On Wednesday the 14th of June, the annual Durham University Volunteer Awards were held in the historic setting of Durham’s Town Hall to celebrate a fantastic year of volunteering. This year, there has been over 25,000 hours of outreach in total, across the university, illustrating the immense amount of work put in from the university community.
Free for all volunteers as a gesture of thanks, the event saw volunteers from Student Community Action, Staff Volunteering, Team Durham Community, and college outreach teams from Van Mildert, Castle, Grey, Butler and Collingwood, all come together along with community partners to recognise the wonderful work in the community which has been achieved this year.
Lots to celebrate
Beginning with a drinks reception accompanied by a string quartet and a buffet dinner, there was a great sense of community in the Town Hall, which was at full capacity. The awards presentations began with speeches of thanks from myself and Neha Tarabadkar, Student Community Action’s Head of Events and President, who were responsible for organising the event.
The first speaker was Grant Slater, Assistant Principal and Senior Tutor of Collingwood College, who spoke about the importance of outreach in college life, and how colleges can build links with the local community, before presenting the awards of Outstanding Newcomer to Tohid Ismail, Most Improved Project, and the Community Impact Award to Van Mildert and Castle Colleges respectively.
Jane Robinson, the Chief Operating Officer of Durham University followed with a speech about University engagement in the community, and our collective goals for the future, before presenting the four best project awards: Educational , Recreational, Community, and Queen’s.
The third presenter, Caroline Stockmann, a Durham alumna and expert in charity work who has sat on the boards of numerous charitable organisations, including being CFO of the British Council, gave a speech about how, even after University, we can all contribute to charity work and make a difference. She then presented the awards of Outstanding New Project Beyond Boundaries (brief description), The Finalist Award to Sherrie Talgeri for her sterling work in promoting SCA and its events, and Outstanding Volunteer, Emma Wall, Me!
To finish, Emma Hall-Craggs, the head of Experience Durham Student Volunteering spoke about the impact which students have made this year, before presenting the awards for Best Staff Volunteer to Emma Chapman, Best Staff Team from the University’s Finance Department, and Most Committed Volunteers.
The quality and quantity of nominations received for the awards was absolutely astounding this year, and therefore the winners must be absolutely commended for their efforts. Despite recognising a huge number of projects and volunteers through the shortlists and awards, this barely scratched the surface and we hope that over the coming years more and more of the University’s outreach efforts can be recognised, as every hour volunteered really makes a difference in the community. The atmosphere of celebration at the awards ceremony really illustrated the outstanding achievements this year, as University outreach goes from strength to strength.
Outstanding Newcomer: Tohid Ismail
Most Improved Project: Van Mildert Environmental Conservation Committee
Community Impact Award: Castle Community Action Homelessness Division
Best Educational Project: Van Mildert Primary School Project
Best Recreational Project: GOALs
Best Community Project: Active Steps
Best Queen’s Project: Daisy Chain
Outstanding New Project: Beyond Boundaries
The Finalist Award: Sherrie Talgeri
Outstanding Volunteer: Emma Wall
Best Staff Volunteer: Emma Chapman
Best Staff Team: Finance Department
Most Committed Volunteer: Jazz Beard, Neha Tarabadkar, Harriet Scott