A World of Difference
Our Campaign was deliberately ambitious and, to some, may
have seemed an improbable dream. Yet this was to underestimate the loyalty and generosity of our worldwide community of alumni, supporters and friends. Your gifts confirmed your confidence in the University to deliver on our challenging goal – and, most importantly, to support our world class education and research.
Your gifts are supporting young people’s aspirations, encouraging talent, developing new medical therapies, giving society the tools to better manage global resources, extending our cultural and artistic contribution and providing an outstanding campus.
With more than £107m now raised, the results of this generosity are plain for all to see: new buildings which have changed the face of campus, researchers who are tackling the key challenges facing society, scholarships for talented students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and so much more.
In this video, Ben Kew (Food Science 2019) tells how a scholarship enabled him to change his life.
The Footsteps Fund is the bedrock of alumni support for the University of Leeds.
More than 16,000 donors have contributed a total of £7m to the fund. Many of these gifts have supported students directly by funding Undergraduate and Masters scholarships as well as initiatives which support our students from less privileged backgrounds, helping to level the playing field between them and their peers. In addition, they have supported projects which benefit all our students, including campus developments, funding for clubs and societies to grow and diversify their activity and membership and programmes which support the mental health and wellbeing of our student population.
These gifts also help students to have a positive impact in the wider community, from enabling students to bring sport to disadvantaged groups across Leeds to the acclaimed Writing Back programme, which pairs students with older residents across the region, creating friendships between penpals of different generations.
We have also seen many gifts to the Fund to support research projects here at Leeds, this includes support for cardiovascular research, microbubbles and stroke rehabilitation research. Most notably, alumni support enabled the appointment of neuro-oncology radiographer Sharon Fernandez to a team pioneering research into brain cancer.
2,300 Donors supported...
A donor wall inside its entrance honours those 2,300 alumni and other supporters who contributed to the development of the magnificent Laidlaw Library. They include the Garfield Weston Foundation and Wolfson Foundation which have each made significant gifts to the project – and Irvine Laidlaw whose £9m donation to the project is the largest single gift ever received by the University.
A stunning reconfiguration of Leeds University Union has also created extra space for our growing number of clubs and societies, new cafés and performance areas, and new lifts to make its facilities accessible to all. A donor wall close to the entrance lists the many Footsteps Fund donors who supported an upgrade of the building. Your gifts ensure that this vibrant, iconic space will remain at the heart of student life for generations to come.
2020 Student Support Fund
2020 has been a year like no other. By funding research into Covid-19 and supporting students adversely affected by the crisis, you have proved a source of strength through these troubled times.
As the UK entered lockdown, we began to receive calls for help from students who were struggling financially or lacked adequate equipment to manage their studies remotely.
When we launched the 2020 Student Support Fund, it was the first time we had made an urgent appeal of this kind – and the response was overwhelming. Within weeks, the fund passed its initial target of £100,000, bolstered by the support of a graduate who offered to match the first £75,000 donated by others. The total has surpassed £150,000, thanks to donations from almost 500 people.
These contributions are now helping some of our most vulnerable students to overcome this major crisis in their lives.
In this video, Sophia Hartley, Leeds University Union’s Welfare Officer, talks about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our students.
A gift from the Jon Moulton Charity Trust is also providing new insights into whether the virus can be passed on through human faeces. The research has major implications for the hospital environment, where stool samples are routinely taken from patients – and could inform robust public advice about the need for more stringent hygiene practices.
Legacies totalling £8.5m were received by the University during the Making a World of Difference Campaign.
By remembering the University in their Will, donors are acknowledging the impact it had on their lives, and ensuring that more bright students can follow in their footsteps. Legacies to the University have also enhanced our remarkable collections of art and rare books – while a recent gift from the John Bedford Trust is enabling a remodelling of Special Collections, with new areas for teaching and research.
Donors who tell us of their intention to leave a gift to the University in their Will are invited to join the Brotherton Circle, named after the greatest individual benefactor in the University’s history.
In this video, Katharine Salmon (French and Italian 1995) looks back to the “sunny day in December” when she first fell in love with Leeds during an open day. She talks about how this was the start of a connection to Leeds, and about why she supports students both now, and in her Will.
