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2023 winners

Staff, students and fellow alumni all came forward to nominate alumni volunteers involved in an array of projects both in the UK and internationally. The judging panel, made up of representatives of all the above groups, are delighted to announce this year’s winners:

Debbie Hill Award for the Exceptional Support of Students

This year we have two winners and the 2023 winners are:

Charlotte Lopez (Biosciences, 2019) for volunteering her time as a foundational member of the karate club. Since graduating Charlotte has mentored students through their journey at Exeter including coaching sessions and supporting them at various competitions including BUCS (British Universities & Colleges Sport).

David Watson, Assistant Director – Supporter Engagement, said: “Having graduated in 2019, Charlotte has spent the last four years mentoring and supporting students by using her own experiences and knowledge to help. From running coaching sessions to supporting at various competitions, Charlotte is a constant and reassuring presence for every student in the karate club. She has helped students settle into life at Exeter when they begin their journey at the University and supported them throughout their time with us, even attending their graduation ceremonies! Charlotte is making a huge positive impact on the students and we are incredibly grateful for the exceptional support she has provided students and the karate club.”

Charlotte said: “I am honoured to receive the Debbie Hill award for my work with the Karate club at the University of Exeter. I would like to say thank you to the University of Exeter and to the alumni engagement team for considering me. Sport can be such an important part of a student's life whilst they are studying. I think it is so important to keep smaller clubs in the Athletic Union, like the Karate club, well supported so that they can continue to perform at a high level. Sport provides a brilliant community, allows great connection to Alumni, and is so important for mental health for so many students. It is a privilege to be able to continue training with, supporting, and working with the sports club that made such a difference to my life as an undergraduate.”

Mike Cooper (English and Drama, 1975) for his commitment to supporting students every year since 2012. He's volunteered his time to provide and co-design careers support with the careers team including in-person mock interviews, online interview practice (pioneered in 2019 which hadn't previously existed at Exeter) and written resources. Mike has also contributed to the 'Ask an Alum' scheme and provided both a career profile and alumni blog. 

David Watson, Assistant Director – Supporter Engagement, said: “In his volunteering, Mike has gone above and beyond offering exceptional support and commitment to students since 2012. By offering his time, Mike’s support has been invaluable to students, now and for their future careers, and we are very grateful for it and all he does for the University. The panel were really impressed by the length of time and diverse areas Mike has volunteered to support, plus the scale of impact on students and pioneering the use of online mock interviews which is now common practice in institutions worldwide. Mike fully deserved to be a joint winner this year, and the alumni team are very grateful to his continued support.”

Mike said: “This award has come as a complete surprise, and my thanks go to all those involved in this process. And not just the award process: the teams for Alumni Engagement, Employability and Humanities have all helped to make my involvement smooth, effective and enjoyable over many years, too. I owe an important personal debt to the University, stretching back more than 50 years. Holding mock interviews with undergraduates is one quite practical way I can try to repay that, with the genuine bonus of being stimulating, fascinating and just plain old fun to do. So, I hope it’s a ‘win-win’, for all concerned; and I also hope to carry on with it, helping to refine its methods and to increase the benefits it provides for students.”

Nicholas Bull Award for the Exceptional Support of the Alumni Community

2023’s winner is Hilary Thomson (English, 1978) for volunteering her time as secretary of the Exe-X South West Alumnae Group which connects female graduates based in the South West through social and professional networking events.

David Watson, Assistant Director – Supporter Engagement,said: "Hilary has won this award due to her support with alumnae over many years through a series of events and the scale of impact she has had on many graduates. When Hilary lived in London, she was part of the London Alumnae group, and over the years has also volunteered as a speaker at careers events and has been an active volunteer for over 10 years. The events in 2023 alone so far include socials, networking and talks which encourages social engagement, professional networking, and continued learning. Without Hilary driving this group and events, we wouldn't be able to engage the hundreds of local alumnae in this way. We’re grateful to Hilary for the amazing work she does through her volunteering that builds a community for our female alumni.”

Hilary said: A big thank you to the University for this award, which is totally unexpected. Exe-X South West Alumnae (female graduates) gave me a ready-made network when I moved to Devon and supporting the group is very much a labour of love. Huge thanks go to the Steering Group whose determination and ingenuity kept us going through the pandemic and beyond. It is a pleasure to work with them, developing a programme of events that not only interest and inspire our female graduates but also shine a light on women’s achievements – for example with our new Women in Research events. I owe a great deal to Exeter beyond my degree, including a fantastic network of friends and colleagues. Fostering the connection between our group of talented and interesting women and the University is a satisfying and enjoyable way to give something back.”

View the 2023 shortlist online.