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WATCH: Our Volunteer of the Year awards

07 May 2015

University rewards its staff, students and alumni who make a difference

Karl Hennerman is something of a humanitarian Indiana Jones – one day he’s teaching students about geographical information systems and carrying out spatial data research, the next he is on the scene of a disaster, mapping out the data that has been swept away by nature or war to help aid agencies meet the victims’ needs.

Karl volunteers for MapAction, a non-government organisation that delivers vital information in mapped form from data gathered at disaster scenes, crucial for delivering aid to the right place, quickly. He has helped people displaced by war in South Sudan, others hit by tropical storms in the Philippines and flood victims in Paraguay, since joining in 2010.

Described as “a tremendous asset” by MapAction’s operations director Jonny Douch, Karl is the staff winner of the University’s Volunteer of the Year award and University Medal for Social Responsibility.

Jonny adds: “His willingness to deploy at short notice is second to none…with little hesitation for his own discomfort.”

Fellow volunteer Nick McWilliam describes him as “very thorough but also very quick” while remaining “low key”, while technical director Andy Smith says his work on the charity’s technical policy is “not glamorous…but absolutely essential”.

When Karl returns to campus, he also gives our geographical information systems Masters students in the School of Environment, Education and Development a valuable real life lesson – his lectures show them what their work in the classroom can achieve.

To watch a film about Karl’s work, visit:

President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell also presented Volunteer of the Year awards and the University Medal for Social Responsibility to student winner Emma Ridings and alumni winner Julia Pugh.

Emma, at the School of Medicine, is team leader for the Manchester branch of StreetDoctors, a charity that teaches essential lifesaving skills to high risk young people. It aims to equip them with practical skills to save lives, change attitudes, increase confidence, further aspirations and reduce youth violence in the local community.

As a fourth year medic, Emma puts in a full working week – and more – at her hospital placement, yet gives 40 hours to StreetDoctors, as well as playing rugby and playing in a band!

She was nominated by fellow medics and StreetDoctor volunteers Donna Helen, Robert Davidson and Lucy Priestner for her optimism, attention to detail, willingness to go the extra mile and modesty: “She won’t stop until it’s done – and done to a really, really high standard.”

Julia (BNurs. (Hons) Nursing, 2008) started the Manchester branch of Stop the Traffik in September 2009 and has worked tirelessly, alongside her job as a nurse, to keep the group fighting the crime of human trafficking.

According to her fellow volunteer Julia Muraszkiewicz and Hannah Flint, from International Justice Mission UK, she is “kind, friendly, open-minded, approachable and warm” – and modest about her high-level work with Greater Manchester Police, Manchester Airport and safeguarding groups.

From creating and running awareness campaigns, to training a range of organisations, to going on police raids and harm reduction visits, to befriending and supporting victims of human traffickers, Julia proves that community action can fight a global problem.

To watch films about Emma and Julia’s work, visit:

For more information, visit: