Students Staff

15 June 2016

Essex alumni honoured by the Queen

Alumni honoured by Queen in 2016

Three outstanding Essex alumni have been honoured in the Queen's 90th birthday honours list. Sociology graduate Althea Efunshile received a CBE for services to arts and culture, Literature graduate Dr Tony Sewell received a CBE for services to education, and International Enterprise and Business Development graduate Aaron Jones received a British Empire Medal for services to ethical fashion.

England cricket captain and Essex honorary graduate Alastair Cook also received a CBE for services to cricket while George Courtuald, a member of the University’s Court, received an OBE for services for services to the community of Essex.

Althea Efunshile CBE

Althea Efunshile

Althea Efunshile CBE (photograph copyright Phillipa Gedge)

Althea Efunshile CBE joined the Arts Council in 2007 as Chief Operating Officer and was appointed as Deputy Chief Executive in 2012. As well as leading on the development and implementation of the organisation’s Investment Strategy, she is also responsible for operational delivery and corporate planning across the organisation.

She is also responsible for leading on the Arts Council’s work for children and young people.

Althea said: “I’m thrilled and delighted. It’s a great honour to have been recognised in this way.”

Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England said: “I would like to congratulate Althea on this well-deserved achievement. Since joining the organisation ten years ago, Althea’s contribution to the Arts Council has been invaluable. As well as helping to shape our ten year strategy, Great art and culture for everyone, she has been instrumental in helping us to secure a better than expected settlement in the recent Autumn statement, and in championing our work with children and young people.”

Dr Tony Sewell CBE

Dr Tony Sewell

Dr Tony Sewell CBE

Dr Tony Sewell CBE is the Founder and Director of Generating Genius and a member of the London Schools Excellence Fund (LSEF) advisory group.

He said: “This is a fantastic honour not just for me but also for the talented young people I have worked with over the years. When I set up Generating Genius 11 years ago I never dreamed it would grow into the organisation it is today, supporting hundreds of students.

“It’s good to see increasing support among policy makers and academics for our early-intervention model, which supports children right through secondary school. It’s so important to get into children’s lives early. That’s the time to challenge expectations and embed the idea that these youngsters can achieve anything they want. We ask a lot of our students, but they invariably deliver.”

Tony began his career as a London school teacher and has gone on to be an influential figure and thought-leader within education. In 2012, Tony was appointed by Boris Johnson to chair the Mayor’s Education Inquiry into London schools. Its final, landmark, report, published in 2013, led to the establishment of the £24m London Schools Excellence Fund, which sees high performing schools working with partners to help raise standards of teaching in other schools.

Aaron Jones BEM

Aaron Jones

Aaron Jones BEM

Aaron Jones BEM is founder of Fikay Fashion and Chief Executive Officer of the multi-award winning lifestyle fashion brand. Fikay Fashion seeks to produce unique, stylish and meaningful fashion accessories while also investing in the people and places behind the products. The unique Fikay Fashion model, which rethinks the traditional supply chain, empowers individuals all over the world.

Aaron is a self-professed fashion fanatic, creative idealist and boundary pushing entrepreneur with a passion to make a positive social change through business on an international scale.

In 2014 MTV named Aaron as the “UK 20-30’s something youth voice of change” for founding and leading the award winning social enterprise. While studying at Essex Business School Aaron founded Fikay Fashion with just a £600 student overdraft, now he is following-up that success by establishing See Fashion - a new website which is creating a network of new designers and helping them find a market for their products plus expert  support in manufacturing and supply chain management.

His Eureka moment happened while travelling across south east Asia where Aaron started volunteering at a Cambodian school and was shocked by the lack of basic education and sanitation; he knew he had to do something to help. To date Fikay has helped build a school that’s helping over 200 children a year escape the grips of generational poverty.

He said: "I think being an entrepreneur is about being bold and tenacious and challenging the norm. It is a real honour to be recognised in this way in the Queen's birthday honours. This wouldn't have been possible without the support of our customers and the support of the University of Essex - especially Professor Jay Mitra at Essex Business School who was absolutely fundamental in in the planning of the business. Without his help and support I couldn't have done all this!" 

Fikay Fashion has won a plethora of awards including the Great British Entrepreneurship Awards, Silver International Social Enterprise of the year, Intuit 100up, E&Y Future 50 and The Guardian Small Business Awards.

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