Elizabeth first came to Sheffield in 1998 to study archaeology. However, it was her passion for music that she decided to follow after her studies in Sheffield.
Growing up in Norfolk Elizabeth started her musical education as a chorister at Norwich Cathedral, and after leaving Sheffield, completed an Advanced Opera Studies course at the Royal College of Music in London.
In the following years she won numerous awards as a young singer, including the Kathleen Ferrier Prize, the Rosenblatt Recital Song Prize and Young Performer of the Year at the Classical Brit Awards. Elizabeth continued to expand her repertoire and performed at venues throughout the UK, and around the world. In 2009 her debut album ‘Schubert: Lieder’ garnered critical praise and her voice was named “one of the most beautiful Britain has produced in a generation” by the International Record Review.
In recent years she returned to the University to perform to a packed Firth Hall, and in July 2013 Elizabeth received an Honorary Doctor of Music from the University, collecting her award from the Octagon, just over the road from where she lived as a student.
The Rt Hon the Lord David Blunkett
BA Politics 1972, Hon LittD 2016
Former Member of Parliament and Home Secretary
David was born in Sheffield, and despite being blind from birth, defied the predictions of his teachers by gaining a place at the University to study politics. Following this he completed a PGCE and worked as a tutor at the Barnsley College of Technology.
Whilst still studying at Sheffield, David became the youngest ever councillor in Britain, aged just 22. David served Sheffield City Council from 1970 to 1988, becoming Leader from 1980 to 1987. In the 1987 general election David was elected as an MP for Sheffield Brightside, serving on the shadow cabinet. Following the Labour election win in 1997, David worked as the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, and later became Home Secretary, and finally Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
Since leaving government David has undertaken numerous major reviews, and shaped several major White Papers in the areas of anti-poverty, education and social mobility. He has also worked with several youth volunteering initiatives around helping young people into education and training. Most recently David has led a review for the Labour party into the local oversight, and the raising of standards, of schools.
David is currently a Vice President of both the Royal National Institute of Blind People and the National Alzheimer’s Society, as well as several other Sheffield charities.
Penny Hughes, CBE
BSc Chemistry 1980, Honorary LLD 1994
After growing up in Birkenhead, Merseyside, Penny was attracted to studying Chemistry at Sheffield based on the department’s reputation, the University’s sporting record, and its location in the North. Penny embraced her love of sport whilst at Sheffield, playing lacrosse for both the University, and the North of England. She even managed to accommodate extra courses in economics, alongside her other commitments, on the way to achieving her first class degree.
Upon graduating from Sheffield, Penny joined Procter & Gamble, and later the Milk Marketing board, working as a product manager, launching and devising new products. In 1987 she was appointed Marketing Director of Coca-Cola and Schweppes, and in 1992 was made President of Coca-Cola in Great Britain. In a company, and business world, at a time dominated by men, Penny stood out as a confident, motivated and talented leader who could compete with anyone.
After leaving Coca-Cola in 1995, Penny developed her portfolio of interests, becoming a non-executive director of Vodafone, Enodis (formerly Berisford), Trinity Mirror, the GAP, Next, the Body Shop, and Reuters. Currently she is a non-executive director with the Home Retail Group, Morrisons and RBS. Beyond this she also manages to find time to be a trustee of the British Museum. In 2011 she was awarded a CBE for services to the media industry.
BA Politics 1969
Sports presenter and former Executive Director of the FA
It was whilst studying Politics at the University of Sheffield that David’s interest in broadcasting was first piqued. After graduating in 1969, David made the transition into media, learning the ropes through various regional, and later national, BBC offices. During the mid and late 1980’s he worked as a political and education correspondent on Radio 4, before transitioning to sports in 1989.
Between then and 1994 he presented across the BBC’s largest sports programmes and is credited with the phrase “If you don’t want to know the score, look away now”.
In 1994 David moved away from the BBC to join the Football Association (FA), occupying several roles including Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Head of Football Affairs, Director of International Strategy and eventually heading up the FA as its Executive Director. He was heavily involved in the 1996 European cup, and managed the appointment and transitions of several England managers.
David retired from the FA in 2006 but still works in the world of football, assisting with promoting the game around the world, looking to use football to boost opportunities and create common ground in troubled regions. In 2006 he was also awarded an OBE by the Queen for his services to sport.
