New year honours for our talented graduates!

We are very proud to say that two University of Brighton graduates were recognised in the New Year’s Honours.

Andria Zafirakou, who teaches art and textiles at Alperton Community School in Brent, has been honoured with an MBE for her services to education and young people.

Andria, who was awarded a degree in Fashion Textiles Design with Business Studies from the University in 2002, became the first UK winner of the Global Teacher Prize last year.

She beat teachers nominated from more than 170 countries to win a prize worth $1m (£790,000).

Since Mrs Zafirakou joined Alperton in 2005, she has set up a boxing club, redesigned the curriculum to improve access for every student, and even conducted personal patrols outside the school to deter gang members from trying to recruit her pupils.

She has also visited students in their homes and learned basic phrases in languages such as Hindi, Tamil and Gujarati to engage with her pupils.

Andria described the honour as a “wonderful surprise” and spoke highly of her time at the University.

She said: “I loved it at the University of Brighton.

I was in the arts building and for me, this was home. I’d visit every department and collaborate with people, in graphic arts, in print making. For me, it was a time when I really found myself. I got to explore and challenge myself, and everyone there was positive and supportive – the tutors were top class.

Being at the University of Brighton was the highlight of my life.”

Illustrator and author Chris Riddell, winner of the University of Brighton’s Alumnus Award, was awarded an OBE in recognition of his illustration and charity work.

Chris, named as the country’s new Children’s Laureate until 2017, created the Goth Girl series and a cartoon seagull ‘Professor C Gull’ for the University, is a well-known writer of children’s books and promotes children’s interest in books, reading and writing.

Chris, who received the university’s Alumnus Award in 2013, graduated from the University in 1984 with a degree in graphic design. He created Professor C. Gull as a mascot for the University’s Compact Plus primary schools project to act a guide to university for younger children. The project is part of the University’s work to widen access to higher education for people from non-traditional backgrounds.

Chris said: “I feel immensely proud to be recognised in this way and rather humbled when I think about the truly important job done by teachers, librarians and my fellow writers and illustrators. We want to put books into the hands of children so they can discover the great gift that is reading for pleasure. In these uncertain times we need great children’s books more than ever!”

From sculpture to bagels!

Julian Engelsman was awarded a BA(Hons) in Fine Art Sculpture in 1994 and today finds himself running Joyful Foods, selling all-natural, plant-based, gluten-free energy bars under the brand Joyfuel.

So where’s the link?

Julian started selling bagels to help finance his studies at the University of Brighton: “You’d be surprised how my sculpture degree impacted on my bagel business…I was making sculptures out of huge slabs of bread at one time, while selling bagels to staff and students.

“I spent two mornings a week with a red box over my shoulder delivering filled bagels, pickles and treats to shops and offices in central Brighton and Kemptown. It proved very popular. I had my kitchen in a Southover Street student house, approved by Environmental Health.

“Leftover bagels were sold or shared with staff and students at the then sculpture school in Belgrave Street.

“I made sculptures out of bread dough too, quite dark pieces based on feelings from childhood and my Jewish heritage. Many were embedded with plaster teeth (my father was a dentist so denture models were often around the house a lot). I loved the way the teeth kind of exploded out of the dough, half eating it, half being eaten by it.

“Some people thought they just were funny objects. Others saw them like clinkers from the Holocaust. I baked large pieces, even suitcases full of the stuff, and cast some in solid lead, one of which was chosen as a Ben Uri Art Gallery exhibit. For me it was a perfect bitter-sweet metaphor.

“I also spent a good part of my second year making work and installations in a similar vein at a disused building in Vine Street which had in its time been both a brewery and kosher slaughterhouse.

“In the offices, everyone called me ‘Bagelman’ so when I graduated, after a short while in a lonely artist’s garret making a series of books out of bread sacks and some weird installations out of honey, milk and sea sponges, I decided business could be creative too, so I started Bagelman for real.

“I taught myself all I needed to be a bagel baker, drew on some previous experience as a nursing home cook, and set up the first Bagelman unit at the flagship Sussex Innovation Centre on Sussex University campus at Falmer.

“It was quite a leap from the office delivery – a pristine, high-profile 45-seat restaurant and bakery.

“While designing and equipping the new building, I set up a bakery in a former chemistry lab on campus and started four delivery rounds, to Brighton, Hove, Lewes and Burgess Hill. The restaurant proved really popular, not just with the business tenants, but also students and staff across the Falmer campus.

“Three years later, I opened a second shop in Brighton’s North Laine in Bond Street, which soon became our HQ. By the time we had moved out of the Innovation Centre seven years later, we had expanded into a three-storey warehouse behind the Bond Street shop, which became our central bakery, office and outside catering unit.

