My People of the year – 2019

It may not quite be the end of the year, or indeed the decade, but writing a list of people who I’ve found inspiring is cathartic, doing this before we know the results of this week’s election, one which has been characterised by lying and the worst of people.


In at number one and representing the world of sport. In a year where as always we could be spoilt for choice, I picked Dina Asher Smith. Academically brilliant – 10 A* at GCSE, 3 As at A level and a first from King’s London, this year she was winner of the 200m title in the World Athletics Championships 2019 and she is the fastest British woman runner in history.


From the world of music, my album of the year is Kiwanuke, the third album from Michael Kiwanuke. Soulful, and written to be listed to as an album, which suits us older folk!

Public Life

For standing up for what is right, despite all the smears, and being prepared to use the British judicial system to hold parliament to account, despite all the obstacles place in her way, Gina Miller. It’s worth reading the linked article for an understanding of what she believes in.


In literature, the inestimable Margaret Atwood. Continuing the story of the dystopian Gilead is a parable for our times.


One of the most powerful films this year was “Sorry, We Missed You”. Ken Loach at the age of 83 still produces work with a sublime combination of empathy and shock. His portrayal of the gig economy and its effect on individual and families should be watched by anyone, in fact everyone, who relies on their purchases from Amazon or elsewhere being delivered by courier. You won’t complain about a late or mishandled delivery again.

On the subject of film, mention has to go to Debbie Honeywood, an unknown actor who played Abby in “Sorry We Missed You”. Two of her scenes, both where we see and hear just her side of a phone call, are some of the most moving in the film.


From the world of politics, it sometimes seems hard to find someone you might respect, but look beyond this small island and its ongoing psychodrama and we have Jacinda Ardern. Her response to the massacre in Christchurch was a lesson in humility, dignity and leadership to all others.


As a scientist, I have to pick someone from the world of science, and who better than Katie Bouman. Her excitement was infectious when the first ever photograph of a black hole was revealed, where she had led the development of the imaging algorithm.


And finally – a remarkable person who holds us all to account, who repeatedly reminds us of what science says. You know she’s right when a bunch of angry white men have to take to their keyboards to discredit her – Greta Thunberg