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Outstanding Volunteer of the Year

04 December 2008

A student from the School of Biosciences has become the first ever recipient of a special annual award for the outstanding volunteer of the year with Student Volunteering Cardiff.

The new ‘Outstanding Volunteer of the Year’ bursary provided as a result of the new partnership between Cardiff University and Banco Santander has been awarded to third year Neuroscience student Martin Engel.

Recognising his exceptional commitments to volunteering in the local community over the last two years, Martin was presented with the £2,000 bursary at the annual Student Volunteering Cardiff Winter Ball.

Giving more than 300 hours of volunteering time during his second year of Neuroscience alone – the equivalent to three additional course modules – Martin has been involved in, and later became the coordinator of, the Weekenders project. The project offers ‘young carers’ or the siblings of children with learning difficulties the chance to take time out on trips and activities. He has also given talks to new students promoting the work of SVC, supported the new executive committee and the office staff members and organised the first ever SVC charity fun run, which raised more than £1,200 in sponsorship for projects with the tightest budget.

Martin, who is currently on an industrial placement in Copenhagen, said: "Experiencing how, with small resources, you can make such a valuable difference, change and improvement to the lives of those children was reason enough for me to support SVC at every possibility, by helping out on projects that needed additional support, with transportation problems, or just generally giving a hand whenever possible. I am very much looking forward to continuing my work for SVC on my return from Copenhagen."

Cardiff University is the first educational institution in Wales to forge an innovative partnership with ‘Santander Universities‘, a growing international network of higher education institutions, promoted by Banco Santander.

Les Rees said: "Martin is a very worthy recipient of this new bursary. As a result of his relentless commitments the Weekenders project has doubled in size in the last two years and considerably more students have been made aware of and have actively participated in SVC projects. Martin is just one of an army of dedicated students who together make an invaluable contribution to the local community. The students’ activities have been estimated to have an economic value of close to £1M annually – we are very luck to have them."

Student Volunteering Cardiff is one of the largest student-led volunteering organisations in the UK which co-ordinates more than 40 different projects with more than 1000 student volunteers, all contributing to the local community. Projects range from befriending schemes with older people, children teenagers, adults with learning disabilities and mental health patients to students working within the community with homeless adults and children with physical disabilities.

The organisation has been running for 40 years and recently became the first student volunteering organisation to be presented with the ‘Investing In Volunteers’ award.