“The Hove Bagelman opened shortly after, offering a fuller restaurant menu, followed by a third Brighton store in the Lanes at Ship Street.

“Our delivery service, which began at the Innovation Centre, grew rapidly into providing buffets and hundreds of daily filled bagels at seven different student union shops on both the Sussex and University of Brighton campuses and buildings including Mithras House, Grand Parade and Cockcroft.

“At its peak, we baked and sold nearly half a million bagels a year, and employed around 30 staff.

“In 2007, Bagelman was awarded Sussex Best Small Business of the Year and in 2011, after 15 years at the helm, I hung up my oven gloves and sold the business to concentrate on family and a personal writing project (an elaboration of my undergraduate art thesis.)

“In the summer of 2017, after some planning, I started a new company Joyful Foods,

which has introduced a range of all-natural, plant-based, gluten-free pick-me-ups (energy bar squares) under the brand Joyfuel.”

Julian, Founder and Managing Director of Worthing-based Joyfuel, says he has one simple aim: “To make better energy bars, in every sense, so you can eat better, treat better, perform better, feel better.”

He may have moved a long way away from his university studies but individualism, the sculptor’s guiding light, is engrained in his business: “We don’t believe in a ‘one-recipe-fits-all’ (Lawd knows, we tried!), because everyone’s different with different needs, different moods, different desires.

“Plus we change too, from season to season, week to week, day to day, even moment to moment. We’re getting personal.”

Hannah is one to watch

Major fashion brands are keeping a close watch on University of Brighton graduate Hannah Croft.

Hannah is fast developing a reputation as a “material futurist”, creating unusual and unique concepts including one new fabric which has crystals “growing” in it.

She has exhibited in Italy’s fashion capital Milan and will be showing at the Surface Design Show in February. She has also worked on projects in movies including Paddington 2 and is giving talks at Lineapelle Show in London and New York in early 2019.

Hannah’s career journey started after graduating with a Textiles with Business Studies BA(Hons) from the University of Brighton in 2008 and later with an MA distinction in textile design innovation from Nottingham Trent.

She first worked in London but found she couldn’t fully exploit her creativity and so moved to her home city of Leicester and opened her own design and fabric studio MUUNA.

Specialising in woven and embroidered fabric, Hannah received funding to buy specialist equipment from the Sir Thomas White Loan Charity which supports start-ups in and around Leicester.

The equipment included a loom and digital software which “allows me to create a technical design file to accompany a physical fabric swatch which clients can use to reproduce my designs for production. This helps speed up development of my work”.

Hannah’s designs are now marketed through an agent, allowing her to concentrate on experimentation and research. Her unique materials are being showcased in material libraries globally including the USA and she counts the likes of Givenchy and Disney among past clients.

Hannah said: “It has been an exciting year for me and I’m proud of everything I have achieved so far.”

Hannah looked back at her time in Brighton: “Brighton is a really special place, there is nowhere else like it and studying there for four years was a pivotal point in my life.

“I feel the course was such a good foundation – I got the opportunity to intern in New York and London whilst on my industrial placement year. These experiences whilst both very different gave me invaluable experience and insight into the industry.

“There are many lessons I learned at Brighton that I’m still coming back too and of course it’s where I was taught to weave, a skill I probably would never have learned had I not done the course as at the time there were so few textiles courses in the country that offered this as a specialism. I was a real novice at weaving back then and struggled technically but years later I got the opportunity to try it again and it fell into place.

“Without my time at Brighton, this wouldn’t have happened.”

The Gritterman’s back

A Brighton graduate and former member of indie rock band The Maccabees will see his children’s story about a man who grits roads performed on stage next month.

The tale of a seasonal hero and the work he loves will be playing in theatres in London and Manchester with Fast Show comic Paul Whitehouse narrating.

The Gritterman was created by Orlando Weeks who graduated from the University of Brighton with an Illustration BA(Hons) degree in 2006.

Twelve years have passed but Orlando said the city and University were still a big part of his life. He told the University last year: “I had wonderful time at Brighton. I made friends there that are still dear to me now.

“I worked alongside people who I still look to for inspiration. Brighton was a place that encouraged creativity and was full of people making things, starting bands, having exhibitions.

“It was at Brighton that my tutors pointed out that anything I was doing in one discipline could and should feed into other areas. This one piece of advice has stuck with me and The Gritterman is my attempt at combining the types of making (drawing, writing and music) that I enjoy the most.”

