Extraordinary staff and students celebrated at Vice-Chancellor's Awards for Excellence event

commendation winners outside

  • 27 September 2021
  • 5 min read

Eight award winners and 16 commendation winners were recognised for their astounding achievements over the past year at an in-person awards event on campus. A new, special award was also announced and awarded for the first time during the ceremony. 


Spirits were high at the event, which took place in Eldon Building and saw around 100 attendees, including individual and team winners and their nominators, and commendation winners. Nominators said a few words about the achievements of their nominees before the award winners came up to the stage to accept their certificates and have their photograph taken with the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Graham Galbraith. Afterwards, a celebratory reception was available with food and drink to give colleagues the opportunity to catch up and take more photos.


Graham said: “I’m really pleased to be able to thank colleagues around the University who have done some amazing things under very difficult circumstances over these last 18 months. I believe all colleagues have made great contributions to the University and community over the past year or so but these people that we are celebrating have gone above and beyond what would normally be expected of them. Every year I come to these awards and I’m blown away by the efforts that are made by people doing such exceptional things and I’m very grateful to all our winners.”


The event was live streamed by our CCI TV Channel from the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries (CCI) and a recording can be seen on their Youtube channel.


Here are our winners:

 

Amy Hughes, BA (Hons) Photography student

Amy Hughes
Amy volunteered over 1,300 hours in 2020 in the front-line of the Covid response. This included a month supporting patients in London's Nightingale Hospital in the first wave of the pandemic. Following this she volunteered in hospital A&E departments last summer doing four 12-hour shifts a week, alongside completing training for her Emergency Ambulance Crew qualification with St John Ambulance when she responded to 999 calls in London, Isle of Wight, Bristol and Reading. By mid-February she had already volunteered over 300 hours in 2021 and aims to complete over 1,500 hours in total this year. This has been based at St James' Vaccination Centre in Portsmouth, where she has been doing three 12-hour shifts each week as a Unit Manager of the University of Portsmouth St John Ambulance Unit. In this role she manages around 20 volunteers, helping them with their training as well as organising and planning events and ensuring volunteer welfare.

Covid-19 Testing Team

Covid testing team at the VC Awards

Photo from left to right: Georgina Barker-Woodward, Amanda Ward, Graham Galbraith and Joe Shoebridge.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit it quickly became clear that testing would be a key tool in reopening our campus and keeping our staff, students and the wider community as safe as possible. The team has played a vital role in the safe reopening of campus, carrying out over 32,000 tests to provide accurate infection data and in combating the narrative that university students were a primary cause for Covid-19 spread.

Wendy Wang - Food packages for isolating students

Wendy Wang at the VC Awards

Wendy showed true leadership and determination in implementing a process for welfare packages for students. An estimated 500 international students were due to arrive into halls and the community on the weekend of 12-13 September 2020. These students were required (due to Covid) to immediately quarantine so had no chance to shop in advance. Wendy arranged hot food from a local restaurant and became the sole point of contact for those managing the phones that weekend. Wendy went to great lengths across that entire period to ensure no student went without a suitably culturally appropriate meal. 

BAME Conference Team


BAME conference team at the VC Awards

Photo from left to right: Emilie Smith, Graham Galbraith and Marcella Kirby

Following the murder of George Floyd and the University's pledge last June to make a step change in efforts to end racism, a conference for our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff and alumni was envisioned by Marcella Kirby. Sharing her vision with Senior Leaders, funding was secured to enable it to happen. With the dedicated support of colleagues volunteering from our community, the team came together and delivered a truly exceptional conference to over 180 Black, Asian and Minority Ethinic staff, alumni and allies including keynote speakers Karen Blackett OBE, University of Portsmouth Chancellor, alumna, WPP UK Country Manager and the Government’s Race Equality Business Champion; Asif Sadiq MBE, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Adidas; and Nira Chamberlain PhD, alumnus and President of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications.

Samuel Robson - STOP COVID-19

 
Sam Robson at VC Awards

In collaboration with university and hospital research staff, Sam Robson established a next-generation sequencing centre for Covid-19. Using university equipment, hospital labs and a lot of good will, testing began on all SARS-CoV-2 positive samples collected at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth to identify variants and transmission chains in the local area. Over 15,000 genomes have been processed, with samples being sent from all over the South East of England. Sam has worked tirelessly to ensure rapid turnaround of results and provided the critical information required by infection control teams at local hospitals, as well as providing essential data on variants which has been used by policy makers to inform transmission control decisions.

The Study Buddy Club project

Study Buddy club at VC Awards

Photo from left to right: Alexander Sabine, Catherine Carroll-Meehan, Graham Galbraith, Jodie Pinnell and Karolina Szczepaniak

The Study Buddy Club was established during the third lockdown in February 2021 to support University of Portsmouth staff who had home education responsibilities during school closures. The project was staffed by University students who provided an online club for children between the ages of 7 and 11 to help staff with homeschooling. The club provided teaching placement opportunities for students who would have normally been based in schools. It also gave the children an opportunity to mix with other children in an online environment. Staff members whose children attended the online club provided very positive feedback about their children’s experience. One child said: “I wish Study Buddy Club lasted forever!” 

