UKFast, winners of Employer of the Year award

The 2019 Careers Awards Evening provided the stage for a fitting celebration of the achievements of students and alumni at Edge Hill University.

Now in its 10th year, the event, organised by the Careers Team, recognises the progress and accomplishments of students in developing unique characteristics which will help them stand out in an ever-competitive marketplace.

It also provides an ideal opportunity for employers, departments and organisations, who work in partnership with the University, to be thanked for their efforts in helping potential graduates develop vital skills and knowledge to help adapt to the workplace environment.

Amy Turner with Pro Vice-Chancellor Mark Allanson

The award for Student Volunteer of the Year was given to Amy Turner, a volunteer Apprentice Beekeeper and Schools Group Educator. A Genetics undergraduate, Amy is credited with playing a key role at The Bee Centre in Samlesbury, contributing to its award as the Lancashire Tourism Visitor Experience of the Year Award in 2018, and it was Co-Founder Simon Cordingley who nominated her for this award. She has worked to raise awareness of the importance of bees, providing talks and delivering school workshops. Amy has also created a link on campus, working with the Student Union to establish an apiary, providing a valuable resource to students and the local community.

Amy, who is originally from Cambridge, said:

“I really didn’t think I would win this award, I’m absolutely ecstatic. I enjoy learning and problem solving, and to be rewarded for this is amazing. This award is something I can use as a tool to enthuse other people – people like me with children who are juggling busy lives. It shows that if you’re passionate about what you love, then you can succeed.”

Nominated by third year History student and Leader in Training at the Ormskirk unit, Jessica Balmond, the Voluntary Organisation of the Year award was given to Girlguiding UK. Alongside her studies, volunteering for Girlguiding has helped Jessica gain a wealth of skills, from keeping attendance records to organising events, and working with children has reminded her why she wants to be a teacher in the future.

This year, there were three lucky winners of the Alumni award.

Andrew Fielding with Pro Vice-Chancellor Mark Allanson

Nominated by Lecturer in GIS, Sue Jones, an Alumni award was given to Andrew Fielding, a GIS Analyst with JBA Consulting.

Sue commends the support 2014 graduate Andrew has provided to the Geography department, including the expert advice and input into the Applied GIS (Geographic Information Systems) module. His contributions have included guest lecturing, speaking and advising at career-related events and extolling the virtues of the careers service at Edge Hill, including the benefits of volunteering.

Gareth Usher receiving his award

An Alumni award was given to Gareth Usher, an Engineering Geologist with Wardell Armstrong LLP, who was also nominated by Sue Jones.

Sue is grateful for the work Gareth has done to support current students and the department, which includes careers-related advice and attendance, networking and presentation delivery.

Nominated by Senior Lecturer in Law, Adam Pendlebury, an Alumni award was given to Dominic Walker, a second-year trainee solicitor at JMW Manchester.

Dominic Walker with Pro Vice-Chancellor Mark Allanson

Adam describes Dominic, who graduated in 2014, as a fantastic ambassador for the University, who has forged strong links between his company, a legal 500 firm, and the Law and Criminology department.

Three exceptional businesses who have strong links with the University won the Graduate Employer of the Year award.

Nominated by Reader in Speculative Fictions, Dr Peter Wright, the first Graduate Employer of the Year award was given to Karl Perrotton, of Crooked Dice Game Design Studio.

Karl’s company, who design, market and produce table-top war games and metal miniatures, agreed a two-year relationship with Edge Hill University Press in 2017, to provide Creative Writing undergraduates with a range of project-related opportunities. These included design, development, playtesting and launch of a wargame based on American cinema serials of the 1930s and ‘40s. The outcome, ‘7TV Pulp’, is scheduled to launch later this year with Karl’s involvement and dedication to the project providing students with invaluable insight and experience transferable to many industries.

Nominated by Senior Lecturer in Drama, Emma Heron, the second Graduate Employer of the Year award was given to Theatr Clywd.

With a long-standing relationship with the Department of Performing Arts, Theatr Clywd continues to encourage performance and career development for Edge Hill students. As well as giving opportunities to work alongside professional actors, they also offer professional development workshops and mentoring onsite and in local community theatre.

Nominated by Helen Walters, formerly of the Computer Science Department, the third Graduate Employer of the Year award was given to UKFast.

A two-year commitment to working in partnership with the Computer Science department has seen a range of industry insights and opportunities presented to students, to enable them to enhance their CV’s. Their involvement in Employer Advisory Panels and careers fairs has been appreciated, as has their hosting of Cyber Hackathons – while several graduates have been employed by the company since the link-up has been in existence.

Lesley Yates-Cinti receiving her award

Third year Nutrition student, Lesley Yates-Cinti was received the 2019 Student Enterprise award, after being nominated by Edge Hill’s Programme Lead for Nutrition and Health, Hazel Flight.

Lesley has designed a board game called ‘Calorific’ which seeks to educate families within the areas of nutrition and hydration, encouraging an increase in physical activity levels, whilst having fun. It also includes healthy recipe ideas and tips for keeping fit.

“Lesley has exceeded expectations within this module and I am extremely proud to be nominating her for this award,” said Hazel. “She is a true inspiration and entrepreneur.”

