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Durham University

Durham University News


Bryson interviews graduate tipped for Sheriff

(12 November 2020)

Dr Bill Bryson and Alderman Alison Gowman

Where can your Durham degree take you?

Ex-Chancellor Bill Bryson interviewed law grad Alison Gowman who is set to become a Sheriff of the City of London next year.

Durham inspired

Alison had a strong idea of her direction, even before she came to Durham and studied at Van Mildert College in the 1970s, ask she talked to Bill about her early experiences:

I wanted to be a lawyer and I wanted to work in the City and it all really came true! Durham was a very important path along the way.”

That path guided her to early pioneering success in a law firm, “I started to rise up through the ranks from a junior solicitor to become the first female partner that they had when I was 30. Looking back, I was one of the few female partners in the City at the time.”

Her time here also inspired Alison to give something back, staying in Durham after graduation to work at a homeless shelter:

“I was inspired by the Van Mildert motto: Sic vos non vobis – Not for ourselves and I really wanted to give something back to the community in Durham after the wonderful time I’d had there as an undergraduate.”

London Recharged

Bill was curious as to how the City was fairing in the light of the twin challenges of Brexit and Covid.

Alison had been working on a report with the City Corporation issued recently, London Recharged. “It's a really exciting vision of how we can actually restart what's there”, said Alison.

Part of history

Bill also questioned Alison about the book she has written about The City of London. She described the experiences that she wanted to share: “You're part of history; it's so spine-tingling and I wanted to tell people what that was like.”


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