Image source: bit.ly/1qJuzMm
Amy Johnson (1903-1941)
BA Latin, French and Economics 1925
Amy was born in Hull in 1903. She came to Sheffield to study Latin, French & Economics and graduated in 1925. Having completed her studies, Amy moved to London where she worked as a secretary to the solicitor William Charles Crocker. It was this job that allowed her to fund her passion for flying, for which she is best known.
In the winter of 1928 Amy undertook her first flying lesson. As a woman she was something of a rarity in those early days of flight, but she was determined to show that women could be every bit the pilot of her male counterparts. After obtaining her license Amy continued her learning, and qualified as the first British female ground engineer, working on and maintaining planes.
In 1930, 18 months after she first starting flying, Amy completed the endurance flight for which she is most well-known. Narrowly missing out on the record set by Bert Hinkler, Amy became the first woman to fly solo from Britain to Australia. She returned home to a hero’s welcome and received a CBE for her daring actions.
Amy continued flying commercially until the outbreak of World War Two in 1939, when she joined the Air Transport Auxiliary. As a trained pilot (though ineligible for RAF service) she served ferrying aircraft from factories to RAF bases. It was during one of these flights in 1941 that Amy’s plane crashed in to the Thames, where she died. Several theories exist surrounding the events of her death, including being mistakenly shot down, though none have been confirmed.
Sir Peter Middleton
BA Economics 1955, Honorary LittD 1984
Former Permanent Secretary of HM Treasury and Former Chancellor of University of Sheffield
A Sheffield man from birth, Sir Peter grew up in the city and attended the University. He initially started his studies in geography, but transferred to economics after his first year. He completed his studies with a first-class honours degree, sharing the Knoop Prize, awarded annually to the most outstanding Economics final year student.
After graduating from Sheffield, Sir Peter completed postgraduate work at the University of Bristol before undertaking a period of National Service, during which time he shared his talent for finance by teaching accountancy.
From here Sir Peter then joined the Civil Service, initially in the Central Office of Information, before later moving into the Treasury. In 1983 he was appointed Permanent Secretary where he served until 1991, having worked closely with nine Chancellors. During this period he chaired a review of the Civil Justice and of the British Film Industry. On leaving the Treasury Sir Peter joined Barclays Bank as Group Deputy Chairman, and later Group Chairman, before retiring in 2004.
Sir Peter received an honorary degree from the University in 1984, the same year he received his knighthood, and since 1999 he has served as the Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, stepping down in July 2015. He is also the Honorary President of the Alumni Board.
Professor Sir Hans Kornberg
BSc Chemistry 1949, PhD Biochemistry 1953, Honorary DSc 1979
Sir Hans was originally born in Germany, but shortly before the outbreak of World War Two he emigrated to England to be with his uncle who lived in Yorkshire. After completing school in Wakefield, a family member working at the University suggested he join as well. Initially he worked with Professor Sir Hans Krebs (the 1953 Nobel Prize winner), who pushed him to study chemistry, and helped Sir Hans to get a scholarship at the University, guiding him along the path to his future career.
Following his undergraduate degree Sir Hans completed a PhD in biochemistry at the University. After completing his PhD,he worked at Yale, Berkeley and at the Public Health Research Institute of the City of New York, before returning to the UK to a post at Oxford University, reuniting with Sir Hans Krebs. Together they published the first major publication on biological thermodynamics. From there Sir Hans was appointed Chair of Biochemistry at the University of Leicester, later taking the same role at the University of Cambridge, where eventually he also became Master of Christ’s College.
On retiring from Cambridge in 1995 Sir Hans returned to the US, becoming a professor of biology at Boston University, where he continues to research and teach. He has also advised on numerous scientific committees and governmental organisations. His work has focussed around the molecular basis of metabolic processes that enable micro-organisms to utilize simple compounds for energy and growth, as well as speaking on the importance of science in public policy and environmental education.
Sir Maurice Kay
LLB Law 1964, PhD Law 1971, Honorary LLD 2003
Retired Lord Justice of Appeal
Lord Justice Kay began his long and distinguished career in law at The University of Sheffield in 1961. On completion of his Bachelor degree he opted to take the unusual step of pursuing a PhD in law, which he completed in 1971. He received tutelage from Professor Sir John Wood, one of the leading employment lawyers of his generation, with whom he shared a fondness and enthusiasm for football.
