Selfless students recognised for community work
Release Date 27 May 2011
University of Reading students Neil Cummins, Jessica Scott and Stacey Telford have become joint winners of the 3rd Student Community Award (SCA).
They were nominated by the Ridgeline Trust for their volunteer work at the Trust's Therapeutic Garden in Whiteknights Road, Reading, which benefits mentally and physically disabled members of the community.
Last year, the Trust visited the University to highlight the benefits of therapeutic gardening to its beneficiaries, and invited students to volunteer to assist in its activities. After hearing of the valuable work carried out by the Trust, nine students indicated they would like to volunteer.
The winning students proved exceptionally loyal, regularly giving up their own time to volunteer for this important local project. They were praised for their communication and interaction skills.
"The input of all three students has been appreciated and enjoyed by the team," said Gill Grainger, from the Ridgeline Trust. "Neil has been a faithful supporter of the Community Gardening Sessions which provide background support to the work of the garden's clients and help in developing the garden, so much so that in the prolonged absence of the main leader of this group, he has taken responsibility for co-hosting the sessions. We are most appreciative of his help and commitment.
"Jessica has also been regularly engaged in the community gardening sessions and has been very helpful in visiting the garden at other times when extra volunteers were needed.
"Stacey has very successfully supported sessions with a mental health group of clients. She worked alongside this group, demonstrating gardening techniques and generally encouraging their confidence with an appropriate and helpful style."
The winners were presented with certificates and cheques for £50, by Professor Steven Mithen, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Internationalisation and External Engagement at a ceremony on Wednesday 25 May at Foxhill House on the University's Whiteknights Campus. Professor Mithen praised all the nominees saying he was: "Struck by their commitment to helping the lives of others and that they were great community ambassadors for the University of Reading."
The SCA scheme is aimed at recognising the efforts of the many University of Reading students who help others using their own initiative, perhaps by providing support to others, making a contribution to the local community or showing acts of kindness or good neighbourliness.
Joint winner Stacey Telford said: "It was great to be involved in a project that benefitted the local community and I thoroughly recommend the experience to other students. Helping people with disabilities is very important to me and the Garden is a wonderful resource. I hope more and more people volunteer to help the Trust as they work they do is fantastic."
There were also certificates awarded to nine other students who were commended for their voluntary efforts including co-ordinating the Giving Tree Appeal, helping run a church youth group and developing Duke of Edinburgh Award opportunities.
The prize money for the awards came from the generosity of University of Reading alumni, whose donations, made through the Annual Fund, support the project. The Fund aims to enhance the student experience through innovative teaching and learning, extra-curricular activities and financial support.
The Student Community Award Committee, made up of University staff and representatives from the students' union and local community, received 14 nominations for the award from the public.
Further press information from James Barr, University of Reading press office, 0118 378 7115, firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes for Editors:
The Student Community Award Committee is made up of Becki McKinlay (Development and Alumni Relations Office), Sgt Dai Davies (East Reading Neighbourhood Police Officer), Peter Kayes (Vice-Chair of Redlands/University NAG), Stephanie Johnson (Students' Union), Mark Laynesmith (University Chaplain) and Ann Westgarth (University Community Relations Manager)
Details of award winners
Stacey, 23 - 3rd year studying French and German
Jessica Scott, 22 - 3rd year studying French
Neil Cummins, 35 - studying for PhD Philosophy