Twelve for 2012

IPPR North, business and industry, communities, culture, democracy, leadership, regional issues, sport

Author(s):  Ed Cox
Published date:  22 Jul 2012
Source:  IPPR

IPPR North’s Northern Champions list reveals a top list of ‘ones to watch’ for 2012.

Ahead of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and with all eyes on the capital, thinktank IPPR North is shining the spotlight on the ‘Northern Champions’, a list of the most promising figures in the North of England from the worlds of sport, politics, arts, business and education.

This is the second year that IPPR North has highlighted up and coming northern talent. Last year’s list of ‘Northern Lights’ provided a  top 50 list to highlight the best and the boldest and help our communities shirk any notion that it’s grim up North. Already some of the 2011 Northern Lights have achieved notable success. The think tank successfully predicted the climb to prominence of rising star Rachel Reeves MP, now shadow chief secretary to the Treasury. Professor Clare Bambra has since been made associate director of the Wolfson Research Institute, while Northern Stage chief executive Erica Whyman has been nominated for a best director award.

This year’s Northern Champions top 12 was arrived at following a call for nominations with the requirement that nominees must live and work in the North East, North West or Yorkshire and Humber. Having received over 100 nominations, the final 12 were selected by a three-person judging panel, representing a broad spectrum of the northern community. They were Sarah Dunwell, CEO of CREATE based in Yorkshire (and a 2011 Northern Light herself); Margaret Fay, former chair of One North East and former managing director of Tyne Tees Television, and Ed Cox, director of IPPR North.

Click on the button below to view the full list of Northern Champions and their stories:

View Northern Champions slideshow

Two notable figures from this year’s list are Olympic hopefuls Kat Driscoll and Keri-Anne Payne.

Stockport-based Keri-Anne Payne is striving to win gold in the open water swimming marathon. A silver medal at Beijing in 2008 has been followed by winning two World Aquatics Championships and Keri-Anne is widely tipped to bring a gold medal back North this summer.

Trampolinist Kat is based in Washington in the North East and is hopeful of building upon her success at last year’s World Championships by winning the gold in London. Kat, who trains a younger generation of trampolinists at her local leisure centre, has the potential to make history by becoming the first Brit to finish on the podium in Olympic trampolining.

Paralympic hopeful Hannah Crockroft was also recognised ahead of her Paralympic debut this summer competing in the T34 wheelchair sprint event. Halifax based Hannah is the double world champion in both the 100m and 200m events and is widely tipped for success in London this summer.

A number of champions from professions other than sport have also been selected. Dominic Edmunds, founder of innovative software business Salecycle has been crowned for his entrepreneurship in business while creating valuable new jobs in the Northeast of England. Salford-based Emma Smith was selected for her support for social enterprise and community work, fostering a strong spirit of social responsibility in Salford. Elena Rodriguez-Falcon was one of two academics who made the list, selected for her pioneering teaching methods, encouraging engineering students at Sheffield University to find solutions for real-world problems. Professor Andy Gouldson, from the University of Leeds was also recognised for his ground-breaking studies on climate change and carbon emissions.

Other champions include up-and-coming Managing Director of Jobwise, Leanne Goodwin, and Leader of Newcastle City Council, Nick Forbes, for their dedication to job creation in austere times.

The list also includes a young writer from the Northeast, a Head teacher from the Northwest, and an MP from Yorkshire. Lee Mattinson has transported his work from Live Theatre Newcastle to London’s Bush Theatre, bringing the north-eastern Chalet Lines to the capital. Yvonne Sharples has transformed a Liverpool High School, previously considered ‘the worst in the country’. Ex-Special Forces Major Dan Jarvis MP is lauded for his rapid ascent through the Labour Party ranks, expected to be in the front line of British politics.

The judges took into consideration not only personal achievements and potential, but also the impact that the individuals had in their local communities.


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Ed Cox, Director, IPPR North