Features | By Gemma Bradshaw

City Heroes achieved the incredible in an exceptional year

The President’s Awards were introduced at City in 2014 to celebrate members of staff who have gone the extra mile in their work to help the University achieve its objectives.


In a year different to any other, staff at City worked hard to ensure safety on campus and continuation of critical services by adapting teaching and supporting students and colleagues in new and different ways – while, in many cases, juggling challenging situations of their own at home. To reflect this difference, this year we celebrated our City Heroes.


At a virtual Awards Ceremony hosted on Thursday 24th June, eleven stand-out Heroes from the shortlisted nominees were selected by Professor Sir Paul Curran in his last week in post as City’s former President. A poem, written especially for the event by City Short Courses student Grayson Anderson, also premiered which paid tribute to all of City’s ‘unsung heroes’.

Keeping City safe and stable

Those recognised included:

Library Services received an award to highlight their invaluable work on campus to ensure study spaces were available for those students with no access to these at home and for their click-and-collect services which enabled students to continue accessing essential reading materials.


Accommodation team (Kamrul Hussain, Farzana Tabassum and Geoffrey Harrisson) received an award for the support they provided to concerned students and parents all around the world. The team engaged with different halls of residence providers to negotiate agreements for students and with students themselves, often on a one-to-one basis, helping to alleviate some anxiety at a particularly stressful time.


The Campus COVID-19 Management Group also received an award for their work together throughout the pandemic to navigate City through the challenges it presented to our operations. Formed of colleagues from across City’s Schools and Professional Services Departments, those involved in the group regularly had to respond to changing guidance at very short notice, while continuing to perform in their substantive roles.

IT purchasing team. Left-right: Jeanette Comer, Richard O’Connor, Keith Wood.
City’s Accommodation team. Left-right: Geoffrey Harrisson, Kamrul Hussain, Farzana Tabassum.

Adapting and innovating


The Journalism Tech team was recognised for their work to research and source new technology to support students on practical journalism modules, which involved completely redesigning teaching spaces. Dilip Parmar, Learning Support Officer in Student and Academic Services, received a Heroes Award for his stand-out, tireless work to help create a welcoming digital environment for students. He regularly went above and beyond in his role to seek out creative solutions to digital problems.


Alex Brown, Assessment Manager for The City Law School, was recognised for his work to ensure online assessments on the School’s professional programmes were able to take place in the way required by the professional bodies, while limiting disruption to students. This included leading on and implementing software, which would usually have taken several years.


Learning Enhancement and Development (LEaD) also received an award for quickly adopting new technologies and approaches and disseminating their knowledge, to support staff and students in the switch to online teaching and learning and working from home. In March 2020, the team dealt with nearly 400 Service Desk queries (compared with a typical monthly number of 80), and from March to December ran over 100 workshops with 1,800 attendances.

John Cheatdom (left) and David Bransbury (right) in City’s Journalism tech team.

Supporting our communities


Sally McVicker, Research Associate in the School of Health Sciences, received an award for her work supporting people who have experienced strokes through the charity Aphasia ReConnect. She worked quickly to move conversational groups online when it was not possible to run these in-person, while also connecting Speech and Language Therapy students to the programme as support buddies. This provided valuable placement opportunities at a time when many students’ placements were being cancelled.


Dr Caroline McGraw, Lecturer in the School of Health Sciences, was also recognised for offering her services to a local NHS Trust as a Clinical Volunteer, providing skilled nursing care to vulnerable patients in their own homes – despite not having been in practice for seven years. She now supports the nationwide vaccination scheme volunteering as a vaccinator.


The full list of shortlisted nominees can be found on the Staff Hub (staff log-in required).