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The Queen visits Brunel University

The programme, part of a Royal visit to the London Borough of Hillingdon, in the Queen's 80th birthday year, coincides with university's celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the university's namesake, and also the the 40th anniversary of Brunel University's Royal Charter.

The 1000-plus-strong crowd whooped with delight as The Queen, smiling and waving, wearing a russet coat and hat, came onto the balcony of the student bar, The Hub, to be introduced to the executive of the Brunel Union of Students: President Josef Baines - who is the third profoundly deaf university president in the history of the National Union of Students - and Vice Presidents Sarah Batt, Sam Collins and Tony Jackson.

The lucky “Sabbs“ (sabbatical officers) also attended the VIP luncheon with Her Majesty.
Brunel Students' President Josef Baines, who spoke with the Queen through a sign interpreter, said: “It's such a privilege for the student executive to meet the Queen. This is a great opportunity for the students at Brunel to celebrate Brunel's 200th birthday with the Queen. Personally, this is probably one of the highlights of my life.“

His Vice President Sarah Batts commented: “It's the last day of exams, so we were very happy, and having the Queen here as well has the day even more exciting.“

The Queen unveiled a plaque and officially named the new £10 million Health and Social Care building as the Mary Seacole Building, named after Mary Seacole, a pioneering Jamaican nurse and heroine of the Crimean War, sometimes known as “the black Florence Nightingale.

She viewed a number of health projects inside the building, including the FES rowing project (Functional Electrical Stimulation) - an adapted indoor rowing machine, for people with spinal injuries, meeting Brunel PhD student Dries Hettinga, from The Netherlands and paraplegic former airline pilot Robin Gibbons, from Rickmandsworth, Herts, who is helping with the research.

The Queen was presented with a posy of spring flowers by Documentary Film Masters student Cleopatra Mukula from Kenya, an award-winning international student, who also won a scholarship from Brunel University.

“The Queen asked me what I was studying. It was a very special moment. I felt that not only was I representing other international students,but most importantly, I have made my mother proud,“ said Cleopatra.

The Royal guest presented Outstanding Achievement Awards to five Brunel students who are international athletes. They were: Commonwealth Games silver medallists, sprinter (4 x100m) Laura Turner, who is studying Sports Sciences and Emma Enia, who is studying Medical Biology; world cross country gold medallists Eleanor Baker, studying Sport Sciences and Eleanor Hall, a Physiotherapy student; and England Women's footballers Anita Asante, studying English and Politics and Eniola Aluko, a Law student, who are both top of their World Cup qualifying group.

The Queen also met staff and students from the School of Engineering and Design, many of whom are exhibiting Final Year projects at the London's Business Design Centre, next month. The Motorsport Masters students who met The Queen included the teams who are preparing to enter the international Formula Student competition.

Brunel students and staff were not the only ones at the University to meet The Queen. Schoolchildren from Hillingdon who won an art competition organised by the university's outreach team presented their successful entries to the Royal guest.
They had to design a 200th anniversary birthday card for Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The deputy director of the Brunel Brunel Arts, Alan Bennett, introduced the winners of the “Happy Birthday Mr Brunel, 200 Today“ to the Queen.

The Duke of Edinburgh, who had been due to open the Heinz Wolff Building, in the presence of Emeritus Professor Heinz Wolff, the veteran scientist and media personality, had been unable to attend the ceremony.

Brunel University Chancellor Lord Wakeham unveiled the plaque in his stead.

Prof Wolff, 78, who presented BBC 2's The Great Egg Race from 1977 to 1986, said to the assembled guests at the unveiling ceremony: “My imagination has no limit. Infinity isn't big enough.“