Falmouth and Exeter students and staff win big at national awards

Last week Falmouth & Exeter Students’ Union won Collaboration of the Year at the National Societies and Volunteering Awards.

On Wednesday 6 May, Rosie Hunnam hosted a virtual awards ceremony, ensuring that exceptional students from across the UK could still be recognised for their incredible work this year.

The Students’ Union had four shortlisted nominations: Women in Conservation and Zoe Burden were shortlisted for Opportunities For All, EcoSoc was shortlisted for Committee Excellence, and the Sustainability Week team took home the award for Collaboration of the Year. This award recognises those who have worked alongside others to achieve something special.

The week-long campaign was a result of SU-initiated research which demonstrated that students wanted more concrete action on sustainability initiatives. The Students' Union Green Council, along with sustainability-focused societies, worked to create a new campaign to encourage the university community and local partners to embrace a new sustainable lifestyle. The project worked with the universities, community, and student organisations to create a holistic campaign which aimed to make Cornwall a beacon of sustainability - regardless of whether they were students, long-term residents or institutions.

Climate Emergency protest

The packed events programme included a Green Fayre with society and business stalls; a clothes swap; discourse on XR with the Politics Society; an allotment session with the Green Living Society; a bin rummage and bulb/tree planting with campus staff; a beach clean with the Beach Clean Project; a bird feeder-making workshop with EcoSoc; a litter pick with the Athletics Club; a repair cafe with the Renewable Energy Soc; a talk on 'Where we are now' following climate emergency declarations given by society leaders, the SU, lecturers, and the Universities; and a climate positivity evening with organisations in the local and university community over soup from our food co-op society.

The activity led to increased memberships in sustainability-focused societies (20% of affiliated societies have a focus on sustainability), an increased awareness of green initiatives, and the creation of a Sustainable Students community on social media where students can share campaigns and ideas. The collaborative nature of the campaign meant that students engaged far more in the events and celebrated the successes of student-led events and projects. It also led to the universities committing to trialling Meat-Free Mondays, as well as considering campaigns focused on eliminating single-use plastics and materials.

The campaign was able to infiltrate all areas of student life due to the huge amount of collaborations, from individuals, to community organisations, to societies and sport clubs. It was also the most successful SU campaign of the year in terms of attendance and reach, and encouraged more individual behavioural change campaigns, such as a Don’t be a Mug project and an edible pathways project.

Sarah Redman, SU President Student Experience during Sustainability Week: “I’m absolutely over the moon that one of our main campaign and manifesto priorities, Sustainability Week (held back in November), was awarded the Collaboration Award at the NSVA’s. It’s an incredible achievement and really showcases how wonderfully our societies, representatives and democratic structures work closely with the two universities, FX Plus, and the local community to help make Cornwall a beacon of sustainability. Massive thank you to everyone who worked on the campaign, especially the members of the Green Council, and in particular its Chair, Ellen Monaghan, for working tirelessly to put sustainability at the forefront of The SU and our campuses – congratulations!”

Ellen Monaghan: Chair of the SU Green Council: We're thrilled that Sustainability Week was awarded the Collaboration Award at the NSVA’s. The campaign was a manifesto priority for both myself and Sarah Redman, and receiving this national recognition showcases how well our societies, representatives and democratic structures are working closely with the two universities, FX Plus and the local community to deliver change. Huge thanks to everyone involved with the campaign, especially to the student Green Council, who helped to plan and deliver the week. We’ve come leaps and bounds since last year - the success of this campaign is just one example of our collaborative efforts to put the climate emergency at the forefront of the SU and university priorities and make Cornwall a beacon of sustainability. There's plenty more to do and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next!

Professor Juliet Osborne, from the University of Exeter’s ESI: “I’m thrilled to see these societies gaining national recognition for their projects, which represent our values so well and have left a legacy that is becoming embedded in everyday practice.”

