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Student Group of the Year Award 2020


This award goes to a group who has demonstrated?professionalism, outstanding achievements and team working across the academic year. ?This group has consistently shown their commitment by either supporting or running activities in addition to being professional in their attitude whilst achieving great things.     

And the winner is... 

Wilderness and Expedition Medicine Society 

As a relatively new society, Wilderness and Expedition Medicine Society has grown immensely over the past three years and have excelled this year in particular. After opening the society up to non-medics last year, they have welcomed new members from a wide range of disciplines including students from Biomed, Criminology, Paramedics, Nursing, Environmental Science, Geography, Marine Biology, Marine Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Civil and Coastal Engineering and many more. 

The committee have worked incredibly hard to create new opportunities for their members and have met the increase in demand through the large increase in members with enthusiasm, innovation and a proactive attitude - upskilling their members by sharing their own knowledge of life-saving medical, navigational, survival and communication skills. They have organised weekly workshops, facilitated scenario training and hosted guest lectures. On top of this, they’ve arranged regular expeditions to Snowdon, Dartmoor, Brecon Beacons and the coast. 

This year the society had the opportunity once again to enter a team into the National Wild Trials Competition. With only four spaces on a team available there was tough competition within the society for places but the committee rallied together and chose the team fairly while offering support and motivation to those who weren’t successful. For those members who weren’t due to attend the National Wild Trials Competition, members of the committee helped to organise a conference in Newquay due to take place the same weekend so that no one felt that they were missing out. The conference would have been open to members of the society as well as other students and professionals who are looking to learn more about life-saving medical and logistical skills in challenging environments. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic both of these events had to be postponed but we look forward to hearing all about them in the autumn. 

“Since joining the society, they have been warm and welcoming even though I was a non-medic. The trips they have planned have been wonderful to participate in and I have felt safe throughout each trip I have gone to. They provide a unique experience to the trips they do by applying medical knowledge in the scenarios they set up. The scenarios that they have set up have been very informative and explained in a way that accommodates to different levels of medical knowledge.” 

“Through the society I have learnt to work with a range of students outside of my course (medicine) and have thus made strong friendships which have led me to new opportunities which I wouldn’t have otherwise got involved in.” 

“Expeditions have allowed me to practice skills I have learnt from workshops and scenario training outside in remote and challenging environments.” 

“Last year PUWEMS motivated and encouraged me to do the Three Peaks Challenge which pushed me above and beyond my comfort zone in both the physical challenge of training and completing all 3 peaks in 24hrs as well as the challenge of fundraising through which I raised £1500 for my local lifeboat on which I am a crew member.” 

“There have been endless opportunities for everyone in the society this year and all the members have benefitted from this as a result!” 



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


University of Plymouth Amateur Dramatics 

The University of Plymouth Amatuer Dramatics Society has had an extremely successful year. They have held weekly workshops, termly showcases, charity events and socials for their members. In the first semester they devised a campaign to raise funds for Devon Mind, as well as providing support and resources to members of the society, the Plymouth community, and Devon itself. The campaign consisted of their ‘States of Mind showcase, based on the impact of mental health issues on an individual’s life; litter picks, to make the streets nicer to walk along for all; mindfulness walks, to help people remain calm in times of duress; and coffee and a chat sessions, for people to bond on a deeper level, as well as a quiet, relaxing event in stressful university periods. The campaign was a new experience for the society but many members have said that it’s impact will stay with them for a long time and together they managed to raise more than £500 for Devon Mind. 

After every workshop and showcase they ask for feedback so that they can continue to make necessary changes to improve their experiences every time. The committee have worked together closely to support one another while planning and hosting a wide variety of activities, including workshops, charity events, socials, showcases, campaigns and volunteering opportunities. 

“Amateur Dramatics has been a group that many have been able to rely on.” 

“UPAD has continued to provide a friendly atmosphere in which it's members can thrive, socialise and learn. As a member, it's an invaluable experience I could not have found anywhere else and the existence of the society has changed me to my very core - making me more confident, capable and professional.” 

