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Cllr Jane Dowson - BA (Hons) Service Sector Management, 2003
Councillor Jane Dowson graduated from Leeds Beckett with a BA (Hons) Service Sector Management degree in 2003. Born and bred in Leeds, Jane joined the university as a mature student and since graduating she has been a local Councillor, representing the Chapel Allerton ward in Leeds. In 2017 she was appointed as the 124th Lord Mayor of Leeds.
Recalling her journey to becoming Lord Mayor, Jane says: “I came from a working-class family. My dad was the man who filled the potholes in the roads and died when I was 14. My mum was a housewife who then became a cleaner to make ends meet and I had to leave school at 16 to help with family finances. I always wanted to go to university like my friends but thought that my chance had passed me by.
“I always loved learning new skills and decades later noticed that Leeds Beckett were encouraging older students to sign up, even looking at their experience and life skills to help with enrolment. The university were so helpful and kind, no one from my family had ever been to university so I needed lots of support and guidance.
“After missing out on a university education when I left school, it was wonderful to finally get there as a mature student. The course was a good mix of theory and practical experience. I loved the lectures and the tutor was brilliant and knew how to motivate me. The best part of the course was how my fellow students and I worked together and supported each other, and now we are lifelong friends.”
Speaking about her work in local government Jane explains: “Councillors are real jacks of all trades often moving from department to department. I was both deputy and executive member for education and children’s services for many years. Leeds is now recognised nationally and internationally for the Child Friendly Leeds Initiative utilising the voice and influence of the child to direct our services. I am so pleased that I was there and part of the team to help set the direction for this initiative at the very beginning leading the way to Leeds children’s services being recognised by Ofsted as outstanding.
“As someone who was born and raised in Leeds, to have the chance to be Lord Mayor was a huge honour. I had the most wonderful year representing this great city both locally, nationally and internationally. Meeting local residents, businesses, charities and educational institutions were all highlights and having the opportunity to promote our city. Candlelighters was my charity for the year and working with others we made enough money to refurbish and furnish a new home from home for families to stay in while their children were receiving cancer treatment at Leeds General Infirmary. It was a fantastic project and has had a lasting legacy.
Offering advice to our students, and speaking about Leeds as a student city, Jane says: “Enjoy your student years, make lots of friends, never neglect your studies and try not to leave everything to the final day. Leeds is the most wonderful, friendly and diverse city. It has everything you could want art, culture, sport, excellent shopping, great industries and businesses; and is only 15 minutes to the beautiful Dales.”
Enjoy your student years, make lots of friends, never neglect your studies and try not to leave everything to the final day. Leeds is the most wonderful, friendly and diverse city. It has everything you could want art, culture, sport, excellent shopping, great industries and businesses; and is only 15 minutes to the beautiful Dales.