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Van Mildert student volunteers win two prestigious Awards

(17 November 2017)

For almost 30 years, community outreach and volunteering has been a way of life at Durham University’s Van Mildert College and this year that commitment was recognised as the College was awarded a prestigious Green Gown Award and a County Durham Environment Award for 'Volunteer Group of the Year'.

Community Award

Van Mildert students proved they live up to their motto ‘sic vos non vobis’, (not for yourselves) by winning the Community Award for six student-led projects supporting local families, young people, schools, the elderly and promoting environmental conservation. The projects work across the North-East with a range of community partners including Aycliffe Secure Centre, County Durham Drug and Alcohol Recovery Service, and a range of local primary and secondary schools.

A way of life

Principal Prof. David Harper, explained why volunteering is such an intrinsic part of life at the college: “Giving back to the community, promoting environmental awareness, and supporting the widening participation agenda are central to the Van Mildert college ethos. We strive to create a culture in which outreach is ‘a way of life’ for students, ensuring the longevity of the projects they work on.

“These projects also allow Mildertians to develop skills such as entrepreneurship, leadership, negotiation and communication. These skills undoubtedly complement and enhance our students’ academic pursuits, not only through participation but also the genuine student leadership and direction of the projects.”

During the 2016/17 academic year, Van Mildert students completed an impressive 6,300 volunteer hours.

Green Gown Awards

The annual Green Gown Awards are organised by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC). The Awards ceremony was held in Manchester and saw guests from institutions, companies and organisations across the UK and Ireland come to celebrate the educational initiatives, staff, and students helping address some of the most pressing global challenges.

The 22 winners were selected from 113 worthy finalists with categories including Employability, Community, Enterprise and Leadership.

EAUC CEO Iain Patton co-hosted the ceremony alongside poet and Chancellor of the University of Manchester, Lemn Sissay, MBE.

Opening the awards, Iain said: “These initiatives are a shining example of the power education possesses and the importance those that work and study.”

Chancellor of the University of Manchester, Lemn Sissay, MBE, said: “The leadership and innovation that we have seen tonight is truly awe inspiring. If all education institutions created individuals and initiatives like these, we would have a much brighter future full of leading lights.”

More information about the projects can be found at and the entry can be viewed here.

As winners of the UK and Ireland Community category, Van Mildert College Outreach will now take part in the International Green Gown Award for Community. The event will take place in Marseille, France in May 2018. 

For further information on the County Durham Environment Awards 2017 click here.

Watch the Van Mildert Green Gown Award video

Read more about volunteering at Van Mildert in Ellie's Blog