What does 'being Edinburgh' mean?
Being Edinburgh, the annual Edinburgh award, celebrates those alumni whose achievements show us what our University community is really all about. Nominations for the 2022 award open in January, so let's meet some of last year's nominees and find out the diverse ways that they are 'being Edinburgh'.
Alan (Civil Engineering, 1970) spent his working life in the oil, electricity and financial sectors, but since retiring, he has devoted his time to helping the Aviemore Community Transport company, supporting their IT systems on a voluntary basis and driving elderly disabled and vulnerable people to medical and other appointments.
Alan was nominated for the Being Edinburgh award because he considers it his duty to give back to society. He never refuses a call for help from the Transport Company team, and received the award for Volunteer of the Year by Community Transport Association (Scotland) in 2019.
I volunteer with the charity, mainly supporting its I.T.systems. I have developed a vehicle booking system and databases for Health Connections and befriending projects.
I also drive a mini-bus once a week for a 'Walking for Health' group and occasionally chauffeur clients to hospital appointments etc.
I enjoy being creative by developing computer applications. Being retired, I enjoy the social aspect of working with the people of the Transport company and their clients. I have met and learned a great deal from a variety of interesting people.
I was flattered to be nominated for the award. I enjoyed my time at Edinburgh University - my favourite memory is walking back from a party through a misty Meadows at dawn with a mysterious girl wearing a pink bolero cardigan! I also eventually met my wife, who also studied at Edinburgh.
And I met my wife there. I hope that sharing my experience will help to inform current student.
Eilidh (Biomedical Sciences, 2018) is a canoe slalom athelte, and two-time Senior Scottish Champion. She was also inducted into the University of Edinburgh Sporting Hall of Fame in 2018.
After injury forced her out of training for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, she channelled her energy into establishing Slalom Inspires, a non-profit organisation run by volunteers that aims to inspire and empower girls into the sport of canoe slalom through creating opportunities for them that they may not otherwise have. In 2019, Eilidh won the Social Impact Award at the UK Sport PLX Conference in Manchester for her Slalom Inspires programme. The awards recognise those individuals, teams and sports who have made a significant contribution to the high-performance community, are achieving great things and having a special and positive impact.
Slalom Inspires has the ultimate aim of building the confidence and talent of girls, whatever their aspiration or goals. I tried to provide activities throughout the lockdowns too, and also developed a coaching initiative called Project FLOW (Female Leaders On Water) that is supporting 22 aspiring female coaches to become the best versions of themselves.
In his last year of study, Connor (Psycholoy 2020) began sharing his story of recovering from an eating disorder on Instagram. This has since grown into a large, welcoming online platform for sharing his experiences and advocating for men’s mental health. His page provides information regarding mental health stigma, eating disorders and how to support people who are suffering from them, as well as promoting an increased awareness of the challenges faced by men.
I've met so many great individuals and organisations working within this sphere. I have spoken to UK parliamentary groups, written for national publications and even appeared on a TV segment. It has also helped guide me in engaging further with offline actions, such as volunteering with a Scotland-based eating disorder charity. On top of this, it has helped me really see what I want to do with my efforts going forward. Namely, working with men with eating disorders.
Connor has also written a post for our Sharing things alumni blog. You can read it here:
Sharing things - Connor Spratt
Elisbabeth (Chemistry 2019) is the winner of the 2021 Being Edinburgh award. In her third year as a student, she formed the Edinburgh University Women in STEM group to inspire, motivate, and connect women studying STEM subjects who often feel outnumbered by their male counterparts. The society is still going strong today.
She also co-founded her own start up business, Augment Bionics during her studies. This innovative business produces cost-effective 3D printed prosthetic limbs making them much more accessible to a wide range of people who otherwise could not afford them. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Elisabeth’s team collectively re-purposed the business in order to provide face shields to the NHS as well as abroad to countries in need. She also harnessed the support of the wider University of Edinburgh community of staff, students and alumni and was able to raise over £100,000 in charitable donations and 120,000 face shields, all for the NHS.
I’m very grateful for the work that I was able to do with Augment Bionics in supporting so many in the NHS as well as many frontline healthcare workers abroad. The messages the team and I received from doctors and nurses stating how we essentially were saving lives was incredibly special. Through selflessly working long nights, and weekends we attracted lots of attention from major media outlets and were even featured on the Royal Family Twitter! Receiving orders with these underlying tones of desperation from people on the front lines battling this pandemic everyday shed light on the reality of the situations and the perspective gained from that redefined my attitude towards the pandemic. At the moment Augment Bionics is not trading commercially as the team and I pursue our other career opportunities. I am sure this is not the last you will hear of Augment Bionics and I am excited for all that the future holds.
Akhil (Law 2020) was nominated for the award after contracting Covid-19 in the early weeks of the pandemic. His experience pushed him to want to help stop the spread and treatment of the virus in India, in particular through looking at how convalescent plasma therapy could help. He created a plasma task force that involved engaging with local government in his region of India, and setting up a web portal to connect patients and donors in various parts of India. Within the first month the portal was able to successfully coordinate about 250 convalescent plasma donations in the Delhi metropolitan area with at least 100 requests per week.
I wanted to create a social movement to eliminate the booming black market in plasma donations, and in doing I helped to force the local government to set up a state-run plasma bank which provided an easy access for members of the public to get the benefits of the therapy.
Some friends and I also set up an online forum to help Indian students in the UK with the mental health challenges of being isolated in a foreign country during lockdown. We lobbied with the help of local MPs, the National Union of Students, and various university student unions to provide possible financial aid to the Indian students stuck in the UK with no source of income.
Have these nominees made you think of an Edinburgh graduate who's doing something special? Look out for an email soon inviting you to nominate someone of the Being Edinburgh award 2022 - and you can find out more about it on the website: