Nikki Simpson award for learning

The award will be presented to the NEU Union Learning Rep (ULR) chosen for making a difference and changing people's lives through union learning.

This award recognises the transformational impact that union learning has both for our members, and the union as a whole. It is granted to individual members or groups of members who have made significant and exemplary contributions to union learning.

Why is it called the Nikki Simpson award?

This award is named after Nikki Simpson who was an exceptionally talented and passionate Learning and Development Organiser for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) in the Eastern Region. Sadly, her life was cut short by pancreatic cancer at the age of 48 in 2017. In 2006, before she even worked for a union and was working in the financial sector, she became the first person to receive the TUC’s Union Learning Rep award. 

The award was presented to her by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair. She brought the passion and belief for both the power of learning and unions to the ATL, and this award was created in her honour to celebrate achievements within Union Learning.

Nikki devoted her whole energy to whatever she was doing, creating learning opportunities for hundreds of members in her region and building the union’s presence wherever she went.

“I have seen co-workers and families brought together by union learning, I have seen laughter and success. I have worked with innovative people who deliver innovative learning in innovative ways to their members… and those people are unions.” – quote from a blog written by Nikki upon winning the TUCs Union Learning Rep Award in 2006.

Maria Williams wins Nikki Simpson award 2023

Maria Williams
Photo ©Ben Broomfield

MARIA, a workplace learning rep at Cambridge Regional College, was nominated by fellow union member and colleague Mahendra Soopaul, who described her as “dedicated and an asset to staff”. The award is given in honour of Nikki Simpson, who was an exceptionally talented learning and development organiser at ATL, one of the NEU legacy unions. Nikki died from cancer in 2017, aged 48.


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