Every afternoon, children aged from seven and upwards flock to the IntoUniversity Centres in inner-city Harehills and Beeston.
Funded by individual donors and with support from the Asda Foundation, the centres are run by national charity IntoUniversity, whose template for success is well established. After school classes, learning sessions delivered in schools, and a close partnership with the University are encouraging young people to see a place in higher education as something they could achieve.
Since the first Leeds centre opened in 2014, more than 650 IntoUniversity Leeds students have progressed to University, while 350 of our staff and students have volunteered their time, inspiring young people from some of Yorkshire’s less advantaged areas to aim for a place at university.
In this video, filmed at the Centre in Beeston and on the University campus, young people explain the benefits of this life-changing outreach programme.
“When I first came to Leeds, my gut feeling was that everyone was better than me, but the scholarship changed all that.”
When we launched our Campaign, Broadcast Journalism student Amy Campbell (née Byard) spoke on video about the difference which the support had made to her.
Almost a decade on, Amy looks back with gratitude on how it changed her life: “The financial help – and also the encouragement I took from knowing that someone was investing in me – gave me real confidence.
“It changed my expectations of the things I wanted to do in life. It makes you unafraid to go after things which might not seem achievable when you first look at them. It tells you that it doesn’t matter where you came from; where you’re heading to is much more important.”
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Amy was managing communications in the NHS across a group of West Yorkshire and Harrogate hospitals. And when the virus first hit Yorkshire she took on communications management for the region’s Nightingale Hospital, set up in Harrogate in a matter of weeks to provide a safety net of 500 additional critical care beds.
Reach for Excellence
The support of the Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation has transformed the University’s work in raising the aspirations of young people across Yorkshire. Their gifts underpin our Reach for Excellence programme which helps bright and able teenagers to recognise their own abilities and to aim high.
By working with these students, hosting a summer school on campus, offering advice, guidance and mentoring, Reach for Excellence develops their confidence and learning skills and shows them that university is a place where they could thrive. For many who progress to Leeds, Bramall Scholarships provide crucial support during their studies, levelling the playing field for those from less privileged backgrounds.
This programme has been genuinely life changing: in 2020 we admitted the 200th Reach For Excellence student to degree studies at Leeds.
In this film, participants talk about how Reach for Excellence has prepared them for University and beyond.
In recent years, language teaching in schools has been squeezed to the edge of the curriculum, leading to fewer students than ever pursuing language study at GCSE, A-level and University.
With the support of donors passionate about this aspect of learning, our Linguastars programme enthuses young people with the excitement of learning languages. Taster sessions and talks by current students and alumni highlight the potential for career, travel and cultural opportunities opened up by language learning. Residential sessions offer a first-hand experience of studying languages at university.
In the 1930s, Cumbria’s Hardknott Forest was controversially planted with conifers, a species not native to the region. With these having now been cleared for timber, individual donors, organisations and an army of volunteers are restoring the plantation to native woodland, peatland and heather moors – work crucial to protecting the habitats of native wildlife.
By involving schoolchildren in the work, Hardknott has offered valuable educational lessons in biodiversity. It could also become a model for regeneration: “We’re keen to see whether we could help restore other landscapes back from their tipping point,” says Professor Dominick Spracklen of the Faculty of the Environment.
A postgraduate qualification can set students apart from other graduates in the job market – but simply for financial reasons, students from lower socio-economic groups are less likely to progress into postgraduate study. By providing scholarships to postgraduate students such as Karan Chhabra (MA International Relations 2020), we are allowing the brightest young people from less-privileged backgrounds to enrol for a Masters degree, deepening their knowledge during a further year of intensive study.
This funding enables postgraduate students to travel worldwide to conduct field research in areas such as sustainable agriculture and climate change.
A bursary enabled physical Geography PhD student Liam Taylor to spend time in Peru, tracking the recession of the Quelccaya, the world’s largest tropical ice cap. Rapid melting of the glacier is posing a major threat to nearby communities.
“I’m extremely grateful to donors and the University of Leeds for helping me build a fantastic foundation for my future career.”
