Back Back

Special awards celebrate the life of Wolverhampton University Graphic Designer

Head and shoulders portrait pic of Matt Palmer

A generous donation has been made to the University of Wolverhampton by the family of alumnus, Matt Palmer, to create a series of special awards in his honour. 

The ‘Matt Palmer Award for Graphic Design Excellence’ is awarded each year during the University’s graduation ceremonies to recognise one student that has demonstrated stand-out creativity and passion on the Graphic Design course. 

The Palmer family from Bromsgrove created the awards by donating £8,000 to the Wolverhampton School of Art after friends and family gave very generously to what would turn out to be Matt’s last birthday in 2020. This enabled his parents, Sandra and Keith and his sister, Jo to create this award.

Jeff Leak, former Lecturer in Visual Communications at the University, who taught Matt, said: “Here at the University, we are pleased to have known Matt and I feel honoured to have both taught and worked with him.  

“I first met Matt when I taught at North East Worcestershire College and I was delighted when he continued his studies with myself when I moved to the University. 

“Matt was a very special student and I’m so pleased we have been able to honour him in a way he deserves. He will always be remembered as bright, determined, and loyal and whose company always made the day better.”  

As a talented designer, he won ‘Student of the Year’ at North-East Worcestershire College in 1991 and continued to further his education at the University of Wolverhampton, completing a degree in Graphic Communication, in 1996.  

During his career, Matt’s many successes included creating record sleeve artwork at an early age to working at top design agencies, including Proforma in the Netherlands, to designing James Bond book covers for Penguin and having his work published by the Japanese government.  Matt achieved all of this success, despite being diagnosed with a life-changing rare neurological disease and after facing many other health challenges through his life, Matt’s career was cut short when he sadly passed away in September 2020 at the age of 46. 

His sister, Jo Palmer, said: “Matt was an incredibly special person.  Through the creation of this award, we wanted something that reflected Matt’s passion and talent for Graphic Design and we hope that this annual recognition for one special student, creates a legacy in his name that will mean so much to all of his family and friends."

Matt Palmer's family with winning graduate of the Matt Palmer Award in the courtyard

The first graduate to receive the award was first-class honours Graphic Design graduate, George Tighe (seen above in the picture holding the award).

George, from Kingswinford, won the award in recognition of his sustained creativity throughout his course, which led to him being invited to design the trophy that will accompany the annual award. 

George Tighe, 21, said: “It’s amazing to see something you have drawn on paper and designed on a computer brought to life. 

“It’s fantastic to have been able to not only design the award but to have won it in recognition of my work. It’s been an honour to meet Matt’s family on a number of occasions and to be part of something that will be a lasting legacy at the University.” 

Matt and George both studied Graphic Design at the Wolverhampton School of Art, which is now offered in the University’s new Screen School at the city centre campus.  

An image of a display case featuring winners of the Matt Palmer Award

Jo Palmer added: "We are so thankful to everybody involved who have done a fantastic job creating this award and making this a reality. 

"Matt had an enthusiasm for education and helping others; this award is a true reflection of him and his legacy.” 

A landscape image of graduate Matt Palmer



For more information please contact the Corporate Communications Team.

Share this release

Related Stories