Top brass at a city university have received national praise for their work with service leavers.
University of Central Lancashire vice-chancellor Mike Thomas and engagement office Jenny Stone have been presented with BSI Resettlement Awards.
The accolades celebrate the achievements of service leavers who have successfully moved from the armed forces to civilian life and to acknowledge the efforts of organisations offering support to service leavers during this transition.
Professor Thomas, a former Royal Navy submariner, mental health advocate and co-founder of the College for Military Veterans and Emergency Services (CMVES), won the Nationwide Award for Outstanding Contribution to Resettling Military Families.
He said: “ I feel very proud and honoured to have been named as the winner of this award. “Service leavers and resettlement are areas which are very close to my heart so to be recognised for my work is truly humbling.”
The judges said of the university chief: “Mike has, throughout his career, been unwavering in the support to serving, ex-serving military personnel and their families and has a real understanding of the issues faced when leaving service having lived through that experience himself.
“He devised and implemented a purposefulness project which was piloted at Catterick with successful outcomes for ensuring those struggling with resettlement had the best opportunities to gain additional qualifications or employment.”
Jenny (pictured inset) collected the Service Leaver Trainee of the Year prize.
She joined the army at the age of 16 straight from school and spent 14 years of her life in the forces.
After taking redundancy, she got a job as a charity programme manager but found this unfulfilling.
Last September she was awarded a place to study a Masters degree in of mental health nursing at UCLan - which she alongside her part-time role with the CMVES, based at UCLan.
She said: “I was honoured and humbled to receive such an award, particularly when there are many others equally deserving.
“At times my life is busy and it can be a challenge spinning many plates, but receiving the award made me pause to reflect on the work I do and I am very grateful that those who nominated me appreciate my efforts.
“I feel it is a privilege to be able to use my own knowledge and experience to help others and I am grateful that I am in a position to give something back.”
Jenny was also shortlisted, for the Baltic Publications Award for Excellence in Support of Service Leavers.
The CMVES, which was specifically set up to support UK veterans in employment and education following their previous careers, was shortlisted for the Officers’ Association Award for Excellence in Work Experience Programmes for Service Leavers category and the FDM Award for Best Academic Course Provider Catering for Service Leavers.
Besides national success, UCLan has also signed a covenant to ensure members of the armed forces community are not disadvantage compared to other citizens and that special consideration is appropriate in some cases.