All posts by Liz Laurence

April Ashley: Transgender pioneer’s ‘spectacular legacy’ to be celebrated

The friends of transgender pioneer April Ashley are to celebrate her “spectacular” legacy in her home city.

Liverpool-born Ashley, who died in 2021, was one of the first people to undergo surgery and went on to become a famous model, restaurateur and actress.

Her personal papers document everything from dinners with David Hockney to correspondence with Elizabeth Taylor.

Her friends Lou Muddle and Bev Ayre said a new archive would show who she really was and “not just the myth”.

The pair, who are both from Liverpool, were tasked by Ashley to sort through her belongings after discovering she “kept absolutely everything”.

Ms Ayre said Ashley had been “truly spectacular” and was “family to us”, though she admits that closeness came with more than a touch of stardust. More

Windrush Day: Queen praises pioneers as Waterloo statue unveiled

The Queen has praised the Windrush “pioneers” for their “profound contribution” to British life as a statue to them was unveiled.

The monument, at Waterloo Station, pays tribute to the thousands of people who arrived in the UK from Caribbean countries between 1948 and 1971.

It depicts a man, woman and child standing on top of suitcases and was revealed to mark Windrush Day.

The government gave £1m to fund the statue, designed by Basil Watson.

In a message to mark the occasion, signed Elizabeth R, the Queen said she hoped the statue would “inspire present and future generations” as she sent her “warmest good wishes on this historic occasion”.

Windrush Day marks the arrival of Caribbean immigrants to the shores of Britain on 22 June each year – the day HMT Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks in 1948. More

New LGBT+ Podcast

Spill the Tea

Ayomide Oluyemi and Panagiotis Pentaris have finished the production of the pilot episode of the very new LGBT+ Podcast that has launched on transistor.fm and is available on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Podcast Addict, Player FM, and Deezer, and soon on Apple podcasts as well.

This podcast show focuses on matters pertinent to LGBT+ Culture. The show hosts guests who share their lived experience and through conversations help us understand further issues that this population is facing or has faced, raising thus awareness and providing a creative educational platform.

The first episode hosts Peter McGraith, a long-standing activist of LGBT+ rights in the UK, and half of the very first same-sex couple to get married in England once it was legalised, in 2014. Peter is having a conversation with us about Pride and Pride month, its meaning, significance and future. This is to celebrate Pride Month and increase inclusivity.

We hope you all enjoy and share with colleagues in and outside of the University. It seems that before we even announced its release, the episode has been accessed generously and internationally!

Access the episode here Spill the Tea (transistor.fm)

(https://spill-the-tea.transistor.fm)

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – June 2022

This year Diabetes Week runs from 13 – 19 June and with this in mind we have chosen Muhammad Ali as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month.

Muhammad is a professional boxer and on 19 May 2018 he made boxing history after becoming World’s first type1 diabetic to be granted a professional licence by the British Boxing Board of Control.

As an amateur Muhammad boxed at the 2016 Olympics, 2015 World Championships and the 2014 World Youth Championships where he won a silver medal.  His ambition is to become the first diabetic boxing world champion.

Muhammad says this about his diabetes:

“Diabetes is a condition, not an illness; I’m just like any other ordinary person. Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass by but learning to weather the storm. One day I’d love to say I lived by diabetes”.

Muhammad is an ambassador for Diabetes UK, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the International Diabetes Federation.

To find out more about Muhammad see here https://www.muhammadaliboxing.com/

To find out more about Diabetes Week see here https://www.diabetes.org.uk/diabetes-week

Save Venice: The forgotten female artists being rediscovered

Who decides which artists are remembered and which are forgotten? With only a small fraction of the art in museums by women, efforts are being made, at the Venice Biennale and further afield, to change long-standing narratives.

Inside the Church of San Marziale, beside a canal in central Venice, specialist art handlers are high up on scaffolding above one of the church’s second altars, trying to tease out two canvases that have been nailed to the wall of the church for several hundred years.

The paintings, which are believed to date from the late 1720s or early 1730s, are by a woman artist called Giulia Lama. She may have been the first female artist in Venice to produce major commissions for churches. The daughter of an artist, she never married and was a mathematician and a published poet.

At the time she was dismissed by some of her male contemporaries. So much so that in 1728, an abbot and man of science, Antonio Conti, wrote: “The poor girl is persecuted by painters, but her virtues triumph over her enemies.”

According to some reports, the other artists and critics at the time focused on what they decided were her unremarkable, almost unappealing physical attributes – they asked how a woman of such prosaic appearance could produce such sophisticated paintings. More

Jacky Hunt-Broersma: The cancer survivor who ran 104 marathons in 104 days

A woman who took up running after she lost her left leg to cancer has passed the Guinness World Record for most consecutive marathons.

Jacky Hunt-Broersma, 46, has run 26.2-miles every day since mid-January, normally taking around five hours.

On Saturday, she completed her 104th consecutive marathon in as many days – an achievement she expects to be certified by Guinness World Records.

A spokesperson said certifying the record would take around three months.

Waking up on Sunday – a day off at long last – was a bizarre experience for Jacky.

“Part of me was really happy to be done,” she tells the BBC from her home in Arizona. “And the other part kept thinking I need to go running.”

Her body is also recovering from the record-chasing effort, despite having stopped. “I feel tighter than I have the whole 104 marathons,” she admits.

