Leadership Award 2020


This award goes to an individual who has shown great leadership and commitment to their group or activity whilst being enthusiastic and having a positive attitude. They’ve championed their cause and been an ambassador for students, leading change and developing as an individual. 

The winner is...

Lucy Longbottom

Lucy has been a committed committee member for a number of societies during her time at the University of Plymouth and this year has taken on the role of President for the Wilderness and Expedition Medicine Society. One of her aims this year has been to make the society more accessible to non-medical students by championing the society to the whole student body. 

This year Lucy has dedicated a huge amount of her time to leading large student groups in remote expeditions, coordinating workshops and facilitating lecture events. Lucy also encouraged members to have their say on what they would like to learn by providing polls and feedback forms where people could suggest topics of navigation, survival or first aid skills that they would like to learn more about. Requests for increased numbers of workshops and scenario training were met with enthusiasm and she consequently ensured that the society put on a workshop almost every week. Furthermore, whilst facilitating a lot of these workshops, Lucy invited other professionals and students with a variety of experience to impart their knowledge to members too. 

Occasionally she met hurdles, particularly on expeditions such as the tricky mountain conditions on Snowdon however, Lucy showed clear communication skills using the new society radios to advise other groups to change their navigational course. This ensured the safety of the group whilst not detrimenting the enjoyment of all the students on the trip. Everyone had a fun mountaineering experience without risking any unsafe adventures due to her dynamic action planning en route. 

“She has absolutely risen to this challenge, and has done an exceptional job in particular demonstrating her skills in challenging environments such as the Snowden expedition that she led where she had to balance health and safety, with maximising the opportunities for learning and enjoyment for the society. She did this flawlessly, handling challenges sensibly, communicating effectively with her team, and making everyone feel safe and comfortable.” 

Lucy has worked well both with and as part of her team, constantly seeking input and recommendations from the committee and the society to make sure the society reflects the desires of those it is there for. As part of this team she has invested a lot of time to help support and develop those around her, enabling her committee to upskill and become more confident competent committee members in their own right. 

“Lucy has been president of PUWEMS for the last year and has helped the society go from strength to strength. She consistently shows great leadership and enthusiasm for everything that happens in the society. She is a great support to the rest of us on committee and also our members.” 

“My confidence and skillset has developed greatly from the skills that Lucy and her committee have shared with me and the encouragement she has given me on trips! Thank you!!” 

“Having spoken to other students who have worked in teams with Lucy on expeditions, she has been a very supportive and reliable team member and always ensures that she asks everyone how they are throughout the trip and is an approachable person with whom we are happy to raise any concerns or questions.” 



Due to the strength of the nominations we have also awarded a Highly Commended Award to recognise this individual’s ongoing commitment and hard work throughout the year. 

Highly Commended: Rachael Palmer

Rachael has been a member of Students for Global Health for a total of three years, two of those as President, and during this time has grown as a dedicated leader. Every member of the SfGH committee has been “supported to achieve incredible progress towards their goal to educate students on global health inequalities and raise money for global and local causes.” 

“Rachael is a natural leader, with a sunny personality always looking out for others. Her passion for the society is palpable and awe inspiring.” 

”She values each and every member of our team and makes sure we know that. She is understanding about other stresses in our lives, but has learnt how to put gentle pressure on us when we aren't pulling our weight.” 

Rachael has balanced being a fantastic President alongside being a trainee nurse and all the physical and emotional pressures that come with that profession. She has also tirelessly worked to tackle the homelessness crisis in Plymouth, working alongside the Plymouth Night Shelter to keep it open over the winter months, ensuring that local people can have shelter, food and safety in the cold nights. 

Over the course of the year, Rachael has instigated good links with other universities and the national curriculum, hosting and liaising with contacts and speakers in Global Health from all over the UK. She has built a network of contacts both within the University of Plymouth and in the global health field nationally enabling huge growth in the society. Last year Rachael facilitated the organisation of a hugely successful 'global health short course' which was attended by students of all disciplines. This year Rachael has been leading a subgroup of nine volunteers to firstly submit and proposal and then to organise SfGH's national conference on displacement; the first SfGH conference to be held here in Plymouth! Unfortunately, this event has been postponed until the Autumn due to the coronavirus pandemic but the hard work of Rachael and the national committee, with whom she’s had weekly Skype calls to ensure the success of the event, won’t go to waste and we look forward to seeing it’s success when possible. 

Rachael has elevated the popularity of Students for Global Health, tackled debates and topics usually not discussed on university campus and engaged people from all different courses.  

“She represents all the fantastic elements of a student union and is a fabulous example of a student President, and leader of a society. She thoroughly deserves and should be recognised for this award.” 

