2012 Magnus Magnusson Awards

18 May 2012

2012 Magnus Magnusson Awards

Professor Gillies, Sally Magnusson and the winners

Helping neurologically disabled newborns in Cambodia, developing a child-friendly solution that dissolves synthetic plaster casts so they don’t have to be sawn off and working with children at risk in Africa are just three of the life affirming challenges that will be undertaken by this year’s Magnus Magnusson Award winners.

The awards were established in honour of the late broadcaster and former chancellor of the university, Magnus Magnusson, who believed passionately in helping GCU’s students follow their dreams and make a positive impact on the world, as well as promoting the ideas and talents of some of Scotland’s brightest young people.

The 2012 awards were presented by Principal and Vice Chancellor Professor Pamela Gillies and broadcaster Sally Magnusson, an honorary president of the university’s Magnusson Fellowship.

Professor Gillies said: “Magnus had a real passion for learning and knowledge. As a result of the Magnus Magnusson Awards, we will ensure that Magnus’ contribution to Scottish education in general, and to Glasgow Caledonian University in particular, will never be forgotten.

“Those receiving an Award have demonstrated to an expert panel of judges that they have a clear life goal in mind and have innovative ideas about how to realise that goal.  I know that the Magnus Magnusson Award will spur our winners on to even greater achievements, helping them to reach their potential and perhaps even transforming their lives and the lives of others.” 

It was an evening filled with emotion as former winners took to the stage to share their experiences and tell their stories of how winning a Magnus Magnusson Award has changed their lives.

Sean Neilson, who won the Gordon Masterton/Magnusson Award last year, volunteered with Arts Relief International and Cultural Canvas in Mai Thailand, helping children with cerebral palsy in memory of his younger brother, Ryan, who died of the condition aged just 12 years old.

Taking to the stage, Sean said: “I’ve been making every day count since he died. This year has been life changing, thanks to the Magnusson Award, and it has inspired me to continue to my overall dream of setting up a foundation in my brother’s name. The award has given me the opportunity to feel whole again and feel closer to my brother.”

David Kerr volunteered with the Projects Abroad Human Rights Office, based in Accra, Ghana. His work included community education, running legal clinics, case management for the in-house barrister, raising awareness and campaigning. His biggest project – and one he did not foresee – was his involvement in human rights educations in schools. He introduced mooting (legal debating) to schools and it is so popular that an inter-school competition is now taking place.

David said: “I was taken aback by the level of skill and ability shown by these kids - some of them caught me by surprise with their level of questions – I wasn’t able to provide the answers!”

Dorothee Weber organised and staged a one-day conference last year. Inspired by the currently debated issues relating to faith and sexuality, this provided a forum for the exploration of religious-based homophobia.

Dorothee said: “Feedback on the conference was very positive. The funding has allowed me to develop practical management skills and has enhanced my employability as an events graduate. Thank you for supporting my project – it’s been an absolutely fantastic opportunity and a valuable experience that’s been the highlight of my time here at GCU.”

Tara French received her award in 2010 and started up the choir Sing for Life Speyside to promote health and wellbeing through singing. From nine adults and 18 children on the first night, the choir has grown to become a 60-strong community group, members of which delighted the audience with their fantastic performance.

“We are truly grateful as without this award, the choir wouldn’t have happened. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done,” said Tara.

The 2012 Magnus Magnusson Award winners:

Brendan Culhane – MSc Health and Social Care (Gordon Masterton/Magnusson Award)

Brendan will use his Gordon Masterton/Magnusson Award to travel to Phnom Penh in Cambodia to work as a physiotherapist at the National Children and Babies Institute – an orphanage hospital caring for neurologically disabled newborns and young children. The hospital is the final resort for countless families struggling to cope under economic and cultural pressure.

