Queen honours inspirational local heroes

June 26 2015

INSPIRING is just one of the words which would be used to describe three local heroes who have recently been honoured by the Queen.

INSPIRING is just one of the words which would be used to describe three local heroes who have recently been honoured by the Queen.

Andrew Wallis, CEO and founder of anti-slavery charity Unseen; Chris Budd, Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Bath; and Sally Jaeckle, Early Years Services manager at Bristol City Council, were all recognised for their outstanding contributions in their field of work.

The Queen's birthday honours list was released on June 12.

“It's a mixture of feeling incredibly honoured, humbled and I suppose you're allowed to feel a wee bit proud at same time,” explained Andrew Wallis when discussing his reaction to receiving the OBE.

Andrew WallisAndrew founded Unseen back in 2008 after being made aware about how prevalent modern day slavery and human trafficking were in our society.

When asked by a senior officer from Avon and Somerset Police what he was going to do about the issue, Andrew responded by setting up Unseen and creating safe accommodation for victims in Bristol. “I recognised it was a huge problem, and the UK's response was shambolic, so I wanted to do something about it.”

Between 2011-13, Andrew compiled a report for the Centre of Social Justice, called 'It Happens Here', highlighting 80 recommendations, including calls for a Modern Slavery Act, better recognition and support for victims, and transparency in large company supply chains.

The report was acknowledged by Home Secretary Theresa May as the catalyst for the Modern Slavery Act, who later in 2013 announced that the government was going to introduce the Modern Slavery Bill. The bill became an Act on March 26, this year.

Andrew found out that he was to receive an OBE for his services to the 'Eradication of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery' six weeks before it was publicly announced, but was sworn to secrecy.

“At first, when I received the letter, I thought it was a speeding ticket or something, so it was a very pleasant surprise, and somewhat surreal,” said Andrew. “I was really pleased with the citation as well, as that's Unseen's ultimate aim – to eradicate slavery and put ourselves out of business. It should be every charity's aim to do that.”

However, Andrew adds that its going to be a tough challenge with modern slavery and human trafficking victim referrals increasing 30-40% year on year. Although this may be due to police becoming more aware of the problem, he says, he believes that the issue is still growing.

“Our increasing demand for cheap goods and services only fuels this industry where smart, illicit business people turn human beings into commodities, to be bought, sold and exploited for vast profits,” explained Andrew. “It's very difficult for the products and services we use to be untainted by modern slavery, so it's important that we find out what businesses are doing to combat the issue.”

According to International Labour Organisation, £150billion is made in profits globally, per year, through modern day slavery and human trafficking.

But he remains hopeful that the issue can be eradicated in a generation – through a collaboration between government, businesses, non-governmental organisations, the public and media.

Professor Christopher Budd's commitment and dedication to mathematics and science is also incredibly inspiring. Christopher Budd

Motivated by his grandfather – a scientist during the war – Christopher's resume boasts many years of mathematical and scientific study, teaching, helping solve global issues, such as climate change, landmine detection and cancer treatment, working with young people and even applying his knowledge of maths to folk dancing and art!

Christopher, a Bishopston resident of 25 years, says that he has always been interested in maths and science, and it was while working for Marconi – a British telecoms and engineering company – that he realised how powerful maths was in helping him understand the real world.

After graduating from Cambridge University with a First Class degree, he continued his studies by undertaking a PhD in Oxford where he was introduced to new, industrial applications of maths.

He then went on to lecture mathematics at Bristol University in 1990, before becoming a professor of Applied Mathematics at Bath University, five years later.

It is at the university, that Christopher established the 'Bath Taps into Science' festival, which has been running for 15 years, attracting thousands of young people.

He has also set up many other science festivals around the world – all placing an emphasis on making maths and science exciting for young people.

In addition to organising festivals, Christopher has travelled far and wide, giving talks to school children, igniting their passion for maths and science. On Saturday mornings, he runs a maths master classes for youngsters.

Christopher – who holds the titles 'Royal Institution Professor of Maths' and 'Vice-President of the Institute of Maths and its Applications' – says that it is because of this outreach work, he received the OBE.

On top of all this, he has had a number of highly popular books published about maths for the general public, and has also featured in many academic publications, sharing his much admired knowledge.

Read next month's issue of Bishopston Voice, for our interview with local woman Sally Jaeckle, who was awarded an OBE for her Services to Early Years Education.

For more information about Unseen UK, visit: unseenuk.org. Like the charity's Facebook page, 'Unseen UK', and follow on Twitter @unseenorg.