From left to right: Kate Bottley, Harpreet Kaur, Dorothy Koomson, Deb McAndrew

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2021, we’re championing some of the influential and strong women from across our institution.

From Sister Augusta Maria, the first Principal of Trinity College in 1966, to Debbie McAndrew, our current Chancellor, we want to share the stories of these inspirational women.

Sister Augusta Maria

Gaining both an Honours degree in Physics from Manchester University and a second degree in Mathematics from London University, followed by an MSc​ back at Manchester for her work on Polymer Physics; later becoming Trinity College's first Principal. In 1980 she was awarded the Papal honour Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice whilst she was still Principal at Trinity and All Saints College until 1991, when she was forced to retire due to ill health, before passing away in 1992.

Professor Mary Hallaway

In 1969, Professor Mary Hallaway was appointed as a lecturer at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria in Northern Nigeria. There, she established the Department of Biochemistry and became the University's first ever Professor. On her return to England, Dr Hallaway was appointed as the Principal of Trinity and All Saints College in 1980 where she led the University for nine years. In 1989, she returned to Africa to teach at universities in Uganda and Blantyre.

Freda Bridge

Before becoming the Principle of Trinity and All Saints College, and subsequently the first Vice-Chancellor of Leeds Trinity University, Freda Bridge was Dean of the School of Education and Professional Development at the University of Huddersfield. Freda holds the honour of being the last Principal of the old college and first Vice-Chancellor of the University.

Mary Davis

Mary Davis studied at Leeds Trinity where she gained an Honours degree in Physical Education (awarded by the University of Leeds). Mary is now the CEO of Special Olympics International. In this role Mary leads professionals throughout the world who address inactivity and injustice, by influencing people with intellectual disabilities to be productive citizens in their communities.

Dorothy Koomson

Alumna and Honorary Fellow Dorothy Koomson studied at Leeds Trinity from 1991-1994, in which time she was the Vice-President of the Students' Union in 1993-94. From then she went on to become a best-selling author for books such as 'My Best Friend's Girl', 'The Ice Cream Girls' and 'The Woman He Loved Before'. From a young age, Dorothy was destined to be a pillar for influential women, writing her first novel at the age of 13, passing around chapters and gaining feedback from her fellow convent school pupils. In 2019, Dorothy was presented with the Image Award at the Black British Business Awards. This year, Dorothy was named on the influential Powerlist 2021, Britain’s Most Influential People of African And African Caribbean Heritage. 

Harpreet Kaur

In September 2015, Leeds Trinity Journalism alumna Harpreet Kaur realised a lifelong dream when she was announced as one of four new presenters for the BBC Asian Network. In September 2017, she became the presenter of BBC Asian Network’s Breakfast Show, where she has interviewed A-list celebrities including the likes of Will Smith, Gurdas Maan and Craig David. In January 2020, it was announced that Harpreet was the new presenter of CBBC’s Saturday Mash-Up, proving that dreams really can come true with persistence, passion and drive.

Kate Bottley

After studying Secondary Religious Education with QTS at Trinity and All Saints College, Reverend Kate Bottley is now a Vicar and TV personality. Reverend Kate has spoken publicly about not conforming entirely to how she is expected to behave as a Vicar and has gone on to lead flash mobs at weddings, as well as making regular appearances on the Channel 4 TV series Gogglebox.  She has since gone on to appear on Songs of Praise, Celebrity Mastermind and Richard Osman’s House of Games. Reverend Kate was made an Honorary Fellow in July 2019.

Melanie Taylor

Melanie Taylor has been part of the Leeds Trinity community for more than 25 years. She started working at the University in October 1994 and spent 23 years working in Domestic Services before joining the Reception team three years ago. Mel plays a fundamental role in the running of Leeds Trinity; whether it’s welcoming prospective students and their families for a campus visit, pointing business partners in the right direction or saying hello to colleagues, it’s always with a smile. Quite simply, Leeds Trinity would not be the same without her.

Professor Margaret A House

Professor Margaret House was appointed Vice-Chancellor of Leeds Trinity from January 2013 until October 2020. Previous to this she was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic at Middlesex University where she had worked since 1986.  Professor House has gained a national and international reputation for research into the management and monitoring of river water quality. She was responsible for the development of the House Index of Water Quality.  Her present research ranges between modelling the impact of forestry on Loch Ness and water harvesting in Spain.  ​

Debbie McAndrew

Debbie McAndrew is the current Chancellor of Leeds Trinity. She trained as a teacher before embarking on a successful career as an actress and award-winning playwright. Having worked extensively in theatre, television and radio in a career spanning almost 30 years, Debbie co-founded Claybody Theatre Company in Stoke-on-Trent in 2013, where she is currently Creative Director. As Chancellor, Debbie is a key ambassador for the University, as well as a role model for students, partners and stakeholders of the University.

Rachael Campey

MSc Health and Wellbeing student Rachael Campey first joined the Leeds Trinity community in 2016 as an undergraduate in Counselling Psychology. In December 2019, her graduation story went viral after sharing how she overcame adversity in the school education system while raising her daughter Lily-Rose, now aged seven. Alongside her studies, Rachael is a mental health ambassador for MindMate, a public speaker, and has been nominated for the inspirational individual award at the Yorkshire Choice Awards.

Syra Shakir

Syra Shakir is Senior Teaching Fellow and Co-Chair of the University’s BAME Network. Alongside teaching in the Institute of Childhood and Education, Syra has played a key role in Leeds Trinity receiving the Race Equality Charter Bronze Award in November 2020. She introduced compulsory curriculum sessions on race equality for all Level 4 students, developed an educational toolkit with Ricardo Barker to support his film Re:Tension, and launched ‘Safe Space to Talk’, a weekly drop-in session for students to discuss any issues or concerns relating to racial discrimination and inequality. She is currently piloting an alternative Level 6 dissertation research project into racial discrimination and microaggressions.  

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