Presentation address by Professor Bobby Sayyid:
'I live my values. People are expecting me to honour those values.'
When Alison Lowe began work as West Yorkshire’s first Deputy Mayor for Police and Crime, she set out her approach to this new role. In the year since, she has delivered; anyone who followed her long and successful career in public service would expect nothing less.
Service to Yorkshire’s communities has been at the forefront of Alison’s career since her graduation from Leeds, first with a BA in History and then an MA in Medieval History.
Alison cites her experience of racial abuse and domestic violence as the driving force behind her lifelong commitment to equality, helping the vulnerable, and addressing key issues of social inclusion.
When she was elected to represent Armley in 1990, Alison became the first black woman to serve on Leeds City council. She remained in office for almost 30 years.
She has also worked with several charities for the homeless, and in 2004 became the head of mental health charity Touchstone, where for 17 years she worked tirelessly to transform lives through her dedication to community wellbeing.
Alison stepped down from the council in 2019, and was named an Honorary Alderwoman of Leeds. One of her first tasks was to chair a review of the city’s statues amid the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests. As a historian, she committed to investigating the representation of historical figures across the city, and how to best honour significant individuals and groups in future.
As Deputy Mayor for Police and Crime, Alison is tasked with holding West Yorkshire Police to account. She has championed projects focused on equality, diversity and human rights, racial disparity, and combatting trafficking and modern day slavery. She has been a diligent advocate for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community and those suffering domestic abuse.
Our University community has witnessed Alison’s generosity and dedication at first hand, as she regularly gives of her time and experience as a voluntary mentor, offering valuable advice for students preparing for life after graduation.
Vice-Chancellor, for her tireless service to the people of West Yorkshire and her commitment to equality, diversity and human rights, I present to you for the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, Alison Natalie Kay Lowe.”