Fellowship Award caps memorable NESCol graduation ceremony

The presentation of an honorary North East Scotland College Fellowship Award was one of the highlights of a day of celebration as the first of NESCol’s 2022 graduation ceremonies took place.

Graduates Dawn-Maree Wilson (top left), Lucy Forman and Gytis Kontrimas
Graduates Dawn-Maree Wilson (top left), Lucy Forman and Gytis Kontrimas

Saturday’s event, hosted at the Fraserburgh Campus, brought more than 300 members of the College community together.

It was the first of five ceremonies taking place, with the remaining four being staged in Aberdeen across 4 and 5 October as the Music Hall plays host to those who attended the City and Altens campuses.

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At the Fraserburgh ceremony Ann Bell MBE was installed as a Fellow, an award recognising an individual’s significant contribution to the College and the region.

Ann Bell MBE was installed as a Fellow

Ann served as a board member of Banff and Buchan College and went on to fulfil the same role following the creation of NESCol in 2013. She also served as Vice Chair of the Regional Board.

The councillor for the Fraserburgh and District ward of Aberdeenshire Council, who is a member of the local authority’s Education and Children’s Services Committee, played a key role in improving North Sea safety as a training professional with Grampian Regional Council and is also a passionate advocate of sustainability in the North Sea.

She was awarded an MBE in 2003 for her services to the fishing industry, having established and managed a range of key partnerships. Those included managing the North East Scotland Fisheries Development Partnership and the North Sea Commission Fisheries Partnership as well as serving as director of the North Sea Regional Advisory Council (NSRAC) and chair of Inter RAC group.

Well known for her charity work, Ann is a former Chair of Riding for the Disabled, Chair of the Crimond Medical Centre Equipment Fund and has twice served as President of the Rotary Club of Fraserburgh.

NESCol Principal Neil Cowie said: “Ann has been intrinsic to the success of North East Scotland College.

“The knowledge, vast experience and understanding that Ann brought to those roles goes without saying. What is more difficult to quantify but just as evident to all those who have had the pleasure of working alongside her is the energy and the absolute resolve that she has had to make NESCol the best it can be and to ensure every student that passes through the door has the best possible chance to succeed."

Ann received her award on the same day her grandson, Sean Bell, graduated with an HND in Software Development to make it a family occasion.

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The new Fellow said: “It was a true honour to accept the Fellowship Award and I look forward to serving as an ambassador for NESCol as the College continues to do such valuable work in the communities it serves.”

For Lucy Forman the chance to turn a passion for sport and fitness into a career is one she could not ignore.

After completing her studies at Fraserburgh Academy, studying a sport course at North East Scotland College was the natural choice.

She was offered a place on the Level 3 Diploma in Sport and Exercise Science course at NESCol's Fraserburgh Campus and hasn’t looked back.

The 20-year-old said: “Going to college was just the step I needed to further my education. I've now got the qualifications I need to get into the industry I want.

“Studying at NESCol has also given me the knowledge and confidence to consider starting my own sports massage therapy business in the future.”

Computing student, Dawn-Maree Wilson from Sandhaven, was recognised with a special award by the Scottish Qualifications Authority during the graduation ceremony.

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She said: “After a 20 year break from education I returned to pick up on my love of computing. This was a big step for me - I had to push past a lot of nerves to join the Introductory Level 4 course. That was over three years ago now, I saw it as a way to help build my self-esteem and it was the best decision I could have made.

“It wasn’t easy though. As a mum with a young family I had to juggle the demands of everyday life with studying full time but you know I seized every opportunity that came my way.

“I’ve worked my way through Level 5 and completed my HNC. It was certainly a challenge through lockdown and home schooling the kids, but it has made me a stronger person.”

Gytis Kontrimas, a current student at the College’s Scottish Maritime Academy, was presented with the 2022 Rotary Endeavour Award.

He is currently in his final year of a three- year cadetship that he began in 2020 through Stream Marine Training, sponsored by Solstad Offshore.

Originally from Lithuania, Gytis taught himself English by watching TV and achieved his HND in Computing at NESCol’s Fraserburgh Campus before changing career course and taking a very different direction.

He said: “It all began with the 12-week Trainee Deckhand course offered at the Scottish Maritime Academy in Peterhead.

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“I attended a talk on cadetships in the Merchant Navy and this seemed to offer lots of opportunities. I have just successfully completed my HNC in Nautical Science and I am now on my final sea phase before returning to College to complete my Officer of the Watch exams.”

The Rotary Endeavour Award is not the only accolade Gytis has earned during his time at the SMA. He was also nominated for the Bevis Minter award sponsored by Nautilus International at the UK Maritime Awards. been shortlisted at the prestigious event.

NESCol is one of the largest providers of vocational education and training in Scotland. The College operates from its main Aberdeen Altens, Aberdeen City and Fraserburgh campuses as well as the Scottish Maritime Academy in Peterhead and learning centres in Ellon and Inverurie. For further information on full-time, part-time and distance learning courses currently open for applications visit www.nescol.ac.uk .