ICG Covid Response Team

 
ICG Covid Response Team at VC Awards

Photo from left to right: Chris Pattison, Jascha Schewtschenko and Coleman Krawczyk

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the team at the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG) leveraged their expertise in statistics, computing, and data analysis, to help the university. The team built a tailor-made data management system to critically underpin our testing system. The team also crucially enabled new research efforts to better understand the spread of the virus, for instance through detailed studies of coughs and sneezes in clinical environments. Their rapid response, often under extreme time pressure, and keen engagement to solve other groups' technical challenges is an outstanding model for how well cross-departmental collaborations can work to address major challenges, especially during a public emergency.  

Pre-Sessional English (PSE) team

 
PSE team at VC Awards

Photo from left to right: Andrew McColl-McWha, Graham Galbraith and Helen Ringrow

The PSE team are responsible for the Pre-Sessional English courses for international students wishing to develop their English Language skills to meet their degree's entry criteria. In March 2020, responding to the global pandemic and the potential impact on international students planning to undertake their studies in the UK, the team developed an institutional test to assess students' English Language skills for entry onto university courses due to the closure of English Language test centres which would in normal circumstances determine students’ eligibility. The team also completely redeveloped the campus-based Pre-Sessional English programme into a pure distance learning course in just 10 weeks, using a range of highly innovative technologies which was new to the institution. If they had not done so we would not have met our international student recruitment targets.  

Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Citizenship


Jessica Ware at the VC Awards

A special Award called the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Citizenship was also awarded to one of our students, Jessica Ware, in recognition of her remarkable courage and for being an outstanding representative of our students.

Last year, Jessica received a Vice-Chancellor’s Commendation for helping to save the life of a fellow flat mate with meningitis. Her quick actions made the difference between her friend making a recovery or losing his life to the infection.

More recently, Jessica intervened to control the bleeding of a member of the public whilst waiting for the emergency services to arrive and take over. Jessica has encountered two incredibly traumatic situations which she faced with bravery and determination to help those in need.

Commendation winners

Commendation winners
  • MyPort student service advisors and administrators for providing an exceptional service in running the new Coronavirus ‘Infoline’ service to process enquiries from students, parents and guardians around the Covid-19 pandemic, and other central university telephone numbers, including identifying and supporting self-isolating students as part of the Student Welfare Call.
  • Exploring the history behind decolonising the curriculum team for developing induction workshops on Equality, Discrimination and the History of Race in Britain, and for delivering cross-university workshops to examine how attention to historical research can help other disciplines frame responses to the challenges of curriculum decolonisation. 
  • Science and Health Online Delivery Support Team for volunteering to be part of a non-expert team to help with the move to online teaching and learning in response to the Covid-19 restrictions.
  • Library study space booking team for developing an initiative to successfully and fairly manage the reduced capacity necessitated by social distancing and to avoid long queues at peak periods which would have impacted staff.
  • Library click and collect service for the significant service enhancement of developing the click and collect service that allowed students to request books in the Library, with staff making them available for collection outside of the turnstiles.
  • Phil Jewell for SIGHT Project management for engaging nearly 150 member companies in the SIGHT programme, coordinating support and innovation for them, aligned to our mission to give back to the community as a civic university.
  • Staff team in the School of Health and Care Professions during Covid for the continued delivery by academic and technical staff of high quality education during the pandemic to ensure the availability of high quality health and social care professionals both locally and nationally
  • Placement students in the School of Health and Care Professions formed an essential part of the NHS workforce and have contributed to the national work on Covid-19.
  • The Elected Officer Team at the Students’ Union for their tireless work to represent the interests of Portsmouth students in the very specific circumstances of 2020/21, and to drive forward campaigns and activities in less than ideal circumstances.
  • BAME Ambassadors for developing and running student-led campaigns to help tackle the BAME awarding gap at the University of Portsmouth.
  • The Forensic Technician and Online Course Developer team for the innovative creation of digital learning objects for online delivery to our student communities, including the use of interactive 360-degree images, practical crime scene photography, video demonstrations and other digital objects.
  • The Student Engagement Dashboard team for enabling staff to identify students who may be falling behind and at risk of failure, through monitoring engagement, and facilitating student support.
  • Rik May for supporting students to seek out wellbeing advice, delivering training to volunteers and actively promoting a positive culture around mental health, which has had a positive impact for our student sports clubs.
  • The Virtual Year Abroad team for giving students the opportunity to complete a Virtual Year Abroad, which included online language tuition, professional communication and conversation, as well as virtual exchanges and virtual placements.
  • The Students’ Union Advice Service Peer Advisors for keeping the service running effectively through the pandemic, providing ideas for how to enhance it, and delivering an excellent service to our students.
  • BSc (Hons) Cyber Security And Forensic Computing Student Alan Ross - for volunteering  to support the running of the Government's Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge, including registering all participants, preparing all the online sessions, hosting keynote speakers and acting as an MC on the day

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