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Weston College and principal Dr Paul Phillips win double gold at the UK National Business Awards

This year’s ceremony for the UK Business Awards was held virtually for the first time, but this didn’t stop principal Dr Paul Phillips CBE, Principal and Chief Executive at Weston College winning gold and being crowned ‘Leader for the Future’ for his exemplary leadership shown during COVID-19 in creating #MyVirtualCollege.

His innovative strategy ensured that all the college’s provision was moved across within seven days prior to lockdown, for day one readiness, so that no one missed out on receiving an outstanding education. The speed of his response and high engagement levels by students, staff and businesses during the pandemic, was applauded by judges as a model of excellence for the UK, with 4,043 virtual teaching/support sessions delivered in the first week.

In winning gold, his leadership to keep education moving during lockdown, was recognised as ‘exceptional’ by the panel of judges, comprising the very best in leading business experts for the UK.

Dr Phillips was also recognised for providing impressive virtual support for the college’s 1,200 employers creating #WednesdayWorkingLunch – with topics including ‘Crisis Leadership’, ‘Rebuilding for the New Normal’ and providing successful roadmaps for economic recovery/networking.

Judges were also highly impressed with his voluntary COVID-19 community support, including PPE assistance, supporting Foodbank Friday and the vital training carried out in the early lockdown period, such as responding at pace to the Government’s call for ex-healthcare staff/volunteers to receive essential training to assist on the front line. In this area alone, the college upskilled 176 ex staff returners/volunteers with the necessary skills, to enable extra staff to be fast tracked to provide much needed respite for exhausted NHS and social care staff.

The college, under his leadership, was also recognised by winning gold in the Wellbeing at Work Category for his equally impressive approach to tackle mental health and wellbeing through his ‘Body and Mind’ strategy. Prior to lockdown, mental health and wellbeing support was accelerated using highly-trained staff and impressive digital capability as a Microsoft Showcase College to live stream group yoga, mindfulness, healthy exercise routines and counselling.

Dr Phillips’ impressive investment and innovative methodology to reduce self- isolation and promote positive mental health during lockdown, for the College’s staff, students and community, was unanimously cited by judges as ‘inspirational’ and showcased as an approach that all businesses in the UK could learn from for best practice to aid recovery. 

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