On leaving Sheffield Lord Justice Kay worked in academia, teaching at the Universities of Hull, Manchester and Keele, and was widely published in the areas of business law. In 1975 Lord Justice Kay qualified as a barrister, practising in Chester until 1988 when he was awarded Silk. He began to gain judicial experience as a Recorder.
In 1995 he became the first Sheffield graduate to be appointed a Justice of the High Court and was assigned to the Queen’s Bench Division. There he found himself once again dealing with employment law, and later joined the Administrative Court, addressing wide ranging, and highly sensitive ethical issues.
In 2004 Lord Justice Kay was appointed a Lord Justice of Appeal, the second highest level of judge in the English legal system, assessing appeals, reconsidering rulings, and making judgements on cases from lower courts. Lord Justice Kay retired from this position in November 2014.
BA Music & Politics 1981, Honorary LittD 2014
Paul was born in Leigh, Lancashire, and grew up with a passion for music. As a child of the 1970s he was drawn not only to classical, but also to the iconic Northern Soul movement. This passion led him to Sheffield where he started studying music.
During his time at University, Paul started to take an interest in politics, both through student activities, and through the unusual act of persuading the University to allow him to study politics formally, alongside his musical studies. In 1981 he completed all of these studies, and moved to Loughborough University, where taught for the next ten years.
His interest in journalism and writing developed during this period, and led him to start writing for several magazines. While writing for ‘Computer Weekly’ he made one of his first major scoops, identifying the role of a software fault in the 1994 Mull of Kintyre helicopter crash. These scoops led to him joining BBC Two’s Newsnight in 2001. Paul worked covering a range of stories, but displayed a talent and interest for business and economics, winning numerous awards. After twelve years with the BBC, Paul left to join Channel 4 in 2013 as their Economics Editor, and has since gone on to write freelance. He has written several books, covering the Occupy movement, the Arab Spring, and the history and development of China.
Jack Rosenthal, CBE (1931-2004)
BA English Literature 1953, Honorary LittD 1998
Jack was born in Manchester, and grew up there, sparking one of his major passions: his love of Manchester United. He came to love literature thanks to his early studies at Colne Grammar School which set the stage for him to study English Literature at the University of Sheffield. Jack further refined his writing skills during his time at Sheffieldwhere he was a sports reporter for the University newspaper ‘Darts’.
After graduating in 1953, Jack completed his National Service with the Navy, before joining the newly formed Granada television company. He worked his way up through purchasing and research before becoming a writer. Jack was one of the early writers for Coronation Street, writing almost 130 episodes. Following his very successful stint with Coronation Street, Jack branched out into a variety of television dramas.
Through the 1970’s Jack created several dramas including ‘The Dustbinmen’ and ‘The Lovers’. In 1976 Jack wrote his most successful drama: Bar Mitzvah Boy, for which he won three BAFTA awards. Jack later assisted with producing the musical version of Bar Mitzvah Boy, as well as creating London’s Burning. Following this Jack worked on several films, and in 1994 he received a CBE for services to drama.
Jack briefly returned to the University as the Maisie Glass Visiting Professor in Drama in the late 1990s, and culminated in his receipt of an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University in 1998.
The Lord Bernard Hogan-Howe, QPM
Executive MBA 1999, Honorary LLD 2013
Former Head of the Metropolitan Police
Growing up in Brightside, Sheffield, Sir Bernard studied his A levels at Hinde House Comprehensive. On leaving school he worked for the NHS as a lab technician, before deciding to broaden his career by joining South Yorkshire police in 1979. Having policed Doncaster’s mining communities during the strikes of the 1980s, headed traffic policing, and overseen a major restructuring of South Yorkshire police, Sir Bernard was identified as a high-flier.
Sir Bernard decided to return to study at the age of 28, completing an MA in Law at Merton College, Oxford, and later a Diploma in Applied Criminology from the University of Cambridge. This led to him joining Merseyside Police in 1997, and taking responsibility for Area Operations two years later. It was also in 1999 that Sir Bernard returned to Sheffield to study for an Executive MBA, to help formalise his strategic skills, and understand how organisations work and improve.
In 2001 Sir Bernard joined the Metropolitan police as an Assistant Commissioner, responsible for Human Resources, where he boosted the Met’s recruitment to an all-time high. After returning to Merseyside, where he took the force from 42nd to the 1st in public confidence, he returned to London where he led on policing for the Olympics, counter terrorism, and serious organised crime. In 2011 he rose to become Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, a position he retired from in 2017.
