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VC Awards winners announced – Bath Spa University

Vice-Chancellor's Awards winners announced

Monday, 6 July, 2020

Bath Spa University staff and students recently came together online for the Vice-Chancellor's Awards, an annual ceremony that recognises outstanding individual and team achievements across the University.

Due to lockdown restrictions, this year’s awards were digitally reimagined and broadcast live on 10 June via YouTube and Facebook Live.

The VC Awards are run in partnership with the Students' Union, and each nomination is assessed by an awards panel comprising staff from across the University, Sabbatical Officers from the SU, and student representatives.

Presented by Vice-Chancellor Professor Sue Rigby and Students' Union President Jazz Nesbitt-Larking, the awards ceremony is now available to watch again. You can also read the winners' responses below.

Award categories

Click on the categories below to read what the winners had to say.

Student of the Year

Bath Business School: Nana Boakye

Nana Boakye

“I am thankful and honoured to have received such an incredible award for the work I have done this year. However, it would not have been possible without the help and support from senior members of staff at Bath Business School, the Students' Union and fellow Academic and Course Reps. I am grateful for their support and encouragement throughout my journey at Bath Spa and I wish them all the best in the years to come.”

Bath School of Art: Onna Borbely-Bartis

Onna Borbely-Bartis“Being able to represent my course as student of the year felt amazing, and much bigger than just myself. I felt so proud that I was recognised for the work I had done this year, I feel a real sense of community at Bath Spa, and in being course rep I am so happy that I get to create this within my course. I am honoured to receive this award, and absolutely humbled by the kind words said in my nomination. I would really love to thank the amazing photography team, this course has absolutely made me who I am today.”

Bath School of Design: Amber Brookes

Amber Brooks

“Receiving the Vice-Chancellor's award marked an end to my incredible three years as a student at Bath Spa University, and it was an honour to be recognised for the work I have done, and effort I have put in. This award was a lovely surprise during such a strange time for all of us, one within which it is hard to maintain work-ethic and momentum, so being nominated for this gave me the inspiration and confidence to work hard and start looking for my dream job.”

Bath School of Music and Performing Arts: Gaby Norman

Gaby Norman

"I'm incredibly glad to be receiving this award and would love to give special thanks to the BA Comedy cohort/the dream team for all the support.

I look forward to many more years working beside them, all thanks to Bath Spa."

School of Creative Industries: Cameron Reed

Cameron Reed

“I’m really honoured to have won Student of the Year for Creative Industries. My thanks go out to VC Professor Sue Rigby and the Students’ Union for putting together the albeit virtual but special evening; celebrating the sheer determination and dedication present in our institution. My thanks latterly to Dr Susan McMillan and the Creative Industries faculty for putting their faith in me.”

School of Education: Lauren Emery

Lauren Emery

“This year has been full of challenges and unforeseen obstacles, and although at times my role as SAR has been stressful; it has been ever so rewarding. I am so fortunate to have had the opportunities and experiences that Bath Spa has given me. In the final year of my degree I have achieved things I never thought possible and have truly realised my potential.

The School of Education has been a wonder to work with this year; the staff are so understanding, willing and flexible and truly do care for their students. The support I have received from the Head of School, Student Lead, Programme Leaders and Award Leaders has been immense and I feel we have achieved so much and have changed as a department together as a community.

My role as SAR this year has given me the confidence to pursue a passion and career in research which was way beyond my ambitions when I started university.

I am happy to have been part of a team of hardworking students and individuals from across the university that have brought comfort and stability for students in such a troubling time. To be a part of change and support in a year which has brought so much uncertainty has been a life-changing experience that I will never forget.

I am thankful that myself and many other incredibly passionate and hardworking individuals have received the recognition they so  deserve. When they say university will be the best years of your life I think we take it for granted. I think we also take for granted how much one can change, develop and flourish in just a space of a year. I am thankful to my past self for having the courage to nominate myself for such a position, it shows that you just need to take one brave step to become part of something bigger than yourself.”

