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01 September 2019

Recognising outstanding alumni - King's Distinguished Alumni Awards 2019

The King's Distinguished Alumni Awards 2019 will celebrate our most dedicated, innovative and inspirational alumni.

Ed Byrne speaks at the awards ceremony
Professor Ed Byrne, President & Principal of King's College London, speaks at the awards ceremony

Building on the success of the inaugural King’s Distinguished Alumni Awards, this year once more we recognise students and alumni who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement, civic leadership or service to King’s and society. The awards will be presented at a gala ceremony on Thursday 6 June 2019.

Here, we profile Farrah Storr, Daniel Peltz OBE FKC and Jonathan Andrews; the winners of this year’s Alumnus or Alumna of the Year, Helen Hudson and King’s in Service awards. We also list the rest of the winners below.

Alumnus or Alumna of the Year
Farrah Storr (French and English Literature, 2001)

Farah Storr is Editor-in-Chief of ELLE UK. Prior to this, Farrah was Editor in Chief of Cosmopolitan. In her tenure, she grew the brand to become the No.1 UK women’s glossy. Farrah was awarded Editor of the Year at the 2018 PPA Awards and BSME Awards.

Helen Hudson Award
Daniel Peltz OBE FKC (History, 1982)

Daniel is CEO of London Freeholds Ltd and is a longstanding supporter of King’s. ‘I’ve always believed in the concept of giving back. The great thing about King’s is that, as well as being so influential during my past, it still plays an important part in my life,’ he says. Daniel and his wife Elizabeth have been generous donors, and their involvement with King’s has benefited a number of areas, most notably across King’s College Hospital, Guy’s and St Thomas’ and the Evelina London Children’s Hospital. ‘The research into areas such as mental health, motor neurone disease, haematology and cardiology, to name but a few, obviously affects us all. How gratifying it is that one can give to things that you feel so attached to, for the benefit of everyone.’

So what’s next on the horizon for Daniel? ‘We’ve only just started on the Children and Young People Mental Health initiative that King’s is involved in, so I think the future depends on what needs to be done where and when we finish. Whatever happens, I would still like to be involved, given that anything King’s wants to progress will inevitably have an impact on the world we live in.’

King's in Service Award
Jonathan Andrews (English, 2015)

Diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum aged nine, Jonathan never saw it as a barrier to reaching his aspirations. ‘It gave me a focus, a determination, and a passion for learning that undoubtedly assisted me in achieving my ambition of reaching a top university from my local comprehensive,’ he says. At 16, he started volunteering with organisations supporting autistic children and adults, and has continued this ever since, in a variety of roles including serving as the first autistic trustee of Ambitious about Autism, the national charity for young people with autism. He decided on a career in law while at King’s, but found that there were few openly autistic people speaking about their experiences at the events he attended. ‘I resolved to change that,’ he says, ‘because it is difficult to see yourself in a role if you can’t see anyone like you doing it.’ Only 16% of autistic adults are in full-time employment and Jonathan wants all autistic and disabled people to be able to achieve their ambitions on a level playing field to their peers.

He tells recruiters that, as well as being the right thing to do, inclusive employment makes good business sense. ‘I’ve given autism awareness and neurodiversity talks across businesses to open up the concept of hiring from a different talent pool – one full of talented people, but which clearly isn’t being tapped enough,’ he says. Employers sometimes worry that widening recruitment will be costly. But, according to Jonathan, the evidence shows the opposite and adjustments for autistic people are often procedural. Through his work on disability and autism awareness and acceptance, Jonathan was able to build industry connections, securing a training contract at Reed Smith. He plans to continue offering his support, and was delighted to be asked to advise government ministers and HRH the Duke of Sussex on making the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2020 disability-inclusive. Though, for now, his focus is on qualifying as a solicitor. So how does it feel to win the King’s in Service Award? ‘To know that those at King’s have kept up with my work and recognised its impact is heartwarming,’ says Jonathan.

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