Nikki Simpson award for learning 2022

Sarah Murphy, teacher and Gloucestershire NEU district and branch secretary

Nikki Simpson award winner 2022


Chemistry teacher Sarah Murphy is “completely thrilled” to be recognised for changing people’s lives through union learning. 

Her award is given in honour of Nikki Simpson, an exceptionally talented and passionate learning and development organiser and the first person to receive the TUC’s union learning rep award, who died from pancreatic cancer aged 48. 

As well as handling a substantial amount of casework, Sarah enjoys planning training and conferences for members. In 2021, she organised a rep weekender and in June there will be a support staff conference. 

“Thank you to the regional office for its support in organising these events,” she says. “I know that members thoroughly enjoy the variety of speakers we have in Gloucestershire, and I am sure that this is one of the reasons that membership and involvement in the NEU is so buoyant in the county.”

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. 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.

“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