GDST Alumna of the Year 2023: A festive evening of recognition and celebration

The GDST offices in London Victoria were buzzing with festive spirit last week as over 60 alumnae, staff, parents, and donors gathered for the Alumna of the Year Award Presentation. We kicked off the festive season in style with an evening filled with celebration, music and inspiration.

Guests were welcomed with a jazzy recital performed by two talented Wimbledon High School students. Chief Executive Cheryl Giovannoni set the tone for the evening with a warm welcome, thanking guests for attending, emphasising her pride in the GDST as a global leader in girls’ education and highlighting the importance of the enduring power of the alumnae network.

“Our GDST family does not end at our 23 girls’ schools and two academies. It extends to our 100,000 strong alumnae network of phenomenal changemakers, and welcomes our incredible supports many of whom are in the room today.” — GDST Chief Executive Cheryl Giovannoni

A talk from a proud bursary recipient (and past winner)

She then passed over to Aicha McKenzie, Putney High School alumna and the winner of the Alumna of the Year Award 2013. Aicha, a proud bursary recipient, touched upon her inspiring journey which began with rhythmic gymnastics and sadly not being picked for the Olympics and has culminated in a dance production company, male modelling agency and fitness and lifestyle consultancy. She was thankful for her teachers who recognised her talent and ensured that she had a bespoke timetable which enabled her to train alongside her academic studies.

GDST Trailblazer of the Year 2023

Next, Vicky Tuck, Chair of Trustees, presented the Alumna of the Year awards. Pilot and Notting Hill & Ealing High School alumna Eva Keen received the Trailblazer of the Year award. In her heartfelt acceptance speech, Eva paid tribute to the unwavering encouragement and support she received from her teachers, friends, and family before and during her pilot training.

I am truly honored and overwhelmed to receive this award. This is an incredible moment for me as I have never won anything before – so this means a lot. My school has played a pivotal role in shaping the person I am today, providing me with a host of remarkable alumnae and role models to look up to.” — Eva Keen, GDST Trailblazer of the Year

GDST Alumna of the Year 2023

Finally, the main Alumna of the Year Award went to journalist and Putney High School alumna Ramita Navai. Unfortunately, Ramita was unable to attend because she was on-location reporting on the Israel-Gaza war. The award was accepted on her behalf by Putney High School Headteacher Jo Sharrock. Jo acknowledged Ramita’s outstanding achievements and dedication to journalism and highlighting women’s and girls’ issues in some of the most war-torn and conflicted regions in the world.

The event gave guests the opportunity to network and reflect on the highlights of the ceremony.

The GDST Alumnae Network

The GDST Alumnae Network is the largest organisation of its kind in the country. There are over 100,000 GDST alumnae from across our family of 25 all-girls schools and the network is increasing every year.

Find out more about the GDST Alumnae Network