HISA Awards for NAFC

Staff and a student from the NAFC Marine Centre UHI have featured in the University of the Highland and Islands students’ association’s awards for 2020. Student support officer Caroline Hepburn won the ‘Hidden Hero’ award while nautical lecturer Cleaton Duguid was highly commended in two categories and student William Pearson in one.

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Caroline Hepburn (L) and Cleaton Duguid (R)

Organised by the Highlands and Islands Students’ Association, the HISA awards give UHI students a chance to thank the academic staff, support staff and students who have inspired and supported them. The annual awards are judged by a student panel and winners are selected on the quality of the nomination.

HISA President, Flo Jansen, said: “The HISA awards are a fantastic way to showcase the amazing work of our staff and students across the university partnership. This year we have encountered new challenges and it has been truly incredible to see a record number of award nominations despite the external factors we are facing. We hope that the awards show our appreciation of the amazing work going on behind the scenes every day, we’re so grateful to be able to celebrate these successes.”

Dr Iain Morrison, the UHI’s Dean of Students, commented: “The nomination period for these awards coincided with lockdown, with all the disruption to normal operations that entailed. Some of the student comments were profoundly moving and mean so much to all those who were nominated. Our staff have been quite incredible during this time and the fact that a record number of students took the opportunity to voice their appreciation for their hard work, commitment and care is powerful testimony to the core strength of this university: our people.”


Student support officer Caroline Hepburn won the ‘Hidden Hero’ award which recognises the unsung heroes of support staff who are not always recognised for their vital contribution to the student experience.

The students who nominated Caroline said: “Caroline has constantly been a huge help to NAFC students. She is always very quick to sort out any issues whether that is access to resources, additional support in or out the classroom and even accessing accommodation on Shetland. She always holds the best interests of the students at heart and constantly goes out of her way to make sure that we receive the best educational experience possible.”

Caroline was also nominated for the ‘Best Support Staff’ award. She has worked at the NAFC Marine Centre for more than 25 years and her role now includes providing support for all students attending both NAFC and Shetland College. Throughout the Coronavirus lockdown she has worked from home to continue providing support for students wherever they are, including helping them to deal with the financial, academic and other problems caused by the lockdown.

NAFC Principal Willie Shannon commented: “This is a well-deserved award for Caroline who is a quietly effective voice for our students and it’s really good to see the students’ recognition of the excellent support that they get from her.” 


Nautical lecturer Cleaton Duguid was highly commended in two of the award categories: ‘Most Engaging VC Tutor’ and ‘Above & Beyond – Staff’. His nomination included: “Cleaton continuously goes above and beyond his job requirements. He is very engaging and always more than happy to help out students with any issues or questions. He has put a phenomenal amount of work into creating extra notes and instructional videos. You can really tell that he loves his job as a lecturer.”

Cleaton joined NAFC as a lecturer in 2018 after working at sea in both deck and engineering departments for more than 30 years.


Student William Pearson was highly commended in the ‘Most Inspiring Student – The Student’s Choice’ category. His nomination included: “He is on another level in terms of his ability to work. He has put in an outstanding effort to try and adapt to this distance learning.”

William is a final-year Merchant Navy Deck Officer Cadet from Stromness in Orkney and is sponsored by Clyde Marine.


NAFC’s Head of Merchant Navy Cadet Programme Laura Burden was also nominated in the ‘Above and Beyond – Staff’ category; student Jack Williamson was nominated in the ‘Best Class Representative’ category; and student William Irvine was nominated in the ‘Above and Beyond – Student’ category.


More information about the HISA awards and full list of all the winners is available at: https://www.hisa.uhi.ac.uk/what-s-on/events/hisa-awards/2020-hisa-awards-winners.