Rachael Usher (Genetics 2016) was awarded a Laidlaw Scholarship during her first year at Leeds. The programme enables some of our most able and committed students to gain an extended experience of research, leadership and community service throughout their degree. By investing in a diverse group of talented and motivated undergraduates, the Scholarships aim to develop a new generation of leaders, who are skilled researchers, embrace evidence-based decision making, believe it is a moral imperative to lead with integrity and are committed to making a difference in their chosen field.
During summer vacations throughout her studies, Rachael joined a genetics laboratory at Leeds, investigating intercellular communication via plant cell walls. She then secured a prestigious placement year in a Singapore laboratory focused on the p53 gene pathway – an area associated with around half of human cancer cases worldwide.
Leadership is a strong theme throughout the programme. “I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the leadership development courses,” says Rachael. “These helped me in my career after Leeds, as I initially worked in scientific recruitment and now work as a medical writer.”
Since the Scholarships’ early development at Leeds, the support of Lord Laidlaw (Economics 1963) and the Laidlaw Foundation has grown and transformed the programme. Now benefitting 26 scholars each year at Leeds, alongside dozens of students from universities worldwide, our Laidlaw Scholars are now part of a global network of future leaders – leaders which the world needs more than ever.
“We couldn’t have reached this point without Spark,” says former Enterprise Scholar Matthew Wheeler (right), co-owner of creative and digital design studio made.up. With guidance from the University’s award-winning business support programme, Matthew and friend Sam Taylor turned their passion into a viable business.
With the support of an enterprise scholarship and the practical help available from the University’s award-winning Spark team, the Graphic & Communication Design students benefited from Spark’s suite of business mentoring, advice, guidance and facilities. This tailored support is designed to give a fledgling business the best chance of success while nurturing students’ flair for enterprise – a skill highly valued in today’s workplace.
Placed third in Spark’s annual business plan contest, they won some initial funding and a proof of concept grant to get the business on its feet. Now based in NEXUS, the University’s new hub for business and innovation, made.up is flourishing. “We collaborate across a range of sectors from healthcare to construction and are creating digital platforms which help businesses thrive,” says Matthew.
In this video, former PhD student Olga Kubassova talks about the encouragement she received in establishing her Westminster-based business Image Analysis, which now provides high-quality imaging services for clinical trials around the world.
Sports scholarships are helping elite athletes to continue their studies at Leeds while pursuing their sporting dreams.
Before university, medical student Matt Brigham had never rowed before. Five years later, the sports scholarship is supporting him as he balances his studies with training for the next Olympics.
Matt joined the University’s rowing club during his first year of study in 2015. He had a natural talent for the sport, and soon gained a place on British Rowing’s ‘World Class Start’ programme for novice rowers. In his third year at Leeds he became a sports scholar recipient, and has competed at Henley Royal Regatta where he beat two-time Olympic champion, Mahe Drysdale.
Now, Matt is training for the Olympics, hoping to secure a place on Team GB for Tokyo or Paris. His commitment to pursuing his Olympic dreams whilst completing his studies has meant a demanding schedule for Matt. On top of his five-day-a-week medical placement, he also completes 12 rigorous training sessions.
“There are tons of benefits to being on the scholarship programme,” he says. “It really supports you as an athlete.” These benefits include tailored support from a personal coach, as well as access to physiotherapy, psychology and nutrition advice.
Previous sports scholars have gone on to great success: Gordon Benson took triathlon gold at the 2015 European Games in Baku; table tennis player Kim Daybell took silver in the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast and footballer Rachel Newborough has played in World Cup qualifiers for Northern Ireland.
Beaumont Award winners
Research to reduce flood risks is one of the many outstanding student research projects awarded the Beaumont Medal, founded by Professor Adam Beaumont (Chemistry 1993, PhD 1996).
Each year, medals are awarded to students across campus whose work holds the potential to improve the lives of others. Megan Barnes (Physical Geography 2020) showed how “leaky barriers” to slow, but not stop, the flow of a river, can significantly reduce flooding downstream.
In every faculty across campus, our academics are engaged in world-class interdisciplinary research. Campaign support enables brilliant postgraduates to join this thriving community of enquiry, their energies focused on key questions of science, society and culture.