“Rachael has motivated and inspired me to learn how to use new tools to create images and posters, and helps to gather information from the rest of the committee to allow me to keep members informed and publicise on our social media. Without her support I wouldn't be succeeding like I am.” 


Shortlisted nominees: 


Henry Hewer 

Henry is the President of the Canoe and Kayak Club and has been described by his peers as “an exceptional team leader” and “highly respected not only by the committee but by all members of the club”. As a leader, Henry takes control of situations making members feel reassured and comfortable that they have their own role and responsibility within the club. He keeps the club organised by managing meetings, communicating with the students’ union and organising activities – he works very hard to achieve a high standard for the club, taking on some overlooked positions or duties when the need is there. 

“I am constantly impressed by how much commitment and dedication Henry puts into his position, which can also be seen within this role as the Deputy Chair of the Sports Forum within the club.” 

Henry is a naturally optimistic and cheerful person regardless of any stress placed on him and actively takes time out for members of his fellow team, putting others before himself, ensuring everyone’s in high spirits and stepping up to resolve conflicts and handle difficult situations with incredible patience. 

“As our club's captain Henry's confidence has improved and helped him become more involved within the university, make more friends, and show the club how friendly and welcoming he can be.” 

Henry ensures that members are happy, enjoying themselves and, above all, safe. He wants to see the club succeed therefore motivating everyone to work as hard as they can, and boost morale. As a pro-active member of the club, Henry can always be found paddling on club trips, taking members out on the water, encouraging people to develop their skills and teaching people new techniques. 

“Henry organises weekly paddling trips, driving members to the river dart or Exeter to develop their progress on the water. He shows up to every planned event or trip, supports the club and SU as much as he can, engaging people in socials, trips, and what we as a club can do.”  



Frances Atienza Benstrong

The Tropical Island Society is a relatively young society – only founded in March 2019. Frances stepped up from her previous role as Vice Chair into her current position as Chair, with only half a semester’s worth of experience under her belt. 

“Leading by doing, Frances is involved in every aspect of each event from planning to execution, such as our Bahamas Relief Bake Sale which raised over £300 for charity.” 

“Frances has quickly grown into her role, leading the society in a year of undisputable success with increased membership, new partnerships with businesses and other societies and better events.” 

Frances works tirelessly to ensure events run smoothly and that everyone is having a great time. Frances has created an environment where work is shared amongst the committee, ensuring productivity and efficiency while never allowing one person to carry too big or small a burden.  

“She manages to simultaneously be involved in nearly all aspects of the society whilst never encroaching on another committee member’s responsibilities. Never silent, Frances is either running new ideas past the committee, organising events, discussing potential collaborations with external entities, promoting events to members of the society and non-members or just brightening someone’s day.” 

“Her communication skills are enviable and the growth she has undertaken has been exponential. While somewhat hesitant at the start of her tenure, her confidence has grown alongside her speaking abilities, allowing her to confidently represent the society no matter the occasion.” 



Charlie Martin

Over the last year, Charlie has shown outstanding leadership qualities during his time as Raise and Give Adventure Leader for the Uganda Gorilla Trek in aid of East African Playgrounds. Charlie’s commitment to this cause has shown no bounds - from recruiting the largest team in the entirety of the UK, to leading the team to raise the most, out of all other universities in the UK.  

“Charlie has presented himself as relatable, reliable and wholeheartedly outstanding in his leadership qualities. It has been a true pleasure to witness Charlie's skills develop during his time in this role.” 

Charlie is passionate about the cause and is truly committed to getting his team of nearly 30 students to where they need to be. He is not only self-motivated but also motivates his entire team who have developed incredible engagement with Plymouth RAG and East African Playgrounds. 

“When Charlie first started in his role, it was clear to see there was a high level of apprehension on his part. However, over the course of the last year, he has become a pivotal member of our student fundraising community and without him, Plymouth RAG would just not be the same and it has been a true privilege to witness this growth.” 

His ability to motivate has gone far beyond motivating himself as his entire team of nearly 30 have developed incredible engagement with Plymouth RAG and East African Playgrounds. Alongside this fundraising venture, Charlie has also taken on further fundraising commitments including a leadership role in the 'Last Pole Expedition'. 

“Charlie is a true asset to RAG … I am so incredibly excited to see where Charlie's adventures take him, as I'm absolutely certain that they will be more inspirational than anyone could ever imagine.” 



Hollie Lowen

Hollie joined the Netball Club, and has been a prominent member, since September 2017. After trialling straight into the 1st team she was awarded “Fresher of the Year” at the end of her first year, voted into the committee as Club Treasurer in her second year and has served as Vice Chair and 1st Team Captain this season. 

