Ayrshire College wins big at College Development Network Awards

Ayrshire College wins big at College Development Network Awards

Ayrshire College had a hugely successful night at this year’s College Development Network (CDN) Virtual College Awards, held on 3 December 2020.

Ayrshire College won the Innovation Award at the CDN Virtual College Awards for its mental health initiative #PassingPositivity, which was also honoured with the final award of the night, the Judges’ Award.

The College was also Highly Commended in the Employer Connections award category for its ongoing partnership with the major housebuilder Taylor Wimpey West Scotland.

The CDN College Awards are the college sector’s main awards ceremony of the year and were held virtually for the first time in their history because of ongoing restrictions on indoor gatherings.

Hosted by actress and comedian Elaine C. Smith, the awards celebrate the talent and skills of staff and learners across all colleges in Scotland, and truly showcase a sector that can innovate and succeed in the toughest of circumstances.

Ayrshire College won the Innovation Award for its successful and influential #PassingPositivity campaign, which was initially started by HND Coaching and Developing Sport students to help improve the mental health and wellbeing of students, staff, and the wider community within Ayrshire, in partnership with the Kris Boyd Charity.

#PassingPositivity began as a one-day event aimed to raise awareness of the benefits that physical activity can have on a person’s mental health.

Since then, free weekly football, dance, and multi-sport groups have been made available to the Ayrshire public at Ayrshire College in partnership with the Kris Boyd Charity, KB9 Academy, Vibrant Communities, East Ayrshire Active Schools, and Ayrshire Sportsability.

A college-wide charity single has also been produced for #PassingPositivity, written by an Ayrshire College music student, Leah Batty, and recorded with help from former Britain's Got Talent winner Jai McDowall.

Most recently a charity walk was organised as part of #PassingPositivity, in memory of Adrian 'Lionheart' McCallum, the popular Ayrshire wrestler and ex-college student who tragically took his own life last year.

James Adams, Head of Learning and Skills for Sport & Fitness at Ayrshire College, said in his acceptance speech: “Thanks very much for this award. It’s for the great work the students at Ayrshire College have done with the #PassingPositivity campaign.

"The issue of mental health is of critical importance and our staff and students are doing what they can to make a difference to their communities. Rightly this ground-breaking initiative has received a lot of publicity including winning the prestigious International Green Gown Award, and now this award, but the key thing is we keep doing what we can to make a difference to the people who matter most."

Earlier in the night, the Trades department at Ayrshire College was celebrating after receiving the Highly Commended award for the Employer Connections category for the College's ongoing partnership with Taylor Wimpey West Scotland.

The housebuilder launched an Apprenticeship Academy with Ayrshire College as part of its drive and commitment to invest in young talent. Taylor Wimpey West Scotland then worked with lecturers at Ayrshire College to create two bespoke pre-apprenticeship courses for 2020/21 - the Taylor Wimpey Training Academy courses in Joinery and Bricklaying.

Reacting to the Highly Commended recognition, Cameron Bell, Head of Construction Technology, Trades, Motor Vehicle and Horticulture at Ayrshire College, said: “As a team we are delighted with this. This is a meaningful and ongoing partnership where we have worked with staff from this very forward-looking employer to create bespoke pre-apprenticeship courses.

"Ayrshire College has a vision to raise aspirations, inspire achievement and increase opportunities for all of Ayrshire’s communities and this partnership is undoubtedly a significant milestone in achieving this ambition."

Carol Turnbull, Principal and Chief Executive of Ayrshire College, said: “It was a fantastic achievement for Ayrshire College to achieve a Highly Commended award in the Employer Connections category for the partnership work the team are doing with Taylor Wimpey West Scotland, which will provide a skills pipeline and job opportunities for the future in a key business sector in Ayrshire. 

"The #PassingPositivity initiative has already won many awards but last night’s one in the Innovation category was important in that it’s been recognised as sector-leading amongst other colleges and, indeed, won the Judges ‘Best of the Best’ awards as well.

"There were 118 applications from 19 colleges across Scotland for the CDN Awards, so for Ayrshire College to be awarded top two places in three categories is tremendous and demonstrates the commitment, creativity, innovation and talent amongst our staff and students. I am enormously proud of all our staff and students and what they achieve – even now, in these most challenging times. Well done to everyone involved."


4 December 2020

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