Dr Nicholas Liverpool (1934-2015)
PhD Law 1965, Honorary LLD 2009
Former President of Dominica
Dr Liverpool first came to the UK from his home country of Dominica in 1957, to study Law at the University of Hull. He graduated in 1960, and the following year qualified as a barrister. It was then that Dr Liverpool came to Sheffield to undertake a PhD in Law, from which he graduated in 1965.
On completion of his studies, Dr Liverpool moved to the University of Ghana where he worked as a law lecturer and contributor to their law journal. After two years in Ghana, he moved to McGill University, before returning to Dominica to assist in the revision of the laws of Dominica and St Vincent. He continued revising laws in many Caribbean nations throughout the 1980s and 1990s. After this Dr Liverpool worked concurrently as a Judge of the High Court of Antigua and Montserrat, and at the University of the West Indies (where he eventually became Head of the Department of Law).
In 2003, after having worked in several senior state positions, including Chairmanships of the Police, and Telecommunications commissions, Dr Liverpool was appointed as President of the Commonwealth of Dominica. As President, he was seen as a stabilising factor, allowing the island to prosper in a sustainable manner. So well regarded was he that the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition jointly requested he stay on as President for a second term. He completed his presidency in 2012. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University in 2009, in recognition of his outstanding career in politics, law, and academia.
BA Architectural Studies 1986
Born in Hong Kong, Douglas first came to the UK in 1979 at the age of 14 to attend the Uppingham boarding school. After completing his school studies, Douglas decided to pursue his passion and talent for design, which previously he had not been able to follow, and came to Sheffield in 1983 to study Architecture and use his creativity.
After graduating in 1986 he moved to London to work for commercial designers Chapman Taylor, designing regional shopping centres. In the wake of the economic downturn of the early 1990s, Douglas decided to return home to Hong Kong, continuing to work in architecture for a short time before opting to pursue his own business ideas.
Leaving large scale practice, Douglas started his own design firm, focussing on smaller projects, typically interiors, more in line with his London work. It was whilst doing this that he and his partner Benjamin Lau hit upon the idea of designing their own products for their interiors.
In 1996 Douglas co-founded ‘Goods of Desire’ (G.O.D.) a creative house, designing and selling their own interior household products. Setting up in a disused warehouse, G.O.D. fuses Eastern and Western design, creating products available to everyone with their motto “live better”. G.O.D. now operates eight stores throughout Hong Kong and Singapore, and is one of the most celebrated brands to come out of Hong Kong.
The Rt Hon Lady Justice Rafferty
LLB Law 1971, Honorary LLD 2005
Lady Justice of Appeal, Chancellor of the University of Sheffield
Lady Justice Rafferty first came to Sheffield in 1968, joining the Faculty of Law along with 61 other students. After completing her studies Anne went straight on to qualify as a barrister, which she did in 1973.
Focusing her practice on criminal law, Lady Justice Rafferty rose rapidly through the legal profession, taking Silk - becoming Queen’s Counsel (QC) - in 1990, and gaining judicial experience as a Recorder. In 1995, Lady Justice Rafferty became the first woman to chair the Criminal Bar Association, the largest of all the Specialist Bar Associations. Previously she had participated in the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice examining the effectiveness of the Criminal Justice System, and leading to the Criminal Appeal Act in 1995. In 2000, Anne was appointed a Judge of the High Court of Justice, Queen's Bench Division, and was made a Dame of the Order of the British Empire (DBE).
Through her career Lady Justice Rafferty has presided over several high-profile cases including the trial of Paul Burrell, the examination of the fallibility of expert medical witnesses (and the calling into question of over 250 cases in which parents were accused of killing their babies), and the trial of Sion Jenkins. In 2011 Lady Justice Rafferty became a Lord Justice of Appeal following her appointment to the Court of Appeal of England and Wales.
In 2005 the University recognised Lady Justice Rafferty’s substantial contribution to the legal system with an Honorary Doctorate of Laws, and in 2015 she takes over from Sir Peter Middleton as Chancellor of the University of Sheffield.
The Lord Jim O’Neill
BA Economics 1978, MA Economics 1980, Honorary LittD 2014
Jim grew up in Manchester and crossed the Pennines to study economics at the University in the mid 1970s. After his Bachelor’s degree he went on to complete a Masters degree at Sheffield, before studying for a PhD at Surrey.
