Honorary fellows 2023

During our bicentenary year, we honoured ten new fellows at a memorable event at St George’s Hall.

The distinguished group were awarded their fellowships in front of their friends and family, LJMU staff and students, alumni, friends of the university and civic guests at a special ceremony celebrating their inspirational achievements and contributions to improving lives across the Liverpool City Region and beyond.

Ngunan Adamu
BBC journalist and broadcaster

Presented by Professor Timothy Nichol, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Faculty of Business and Law)

Chosen as a Bicentenary honorary fellow for not just her broadcasting prowess but for her work supporting the voices of underserved communities and driving forwards cultural change across society.

Ngunan graduated in journalism from Liverpool Screen School at LJMU. Her talent and hard work have seen her become a successful broadcaster, presenter, producer; a well-known voice across the city for her work with BBC radio and podcasting, including Eurovision coverage and training journalists for the BBC World Service. She is also the CEO and founder of iWoman, a programme which helps women in the region develop the skills and confidence to get into media.

Ngunan is a passionate equality, diversity and inclusion champion, and a specialist in driving forwards cultural change. For several years, she has worked closely with LJMU to support its own initiatives, driving forward positive change in higher education.

Trish Bennett
Chief Nurse, Chief Operations Officer, Deputy Chief Executive Officer for Clinical Services, Mersey Care, NHS Foundation Trust

Presented by Professor Raphaela Kane, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Faculty of Health)

Chosen for her dedication to public health and nursing throughout her impressive career in the NHS, across the north west, for over three decades.

Trish has a passion for ensuring that care is delivered to the highest quality and that patients and their families are at the centre of care, which is echoed by the Faculty of Health’s passion to deliver better outcomes for patients and service users, through education.

Prior to taking up her current post with Mersey Care, she worked for NHS England as the Director of Nursing for the Lancashire & Greater Manchester Sub Region, where she was responsible for professional nurse leadership, quality and assurance and clinical leadership input into transformation service change programmes.

Bryan Biggs
Director of Cultural Legacies at the Bluecoat

Presented by Tina Purkis, Executive Director, Human Resources

Chosen as a Bicentenary honorary fellow for his dedication to not just the Bluecoat, but to arts and culture in the city.

Bryan is a fine art graduate of our predecessor, the Liverpool Polytechnic, and, more recently, an MA social enterprise graduate from LJMU. He is Director of Cultural Legacies at the Bluecoat, Liverpool’s contemporary arts centre, a working home for artists, and a place where audiences can experience art in new ways.

Bryan has spent over four decades at the Bluecoat, which is Liverpool’s oldest city centre building. Starting as an admin assistant, he went on to oversee the reimagining of the building, which reopened in 2008 for European Capital of Culture. He took the Bluecoat through its 300th anniversary in 2017, has edited a book on its history, as the UK’s first art centre and now leads on connecting its heritage to the present.

Jamie Christon DL
Chief Executive Officer of Chester Zoo

Presented by Professor Clare Milsom, Registrar and Chief Operating Officer

Chosen as an honorary fellow due to his work driving forward conservation at the zoo, preventing extinction in a changing world, and working collaboratively with organisations, partners, and visitors.

Jamie is the Chief Executive of Chester Zoo. Originally from North Yorkshire and politics graduate, Jamie’s career had spanned multiple sectors in high street food, retail department store management and aviation.

He joined Chester Zoo in 2013 as Chief Operating Officer and became CEO in 2021. Chester Zoo celebrates its 100th birthday in 2031 and Jamie is leading the current zoo’s strategy and conservation work as it approaches this huge milestone.

Andy Cooke QPM DL
His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary and His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services

Presented by Professor Joe Yates, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Place and Partnership and Faculty of Arts, Professional and Social Studies)

Chosen as a Bicentenary honorary fellow for his outstanding achievements and the positive impact of his leadership in policing both locally and nationally.

Andy has strong links with LJMU as an adjunct professor in our School of Justice Studies. He has had an illustrious career in policing and in 2022 was appointed by Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary and HM Chief Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services. After graduating with a degree in politics, he joined Merseyside Police in 1985 and went on to serve as a detective at every rank.

