Presented by Roger Phillips
Honourable Pro-Chancellor, I have pleasure in presenting Angela Samata for the award of an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University.
Angela is psychology graduate with a Masters degree art history and curating, an arts professional and broadcaster who led on the John Moores Painting Prize during the catalyst years of its recent renown and established its international profile which now sees the prize extended into China.
She has been named Merseyside Woman of the Year for her work in the public eye. And it is for how she has used her immense skills, talent and sheer force of personality in the face of personal tragedy that we pay tribute to her with this Fellowship.
Fifteen years ago, the lives of Angela and her boys, Alexis and Benjamin who are here today, changed completely when her husband Mark took his own life. A tsunami of grief envelops a family touched by such personal tragedy and Angela and the boys were enveloped by a warm and loving wider family, who all played a part in supporting them as they came to terms with such a shocking event.
Over last 15 years, Angela has continued to work in the arts and has also become a regular and impassioned campaigner advocating for speaking up and encouraging people to talk about their feelings, their health and emotional state.
Her Bafta-nominated documentary ‘Life After Suicide’ has become the touchpoint for so many individuals and families. Laying bare the experiences and challenges facing those who are left behind when someone takes their own life, the programme featured families who have faced similar events.
Co-author of the NHS-70 Parliamentary Award-winning ‘See Say Signpost’ training, Angela was Chair of the Survivors of the Bereaved by Suicide, a nationwide charity offering a unique and distinct free service with online, face to face and telephone support to bereaved adults across the UK.
Under her Chairmanship and together with a 10-strong Board and 150 volunteers, the number of support groups more than doubled, with over 65 free support groups currently throughout the UK, offering support to over 7,000 people bereaved by suicide each year. Angela led the Liverpool support group for seven years and currently sits on the All Party Parliamentary Group looking at Suicide Prevention in England and Wales.
Using her considerable gift, and drawing upon her psychology training, Angela has ensured that her own family have not become defined by Mark’s death. They celebrate his life and it is in some way a tribute to his memory that Angela and her work is now helping to create a more nurturing environment where individuals of all ages and backgrounds can feel able to talk about how they are feeling. Angela is part of a movement that has allowed us to talk about emotional wellbeing in our society, to participate in a national conversation that includes Princes and pensioners, students and celebrities. Only last month, Prince William visited Liverpool to open James’ Place, just round the corner from here, which is the first non-clinical centre for men experiencing suicidal crisis in the UK.
Angela has shown extraordinary courage in speaking out, being open and using her voice to help others. Her family, and her boys, must be immensely proud of what she has achieved and so are we.
For her outstanding achievement and personal commitment to a cause that deserves so much attention, it is with great pleasure that I present Angela Samata for admission to our highest honour, as an Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.