This year’s Borders College Graduation took place on a sunny, crisp day at Springwood Park in Kelso. A day described by the Chair of the Regional Board for Borders College, Tony Jakimciw, as “the most important day of the college year”. This year’s ceremony, which saw in the region of 140 graduates 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 take all of the opportunities that come their way. Angela also presented this year’s Honorary Fellowship to Doddie Weir, famed for his role in international rugby but also for his active contributions to sport, business and charity.
2018 Honorary Fellow - Doddie Weir
Doddie has been one of the most instantly recognised characters in rugby ever since making his Scotland debut in 1990 aged just 20, eventually going on to represent his country 61 times.
Educated at Daniel Stewart’s and Melville College in Edinburgh, Doddie attended the Scottish Agricultural College, gaining a Higher National Diploma.
He came to the fore playing for Melrose RFC and, having helped them to five Scottish championship titles in seven years, Doddie was one of the first players to move south in the new professional era. He signed for Newcastle Falcons in 1995, going on to win Premiership and Cup honours during his seven years there, before returning to Scotland where he finished his rugby career with Border Reivers at Netherdale.
Doddie played in three World Cups, and famously scored twice against the New Zealand All Blacks in the 1995 tournament staged in South Africa, returning there two years later as part of the British & Irish Lions touring team.
Doddie is married to Kathy and they have three sons, Hamish, Angus and Ben, and live on their farm between Lauder and Melrose. Balancing looking after the farm and the family, Doddie is also commercial director for Hutchison Environmental Solutions, a waste management company, and a ‘weel kent’ face on the rugby circuit, both as a commentator and after dinner speaker. Diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) in 2016, Doddie subsequently launched his My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, which raises funds to help with research into MND and assists fellow sufferers.
Student Awards 2018
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:
Rory Darge has been described as ‘an exceptional student’ who was fully committed to his studies and was always a pleasure to teach alongside his many other commitments.
As a contracted Scottish Rugby Union Academy player, he’s represented at Scotland Under 18 and Under 20 level in both the six nations and the junior world cup tournaments this year. Rory was away from his College studies for up to six weeks at a time due to these commitments, but still successfully achieved year one of his Coaching and Developing Sport Higher National Diploma.
He was happy to share his experiences of elite sport with his class, adding to the positive experience of his peers on the College’s sports programmes.
Rory is an excellent role model for Borders College, proving through his high performance, attitude and behaviour that it is possible to succeed in both your education and your chosen sport.
Sophie Gibson has been a full time student with Borders College since 2014, progressing from Level 3 Care through Social Care Higher, NC Early Education and Childcare, and ultimately to HNC Childhood Practice.
Throughout this time, Sophie listened to and acted upon advice given to her, receiving excellent placement reports. Sophie’s attitude to her studies throughout her HNC was consistently good; she met deadlines, her work was of a very high standard and she was always supportive of her fellow students.
She also demonstrated her professionalism in her work placements, going that extra mile to ensure the children had wonderful learning experiences, and Sophie has since secured a full time position in a nursery setting.
It is particularly indicative of her dedication, determination and work ethic how far she has travelled and how, despite difficult personal challenges, she has managed to achieve her goals.
A mature student, Joanne Renwick studied Horticulture over the past two years, fulfilling a lifelong ambition to study Horticulture, having committed a large proportion of her life to raising her four children.
Joanne has shown real determination and commitment to her course, always working beyond expectations and acting as a positive and supportive role model. She was the driving force behind a number of community-based planting projects, has assisted two local bloom societies, and was influential in delivering the College’s much acclaimed annual plant sale.
She has been a mentor to our younger students, and Joanne demonstrated her supervisory skills in her part-time employment at Woodside Walled Garden where she supervised two level 2 Horticulture students during their work placements there.
Joanne deserves this award for always going the extra mile during classroom and practical work, being supportive to her peers and being a pleasure to work alongside.
Melissa Mullin progressed from Higher Health to the Care and Administrative Practice course at Borders College, during which she performed extremely well on placement in Hawick Community Hospital.
Her placement mentor described Melissa as being, “like a regular member of the team”, learning and developing new skills to a very high standard and growing in confidence whilst working within the team. Demonstrating a desire to learn more about nursing patients, she embraced the opportunity to work with nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social workers and GPs and now provides cover on the NHS Borders nurse bank.
Despite her initial fears of the enormous practice involved in nursing, as a result of her achievements and her positive placement experience, Melissa has progressed to study on the Adult Nursing degree at Edinburgh Napier University.
Emma Lees was chosen to receive this award for consistently working well in both College classes and work placement. A hard worker willing to take on any task asked of her, Emma was eager to learn, showing enthusiasm and encouraging others.
Her helpful and supportive nature resulted in her classmates electing her as Class Representative for the Student Council as they felt that she was mature, fair and would do a good job of communicating their opinions.
Emma also completed a very successful work placement at a school nursery and was selected to go on a two-week work placement in Sweden, which she embraced and adapted well to, working in a whole new environment.
This year’s Citizenship Award was awarded to HNC Administration and Information Technology students in recognition of their successful organisation of three separate fund- and awareness-raising events for local charities.
This year their course included event organisation for the first time, which offered the group a valuable learning experience, including the opportunity to work with outside agencies.
Splitting into three teams, the students were tasked with the planning, promotion, budgeting and delivery of their own events, each of which was extremely successful.
A Zumbathon was held in aid of the British Heart Foundation, a gin night took place for the Rowan Boland Trust, and a nearly new sale was organised for Border Pet Rescue. All three events combined raised just short of £1,000, which benefitted the respective charities as well as promoting the opportunities at Borders College to the wider community.
Callum Douglas, Fiona McKenzie and Sylvia Smith received the Citizenship Award on behalf of the group.
Throughout her three years studying Art and Design at Borders College, Morag Grant has been an exemplary student, meeting every challenge with enthusiasm and determination.
A curious student, who tirelessly researched and documented her subject matter, Morag became adept at creating memorable art installations.
This included a well-received installation featuring over 300 hand-crafted clay poppies, which was assembled on a wooden structure outside the Galashiels College Campus, and was accompanied by a famous war poem in honour of Remembrance Day.
Morag’s ambitious final piece for the end of year exhibition required her to branch out into areas well removed from traditional painting and drawing. Morag replicated the interior of a cave and memories of her childhood spent in Yorkshire, pulling this off in perfect fashion despite the mass of materials and hard physical work required to achieve a truly remarkable display.
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.
Robbie Anderson first attended Borders College in September 2015 as a first year apprentice employed by Thomas B Oliver Ltd in Denholm.
During his three years studying for the City & Guilds Level 2 and 3 Modern Apprentice awards, Robbie’s work was to a very high standard, achieving credits and many distinctions along the way, resulting in him being awarded Student of the Year in each of these three years.
Borders College is proud to name Robbie as the recipient of both the Wilkie Memorial Trophy and the Scottish Motor Trade Apprentice of the Year Award today, for his dedication, drive and commitment during his time at College.
Unfortunately Robbie was not able to attend the graduation ceremony; however, arrangements were made to visit him at his workplace in Denholm to present him with his awards.
A Special Recognition Award was also presented this year to mark an outstanding contribution to Borders College through volunteering.
This award was presented to Joe Devlin in recognition of several years of commitment and dedication to the work of the Students’ Association.
Joe, a former Borders College student, first got to know the Students’ Association through his election as a Class Representative and Faculty Council Chair for the Access Department.
Since moving on from his College course, Joe has remained a loyal member of the Students’ Association team as a Volunteer Ambassador, and dedicates a lot of his free time to supporting the Students’ Association team.