Community champions receive accolade

Published: 7 August 2015 at 14:29

Anglia Ruskin students rewarded for their commitment to others

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A pair of selfless Anglia Ruskin University students have been given an award for their contribution to other people in their communities.

Leah Finelli and Beverley Courtney have both been given the inaugural John Spence Student Community Prize for their commitment to voluntary causes.

Leah, who hails from Gravesend in Kent and is studying Education and Childhood Studies, volunteered for Anglia Ruskin’s Mission Croatia project, volunteering in a rehabilitation centre to help adults and young people with severe learning difficulties. She engaged in fundraising activity in order to take part in the trip and also helped children in the UK with school fetes, reading and swimming activities.

The 20-year-old, who studies in Chelmsford, said:

“I am really proud that I have won this award for volunteering. I believe everyone should volunteer at some point in their life, as a short amount of your time you give up from your everyday norm can mean a lifetime of joy and happiness for someone else.”

Social Work student Beverley, 43, from Bedford, works as a student ambassador at Anglia Ruskin’s Cambridge campus and carries out a range of tasks including supporting first-year students struggling academically and running study groups. Outside of university, Beverley gives support to victims of crime, including abuse, for a national charity. She also helps run a daily soup kitchen for homeless people and organises and distributes donations of clothing and toiletries.

Beverley said:

“I feel very humbled and honoured to be given this prestigious award. I will continue to commit to local charities and fund my evenings at the soup kitchen. It is essential we show compassion and support people who are experiencing difficulties.
“This award means so much to me. It validates the charities and my commitment to the causes I am truly passionate about.”

The new annual prize recognises students who go out of their way to help and support others, whether within the Anglia Ruskin community or in the wider area.

The prize is named after Anglia Ruskin Governor and honorary degree holder John Spence, who himself contributes to a variety of charitable causes in Chelmsford. Every year one person studying in Cambridge and one in Chelmsford will receive the award and £100.

John Spence said:

“It’s been a great pleasure to learn about the many Anglia Ruskin students who received nominations for the prize this year, and I’m delighted that we have two outstanding winners in Leah and Beverley.  Both they and the other nominees are all making enormously valuable contributions to the lives of others in their communities, both inside and outside university life. 
“I congratulate them all on their achievements, and I hope that in the coming year, many other students will feel inspired to action in their own way.”