Old Mancunian Alumni Awards
Our Old Mancunian Alumni Awards honour the exceptional achievements of our alumni, from those who are established in their careers to those who are just getting started. Recipients embody the spirit of the Old Mancunian community across the generations.
Our previous award recipients can be viewed here. You have until Friday 27 October to submit your vote.
Nominees for 2023
Edward Astle (65-72) - after an international business career on the Boards of 3 FTSE 100 companies, his non-executive roles have spanned charity and third sector as well as business , and have reconnected him with Manchester. He served the maximum term as chair of the board of the University of Manchester 2016 to 2022 and will take up the role of chair of the Board of The Christie Hospital in October this year. Since 2020 he has been chair of the charity upReach which helps over 3000 students a year from the most disadvantaged backgrounds get top graduate jobs. Astle is also a non-executive director of Openreach, and a trustee of Lakeland Arts Trust.
David Baxter (91-98) achieved the extraordinary feat last August of swimming all the way round the Isle of Wight, a distance of 96 kilometres (almost 60 miles) which he and an Army colleague completed in 26 hours. Lt Col David Baxter and Major Jess French accomplished a gruelling 96km swim around the Isle of Wight in August 2022 in just under 26 hours. The swim raised over £20,000 for charities to help cure paralysis and support Veterans. These are causes close to Lt Col Baxter’s heart as a neurosurgeon in the British army, an academic at University College London and member of the board of Trustees for the International Spinal Research Trust.
Lt Col Baxter manages a busy elective neurosurgical practice at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, where he has pioneered key-hole day case spinal surgery and which is now recognised as a National Centre of Excellence. He set up the first-of-its-kind joint military / NHS spinal clinic at the RNOH and the Defence National Rehabilitation Centre, Stanford Hall, exemplifying what military and NHS cooperation can achieve. As the surgical lead for the London Spinal Injuries Research Centre, he is part of a team using epidural spinal cord stimulation to treat spinal cord injuries and leveraging the power of Artificial Intelligence to enhance minimally invasive surgery. In his free time, he is still passionate about rugby, a sport he first played at MGS and is the Team Dr for the England Wheelchair Rugby team. In November 2022, he supported the team when they won the World Cup against France in Manchester.
Tom Beardsworth (04-11) has given up his promising career in financial journalism to become a criminal barrister. He was called to the bar in 2021, and has already won several advocacy competitions. Beardsworth spent five years reporting for the financial news outlet Bloomberg, and made his name with several investigative stories, including that into Greensill Capital which led to an inquiry by the Serious Fraud Office.
Prof. David Lawton (59-66) has been awarded the Sir Israel Gollancz Prize, which the British Academy gives every two years to scholars of Anglo-Saxon and Early English Language and Literature. Lawton works in the English studies department at Durham University and is also an emeritus professor at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, in the USA. He has held academic posts at the universities of Oxford, York, Sydney, Tasmania and East Anglia. Lawton is a specialist on Middle English alliterative poetry, and on Geoffrey Chaucer, and in 2017 published the book Voice in Later Medieval English Literature.
Richard Lipson (95-02) has acquired a world-wide reputation as an “entertainment architect” and creative director for popular music concerts, plays, and other mass-audience events. Lipson caught the bug for production at MGS, where he reckons he spent 700 hours a year working voluntarily on lighting, sound and sets for plays in the school theatre. On completing his A-levels, Lipson was employed for a year as the first paid manager of the theatre (followed the next year by Louis Hartshorn, who has achieved huge success as a theatre producer). Since joining the firm Stufish in 2006, Lipson has worked on sets and productions for Madonna, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Adele and Elton John, as well as Queen and U2, and many other big names. Lipson also led the team which designed the main Platinum Jubilee celebrations last summer.
Avin Rabheru (94-01) was awarded an MBE in the 2022 New Year Honours list for Services to Entrepreneurship and Digital Innovation. He is the Chief Executive of Housekeep, the UK's largest marketplace connecting households with local cleaners & tradespeople. Housekeep featured in the FT list of the 1,000 fastest growing firms in Europe three years running (reaching 6th position in 2019) and has completed nearly 2 million jobs with a 4.9* rating. Rabheru is also an active angel investor in 50+ early stage businesses & non-executive director.
Martin Sixsmith (66-72) has co-written with Mikhail Khodorkovsky The Russia Conundrum: How the West Fell For Putin’s Power Gambit. Khodorkovsky spent ten years in a Russian labour camp for exposing corruption in the Kremlin. Sixsmith’s 2021 book The War of Nerves reassesses the Cold War through the psychology of politicians and others. And Philomena, which he wrote in 2013, was made into an Oscar-nominated film, with Steve Coogan playing Sixsmith. After a long career as a foreign correspondent for BBC TV News in Moscow, Washington, Brussels and Warsaw, Sixsmith spent five years working for the government of Tony Blair and another five studying psychology, both of which he used for his work on the BBC2 political sitcom, The Thick of It.
Adam Wagner (92-99) has rapidly established himself as one of the UK’s foremost human rights lawyers, especially after acting in several test cases relating to the Covid pandemic, and in the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party during Jeremy Corbyn’s time as leader.
Wagner has also published Emergency State, a book described by Baroness (Brenda) Hale, the former president of the UK Supreme Court, as “a riveting account of how our democracy was put under threat during the pandemic and why we must never let the Emergency State - all-powerful but ignorant and corrupt - take over again.”
Wagner, who belongs to the well-known Doughty Street chambers in London, also acted for the Good Law Project’s successful challenge to the initial reluctance by the Metropolitan Police to investigate the “Downing Street parties”, some of which were later found to have breached Covid rules.
Wagner hosts the Better Human podcast and is a visiting professor of law at Goldsmith’s College, University of London. In 2015, he set up the multi-award winning human rights communications charity, EachOther.