It was back in June when they completed their studies. The assessments and exams were finished and the results were in!

The hard work had paid off and the students could now enjoy their success over the summer break. Skip forward a few months and it was time to recognise and celebrate that success at the annual Borders College Graduation Ceremony.

This year’s ceremony took place on a typical rainy Autumn day at the Borders Events Centre in Kelso. A day described by the Chair of the Regional Board for Borders College, Tony Jakimciw, as “the best day of the College year”. This year’s ceremony, which saw in the region of 160 graduands cross the stage to receive their education awards, had a real air of celebration and fun, even including a selfie booth for guests to enjoy after the formal proceedings had taken place.

College Principal Angela Cox congratulated all graduands and encouraged them to reflect on their studies and be resilient in whatever they do. Angela also presented this year’s Honorary Fellowship to Nick Bannerman from Hawick, known for his role in the local textile industry.

Nick is currently the Managing Director of knitwear firm Johnstons of Elgin, based in Hawick and Elgin, and travels extensively in this role to cities such as London, Paris and Elgin, as well as travelling further afield to Tokyo, Shanghai and New York to help promote the local knitwear industry.

Educated at Hawick High School and Edinburgh University, Nick started his career as an Accountant with a local firm, before going on to work in the local textile industry as a Chartered Accountant and Managing Director with Peter Scott. He was brought into the famous Johnstons of Elgin as Managing Director in 2010.

A keen sportsman, Nick played rugby, representing nationally at Scottish Schools and U21 level as well as for his local team, Hawick RFC, and has helped to provide sporting opportunities for many primary school youngsters in the community over the years.

Student Awards 2019

Prizes and special awards were also presented to recognise the outstanding achievements of students throughout the course of their study. This year’s awards were presented as follows:

This year, the Best Higher Education Student Award was awarded to Rachael McIntosh (HNC Animal Care)

Rachael, from Edinburgh, has been described as a ‘very conscientious student’ who always put in the extra effort required to excel in her studies. Her theory work was meticulously produced and beautifully presented, so much so that marking her projects was a pleasure.

Rachael gave up a full-time job to return to study and her commitment was obvious, studying hard for assessments and achieving excellent marks every time. She also studied another three units independently to enable her to widen her progression options on completion.

Rachael received a glowing report from her work placement, where it was obvious she had become a valued team member. She has successfully secured a place at SRUC (Scotland’s Rural College), where she is studying Applied Animal Science.

Charlie Blance (HNC Game and Wildlife Management) was awarded the Workbased Learning Award

Perth based student Charlie secured a placement with Scottish Natural Heritage on the Isle of Rum. During this time she carried out tasks varying from habitat, bird and mammal surveys to culling deer, at all times in a mature and professional manner. Charlie worked with Highland ponies during her day-to-day duties, and has an interest in the role a gamekeeper plays in conservation.

Charlie’s attention to detail and transfer of knowledge and understanding into her project work were exemplary, capturing the very essence of a modern gamekeeper and stalker. All assessments were of a very high standard, with her humorous observations of the various working ponies being a particular delight to read. Charlie received full marks from her workplace supervisor and achieved an A grade in her Graded Unit.

She was also chosen to take part in both the preparation as well as on the day at the SNH Deer Management Best Practice event at Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve.

Charlie is an accomplished photographer, and her keen eye for wildlife led her to be sponsored by a major sporting goods supplier.

She was awarded HNC Gamekeeping Student of the Year as well as Best Overall Student for the Landbased Faculty, and successfully secured a position as gamekeeper/stalker/gilly at Dunan Estate, situated on the banks of the River Gaur on Rannoch Moor.

Gina Walker Scottish Motor Trade Apprentice of the Year Award (SMTA)

Gina, from Duns, first attended Borders College as a first year apprentice in September 2016, where she was employed with Aitken Walker Cars in Duns. During her three years at Borders College, where she was studying for the City & Guilds SVQ/VRQ Level 2 and 3 Modern Apprentice award, she excelled in all areas, especially her portfolio work, which was to a very high standard.

Gina also completed her online assessments to a high standard, achieving credits and distinctions, and along the way she was also awarded student of the year in 2017. Gina’s lecturers said they were proud to nominate her for this award for her dedication, drive and commitment over the previous three years.

The Stuart Wilkie Memorial Trophy for this year was presented to David James Manuel

Kelso-based student David first attended Borders College as a first-year apprentice in September 2016, where he was employed with GD Auto Services in Kelso. During his three years at Borders College, studying for the City & Guilds SVQ/VRQ Level 2 and 3 Modern Apprentice award, his work was of a very high standard and his knowledge and experience showed in his practical ability.

David also completed online assessments, where he was achieving credits and distinctions along the way, but mainly distinctions, and was also awarded student of the year in 2018. David was described as an ‘excellent student’, whose dedication and commitment led to his nomination.

Exceptional Achievement Award – Rhys Boni

Rhys, from Jedburgh, has been an attendee at College for a number of years now, entering the old Pre-Apprenticeship programme and then progressing to achieve his NC Level 6 a few years later. Following this, Rhys found employment in Kelso and undertook his apprenticeship under the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT) training scheme due to his huge appetite for the industry.

Under the SECTT banner, Rhys competed in a competition to find Scotland’s apprentice of the year in 2018, and after successfully winning the regional heat, he was successful in the national final and was crowned the SECTT apprentice of the year.

From this, Rhys and a few other competitors were competing for Scotland at the UK Skills competition in Birmingham against electrical apprentices from all over the UK. In the end, Rhys prevailed and won the competition, and was awarded the title of UK apprentice of the year for 2018. This was a huge achievement for Rhys and it cannot be overstated how consistent his work and attitude have been throughout his time at Borders College.

Rhys has a very bright future in the industry in front of him and is a role model for the candidates currently progressing through the scheme.

This year’s Best Access Student Award was presented to Duncan Connor Murray

Earlston-based student Duncan Murray came to Borders College on a School Link Programme in August 2016.  He progressed onto Skills for Learning & Work and, in August 2019, he was successful in securing a place on SVQ1 Amenity Horticulture. 

During his time on the Skills for Learning & Work course, Duncan was always committed to his work and had a number of successful work experience placements. One of these placements was with Marks & Spencer and, through the placement, Duncan was offered casual work over the Christmas period. 

Duncan was selected to go to Sweden on the Erasmus+ programme and was a great ambassador for Borders College.  He worked in a large horticulture distribution centre and embraced the opportunity to broaden his experience and knowledge in this area. He has been a good role model for other students and continues to show commitment and enthusiasm for everything he does.

A Special Recognition Award was presented to Dave Black

Dave from St Boswels, a lecturer in Engineering and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), who has worked for the College for 16 years, was presented the award in recognition of his services to Land-based Engineering and STEM subjects, and going above and beyond in his lecturing duties.

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