After completing a Masters in Molecular Medicine, Rowan Taylor was keen to join the front line of research into genetic diseases. Donor funding enabled her to join the Disease Models Laboratory, a research group combining the expertise of University scientists with that of clinicians from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, to focus on a group of diseases which cause retinal degeneration.
The leading cause of blindness worldwide, these diseases blight the lives of more than 30 million people, yet much remains to be understood about how they function. By establishing the molecular and genetic causes of the degeneration and identifying potential new treatments, the group’s work has the potential to enhance the lives of patients around the globe.
Rowan’s work explores eye disease through three-dimensional cell models of organs and the use of DNA editing to replicate patient mutations. This cutting-edge technique allows close examination of how defective genes affect the function of cells, to provide a clearer understanding of the genetic causes of disease.
In this cross-section of a three-dimensional model, the nucleus of each cell is shown in blue, light receptors in red and neuronal cells in green. Rowan uses this imaging technique to examine how cells develop differently when genetic mutations are present.
Benjamin Lamptey is a renowned expert in climate change and weather – and his time as a Cheney Fellow epitomises the impact of this global visiting fellowship programme.
His move to Leeds from the African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Development in Ghana has strengthened our contribution to projects funded through the Global Challenges Research Fund – a £1.5 billion UK Government programme to support cutting edge research addressing challenges faced by developing countries.
“In Africa, we are already seeing more intense floods and droughts,” he says. “We need science to inform policies and strategies to reduce emissions and mitigate climate change.
“But we also need better infrastructure, particularly around forecasting, to understand when extreme weather might occur and minimise its impacts on society, agriculture and the economy.”
Established with the support of Peter and Susan Cheney, the Cheney Fellowships are enabling exceptional global academics from a range of disciplines to come to Leeds, share knowledge with staff and students, collaborate with researchers and establish fruitful long-lasting partnerships.
Funding for the Campaign supports research tackling some of the major global issues of human health:
Heart disease: Professor Mark Kearney and his team discuss their work examining links between Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes, which was supported by donations to the Footsteps Fund.
Dementia: The late Phyllis Rodgers was among those who supported the work of Dr Melanie Burke in the School of Psychology into the pre-cursors of dementia.
Stroke Rehabilitation: Gifts are supporting the work of Professor Martin Levesley and his team, who have built a robotics system to help stroke survivors recover their mobility.
Brain Cancer: Donors supported Professor Susan Short, whose research is focussed on finding new treatments for this deadly disease.
Scleroderma: Established through a grant from the Kennedy Trust, a new research programme is seeking tell-tale markers to identify patients most at risk of this debilitating inflammatory disease.
Respiratory diseases: Through the long-standing support and partnership of life insurance giant, AIA Group, Leeds has undertaken a study in China to identify measures to mitigate poor air quality – a major cause of lung and breathing issues.
Drug delivery: In this video, Professor Steve Evans discusses how Microbubbles hold the potential for a future revolution in the treatment of cancer.
Beverley Innovation Fellowships
These newly-established Fellowships have at their core the need to embed innovation and entrepreneurship into our research culture. Fellowships will be awarded to driven and enterprising researchers from across our academic community and will support them to explore the commercial potential of ideas arising from their research.
Based in NEXUS, our new hub for business and innovation, Fellows will be awarded funding to build a viable business plan and to develop, license or market their technology.
WASH Postgraduate Scholarships
By giving students and professionals from some of the world’s most disadvantaged regions the opportunity to tackle issues faced by their own communities, our work in Water, Sanitation and Health (WASH) makes a profound impact on lives worldwide.
Your support funds Masters and PhD students on our International Masters Course in Water Sanitation and Health while travel bursaries enable students to work directly with those most affected.
In this video, Barbara Evans, Professor of Public Health Engineering, talks about some of the key issues in sanitation faced by communities worldwide – and how the course is empowering water professionals to tackle them.
Imaging and Microscopy
The development of the one of the world’s most advanced imaging centres will allow Leeds scientists to examine in unprecedented detail how molecules move across cells or interact with drugs.
Due to open in 2021, The Wolfson Imaging Facility will bring together two research clusters at the University: the Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology, which investigates the molecular basis of life; and the Bragg Centre which discovers, designs and creates new materials.
