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Trustees and Advisors, Patrons, Ambassadors & Friends of Cowrie

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two female students
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Advisory Group

The Cowrie Scholarship Foundation will be supported by business and educational advisors who share our passion and vision to develop the next generation of Black British students.

Professor Richard Oreffo

Founder and Trustee

Professor Richard Oreffo

Richard is Professor of Musculoskeletal Science and is co-founder of the Centre for Human Development, Stem Cells & Regeneration and Founder – CSO and Director Renovos Biologics Limited. Richard leads a multidisciplinary research group focused on developing strategies to repair bone & cartilage with translation through to patient benefit a personal key driver. He has trained 50 MD/PhD students to completion, over the last 20 years, and believes in the power of education.

The Foundation is the brainchild of Richard – he has been fortunate to have experienced the advantages provided by education. Richard believes passionately finance should not be a barrier to education or opportunity and, critically, the need to ensure disadvantaged Black British students can attend our universities.

Naomi Dawson


Naomi Dawson

Naomi works with IFES Europe as their Regional Training Co-ordinator, training staff and students across Europe and working on the senior European leadership team for the charity. She was the Revive Extra Plenary Director for the largest Student Conference in Europe.

Naomi is the founder of Passion for Evangelism. PfE is a network of creative, public female speakers. Helping hundreds of women grow in confidence in public communication. In addition, Naomi has also set up an initiative called Community in a crisis. CIAC has been helping churches and charities across Europe get online during the covid-19 pandemic. 

Jan Carlyle


Jan Carlyle 

Jan Carlyle is the founder of Autumn Live, who produce and curate live and online events, and shared experiences in the creative, digital, health and well-being sectors. Jan has been recognised in the BIMA100 as a Champion for Change 2020.

Jan is a podcast host, an event speaker, host and the licensee and curator of TEDxWinchester. She is passionate about challenging inequalities and bringing difficult conversations to the surface through her work. Jan is also a trustee of Be One Percent who support grass roots organisations working in the world’s poorest countries to alleviate poverty in line with the UN sustainable development goals.

Peer-Jada Qureshi


Peer-Jada Qureshi (PJ)

PJ is a solicitor advocate who previously worked at the EU Commission as an employed barrister and as a solicitor at one of the world’s leading law firm’s Slaughter and May. He has chaired / co-chaired two organisations previously and recently acted as one of sixteen Commissioners into an inquiry of the Hampshire County Council’s appx £2bn annual managed funds, culminating in a report for Hampshire 2050.

PJ believes fair access to higher education is part of social justice, having been told himself that he would never make it to university, he went on to secure a first class at Masters level and a Major Award from the Bar Council’s stage panel.

Professor Chris Jackson


Professor Chris Aiden-Lee Jackson

Chris is currently a Professor of Geology at Imperial College London, although he is moving to the University of Manchester in February 2021 to take a Chair in ‘Sustainable Geoscience’. Chris is interested in the structure and evolution of the Earth, using a range of field and subsurface datasets.

Chris has a passion and commitment to communication, diversity and inclusion in all aspects – he is part of the open access movement within academia, founded EarthArxiv, a free preprint service for the earth sciences. Chris will jointly present the 2020 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures on British television, thus becoming the first black scientist to do so in the almost 200 year history of the Royal Institution lectures.

Dr Tim Clayden OBE

Trustee and Hon Treasurer

Dr Tim Clayden OBE

Tim is an archaeologist, former diplomat and now Bursar at Green Templeton College, University of Oxford.

As someone for whom education changed his life, Tim is a very strong believer in the necessity and power of education as a motor for informed change – change in people’s lives, livelihood and the families and communities in which they live and work.

Already engaged in higher education, Tim wants to help black British students access the world of university education to enable them to become engines of change.

Elizabeth Reilly

Philanthropic Advisor 

Elizabeth Reilly

Liz is Director of Philanthropy & Donor Relations at the University of Edinburgh. Increasing access to education for all has been a personal passion for nearly 20 years, starting when she was a secondary school teacher in Malawi.

Liz is proud to have helped develop new scholarship programmes at Edinburgh, and to be a donor to these programmes herself. A member of the Steering Group working to bring IntoUniversity to Scotland, Liz has also recently joined the Scotland Advisory Board for Unicef UK.

Liz believes strongly that all young people deserve opportunities to pursue their dreams and to flourish – and that by nurturing talent from diverse backgrounds, we help build a more just, sustainable, and innovative future for all.

Patrons and Ambassadors

The Cowrie Scholarship Foundation is supported by the following world-renowned individuals who also share our passion to support the next generation of Black British students.

Adrian Lester


Adrian Lester CBE

Award-winning actor and director Adrian Lester CBE was born in Birmingham and studied at RADA. He started his career with a string of West End productions including Company, Fences, As You Like It and Sweeney Todd. Movie roles followed, including Primary Colors, The Day After Tomorrow and Mary, Queen of Scots. Also well known for his TV work, Adrian starred in the long running BBC series Hustle and has since starred in Undercover, Trauma, Life and Riviera.

Theatre remains an important part of Adrian’s career and he has taken on many major roles including, Red Velvet, the title role in Peter Brook’s Hamlet, followed by Henry V and Othello directed by Nick Hytner at the National Theatre. 

Directing credits include Hustle, The Greatest Wealth, Of Mary and Riviera. Adrian is on the board of The Birmingham Rep, is an Ambassador for The Old Vic, The National Youth Arts Trust and Children and the Arts and is Patron of the Primary Shakespeare Company and Everything to Everybody project. 

Adrian was made CBE in 2020 for his services to the arts. 

Professor David Olusoga OBE


Professor David Olusoga OBE

David Adetayo Olusoga OBE is a British-Nigerian historian, broadcaster, and BAFTA award winning presenter and film-maker. David is the Creative Director of Uplands Television.

David is a Professor of Public History at the University of Manchester. David is an expert on military history, empire, race and slavery, and the University of Manchester described him as “one of the UK’s foremost historians”.

In 2019 David was awarded an OBE for his services to history and community integration. He is often listed as one of the 100 most powerful Black Britons in the Powerlist.


Dr Melrose Stewart MBE

Melrose Stewart is a lecturer in the School of Sports, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Birmingham, a TEDx speaker and Chartered Physiotherapist. Mel received an MBE in 2020 for her services to physiotherapy.

In 2017, Mel was an expert on the Channel 4 television programme, ‘Old people’s Home for 4 year Olds’, bringing her expertise on healthy ageing. She aims to counteract the negative stereotypes and rhetoric surrounding getting old.

Mel sees the fight for equity and justice as a fundamental part of her activities. In addition, she was a founder member of the BAME Network of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.

Friends of Cowrie

The Cowrie Scholarship Foundation wants to fund 100 disadvantaged Black British students through UK universities in the next decade. Your support will make the change happen – from mentorship, promotion, social media activity, fundraising, sharing Cowrie news. Find out more here.

Join the community of Friends of Cowrie.


Become a Mentor – The Cowrie Scholarship Foundation provides Cowrie scholars with support/resilience/mentors – if you would like to volunteer, share your expertise and inspire the next generation, we would like to hear from you.

Please contact us.

Cowrie Scholarship Foundation is a Registered Charity in England & Wales. Charity No. 1191471 

For full details of our privacy policy, see here. And our data protection notice, see here.