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Alumni Day of Action 2020

A virtual event brought together alumni from across the globe to showcase their creative talents and take action against climate change.

On Saturday October 10 Newcastle University hosted its inaugural virtual alumni event which saw the launch of several new initiatives for the alumni network.

Sophie McDermott, Chair of Convocation, hosted the full-day event with a focus on the One Planet initiative and action to combat climate change.

Alumni from across the globe took part in activities leading up to the big day itself, encouraging everyday action against climate change. The Four Campus Challenge saw alumni walk, run, cycle and even kayak to combine their miles to travel together virtually to each of Newcastle’s four campuses. With over 11,500 miles travelled, the community far exceeded the original target of 6,997, even managing to 'travel' from Singapore to Beijing to give a virtual wave to alumni in China.

Some alumni shared their own delicious climate-friendly recipes, which are available for you to download and try yourself, whilst others shared their musical memories of their time at Newcastle, creating the Newcastle Alumni playlist available on Spotify with more than 50 songs to help take you back to your student days.

Other alumni got into the creative spirit, penning Poems for the Planet which were brought together in a poetry recital podcast hosted on the day by Linda France, climate writer in residence at Newcastle University and New Writing North. In the special broadcast, Linda also showcased her own poems inspired by current times.

The Alumni Day of Action started with The Big Quiz Newcastle, which saw alumni battling it out over their knowledge of their university and the local area. Guest were even treated to guest appearances by alumni and honorary alumni Alan Shearer, Sting and George Clarke! In a less competitive environment, alumni got together with their classmates to catch up and reminisce in our first ever virtual reunion chats.

Meanwhile, a live early careers discussion focused on graduate jobs in sustainable fields, with a Q&A session bringing together a panel of recent graduates – Masitano Sichone (business owner, Spareable), George Baker (Trees4Trees ambassador, Barker and Stonehouse) and Raff Marioni (executive, Brunswick Group) – who candidly shared their professional experiences.

Professor David W Graham, professor of ecosystems engineering, presented a fascinating lecture on the links between water quality and resistant infectious disease, which could potentially lead to the next pandemic. Prof. Graham presented evidence of antimicrobial resistance spreading in the developing world before discussing holistic solutions.

Our expert panel, Dr Katharine Rietig, Madeleine Rawlins and Dr Marcus Richards, explored how individuals and governments can address climate change in a lively discussion that took in questions from the alumni audience. 

A big thank you to our guest speakers for giving up their time to share their expertise and to everyone who joined us on the day and took part in our pre-event activities. In total 650 alumni, staff and friends took action.

Recordings of all of the Day of Action talks and panel discussions are available online for you to view at

published on: 16 October 2020