Funded through support from the Wolfson Foundation and alumnus Dr Chris Pointon (Earth Science and Chemistry 1970), the Wolfson Imaging Facility will be the first in the UK to give scientists a dynamic view of molecular interaction in real time.
At the heart of the facility are high-speed, high-resolution technologies which will allow scientists to operate at ultra-close up scales.
Earlier in the campaign, the gift to build a Super Resolution Light Microscope – ten times more powerful than standard light microscopes – was a major step forward for Leeds, giving teams in medicine and biology a key tool for cellular research. In this video, Michelle Peckham, Professor of Cell Biology, explains how this has helped to improve the capacity for imaging research in faculties across the campus.
The Academy of Cultural Fellows
Campaign gifts have enabled talented poets, visual artists and composers to spend time at Leeds – pursuing their work, collaborating with academic and artistic partners, and inspiring our students.
Vahni Capildeo reflects with gratitude on her time spent in Leeds as a member of our Academy of Cultural Fellows: “This has been life-changing for me,” she says.
Vahni was given “total freedom to create”, as the Douglas Caster Fellow in Poetry. “This Fellowship is both a generous gift and a great vision,” she says. “It trusts writers to know what they must do to enrich their practice.”
While at Leeds, Vahni created work which was published to critical acclaim in her new volume Odyssey Calling. She is also working on a series of prose poems responding to pieces of fabric and pattern books from the University’s textiles archive.
Reflecting on her own time at Leeds, a decade after being appointed as the first member of the Academy, composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad says: “It had a hugely positive effect on my life and career. Two years of being able to concentrate on my writing without worrying about finances, two years of collaborating with members of the University and creating exciting projects – these experiences helped build my portfolio and my self-confidence.”
From Leeds, Cheryl became Musician in Residence at the renowned Rambert Dance Company, and is now a self-employed composer, working on a diverse range of commissions.
Further fellowships have been awarded to poets Helen Mort, Malika Booker and Zaffar Kunial and visual artists Kat Austin, Dave Lynch, Christophe de Bezenac, Akeelah Bertram and the late Becs Andrews. Each Fellow leaves their own creative mark on a University where philanthropy and the arts have gone hand-in-hand for generations.
A new highlight of our Special Collections is the digital archive of the 2012 travelogue Walking Home by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, the University’s Professor of Poetry.
The archive and associated online resource, created with the support of Madeleine Lee (Economics 1984), maps the literary landscape of the text with the route of the Pennine Way. It features pages of his notebooks, his early drafts and photographs, along with some investigation and analysis of the text – and jottings from fellow walkers who offer their own perspectives of the landscape. It allows users to cross-reference the geography with literary reference points to experience the poetry in an immersive way. This accessibility opens the archive both for enjoyment and for future research.
Over 800 hours of film footage digitised
First aired in 1978, the South Bank Show was presented by the University’s own former Chancellor Melvyn Bragg. It ran for over 30 years until 2010, and became famous throughout this time for its simultaneous celebration and interrogation of various art forms from around the globe. Over its 33-year run, the show also interviewed a plethora of prestigious guests, including David Hockney, Sir Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Paul McCartney and JRR Tolkien.
The show’s vast cultural archive is now being opened up for research, thanks to the support of donors in the US. Over 9,000 tapes of South Bank Show film footage were acquired by the University in 2015. Thanks to a grant from the North American Foundation for the University of Leeds, more than 800 hours of content have been digitised and made accessible for education and research. This rich resource of music, film, theatre, fine art, literature and dance – much of it previously unseen – provides a record of the arts throughout the decades, including much previously unseen content from unedited interviews and outtakes.
The original recordings themselves, ranging from two-inch reel-to-reel audio tapes through to more recent formats such as digital video, also reflect the rapid developments in film technology throughout this time.
The University’s pre-eminence in dialect research stretches back to the 1940s, when a team of researchers travelled across England mapping and recording words and phrases which were distinctive to villages, towns and regions. This research, and the many regional variations in the use of language which it revealed, underpinned expertise which has spanned the generations.
Now, support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Footsteps Fund and from individual donors has revived this cultural legacy, enabling both the digitisation of the original records and new research to update the picture of our evolving linguistic landscape. Hundreds of volunteers, including descendants of the original participants, will contribute to the preservation and expansion of the most comprehensive dialect survey ever undertaken.
