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Dame Ellen MacArthur honoured with Global Achievement Award

Published: Fri 26 Feb 2016
Dame Ellen MacArthur honoured with Global Achievement Award

Dame Ellen MacArthur was honoured with a University of Bradford Global Achievement Award as part of the new Chancellor's installation on Thursday night.

Professor of Innovation and Environmental Strategy at the School of Management, Peter Hopkinson praised the many achievements of Dame MacArthur, as a record-breaking round-the-world yachtswoman and in establishing her foundation in 2009 to address key economic and resource challenges.

In his speech, Prof Hopkinson said: "Ellen’s work, bringing new thinking and ability to create a positive agenda for change for the benefit of everyone is a source of inspiration. The University of Bradford has worked with Ellen and her team since the start of the foundation and our work on circular economy education, research and business engagement led to our recognition as a Global Pioneer University for the circular economy in 2015.

"These awards recognise truly exceptional people who are leaders and who transform our thinking. People who have achieved greatness through an ability to crystallise ideas and communicate them clearly to different audiences. Those who have met Ellen will bear testimony to her clarity of thought, passion and determination but also her down-to-earth nature.

"I hope recognising Ellen’s achievements with this award will help inspire us all to see the possibility for change at a time when we need to be re-thinking our collective future.

"Ellen has strong connections with Bradford. Her mother and grandmother were born here, although sadly she missed out on this particular honour and was bought up in Derbyshire, living on a small holding, which was a strong formative experience as she grew up.

"Ellen became fascinated by sailing from an early age and recounts how whilst at primary school she would often skip school meals to save up for her first boat. She had ambitions to go to University and study to become a vet but was struck down by glandular fever before her A-levels and ended up following a different path. The illness led to a great discovery. While ill she saw a documentary about professional sailing and a round the world race. At this moment she realized that she could combine her passion for competitive sailing and earn a living.

"Ellen MacArthur made yachting history in 2005, when she became the fastest solo sailor to circumnavigate the globe at just 24 years of age, and remains the UK’s most successful offshore racer ever, having won the OSTAR, the Route du Rhum and finished second in the Vendée Globe.

"Her experiences of being in a boat 3,000 miles from land with just enough energy and resource to complete a trip made Ellen acutely aware of the finite nature of the resources our economy relies upon. This became such a passion that Ellen gave up competitive sailing in 2008.

"Ellen then spent two years travelling and talking to a wide range of researchers and business leaders to develop a deeper understanding of how our economies might work better in the future. In 2009 she launched to launch the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, to work with education and business to accelerate the transition to a different economic model, that was termed the regenerative circular economy.

"The Foundation now has a team of 70 staff working on research, education, policy and business impact in support of the transition to a circular economy. Ellen set up the CE100, the foremost business, education and policy network globally with companies including Apple, Unilever, Renault, Cisco, Philips, Ikea, Marks & Spencer, and a number of cities and across the world.

"The Foundation has published a series of seminal macro-economic studies on the economic and business case for a circular economy, which have received accolades at the World Economic Forum in Davos and have been instrumental in shaping recent EU policy.

"Dame Ellen acts as Vice-Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Meta-Council on the circular economy.

"She received the French Legion of Honour from President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008, three years after having been knighted.

"In 2015 Ellen became a full member of the Club of Rome, a foremost association of independent leading personalities from politics, business and science, men and women who are long-term thinkers interested in contributing in a systemic interdisciplinary and holistic manner to a better world.

"Ellen has not altogether left sailing. For many years she has devoted considerable time to Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust which she founded to provide young people with cancer the opportunity to experience the pleasure and thrill of ocean sailing.

"The work of Ellen and her foundation matches the University’s commitment towards sustainable societies and our belief in the role of education, policy, business engagement, research and practical demonstration to create a better world.

"Ellen is passionate about the need to inspire a generation to think differently about the future and the role of Universities to be pioneers and societal leaders in helping to shape, rather than just reacting to global events. She has shown what can be achieved in a short period of time when you have clarity of purpose and passion."

The University honoured three other inspirational world leaders in their field with a 50th Anniversary Global Achievement Award. They were Sir Paul Nurse, Professor Dame Athene Donald and Professor Amartya Sen.

The awards formed part of the installation ceremony of one of the UK's leading businesswomen and alumna of the University of Bradford School of Management, Kate Swann, as new Chancellor.

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