Hull Alumna Gifts £3.5 Million to University

Hull Alumna Gifts £3.5 Million to University
22nd May 2017 alumni

Staff House’, the University’s conference and events venue currently being refurbished, is to be renamed after remarkable alumna Barbara Canham Turner, who sadly passed away in 2015. This is a key moment in the history of our University as it is the first building on campus to be named after a woman. 

Barbara always treasured her time at the University, and the opportunities her degree presented her with. She was a regular annual donor to the University for 22 years, and also attended alumni events. Some years ago Barbara told us that she would be supporting the University in her will, though until her death we weren’t aware of how transformational her legacy would be. Barbara’s legacy will focus around reconfiguring Student Services within Student Central, supporting the refurbishment of ‘Staff House’, and setting up an annual lecture within The Arts. In addition to this, Barbara was very keen that an element of the money be used to support disabled students.

How Canham Turner building will look

Barbara was born in 1921 in East Hull. Due to a form of cerebral palsy, Barbara didn’t speak until she was four years old.  Her co-ordination also suffered, which meant writing and mobility were sometimes difficult, though she would always shrug it off as ‘clumsiness’. Barbara attended Malet Lambert secondary school, before attending University College Hull from 1939 to 1942 where she graduated with a starred First in English. She moved to West London after the war ended and began work at the British Council. There she had a very happy and successful career until she retired in 1981 as its Assistant Director of Libraries Department. Barbara remained single and thoroughly independent. Her interests lay with literature, music, opera and ballet, travel, history and art – a rich and diverse range of pursuits. She was a dedicated and intrepid traveller. When Barbara retired she moved to be closer to her cousin in South London, and later, after complications following hip surgery, she moved to a residential home in Surrey where she was much admired for her independence, resilience, good nature and sense of humour. Sadly, in October 2015, only weeks after being diagnosed with inoperable stomach cancer, Barbara died aged 94.
Barbara’s story is truly inspiring, and we hope her name and life will inspire University of Hull students and staff for generations.



Hull alumni have pledged nearly £100,000 for student support at the new Health Campus during the annual telephone fundraising campaign, Foundation Thirty Nine

This year saw the relaunch of our annual telephone fundraising campaign under a new banner: Foundation Thirty Nine. The University of Hull started out with only thirty-nine students. Those thirty-nine were the beginning of something: they were the first to show what the University of Hull could help them achieve. Foundation Thirty Nine is all about building on the foundations of those first students and preparing for generations to come.

We asked alumni to help us in furthering the legacy of the thirty-nine by donating to our campaign. The response was incredible with more than £70,000 received, and more expected by the time you read this. It means that we can provide that extra bit of help that can make all the difference. As well as continuing to provide general funds for scholarship and hardship support, your donations will also help fund nursing students and healthcare researchers so desperately needed in the region and nationwide. Your gifts will also help us train doctors, nurses, midwives and allied health professionals by funding the purchase of equipment used in real clinical settings, such as anaesthetic machines, birthing simulators, vital signs monitors and patient manikins. Our healthcare and medical students will soon be learning together in a full mock hospital environment so that they are equipped to tackle the real-life challenges of a constantly changing health service. A team of 40 undergraduates and postgraduates spoke to nearly 2,000 graduates during the campaign. As well as making donations, many graduates (pictured above) shared stories about their lives in Hull and where their degrees had taken them. Through these conversations we strive to build stronger bonds, and through your donations the students of tomorrow can have the same opportunities to learn and make lifelong friends. Donations received over the last few years have funded five scholarships for Women in Engineering and 10 scholarships for the Talented Athlete Programme, and helped numerous students who found themselves in financial hardship through no fault of their own. Thank you, alumni!

More info
If you would like to be part of it and support Foundation Thirty Nine, please visit, email or call +44 (0)1482 465257.

1 Comment

  1. David Allis 6 years ago

    Very touching article about Barbara Turner. Such a special university – I often think back to the early 90s and how happy I was. Oh it would be a joy if my girls said in the future they wanted to go. The Avenues was the place to live!

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *