Borders College

Graduation 2017

A day that everyone who has completed a qualification looks forward to is Graduation, 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 Borders College Graduation ceremony, attended by approximately 600 graduands and guests, was particularly special to all those who crossed the stage to receive their higher education awards at Springwood Park in Kelso last week.

 Borders College Graduation 2017


Angela Cox, presiding over her first Graduation as College Principal, commented on the strong sense of community and pride held across the Scottish Borders, adding: “As a college we are proud that we work hard to create opportunities to develop our students as whole people and in turn raise aspirations and enable success. In doing this we work in partnership with our local communities and employers. I would like to take the opportunity to thank them all for their continued support. Without their generosity of time, resources and expertise we would not be able to achieve all that we do.”

Angela presented this year’s Honorary Fellowship to Langholm entrepreneur David Stevenson, whose family founded the famous Edinburgh Woollen Mill of which David was Chairman until 2000.

David was born in the Haig Maternity Hospital in Hawick in 1941 but has lived his life in Langholm.  In 1966 he married Alix who is a former P.E. teacher, Olympic athlete and international hockey player. After being educated in the “Muckle Toon” he graduated from Edinburgh University, gaining a degree in Commerce and then qualified as a Chartered Accountant.

His working life commenced as an Accountant with Stewart & Lloyds in the Glasgow steel Industry, before joining the family business “The Langholm Dyeing Company” in 1967. In 1970 he and Alix opened their first “Edinburgh Woollen Mill” shop in Edinburgh and grew the business to around 200 shops nationwide before selling the company in 1996.

In recognition of his business achievements, David Stevenson was in 1988 awarded a CBE from Her Majesty the Queen, and for over 20 years he held the position of Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Dumfries. In 2012 he was made an Honorary Freeman of Dumfries and Galloway.

David’s involvement with charity work is immense, and he is a past Chairman of both the “Robertson Trust” and “Scottish Sports Aid” and through their own family charity, he spearheaded the group which redeveloped the very popular “Buccleuch Centre” in Langholm.

In his younger days David was a local sporting hero and regularly represented Scotland and Great Britain in the Pole Vault. In 1964, both he and Alix were selected to represent Great Britain in the Olympic Games in Tokyo as well as Scotland in the Commonwealth Games in 1962, 1966, and 1970. During his sporting career David broke both the Scottish and British Pole Vault records on more than 10 occasions and he has represented both Scotland and Great Britain in his sport on nearly 50 occasions.

Today, he is very much a family man who enjoys spending time with their two daughters and four grandchildren but still manages to find time to pursue a mixed portfolio of business, charitable and community interests.

Student Awards 2017
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 Exceptional Achievement Award was awarded to two graduates, the first of whom is Catrina Barquist

Catrina was one of only 14 students throughout Scotland selected for the Professional Development Programme of prestigious International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia. Feedback from those who interviewed Catrina for the project stated that she was one of the strongest applicants and they had no hesitation in selecting her there and then.

Catrina acted as an ambassador for both Borders College and the Scotland + Venice presentation of artist Rachel Maclean’s work, and was involved in welcoming visitors, assisting with events and screenings, and maintaining the project’s online presence.

This valuable experience allowed Catrina to work with the curatorial team, build new professional relationships and develop a deeper understanding of the context in which she could practice as an artist, whilst also experiencing the very best international contemporary art from across the world. It is due to this high profile role that Catrina played that she has been nominated for the Exceptional Achievement Award.

The second graduate to be awarded the Exceptional Achievement Award was Abigail Matheson

Abigail was nominated for this award by her SVQ Assessor for excellence in promoting social inclusion in her role as an employee with Deaf Action, and her ability to help others overcome barriers to communication.

Abigail herself lives with a hearing impairment and uses her personal experience, knowledge and skills to improve the experience of individuals in her care, promoting equality, inclusion and human rights in everything she does. The way she applies her deep understanding of the principles to her practice is what makes her truly special.

Abigail’s passion for protecting vulnerable people shone through in her reflective accounts, and her knowledge of adult protection, legislation and human rights is outstanding. She works hard to help her clients to be all they can be, encouraging them to maximise their skills and confidence to make a valuable contribution to their communities.

Her skills and passion for her role are recognised by both the College and her employers, and she is an inspiration and role model to us all.


Best Higher Education Student Award – Sorrell Marr

Sorrell first attended College in 2005, but did not complete her course at that time. The College was pleased to see Sorrell return in 2013 to continue her education and training in care. Upon completing Child, Health and Social Care Level 2, Sorrell progressed to HE Level 3 before moving on to study Health Higher and, ultimately, her Higher National Certificate in Care and Administrative Practice.

Sorrell was a valued member and very active contributor of the HNC class, whilst also being a good listener. She enjoyed the application of her studies, recognising the everyday value of gaining a deeper knowledge. She progressed well on placement, gaining positive feedback.

A friendly, insightful, capable and self-motivated student, Sorrell is set to progress to Edinburgh Napier University to become an Adult Nurse.

Sorrell represents what further education is all about – a second chance, steady progress through courses, and making the most of her opportunities whilst bringing up a young family. Her determination, commitment and professional approach are an inspiration.


Best Further Education Student Award – Rhonda Robertson

Rhonda joined Borders College in 2015 as a mature student on Level 2 Beauty Therapy, where she demonstrated her natural flair for Beauty Therapy and was awarded ‘Student of the Year’.

