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NEWS > Alumnae News > Supporting Our Courageous Alumnae

Supporting Our Courageous Alumnae

Warm congratulations are in order, as we unveil the six amazingly talented and richly deserving alumnae who've been selected by our Alumnae Advisory Group to receive our first-ever Be Bold Grants.

The most senior left LEH nearly 60 years ago, whilst the youngest graduated a mere five years ago. All of them have taken very different paths, but are united by their ambition and their desire to make a positive change to the lives of others.

Two years ago, a strange twist of fate brought Dr Ann Braine, Class of 1964 and Tanya Harvey, Class of 1984, together half a world away.  The pair, who attended LEH 20 years apart, were surprised to uncover their connection while chatting at the NPO where they both work in the outskirts of Durban, South Africa. They teamed up to make a joint application for a Be Bold Grant to kickstart a fundraising drive for the organisation which helps the disadvantaged local community overcome hurdles to education.

“This is wonderful news!  Siyabonga Kakhulu!  (which means 'thank you so much' in isiZulu),” says Tanya. “We are excited to be ordering the branded shirts, banners and leaflets in preparation for Giving Tuesday which is on the 28th November when we will be running a stall in a local shopping mall.  We are uplifted to receive this affirmation from our old school especially in view of the serendipitous connection which brought together two LEH old girls in a remote suburb on the southern tip of the African continent.”

Celia Birchall, from the Class of 2018, who launched her own ethical fashion brand last week and is passionate about handmade, local craft; celebrating British design and makers. She aims to ultimately source every component of a garment from within the UK.  

Celia says: “I am incredibly grateful to have been awarded the Be Bold Grant. As a small fashion brand, where every garment is designed, cut and sewn by me in my studio, the funding will allow me to massively upgrade my studio and production set up. Having just launched, this support makes such a difference. Thank you!” You can check out her first designs here: https://www.celiabirchall.co.uk/

Sisters Amelia Miller, Class of 2015, and Lydia Miller, Class of 2016, are building a software platform - ivy - to help women return to work after a career break.  The idea came to them after seeing their own mother forced to accept a large pay cut in return for flexible working after her maternity leave. Their new platform will offer women upskilling courses and connect them with employers looking for skills and experience. The pair have already completed a Barclays Eagle Labs ‘pre-accelerator’ designed to help Tech companies succeed.

Lydia and Amelia say: "We are absolutely thrilled to have been awarded the Be Bold Grant - it is such an incredible honour to be recognised! This funding will be invaluable in kick-starting our journey building ivy. The grant will be used to obtain 'Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme' (SEIS) approval, which is a taxation initiative that is vital to begin our pre-seed fundraising efforts."

Seanna Fallon, Class of 2005, is a certified breathwork facilitator and plans to offer a safe, inclusive online forum for the LGBTQIA+ community to come together to breathe and release. They are launching the project as a response to the recent increase in hate crime and discrimination, which have negatively impacted the community’s mental health, increasing depression, anxiety, self-harm and alcoholism.

Seanna says: “I was thrilled to be awarded a Be Bold Grant to help start an online breathwork circle for the LGBTQIA+ community. It is a challenging time for queer folk, particularly gender non-conforming people who are consistently targeted in the media for being who they are. Breathwork is a practice that helps participants process emotions, find clarity and come to a place of safety in their bodies, and I know this grant will be transformational in helping LGBTQIA+ people connect and recharge in a safer community space where they can be held and celebrated exactly as they are.”

All our recipients will write a report at the end of the year to explain how the grant has helped them.  We hope their stories will inspire other alumnae to apply for the Be Bold Grant 2024 when it opens for applications at the end of the summer term.

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