Former Newcastle pupil and on-screen GP for ITV This Morning, Dr Ellie Cannon, has been named Alumna of the Year by the Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST).
The GDST – a family of 25 independent girls’ schools across the UK, of which Newcastle High School for Girls (NHSG) is the only North East member – recognises the impact and achievements of its alumnae with the annual award – in which it also gifts the winner £500 to donate to a charity of their choice.
Dr Cannon is being recognised for her continued and significant contribution to public health, including her advocacy work during the pandemic – a collaboration with the Cabinet Office, Department of Health and NHS England. She also writes a weekly medical column in the Mail on Sunday and is a regular voice on BBC Breakfast, Sky News and BBC radio.
Dr Cannon has been praised for speaking openly about her own health struggles in a bid to de-stigmatise mental illness, and has shared a stage with Prince William discussing trauma. She is also an acclaimed published author and, in 2019, was voted by UK GPs as the 15th most influential GP in the UK. She also volunteers her time and expertise to several lesser known charities, supporting causes including pancreatic cancer awareness, BAME girls’ menstrual dignity and the UK Women in Gambling prevention campaign. This month she has been made a Fellow of the Royal College of GPs
Dr Cannon said: “It’s such an honour to be recognised by the GDST and to be able to celebrate the all-girls education I enjoyed in the North East. I think one of the reasons I was keen to work so holistically in medicine – stepping beyond the realms of GP practice and into advocacy and public health – was due to my education as well as the influence of my family and peers growing up.
“At school it was never just about the grades – it was always about working together as a team to compete in national contests, or taking on voluntary medical work or getting involved in debating societies – which I think broadened my horizons in terms of what a role in medicine might entail. It was a profound learning experience and one that I cherish to this day.”
Michael Tippett, NHSG Head Teacher said: “We are so proud of all our alumnae and to see one of our own recognised nationally by the GDST is testament not only to the rich history of outstanding teaching and learning that we have at NHSG, but also the continued culture of peer support and encouragement that all our all-girl community embodies.
“An all-girls education breaks down gender stereotypes and improves aspiration around subjects that were formerly very male dominated. It is fair to say that medicine and the sciences were traditionally in this category, and to see Ellie achieving so much not just in terms of her career success, but also in terms of public health, reinforces her role as a truly inspirational female lead.”
NHSG has seen many pupils go on to achieve success in the field of medicine. Other high profile alumnae include Miriam Stoppard OBE – a doctor, businesswoman, journalist and broadcaster, as well as Professor Ruth Plummer, who was recently awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Jubilee honours for her outstanding service and contribution to raising the profile for cancer research and her instrumental role in establishing the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.