2010 winner

Alumnus and Advisory Board Member, Nigel Gates, on the 2010 recipient

Alumnus of the Year 2010: Sir Stuart Matthews

Sir Stuart MatthewsOur 2010 recipient and the first alumnus to receive this relatively new accolade, was Sir Stuart Matthews, former CEO of the Flight Safety Foundation.

A worthy winner

Sir Stuart Matthews was an aeronautical and mechanical engineering student at the Hatfield Technical College (one of the University of Hertfordshire’s predecessor institutions) from 1953 to 1958.

Whilst at Hatfield, Stuart founded and ran the Music Society, the Jazz Club and the Foreign Languages Club. He was a founder member of the group of students that built the Turbi light aircraft which first flew in 1958 (and is still flying).

Before arriving at Hatfield, and as an air cadet at school, Stuart was awarded an RAF Flying Scholarship. He gained his Private Pilot's Licence, joined the RAFVR as a Cadet Pilot, was later commissioned RAFVR(T) and he taught gliding to RAF Air Cadets.

A soaring career

After leaving Hatfield, Sir Stuart had an illustrious and influential 53-year career in the aviation industry. Sir Stuart held senior positions in airline operating, aircraft manufacturing and international aviation organisations including:

  • General Manager, Corporate Planning, British Caledonian Airways 1970-74
  • President and Chief Executive Officer (latterly Chairman) of Fokker Aircraft, USA (a subsidiary of Fokker Aircraft, Netherlands) 1974-1994
  • President and Chief Executive Officer of the Flight Safety Foundation 1994-2007


  • The Air Cadet Medal, Cumberbatch Trophy (Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators)
  • Sir Frank Whittle Safety Award
  • Honorary Doctorate in Aviation (conferred by the Embry Riddle Aviation University, Florida)
  • Grand Medaille d'Or (Aero Club de France)
  • The State Aviation Medal
  • The Sukhoi Gold Medal (Russian Federation

He was also knighted by the Queen of the Netherlands in 1994 for his achievement of the sale of 150 Fokker airliners, valued at over $5 billion, the largest commercial export order ever received in the Netherlands.

"The alumnus that the sub-committee decided unanimously best met the award criteria is Sir Stuart Matthews...the very first Alumnus of the Year award (recipient)."

Nigel Gates, Alumni Association Advisary Board