Staff receive Duchess of Kent Awards for outstanding work

December 2020

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(NOTE: This is an archived press release.)

Writtle University College's annual Duchess of Kent Awards acknowledge the exceptional work and commitment displayed by outstanding members of staff. On Friday 11th December, Vice-Chancellor Professor Tim Middleton and Chair of the Board of Governors, Dan Hewitt, presented certificates and trophies to 2020's winners, during a COVID-safe ceremony in the Northumberland Lecture Theatre.

Professor Middleton said: "We would like to thank all colleagues for their work and commitment in the face of this year's unprecedented challenges. The winners of this year's Duchess of Kent Awards have overcome difficult circumstances during lockdown and beyond. They have dedicated time and effort to support students, colleagues and our animal population."

Winners were as follows:

Individual winners

Jaime Finch, Higher Education Lecturer in Equine and Course Scheme Manager

Jaime is an innovative and inspirational course scheme manager. A strong work ethic means Jaime is happy to go above and beyond her role. She is always cheerful, positive, willing to contribute and supportive of both colleagues and students.

Jaime strives to improve working life at Writtle, and is a member of the health and safety committee for the UCU in addition to regularly helping staff to progress with new technology.

She is an excellent communicator and works to ensure a great experience for all. Her efforts are evident in the high levels of student satisfaction in equine courses.

Jaime utilises the latest teaching methods in her lectures and up-to-date industry knowledge and contacts, as well as helping others to implement these techniques. Students rate her highly and alterations during lockdown would not have been as well received without her guidance and patience. She sacrifices her own free time and deserves to be recognised as a fantastic team member and leader.

Jo Hasnip, Conference and Accommodation Service Manager

Jo worked unstintingly throughout the initial period of lockdown and into the summer to ensure the comfort and safety of the University College's residential students.

She worked with the East of England Ambulance Service Trust, while they carried out courses on campus, and ensured that students and any guests were fed and looked after. Jo sacrificed her weekends without complaint, to organise the arrival of guests in addition to managing residential students who either needed or had chosen to remain onsite.

Government guidance changed regularly as we moved towards the moving in period for students. Jo managed the arrival of new and returning students, ensuring the University College met legal obligations while putting the students first. She worked with our first online booking system to make Arrivals Day run smoothly. When the University College needed to provide extra support to students, some of whom were self-isolating, Jo was there to help, making sure they had dinner delivered and ensuring that students in desperate need of accommodation had a safe place to stay.

Jo has gone above and beyond her role and donated her own time to help others.

Millie Price, Marketing and Recruitment Officer

Millie's positive attitude and commitment make her an incredible asset to the University College. She quickly adapted to the changing circumstances presented by the pandemic and went beyond her contracted duties to move the Open Day Experience to an online platform, in the form of a new website for both HE and FE course areas.

Over a very short period, Millie developed impressive web and graphic design skills and designed an online resource tool that gained admiration from teams within the University College community and beyond. Once launched, Millie then worked with two other team members to help develop their technical and project management skills to launch two further mini sites, the Outreach Hub and the Welcome Hub.

Millie rose to the challenge again when she assisted in the development of an engaging, yet reassuring, guide for new and continuing students. She remained calm and focused during the development of 64 tailored 8-page booklets and worked considerably beyond her normal work hours to ensure that deadlines were achieved.

Millie's passion and commitment to a 'job well done' is noticed by all who know her.

Jade Terry, Veterinary Physiotherapy Lecturer and Course Scheme Manager

Jade has an enthusiasm for enacting positive change and instigating new and innovative methods for delivery and assessment. Her ability and willingness to go well above and beyond to support individual students has made her hugely popular with both students and staff.

The MVetPhys course has achieved 100% satisfaction in the National Student Survey for two consecutive years and Jade's mentorship of students has seen several of graduates return to join her on the teaching team.

Jade's lead on the development of the canine aspect of the University College's work resulted in the establishment of the new Canine Therapy Clinic, which provides hydrotherapy and physiotherapy to external canine clients.

Her determination that University College should be recognised as the leading provider of 'animal first' physiotherapy awards has ensured an excellent reputation within the veterinary sector and fully-deserved recognition of the quality of Writtle's graduates. She was also pivotal in proposing and implementing the introduction of the stand-alone hydrotherapy course and associated accreditation by the Canine Hydrotherapy Association.

Writtle University College and its students are exceptionally lucky to be the beneficiary of her passion, dedication and commitment.

Winning teams


Animal Unit Team

The Animal Unit Team has shown outstanding commitment and put the needs of the animals at the Titchmarsh Centre above anything else.

When lockdown began, the Animal Unit team had five members of staff. Due to the pandemic, they split into two bubbles and, between the two groups, worked seven days a week, for ten to twelve hours a day, to carry out essential care. At all times, the whole team remained upbeat and cheerful and always willing to do whatever was necessary for the unit's animals. In August, they welcomed a new team member who joined other staff in preparing for the return of students in September.

The level of dedication shown throughout lockdown was truly inspiring. It set a standard that our learners can aspire to in their future careers. The whole team pulled together and demonstrated what it means to be committed to a career working with animals.

Equine Resource Team

The provision of suitable equine resources at our Cow Watering Campus is a juggling act that balances the needs of staff and students with the welfare of horses. Dan Cook, Clare Jacobs and Hilary Smith work tirelessly to ensure that the two yards provide exceptional learning opportunities to an ever-growing cohort of FE and HE Equine and Veterinary Physiotherapy students. These three individuals remain cheerful, positive and hugely capable at all times.

Dan and Clare ensure that all students have access to the right horses at the right time for their practical development sessions. These two staff manage to stretch the capacity of the yard to provide horses for practical sessions, whilst never, ever compromising animal welfare. 

On the stud, Hilary runs a very tight ship, with help from an excellent team. The animals bred there fly the University College's flag at the highest level of performance and the collaboration with World Horse Welfare provides a constant supply of young horses from which our students can gain real-life experiences.

Both yards are professionally presented, fully representative of commercial practice and a credit to their wider teams. Dan, Clare and Hilary are a pleasure to work with and have contributed to a significant turnaround in the relationship between the yards, the academic teams and external partners. They have supported a huge improvement in the University College's external reputation, recruitment of students onto the relevant awards and the attainment of some truly excellent NSS scores in 2020 from both Equine and Vet Physio cohorts.