She progressed to Level 3 Beauty Therapy the following session and, from day one, demonstrated excellent teambuilding and practical skills and exceptional client care. Rhonda was again awarded ‘Student of the Year’ at the end of Level 3, as well as the ‘Lynsey Parker Inspirational Award’ in recognition of her motivation to learn whilst also helping others.

The manager at Peebles Hydro Health and Beauty Spa, where Rhonda completed her industrial placement, highly commended Rhonda’s practical skills and client care during her time there. Rhonda recently completed a four week Erasmus+ funded placement at the exclusive La Manga Health and Beauty Spa in Murcia, Spain, and she will embark upon a Sports massage diploma with Glasgow University.

Rhonda’s enthusiasm for Beauty Therapy is remarkable and she has been a credit to Borders College.


Superior Performance in the Workplace Award – Greg Blundell

In the two years Greg has attended Borders College – first on NC Gamekeeping then on HNC Gamekeeping with Wildlife Management – he has been an outstanding student and was awarded the Land-based ‘Overall Student of the Year’ in 2017. Greg was a key member of the Gamekeeping team who took part in the 2016 ‘Field to Fork’ competition alongside our Catering and Hospitality students, of which Borders College were the winners.

Both his written and practical work has been of a high standard, and his behaviour exemplary. Greg is a fine example of a modern Gamekeeper, and the first HNC Gamekeeping student to be given 100% in feedback from his work placement provider. He made such a positive contribution to the successful running of the Estate, he has since secured employment there.

Greg’s Course Tutor commented that it was a pleasure to teach such a well-motivated student, adding that Gamekeepers such as Greg are the future of the industry.


Best Access Student Award – Corrie McCaig

Corrie began attending College one day a week from school in 2014, enrolling on the full-time Skills for Learning and Work Year 1 course the following year. Her attendance was sporadic, she was unsettled and unsure of what she wanted to do or whether she would return to College. However, she did return for Skills for Learning and Work Year 2 and made huge progress.

Corrie’s confidence and self-belief blossomed during her work placement in the kitchen at Burnfoot Hub in Hawick, where she also mentored a young school pupil who was there for work experience.

Corrie then travelled to Eskilstuna in Sweden for two weeks work experience through the Erasmus+ programme, receiving excellent reports. She took responsibility for organising her passport, health card and bank card for the trip, all with very little help even though it was all new to her, and coped well with her first time abroad and away from her family.

Corrie has made huge progress over the past year and has now secured employment at Burnfoot Hub.


This year’s Citizenship Award was awarded to Horse Care Level 2 and 3 students in recognition of their hard work, commitment and dedication in a number of volunteering roles throughout the year.

Working with the Ettrickbridge and Dryden Riding for the Disabled groups, the students built up a rapport with the riders and other helpers, becoming invaluable to the riders and helping them to gain confidence and experience as well as improve their communication skills.

They also supported a small group of primary age children who posed different challenges, an experience the students thoroughly embraced.

In May, they supported two large events, firstly the College’s Horse Care Open day at the Ian Stark Equestrian Centre where they participated in the events and gave up their own time to stay on into the evening to ensure the event’s success. They then helped set up show jumping and dressage arenas for the Floors Castle Horse Trials, with some students acting as stewards at the event. The committee commented on what a great contribution the students made to the success of the event.

It is relevant to the students’ course to encourage and nurture the importance of volunteering – they have worked tirelessly on these projects with enthusiasm, demonstrating team building, maturity and proving themselves to be great ambassadors for the College.

Horse Care students Lisa Telford, Casey Finlay, Jennifer Smith and Nicole Mcfarling received the Citizenship award on behalf of the group.


Entrepreneurial/Enterprise Award – Jan Thompson

Jan was a mature student with two young children when she decided to apply for the HND Business course in order to be able to help her husband start up a new business.

She completed her work placement at the fledgling company – a motorbike repair business – using the knowledge she had gained in subjects studied to set the business up correctly. The business launched while Jan was still on the course, and she now works there as the company Administrator.

Jan has since been in contact with her Lecturers to thank them, commenting that she has been able to use something from each class she had attended in the development of their business.

Jan is a great example of the worth of vocational education gained through college study, and the real practical skills she has gained have enabled a successful start-up business which will hopefully flourish and grow in the future.


The Stuart Wilkie Memorial Trophy is presented each year by the Wilkie family in memory of their son Stuart who was a motor vehicle student at Borders College.

On behalf of the Scottish Motor Trade Association, Borders College also makes the presentation to their Apprentice of the Year at graduation.

This year, both the Stuart Wilkie Memorial Trophy and the Scottish Motor Trade Apprentice of the Year Award were presented to Kieran Collin

Kieran first attended Borders College as a first year apprentice in September 2014 and was employed by Eyemouth Auto Centre. During his three years at college, where he studied for the Light Vehicle Maintenance and Repair awards, Kieran’s work was to a very high standard. He achieved credits and distinctions along the way, mainly distinctions, and was also awarded Student of the Year in 2015 and 2016.

Borders College is proud to nominate Kieran for the Wilkie Memorial Trophy and the Scottish Motor Trade Apprentice of the Year Award for his dedication, drive and commitment over the previous 3 years.