Prizes Awarded

Eleven students were awarded prizes at the NAFC Marine Centre UHI’s annual prize-giving ceremony on Tuesday.

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NAFC Prize Winners: (L-R) Capt. George Sutherland, Aidan Redpath, Dr John Kemp, John Blance, Sam Spence, Andy Glen, Duncan Stewart, Steven Macleod, Stuart Smith, Robbie Tait & Willie Shannon

The awards recognised the students’ achievements across a range of disciplines, including aquaculture, fishing, engineering and navigation during the academic year 2015/16. Prize winners included a student who started a new career in aquaculture after working in the Royal Mail for 25 years; another who switched to fishing after training as plumber; an electrical and electronic engineer from Scatsta Airport; and several who chose the merchant navy as a career after leaving school.

Welcoming guests to the event, Andy Glen (Interim Vice-Principal – Teaching and Learning) noted that 2016 had been NAFC’s busiest ever year, with record numbers of students enrolled on courses. And the current year saw a number of firsts for the Centre, including its first blended-learning HND course (in Nautical Science), its first course at SVQ Level IV (in Aquaculture Management), and its first Modern Apprenticeship in Nautical Studies (in conjunction with NorthLink Ferries and SIC Ferries).

NAFC Interim Principal Willie Shannon noted that it was 25 years since the Centre had run its first training courses. Since then NAFC had changed, grown and adapted, as had the industries that the Centre served. Like those industries, the Centre has come through some very tough times and had seen substantial cuts in its funding. He remained confident though that NAFC would meet the challenges of the future and continue to support Shetland’s community and economy.

Mr Shannon stressed the range of tertiary activities carried out by NAFC; from school to degree-level training, as well as research and development, and advisory services. He cited several examples of pioneering work carried out by the Centre in partnership with local industries and other agencies, including the Shetland Marine Spatial Plan, its work in support of the Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation, and pilot-scale trials of a commercial mussel hatchery.

In conclusion, Mr Shannon highlighted the very high retention and success rates for NAFC students, which were attributable both to the students’ endeavours and to the hard work of the Centre’s staff.

Guest speaker John Kemp (Interim Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council) said that he was delighted to be able to share the celebration of the achievements of NAFC’s students. He noted the growth in the numbers of students enrolled at NAFC, and their very high success rate, which he said was a tribute to how well NAFC was doing. He congratulated the prize winners, and all the other students who had successfully completed their courses.

Speaking at the conclusion of the event, Andy Glen thanked the sponsors of all the prizes awarded, and the sponsoring companies and shipping companies who place cadets at the NAFC Marine Centre. He also thanked the Centre’s lecturing staff and support services, including the student support, finance, IT, estates, library and marketing staff, as well as the staff in Port Arthur House and Da Haaf Restaurant.

Full List of Prizes Awarded

The following prizes were presented by John Kemp (Interim Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council):

John Blance was awarded the Jim Tait Prize for Aquaculture (sponsored by the Hunter & Morrison Trust) for the best student completing a Modern Apprenticeship in Aquaculture at Level II.

John joined the aquaculture industry as a career change after working in the Royal Mail for 25 years. Employed by Greig Seafood Shetland, he was initially based at their Setterness marine site where he undertook most of his apprenticeship training. John has recently transferred to work in NAFC’s marine hatchery to rear lump-suckers for Greig Seafood Shetland as a biological control for sealice.

John was also recently selected as a finalist for the 2017 LANTRA land-based and aquaculture awards in recognition of his exceptional work during his training.

Sam Spence was awarded the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation Award (sponsored by the Scottish Salmon Producer’s Organisation) for the best student completing a Modern Apprenticeship in Aquaculture at Level III.

Sam is from Unst, where he has worked for Cooke Aquaculture for about 3½ years. In fact he lives next door to their shore-base at Uyeasound, so has no distance to travel to work each day. Sam demonstrated very good practical and theoretical skills throughout his Level III Apprenticeship which made him very easy to assess. He previously worked for Blueshell Mussels at Brae.

Stuart Shearer was awarded the Jeanette Williamson Prize (sponsored by the Hunter & Morrison Trust) for the best Fishing Vessel Class 2 Skipper’s Ticket student.

Stuart joined the Whalsay pelagic trawler Adenia in 2008, after completing an apprenticeship as a plumber, and has become a valued member of her crew.

He worked hard during the course, showing both dedication and great ability, and passed his written exams with high marks. Having also passed his oral examination he is now in possession of his Deck Officer (Fishing Vessel) Class 2 Certificate of Competency.

Stuart is the second member of his family to be awarded this prize; his younger brother Ian, now skipper of the whitefish trawler Courageous, won it in 2013.

Stuart Smith was awarded the Jim Thomas Memorial Trophy (sponsored by the NAFC Marine Centre) for the shore-based engineering student who has best displayed the qualities that the late, great NAFC engineering lecturer Jim Thomas treasured and promoted in his students.

Stuart was a good all-round student whose practical ability was of a very high standard and who showed a fantastic work ethic both in his own work and in assisting his classmates. His determination and hard work were particularly evident during the final project phase of his course when he constructed a bale lifter for his tractor (which necessitated bringing the tractor from Sumburgh to the NAFC Marine Centre each day).

