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!”