Kent Staff Recognition Awards – Congratulations to our first winners!

Congratulations to all of the shortlisted nominees and our fantastic winners in the inaugural Kent Staff Recognition Awards! At last night’s Oscar-style ceremony, the top awards across four categories – Community Impact, Great Team, Supportive Colleague and Unsung Heroes – were presented by members of our Executive Group and Council. Welcoming everyone, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Karen Cox said: ‘I have been overwhelmed by the sheer amount of interest in these awards in such a short space of time. Thank you to everyone involved – it’s a huge mark of how well this university works as a unit and how much we want to say thank you to each other during what have been truly unprecedented times.’ She added that kindness had been a key attribute during the pandemic and was evident in each of the more than 250 nominations. Award-winners were:

Community Impact

Winner: The PPE response team in recognition of their work to design and manufacture CE marked PPE provided free of charge to care homes, hospices and hospitals in Kent. In the early part of the Covid-19 pandemic, the team of technicians across Divisions and colleagues in Knowledge Exchange & Innovation produced almost 5,000 face visors, specialist ophthalmic breath screens and over 20,000 face mask ear protectors to stringent safety standards. Often working evenings and weekends, the team were able to design a prototype, source materials and create the University’s first cross-departmental manufacturing centre in just two weeks. Donations followed from alumni and local businesses, as well as positive feedback – with, for example, the Pilgrims Hospice, Canterbury, hailing the “huge difference” it had made to both patients and staff. Team members include: Kevin Smith, Technical Manager; Colin Cresser, Technical Specialist; Julien Soosaipillai, Technical Specialist (all Arts & Humanities Division); Daniel Knox, IT & Technical Services Manager; Ryan Morrow, Technical Manager; Jon Foley, Technician; Antonio Mendoza, Technician; Keith Greenhow, Technical Specialist (Computing, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences Division); Marcus Wright, Head of Business Development (IS); Paul Sinnock, Deputy Director (IS); Lucy Druesne, GOETEC Partnership Manager (IS); Carole Barron, Director of KEI; and Lauren Keating, Business & Industry Relationship Officer (KEI). Runners-up in the Community Impact category were: (2nd) Vicky Annis, Sports Physiotherapist (Kent Sport) and (3rd) Community Gardens: Adam Hancock, Security Officer (Estates); and Emily Mason, Environmental Sustainability Officer (Safety, Health and Environment Unit).

Great Team

Winner: The team of staff supporting our students on campus during Covid – comprising Lucy Foley, Jacqui Double and Laura Maclean and members of the Isolation Team. The award recognises that these staff went well beyond their remit to ensure students received the support they needed. This included guidance on latest travel restrictions and providing quarantine accommodation with daily food packages for international students; co-ordinating support and care for any students required to self-isolate and those unable to travel home over Christmas and the end of term. All of this took place on top of team members’ day jobs, resulting in ‘an outstanding and sustained contribution to the University with far reaching impacts for our students and their families’. Through Lucy and her amazing leadership, they acted as our key contact with the Local Health Protection Team and ensured our students were looked after. Our team’s response was always calm, considered and professional despite the changing and challenging environment in which they were working. Team members include: Lucy Foley, Director of Student Services; Jacqui Double, Head of Colleges (Student Services); Laura Maclean, Head of Accommodation and Customer Services; Louisa Harvey, Senior Events Coordinator; Caroline Hames, Event Services Coordinator; Rachel Walmesley, Events Coordinator; Jan Williams, Events Coordinator; Alison Polden, Events Coordinator; and Sarah Tooze, Reception Services Coordinator (all from Kent Hospitality). Runners-up: (2nd) Asymptomatic Testing Site Team comprising Charlie Dast, Sports Development Officer (Kent Sport); James Collett, Food & Beverage Assistant (Kent Hospitality); Becky Verlin (Head of Housekeeping); Thomas Tegento, Cleaner (Kent Hospitality Housekeeping); Luis Howell, Student Ambassador (Outreach Ambassadors); Rebecca Sharpe, Bar/Bistro Assistant (Gulbenkian Café); Ryan Tilley, Holly Porton, Orla Dean Odey, Thomas Lennox Robb, and Kemi Abidekun, Test Support Assistants (all Commercial Services). (3rd) University of Kent eLearning Team comprising Daniel Clark, E-Learning Manager; Phil Anthony, Faculty Learning Technologist; Steve Ganfield, Faculty Learning Technologist; Nick Cornwall-French, Faculty Learning Technologist; Tom Finley, Distance Learning Technologist; Mark O’Connor, Distance Learning Technologist (all e-Learning Team); Dan Bartlett, PHP Developer; and James Keavney, PHP Developer (Learning and Research Development).

Supportive Colleague

Winner: Paul Sales, IT Trainer, Student Operations. Paul has played a key training role in the roll-out of KentVision, our new student data system. He has been praised for his ‘huge support to divisional and PSD colleagues trying to find their way with the new system and way of working. His nomination also notes that his KentVision expertise and university business process knowledge has been invaluable for collating feedback and working with users and the KentVision team together to find ways forward. The nomination concludes: ‘Paul has seemingly endless patience, is incredibly knowledgeable, always ready to help, offer advice or just his ear for a rant’. Runners-up: (joint 2nd) Jan Moriarty, Student Success Project (EDI) Manager (Student Success) and Philippa Moreton-Howell, Student Support Officer, Education & Student Experience (Arts and Humanities Division); (3rd) Heather Ferguson, Divisional Director of Research & Innovation (Human and Social Sciences Division).

Unsung Heroes

Winner: Becky Verlin, Housekeeping Manager, Kent Hospitality. During 2020, universities were asked by the Department for Education to set up asymptomatic testing centres on their campuses for students and staff. Despite the absence of a clear roadmap, the University was able to respond, set up and run a full testing site service for our staff and students and continue to do so during the 2021/22 academic year. Becky’s nomination notes that she was instrumental in the setting up of the site, the training and support of staff and ongoing delivery of this service. She is praised for delivering ‘a great service with skill, professionalism and good humour’ and it is noted that ‘the University owes her a debt of gratitude for her leadership of this project’. The award also reflects that, while working on the new testing centre, Becky continued with her ‘day job’ as well as advocating for others as a staff representative on our Joint Staff Negotiating and Consultation Committee (JSNCC) Runners-up: (2nd) Charlotte Ransom, Education & Student Experience Manager (Human and Social Sciences Division) and (3rd) Iris Prieto, Domestic Assistant (Kent Hospitality).

Other awards

The awards ceremony was attended by over 100 staff and compered by Olly Double, Reader in Drama and Theatre at Kent. As well as the main awards presentations, the audience voted on an award for the Most Humorous Moment which went to a mystery piano player during one of the Covid-19 webchats. A special Services Rendered to the Nation award was presented to the Marsh family singers – including Dr Ben Marsh in the School of History and Danielle Marsh in KBS – who performed a popular rendition of their version of One Day More. A number of long-serving staff were also presented with their 25 Year Service Awards, before the evening ended in style with a student cabaret, featuring Harry Negus-Ross, Daniel Lambert, Hannah Etheridge, Harvey Pinder, Ellie Panoula, Roy Clarke and Ruby Sullivan.

Find out more

See some of the best moments from the awards ceremony in our highlights video on YouTube.

To  access the official photos of the staff awards ceremony visit National Expressions Photography and enter the password: kentawards2021