The Students’ Union also hosted its own annual awards ceremonies online earlier this month, celebrating the outstanding efforts from sports clubs, societies, volunteers, and fundraisers at the third annual Student Opportunities Awards on 1 May, and inspiring student representatives who have initiated change at the Student Voice Awards on 7 May.

Hayley Rowley, Director of Membership Services: “From CSM Rugby bringing home the Bottle with a 10-7 win, to 26.7kg of waste collected at the annual street and beach clean, and not one but two Elections Hustings, our students have so much to be proud of. Zoe Burden brought Adam Pearson to campus to inspire students in a wonderful guest lecture for Disabilities Week, Sebastian Davis launched SOFT+ to allow students to enhance their skills, and Environment & Ethics Chair, Ellen Monaghan, co-wrote the University of Exeter’s White Paper on the Environment and Climate Emergency, which helped to lay the path for operationalising the climate and environment emergency declaration. It really has been an exceptional year for our student leaders who have volunteered their time, often collaborating, using creativity and innovative ideas, and seeing them come to life to better the student experience for themselves, their peers, and the community. We’re so proud of them for remaining positive throughout strike action and the pandemic. It’s truly inspiring to see so many of them still engaging with their members online, and we’re glad we were able to find a way to reward their incredible work.”

Two big SU Award winners were Sebastian Davis, who won the Daniel Palmer Award (the winner of winners, awarded in memory of a student who had a tremendous impact on the student experience), and Nicola Cowper, who won Overall Contribution to SU Activities and Committee Member of the Year.

Sebastian Davis

Nicola Cowper, SU Fundraising Officer: “It's been a pleasure volunteering for The Students' Union and getting students involved with so many aspects of university life. I'm proud to have been recognised for the work I've done as Fundraising Officer and I'm pleased to see so many students continuing to fundraising during the pandemic. The student community never fails to inspire me.”

Nicola Cowper

Student Opportunities Awards winners:

Fundraising Activity of the Year: Videogame Society’s LAN Party 

Most Significant Contribution to Fundraising: CSM Rugby 

Sustainable Activity of the Year: The Beach Clean Project 

Outstanding Contribution to the Environment: Ellen Monaghan 

Green Volunteer of the Year: Eilish Calnan 

The Andy Hocking Award (Community Volunteer of the Year): Frank Gough 

Legend of the Year: Katie Hemmings 

Most Improved Sports Club of the Year: Horseriding 

Outstanding Contribution to Sport: Lucy Mason 

Most Outstanding Sports Club Committee Member: Yasmin Spencer

Sports Club of the Year: CSM Rugby 

Most Outstanding Society Event of the Year: Politics Society’s Elections Hustings 

Most Improved Society of the Year: History Society

Most Outstanding Society Committee Member: Robyn Hickman (EcoSoc) 

Society of the Year: MathSoc 

Newcomer of the Year: MathSoc 

Collaboration of the Year: Charity Week (Islamic Society & SU Helps Refugees, Mary’s Meals, TableTop Gaming Society, Film Society, ACS, MedSoc, History Society and Flamank Law Society) 

Unsung Hero Award: Zoe Burden 

Overall Contribution to SU Activities: Nicola Cowper

Student Voice Awards winners:

Falmouth Dedication Award: Sophia Rodyakin 

Exeter Dedication Award: Gee Roberts

Falmouth Innovation in Representation: Sebastian Davis 

Exeter Innovation in Representation: Lizzie de Lusignan and Becky Thomas

The Teamwork Award: Freddie Foster & Peter Bennett

SU Executive Officer of the Year: Ellen Monaghan

SU Committee Member of the Year: Nicola Cowper

Falmouth Course Rep of the year: Grace Kelsey

Exeter Course Rep of the Year: Maria Watson 

Falmouth Department Chair of the Year: Occy Crowe

Exeter Subject Chair of the Year: Valentine Douady and John Brereton

Daniel Palmer Award: Sebastian Davis