“It has brought many people together, and created lasting friendships between people that, otherwise, likely would never have met.” 

“Members have been taken through new and exciting experiences in a calm and non-threatening manner, allowing for people to truly come out of their shell and learn new things - and develop a newfound confidence.” 

“The winter and summer showcases have been a project that members have been able to focus on, as it is something they can be passionate about that doesn't relate to their course. It offers a nice respite for people that often feel like they are drowning when faced with the stress of university life.” 



The following groups were shortlisted for this award, read more about what they’ve achieved this year. 


Tropical Island Society 

Although catered to students originating from tropical islands across the globe, the Tropical Island Society hosts a variety of events open to all students and staff at the university, as well as interested members of the public. Some of the events they’ve hosted this year include; Wing & Games Night, Learn About Your Islands, Islanders on Ice (a collaboration with the Ice Skating Society), Karaoke Night, Valentine’s Debate and Socarobics – at which they raised over £60 to be donated to Shekinah Mission. 

The committee regularly collect feedback from their members and ask for suggestions for improvements in order to make sure they’re as enjoyable as possible for members.  



Plymouth Marrow 

Marrow has gone from strength to strength this year raising money and recruiting people to the stem cell register for Anthony Nolan. From a record total last year of just over £10,000, they have currently raised nearly £11,000. This year they have done a fantastic job of building on the events they run annually, such as the Plymouth 10K, Valentines’ Auctions, bake sales and quizzes.  

In addition, they have devised a range of new, exciting and innovative campaigns this year to raise awareness of the work that Anthony Nolan do and to raise vital funds to support that work. This year saw the first Naked Calendar where they collaborated with a variety of different sports clubs as well as Christmas carolling and a planned 5-a-side tournament. They have involved more and more societies in contributing towards their lifesaving work, spreading the awareness among their members and raising funds which go towards registering people for the stem cell register, research and supporting patients through stem cell transplants.  

“We have always held regular Monthly donor recruitment events in the SU with particularly successful month in November during hero week when we recruited 83 people for the stem cell register over 2 events.” 




This year Ghanasoc have strived to create engaging and beneficial opportunities for their members by organising regular events, such as debate nights, where members can meet new people who share common interests and engage in lively discussions with like-minded individuals. The committee work hard to make sure events are not only regular but also that they’re done for the benefit of members and the wider group. 

Ghanasoc have actively engaged with other societies, promoting community spirit and team-building morale. In October, Ghanasoc collaborated with the Latin Society to hold a dance class event in celebration of Black History Month - providing an engaging new experience for their members. Importantly, members know that they can go to Ghanasoc to have fun. The committee are friendly and willing to listen to suggestions for events, ensuring that members feel like they’re getting the best experience. Recently Ghanasoc decided to do a fundraising event in the form of a bake sale to celebrate their Independence Day and this was a fun and innovative way to celebrate and to show commitment charitable causes. 

“Collaborating with other cultural societies has been a great way to encourage people to make new friends and find common interests - as well as enjoy great food like the collaboration between Ghanasoc and NSS for a cultural dinner.” 



Big Band 

Big Band have consistently shown professionalism, commitment and a positive attitude throughout the entire year. They listen to their members, offering them opportunities to shape their own experience by taking anonymous requests for new music, tailoring their socials to their members’ needs in terms of time/date/location and take suggestions for the structure of rehearsals. 

As well as creating a welcoming and supportive community, Big Band have excelled musically over the course of the year and have performed at a range of functions including charity fundraisers led by other UPSU societies such as RAG and Plymouth Marrow. They have also showcased their talents in the wider community performing alongside professional Devon-based Jazz Musicians at the Plymouth Jazz Club. 

“Big Band not only work as a team within the committee, but they treat the members as part of the team too.” 

“A main achievement for Big Band is how the members feel able to talk to any of the committee members about their problems or issues they may be having”