Amanda Jack - Dip HE/Bachelor of Nursing (Child) (Icelandair/Magnusson Award)

Amanda, who is in the second year of her Nursing course, will use her Icelandair/Magnusson Award to work on her product - ‘Plaster Masta’ - a solution that is applied to a synthetic plaster cast, which then works on the cast to make it removable by unwrapping it. Synthetic plaster casts are traditionally removed using a plaster saw but some patients can become distressed by the noise and there is also risk from burns and cuts. Amanda came up with the idea of ‘Plaster Masta’ while on a student nurse placement in a plaster room for children.

Jennifer Martin – BSc (Hons) Biology, Sociology & Psychology (Mike Smith/Magnusson Award)

Established in honour of one of the university’s Vice Principals who sadly passed away last October, the Mike Smith/Magnusson Award will help Jennifer, a fourth year student, to buy new equipment, better quality materials, and convey a professional image of her fashion label, Jenivieve Berlin Millinery, to the British media. It will also allow her to enrol on a millinery course at Central St Martin’s College in London.

Courtney McArthur – BA (Hons) Nursing Studies (Robertson Trust/Magnusson Award)

Courtney will spend six weeks volunteering in Takoradi in Ghana, at the Effia-Nkwanta Regional Hospital, where she will utilise her nursing skills in the incredibly under-resourced A&E department as well as on general and post-surgical wards. She will also travel to a rural village where she will live with a local family and will volunteer in the nurse-led village health clinic which deals with everything from immunisations to road traffic accidents.

Neil McHugh – Research/PhD Student, Finance and Economics(Santander/ Magnusson Award)

While Scotland is no stranger to forms of ‘microcredit’, the birth place of ‘modern microcredit’ is arguably Bangladesh, where Neil will visit to carry out his two-part project studying the introduction of microcredit in Scotland.  The first part is an internship at the Yunus Centre in Dhaka, where Neil will learn about and observe the day-to-day practices of working for, and being a customer of, the institution. The second part of the project involves an assessment of the Grameen Caledonian College of Nursing, which aims to provide world class nursing education to impoverished women in Bangladesh. 

Katie McLean – BA (Hons) Social Sciences (Catholic Bishops’ Conference/Magnusson Award)


Third year student Katie will travel to Swaziland, South Africa, to volunteer for three weeks  as a teaching assistant with Manzini Youth Care, which relies on international donations and volunteers to provide care to marginalised children and children at risk through poverty.
Katie says this invaluable teaching experience, as well as benefiting the project, will help to prepare her for the next phase of her postgraduate studies as a trainee primary teacher. 
Third year student Katie will travel to Swaziland, Africa, to volunteer for three weeks  as a teaching assistant with Manzini Youth Care, which relies on international donations and volunteers to provide care to marginalised children and children at risk through poverty.
Katie says this invaluable teaching experience, as well as benefiting the project, will help to prepare her for the next phase of her postgraduate studies as a trainee primary teacher. 


Georgia Scott-Brien – Postgraduate Researcher/PhD Student, Sociology and Criminology (GCU/Magnusson Award)

Georgia is currently undertaking a PhD, examining the policing of rape in Scotland. The GCU/Magnusson Award will allow her to host a one-day conference to disseminate the main findings of the research. The conference aims to make a practical difference to the lives of men and women reporting rape to the police, to communicate and share the findings with a wide audience of individuals working within the field of sexual violence, and provide an opportunity to discuss the most effective ways to develop the policing of rape in Scotland.

Emma Smith – BA (Hons) Journalism (GCU Magnusson Award)

Emma will spend four weeks in Tanzania on an internship with Dar el Salaam magazine. Currently a fourth year journalism student, she will have the chance to research and write about new and exciting issues which affect those living in Tanzania, and she also hopes to develop the skills which will help her in the future to pursue a career in International Affairs journalism.

Colin Stone – BA (Hons) Journalism (Gordon Masterton/Magnusson Award)

Colin, a fourth year student, has been handpicked to work with the Press Operations team for the biggest sporting event in the world – the London 2012 Olympic Games. After more than 18 months of interviews and application forms, he wil form part of the team based at the Olympic Stadium, where he will be involved in helping the world’s media in any way possible, as well as interviewing the athletes themselves.