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University honours Polly Vacher MBE in formal building renaming ceremony

Polly Vacher MBE

A formal ceremony was held earlier this week to mark the renaming of the Polly Vacher building, in honour of pioneering aviation enthusiast, Polly Vacher MBE.

Polly Vacher, a former master’s student in Music Education at Reading, has made several long-distance flights in single-engine aircraft in aid of Flying Scholarships for Disabled People – a charity that allows people with disabilities to pilot aeroplanes themselves.

She entered the history books in 2001 after completing a solo eastbound circumnavigation of the world in her Piper PA-28 Cherokee Dakota. In 2004, she became the first woman to fly solo over the North Polar regions, flying over the North Pole, Antarctica and all seven continents. She was awarded an MBE for services to charity in 2002.

Mrs Vacher unveiled the new sign outside the former Systems Engineering Building on Tuesday 15 August, accompanied by family members and Vice-Chancellor Sir David Bell.

She said: “It’s a proud honour to have a building named after me, but very humbling. I’d like to think that everyone who walks through the door of the building will be inspired to believe that if you keep at it you can achieve your dreams.”

The Polly Vacher building houses the Department of Computer Science, the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Knowledge Transfer Centre. It also houses the Anxiety and Depression in Young People Research Unit (AnDY), which carries out research to help young people understand and overcome anxiety disorders that can get in the way of day to day life.

As well as her charity work, Mrs Vacher also supported the Institute of Education at the University of Reading in establishing its Universal Voices community children’s choir for children aged 7-12. Working with the Campaigns and Supporter Engagement Office Mrs Vacher supports the choir to give children the opportunity to experience the joy of music regardless of their financial circumstances.

Sir David Bell said: “We think it’s highly appropriate that this building, and what it represents, should be renamed after Polly Vacher. We are proud that such an inspirational woman, who has allowed so many people to break through personal barriers and realise their potential through her charity work, is associated with us.”

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