Duncan Stewart was awarded the NAFC Modern Apprentice of the Year (Engineering) Prize (sponsored by the NAFC Marine Centre) for the best student completing a Modern Apprenticeship in Engineering.

Duncan completed his Modern Apprenticeship in Engineering with Tait Electronic Systems Ltd., where he still works on the maintenance of electrical and electronic systems at Scatsta Airport.

Duncan was a very motivated learner who managed to study for and pass four National Certificate (NC) qualifications in engineering during the first year of his apprenticeship (Mechanical Maintenance, Manufacturing Engineering, Fabrication & Welding, and Electrical Engineering), as well as an SVQ Level II in Performing Engineering Operations. Much of this studying was done in his own time, with assistance from NAFC.

Duncan maintained his motivation when he moved to the workplace to complete his apprenticeship, and worked to a very high standard, as a result of which he was given more responsibility by his employer.

Duncan’s hard work meant that he was able to finfish his apprenticeship by completing two SVQ’s at Level III (Engineering Maintenance – Electrical, and Engineering Maintenance – Electronic).

James Arthur Shearer was awarded the Tammy Laurenson Prize for Engineering (sponsored by the Hunter & Morrison Trust) for the best Fishing Vessel Class 1 Engineer’s Ticket student.

James Shearer (Jamie o’Clett) was committed to the fishing industry from a young age and joined the Whalsay pelagic trawler Serene (LK 297). Having completed the Fish Catching Skillseekers programme at NAFC, he was keen to pursue a career as a fishing vessel engineer. Waiting to build up the necessary sea-time was a frustration to Jamie, but as soon as he was able he returned to NAFC to successfully complete his Class 2 Fishing Vessel Engineer qualification.

Jamie then moved to the whitefish trawler Tranquility and completed his Class 1 skipper’s ticket as soon as he had accrued the necessary sea time. Achieving the sea time required for a Class 1 ticket in fishing vessel engineering is notoriously hard for fishermen, but Jamie again returned to NAFC as soon as he reached the target and successfully completed this challenging course.

Aidan Redpath was awarded the Nautical Institute Prize (sponsored by the Shetland Branch of the Nautical Institute) for Endeavour and Achievement by a first year Deck Cadet.

Aidan is from Sand and joined NAFC’s Deck Cadet Programme in 2015 after hearing many of his friends speaking about the Merchant Navy as a career. He is currently about half way through the cadet programme. Aidan is an excellent student who is dedicated to his studies and shows a keen interest in the industry.

Peter Simmons was awarded the Bells Nautical Trust Prize (sponsored by the Bells Nautical Trust) for outstanding effort and achievement by a Deck Cadet in their final year

Peter is a local boy from Sandness who decided to pursue a career at sea, despite having no previous family connections with the merchant navy, as it seemed to him like a good career to follow and a way to see more of the world. He is sponsored by Zodiac Maritime Ltd. through Clyde Marine Training. Peter has been an exemplary student, applying himself diligently and conscientiously to his studies and work, both ashore and afloat, and is well-liked by both staff and students.

Robbie Tait was awarded the North Star Shipping Prize (sponsored by North Star Shipping) for excellent effort and achievement by an engineering Cadet.

Robbie is from Lerwick and joined the NAFC Engineering cadet Programme in 2013. Throughout his training Robbie struck all who came into contact with him as a happy, smiling person, and was always impeccably turned out. He worked very hard during his time as a cadet and got on well with his classmates and lecturers. Robbie went on to achieve his Officer of the Watch Certificate of Competency in July 2016, passing everything at the first attempt. He is currently working for the Lerwick Port Authority.


The following prizes were presented by Captain George Sutherland, on behalf of the Northern Lighthouse Board:

Steven MacLeod was awarded the Northern Lighthouse Board Prize for a Deck Cadet (sponsored by the Northern Lighthouse Board) for the best deck cadet in their group in terms of academic achievement, excellence in assessment and consistent professional performance.

Steven was born and brought up on the Isle of Lewis, and worked locally until deciding to enter the Merchant Navy as an officer cadet at the age of 30. He is sponsored by NorthLink Ferries, though Clyde Marine Training. Entering full-time training at that age was a challenge, but one that Steven has surmounted admirably. As well as making excellent progress in his own studies, both ashore and at sea, he has been of considerable assistance to his class-mates. He is held in high regard both by his lecturers at NAFC and by the NorthLink officers with whom he works.

Steven previously received the NAFC Marine Centre UHI Student of the Year Award in 2016.

Alistair Scott was awarded the Northern Lighthouse Board Prize for an Engineering Cadet (sponsored by the Northern Lighthouse Board) for best engineering cadet in their group in terms of academic achievement, excellence in assessment and consistent professional performance.

Alistair is from Orkney and joined the NAFC Engineering Cadet Programme in 2014. His training is managed by Anglo Eastern Ship Management.

Alistair is an unassuming student who stands out in his group for his dedicated and studious attitude. He is academically able and always pleasant and helpful.