On completion of his studies, Jim started his career in the world of finance, working for the Bank of America and Swiss Bank Corporation through the 1980s and 1990s. His later work saw him researching global economic trends, and in 1997 he joined Goldman Sachs as their head of global economics research. It was during this period that Jim published work coining the term BRIC (for the emerging economic powers of Brazil, Russia, India and China) to acknowledge the new powers that would come to shape the world’s economy. Recently he has identified the MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) as the next wave of economic influencers.
Jim continued to work for Goldman Sachs until his retirement in 2013. Since then he has gone on to work with several major media outlets as an economics commentator. He holds the Chairmanship of the City Growth Commission, and sits on several advisory boards and think tanks.
Closer to home Jim has remained committed to supporting education, as a founding partner of Teach First, and as Chairman of SHINE, a charity which awards grants helping children and school better education standards in London and Manchester.
Dr John Roberts, FREng, FICE, FIStructE
BEng Civil & Structural Engineering 1969, PhD Civil Engineering 1972, Honorary DEng 2006
Originally from Bristol, John began his long and successful career in engineering in 1966 when he came to Sheffield to study Civil & Structural Engineering. A talented student, John won the Mappin Medal for best engineering student of the year, before going on to complete a PhD in Civil Engineering.
After completing his PhD, John’s first job involved working on motorway interchanges with McAlpine & Sons, before moving on to Allott & Lomax (later Jacobs Babtie) in Manchester, to spend more of his time designing. One such design project was based in Blackpool, where his company was responsible for the engineering design of the tallest, fastest, and steepest roller-coaster in the world, at the time; the Pepsi-Max Big One.
He continued his work in ‘entertainment engineering’ and in the early 2000s, designed and oversaw the project for which he is most well-known: the London Eye. The 443ft wheel is the tallest in Europe, and is the most popular paid for visitor attraction in London. Just down the river, John and his team were also in charge of the regeneration of Battersea Power station. Most recently John was responsible for the engineering behind the British Airways i360 observation tower on the Brighton seafront.
John maintains his enthusiasm for engineering at the University, returning to speak to students regularly. In 2006 the University awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Engineering in recognition of his work.
Professor Sir Harry Kroto (1939-2016)
BSc Chemistry 1961, PhD Chemistry 1964, Honorary DSc 1995
Nobel Prize winning Chemist
Sir Harry was raised in Bolton, and went to school alongside Sir Ian McKellen, before coming to Sheffield on the recommendation of his sixth form chemistry teacher. Sir Harry joined the University in 1958 to study chemistry, but also explored his passion for design when he took up position as the art editor of Arrows, the University’s arts magazine. On completion of his undergraduate degree, Sir Harry then went on to complete a PhD, focussing on molecular spectroscopy, an area he still works in today.
After his PhD, Sir Harry completed post-doctoral work in Canada and the United States, before moving to the University of Sussex to continue his research, where he became Professor of Chemistry in 1985. It was around this time that Sir Harry had been conducting research into allotropes – different atomic structures – of carbon. This work, which was first published in Nature in 1985, revealed the discovery of a third form of carbon (alongside diamond and graphite) which he named ‘Buckminsterfullerene’, and which won him the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1996.
Sir Harry continued his research and teaching at Sussex for several years, before going back to the United States to work at Florida State University, continuing to investigate carbon vapour (the means by which Buckminsterfullerene forms) and the implications of the molecule for chemistry, material science, and nanotechnology.
The University of Sheffield awarded Sir Harry an Honorary Doctorate of Science in 1995 in recognition of his achievements, and has since named two buildings after him: the Kroto Innovation Centre and the Kroto Research Institute.
Sir Richard Roberts
BSc Chemistry 1965, PhD Chemistry 1968, Honorary DSc 1994
Nobel Prize winning Chemist and Molecular Biologist
The gift of a chemistry set and a love of puzzle-solving led Sir Richard to study Chemistry at Sheffield in 1962. During his undergraduate degree, his professor of organic chemistry at the time captured his imagination, and this led Sir Richard into his PhD about investigating the compounds found in the heartwood from a Brazilian tree.