In 2016, he was appointed Chief Constable of Merseyside Police and, under his leadership, the force was graded as the highest performing metropolitan force by HMICFRS. Nationally, Andy held some of the highest risk portfolios in policing. In addition to leading the creation of the United Kingdom Protected Persons Service, he was the national policing lead for serious organised crime and national lead for crime. Andy has been commended on 10 occasions and earned the Queen’s Police Medal.

Louisa Flitter
Civil Engineering Senior Project Manager at the Environment Agency

Presented by Professor Ndy Ekere, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Faculty of Engineering and Technology)

Chosen as a Bicentenary honorary fellow for her work as a STEM ambassador for women in engineering and being a role model to current students at LJMU.

Louisa’s work involves delivering flood risk management schemes across the North West for the Environment Agency. She graduated from LJMU in 2017 in Civil Engineering and, since then, she has been named as one of the ‘Top 50 Women in Engineering’, was recognised as an ICE Future Leader, has been the Chair of ICE Merseyside branch and is a member of the Association for Project Management (APM).

She has also been an inspiring guest speaker at many university careers and research events for our students and staff, especially those with a focus on women in engineering.

Nikita Parris
Professional footballer with England and Manchester United

Presented by Professor Laura Bishop, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Faculty of Science)

Chosen as a Bicentenary honorary fellow for her commitment to excellence in her sport, her work to encourage recognition and development of women in professional football and support of young athletes.

Nikita is a professional footballer and was a member of the triumphant England women’s football squad that won the 2022 UEFA Women’s European Championships. She made her debut for Everton aged just 16 and won the first of her 71 England caps in 2017. As well as winning Euro 2022, she also represented Team GB at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020.

Nikita was supported by LJMU through the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) before becoming a sport development student alongside her blossoming professional football career. In 2020 she launched the NP17 Football Academy, an initiative giving Liverpool students a chance to shine in sports, by offering sports qualifications and opportunities to young athletes.

Professor Joe Rafferty CBE
Chief Executive of Mersey Care, NHS Foundation Trust

Presented by Professor Keith George, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise)

Chosen as a Bicentenary honorary fellow for his impressive career in the NHS and the positive impact of his leadership in the field, across Merseyside and beyond.

Joe has been the Chief Executive of Mersey Care, NHS Foundation Trust since 2012, establishing it as one of the largest specialised integrated care providers in the NHS, encompassing inpatient and community mental health, community physical health and learning disability and addictions services.

He earned a PhD in molecular genetics and spent over a decade researching drug resistance in cancer, publishing more than 50 peer review articles before joining the NHS in a leadership role, working at national and regional levels, including as a service commissioner.

Joe is a founder member of the Zero Suicide Alliance UK and was awarded a CBE in the 2020 New Year Honours List for his work on suicide prevention. He has been named as one of the top 50 NHS Chief Executives for six consecutive years by the Health Service Journal and has appeared in the Health Service Journal 100 most influential people in healthcare in the UK.

Louise Shepherd CBE
Chief Executive, Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust

Presented by Hannah Argo, Finance Director

Chosen as a Bicentenary honorary fellow for her transformative, visionary leadership in healthcare for the benefit of young people.

Louise has been the Chief Executive of Alder Hey Children’s Hospital Trust since 2008, during which time she has successfully guided the trust through a major transformation into Europe’s first Children’s Health Park.

In a distinguished NHS career spanning more than 30 years, Louise has also served as the Chief Executive of Liverpool Women’s Hospital and chairs the NHS England’s Children and Young People Transformation Board. In 2017, she was awarded a CBE for services to healthcare in The Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Her Honour Judge Sarah Wright
Circuit Judge at Sheffield Combined Court

Presented by Professor Phil Vickerman, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Student Experience) on behalf of Maria Burquest, University Secretary and and General Counsel

Chosen as a Bicentenary honorary fellow for her commitment to law and the judicial system, over the past 40 years.

Sarah graduated in law from our predecessor, the Liverpool Polytechnic, in 1983 and practiced as a barrister for nearly 30 years before being appointed to the circuit bench in 2014, where she presides over the most serious criminal cases, including murder.

She has been at the forefront of promoting access to justice for all and introducing special measures designed to allow vulnerable witnesses and defendants to participate fully in the judicial process.

Her enthusiasm for rugby league and inclusion within the sport also saw her become the first female chair of the Rugby Football League’s Operational Rules Tribunal Panel in 2020, bringing her legal expertise to support the sport’s growth and success.

Honorary Fellows talk about working in partnership with LJMU