2018 winners

UK Alumnus of the Year

Ahmed Aydeed

LLB, 2009

AydeedFrom his citation,

'Ahmed only qualified as a solicitor in 2015 but has already built an impressive track record of defending the rights of immigrants and asylum seekers.

A former child refugee himself, Ahmed fled the devastating civil war in what is now Somaliland in 1990, first settling in the Netherlands and then coming to the UK in 2001.

Joining the University as a law student, he developed his interest in human rights and free movement of people, attracting the attention of law firm Duncan Lewis. There, he quickly rose through the ranks, successfully representing individuals in judicial reviews against the Lord Chancellor, the Secretary of State for the Home Department and local authorities.

The last year in particular has proved remarkable for Ahmed. In July he was appointed Director of Public Law at his company, and in October he won a prestigious Law Society Excellence Award.

The judges said they “were amazed at his inspirational dedication and the impact his work has had on bringing the Home Office to account”. Just a few months later he was announced as a finalist in the Birmingham Law Society Awards for his work in safeguarding vulnerable people.

Ahmed's passion, commitment and perseverance are exemplified by his ongoing dedication towards defending those members of society who can’t readily access help and support. He continues to be at the forefront of advocating against the unlawful detention of migrants, supporting and representing trafficking and torture victims, as well as unaccompanied child refugees.'

International Alumnus of the year

Martin Pistorius

Computer Science, 2013

MartinFrom his citation,

'Martin is an inspiration to all. He's the author of the 2011 international bestseller, Ghost Boy, in which he recounts his remarkable life story. At the age of 12 Martin fell ill and within 18 months was mute and unable to move.

His parents were told that Martin was suffering from an unknown degenerative disease and only had two years to live. But after more than a decade of complete immobility, Martin began to regain some movement and eventually learnt to communicate through the use of computers.

The same year his book was published, Martin graduated from Hertfordshire with a first-class honours degree in computer science. For his final-year project he used technology to create a 'voice' for himself, and now communicates via a specialist keyboard and screen interface.

Although he still needs a wheelchair, Martin has shown incredible courage and determination to live a fulfilling life. In recent years he’s learnt to drive and taken up wheelchair racing. In 2017 he completed his first two 10km races – despite having a broken hand at the time. He’s also launched his own web-design business specialising in accessibility issues for people requiring assistive communication technology.

Furthermore, Martin has travelled the world to promote his work and share his inspirational story. In January he came back to the University to give an emotional talk, speaking warmly of his experience here and paying tribute to his former tutors and fellow students.'