After completing his PhD in 1968, Sir Richard moved to Harvard to complete his post-doctoral studies, which opened his eyes to the opportunities available to scientific researchers in the United States. Despite a desire to return to the UK, the offer of a project from Dr James Watson (one of the discoverers of DNA) was too difficult to turn down.
At this time, Sir Richard’s work started shifting from pure chemistry towards molecular biology. Sir Richard was working with adenovirus genes (the common cold virus) and through comparison of viral RNA with its complementary DNA, he (along with Dr Philip Sharp working independently at MIT) were able to discover more about structure of genes and DNA. This work has immense significance for both medical treatments and evolution, and led to Sir Richard and Dr Sharp sharing the 1993 Nobel Prize for Medicine.
Since then Sir Richard has continued his work, focusing on the restriction and modification of genes, for which he has been in frequent contact with the University’s Krebs Institute. In 2005, part of the new Chemistry Department was named the Richard Roberts building, in his honour, and in 2008 Sir Richard received his knighthood for services to molecular biology and UK science.
Major William Barnsley Allen VC, DSO, MC and bar (1892-1933)
MB ChB Medicine 1914
Doctor and Medical Officer
Born 8 June 1892 Major Allen grew up in Sheffield across the road from the Botanical Gardens. After attending what is now Worksop College he studied medicine at the University of Sheffield. During this time he won the Kaye Scholarship for the highest marks in Physiology and the John Hall Gold Medal in Pathology (1913).
Major Allen completed his studies just before the outbreak of WWI and as a member of the Sheffield University Officer Training Corps joined the Royal Army Medical Corps just days after the UK declared war on Germany. During his service he displayed numerous truly heroic acts for which he was twice awarded the Military Cross, and in 1916 the Victoria Cross "for most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty". Major Allen went into areas under heavy enemy fire to retrieve and treat wounded personnel,and only revealing he had sustainedinjuries himself after he had finished treating his comrades.
William retired from the Army in 1923, having gone on to serve in India, and settled into general practice back in England. Sadly he died in 1933 at the age of 41 in his new home of Bracklesham near Chichester, Sussex.
Time and again Major Allen displayed incredible courage and bravery and was one of the most decorated officers of the First World War and one of the most decorated medical officers to serve in the British armed forces.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach KCB, CBE, ADC, DL
BA Geography, Economic & Social History 1977, Honorary LittD 2007
Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff
Air Chief Marshall Sir Stuart is the incoming Chief of the Defence Staff, the head of the Armed Forces and principal military adviser to the government reporting directly to the Secretary of State for Defence and the Prime Minister. He completed a BA in Geography, Economic & Social History in 1977, and in the same year was commissioned into the RAF.
His first major role involved flying photographic and strategic reconnaissance missions, and he later qualified as a weapons and electronic warfare instructor while based both in the UK and in Germany. He also became commander of the oldest dedicated bomber squadron in the Air Force, and in 1999 led British Forces in Kosovo for which he was decorated.
Since 2000 Air Marshall Sir Stuart has worked in intelligence, heading RAF Waddington providing mission support for RAF operations. This led to him becoming Director of Defence Intelligence with overall responsibility for intelligence policy, collection and analysis. In 2013 he was appointed Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff and in 2017 he was elected as the next Chairman of the NATO Military Committee by the Allied Chiefs of Defence.
Throughout his career education has remained important, including an MPhil at Cambridge, acting as Director of Defence Studies for the RAF, as well as editing a publishing numerous article as well as speaking both for, and external to, the military.
Image MoD/Crown copyright 2016 bit.ly/1TCShUI
BA Economics 1961, Honorary DSc 2012
Financial expert and Philanthropist
Jeremy was raised in South Yorkshire, and went on to study Economics at the University, graduating in 1961. He then went on into the world of investment management and is currently a strategist at GMO which he co-founded. He is a world renowned financial expert, who foresaw several recent economic crashes, and predicts that the carbon bubble may be the next to burst.
Jeremy is also a leading philanthropist and a strong advocate for environmental issues. Together with his wife Hanne he established the Grantham Foundation which supports research into a range of environmental issues. In 2014 he made the largest individual gift ever received by the University to set up the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures. This centre funds research and a series of PhD students (the Grantham Scholars) looking into means of promoting sustainability in food and energy, whilst also linking into policy debates.
In 2012 Jeremy was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University, in recognition of his philanthropic work, and in October 2015 Jeremy and Hanne were awarded the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.
Image credit: Filip Wolak