A celebration of our unsung heroes

New College Durham may have appeared to be sleeping during lockdown but our students and staff were in fact wide awake during this time, supporting the NHS, continuing with their academic studies from home and channeling their energy into their creativity and passions.

Following the college closure, Paul Richardson, Hospitality & Catering Lecturer, organised for Refuse in Durham to collect a donation of fresh food for those unable to leave their house or afford a food delivery. The outbreak also meant our beauty students were unable to visit St Aidan Lodge Residential Home for their routine pamper day, instead, the hair and beauty team kindly donated a range of their professional salon and spa skincare products so the residents could relax.

Engineering Technician, Rob Thompson, quickly put things in motion to respond to the request to support the NHS by manufacturing medical visors using the College’s 3D printing equipment at home. After boxing up batches of visors, Rob personally delivered them to local health care and medical centres, care homes and nursing agencies. He contributed 143 visors in total.

Students from various areas of the College demonstrated their bravery as they put the knowledge and skills learnt at New College Durham to good use by taking on key worker roles. Nine Access to Higher Education students were all systems go as they combined demanding jobs while completing their studies online, to prepare for starting university in September. A huge thank you and well done to you all.

Many of the College’s apprentices also continued to work through the crisis. Our teaching assistants and childcare apprentices were on rota in local schools for key worker children, our Level 2 and Level 3 Fire Safety and Operational Fire Fighter apprentices were all working, our health care workers continued on the front line in care settings and GP practices and our dental nurses worked to a rota so dental practices could remain open for emergencies. They all did an amazing job in challenging circumstances and we are honoured to have them represent New College Durham in the community.

Our Supported Employment students put on their glad rags and dug out their best china to throw a virtual tea party to raise money for Down’s Syndrome North East – they raised more than five times their target of £100. Our creative students from music, art, graphic design and beauty & make-up shared their talents to leave us in awe and keep us entertained with covers of their favourite songs, breathtaking make-up looks and innovative designs and portraits – you know who you are! 

As lockdown relaxed and the music industry adapted and presented us with socially distanced gigs, Beth Macari, our Performing Arts Singing Lecturer, was invited to support Alfie Boe at his first ever socially distanced gig at Virgin Money Unity Arena. Our new and returning performing arts students found out when they returned to college in early September and were buzzing to work with such an established musician.

Above we mention just a handful of the unsung heroes at New College Durham - their determination and resilience has helped us all stay positive during these challenging times. Love Our Colleges Week has truly enabled us to look back and appreciate the positive impact our staff and students have on the local community, pandemic or no pandemic, they all work incredibly hard and never fail to be compassionate and kind.