Orlando spent a decade with the Maccabees and in 2016, when the group disbanded, he started writing and illustrating The Gritterman, his first book. The story’s hero uses his vehicle as an ice-cream van in summer but it is in the winter when he is a gritterman

that “he comes into his own” until the council insists his services are no longer required.

The stage show premiered at London’s Union Chapel and will be at the same theatre on 10 and 11 December and at Albert Hall Manchester on 12 December.

The book, by Penguin, comes with an album narrated by Paul Whitehouse.

Raymond Briggs’ Snowman to feature on new coins

The Royal Mint has released limited edition 50p coins featuring The Snowman, illustrated by former University of Brighton teacher Raymond Briggs CBE.

The issue which includes the Royal Mint’s first coin in colour, celebrates 40 years since The Snowman’s publication.

One scene captures the snowman flying over Brighton’s Palace Pier.

Briggs, awarded a CBE in 2017 for services to literature, taught in the 1960s at Brighton School of Art (now the university’s School of Art). Since 1957 he has been an illustrator and writer, mainly of children’s books but also adult political satire, stage plays and radio plays, producing iconic work including The Snowman and When the Wind Blows.

There are three versions of the coin – nickel, gold and silver. For more information go to: Only the silver coin is coloured.

They have been designed by artist Natasha Ratcliffe who previously worked on the London 2012 and Paralympics Games coins.

Snowman publishers Penguin Ventures is celebrating the anniversary with collaborations, anniversary products, live and orchestral performances, exhibitions and immersive experiences.

Brighton graduate displays work in solo Brussels show

A University of Brighton alumni is displaying his work in a solo exhibition at the prestigious Centrale for Contemporary Art in Brussels.

Edward Liddle, who received a first-class honours degree in Fine Art Painting in 2012 at the University, is presenting his Carrement! show.

According to the exhibition’s blurb, Liddle “questions the meaning of creating artworks, particularly objects that can be considered as paintings”.

The artist uses objects that he has found on the streets of Brussels, including painted fragments of doors, tables, chairs, floor tiles and remains of wallpapers. Put together, these items form a collection of artworks that “speak and stem directly from Brussels”.

Speaking about what inspired Carrement!, Liddle said: “Walking. Being in Brussels, looking at old buildings, being at markets and going through bins. Things like these [the objects] are everywhere, sometimes discarded and at other times polished and revered.”

Liddle explained that his use of everyday items can be traced back to his childhood and helping his dad out with household DIY – “repairing things, or adding pipes to new places or painting and decorating rooms or furniture. Every art object I have ever made has been informed by those experiences”.

He added that with Carrement!, his aim was not “to destroy artistic hierarchies but to encourage viewers to re-look at the things around with them”.

After graduating from the University of Brighton, Liddle received funding from Arts Council England for his solo exhibition Wowzers!, which was held at Brighton’s Community Arts Centre in 2013. His works have also been exhibited in group shows in London and Cardiff.

Liddle was chosen to participate in a collaborative residency at Hypercorps in Brussels in January 2017, where he worked for three weeks with French artist Lucie Lanzini on a series of new collaborative sculptures.

He will shortly complete a Masters degree in Cultural Theory at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Of his time at the University of Brighton, Liddle said: “One of the biggest skills I learnt from my time at Brighton was the need for time to reflect.

“Painting can be a very physical, active art practice; making, doing, being hands-on. My time at Brighton taught me the benefits of critical reflection, placing into motion the beginnings of starting to understand why I make the things I do and offering strategies to pursue the ideas I have.”

He added that Brussels has also been crucial to his development – Liddle spent time there after leaving Brighton.

He said: “The second formative period of my artistic practice was spent in Brussels. In Brussels I was able to explore ideas that I had already begun to have but in a location where other artists were also experimenting with how works of art relate to the location, building or space they were exhibited or created in.”

Carrement! By Edward Liddle runs at the Centrale for Contemporary Art in Brussels until Sunday, 18 November. For more information on the exhibition visit: For more on Liddle’s work, visit:

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Alumnus Kyle Frank tells us about his studies and setting up on his own!

Kyle Frank studied a BA Hons in Applied Psychology and Sociology and graduated in 2015. He has since set up his own vegan skincare company. He shares his story with us:

What you have got up to since leaving the university?

After leaving university I believe I was in bit of a panic mode – I was not certain on what I wanted to do. I had the opportunity to be an English teacher, but after careful consideration I felt it was not the right career for me. I took some time out – travelled to different countries, and experienced diverse cultures and attitudes. What I learnt along my journey was truly a pivotal moment, and allowed me to free myself from the eurocentric understanding of career and work.

