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Venerable volunteer scoops landmark award for services to science

Colin Wilkinson, from Stockton-on-Tees, has been named Volunteer of the Year by the British Science Association. He has received the Sir Walter Bodmer Award for Volunteers in recognition of his hard work and dedication in his role as Chair of the North East Branch and tireless work supporting the Young People’s Programme.

Colin joined the North East (formerly Northumbria) Branch in 1998, taking a lead role in developing the Branch and raising its profile in the region.  Since Colin became Chair of the Branch in 2010 he has invigorated the committee who together have developed events in a wide variety of formats and nurtured new collaborations with other organisations such as Newcastle Café Scientifique and youth groups in Gateshead.  He is working hard to create a new presence in other areas of the North East, beginning with Tees Valley.  As the British Science Festival comes to Newcastle upon Tyne this September, Colin is leading the Branch in developing a series of exciting events for the week.

In addition to his work with the Branch Colin was instrumental in establishing the British Science Association led North East Science Alliance (NESA) in 2007.  Having recently celebrated its 6th anniversary, the NESA, a network for all people who engage the public in science, brings together expertise from teachers to museum workers, and volunteers to freelance science communicators.  Colin also joined our Engineering Section in 2011 and so now also contributes to the Festival programme each year alongside his other roles.


Colin is a longstanding member of the CREST Local Coordinator network and regularly goes beyond the call of duty to support the teachers and pupils who take part from around the North East. Colin’s background in industry provides a rich source of ideas and mentors for student CREST projects and he remains a champion for the North East’s strengths in engineering & technology.

Colin commented; ‘Volunteering for the British Science Association lets me use my skills to do something I believe is vital. People engaging with science in a constructive way is crucial to our future as a nation, and it’s a pleasure and a privilege to be part of a great, national organisation that does that. My enthusiasm for volunteering with the Association comes from all the great people – staff and volunteers – I work with, and I hope this award can encourage more people to join us. I’m delighted and honoured to receive this award. Everything the Association does relies on strong networks of people – and it’s those groups of people that make things happen – I hope I can continue to play my part in those networks for many years to come.'

The award is given annually by the British Science Association to a dedicated volunteer or group of volunteers in recognition of the great value and impact of its volunteers. Colin will attend the British Science Festival in Newcastle upon Tyne, his home patch, this September to collect his award.

“It is always incredible to see the huge amount of time and energy our volunteers dedicate to promoting science and helping people engage with it”, said Imran Khan, Chief Executive of the British Science Association.

“Colin is extremely deserving of this award, and we would like to thank him for all his effort and dedication, both at the North East Branch, and the crucial role he played during the formation of the North East Science Alliance. 

“He is a fantastic example of how our large network of volunteers around the UK helps us to develop links with local communities and reach a wide audience of all ages. Without enthusiastic individuals such as Colin, we could not hope to achieve even a fraction of what we currently do.”

Volunteers' Week is a national celebration of volunteers and volunteering which takes place from 1 – 7 June of each year and it plays a huge part in raising the profile of the millions of volunteers who regularly contribute to society, while inspiring others to get involved too.

For more information about volunteering for the British Science Association, visit our volunteering pages.  

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