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'Women in Innovation Award' unveiled at Oakham

Oakham School is delighted to both celebrate and commemorate Old Oakhamian Dolores Sanders’ success in being named one of Innovate UK’s ‘Women in Innovation Award’ winners – with a fantastic plaque unveiled in her honour outside the Smallbone Library!

Officially announced on International Women’s Day by Business Secretary Greg Clark, Dolores is one of just nine women from across the UK who have been named ‘the next generation of world-leading female innovators’. Dolores has been recognised by Innovate UK for inventing pioneering technology that improves small business manufacturing, and will receive £50k and a year-long package of support to develop and grow her business further.

Dolores, who left Oakham in 1990 after studying for her English, Maths and Biology A-levels, chose for her ‘Women in Innovation Award’ plaque to be displayed at her former school. The Headmaster officially unveiled the plaque in a ceremony that included students who are currently studying Computer Science and taking part in the TeenTech Awards, as well representatives from Innovate UK and many of Dolores’ family and friends.

During the unveiling ceremony, the Headmaster outlined how the Smallbone Library is an incredibly fitting location to commemorate Dolores' success, given how it is at the very heart of our students' learning at Oakham, the ‘home’ of our incredibly successful TeenTech activities. It is also adjacent to the Computer Science Department, which opened as the 'IT Department' during Dolores' time at Oakham.  

“We are honoured Dolores has chosen to have her plaque on display at Oakham,” said Headmaster Nigel Lashbrook. “Technology moves at a phenomenal rate. What Dolores learnt during her time at Oakham is very different to what our Computer Scientists learn today, and indeed what the next generation of students will learn. All good schools, like Oakham, don't simply teach the knowledge or techniques of the time. Instead, we focus on the process of learning, to equip students with the confidence and abilities to ask and answer questions for themselves – skills that are vital for both lifelong learning and innovation.”

“The plaque will inspire current and future Oakhamians, female and male, to pursue careers in the fields of STEM and innovation – in a similar way to how we showcase and celebrate our Alumni in other departments across the School – from Sport to Drama, Social Sciences to Design Technology.”

During the award ceremony, Dolores outlined just how thankful she was to have the “extraordinary opportunity to fulfil my passion to empower and inspire young women in their lives to develop and create ideas to the marketplace.” She concluded by saying “how apt, that in unveiling this plaque I get to honour the School motto, ‘Et quasi cursores vitai lampada tradunt’ (And, like runners, they pass on the torch of life). This torchbearer will carry and pass on the torch for Innovation, education for diversity and for inclusion.”

After the ceremony, it therefore only seemed fitting for Dolores to meet with and talk to current student, Holly, who only last week was at Buckingham Palace being awarded her TeenTech Award for her research project about the ‘Underrepresentation of Women' in Computer Science. As Holly says, “Having studied the importance of role models in encouraging young students to get involved in STEM, it was really inspiring to see the School celebrating one of its own female innovators. Such a positive example of the potential for young girls who do get involved in technology I'm sure will only further support the students at School and encourage them to develop their potential and interests in the future.” 

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