I worked part-time in fashion, while studying closely alongside The Prince’s Trust and completed their business enterprise programme.

I had the opportunity to work with amazing people in business who are specialists in their field, and was learning the key fundamentals of business. I also volunteered with amazing local community projects.

What you are doing now?

I am a entrepreneur – I launched my own self-funded vegan skincare company, FRANK’S REMEDIES. After having acne for several years, and not seeing permanent results, I made it my quest to create a natural solution. Through my own means of study in antiquated literature, and absorbing information on how different cultures deal with acne. I created and formulated my own natural skincare range that finally cleared my skin. A highlight has been being featured in ELLE and Vegan Life as a top ethical brand!


How your degree helped you with your career?

Studying for my degree, gave me a great deal of understanding of society in the ways of which we work together as a collective. Other than knowledge on theories, and theoretical perspectives, it has equipped me with skills that I use on a daily basis, and has enriched my understanding of how business works in a commercial & corporate world.

Any tips for students or recent graduates?

Don’t overthink the future, focus on the moment – its all going to be OK. Also have a friendship group that you can work on projects/assignment(s) with together – I think it’s important to smile and laugh during your experience! It doesn’t need to be so serious all the time.

For the graduates, focus on your passion/message, and see how you can help the world & make sure to network. Feel free to take some time out if you need to, there is no pressure to have it all together! 😊

What is your standout memory from your time at Brighton?

There are many, but I believe a standout memory was being with my friends. We all supported each other, and spent many fun nights in the library together completing assignments! I think it was helpful and important to have that. As as a student, you can easily burn yourself out, so it was great to have friends around you who knew when one of us needed a change of scenery. In hindsight, I would say that memory alone was an essential stage in my university journey were I felt confident, calm and relaxed with my studies/assignments & this positively reflected in my grades.

Thanks for sharing your story Kyle. Don’t forget to check out his skincare range and follow him on Twitter (@franksremedies). If you have a story to share with us, please get in touch

25 for 25 – a year of celebrations

The academic year 2017-2018 saw the University of Brighton celebrated 25 years of achieving university status. We decided to mark the occasion by facilitating 25 gatherings of alumni or other events to mark the occasion.

We had gatherings in New York, Kenya, China, Hong Kong, Eastbourne, Melbourne, Thailand as well as many other activities including an alumni book launch, Brighton Festival events and alumni reunions happening in Brighton. Alumni, students and staff came together to contribute to a year of exciting celebrations.

We kicked off by teaming up with alumnus Gavin George (BA Hons Business Studies) who owns the Laine Pub Company. We helped brew Polygon (geddit?) our own special beer to mark the celebration with the help of one of our PhD students. Alumni, students and staff all attended and enjoyed the sounds of DJ, MC Cashback (partner college graduate in FDA Music Production) who played songs from 1992-3.

After a jam packed year of activities, we rounded off the year with an evening at the i360 including a talk by honorary graduate and chief engineer John Roberts and an exclusive sunset flight. We raised £200 towards the university’s student support fund at this event.

A special anniversary edition of The Brighton Effect, our magazine for alumni and friends will be published next month, celebrating the last 25 years and looking to the future. Sign up for our blog updates to make sure you don’t miss any sneak peaks…..




My first three months at Brighton


Hello, I’m David Phillips and I have recently started working at the University of Brighton in the Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement team. I am working as Leadership Giving Officer – which is a great job! I get to go out and meet Brighton Alumni and Supporters (you are a very friendly bunch) and help match donors to projects at the university. It is really great being able to see first-hand the impact gifts of all sizes have on students and our wider university community.


Who am I, and why Brighton?

I am originally from Staffordshire and moved down south 10 years ago to study Music in Chichester, then went to the University of Southampton for my Masters in Music Performance – I specialised in Historical performance playing Recorder and Bassoon. I love baroque music but also 90’s pop and disco – the playlist in my car is varied!
My original plan was to move to the south for a few years to go to university then join an orchestra and travel the world. 10 years later I’m still on the south coast and love it! I live in Chichester and have a beautiful drive along the coast and through the South Downs to work each morning. It’s such a beautiful place to live, as a student I was unaware of all the treasures on our doorstep and 10 years on I’m still discovering new gems to explore.

I have wanted to work at the University of Brighton for a while, when I saw the job advert I had to apply! The University has such a great reputation for creativity and inclusivity that all alumni should be very proud of. Brighton’s focus on Practical Wisdom and Practical Philanthropy ensures that everything we do has a real-world practical impact.

What have I achieved in my first 3 months?

