2012 Magnus Magnusson Awards

18 May 2012

Professor Gillies, Sally Magnusson and the winners

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.