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Two North East legends from our alumni community join NCL in Action 2024 programme

We’re excited to be welcoming two Northern powerhouses, Jimmy Nail and Kim McGuinness, to speak at the launch day of NCL in Action 2024 at St. James’ Park on Friday 1 March.

11 February 2024

Newcastle University alumni, colleagues and students are invited to join us for an inspirational afternoon at St. James' Park to celebrate the launch of the 2024 NCL in Action programme.

The launch event will see honorary graduate, actor and musician Jimmy Nail share how he achieved stardom following humble beginnings on the Tyneside shipyards and 2006 graduate Kim McGuinness revealing her hopes for the future of the North East in her role as Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner.

As well as hearing from these two inspirational members of our alumni community, guests will be treated to a lunch, tours of Newcastle United’s stadium and a lively debate exploring whether education is the best route to take to reach your potential.

Nurturing untapped potential in our region

The North East of England has the highest proportion of deprived households in the country, with 34% of children in our region living in poverty.

For these young people, breaking out of the cycle of poverty and achieving their potential can feel like an impossible task. It is vital that those with influence in the North East get behind our region’s young people and nurture their untapped potential by ensuring a future full of opportunities.

In our 2024 keynote address, we’re excited to be welcoming Newcastle University graduate Kim McGuinness (BA Hons Ancient History and Archaeology, 2006) to explore the positive impact she has made on the communities she serves as current Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, and her hopes for the future of our region.

Having grown up in the West End of Newcastle with family connections to the shipbuilding industry, Kim knows from experience how difficult it can be for young people in the North East to reach their potential. She now uses her position of influence to help create more opportunities for future generations, with a particular focus on ending child poverty and creating local well-paid jobs in the region.

Kim entered local politics in 2015 when she was elected as the representative for the Lemington ward on Newcastle City Council. Shortly after, she replaced Vera Baird as Police and Crime Commissioner, and in this role has made crime prevention and neighbourhood support a key focus, along with investment in youth services as a way of improving life chances for all.

Nailing it: From Benton to Broadway

Join us for an intimate chat with Jimmy Nail to discover how a boy from Benton, who was expelled from school and apprenticed at C A Parsons, ended up contributing to film, television and music projects which earned BAFTA (“Auf Wiedersehen, Pet”, “Spender”, “Crocodile Shoes”), Oscar (“Evita”), Golden Globe (“Still Crazy”), Ivor Novello (“Ain’t No Doubt”) and Tony (“The Last Ship”) awards and nominations. 

Honorary Newcastle graduate Jimmy Nail (Hon DCL, 2018) grew up in Benton, Newcastle. As a teenager he was told by his teachers that the only career options available to kids such as him were the shipyards, the coal-mines or the building sites. It was the 1960s, the world was alive and jumping to a new sound, it’s cultural epicentre England. There had never been a better time to be young. If glorified donkeywork was all society was offering, then he’d reject it. So began an odyssey which took Jimmy around the globe and eventually back to Newcastle.

At our NCL in Action launch day, Jimmy will talk about a childhood growing up in Newcastle as the son of a shipyard worker and share the dreams, aims and aspirations he had as a youngster; he’ll talk about the big influences that helped shape his life and career and we’ll hear how Jimmy is paying it forward for future generations in the region.

Image credit: Tony Mac

NCL in Action 2024

NCL in Action brings together Newcastle graduates, students and colleagues around the world to take action and create positive change. This year, the university community are invited to come together to ensure everyone can access the same opportunities to develop professionally and personally, whatever their background.

A recent report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies concluded that social mobility is the worst it has been in 50 years. Newcastle University is committed to helping as many people in our communities as possible to achieve their potential and move up.

We're joining forces with the Newcastle United Foundation to succeed in this mission throughout March 2024. Through their education, sport, personal development, and wellbeing programmes, the Newcastle United Foundation helps thousands of people in the local community to be more active, learn new skills and feel happier and healthier.

With a jam-packed schedule of online events, mentoring programmes and fundraising challenges – there’s something for everyone! It is your opportunity to connect with other alumni, develop your skills to take the next leap in your career, discover a new way of thinking and support the next generation of Newcastle graduates.