Colleagues of the Year Awards 2022

Medals laid out with bright blue ribbons

Lancaster Environment Centre "Colleagues of the Year" awards recognise the staff and postgraduate researchers that have made an exceptional contribution to the day-to-day life of the department and to their colleagues.

Running since 2018, the annual call for nominations enables Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) undergraduates, postgraduates and staff to highlight the positive impact others have had on their experience of department. These nominees are often "unsung heroes": colleagues who have quietly gone above and beyond their contracted roles in the support of others. Submitted nomination cases are peer-assessed by a staff panel.

While presenting the awards today, department director Professor Phil Barker shared the award review panel's observation that nominations made this year have particularly demonstrated that it isn’t always grand actions that mean the most to those being supported.

The extraordinary consensus in the nomination cases submitted this year was also noted, leading to awards being presented to all nominees: some who were nominated individually and some as teams, and many nominated by several nominators. Within the teams that received an award, special mentions were given to a number of team members that received nominations as individuals, in addition to their nominations as part the group.

Award Winners

Alison Cahn

Alison is the freelance journalist behind the news stories on the LEC website. She has worked with the department and the University’s Press Office as a writer for the last 9 years, bringing our student, staff and research stories to life.

As her nominator says, “We have been really fortunate to be able to utilise her high-profile journalist and marketing background to allow our research, engagement and teaching stories to shine.”

But Alison gives more of herself to the department than word-craft alone:

“A committed environmentalist, she is not only interested and knowledgeable in the subject areas across LEC but able to craft narratives that are fascinating and compelling to a broad audience… Alison understands it’s the individuals, their diversity and their values that make the place. This people-centric focus of her work across LEC is exceptional and what makes Alison such a fantastic asset to the Department.”

Hugh Tuffen

Reader in Volcanology, Dr Hugh Tuffen is Director of Studies for MSc in Volcanology and Geological Hazards. His nomination for a Colleagues of the Year award comes from his student body, “For his phenomenal support for this year’s master's students in the undertaking of their dissertation projects.”

Reading the nomination case is clear how much Hugh has given to his students and how much that has meant to them.

“Hugh has gone above and beyond to provide a fantastic level of support for myself and the other students on this course in the undertaking of their dissertation projects. I can say without hesitation that my project would not be possible without him and his support and encouragement throughout my time at Lancaster has been outstanding.”

Suzanne Stelling

As Teaching Coordinator, Suzanne Stelling is the administrative support to students on LEC’s diverse range of taught postgraduate programmes. In nominating her for an award, by the student body not only referred to Suzanne as providing: “Fast response to students and with solutions or advice where necessary.”

but also shared personal testimony, demonstrating how much Suzanne’s dedication means to them:

“Suzanne has been helpful to me personally and she made me feel like I will always have someone to turn to in the administration, when you hear someone say she’s an email away, she actually is. Sharing this with my course-mates, I found out she is helpful to everyone! She is reliable and professional.”

They conclude the simply, “We have a remarkable staff, but I feel she deserves the nomination more.”​

LEC’s Technical Team: Brian Davison, Geoff Holroyd, Clare Benskin, Catherine Wearing, Tim Gregson, Dave Hughes, John Crosse, Kate Morgan, James Heath, David Lewis, Piotr Itrych, Vassil Karloukovski, Sam Jones, Shane Rothwell, Kirsty Forber, Phill Nott and Maureen Harrison

The members of the department’s team of core technicians are award winners for “all the hard work, dedication, commitment, collegiality, and willingness they show”, which has been particularly apparent through recent uncertain times.

Their nominator emphasises that, “Whilst some of the individuals in the team have already received rewards and recognition from the Faculty, others are unsung heroes. The ones who quietly get on with things, and who are always willing to take on extra duties.

“I also can’t stress enough how much the team look out for and help one another and provide wellbeing support and encouragement if someone is struggling, be that due to work or personal circumstances.

“In short, my nomination for the technical team is because I couldn’t do my job without their support and willingness to help, and LEC wouldn’t function without them and their can do, will do attitude!”

LEC’s Administrative ‘A-Team’: Amanda Faulconbridge, Ann Brookes, Amanda Nicholson and Ali Birkett

The department’s central administrative office of Amanda Faulconbridge, Ann Brookes, Amanda Nicholson and Ali Birkett provide HR, finance and researcher support to staff and postgraduate researchers. They were described in their Colleagues of the Year nomination as “absolutely the go-to for information about any process whatsoever within the department and in all the nooks and crannies of central admin.”

They came to be known as our “A-Team” through their shared first initial, but over their five years working together the name for the team has stuck.

“Without the A-Team, LEC would cease to function and I would have been reduced to a quivering wreck years ago,” said one nominator.

Awarded with special mention to Amanda Nicholson and Ali Birkett who were also nominated as individuals.

Senior Finance Assistant Dr Amanda Nicholson, described by her nominators as “a perfect example of empassertiseness – she is empathetic yet assertive. She gets things done efficiently and in a polite and friendly manner… When she does not know the answer, she knows who to ask... but she is also just a nice person to work with! She does not shy away from problems, and typically comes up with sensible action plans to resolve them.”

Research Promotion Coordinator Dr Ali Birkett for her “outstanding contribution to science communication and engagement,” her nominator referring to “the level of dedication she puts into her work and how she continually goes above and beyond to improve engagement… As a student, she provided fantastic guidance and support for me and our team of cross-departmental volunteers in organising a three-day event.”

Group of 7 men and women standing outdoors smiling to the camera in the sunshine

Award winners (left to right) Ann Brookes, Ali Birkett, Hugh Tuffen, Shane Rothwell, Piotr Itrych, Clare Benskin and Kirsty Forber after receiving their awards at the departmental summer party.

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