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Alumni support in COVID crisis

Our alumni community have been volunteering their time to help in the Coronavirus response in several ways. From creating online resources to help parents with children at home, sharing their experiences and tips on coping with the situation from others, donating to fund critical research and not to mention our wonderful alumni medics who are working on the front line of the healthcare response.

You can read more about the individuals involved and their contributions in the sections below and if you are an Exeter alum who’s been volunteering do get in touch to let us know what you’ve been up to.

Get in touch at:


Alumni in the field

It’s been wonderful to see so many of our alumni who work in medical professions leading the fight against Coronavirus and we couldn’t be prouder.

This includes NHS staff:

Ian Clough, Managing Director Network Logistics and Transport at DHL Supply Chain, has supported the transportation of PPE, logistics for Nightingale Hospitals, production of COVID-19 testing kits, and the movement of parts for ventilators.

Father and son, David and Cameron Wilkinson, supported the 'Masks for NHS Heroes' campaign with legal and logistical support to ensure masks got where they were needed.

Georgina Tabor is an original member of Bristol Scrub Hub, a voluntary group making scrubs for NHS workers in Bristol currently struggling to source their own. 

Alumni business ChargedUp is transforming its phone charging stations to hand sanitiser dispensers.

Musician James Dixon, cut off his trademark locks to raise £4000 for his local foodbank.

Katie O'Connor has helped set-up an online venture that supports independent businesses.


Online resources

Our alumni have been creating and providing online resources to help both entertain and educate as the population adjusts to working and learning from home.

This includes the following alumni:

  • Author J.K Rowling launched the Harry Potter at Home Hub in order to ‘banish boredom’. The website contains crafts, quizzes and special activity kits from Bloomsbury all based around the magical world.
  • Wildlife presenter Lizzie Daly is running Earth Live Lessons on YouTube where you can tune into 20 minutes of daily earth lessons LIVE from around the world brought to you by some the most inspiring scientists, conservationists, wildlife filmmakers and more.
  • Historian and presenter Sam Willis has some new podcast episodes in his series, Histories of the Unexpected, aimed at kids to support people who are homeschooling.
  • Sports presenter Vassos Alexander is hosting The Great Big Parkrun quiz to keep communities entertained and connected whilst Parkrun events can’t be held.
  • Tim Gordon, alumnus ansd PhD Researcher studying human impacts on natural acoustics in the ocean, ran an online lesson on secret songs of the sea that can be watched on catch-up.
  • Zoologist Billy Heaney is running Billy's Camera Trap Tuesdays with the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, exploring nature on our doorsteps.
  • Soon-to-be alum, Amy Taylor, has produced a series of GCSE maths tutorials with her sister to help students at home during lockdown. 
  • Education and Early Years lecturer, Lianna Wilding, has created a free document to support families of children aged 0-5years old.
  • Journalist and author Frank Gardner read chapters from his new book on Instagram live throughout April.
  • Honorary Graduate Michael Rosen's regular YouTube channel is full of poems and stories for children.
  • Honorary Graduate Sir David Attenborough is delivering lessons as part of BBC Bitesize Learning.


Lockdown interviews 

  • During lockdown we’re recording webchats with academics and alumni so that you can stay in touch with Exeter even though we can’t host events. Keep up to date with them online and post any suggestions of topics you’d like covered. Future live sessions are to follow.
  • Our new Alumni Business Podcast has launched with regular episodes on research, careers and nostalgic stories


Sharing experience and tips

Our alumni community is based all around the world and experiencing the Coronavirus outbreak in many different ways. We’ve invited our alumni to get in touch and share their experiences of how the virus has affected their work, as well as provide tips about how to adjust to the ‘new normal’ and help with routines and working from home.

Chris Tang, an alumnus based in Hong Kong and Chair of the Hong Kong Alumni Group, has written a blog, intended to go out to HR teams, senior managers and business owners who live and work outside Hong Kong, particularly those outside Asia, about coping with the Coronavirus situation and shares tips.

Virginia Stuart-Taylor, who works for the Civil Service, shared an excerpt of an interview she gave featuring top tips for wellbeing during lockdown.

Want something to watch? Students from Exeter's MA Translation have subtitled in English the lost Spanish classic, Fernando Fernan-Gomez's El mundo sigue (Life Goes On, 1963) thanks to funding from the Alumni Annual Fund. Check it out here.


Donations to research and students

The University of Exeter launched an Emergency Appeal to trial a new test for antibodies to Coronavirus. Which if successful, it will give the NHS a rapid and cheap tool to track recovery rates and identify people who have developed immunity to the virus.   

This work is being supported by Attomarker Ltd, a spin-out company from the University of Exeter which has developed technology designed to measure patients’ response to Covid-19 in just five minutes. This contrasts with several hours using current diagnostic technology.  

Alumni and supporters have donated nearly £120,000 to this emergency appeal which you can find out more about online.

The University has created an Emergency Assistance Fund to support students facing unexpected financial difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak. In addition to University funds, this assistance is being supported by alumni donors via the Scholars Fund and long-term supporter Santander Universities. In the first three weeks, the team have received 240 applications from students, and the team are working hard to ensure all applications are processed as quickly as possible.

Alumni are supporting a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for face masks and cleaning supplies to protect researchers and chimpanzees in Guinea Bissau. These workers are part of a long term Exeter research project to conserve critically endangered chimpanzees who are now also at risk of catching coronavirus.


Volunteering to support current and prospective students

Alumni are giving their time to support a host of new digital activities which are supporting students throughout this time. These include answering questions at Online Open Days and Facebook Live events, giving talks to prospective students and hosting social media takeovers. Alumni are also supporting virtual employability events to help new graduates entering the world of work.

Feedback from alumnae Poppy Mason-Taylor and Virginia Stuart-Taylor who recently took part in a Humanities Open Day Q&A and Facebook sessions was positive: "I really enjoyed informing and reassuring these future students." "There were plenty of questions and it was actually really fun to take part." 

Humanities alumna Beth Wright (English Literature, 2014) also recently spoke at an online panel event for students - Careers in Writing and Publishing - and said: "Alumni volunteering with Exeter has been so rewarding, even more so during a really uncertain time for students. Being able to offer advice and reassurance for students as they look to start their careers feels like a really easy and obvious way to give back to Exeter, and I have loved being a part of it.' 

While author and alumna Morwenna Blackwood, who offered careers advice as part of a writing and publishing panel, said: "I'm really glad to have had the opportunity to give a bit back to the University, and its current students. Although I was nervous, I actually ended up enjoying myself! I'd definitely do it again."

Over in the Business School, Hanh Pham, May Yin Lo and Eugene Foo (MSc Financial Analysis and Fund Management Class of 2018) recently spoke to offer holders from Thailand, while Graham Bishop shared Industry Insights with current PG students.

Several Humanities alumni have also recently taken over the Exeter Student Instagram account for a few days to share their experiences with current and prospective students.


For more on the University of Exeter's response to COVID-19, please visit the dedicated pages.