Posted on 27/11/2015
Royal Holloway, University of London, was announced as the winner of the Times Higher Education’s Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community Award at a special awards ceremony in London last night (26 November).
The annual event shines a spotlight on the outstanding acheivements of institutions, teams and individuals across the UK higher education sector.
Royal Holloway’s award was in recognition of its response to the local floods in Egham and the surrounding areas in 2014. The university’s Community Action volunteers were one of the first people on the scene and included staff, registered volunteers as well as Students’ Union clubs. Judges commended the ‘speed of mobilisation and breadth of involvement.'
The volunteers worked tirelessly to fill and distribute sandbags to local homes, sorting and distributing food and clothing parcels to the vulnerable, driving minibuses for volunteers and army personnel to get around, as well as using boats to reach houses cut off by rising water. The university also opened its doors to the local community, making laundry facilities available, collecting money to buy urgently needed items and housing Thorpe Lea Primary School on campus after its classrooms were flooded.
Royal Holloway’s Community Action programme, with more than 3,000 registered volunteers, is part of the university’s drive to develop a culture of social responsibility focused on the local community.
Phil Simcock, Community Action Volunteer Manager at Royal Holloway, said: “It is fantastic for Royal Holloway to be recognised in this way and we are delighted to win this award.
“Over the years Community Action has established an excellent reputation in the local area with residents, community organisations, businesses and charities. Our student volunteers give up hours of their time to lead and help with a whole manner of projects and initiatives, from pre-planned activities to unexpected situations, such as the floods, to make a real difference to our wider community.”
Professor Bob O’Keefe, Vice-Principal for External Engagement, added: “This award is really for all the students, current and past, that have given hours of their time to the local community. Well done and thank you for all your efforts.”
The judges said that although the university was largely unaffected by the floods, it "rallied to a local cause.”
“The speed of mobilisation and the scale and breadth of involvement from staff and students is an exemplar of how universities can support their local community,” the panel added.
Royal Holloway's recognition was witnessed by more than 1,100 people, who gathered at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, for the awards, hosted by comedian Rory Bremner.