Alumni & Supporters

Alumni community efforts

Celebrating Newcastle alumni efforts in the fight against COVID-19



Medical Class of 2020 step forward to join the NHS

As many of you know, in early April, 300 final-year Medicine students graduated early in a historic online graduation, receiving dozens of messages of encouragement and gratitude. Professor Chris Day, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University, delivered the opening speech:

“You are indeed making history today, not only because you are the first medical graduates to have your degrees conferred virtually, but also because no cohort of students in peacetime will ever have had to complete their training in the circumstances that we now find ourselves.”

Read the full story here.‌

Supplying hand sanitiser to public health organisations
Tom Crotty is CEO of local chemical company INEOS. Newcastle University Advancement have previously written about INEO’s extraordinary efforts to help with the national shortage of hand sanitiser, by adjusting their chemical plant to make sanitiser for the NHS and other medical professionals.

Read the full story here.  

Meeting the increased demand for respirator masks
Consumer healthcare company Clinova, led by Newcastle Clinical Therapeutics alumnus and CEO Charles Ebubedike, are ramping up their production of respirator flu masks to a staggering five million a month. The masks were first launched in the UK in 2007, but the unprecedented demand at present has necessitated increased production to support the essential work being done by the NHS in this time of need.

Read the full story here.

Duke of Westminster donates £12.5 million to the NHS
Hugh Grosvenor, Duke of Westminster and holder of a BSc in Countryside Management from Newcastle University, has donated £12.5 million to the NHS Charities Together Fund. “A huge thank you to all our amazing NHS staff and everyone providing critical frontline services.” Hugh Grosvenor, Duke of Westminster and alumnus.

Read the full story here.

Sophie McDermott provides a virtual community hub within Women’s Writes group
Newcastle University’s Chair of Convocation, Sophie McDermott, launched Women's Writes earlier than expected in response to COVID-19.

“Women's Writes is a feminist book club - hosted entirely online. Our aim is that during this time we want to help build a regular community that meets each week to discuss some fabulous books and stops people from feeling stuck and isolated at home. Entirely free and run by myself as a volunteer on top of my normal job, I hope that this is a space where people can 'meet' new people, continue important conversations about society which shouldn't be put on hold in times like this. So far we have hosted 2 book clubs and they have been incredibly successful (with individuals tuning in from the UK, Canada, USA, Luxembourg, Belgium and Singapore so far) and we have so many more planned. We have even got female authors volunteering to do online Q&As at the beginning of some of our book clubs, which is amazing and provides a real connection between writer and reader, and also is a bit of excitement in these difficult times.

“We are working closely to promote independent bookshops and work with independent book publishers as a priority around the country, as many are still delivering if not still open, and many have had events cancelled that they now need help hosting online. 

“It's not much in terms of practical help but I'm really hoping that it helps people’s mental health and makes them feel less alone and brings some joy in this time.” Sophie McDermott, alumna and Chair of Convocation.

Re-training from Consultant Gastroenterologist to COVID-19 Physician in just four weeks
After 25 years working in his chosen field, alumnus Anjan Dhar has re-trained to his colleagues, in order to look after the huge number of patients being admitted to UK hospitals.

“Together with my colleagues in Respiratory Medicine, we created the first COVID-19 Assessment Proforma at Darlington Memorial Hospital, which has now been adopted in over 30 NHS hospitals across the country. We have also adapted to new ways of ward rounds to minimise staff exposure to the virus, including single-person assessments and observations using the Royal College of Physicians SPACES model.” Dr Anjan Dhar, alumnus.

Read the full story here.

Aquapak Polymers Ltd. supply water-soluble laundry bags to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 from workplace to home
Alumnus Mark Lapping is CEO of Aquapak Polymers Ltd. The Birmingham based firm are an innovative company who create new plastic technology which is recyclable and fully environmentally safe, whilst maintaining plastic functionality.

Recently, Aquapak have gone above and beyond to support the NHS, by supplying NHS workers with thousands of water-soluble bags which prevents the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The environmentally friendly bags allow for minimal contact between NHS workers and their clothes when washing, as the bags can be put into the washing machine directly. This means that workers can change out of their uniform at work, put the clothes straight into the sealed bag and put this into the washing machine; preventing any spread into workers homes.‌

Chris Townsend OBE to spear Government initiative to shield the clinically vulnerable
Chris Townsend graduated with a degree in Geography from Newcastle University in 1997, going on to be part of the successful London 2012 Olympic bid team as Marketing Director at Transport for London and later becoming Commercial Director for the London Olympics. Now, Chris Townsend is leaving his current role as Commercial Director at Chelsea Football Club for three months to lead the Government’s Shielding Programme as Chief Executive Officer.

Read the full story here.

Working in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care during COVID-19
Joe Cosgrove is a Consultant in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine at the Newcastle Freeman Hospital, whose role has changed substantially during the COVID-19 outbreak. From PPE (personal protective equipment) training to end-of-life care, Joe’s story is inspiring.

Read the full story here.

Generous donation from alumnus Avnish Goyal who’s dedicated his life to care
Alumnus Avnish Goyal is Chair of Hallmark Care Homes, a family-run provider of 19 multi-award-winning care homes in England and Wales. Avnish founded Hallmark Care Homes with his brothers in 1997 and has dedicated much of his life to social care.

Care workers are often the unsung heroes, but in this pandemic especially, which is why we’re so happy to be celebrating Hallmark Care Homes who have pledged £30,000 to The Care Workers Charity. 

Dame Margaret Barbour lends support to PPE manufacture in the North East
In July 2019, Chair of global lifestyle brand Barbour and Honorary Graduate, Dame Margaret Barbour was honoured by Newcastle University in the naming of the University’s latest new education facility, the Dame Margaret Barbour Building. Now in 2020, amidst the fight against the COVID-19 crisis, Barbour has begun production of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) garments to support the NHS.

Dr Alexander Finlayson, BMedSci (Hons), MBBS (Hons)
Alexander Finlayson, Medical Science and Medicine graduate and Co-Founder at NYE Health, has been part of an exceptionally hard working team to get NYE Health up and running.

NYE Health is a platform which is free for the NHS to use and allows GPs to offer appointments with their patients securely via virtual platforms. This system has been vital in stopping overcrowding at GP surgeries and has enabled some GPs to work from home.

Read the full story here.

Scientific collaborations reveal new insights into the virus
Scientists, including experts at Newcastle University, have contributed to a discovery by the Human Cell Atlas (HCA) Lung Biological Network, identifying two types of cells in the nose as the likely infection points for the COVID-19 virus, along with cells in the eye and the lining of the intestine.

Professor Majlinda Lako, Newcastle graduate and member of the University’s Faculty of Medical Sciences said: “I am happy for our data, which indicates the ocular surface as an additional entry route for SARS-CoV-2, to contribute to this collaborative HCA manuscript. This demonstrates the strength of scientific collaborations and large-scale initiatives in revealing new insights for the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Read the full story here.

Find out how Newcastle University are supporting our students through our COVID-19 Student Fund, and learn about how the Research Team Fund can support in researching how to combat the outbreak.