Postgraduate who risked life to help others named as Nottingham Trent University’s Alumnus of the Year

21 November 2017 

A postgraduate who risked his life to help save hundreds of people after heavy flooding hit India has been named as Nottingham Trent University’s Alumnus of the Year for 2017.

Umamaheshwaran Panneerselvam – (MRes Applied Biosciences 2010) - helped to save more than 500 lives across the city of Chennai and provided food and shelter to more than 3,000 people.

Chennai was submerged in high levels of water during the floods of 2015 and official help from the state government and the army was delayed for weeks.

Umamaheshwaran and his friends decided to take action and set up a ‘help hub’ in his home. Using social media they organised a rescue team consisting of swimmers and fishermen. The rescue team collected food and water from all over India and they swam across the water-clogged rivers to distribute it. They moved disabled children, the elderly and hospital patients and liaised with other cities to find medical supplies. With the help of local community leaders and businessmen, Umamaheshwaran arranged shelters for all over Tamil Nadu and relocated those affected by the floods.

Nottingham Trent University’s Alumnus of the Year award recognises former students' distinctive attainments, professional successes, and contributions to society. Umamaheshwaran will receive his award during a University graduation ceremony on 8 December.

Since leaving university, Umamaheshwaran has made himself a career in the mainstream media and now works for News7 Tamil. He has also worked as a political analyst and social media strategist for various political parties in India.

Umamaheshwaran said: “To receive a prestigious award from the university which has made me who I am today, will push me to do more service. I feel this award will inspire people back home to help others.

“It has been more than seven years since I left the University and it will be the first time I have visited since graduating. It will be a wonderful feeling to return to the place where I have gained a lot of knowledge and experience.

“I owe everything to NTU. The University broadened my horizons and more than education, I took with me a paradigm shift from an introvert into an open and outspoken social worker.”



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