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13 June 2024

King's comes together to celebrate alumni's achievements

Members of our King’s community came together to celebrate the 12 winners of our 2024 King’s Distinguished Alumni Awards.

A man in a smart black suit reads from a lectern happily.

The sounds of King’s Jazz Society greeted the 100+ supporters, staff and alumni who arrived in our Great Hall on the evening of Tuesday 11 June to celebrate the achievements of those recognised in the 2024 King’s Distinguished Alumni Awards.

Professor Shitij Kapur, our Vice-Chancellor and President, took to the stage to begin the presentation ceremony. Warmly welcoming everyone, he handed over proceedings to the event’s host, David Stanley BEM (Music, 1998; MA Music, 2001). David, an acclaimed disability rights campaigner, musical director, teacher and composer, was himself a previous winner at this event, accepting our Arts & Culture Award in 2021.

Our first four winners celebrated

With the introductions over, the first four winners were presented with their awards. These were:

  • Nurse and TEDx speaker Andreia Trigo (Advanced Practice: Leadership, 2016). The founder and CEO of Enhanced Fertility was presented with our Business & Entrepreneurial Award by Julia Mingay.
  • Pioneering engineer Dame Dawn Childs DBE FREng (MA Defence & Government, 2008). The equality champion, and promoter of science and engineering education was presented with our STEM Award by Professor Rachel Bearon.
  • Sir Richard GR Evans KCMG OGW (Civil Engineering, 1967). This engineer and businessman who’s supported economic growth and conservation in Kenya was unable to attend the ceremony. His award was presented to his Chief of Staff, Sally Pettipher, by David Stanley BEM.
  • Parkrun event director Chris Raveney (Physical Geography, 2010). This award-winning civic leader in Southwark was presented with our Local Communities Impact Award by Professor Linda McKie.

Our next six winners celebrated 

Following dinner, the next six winners were presented with their awards. These were:

  • Robert Hicks MBE (Guy’s, Medicine, 1989). This charity founder and consultant who provides surgery to low-income patients in Ghana won our In Service Award. This was presented by Professor Helen Collins.
  • Medical student Sabrina Shahid (Medicine, MBBS). This diversity and equality champion, and charity fundraiser was unable to attend the ceremony. In her absence, her Future Alum Award was accepted by Professor Nicki Cohen on Sabrina’s behalf.
  • Her Excellency Toyin Ojora Saraki (International Economic Law, 1987). This philanthropist and Special Advisor to the United Nations who tackles discrimination and improves education, socio-economic empowerment and community livelihoods in Africa won our Changemaker Award. Professor Ingrid Wolfe OBE presented Her Excellency this award.
  • Heather Needham (Geography, 2021). This sustainability champion and speaker at COP28 UAE, who is helping set the conservation agenda in the UK and beyond, won our Emerging Leader Award. This was presented by Professor Michael Chadwick.
  • Dr Victoria Harmer (Nursing, 1997; Doctorate in Healthcare, 2015). This breast cancer specialist and consultant nurse whose work has national and international impact won our Global Health Award. Professor Richard Trembath presented her with this award.
  • Arts diversity champion Mark Hawes (Law, 1983). This prominent advocate for UK theatre is the driving force behind the Sir Peter Hall Director Award and won our Arts & Culture Award. Professor Alan Read presented this award.

Honouring Dr Maisara Alrayyes

King’s honoured Dr Maisara Alrayyes and attendees paid their own tribute with a standing ovation.
King’s honoured Dr Maisara Alrayyes and attendees paid their own tribute with a standing ovation.

The next section of the presentation ceremony took on a more sombre mood. Professor Nicki Cohen, the Dean of Medical Education, took to the stage and gave a moving tribute celebrating the life of Dr Maisara Alrayyes (Women’s & Children’s Health, 2020). Killed in Gaza in November 2023, more than 200 staff and students nominated this accomplished doctor, who was dedicated to improving healthcare for women and children from low-income backgrounds and war-affected regions. Professor Cohen honoured his exceptional achievements. His accomplishments were greeted with a standing ovation from those present.  

Helen Hudson Award

The winner of our Helen Hudson Award, Professor Stephen Challacombe, with Professor Shitij Kapur.
The winner of our Helen Hudson Award, Professor Stephen Challacombe, with Professor Shitij Kapur.

After a brief interlude, the ceremony resumed with an energetic and enthralling performance from the KCL Bhangra Society. Professor Shitij Kapur returned to the stage to introduce and present the penultimate award of the evening.

Professor Stephen Challacombe (Guy’s, Dentistry, 1968) was presented with the Helen Hudson Award. Named after our former Dean of Students, this award recognises a member of the King's alumni community who has made an exemplary contribution to the university or alumni body. And the global health champion, distinguished academic and acclaimed researcher, past Chair of the King’s College London Alumni Association and one of the founders of King’s Sports Hall of Fame, is a worthy winner.

Reflecting on the award, Stephen added: ‘During my career, I’ve worked for two institutions that have the most wonderful mottos. One is Guy’s, whose motto was “Dare quam accipere”, which translates from the Latin to “it is better to give than to receive”. The other is King’s, whose motto is “In the service of society”. It isn’t that you set out to do these things. You just do it and things come. And you realise that most of your work is a real pleasure. It is a privilege to see patients and it is a privilege to conduct research, and hopefully leave your mark.’

Alumna of the Year

Our Alumna of the Year, Dr Lama Al Sulaiman, with Professor Shitij Kapur, Vice-Chancellor and President of King’s College London.
Our Alumna of the Year, Dr Lama Al Sulaiman, with Professor Shitij Kapur, Vice-Chancellor and President of King’s College London.

The final accolade of the evening was our Alumna of the Year Award. Professor Shitij Kapur presented this to Dr Lama Al Sulaiman (PhD Nutrition, 2004). An Executive Board Member of the International Chamber of Commerce and a Board Member of the Khadijah Bint Khuwaylid Lobbying Centre for Women, businesswoman Lama is a pioneering advocate for gender equity in her native Saudi Arabia. For the past 10 years, she has been involved in a wide range of non-profit organisations in Saudi Arabia and initiatives that open doors for women in the workplace.

Reflecting on her award, Lama stated: ‘I’m honoured to accept this award. I came to the UK from Saudi many years ago, not sure whether a university such as King’s would accept me. And here I am today. I would also like to thank my faculty and my tutor, Professor Anthony Leeds. He supported me so much by understanding my work-life balance. And I had four kids so that was needed.

‘Finally, I want to thank the vibrant women of Saudi Arabia and the many more women like them around the world. Their energy and enthusiasm is overwhelming. We should keep supporting them, and the new generation of young and ambitious men as well. This will help us create a more inclusive, diverse, tolerant and collective society in this globalised world.’

Read more about our 2024 winners. The nominations window for our 2025 awards opens in November this year.