Stories of the campaign

Your gifts to the Centenary Campaign have helped hundreds of talented students and outstanding researchers. Here are some of the ways your donations have made an impact across the University.

Taking centre stage

Theatre CollectionThe University of Bristol Theatre Collection is one of the world’s leading collections for British theatre history and, thanks to the generosity of donors during the Centenary Campaign, continues to develop as an unparalleled research facility for students, academics and the general public.

In 2011, chosen for the team’s expertise and experience, Bristol became the new permanent home of the Mander & Mitchenson Theatre Collection, a vast array of artwork, recordings, props, photographs, costumes and ceramics, that provide a comprehensive record of British professional theatre.

This acquisition, valued at more than £8 million, almost doubled the size of the original collection, which now attracts more than 1,000 research visits a year, from international scholars and local historians alike. Donations to the campaign have also helped conserve items in a space where light, humidity and temperature are carefully controlled, and improve the display space for in-house exhibitions.

Among the Theatre Collection’s many treasures are a drawing for a preliminary model of the Globe Playhouse by William Poel (used by architects to recreate the Globe Theatre on London’s South Bank in the 1990s), a copy of the Act of Parliament that licensed the Bristol Old Vic, and an original script of Tess of the d’Urbervilles thought to be annotated by Thomas Hardy.

Cream of the crop

veterinary studentsNext time you pick up a pint of milk, be sure to look for the Red Tractor logo – an endorsement from the UK’s largest food assurance scheme based on core animal welfare measures developed at Bristol.

AssureWel, a five-year collaboration between Bristol University, the RSPCA and the Soil Association, has helped farm assurance schemes implement a quick and easy assessment tool for measuring the wellbeing of animals.

Funded by The Tubney Charitable Trust, the tool includes measures for evaluating an animal’s mobility, body condition and, for dairy cattle, cleanliness. The system has also been widely adopted in the pig and laying hen industry, improving the welfare of thousands of animals.

As Dr David Main, animal health and husbandry expert at the School of Veterinary Sciences, explains: ‘We aim to embed AssureWel’s standardised approach across all the major farm animal species. And by working with Red Tractor, we’re instantly working with the majority of dairy farmers in the UK.’

Back to the future

statueExamining the past gives us the tools to understand the present – and the future. Bristol’s Institute of Greece, Rome, and the Classical Tradition is recognised around the world for its study of classical reception, and thanks to donations from both the A.G. Leventis Foundation and individuals, the Institute has launched the careers of numerous talented scholars.

Through post-doctoral fellowships, studentships and bursaries, the Institute has brought some of the world’s brightest young minds to Bristol, giving them the chance to work alongside other visionary experts, strengthening the University’s position as pioneers in the field.

Students are able to both engage in innovative research and gain valuable teaching experience by working with local school pupils who would not otherwise experience Classics in the classroom.

Outside the classroom

studentsUniversity is about so much more than studying, and the Alumni Foundation supports the extracurricular activities that make Bristol such an exciting and vibrant place to be.

The Alumni Foundation was set up in 1982 by alumni and staff who wanted to help current students have as rich and rewarding an experience at Bristol as they did. Today, thanks to your support, the Foundation has awarded more than £1.5 million in grants to students involved in societies and sports clubs, and those travelling to present their work at conferences or conduct research trips.

Sam Budd, Chief Executive of the University of Bristol Students' Union (Bristol SU) says: ‘The Alumni Foundation provides an invaluable source of funding for Bristol SU’s sports clubs, societies, RAG and volunteering projects. Recent grants have helped buy a new compressor for the underwater club and funded production costs for DramSoc to take their show to the Edinburgh Festival.’

The Alumni Foundation has also helped a team of students design and build a wind-powered vehicle, supported student volunteers involved in a local outreach programme for young carers, Jolidays, and funded a pilot of the Big White Wall Project, an online, early-intervention service for students in psychological distress.

Better, faster, stronger

quantum researcherThe world’s first quantum computer could become a reality in just five to ten years, thanks to major breakthroughs by researchers at the Centre for Quantum Photonics (CQP).

‘Quantum’ seeks to explain the nature and behaviour of matter at an atomic and subatomic level and, when applied to digital communications, could unlock technologies that will outperform anything we use today.

Currently, computers rely on bits – basic units that can only have one of two values (one or zero). However, quantum bits (qubits) can be in several states at the same time, meaning they can process
more data, much faster.

Until recently, scientists estimated it would take another quarter of a century to develop the first quantum computer. But researchers in CQP have already developed a quantum processor, the first step towards building a full-scale computer. Now, thanks to funding from an alumnus, student Alex Neville (PhD 2014-), is helping prepare the way for the first scalable quantum computing devices.