Her achievements as captain have been extraordinary. Having agreed with her Vice Captain, to try not to be relegated within the BUCS league they just moved into from a promotion last year, the team went on to be unbeaten for 27 games, in both PDNL and BUCS. 

“Hollie has been a fantastic captain and great person to work with. Always organised, and often ahead of me with what is going on, she is a real asset for the netball club. The season her team has had has been absolutely phenomenal, setting all kinds of records for going unbeaten and continually performing to such a high standard. I'm sure that her leadership, on and off court, has been a huge part of this, and her motivational skills have driven the team to new heights!” 

No University netball team has ever had such a long winning streak in the season, and their appearance at the Cup Final was the first in years for the club. One of her proudest wins of the season was against Pilgrims 1s, a team that hadn't lost a league game since 2011, wiping away their 150-game winning streak.  

“The time and effort Hollie puts into everything she does not only reflects the successes of the first team, but of the club as a whole, who stand as the backbone to UPNC. Hollie is an incredible human who lets nothing too big or small stop her from achieving the best she possibly can for everyone. She is not only a phenomenal leader, but an inspirational woman in sport.” 

“When our fourth, fifth and sixth team coach stepped down from her position, Hollie was reliable, offering her time to help coaching. Having coached at her home club in Cornwall, coaching comes naturally to her and members often find her sessions extremely organised and technically challenging.”  

“Hollie is an outstanding member of UPNC she has proved a phenomenal first team captain, beating the leading district team who hasn’t lost a game since 2011, securing yet another BUCS promotion for the second year running and leading her team to the BUCS Conference Finals - something the uni hasn’t seen in years.” 

“The time and effort Hollie puts into everything she does not only reflects the successes of the first team, but of the club as a whole, who stand as the backbone to UPNC. Hollie is an incredible human who lets nothing too big or small stop her from achieving the best she possibly can for everyone. She is not only a phenomenal leader, but an inspirational woman in sport.” 



Nikolaos Arkoulis 

Nikolaos is a Lead Student Ambassador for the University of Plymouth, within this role he takes on the responsibility of organising areas of the Open Days and provides training, guidance and feedback to Student Ambassadors to enable them to answer questions to a high standard and help to ensure that future students feel comfortable. He is highly motivated and uses empathy to motivate his team and equip them to work under pressure. 

“Nikolaos is an experienced Lead Ambassador, offering his best services not only to the future students but also to the Central Student Ambassadors by helping them to remain positive and confident when they work under pressure.” 

Nikolaos also demonstrates his leadership skills as Team Leader in workshops on Forum Theatre in the World of Politics. He uses his leadership and teamworking skills to motivate students to express their minds as he listens, gives tips and evaluates each idea to work towards a perfect speech that represents everyone’s views equally. Nikolaos was also recognised by the International Office at the University of Plymouth as a successful international student with “great leadership skills” and a “positive attitude” and was selected to provide interviews to inspire prospective students to choose Plymouth. Find out more here.

“Nikolaos gives pertinent advice and is exceptionally supportive when it comes to coping with the emotional effects of testifying in the court of law. He is adaptable and works well under pressure. He also explains the court processes and legal terminologies in a clear and understandable way, which demonstrates exceptional knowledge of the subject.” 

“Nikolaos has outstanding ambitions. He wants to become a Diplomat in the United Nations, using his excellent analytical and critical skills, providing pragmatic solutions, listening to everyone's ideas, cooperating great with everyone to improve our world.” 



James Hywel-Davies

One of James’ main commitments to UPSU this year has been Chair of UPC. At the start of the year he organised a series of charity events, such as cake sales and a team in the Plymouth 10km. This led to him taking responsibility for UPC’s endurance charity event in Cornwall in April. Additionally, James often volunteers time to take weekly road rides as a ‘ride leader’. James also organised a trip to Derby for BUCS in October and brought the team together in advance to take specific training sessions. 

James also demonstrates his leadership by promoting the club by working with sponsors, organising events and hosting meetings and socials. James transfers his leadership skills from UPC to the UPAC committee as a member, and actively promotes the ‘community’ by hosting social runs in the evening whilst showing his dedication to the sport by performing in the team for BUCS and Varsity.  

Finally, James displays and develops his leadership skills as a Student Trustee on the Board of Trustees. He uses this opportunity to communicate the student voice to the board, which allows him to work to benefit the service of UPSU. Just like his position as Course Rep, the outcome of the work James carries out as Trustee positively affects the experience of UPSU members. James’ commitment to his roles, and leadership quality can be seen in over 140 hours on the recognition scheme.