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Arts and entertainment

Martin Ballard, Presenter BBC Radio Leicester

Performing Arts, 1983

Martin Ballard was born in Derby and studied Performing Arts at DMU.

Since his career began in the early eighties, Ballard has worked predominantly at BBC Radio Leicester. He has presented and produced every kind of programme from news and current affairs magazines to a daily phone-in, from light hearted music shows, to a five-hour sports sequence. His career began on Drivetime in the 1980s before moving to mid-morning and then Lunchtime in the 1990s. He returned to drivetime and then sports presentation in 2006.

He is also a writer, an actor with two decades of theatre work, and voice-over artist.
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Amelia Benoit, Manager and Creative Partner of Flawless

Dance and Theatre, 2002

Amelia Benoit, manager and creative partner of the dance group Flawless, started out studying performing arts in London before getting her degree at DMU.

As a former fashion director and dancer, she has a passion for both, which came together when Flawless CEO/Artistic Director, Marlon "Swoosh" Wallen had the same vision of incorporating dance and fashion by creating a super male dance group. Since single-handedly managing Flawless from the beginning, she has gone on to build a solid team around the company to control the everyday business needs to move the dream forward.
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Louis de Bernières, Novelist

Postgraduate certificate in Education

Louis de Bernières was born in London in 1954. After graduating in Philosophy from the Victoria University of Manchester, he took a postgraduate certificate in Education at Leicester Polytechnic and passed his MA, with distinction, at the University of London.

Louis de Bernières, who lives in Norfolk, published his first novel in 1990 and was selected by Granta magazine as one of the twenty Best of Young British Novelists in 1993. His most famous work, Captain Corelli's Mandolin, was published in the following year, winning the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book.It has been translated into over 11 languages, is an international bestseller and in 2001 was turned into a film.
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Zarina Bhimji, Photographer and Film Maker

Art Foundation, 1983

Zarina Bhimji (born in Mbarara, Uganda, 1963) is a Ugandan Asian photographer and film maker, who was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2007. In 2001 Bhimji won the EAST award at EASTinternational selected by Mary Kelly and Peter Wollen, and two years later received the ICP's (International Center for Photography, New York City) Infinity Award in the Art Photography category. In 2007, she was shortlisted for the Turner Prize for photographs of Uganda. Their theme is the expulsion of Asians from the country by Idi Amin and the subsequent loss and grief caused.
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Maverine Cole, News Presenter

Business Studies, 1993

Marverine Cole is a British radio and television presenter and news reporter from Birmingham, England. She has worked for BBC Midlands Today, ITV Central News and Sky News, among others.

After studying at De Montfort University, she went on to get a postgraduate diploma in broadcast journalism at the University of Central England in Birmingham.

As a freelance presenter for Sky News, she presents news updates for the network, usually in the overnight slot. She has broke several major stories while presenting on Sky, including the 2009 Iranian presidential election results, the Abruzzo earthquake and the end of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks.
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Charles Dance OBE, Actor

Graphic Design and Photography

Charles Dance is an actor, screenwriter and film director. His big break came when playing Guy Perron in The Jewel in the Crown in the 1980s.

He has since gone on to appear in many British television dramas, including Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), Rebecca, The Phantom of the Opera, Bleak House and Foyle's War. His film career has spanned nearly three decades and includes many genres: science fiction horror in Alien 3 (1992), the period drama Gosford Park (2001) and comedy in Ali G in Da House (2002). 

His debut film as a screenwriter and director was Ladies in Lavender (2004), which starred Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith.
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Pete Donaldson, Radio Presenter

Multimedia Computing, 2003

Pete moved to London in 2004 after studying Multimedia Media Design at De Montfort University in Leicester. After working as a graphic designer for three years, he gained work experience, and in turn full employment on The Lauren Laverne Breakfast Show in 2006. When Laverne left the show to pursue other projects, he remained on Xfm, but as the Co-presenter of the Alex Zane Breakfast Show. 

In May 2011 Donaldson moved to Absolute Radio and can be found presenting on Saturday and Sunday, and Monday to Friday on Absolute Radio 00s.
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Christian Furr, Artist

Fine Art, 1989

At the age of 28, Christian became the youngest artist to officially paint Queen Elizabeth II. He was commissioned to paint the Queen in 1995 by the Royal Overseas League in London. The portrait now hangs there on permanent display and is viewable by the public. HRH Queen Elizabeth II chose Furr from a number of artists and the portrait was painted at Buckingham Palace. 