School of Humanities: Freya Banyard

Freya Banyard

“I was really surprised that I won the award but it was definitely a nice surprise! I couldn't believe it when I first heard. I've loved being at Spa and I can't believe how much I've changed (for the better) since I've been here. I've loved being a Student Ambassador and I'm going to miss it and the University a lot! Receiving an award has just topped off a wonderful three years perfectly.”

School of Sciences: Luke Sarti

Luke Sarti

“It was an honour to receive the School of Science award and that my extra-curricular contributions were recognised. It is extremely important that we as students feel motivated to undertake more than the bare minimum. It really shows that our lecturers genuinely care about the students’ experience and learning by recognising this.”


Academic Impact: James Carter

James Carter

“It was a real honour to be chosen for this award, and congratulations to everyone else who was shortlisted, the work you’ve done this year has been amazing. Thank you to all the staff in the Sciences – throughout a hectic year you’ve been brilliant and it’s been a pleasure to work with you for the last two years.”

Impact on Student Life: Matthew Thorpe-Coles

Matthew Thorpe-Coles“It was great to receive a Vice-Chancellor's Award for Impact on Student Life, as over the past four years I've come to really love Bath Spa and all the people I've worked and studied with. While this year has been rocky for all of us, I'm forever grateful for the way in which my friends at the SU, the library and in Creative Writing have managed to establish and sustain a sense of togetherness and support during such trying times. The community and staff at Bath Spa have given me so much, and it was welcome to hear that I'd managed, in some ways, to contribute to positive change on campus. This award has been an excellent way to round off four years of university study.”

Student Champions

Lecturer of the Year: Lucy Sweetman

“It was overwhelming to hear that I had been named Lecturer of the Year and I was glad to share the moment with a few colleagues on a video call. Reading the nominations from my students a month ago was deeply moving. I'm so happy that they've enjoyed the time we've spent together this year. I know I have.”

Supervisor of the Year: Stephen Dutton

Stephen Dutton

"I felt genuinely moved to be honest. I know that all of us within the School of Art are passionate about what we do, and are totally committed to creating the best Art Higher Education and Artistic Research environment in the UK. We do what we do day in day out, because art means so much to all of us, and it can be exhausting. But when someone takes the time to nominate any of us for caring about what we do it means a huge amount. Plus, pretty much the whole team in Bath School of Art were watching the awards 'together' and the sense of a community was palpable, especially when our Head of School, Dan Allen, won the manager of the year award. A huge thank you to my PhD student for the nomination."

Outstanding Support: Andrew Richards

Andrew Richards

“I am truly elated by being nominated for, and winning the award for Outstanding Support. The kind words said on behalf of the students who nominated me within the VC Awards ceremony were really very touching, and it feels especially so, given the challenging circumstances we have found ourselves in over the past few months.

It was wonderful to take the time to celebrate and recognise what we have done both as individuals, and as teams. Well done to both the winners and the finalists!”

Student Champion of the Year: Sarah Dawes

Sarah Dawes

“My role is something of a peculiar mix, but in essence it boils down to ensuring that we create an environment where students and student leaders are supported to realise their potential, to experience a range of opportunities and to find their voice. I find the challenge and the energy that students bring to discussions and projects hugely inspirational, and I get an enormous buzz from seeing their potential unlocked and our student leaders shine. I am rarely lost for words and was extremely humbled to receive my award as Student Champion, particularly as the nomination came from students. I am still not sure I have quite taken it all in!”

Unsung Heroes / Heroines

Academic: Alison Lee

Course Director, MSc Principles of Applied Neuropsychology

"It means a lot that I was nominated for this award. It has been rewarding helping the University as well as Psychology grow and thrive over the past 20 years and it is gratifying to see that this has been noted."

Professional Services: Karena Dorley-Brown (joint winner)

Karena Dorley-Brown

“Thank you for my award. I would like to thank all colleagues, past and present, who have supported and helped me to do my job for the past 21 years, with special thanks to the Assessments/Graduation team. I clearly wouldn't have been able to do it without them all.”