But Jacky – who was born and raised in South Africa, and has also lived in England and the Netherlands – is grateful. Because running has given her the confidence she was afraid she would never regain. More

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – May 2022

Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from 9 – 15 May and this year’s theme is loneliness.  With this in mind we have chosen Frankie Bridge as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month.

Frankie is a singer, songwriter and TV personality.  She is a former member of groups S Club Juniors and The Saturdays and has appeared in various TV shows including Strictly Come Dancing, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and The Saturdays 24/7 and is a regular panellist on Loose Women.

Frankie is an ambassador for the mental health charity Mind and chose to support them after opening up about her experiences of anxiety, depression and panic attacks back in May 2012. Having initially dealt with these issues in silence, Frankie is keen to support Mind in making sure no one has to face a mental health problem alone.

Frankie has leant her support to a number of Mind’s campaigns including Time to Talk Day and Move for Mind. During Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, Frankie guest-edited the Lifestyle section of Metro Online and penned an opinion piece highlighting Mind’s ‘Join the Fight’ campaign and sharing her reasons for supporting Mind’s work.

To find out more about Mental Health Awareness Week see here

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week/resources

Find out more about Frankie here

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1421678/

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – April 2022

11 – 16 April is Parkinson’s Awareness Week and with this in mind we have chosen Paul Mayhew-Archer as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month.

Following a brief career in teaching, during which he organised a school trip and got left behind, Paul Mayhew-Archer has spent the last 40 years trying to make people laugh. 

He is a multi-award-winning writer whose credits include ‘The Vicar of Dibley’, “Mrs Brown’s Boys” and the screen version of “Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot” starring Judi Dench and Dustin Hoffman. He also produced the much loved Radio 4 shows ‘I’m Sorry I haven’t A Clue’ and ‘Old Harry’s Game’, and as a script editor he has worked on everything from ‘Spitting Image’ to ‘Miranda’.  

In 2011 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, an incurable illness that gets progressively worse and has over 50 symptoms. It is also – as Paul quickly found out – funny.   

Since then he’s had some of the best times of his life.   

In 2016 he made his first documentary, “Parkinson’s: The funny Side”, for which he won the Grierson Award for Best Documentary Presenter.

In 2018 he took part in his first podcast, sitting next to The Archbishop of Canterbury and performed his first ever One Man show, “Incurable Optimist”, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

He now promotes the therapeutic power of laughter as a stand-up comedian, and is an active member of the Parkinson’s UK Oxford Branch.
To find out more about Parkinson’s Awareness Week see here https://parkinsonscare.org.uk/awarenessweek/

To find out more about Paul see here http://mayhew-archer.com/

University Mental Health Day

University Mental Health Day is celebrated across the UK bringing the university community together to make mental health a university-wide priority and create ongoing change to the future of student and staff mental health.

We know that mental health hugely matters to our students and it matters to us. Universities, including ours, have an important role to play in promoting good mental health, identifying those who are starting to struggle early, and supporting those who have a mental health condition.

In what has been a challenging period, we’re focusing on the mental health and wellbeing of our community with a programme of workshops, discussions and resources for staff and students, ensuring that we continue to support each other and our mental health through these times.

What’s on

This is our most wide-reaching programme of activities to-date, with a breadth of online and face-to-face events taking place across the university – including a keynote session from our Vice Chancellor, Professor Jane Harrington, and Dr Jacqui Dyer MBE, President of the Mental Health Foundation.

The 5-day agenda will include sessions covering nature bathing, exercise and mental wellbeing, and support for staff from Confidential Care, as well as hearing from the Student Wellbeing team and Greenwich Students’ Union about student mental health.

In a session led by the university’s BAME staff network we will be discussing what some old civilisations and the global majority can teach us about mental health and wellbeing. Staff can receive guidance on supporting students with mental health needs, and we can learn more about the benefits of ‘switching off’..

Join our events

For more information, including a full list of sessions and resources, visit our University Mental Health Day website.

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – March 2022

On 3 March it is World Hearing Day and with that in mind we have chosen Chris Fonseca as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month.

Chris is a professional dancer, choreographer, teacher and deaf ambassador. He specialises in Urban dance technique and works extensively across the UK and overseas – receiving both international invitations and commissions.

Chris drew early inspiration from the actor Michael ‘Boogaloo Shrimp’ Chambers and Old Skool dance techniques such as Electric Boogaloo, Popping, locking and B-Boying. Whilst attaining his degree in Graphic Communication, Chris was a founding member of Def Motion, an all-deaf dance group affiliated to Deaffest – the UK’s annual Deaf Film Festival.

Since then Chris has been involved in a variety of endeavours. In 2012, Chris appeared in the London Paralympics opening ceremony showcasing his talents as an accomplished dance artist and creator.

Other achievements have included – The Black Collective: Black History Month, Smirnoff’s Keep it Moving campaign, LinkedIn’s Chase the Great campaign, SKY1’s what’s up TV, BBC’s the One Show, BBC Three’s Amazing Human JBL: Sound to See campaign, BBC’s The Greatest Dancer, Blue Peter and touring the UK with the Wind in The Willows musical.

To find out more about Chris see here

https://www.chrisfonsecadancer.com/home

To find out more about World Hearing Day see herehttps://www.who.int/campaigns/world-hearing-day/2022