Isla Atay, a pioneering Leonard Cheshire volunteer and second year Music student at the University of Manchester (UoM), has been presented with the University’s prestigious Student Volunteer of the Year Award.
Isla was selected for the award from a pool of 40,000 students. At a recent ceremony, President and Vice Chancellor Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell presented her with the accolade, as well as the University Medal for Social Responsibility.
Isla, 20, has received the award for the outstanding hard work and dedication she has shown to Leonard Cheshire and its various programmes. Whilst studying studying, Isla volunteered her time to direct the rehearsals of a unique choir at Leonard Cheshire’s specialist Acquired Traumatic Brain Injury Service, Oakwood, near Stockport last autumn.
Isla’s committed, enthusiastic and expert directorship brought together members of the community, ‘Can Do’ programme participants, Leonard Cheshire staff and people with a range of disabilities to sing as one.
Her supportive attitude created a positive atmosphere for the participants, who were elated after the first rehearsal. One Oakwood resident commented that the choir was “a boost to morale” and “great to do something a bit different”.
The Christmas concert was a sell-out success and saw over 200 people in the audience, a testament to Isla’s passion for the project.
Leonard Cheshire’s 2018 Change 100 intern Amy Bradley, who pioneered the Christmas Choir project, was particularly grateful for Isla’s hard work in helping her vision bloom to fruition.
“Isla’s directorship helped bring the ‘outside in’ for the Oakwood residents, building friendships and helping to fuel ambition. Not only that, but it helped those recovering keep motivated and reminded them that there was life beyond their rehabilitation,” Amy said.
Talking about her experience with the choir, Isla commented that the opportunity had not only “helped me build my confidence in a leadership role but unexpectedly taught me a lot about myself in the process.”
Continuing with her work, Isla has also volunteered to co-manage the Harvest Concert which will be taking place at Arley Hall Chapel on Thursday 26 September 2019.