Our literary collections are among the finest in Britain; campaign gifts to fund her post allowed Literary Archivist Sarah Prescott to explore these national treasures and mine their capacity for research, study and sheer inspiration. These collections continue to grow. In recent years the archive of Poet Laureate Professor Simon Armitage, handwritten works by JRR Tolkien and the South Bank Show’s vast video archive have been added to the collection.
Marjorie & Arnold Ziff Building
Arnold Ziff’s own studies were cut short by national service but his family’s relationship with the University continues to this day. Their decades of involvement was marked by an extraordinary gift to enable the construction of the magnificent Marjorie and Arnold Ziff Building which brings together the key administrative services which support the student journey.
Since it opened in 2009, the spectacular Marjorie and Arnold Ziff Building has been an important part of our students’ lives. It brings together key administrative services and hosts the international office, Lifelong Learning Centre, and student support as well as providing teaching spaces, a café, and offices for the University’s senior management.
Since it opened in 2015, the Laidlaw Library has had more than three and half million visits – one every 25 seconds – and has fast become the most popular of all our libraries, offering students far more than the traditional library experience.
This modern, welcoming facility has transformed undergraduate study, providing a flexible space, rich in technology and entirely in harmony with the way today’s students learn. On average, each student visits the Laidlaw Library 82 times a year.
Made possible through the generosity of alumnus Irvine Laidlaw and with the support of 2,300 Footsteps Fund and other donors, it was created with the 21st century student at its heart. Its 1,000 reader spaces blend areas for silent, contemplative study with those for collaborative group working and digital learning, reflecting the diverse ways in which today’s students are expected to learn and grow.
Supported by the Garfield Weston Foundation, the community classroom at the Library’s entrance is the base for a range of educational outreach activities.
The Library’s success has also inspired future developments on campus, and with further support from the Laidlaw Foundation, plans are now in development for a student hub to transform the University’s Western Campus, close to our schools of Business and Law.
Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery
Since a gift from long-standing donors the Burton family funded its stunning refurbishment and expansion, the Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery has made a growing contribution to the cultural life of the city: hosting important touring exhibitions and curating our own, running educational programmes and organising public events.
The Gallery’s exhibitions showcase our exceptional art collection, itself the fruit of more than a century of philanthropy. It is also a visual testament of the impact of legacies: works by John Everett Millais, Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson are among many which have been left to the Gallery in recent years.
Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery
In addition to his gift to create our magnificent library, Lord Brotherton’s legacy made significant contributions to the University’s collections, and now, in the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery, these priceless items can be proudly displayed for the public to see.
The Gallery in Parkinson Court was created with the support of the Brotherton Family and the National Lottery Heritage Fund and displays items from our renowned Special Collections which were founded on Lord Brotherton’s legacy.
It features stories handwritten by the Brontës, illuminated medieval manuscripts and rare books, and hosts a series of themed exhibitions which bring together items from across our collections.
Leeds University Union
Over 150 gifts from Footsteps Fund donors contributed to the multi-million pound refurbishment of the Leeds University Union building. The work, completed in 2017, has given a vital facelift to this building at the heart of student life, providing extra room for clubs and societies alongside performance, relaxation and café spaces. New lifts have also ensured that the space is fully accessible and can be enjoyed by everyone.
The donor wall, celebrates the generous contributions of our alumni, who have helped to ensure that this iconic building can continue to be enjoyed by many more students to come.
In addition, Footsteps Fund donations have helped to fund grants supporting the activity of student societies. Sixty societies, from Television to Trampolining, have benefited from the support of the Making a World of Difference Campaign.
Nigel Bertram Visitor Centre
The University farm is a state-of-the-art facility for agricultural research; a gift from Nigel Bertram (Agriculture 1971) ensures our expertise can be widely shared. A venue for seminars, workshops and collaborative working, the Nigel Bertram Visitor Centre allows scientists to engage with farmers, the agro- chemicals industry, retailers and the general public. As a teaching facility on a working farm, it provides an inspiring space for those studying biological sciences and conservation. Read more.
In this video, Nigel talks about why he chooses to support the University.