Whilst it’s a bit daunting starting a new job I have been made to feel very welcome!
My first aim was to meet as many people as possible from all over the university. This has become something of a numbers challenge, with 160,000+ alumni there are a lot of you to meet! I am always up for meeting for a coffee in Brighton or travelling to you, I love hearing about your experiences at the university and now – please do get in touch. It has been really inspiring hearing so many personal stories of the impact of studying at Brighton and meeting people who are passionate that today’s students are given the same opportunities. At graduation in August student recipients were able to meet individual donors, I have found it very moving meeting donors that share our vision of a diverse community open to everyone despite their personal finances. 

Working in Brighton has meant I have also become a commuter, in my previous job I only had a 15 minute walk to work (at the time I didn’t realise how lucky I was). This has meant I have had to say good bye to my first car Esther the Fiesta, who was struggling with the hour dive each way, and have upgraded to a mini that has such luxuries as electric windows and air con. Now that I am travelling in style am I able to get about much easier between all the campuses allowing me to get out of the office and meet even more of you.

Other highlights include, alumni events at the Amex Offices and on the i360. And exploring all the wonderful coffee shops in Brighton, Lewes and Eastbourne.

What do I want to do in the next 3 months?

In the next 3 months I would like to plan some trips around the UK and abroad to meet alumni and supporters who live further afield. I would really like to get out to see the alumni group in Hong Kong – I have never been so any travel tips would be helpful. I would also like to launch some more alumni and supporter events in the UK, maybe something a bit different from the traditional networking drinks, if you have any suggestions for venues or activities drop me a message.

I am going to be working with academic schools on projects including the launch of the new business school which includes a mock court room and pro bono law clinic, the annual Cinecity film festival and the Galleries and Theatre at the University.

Outside of work I have just got a new puppy called Gustav. My first priority with him is to finish toilet training. Anyone with a dog will know this is a slow process.

It’s going to be an exciting and busy few months! I would love to meet as many of you as possible so please get in touch and we can connect online or have a coffee and I will be able to share with you some of the university’s plans and find out your link with the university community.

David Phillips – Leadership Giving Officer 01273 641578

Dr Chaudhary Nazar tells his story

International alumnus Chaudhary tells his story about his studies at the University of Brighton….

I graduated with a MSc in Nephrology from University of Brighton in 2012. I currently work as Overseas Research Supervisor with University of Brighton as well as a Registrar Nephrologist in private health sector of Pakistan.

Prior to this, I worked in Nephrology Department Shifa International Hospital, Islamabad, Pakistan, as a senior medical officer for 3 years. My Master’s degree in Nephrology helped me in retaining that job. The research I did around various topics as part of my modules and dissertation gave me a good insight into various subjects of kidney diseases. The latter greatly helped me in my current clinical role to understand the importance of research in keeping myself uptodate with kidney diseases such as a nephrologist. This also helps to boost my interest in research and due to that interest I have published more than 70 articles with peer reviewed journals relating to different areas of renal specialties involving diabetes, hypertension, chronic kidney disease, hemodialysis and transplant. Furthermore, due to my strong research basis and concepts build up at University of Brighton I became editor of different peer reviewed journal including Journal of Renal Injury, Journal of Nephropharamacology and many more. I presented my research paper to different international conferences and as well as national conferences in Pakistan. I also spread the concept of research at Shifa Research Clinical Center by taking lectures and thus guiding many medical doctors too.

I still remember when I moved to Brighton for the first time to complete my studies- it was both nerve wrecking and exciting at the same time! It was a tough time but learning experience too. Today I remember Brighton city as the vibrant place where I build great memories and friendships. It was a reason I applied for overseas research supervisor job at University of Brighton to help students from Asians countries in their various research module and dissertation in completing them. I believe myself lucky to graduate from University of Brighton, then I become an alumni and a supervisor, thus, a chance to return  to the university and live again great memories I build in the city of Brighton.

Recently, I accepted a new job offer, as a Assistant Professor Medicine from one of recognized and privileged institution in Saudi Arabia which will be on a higher pay band and I believe the new role will enable me to make more use of my academic knowledge and skills to manage a bigger team and to handle more responsibilities. My time at University of Brighton motivated me to complete my further postgraduate study from United Kingdom. Later I completed MD Internal Medicine from University of Buckingham, UK in 2015, Master in Public Health from University of Bedfordshire, and Fellow of Royal Society of Public from Royal Society of Public Health.

A tip for students currently pursuing their degree is to stay focused and to seek help from your professors and colleagues. Moreover, remember to make good memories too so that when you remember them in sad times they bring smile on face.

If you would like to tell your story in one of our blogs, please do get in touch by emailing  us at