Great minds

brain scanThousands of patients and their families could soon benefit from cutting-edge care and clinical research in a new ‘superhospital’ in Southmead. The Institute of Clinical Neurosciences will bring the University’s leading clinical researchers in dementia, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis together in one building for the first time, just across the road from state-of-the-art laboratories where scientists are already studying the fundamental science that underpins this research.

Working together in this way will help them deliver new treatments, faster, and give patients the best possible level of care. Thanks to donations to the Centenary Campaign, the refurbishment of Elgar House, which will house the new purpose-built clinical research facility and outpatient clinic, should be completed later this year.

Life lessons

Access to BristolFor many talented young people, getting a place at university isn’t the first hurdle. It’s making the decision to apply at all. Thanks to your gifts, more than 1,000 A-level students from less privileged backgrounds were given the chance to experience life at university through Access to Bristol.

Between 2006 and 2012, students attended taster sessions, received guidance on how to apply, and learnt about managing their finances while studying. Fifty students also received financial support to then take up a place at Bristol, turning what once may have seemed a dream into a life-changing reality.

Animal planet

veterinary studentsStudents at the School of Veterinary Sciences in Langford are gaining experience of specialist diagnostic techniques in state-of-the-art facilities, thanks to grants from the Alborada Trust and the Langford Trust. In 2012, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall opened the new facilities, which included operating theatres and an imaging unit, as well as anaesthesia and recovery areas.

Thanks to additional significant donations, the University also purchased a standing MRI scanner for horses to improve the diagnosis of limb conditions such as foot lameness. The scanner means Langford attracts a larger and more diverse caseload for teaching and research.

Under the microscope

stem cellsAlumni and organisations gave more than £350,000 to support the creation of a purpose-built Regenerative Medicine Laboratory. The laboratory boasts state-of-the-art facilities and brings together
fundamental stem cell research and translational regenerative medicine in a single space. This close collaboration between scientists and clinicians is intended to accelerate the development of new
cell-based therapies for the treatment of otherwise incurable diseases.

Picture of health

MRI scannerPeople in Bristol and the south west can now take part in cutting-edge research right on their doorsteps, thanks to a £1 million-plus donation from the Wolfson Foundation. This exceptional gift paid for a state-of-the-art 3T MRI scanner in Bristol’s Clinical Research and Imaging Centre, where researchers and clinicians are working to better understand a full range of medical conditions, including brain
injuries, heart function and sleep disorders.

Bringing cancer to trial

Virgin Money London MarathonOften, the first stages of a research project can be the most critical: without early evidence of success, it can be impossible to garner support for larger, more ambitious, trials. Every year, the University’s Cancer Research Fund awards pump-priming grants to help promising researchers get their ideas off the ground, supported by donations from alumni and friends.

The fund also relies on the enthusiasm and stamina of alumni who apply to run the Virgin Money London Marathon on the University’s behalf. Since 2003, 53 runners have raised more than £150,000 for the fund – money that has helped scientists working in a wide range of areas, from examining new biomarkers in cancerous cells to improving patient support.

Expanding libraries

Wills Memorial LibraryEvery day, hundreds of students use the Wills Memorial Library: to look up facts, discover new ideas or simply find a quiet space to learn. In 2013, gifts and legacies from alumni and friends totalling almost £1 million gave the library a new lease of life, to ensure its impressive architecture on the outside was matched by truly excellent facilities inside. More than £2 million in philanthropic support also helped to refurbish the Arts and Social Sciences Library, which receives more than 450,000 visits each year.

The sound of music

music studentBristol is one of just a handful of UK universities whose Department of Music can compete directly with specialist music colleges. And that’s thanks, in part, to continued investment in new equipment. In recent years, gifts and legacies from alumni and friends have helped purchase a digital concert organ, nine pianos and four tubas, as well as a set of Chinese tamtams and some traditional Turkish instruments. Gifts have also provided bursaries for MA students and a fully-funded PhD scholarship for an exceptionally gifted composer.

Rocking the boat

boathouseMembers of the University of Bristol Boat Club can now take to the water from a new clubhouse in Saltford, funded in part by donations from alumni and friends. The clubhouse includes increased boat storage, better changing facilities, and a spacious viewing balcony, and is shared with Avon County Rowing Club and Monkton Combe School in Bath.

Living lab

students in the laboratoryLast October, Sir David Attenborough (Hon LLD 1977) opened the University’s new Life Sciences Building, providing environmental researchers with one of the largest teaching labs in the country. Inside the building, the Wolfson Photosynthesis Suite, funded by the Wolfson Foundation, has revolutionised plant sciences research at Bristol by bringing together leading scientists from different disciplines in one space.

Word of mouth

Chapter House lecture theatreIn 2012, alumni of the School of Oral and Dental Sciences celebrated the school’s own centenary by supporting the refurbishment of the Chapter House lecture theatre. Their generosity provided a fit-for-purpose and fully accessible learning environment, that includes modern audiovisual equipment, upgraded lighting and a hearing aid loop.