“I am shocked and delighted to have won this award,” said Lesley. “I developed Calorific after spotting a gap in the market for an instructive and interactive game that embraces all families – it’s basically a nutritionist in a box. I wanted to encourage people to be mindful about exercise and hydration, so this is an informative guide for families.”

Joshua Fowell with Pro Vice-Chancellor Mark Allanson

Nominated by Engineering Manager at Ivanti, David Brylyn, the Sandwich Placement award was given to Joshua Fowell.

Joshua has exceeded expectations in a role working as one of six software engineers in an agile scrum team at Warrington-based Ivanti. Responsibilities have included writing production-level code, reviewing and presenting work, as well as contributing in team meetings and representing the company in graduate and student recruitment drives.

Joshua said:

“It feels fantastic to win this award when there is so much talent in the sector. I’ve had a great mentor who has helped me realise where I want to go with my career.”

Nominated by Nutricia Internal Communications Manager, Yasmin Maassarani, the On-Course Placement award was given to Evelyn Griffiths.

Her work with schools, which saw 17 Merseyside establishments sign up for a healthy eating programme called ‘Eat Like A Champ’, would not have been so successful for the company without her invaluable input.

The Media Store Team receiving their award

Nominated by Olivia Burns and Chloe Jupp-Browne, the Student Employer of the Year (on campus) award was given to Media Store – Learning Services.

The opportunity to build confidence and develop communication skills has been a major factor in Olivia’s nomination of the department, who loan equipment to staff and students. Being able to learn and make informed decisions with regards the practical side of filmmaking also benefits her studies – and will allow her and Chloe to pursue positions within the industry post-graduation with the confidence, knowledge and insight gained from working in the department.

NSG Pilkington were the winners of the Student Employer of the Year (external) award, after being nominated by second year Computing student Jonathan Hesketh, who completed his placement at the glass manufacturing company.

During his placement with the research and development software team at NSG Pilkington, Jonathan was able to gain valuable knowledge and expand his skills in his subject area, as well learning about other areas including engineering and processes and gaining an insight into the workplace.

Kay Spears receiving her award

Nominated by Irene Leung, the Manager or Supervisor of the Year award joint-winner was Kay Spears (International Office).

As a Student Helper, Irene has seen first-hand the work and support offered by Kay to international students and undergraduates of ERASMUS and Study Abroad programmes. This includes working often long hours to ensure students are ably supported, be it related to studies or accommodation – while the trust she puts in her workers is appreciated by Irene and her colleagues, instilling confidence and responsibility which she feels will increase her employability prospects.

Nominated by Thomas McGeough, the Manager or Supervisor of the Year award joint-winner was Celia Wardle-Robinson (Arts Centre).

Working as a front of house supervisor and promotions manager, Thomas has gained much from working under Celia’s supervision of The Arts Centre. Providing invaluable work experience and opportunities with different departments, she strikes the right balance between offering constructive support and advice, and providing a caring, compassionate environment from which she and her team promote the countless events put on.

“I feel more affirmed in my work, more confident in the job and I am genuinely happy knowing that Celia is my supervisor,” said Thomas.

Nominated by Beth Tweddle Gymnastics Merseyside Co-ordinator, Abi Kirby, the Student Employee of the Year Award (External) award was given to Danielle Bretherton.

Abi speaks on behalf of the gymnasts and parents in saluting the considerable contribution Danielle makes to the company. A retention rate of 98 per cent in her Saturday sessions at Kirkby High points to her influence and dedication, while she is already inspiring the next generation of coaches through her leadership programme for under-12s.

Irene Leung with Deputy Vice-Chancellor Steve Igoe

Nominated by International Student Support Officer, Kay Spears, the Student Employee of the Year award (On Campus) winner was Irene Leung.

Kay has been impressed with the contribution made by Irene to the International Office’s work, and the positive, professional image it portrays, in supporting the transition of overseas students into the Edge Hill community. This has included voluntary work, and being part of the Global Friends Scheme, helping enhance the student’s experience – and the reputation of Edge Hill to a wider audience.

“There are so many student employees at Edge Hill, so I feel like it’s such an honour to receive this award for doing what I love,” said Irene.

Nominated by Student Services’, Jenny Spruce, the Student Team of the Year award (On Campus) was given to the Campus Connectors and Communicators team.

The team, created at the start of the academic year, have impressed with the efforts they have put in to improve the student experience. This includes helping students settle into their new environment in halls of residence, to get the most out of their campus experience. They have promoted and organised numerous events and activities to relevant University services, while two specialists also offer additional support tailored to those who need it. The teams also work together as part of the wider Campus Life team, with support also offered to students off-campus which includes gathering feedback and responding to queries, to improve their University experience.

“We believe that their contribution has eased students’ anxieties and helped prevent possible withdrawals from University,” stated Jenny.

Renaud Verbiest, a member of the Campus Connectors and Communicators team, said:

“Winning the student team of the year award is absolutely amazing. We do so much for the community on campus, so it feels great to be rewarded for this. Our managers are fantastic and provide us with lots of training which enables us to do a quality job.”