An interview with the match funder for the 2022 Hallam Fund telethon, Giles Cunningham
Transforming lives is at the heart of what we do at Sheffield Hallam, and we are truly thankful to our compassionate donor community who are helping us shape a future where every single student who has the talent can gain the knowledge they need to make their aspirations come alive.
One of our generous donors who is now part of creating this future is Giles Cunningham, who is an advocate of our vison to widen access to higher education for all, irrespective of their personal or financial circumstances.
Since graduating from Sheffield Hallam University with an MBA in 2003, Giles has been an important and valued member of our university community. This year, Giles match funded new donations given through the Hallam Fund telephone campaign by individually donating £10,000.
During an interview with us, Giles reveals why he supports Sheffield Hallam and the Hallam Fund.
What’s your relationship with Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam?
‘I went through Sheffield Hallam as an MBA student back in the late 90’s and finished in early 2000’s. I still visit Sheffield to see my daughter and grandchildren, but also to watch Sheffield United after becoming a passionate blade from my time in Sheffield. I have also been up to some alumni events ran by Sheffield Hallam.’
How did you start supporting the Hallam Fund?
‘Being a part of the alumni leader’s circle, I was invited to the Sheffield Business School regularly. From this, the natural extension to my relationship with Sheffield Hallam was to say how else can I help? I was in a stable position in my career, and I wanted to find out what else I could get involved with. I then got put in touch with the team in the alumni office and they highlighted the opportunity of the Hallam Fund.’
What were your first thoughts and what motivated you to give to the Hallam Fund?
‘It sounded really appealing to me. When you’re thinking of contributing towards something as big as Sheffield Hallam, you don’t want your contribution to get lost in something unmeasurable. The thought of being able to identify students who had potential hardship, where the difference for them between going to university or not depends on getting a sponsor to help them through each year had lots of appeal, as you feel your money isn’t going to get lost in the system.
I could also see it making a real individual difference to students who might be the first ones in their family to go to university, therefore helping young people who have just not had a chance to show what they can do.
My generation was very lucky, I never paid one penny towards tuition fees, and I received a full grant, as my parents didn’t earn enough money to support me. I went through university without incurring any costs at all and I have hugely benefited from that. I was so lucky; it makes me feel like there is no reason why I shouldn’t give back and support current students who don’t have it so easy.
The beauty of Sheffield Hallam for me has always been its diversity and its inclusiveness and that is a special part of the University which makes it quite unique, a community University. This is one of the main appeals of the University and the Hallam Fund for me.’
How would you encourage other alumni to donate to the Hallam Fund?
‘What I would say is, what else are you going to spend your money on? Where else in your day-to-day life do you have a chance to make a difference? We’re quite happy to spend money on so many pointless things whereas instead you can make a difference to somebody’s life. Your money will also go directly to someone who needs it. If you can’t contribute your time to help someone who needs it most, at least, if you can, give financially to support and make a huge difference to their life.’