Press Releases

Law student judged winner of Student Community Award – University of Reading

Release Date : 22 May 2009

Laura Cobb, a 2nd year law student at the University of Reading, has won the inaugural Student Community Award (SCA) for her generous and innovative project, which saw 30 Christmas hampers delivered to local residents less fortunate than most.

Professor Christine Williams, the University's Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise, will present Laura with a certificate and cheque for £100 at a ceremony on Wednesday 27 May at Foxhill House, on the University's Whiteknights Campus.

The SCA is a new scheme aimed at recognising the efforts of the many University of Reading students who help others using their own initiative, perhaps by providing support to others, making a contribution to the local community or showing acts of kindness or good neighbourliness.

Laura's project, which she conceived and organised herself, involved encouraging students and staff to donate goods to make up Christmas hampers. These were then distributed to elderly and vulnerable local residents through Age Concern, local churches and sheltered housing schemes. An elderly resident subsequently contacted the University's Students' Union asking them to pass on thanks to the student for the hamper they received.

Laura said: "I am delighted to have won the award. I thoroughly enjoyed the project and it was great to give something back to the local community. Students sometimes earn a bad reputation with their neighbours so the scheme was a wonderful chance to highlight the good work many of them do.

"My project was influenced by the successful scheme 'Operation Christmas Child' whereby individuals send filled shoeboxes abroad to children in third-world countries. I felt however that although many children are indeed needy, there are also many elderly people who are in need and are often forgotten about. The response I received from university departments, the Law Society and many individual students could not have shown more clearly the generosity of students and the willingness to contribute to charitable causes."

Receiving runners-up prizes will be awarded to Katherine Allum & Sarah Woods for their work on the Streetlaw project at John Madejski Academy, Sarah Jackson for her sustained and long term assistance with many children and families through the Lighthouse Kidz Church in Reading, and Camilla Strawbridge for her work with young people through Anderson Baptist Church Youth Activities. All Nominees will receive thank yous and a certificate each in recognition of their achievements.

The prize money for the awards came from the generosity of University of Reading alumni, who's donations made through the Annual Fund will be supporting this project for 5 years.

The Annual Fund aims to support and enhance the student experience through innovative teaching and learning, extra-curricular activities and financial support.

The Student Community Award Committee, made up of University staff and representatives from the students' union and local community, received 15 nominations for the award from the public.

Committee member Peter Kayes, who is a Reading resident and Chair of Redlands/University Neighbourhood Action Group said: "Many congratulations to Laura but I must say we had an extremely difficult job in picking a winner. As well as the runners-up, Nittin Williams deserves a special mention for cooking Christmas dinner on Christmas Day for elderly local residents All the nominees have shown enormous generosity towards the local community. Their selfless actions are highlighted by the fact many of them gave their spare time towards a sustained commitment to helping others."

The presentation of the Student Community Awards will take place on Wednesday 27 May at Foxhill House on the University's Whiteknights Campus, between 12 and 2pm. A buffet lunch will follow the speeches and presentation ceremony.


Media are welcome to attend the event. Please contact James Barr, Press Officer tel 0118 378 7115 or email

Notes for Editors:

The Student Community Award Committee is made up of Becki McKinlay (Development and Alumni Relations Office), Sgt Dai Davies (East Reading Neighbourhood Police Officer), Peter Kayes (Vice-Chair of Redlands/University NAG), Rachel Reid (Students' Union), Mark Laynesmith (University Chaplain) and Ann Westgarth (University Community Relations Manager)


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