Professional Services: Jan Knott (joint winner)

Jan Knott“My work as Chaplain has a wide remit. It is a role that I find supremely fulfilling and at times challenging. Serving scrumptious soup for WaterAid Thursday by Thursday is one well known activity but much of what I do cannot be shared, and rightly so, so it was a wonderful surprise to be nominated as an unsung hero, let alone actually receiving an award. It is heartening for the Team that the work of Chaplaincy has been recognised in such a way. Thank you!”

Colleague of the Year

Academic: Amanda Goode (joint winner)

"We, the majority of the Design team, logged on early on Wednesday evening to watch the Vice-Chancellor's Awards. The team as a whole had been nominated for a 'gong' and others amongst us had been put forward for individual categories. We raised a glass in celebration of the nominations.

Colleague of the Year (Academic) was the award I was recommended for; how generous of colleagues to put my name forward. Imagine my delight as I heard my name read out alongside the much loved, and much missed colleague from Business, Dave Smith. Although I never met him, after hearing all the wonderful tributes, I do feel I know something of his marvellous, humorous character. I am honoured to share this award with him... and then imagine my horror when I heard the word 'speech'.

Thinking quickly I raised a glass and, of course, Design joined in. The time honoured distraction. I'd hoodwinked them!"

Academic: Dave Smith (joint winner)

Dave Smith (1965-2019)

"Dave was full of humour and friendliness, and genuinely liked by staff and students across the University. His positive attitude, collegiate spirit and impeccable moral compass brought so much to us all. He leaves behind a place that's better for his contribution to it, and we are all richer for having known and worked with him."

— Extract from one of Dave's nominations

Professional Services: Eve Betts

Eve Betts

“It was lovely spending time virtually with my team before and during the ceremony; we had a great celebratory atmosphere which I really enjoyed! I was really touched to be nominated and even more thrilled to have won, and to have Francesca in our team win Manager of the Year also. It made us all very proud to be working together.”

Manager of the Year

Academic: Dan Allen

“What a pleasure it is to receive the award for Manager of the Year. It was a humbling experience to read all of the wonderful comments from those who nominated me, and it was an honour to be shortlisted amongst colleagues I hold in such high regard. But then to go on and win it!

I don't think any of us will forget academic year 2019/20. Putting the political uncertainty to one side (if only we could), we have embraced a new chapter for the University, formed new Schools of study, moved into a new campus (phew), implemented seismic changes to our University structures and all this before the most profound challenge of all hit our shores. So to receive the award this year of all years, the academic year that just keeps on giving, is very welcome.

Managing a virtual Art School was never on my wish list. Only a few months ago it would have seemed insane to comprehend the situation we all find ourselves in. Yet although we work in relative isolation at present, I don't think I have ever felt more connected to the University, to my colleagues and to our incredible students than at present. Watching how creative geniuses have navigated through such choppy waters has been inspiring and life affirming in equal measure. I've never been so convinced that what we do at Bath Spa University is more important or more necessary than ever before, and it remains a pleasure to be working alongside you all.”

Professional Services: Francesca Baker-Pitman

Francesca Baker-Pitman"I am incredibly grateful to be nominated, and want to recognise the outstanding work of my team and the wider University.

The VC Awards event is our moment to reflect on student and staff successes across Bath Spa; it's a chance for us to learn more about and celebrate the amazing work of our community. Every nomination is richly deserved."

Team of the Year

Academic: School of Design

"For Bath School of Design to conclude this complex and intense academic year with 'Team of the Year' is a great outcome. Colleagues have worked tirelessly and creatively to ensure that the students received high quality teaching and a valuable student experience. It's not been easy but it has been rewarding to see such strong student work through this period and it's a testament to the commitment of the team."

— Kerry Curtis, Head of Bath School of Design

Professional Services: Facilities and Services

"I am extremely proud of the Facilities Team who have shown what happens when teamwork works the way it's supposed to. The team has risen to the many challenges that have been thrown at them over the last 12 months and shown that when everyone on the team is equally invested in the overall purpose and goal of the organisation, they can achieve great things."

— Andrew Williams, Head of Facilities and Services

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