News: 150 new Churchill Fellows announced for 2019

Published: 7 Mar 2019

News: 150 new Churchill Fellows announced for 2019

Today we announce 150 new Churchill Fellows. Over the next 12 months, they will travel the world and research cutting-edge solutions to important topical issues facing UK society.

See the full list of 2019 Churchill Fellows

These 150 Fellows include people from all walks of life, researching topics across a broad range of sectors, from the emergency services to nursing, science to education. They were selected from almost 1,800 applicants.

“Churchill Fellows are inspiring individuals who scour the world for fresh approaches to today’s crucial issues. It’s a unique chance to make change happen, and every UK citizen over the age of 18 can apply. The next round of applications will open on 16 May 2019" - Julia Weston, WCMT Chief Executive

Together they will receive grants totalling over £1million and travel to 65 countries across six continents.

Below, a selection of our new Fellows talk about the issues they are researching, which include:

Preventing firefighters from developing cancer
Tackling air pollution
West African craft pottery
The forced labour of young people by gangs
Rural mental health
Neonatal organ donation
Neurodiversity in the workplace
Evidence-based policy at the level of national government

See the full list of 2019 Churchill Fellows

Applications for next year's Fellowships will open on 16 May 2019.
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This year's Fellows include...

James Linehan, a firefighter from Bristol, will travel to Sweden and the USA to research approaches to preventing firefighters from developing cancer as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals. He will use his findings to help educate UK firefighters to protect their health. James' Fellowship is supported by Mr Björn Savén.

James Linehan"There are currently four firefighters at my station who are living with the effects of cancer, and with retirement ages rising, firefighters are being exposed to a lot more, for a lot longer.


Other countries are way ahead of the UK when it comes to recognising the link between Firefighting and high rates of cancer death. With the information I gain on my travels, I hope that I will be able to come back and educate UK firefighters on how they can better look after their own health."

James Linehan


Emma Hookham, a charity worker from London, will travel to Denmark, Germany, Norway, Sweden and The Netherlands to explore approaches to tackling air pollution through promoting low-polluting modes of transport. To reduce her own carbon footprint, she will be making this 2,000-mile journey by bicycle. She will share her findings with schools and environmental groups in the UK. Emma's Fellowship is supported by The Frank Jackson Foundation.

Emma Hookham"As in many other major cities, the air quality in London is extremely poor, resulting in thousands of premature deaths per year.


I hope to gain a wider understanding about the issue of air quality in other parts of the world, and witness first-hand how other communities, schools and cities are working to tackle the issue.


I am also extremely excited to embark on my own cycling adventure, something that I have been longing to do for some time."

Emma Hookham


Isatu Hyde, a potter and designer from Shropshire, will travel to Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone to study West African craft pottery techniques and traditions. She will share her findings through workshops and talks, with the aim of promoting greater diversity in UK crafts.

Isatu Hyde"My family on my father’s side is from Sierra Leone but I have lived and grown up in UK. I have had a key into West African art traditions, but not been able study it closely.


I will take in so much in one go and will undoubtedly come back with inspiration to feed my development as a craftswoman. I'm also excited to teach others the skills I have learnt and encourage people to learn more about and appreciate the hugely varying, highly skilled makers across the Africa continent."

Isatu Hyde


William Willson, from London, a Community Engagement Officer for the Metropolitan Police, will travel to Mexico and Peru to research strategies for addressing the forced labour of young people by gangs. He will use his findings to inform the response of the UK police and youth sector to the exploitation of young people through 'county lines'. William's Fellowship is supported by Mr Björn Savén.

William Willson"The number of young people being exploited through forced labour is on the increase in the UK, with children as young as 12 being groomed to sell crack cocaine and heroin.


The UK has been slow to deal with the developing problem of 'county lines'. I am fascinated to learn from the global leaders in tackling child labour in Latin America and then bring back this innovative knowledge base to help prevent young people from further suffering in the UK."

William Willson


Mary Houston, from Kendal, the manager of an organic farm and mental health charity, will travel to Norway, the Netherlands and the USA to research rural mental health services based on farms. She aims to use her findings to develop new models of mental health support in rural areas.

Mary Houston"Mental health touches people from all walks of society, right across the world, and there is so much to learn from other cultures about how they address it.


Mental health issues in the farming sector are well-documented, both in their prevalence and because of people's reluctance to engage with traditional support. I work in vocational mental health and believe that building people's emotional resilience through meaningful activity and training is vital to recovery."

Mary Houston


Roxy Afzal, a neonatal intensive care nurse from Manchester, will travel to Canada and the USA to explore best practice in neonatal organ donation. She will use her findings to develop practices to support UK health professionals to confidently and competently offer the option of organ donation to families of end-of-life babies. Roxy's Fellowship is supported by The Burdett Trust for Nursing.

Roxy Afzal"Caring for neonatal patients is a privilege, but also challenging, as I support families through very difficult times. Particularly during traumatic times, I believe it's important to offer choices to families.


Neonatal organ donation is possible but rarely carried out – it may be a sensitive and challenging process but could potentially bring some comfort to grieving parents and save the lives of transplant recipients."

Roxy Afzal



Oli Monks, from London, the founder of an organisation creating co-working spaces for autistic people, will travel to Canada, Denmark and the USA to research approaches to supporting neurodiversity in the workplace. His findings will inform the development of co-working spaces suitable for neurodiverse people in five UK cities. Oli's Fellowship is supported by The Rank Foundation.

Oli Monks"My relationship to neurodiversity is through my brother Nicky. As a big brother seeking to understand him and his autism, I have learnt about what the world is like for an autistic adult and it's made me passionate about trying to level the playing field for neurodiverse people.


I hope that impact from my Fellowship will be both on a business and policy-level, where we can encourage industry to embrace neurodiversity in a way that is already producing results across the world."

Oli Monks


Majella McCloskey, a policy worker from Belfast, will travel to Canada, the USA and South Africa to investigate the promotion of evidence-based policy at the level of national government. She will use her findings to advocate for more effective public governance in Northern Ireland.

Majella Mccloskey"There is a lot of despondency in Northern Ireland because of our lack of government. When (if?) government is restored, we need to put in place mechanisms to ensure government is maintained.


I hope to explore how divided or contested societies have used evidence to inform their policy making process. I hope to bring this back to Northern Ireland and to try to promote a framework of evidence-informed policy making going forward."
Majella McCloskey


See the full list of 2019 Fellows

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