13 famous people you probably did not know studied at Nottingham Trent

Nottingham is home to two historic universities – the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University (NTU).

Among the thousands of students to graduate each year, a number go on to achieve significant success in their respective industries.

From politicians to Olympians, reputable journalists to musicians, NTU has produced several graduates who have become distinguished alumni.

These are some of the people you may not have known studied at Nottingham Trent University.

Elizabeth Carr

Graduating in 2007, Elizabeth Carr has become recognised more recently for her work in enviromental awareness.

The English graduate received the Award for Outstanding Alumni from NTU in 2018 in recognition of her determined fight against plastic pollution.

In May 2016 Lizzie became the first person to paddleboard the length of England’s connected waterways – a challenge that she completed alone, travelling 400 miles in 22 days.

A year later she became the first woman to stand-up paddleboard across the English Channel.

More recently, in July 2018, Lizzie launched #PlasticPatrol – a nationwide campaign to cleanse British waterways of plastic pollution.

Vernon Coaker

Born in Westminster, London, much of Vernon’s life has focussed around politics.

He lost his seat as MP for Gedling in the 2019 General Election, but the former PGCE student has had a successful career in politics.

Shadow Secretary of State Vernon Coaker MP addresses the 2012 DUP Conference Dinner
(Credit: DUP Photos / Flickr)

Initially graduating from the University of Warwick with an Economics and Politics degree, Vernon then obtained a PGCE at Trent Polytechnic – as NTU was then known as.

He then became a teacher whilst serving as a local councillor. He became the first Labour MP to win the Gedling seat when he defeated Andrew Mitchell in the 1997 election.

His roles within politics inclued being a Parliamentary Private Secretary, a government whip, Minister of State for Policing, Crime and Security, Minister of State for Schools and Learners, Shadow Secretary of State for Defence and Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Peter Dredge

The freelance cartoonist Pete Dredge graduated from Nottingham Trent with a Graphic Design degree in 1975.

Born in Nottingham in 1952, Pete has been a professional cartoonist ever since his graduation – his first sold cartoon was to Punch magazine, with whom he became a regular contributor for many years afterwards.

He has also featured in a number of other publications, including the Guardian, Daily Mirror, the Sun and The Times’ Educational Supplement.

Pete was a founding member of the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation and, from 2002 to 2004, was artistic director of Nottingham’s “Big Grin” cartoon festival.

Sam Fell

Another famous creative worker to graduate from NTU is Sam Fell, a graduate of Fine Art in 1990.

Having been born in Kent, Fell is more commonly known as being the director – alongside David Bowers – of the animated film Flushed Away.

Stephen Dixon

A regular face on televisions as he presents the latest information on Sky News, Stephen Dixon is in fact a graduate of Nottingham Trent University.

The former ITV, NBC and Channel 5 presenter and producer left NTU with a degree in Broadcast Journalism in 1995.

Steve Dixon has worked for Sky News since January 2012 (Credit: www.stephendixon.tv)

He joined Sky News to present the Sunrise programme from January 2012 to October 2019; since then, he has anchored the main breakfast show on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Lee Farmer

Hiking up mountains, regardless of how tall they may be, is probably one of the most endurance-hitting challenges.

Meet, therefore, Lee Farmer, a 1996 graduate of Residential Development, who has climbed the seven highest mountains in all seven continents.

In 2014, Lee took on one of his biggest challenges yet when he spent more than two months in Tibet as he climbed Mount Everest’s North face.

The 29,000 ft peak was tackled over 70 gruelling days all in the name of fundraising for The National Society for Epilepsy.

Darryl Hunt

Darryl Hunt, bass player for the Pogues, graduated from Nottingham Trent University after studying Fine Art.

Having made his first foray into the music industry with The Brothel Creepers, he then joined The Favourites and then played bass for The Pogues in September 1986.

He initially joined The Pogues as a means of providing for himself by supporting the band with sound, the driving and tour management.

As well as playing the bass guitar, Darryl wrote several songs for the band – including “Love You Till The End“, a tune later used in the Burt Reynolds film “Mystery Alaska“.

Paul Joyce

Bob the Builder is a TV show that played a key role in many peoples’ childhoods. Did you know, however, that the theme tune’s composer for the show studied at Nottingham Trent?

Paul Joyce, an Applied Biology graduate in 1980, began his TV work in 1990 with the animation of Coconuts. His later works have included: Noddy’s Toyland Adventurs, Budgie the Little Helicopter, and Parallel 9.

His theme tune for Bob the Builder (“Can We Fix It?“) became a hit single and sold more than one million copies in the UK.

Crista Cullen MBE

With a successful sports department at NTU, it is no surprise that the university has produced some talented sports stars.

Olympian Crista Cullen, therefore, is just one of several to have graduated from Trent and ended up competing for Team GB.

Crista Cullen playing hockey for England against Germany
(Credit: Nottingham Trent University)

The 2007 Business Studies graduate helped Team GB win a bronze medal in the field hockey at London 2012.

Coming out of retirement in 2015, she improved a year later by winning the gold medal at Rio de Janeiro.

She was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2017 for her services to hockey.

Richard Hounslow

Another individual to have departed NTU and achieved in their sporting discipline is Richard Hounslow.

The British canoeist graduated with degree in Sport Science and Management in 2003, but had already been competing on an international level for four years prior.

At both the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games he won bronze medals in the C2 event. He retired from the sport in 2016.

Frances Quinn

Having graduated from NTU in 2003 with a degree in Textile Design, Frances Quinn began to work in design for companies in the UK and Canada.

In 2013, however, she won BBC cooking show The Great British Bake Off. Since then she has combined her twin loves for design and cookery, baking various treats and releasing her own cookbook.

Louise Thomas

The annual ‘Race for Life’ is one of the most popular charitable events of the year, with thousands of women running 5k to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

And the event would not be what it is today without the work of former Trent graduate Louise Thomas.

Having graduated from NTU in 1988, it is estimated that the annual Race for Life has raised over £300 million to support those in the first against cancer.

In 2008 she received the Award for Outstanding Alumni.

By Matt Lee

Lead Image: Kieran Burt

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