Other commissions include painting the Sultan, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia in 2008 and in June 2011 he painted Blenheim Palace during GE Triathlon. He has been awarded the Association of Colleges Gold Award (2004) at the House of Commons and his work has been displayed in the Saatchi Gallery, National Portrait Gallery and Royal Society of Portrait Painters.
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Andy Gotts MBE, Photographer

Photography, 2007

Andy is most noted for his black and white portraits of Hollywood actors and singers. Gotts is noted for his magnum opus 'Degrees'. This was a coffee table book and exhibitions inspired by the game, the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

Since 1990 Gotts' work has been published internationally and has appeared in many magazines, including; GQ, Empire, FHM and French Vogue; as well as weekend newspaper supplements and advertising campaigns. The National Portrait Gallery holds a selection of his photographs in their permanent collection and in 2009 Gotts was honoured with the presentation of the Fox Talbot Award.

In 2011 Gotts was conferred the degree Doctor of Arts by De Montfort University and he is a former President of the British Institute of Professional Photographers. 2012 saw Gotts appointed MBE in the New Years Honours.
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Akram Khan MBE, Dancer and Choreographer

Contempory Dance, 1996

Akram Khan is one of the most acclaimed choreographers of his generation working in Britain today. Born in London into a family of Bangladeshi origin, he began dancing at seven and studied with the renowned kathak dancer and teacher Sri Pratap Pawar. 

In August 2000, he launched Akram Khan Company. His first full-length work Kaash, a collaboration with Anish Kapoor and Nitin Sawhney, was performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 2002. In 2012 his work, DESH, won an Olivier for Best New Dance Production. 

In 2006 Khan was invited by Kylie Minogue to choreograph a section of her Showgirl concert, which opened in Australia in November that year.He has also been chosen to choreograph a section of the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony. 

Khan was awarded an MBE for services to dance in 2005. He is also an Honorary Graduate of Roehampton and De Montfort Universities, and an Honorary Fellow of Trinity Laban.
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Joseph Mawle, Actor

Performing Arts, 1995

Mawle left school at 16 to become an actor, but contracted labyrinthitis, leaving him 70 per cent hearing-impaired in the upper register and with tinnitus. However, this didn't stop him following his dream and he won a scholarship to study at the Bristol Old Vic's theatre school. He graduated in 2002 and in the same year he appeared in the Irish Hurling TV adverts for Guinness.

It was his performance in the television film Soundproof in 2006 that made his biggest impact where a deaf actor was needed for the lead role. Mawle was nominated for the RTS Breakthrough On Screen Award and director Ed Coulthard won the BAFTA for best director in 2007.

In 2008 Mawle returned to the theatre in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot at the Almeida Theatre directed by Rupert Goold. Listed for 'Outstanding Newcomer' by The Evening Standard Theatre Awards and nominated for WhatsOnStage 'Theatre Choice Awards' for Best Newcomer for his performance as Judas Iscariot.

Joseph has featured in many films and drama productions, including: Nineteen Eighty (part of the Red Riding Trilogy) directed by James Marsh, Heartless by Philip Ridley, Dominic Savage's Freefall opposite Dominic Cooper and Aidan Gillen, Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express, BBC drama Five Daughters, Dominic Savage's Dive and Made in Dagenham starring Sally Hawkins. He also starred with Rosamund Pike in the BBC Four television adaptation of Women in Love and the Working Title production of Sebastian Faulks's acclaimed novel Birdsong. Future projects include the Bruce Willis' film The Cold Light of Day and the Tim Burton produced Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.
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Simon Rimmer, Celebrity Chef

Fashion and Textile Design

Simon Rimmer is the resident chef on Channel 4's Sunday Brunch programme. He became known for the innovative vegetarian food of his Manchester restaurant Greens, which opened in 1990. He went on to open Earle, a modern brasserie in Cheshire, in 2006, with business partners including his wife, friends, footballer Jason McAteer and football agent Dave Lockwood.

Simon's television career began on lifestyle channel Granada Breeze. He has since appeared in and presented many BBC programmes, including Something for the Weekend, as well as appearing on Great British Menu, Celebrity Mastermind, Grub's Up, Recipe for Success, and Saturday Kitchen.

When not busy with cooking and television, Simon continues to freelance as a textile designer and ceramic decorator. 
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Geoff Rowe, Founder and Director of the Leicester Comedy Festival

Performing Arts, 1994

Geoff founded the Leicester Comedy Festival 19 years ago as part of his Arts Management degree at the university.

The  festival started with 40 events programmed into 23 venues over 7 days throughout Leicestershire. In 1994 it attracted an audience of 5,000 and enjoyed a modest amount of media attention and a high profile within the community. By 2011 it had grown to 50 venues with 370 show. They even received a letter from The Queen wishing them luck. 

Over the years, some of the biggest names in comedy have performed at the festival, including Roseanne Barr, Bill Bailey, the Mighty Boosh, Simon Pegg, Harry Hill and Ricky Tomlinson.

In 2012 the festival was renamed as Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival as they entered into a partnership with TV channel Dave. The festival took has continued to grow with 410 shows over 17 days.

In summer 2012 Geoff is to receive an honorary doctorate from De Montfort University.
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